Summary: Post 8x19 – Sick Sam/Big Brother Dean/Prophet Kevin – "I guess you guys don't have a charm that 'burns hot in the presence of God'?" Kevin asked, reading directly from the tablet and then laughing nervously. Dean swallowed at the specific description and exchanged glances with Sam. Because he once had a charm like that, but the amulet was gone. Wasn't it? Sam smiled. Maybe not...
Disclaimer: Not mine
Warnings: Usual language and general spoilers for season eight
A/N: A one-shot inspired by the E/O Challenge word-of-the-week: click /klik/, v. – to become suddenly clear or understandable.
I took it when you was unlooking. ~ Odio A Botero
"Guys..." Kevin began; his voice distorted by static as it came from the speaker of Dean's cellphone and echoed through the Batcave; his tone shaky with that familiar mix of excitement and fear that always surfaced whenever he called the Winchesters with news about the tablet.
And this was big.
"It clicked," Kevin announced, followed by a breathless laugh of nervous relief. "It took weeks. But it finally clicked!"
Dean arched an eyebrow at the phone on the table between him and Sam and glanced at his brother.
Sam stared back, half-awake from where Dean had roused him; the kid having been asleep on the old sofa until minutes before when Kevin had called Dean's phone.
And even though he hadn't wanted to get up, Sam was now at the table with his brother, secretly wishing he was still warm and settled on the old sofa across the room.
The old sofa Dean had relocated to this main room of the Batcave so the big brother could do research while keeping watch over a sick little brother. Especially since the sick little brother stubbornly refused to stay in bed and instead insisted on doing research as well.
So, on the days Sam felt like it, he researched alongside Dean...and then crashed on the old sofa when his body demanded sleep, still within Dean's sight and reach – a detail that was important to both brothers these days.
And since Sam's body demanded a lot of sleep lately, the old sofa had become a second bed to the youngest Winchester.
Sam only wished he was still sleeping on it now.
As if on cue, Sam yawned and huddled more deeply inside the warm folds of his hoodie – one of his old hoodies that fit him again now that he had lost weight.
"Too much weight," Dean had declared more than once and was constantly pushing food at Sam.
But Sam was never hungry.
Sam wasn't much of anything, except tired.
Sam yawned again.
Dean watched his brother, the kid looking pale and exhausted as he shifted anxiously in the chair beside him.
It was a shared anxiety.
Because both brothers knew what had finally clicked for the young prophet; both knew why Kevin was calling at 9:00 on a Wednesday night.
This was it.
The announcement of the third trial, undoubtedly the hardest one yet...as if the first and second trials hadn't been hard enough; as if Sam wasn't already damaged beyond an angel's repair from having completed the first two; as if it was realistic to expect Sam to survive this final one.
Dean clenched his jaw – that last thought always landing like a sucker punch to the gut whenever it crossed his mind.
But Dean had already decided that losing Sam wasn't an option.
He wasn't living without his little brother.
He had been there and tried that too many times before.
And it wasn't happening again.
One way or another, Sam was going to make it.
And if not, then Dean would follow the kid to the other side.
They either lived together or they died together.
Those were the only two options in Dean's book.
There was silence.
"Guys...?" an uncertain voice asked when no one had responded. "You there?"
Dean glanced at the phone. "Yeah. We're here," he told Kevin before refocusing on Sam; always keeping a watch on his brother these days, always keeping the kid within his sight and reach.
And surprisingly, Sam didn't seem to mind Dean's constant hovering but instead seemed to appreciate it, depend on it, draw comfort from it, and most of all need it.
Because the weaker Sam became, the more he needed Dean's strength, the more he openly sought it...and Dean was more than willing to lend it, more than willing to take care of the kid who had always belonged to him.
So, the big brother stuck close to his little brother...just like old times.
Dean twitched a smile, thankful that he and Sam were close again – perhaps closer than they had ever been.
Guess the trials had been good for something after all.
But the thought darkened Dean's mood.
Because even if in some twisted way the trials had helped repair his and Sam's relationship, even if completing them would shut the gates of Hell forever, none of that was worth what was happening to Sam or what would happen before all of this was over.
Dean sighed, continuing to watch his brother as Sam sat beside him.
Sam blinked back and shivered; the kid seemingly always drowsy and cold from the blood loss he had gradually sustained over the past few weeks; the chest-rattling, blood-producing coughs taking their toll on a body that was thin and exhausted.
Sam shivered again, tucking himself deeper into the warmth of his hoodie, and leaned forward, resting more fully on the table as if it was too much effort to sit upright.
It was Sam's turn to sigh, the sound dangerously close to a cough.
Dean narrowed his eyes, instantly on alert.
Sam shook his head, the movement slow and lethargic. "M'fine," he mouthed silently.
Dean arched a skeptical eyebrow – because he knew better, knew that Sam was rarely fine anymore – but let it go since the kid obviously didn't have the energy to argue.
Dean clenched his jaw; his nerves frayed from the constant reminder of what these trials were doing to Sam, from the increasing worry and fear and panic over an increasingly sick little brother.
Kevin cleared his throat on the opposite end of the phone, attracting Dean's attention even before he spoke. "Guys..."
Dean glared, freshly annoyed by the reality of their lives and at the bearer of what was sure to be more bad news. "We're here," he repeated, growling the two words. "Are you gonna tell us why you called or what?"
Because they didn't have time to hang on the phone like teenaged girls; Sam needed his sleep and Dean needed to be researching ways to fix this shit.
So spit it out, Kevin.
Still leaning against the table, Sam scowled his disapproval of Dean's sharp tone.
Dean shrugged, having more important things to worry about than hurting the young prophet's feelings; more important people to worry about.
Like you, Sammy.
The corner of Dean's mouth lifted in a fond smile as he stared at his brother, hoping the kid knew how much he loved him.
Sam stared back. But within seconds, his bitchface slipped; the intensity of the expression requiring too much energy to maintain.
And that wasn't a bad sign.
Not at all.
Dean sighed, refusing to think about it, and refocused on the phone. "Kevin..."
"Yeah," Kevin responded, and if he was bothered by Dean snapping at him earlier, his voice didn't reflect it. He paused. "Listen. I know what the third trial is. But there's good news and bad news."
Of course there was.
Dean snorted his frustration and glanced at Sam.
Sam yawned, practically sprawled on the table, barely awake.
Dean frowned and nudged his brother's shoulder with his own – because Sam needed to hear this himself.
Sam startled, instantly more alert, and blinked at Dean.
"You okay?" Dean checked quietly...but apparently still loud enough for Kevin to hear.
"What's wrong?" the young prophet asked, and Dean could picture Kevin holding the phone tighter against his ear. "Is Sam okay?"
Because it was no secret that Sam was suffering; that Sam was getting his ass kicked by these trials.
"He's fucking awesome," Dean responded, the sarcasm meant for Kevin but the compliment meant for Sam.
Because to Dean, his little brother was fucking awesome.
Who else would endure what Sam had endured and yet would keep going with the same hope and determination to not only reach the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel but to lead his big brother to it as well?
Those were the actions of a kid who was fucking awesome, and Dean was damn proud of Sam – worried as hell...but damn proud.
Sam offered a tired smile to his brother and swallowed against the urge to cough; the residue of blood from a coughing fit earlier in the evening still clinging to the back of his throat; the coppery tang still bitter on his tongue.
Sam swallowed again; well aware that Dean was watching him; that Dean was always watching him, was watching and listening even when Sam wasn't speaking.
Dean reached across the table for his own bottle of water and shoved it into Sam's hand.
Sam accepted it and attempted another smile, hoping he didn't look as tired and sick as he felt.
Dean held his brother's gaze, watching the kid drink his water and hoping the worry he felt didn't show on his face.
"Um, guys..." Kevin called; his tone cautious as though he knew he was taking Dean's attention away from Sam...and that Dean didn't usually like such distractions, especially lately with Sam being sick.
"Yeah," Dean replied, once again refocusing on the phone still lying on the table between him and Sam. "Okay, Kevin..." he called to the young prophet on the opposite end of the line. "Good news, bad news. Let's hear it."
"Yeah. Right. Okay..." Kevin suddenly sounded scattered as if he was overwhelmed with how much information he had to tell them and didn't know where to start. "Well, first...I guess the bad news. Or at least I think it's bad news. Maybe not. Maybe you guys won't think it's bad news, but – "
" – Kevin," Dean interrupted, not having time for a teenager's rambling, prophet or not.
Sam quirked a smile, recognizing his brother's patience growing thin, and pushed the now empty water bottle closer to the lamp in the middle of the table before sitting up straighter in his chair; widening his eyes and blinking to ward off the sleepiness that continued to blur his vision.
Dean glanced at Sam as his brother shifted restlessly beside him – giving the kid a quick once-over to make sure he was okay – and then glanced back at the phone where Kevin waited. "Look. Whatever it is, just say it."
Sam nodded his agreement, wanting to hear the details of the third trial as quickly and concisely as possible so he could go back to sleep and worry about it tomorrow.
Kevin sighed. "Well, actually...I guess I'll give the good news first." He paused. "The good news is that the third trial seems pretty straightforward."
Dean arched an eyebrow and barked a humorless laugh. "Yeah, okay," he allowed, doubting that was true but not pursuing the issue since he was more interested in the opposite side of this coin. "And the bad news...?"
Kevin sighed again, clearly stalling.
Dean rolled his eyes, reminded of why he generally didn't like teenagers now that he no longer was one himself. "Kevin...just say it."
So he did.
"The bad news is that before Sam can do the trial, he has to have a special God-detecting charm," Kevin reported in one breath. "That's the key to starting the third trial."
Dean blinked, not sure what he was expecting the bad news to be...but this wasn't it.
He exchanged glances with Sam and then refocused on the phone. "Excuse me?"
"I know," Kevin readily agreed about the nearly impossible task of finding such an item on short notice. "I'm sorry," he apologized, as if he was the one who made the rules for this last trial instead of just being the one who deciphered them. "I guess you guys don't have a charm that 'burns hot in the presence of God', huh?" he asked, reading directly from the tablet and then laughing nervously.
Because of course the brothers didn't have that.
Who the hell did?
And where the hell would they even start looking for it?
There was silence.
Dean swallowed at the specific description echoing in his mind, having heard the same phrase before from an angel of the Lord who had also once requested such a charm from him.
A charm that Sam had given Dean one Christmas.
A charm that Dean had worn around his neck for years.
A charm that was now gone, impulsively thrown away as if it had meant nothing.
A charm that Dean wished he had back every day since.
Dean swallowed again and glanced down at his chest where the amulet should've been – missing the familiar weight even now – and then glanced at his brother still sitting beside him at the table.
Sam stared back, looking more alert than he had all day; his eyes brighter and clearer as he quirked a smile.
Dean frowned at his brother's unexpected reaction and opened his mouth to ask Sam what the hell there was to smile about.
But before he could...
"Do you have anything like that?" Kevin asked hopefully, as eager to complete the trials as the brothers. "Or do you at least know where you can maybe get something like that? Because according to this, we...well, Sam...can't do the third trial without it. Without something that burns hot in the presence of God. But I mean...what would that even be? What kind of charm would do that?"
"An amulet," Dean answered simply. "The amulet," he amended and then clenched his jaw, freshly pissed at himself for tossing the cherished possession several years ago...and not just because they needed it now for this last trial.
Dean needed it period.
His little brother had given it to him as a sign of trust and love when the kid had truly been just a kid, and Dean wanted it back; wanted to wear it because it reminded him of Sam; wanted to heal whatever wound he had caused when he had so carelessly thrown it away.
But it was gone.
The amulet was gone.
And no matter how sorry Dean was, it wasn't coming back.
Like so many other things they had lost along the way.
The amulet wasn't coming back.
Dean sighed harshly.
"The amulet?" Kevin repeated, as if he had never heard the word. "What the hell is that?"
Dean ignored him, focusing only on Sam. "I'm sorry," he told his brother, should've told the kid a long time ago. "I just..."
Because there was no explanation for what he had done in the heat of the moment, and he couldn't imagine how Sam must have felt watching him drop the amulet in the trashcan of that motel room.
Even now, Dean could still hear the solid clank as the gold charm had hit a metal bottom.
"I'm sorry..." Dean repeated.
But Sam's only response was to blink at him, still strangely alert and happy.
Dean tilted his head. "What's with you?" he snapped, annoyed and slightly concerned by Sam's weird behavior. "We are so fucking screwed here, and all you can do is smile?"
Sam huffed a laugh, ending in a cough, and shook his head. "We're not screwed," he countered, his smile widening. "Not at all."
There was a beat of silence.
Dean narrowed his eyes, his heart seeming to know what Sam meant before his mind did since his pulse began to thrum harder in his temples.
Could it be?
Could Sam have it?
Could the kid have had the amulet all this time?
Dean's heart hammered in his chest as he felt a smile tug at the corners of his mouth. "Sammy..."
Sam nodded, confirming what Dean was beginning to realize – that he had rescued the amulet and had kept it.
"No way," Dean denied even as his smile widened. "Sammy. No fuckin' way! Are you shittin' me?"
Sam snorted at his brother's reaction and shook his head. "No," he promised – because he wouldn't dare joke about this – and affectionately bumped shoulders with Dean as he pushed himself to his feet; bracing against the table and holding himself steady as he swayed.
Dean stood as well, instantly beside his brother; his hand hovering over Sam's back.
"I'm okay," Sam assured, the wave of dizziness reminding him of how weak and sick he was.
But Sam still smiled because the time had finally come to return what he had kept hidden all these years waiting for the right moment.
And it seemed that moment had arrived.
And not only had it arrived, but it seemed the amulet was going to help him complete the third trial; help him close the gates of Hell forever.
Sam's smile lingered as he turned, shuffling toward the hall that led to their bedrooms. "Be right back," he called over his shoulder.
Dean nodded, resisting the urge to follow his brother.
There was silence.
"Um...what's going on?" Kevin finally asked, his voice floating up from the phone still resting on the table.
"My kid brother is fucking awesome," Dean replied, his heart full of love and pride as he watched Sam slowly disappear around the corner; the kid sick and barely on his feet...but fucking awesome nonetheless.
"Okay," Kevin agreed hesitantly, not daring to dispute that or even ask for further explanation...but wondering what the hell.
There was more silence.
Kevin cleared his throat. "So...does that mean Sam knows where to find the charm we need for the third trial?"
Because why else would Dean suddenly be in such a good mood?
Dean chuckled at Kevin's question, knowing they still had a lot of shit to get through but feeling ridiculously happy about seeing that ugly-ass amulet again within seconds.
It had been too damn long.
"Dean..." Kevin prompted. "Does he – "
" – yeah," Dean confirmed about the God-detecting charm. "Sam has it. He's going to get it now."
Dean could hear his brother down the hall, coughing and opening a drawer in his room.
"Sam's...wait..." Kevin sounded as confused as he probably looked. "Sam already has it?"
Dean nodded. "Yep."
The kid was getting it as they spoke.
That was his boy.
And after the trials were over...and the gates of Hell were closed...Dean would have it; would have the amulet back around his neck where it belonged...or maybe on his keychain this time.
He would let Sam decide.
But Dean would have the amulet.
And more importantly, Dean would have his brother.
He just had to get Sam through this last trial and then get the kid healthy again.
And then life would be good.
It had to be.
They were due a happy ending.