Summary: 9x01 Tag – Damaged Sam / Reassuring Ezekiel / Worried Big Brother Dean – Ezekiel blinked, resurfacing to look at Dean through Sam's eyes. "Your brother is worse than I initially thought. It is clear that the trials were indeed meant to kill him." "But they didn't," Dean countered sharply. "Sammy is still alive." Ezekiel nodded. "Yes. But only because I am inside of him."

Disclaimer: Not mine

Warnings: Spoilers for season nine and usual language

Notes: In its Hebrew origin, the meaning of Ezekiel is "strength of God". Ezekiel is often called the Angel of Transformation, with his greatest miracle being his resuscitation of the dead, which is recounted in chapter 37 of the Book of Ezekiel.

There's a light within. Alleluia... ~ Mary Chapin Carpenter

It had been one hell of a night.


Scratch that.

It had been one hell of a day and night.

Doctors and grief counselors and chapel visits.

MRIs and EEGs and CT scans.

Heart monitors and IV lines and oxygen tubes.

Coma this and coma that...followed by bargaining and praying and wiping silent tears.

Then watching and waiting.



Then angel had answered his call.

One who had fallen had accepted his plea.

Dean had felt indescribable relief...immediately followed by deep-rooted suspicion.

Because experience had taught that not everyone was who they said they were.

And even if they were who they claimed to be, that didn't automatically qualify them as one of the good guys.

Even the good guys were rarely all that good...especially these days.

Nobody could be trusted.

More specifically, nobody could be trusted around Sam.

Not when Dean's little brother was sick and weak and vulnerable.

No way was Dean just allowing this angel – this stranger – to come within reaching distance of the person he loved most.

No way.

Dean was desperate...but he wasn't stupid.

He had been a big brother longer than he had been a hunter, but the two most defining characteristics of Dean's personality often combined to protect Sam.

And that moment in the hospital's parking deck was such a time.

Interrogation was in order.

Right then, right there.

Holy fire was ignited and questioning began.

Because Dean didn't have time for an angel with an agenda that differed from his own.

And more importantly – Sam didn't have time.

If this angel had his own plans, if he intended to harm Dean's kid...

But no.

Ezekiel had seemed genuine in his concern; had seemed honest in his offer to help; had seemed committed to his mission as an angel aiding those in need.

Even when the original plan of fixing Sam from the outside had spiraled down into impossibility, Ezekiel had seemed sincere in his desire to still save Sam, to heal Dean's little brother from within.

And realizing there was no other way, Dean had agreed to let him.

Had gone to Sam, had pleaded as Death had stood within inches of them.

There ain't no me if there ain't no you having been one of the truest statements Dean had ever said to his brother.

Because call it codependency or whatever other bullshit label that applied...but Dean couldn't live without Sam.

And Sam knew it.

There had been a beat of silence as Death had watched them.

Then Sam had responded...just as Dean had known he would – a scared and confused, sick and weak and tired little brother tearfully asking his big brother for help, for advice.

What do I do?

"Stay," Dean had wanted to say. "Stay with me."

It was that simple.

It was that complicated.

But even without those words, Sam had known what his brother had wanted.

And Dean had known that Ezekiel needed an absolute "yes" from Sam; that angel possession required permission...even if granting that permission would likely be forgotten later.

"Is that a yes?" Dean had clarified.

Sam had hesitated.

Dean had held his breath.

Death had said nothing, ever the objective observer.



Sam had said it with such resolution, with such purpose that Dean had seen a brief glimpse of the stubborn, determined, tenacious little brother he knew was still somewhere inside of Sam.

That part of Sam that never gave up.

That part of Sam that was still fighting, still wanted to live.

That part of Sam that would always choose his big brother, would always choose to be wherever Dean was.

There ain't no me if there ain't no you apparently working both ways.

Dean had sighed, had smiled, had reached for his little brother and had allowed Ezekiel to handle the rest.

And now here they were.

The hospital miles behind them as an angel worked to do what doctors couldn't – heal Sam.

Though now that Dean thought about could this angel heal what Castiel could not?

Cas had said that Sam was damaged in ways even he couldn't heal.

But over the years, Dean had witnessed Cas healing a lot of bad shit with a single touch.

So what did that mean?

Had Cas been underestimating his angelic power to heal Sam from the effects of the trials?

Or was this Ezekiel somehow different?

Somehow stronger maybe?

Perhaps a higher order angel with higher powers...or something?

Dean sighed and shook his head.

"Hell if I know..." he muttered, worry and frustration and uncertainty making him feel edgy and tense.

Because Dean might not have known exactly how this worked, but he knew one thing for damn sure – this Ezekiel better not be bullshitting him.

The deal was to heal Sam, so Dean expected a healed little brother...not some bait-and-switch operation that revealed the angel's true motives once it was too late, once he was nice and cozy inside a helpless Sam.

Sam had already been one fallen angel's pawn.

No fucking way would Dean allow that to happen again.

Dean clenched his jaw at the thought and flexed his hands around the steering wheel as he drove. Squinting against the oncoming headlights as his gaze flickered from the road to his rearview, then to Sam curled against the window asleep...and then back to the road.

The thunder rumbled.

The rain-slick asphalt hissed beneath the Impala's tires as she carried her boys back to their home, back to their bunker.

Batcave Sweet Batcave.

Dean twitched a smile, thankful he had somewhere safe to take Sam; somewhere his brother could rest while Ezekiel did...whatever Ezekiel was going to do.

Though Dean wasn't quite sure how this whole thing worked or what the timeframe was.

In the big picture, Dean guessed it didn't matter.

He just expected – needed – a healed little brother on the other side of this deal.

And not only a healed little brother but a forgiving little brother as well.

Because Sam was going to be pissed.

Sam was going to feel betrayed.

Dean could already picture his brother's wounded expression when Sam found out about the angel possessing him; could already see the disbelief and angry tears; could already hear the sharp words Sam would hurl at him.

And that was fine.

Dean could take that.

But what Dean couldn't take was Sam dying.

That shit wasn't happening.

Not on Dean's watch.

And whether or not Sam realized it, it was always Dean's watch.

Sam was always on Dean's watch.

So Dean did what he had to do.

Just like he always did when it came to Sam.

Just like Sam would've done for him.

Who were they kidding?

If one brother was dying, the other brother was dealing.

And Dean didn't see that pattern ever changing.

They were in each other's veins.

There ain't no me if there ain't no you.

Dean sighed and glanced to his right, giving his little brother a once over.

Sam looking pale and thin as he slept beneath the comforting, familiar warmth of Dean's jacket draped over him.

Dean smiled softly at the sight – allowing himself to feel thankful and sappy – and then refocused on the road.

Only a few more miles and they would be home.

Dean sighed again, already making plans to sleep in Sam's least for tonight.

The big brother needing to be close, needing to keep an eye on his little brother fresh out of the hospital...and freshly possessed by an angel.

But Sam wouldn't know about any of that, thanks to Ezekiel's earlier mind wipe.

Sam would only scowl at Dean's motherhenning and would bitch about not being a child.

And Dean would listen patiently too an overly tired, moody little brother as he tucked Sam in and then settled down on the cot beside Sam's bed to keep watch through the night.

Because Sam would be right – he wasn't a child anymore.

But Sam would always be Dean's kid.

And Dean would always be a worried, overprotective big brother.

And that, little brother, was that.

Dean quirked an affectionate smile and nodded in agreement with himself as he glanced in his rearview, glanced at Sam, glanced back at the road.

The three-point visual check a familiar routine – rearview, Sam, road...repeat.

Dean had done that for years, even when Sam was fine and perfectly healthy.

So of course he would do that tonight, would maintain a check on his brother when barely an hour ago Sam was prepared to follow Death into the proverbial light.

Dean swallowed at the memory, then pushed it away.

Because Sam wasn't dead; he was right beside him.

Dean glanced at Sam just to be sure.

The steady patter of rain combined with the rhythmic motion of the wipers gliding across the windshield. The soothing rumble of the muscle car's engine mixed with the familiar sound of Sam breathing deep and steady as he continued to sleep, safe in the passenger seat where he belonged.

"Damn right you do," Dean heartily agreed about his little brother's place being right beside him.

Anywhere else was too far away.

If Sam wasn't within Dean's reach...then Sam was too far away.

Dean sighed, flashing his headlights and swearing at the asshole in the oncoming lane who apparently wanted to blind everyone with his high beams.

"Jackass..." Dean grumbled and shook his head.

A mile or so passed beneath the Impala.

Sam breathed, in and out.

But something was suddenly different.

Dean frowned, cutting his eyes to the passenger seat.

Because actually...that wasn't Sam's breathing.

Not anymore.

Dean could detect the subtle difference from his years of experience with listening to his brother breathe in the bed next to his...or while riding shotgun...or while sitting across the table.

Dean knew Sam's breathing patterns – every single one of them.

And what he was hearing now wasn't Sam.

It was...


Sam's body stirred as he turned toward Dean, his eyes snapping open; the vaguely vacant, emotionless stare confirming Dean's suspicion.

Dean's attention flickered from the road to the passenger seat as he waited for the angel to speak.

Ezekiel stared at him for several seconds.

"You knew."

It wasn't a question.

And there was no explanation behind the statement.

But Dean nodded.

Because of course he knew.


Was the angel faking sleep, hoping Dean wouldn't notice the glaringly obvious difference between the ways he and Sam breathed?


Ezekiel continued to stare at Dean from behind Sam's eyes, the angel turning Sam's expression to look strangely fond and fascinated.

"So it is true then..."

Dean arched an eyebrow. "What's true?"

Ezekiel paused.

"What they say about you. What they say about you and your brother..."

Dean snorted.

Because he could only imagine the stories circulating throughout the supernatural world about him and Sam.

But yeah, okay...Dean would take the bait on this one.

"What do they say about us?"

Ezekiel changed Sam's expression once again to reflect the reverence of what he was about to tell.

And honestly, that was kind of freaky – this angel animating Sam like a puppet.

Dean swallowed, reminding himself that what was done was done.

There was no turning back.

Ezekiel was inside of Sam...and Dean had to deal with it if he wanted his little brother healed and whole and alive.

"Ezekiel..." Dean prompted when the angel hadn't spoken. "What do they say about us?"

Whoever "they" were...

Although Dean was sure the stories differed depending on the supernatural circle one traveled in.

But it would be interesting to know what angels thought, what they had been told about the Winchester brothers.

Ezekiel opened Sam's mouth and paused, clearly choosing his words in order to pay proper respect to what he was about to say.

"The bond between you and your brother is that of legends whispered through the ages," the angel informed. "Sam and Dean, the promised sons of John and Mary. The prophesied offspring resulting from the preordained union between hunter and scholar. You and your brother, two parts of a whole. One soul split between two bodies yet still bound together deeper and tighter than is able to be known."

Ezekiel paused again at the wonder of it.

Dean stared out the rain-splattered windshield, speechless at the angel's description of his and Sam's relationship.

"I had barely surfaced just now," Ezekiel continued "And yet you knew I was here in place of your brother even before I spoke...which proves your connection with Sam is as strong as the legends imply."

Dean blinked, suddenly uncomfortable with the idea of him and Sam being discussed by angels as though their lives were a bedtime story.

"Yeah, I guess..." Dean finally agreed, his voice rough with emotion.

Because he didn't know about legends and whatever other crap Ezekiel was rambling about.

Dean just knew his Sammy.

He sighed but said nothing as Ezekiel continued to stare at him from behind Sam's face, his blank expression reminiscent of a soulless Sam.

Dean swallowed, feeling his earlier uneasiness return.

Because what if this angel...

"I mean your brother no harm."

Dean glanced from the road to the passenger seat, arching an eyebrow at Ezekiel's proclamation.

"I can hear your thoughts," the angel explained, patient and unoffended. "I know you are still suspicious of me. It is your nature. But I assure you – I mean your brother no harm."

"Good," Dean replied, not needing to elaborate; his tone promising deadly trouble if the angel changed his mind about that.

But Cas had said that Ezekiel was a good soldier; had sounded nostalgically fond as he had told Dean that the angel should be able to help Sam.

And that vote of confidence counted for something.

Or at least, Dean had initially thought so.

But now...

Ezekiel continued to stare at Dean from across the bench seat.

"Castiel vouched for me, did he not?"

Dean frowned at the unexpected question and glanced at Ezekiel, his own question unspoken.

"I am a celestial being," the angel reminded, brushing Sam's hair from his eyes. "And being so, I am privy to conversations regardless of whether or not I am physically present when they occur."

Dean snorted. "Well, that's nice," he drawled. "A celestial fly on the wall..."

With angels loose on earth and potentially listening to every word, Dean would have to be more careful about what he said...and who he spoke to...and when and where and...

"I am sorry. I do not understand that reference."

Dean blinked at the phrase and glanced again at Ezekiel, remembering all the times Cas had said the same in relation to human figures of speech and vaguely wondering if those words were programmed into every angel.

I do not understand that reference.

Much like electronics were programmed to respond to unfamiliar commands – polite but detached and disinterested.

Not caring to understand...just informing you that they didn't.

Dean sighed.

"Never mind," he dismissed and then focused on the only thing that mattered. "Where's Sam?"

...which was a weird question to ask when it appeared as though Dean's brother was looking right back at him.

Ezekiel didn't even blink.

"He is sleeping," the angel replied, his voice quiet as though he would wake Sam within.

"Sleeping?" Dean repeated, well aware of how possession worked but still struggling with the idea of his little brother tucked away in some compartment within his own body while this angel manned the controls.

Ezekiel nodded, then glanced out the rain-streaked windshield as if the conversation was over.

Dean shook his head.

Because that's not how this worked.

When he asked questions about his little brother, he expected details.

Dean shifted behind the steering wheel, reminding himself that Ezekiel was new to this, that the angel needed schooling in the ways of Winchester much like Cas once had.

"Is he okay?"

Ezekiel turned Sam's large eyes toward Dean, tilting his head slightly at what he clearly perceived to be a concerningly stupid question.

"No," the angel answered, his voice Sam's but his tone his own – that deep, strangely harmonic, hypnotic monotone. "He is quite unwell."

"I know, but..." Dean swallowed, almost afraid to repeat the question. "He's okay, right?"

Ezekiel seemed perplexed.

Because how could a human be okay...if he wasn't okay?

This was strange.


Ezekiel blinked at Dean, noting the older brother's glare.

"Hello," the angel replied as if he was returning Dean's greeting.

Dean rolled his eyes. "Listen. I'm not gonna ask you again. Is Sammy okay in there?"

Because Dean was worried and Sam hadn't been awake long enough earlier for Dean to ask all of his questions.

"He is resting," Ezekiel reported about Sam, hoping that was comforting enough for the older brother. "But he is not okay. There is still much work to be done."

Dean nodded tightly at what he already knew. "Yeah."

Silence passed.

The rain continued to fall; misting in the headlights, reflecting off the wet pavement.

Ezekiel stared straight ahead through the windshield, Sam's eyes unblinking as the angel roamed within like a new tenant evaluating his new home.

Paint the walls, change the color scheme, rip up the carpet, replace the tile, maybe consider installing new countertops...

It was unnerving.

And it was pissing Dean off.

Sam's body was a body, not a place.

Dean clenched his jaw, his grip tightening around the steering wheel as he drove.

"What are you doing?" the big brother demanded, his tone as accusatory as he felt.

Because Ezekiel was supposed to heal Sam, not violate him.

"I am assessing the damage more thoroughly," Ezekiel replied calmly, not looking at Dean as he continued to look within Sam. "How long did he bleed?"

Dean felt himself pale, felt something twist sharply inside his chest at the question.

Because Sam had bled too fucking long.

"I..." Dean cleared his throat, shifted in the driver's seat. "I don't know. A few months..."

"No." Ezekiel shook his head. "The condition of Sam's lungs would imply much longer. They are stripped and raw. There is much to repair here."

As if Ezekiel was currently standing in Sam's lungs, looking up and around with his hands on his hips as he surveyed the project he had agreed to undertake.

"There is much, much damage."

Dean swallowed at the angel's words, remembering Sam's chest-rattling, blood-producing coughs.

"But you can fix it, right?"

Ezekiel's hesitation in responding made Dean's stomach clench.

"Right?" Dean pressed.

Ezekiel sighed. "I should be able to, yes..."

Sam's eyes squinted as the angel's attention shifted.

Dean watched, his own attention frantically flickering between the road and the passenger seat as he knew Ezekiel was on the move inside of Sam.

"What?" Dean asked, hating how his voice shook with fear and worry. "Where are you now?"

"'And so Joshua burned the city of Ai and made it a permanent heap of ruins...'"

Dean frowned. "Excuse me?"

"Joshua 8:28," the angel quoted.

Dean pulled a face. "Okay..." he allowed, not surprised that a celestial being was reciting Scripture but... "What does that mean?"

Ezekiel shook Sam's head in disbelief of what he was seeing within.

"Hey!" Dean snapped. "Talk to me. What does that mean? What does that mean for Sam?"

Ezekiel sighed under the weight of the news he had to deliver to the older brother.

"The condition of Sam's organs is reminiscent of that city, one of many cities that burned in the days of Joshua. Like those cities, Sam's organs are scorched and charred...mere shadows of the thriving structures they once were."

Dean swallowed, remembering how many times what appeared to be electrical current had coursed through Sam's body during the trials.

Remembering the doctor's words...

The MRI shows massive internal burns affecting many of the major organs.

Dean's heart pounded, his jaw bunched so tightly it hurt.

He breathed slow and deliberate before speaking.

"But you can fix that, too...right?"

"I will try," Ezekiel answered, sounding slightly overwhelmed.

Like a contractor who had accepted a project sight unseen...and was perhaps regretting it now that he had seen.

There was silence.

"There are remnants of a wall here..." Ezekiel commented, now sounding confused.

And Dean knew exactly where the angel had moved.

"In Sam's head?"

Ezekiel nodded, bobbing Sam's chin. "Crumbled like the walls of Jericho."

Dean scowled at the description. "What else?"

"I cannot see much else. It is unusually cloudy here," Ezekiel reported, clearly concerned.

The doctor's words once again floated to Dean.

Oxygen to the brain has been severely deprived.

"But – "

" – I will try to fix that as well," the angel interrupted and then sighed.

Dean's heart hammered, sensing something unsaid. "What?"

Ezekiel blinked, resurfacing to look at Dean through Sam's eyes.

"Your brother is worse than I initially thought."

It was a stab in Dean's heart.

He swallowed, continuing to drive.

"After completing my assessment, it is clear that the trials were indeed meant to kill him."

"But they didn't," Dean countered sharply. "Sammy is still alive."

"Only because I am inside of him," Ezekiel pointed out, reminding Dean of why he had done this.

Because without the angel within, Sam would die.

Sam would already be dead.

The wipers swept back and forth over the windshield.

The Impala's engine rumbled, Dean's best girl attempting to soothe his frayed nerves.

It didn't work.

"How long?"

Ezekiel once again shook Sam's head. "It is impossible to say."

"Try," Dean growled, because he needed a timeframe.

He hated lying to Sam, especially after they had been so honest with each other back in that church.

But now the cycle was starting all over again.

And Dean fucking hated it.

"How long?"

Ezekiel lifted Sam's chin at the repeated question, refusing to be pegged.

"I do not know," the angel replied, his tone firm and vaguely resembling Sam's when he was tired of being bothered. "The damage is great. Your brother is weak, as am I...both of which will prolong the process."

Ezekiel paused.

"This takes as long as it takes to reap the mutual benefits."

"You mean healing Sam while you heal yourself..."

The angel nodded as Dean echoed his earlier words spoken at Sam's bedside before possessing the youngest Winchester.

"Could you heal Sam faster if you didn't try to heal yourself?"

Ezekiel narrowed Sam's eyes. "Perhaps. But that was not the deal."

"Screw the fucking deal!" Dean snapped, pressing harder on the Impala's gas pedal as anger pulsed through him. "Nothing personal, but I don't care about you. I want my brother!"

Ezekiel seemed unfazed at Dean's outburst, schooling Sam's expression to once again appear detached and emotionless.

"And you shall have him," the angel assured. "But to everything there is a season, a time to every purpose under heaven..."

Dean rolled his eyes, not needing more Scripture.

"Fine," he allowed coolly. "But when Sammy is healed – "

" – then I will leave," Ezekiel finished, pausing before he continued. "I am on your side, Dean. I am on Sam's side."

"Yeah," Dean agreed, his tone biting. "But mostly you're on your side..."

Because Dean knew how angels worked.

And while he was thankful for Ezekiel's help, he was still uneasy.

Was still waiting for the other shoe to drop...because it always did.

Ezekiel shook his head, Sam's head.

"And I say unto you, ask and it shall be given you; seek and you ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you..."

Dean sighed as the angel quoted more Scripture.


Ezekiel sighed as well.

"I am a soldier of the Lord, Dean. I am a servant to His creation. You asked for my help, and I granted it. I am bound to do as I have said I would. I will heal your brother and then I will depart from him. Your mistrust in me is misplaced. I am not the prowling lion or the slithering serpent."

Though that fear had crossed Dean's mind...that constant fear of Lucifer somehow finding a way back to his vessel, worming his way inside of Sam when Dean's little brother was weakest.

Dean sighed as the Impala rolled on...and Ezekiel waited in the passenger seat, looking at him with Sam's eyes.

"I hear you," Dean finally replied after several seconds of silence. "I just...I just want my little brother back. I want Sammy to be okay. I want him to be healed. I want him to be safe and healthy and happy. After everything he's been through, he deserves that."

"So do you."

"Sam's my happiness," Dean responded and then laughed self-consciously at the unexpected confession.

But it was true...and the angel likely already knew it.

Sam was Dean's happiness.

If his little brother was okay, then Dean was happy.

Ezekiel sighed.

"Sam is strong. He is widely known as one of the strongest vessels ever created. He has housed the Morning Star. His soul was shredded in The Cage. He was tormented and tortured in unspeakable ways. And yet...he recovered. With you by his side, Sam recovered."

"Damn right he did."

Ezekiel smiled softly at the love in Dean's voice.

"The damage is great, but I assure you that Sam's spirit is greater. He will grow stronger with each passing day as I mend what is broken and heal what is burned. The process may be slow and the time may be long, but Sam will recover. I will see to that. I give you my word. As long as you give me yours..."

"My word?" Dean echoed and arched an eyebrow. "My word about what?"

Ezekiel was silent, once again choosing his words.

"I need you to trust me, Dean. I need you to trust me to do as you have asked and nothing more. I meant what I said earlier. I mean no harm to your brother. But I need your word that you believe me. Without your faith, this will never work."

Dean snorted.

Because after everything he had experienced in this shitty life, he didn't have faith in anything...except Sam.

Dean had faith in Sam.

He had faith in his kid who was sick and weak and tired...but who, at his core, was too stubborn to give up.

He had faith in how much he loved Sam, in how much Sam loved him.

He had faith in his and Sam's bond as brothers.

He had faith in his Sammy, in the kid who had chosen him over Death.

Dean twitched a smile.

"Alright," he agreed, swallowing against the emotion clogging his throat. "You have my word. I trust you. I'll stand by you. But most of all, I'm standing by Sam."

Dean stared at the angel from across the bench seat, making sure Ezekiel heard every word.

"Because Sam is my priority in this. He's what matters. If things start to go sideways...if something goes wrong in this whole healing process...I will do whatever I have to do to save Sammy...regardless of what that means for you."

Ezekiel nodded, seeming to understand.

"Of course you will. You are two parts of a whole. It is instinct to save that of which is of yourself."

Dean said nothing.

Because his instinct to protect Sam, to save Sam had always been stronger than his instinct to protect or save himself.

Why else would Dean have run towards a blazing fire when he was only four-years old...except to save Sam?

Silence filled the Impala.

Dean sighed, shifting in the driver's seat as he felt himself begin to relax.

" that we've settled that, I guess here's to you being the third wheel for a while, huh?"

Ezekiel frowned. "I do not – "

" – understand that reference," Dean finished and rolled his eyes. "Yeah. I know."

"That is correct," Ezekiel confirmed.

Dean didn't bother explaining.

But he did have a question for the angel.

"Hey, ah...can I call you Zeke?"

Ezekiel contorted Sam's expression to resemble a bitchface, reflecting his repulsion to such a nickname.

"No. You may not."

Dean smiled and shrugged.

There was a pause.

Ezekiel sighed.

"I do not wish to be rude, but we will talk more later. There is much to discuss about Sam's condition, and I will give updates as they are available. But for now, it is easier for me to do what needs to be done when Sam is asleep. So if you will excuse me...I must take my leave. I have work to do."

Dean arched an eyebrow at the familiar phrase – Sam having said a variation of it barely an hour ago – and felt the thread of solidarity strengthen between him and Ezekiel.

Because like it or not, they were now in this together...for Sam.

Dean nodded, alternating his focus between the road and the passenger seat as he watched the angel go deeper within his brother.

Sam's eyes closing as Ezekiel became unreachable while he set about healing and mending and fixing and saving.

Dean felt a tiny flicker of hope flutter in his chest.

Because maybe this was going to work after all.

Maybe Ezekiel could undo what had been done to Sam; could reverse the damage inside inflicted by the trials; could make Dean's little brother well again.

The chance was worth it.

Sam was worth it.

"Always worth it, Sammy..." Dean murmured.

Because no matter what happened, Dean's little brother was always worth whatever it took to save him.

Whatever it took.

Dean sighed and glanced to the passenger seat at Sam; softly smiling as his brother once again curled toward the window.

Sam's eyes closed as he slept and Ezekiel worked within.