Sam rubbed his forehead with his fingers and sighed, his eyes burning from lack of sleep. His back ached from leaning over the notes he had made, his laptop laying open on the table in front of him.
He had been searching for hours and had ended up with nothing but a dead-end.
Sitting against the back of the chair, Sam stretched his arms over his head, trying to work out his stiff muscles.
It was late, both Dean and Kevin were asleep, or so Sam guessed as he hadn't seen either of them in a few hours.
Shoving away from the table, Sam decided to make his way to the kitchen to make himself some coffee.
Halfway down the hallway, however, the young man paused. He turned back instead and headed towards the staircase that led to the basement. Telling himself that he was only going to see if he could find some books on Knights of Hell, Sam walked down the stairs slowly. He knew he should probably call it a night soon, if only to keep Dean from worrying about him, but Sam decided that another hour or so awake wouldn't hurt him.
Besides, they needed to find a way to stop Abaddon as soon as possible before she could wreak any more havoc.
Sam stepped down onto the cement floor and glanced around at the hundreds of boxes that contained numerous books and files the generations of Men of Letters had collected.
Where to start?
Sam sighed and walked towards a box marked with a letter 'H'. At least they were all in alphabetical order.
Pulling the box down, Sam set it on the floor and crouched as he took the lid off and set it aside.
"Moose? Is that you? I can hear you stomping around out there," Crowley's gruff, Cockney accent floated out from behind the iron doors of his cell.
Sam set his jaw and ignored the demon. He flipped through the manila folders and files in the box until he pulled out one that had the word 'HELL' scrawled across it in black marker. Setting the fat folder on top of the other, Sam opened it and glanced at its contents.
There were many handwritten notes, some many pages, others simply written on scraps of paper and even one written on a napkin from a restaurant called 'Dottie's Donuts and Coffee'.
"Aren't you going to talk? What are you doing?" Crowley's voice piped up and Sam scanned the papers quickly, fingers flicking through the items with the practiced ease of a seasoned researcher.
"What? Not in a chatty mood? Well I am," the demon continued, "Let's talk. Did you find anything out about those two names I gave you?"
I should just take this upstairs, Sam thought and flipped the folder closed.
Straightening up, Sam yawned widely as he tucked the folder underneath his arm.
"Have you found out how to kill Abaddon yet?"
Sam glared at the closed iron doors, wanting nothing more than to shut the so-called king of Hell up.
Walking forward, the young man turned on the light switch and pulled open one of the doors.
Crowley smirked at him from his chair in the middle of the room.
"What is it?" Sam asked, irritated.
"There's something different about you, Moose," the demon told him, "I sensed it as soon as I saw you."
"What are you talking about?" Sam snapped, stepping closer.
"Well, the last time we were face-to-face like this you were on your last legs," Crowley explained, "And suddenly your now as healthy as, well, a moose."
Sam didn't say anything. He didn't know what to say. The last thing he remembered was curling up against the passenger side door of the Impala, soaking with mud and rain, his stomach feeling as though it was being torn apart from the inside while angels fell like shooting stars from the night sky. Dean said he'd passed out in the car and had slept for an entire day. The young man guessed that since Dean had stopped him from completing the final trial, he had begun to recover from their effects.
He felt better than he had in a long, long time.
"What does that have to do with anything?" Sam asked, exasperated and turned to leave.
"You are dumber than you look," Crowley insulted and Sam glanced back at the demon.
"Did Dean tell you some half-baked story about how you're getting better just because he prevented you from finishing the trials? He did, didn't he?"
Sam didn't want to let himself be played into Crowley's hands but he couldn't help but nod.
"He said I just kind of slept it off and I've been recovering ever since," Sam answered, his voice quiet.
The demon chuckled.
"Sam," he said, "We both know that's not true. I'm sure you felt just as knackered after Dean dragged you from that chapel, am I right?"
The younger Winchester nodded, grimacing at the memory. He had thought he was dying.
"Just because big brother put a stopper on that last trial didn't reverse its affects," Crowley explained, "Or the affects of the first two, either. You were in a bad way when Dean found you."
Sam frowned, brow furrowed, "What are you suggesting?"
"You had one foot in the grave, Moose!" the demon crowed, "No amount of sleep was going to fix you."
"But, Dean-" Sam began; he knew he shouldn't be listening to Crowley, but what the demon said did make sense.
"Your days were numbered," the king of Hell continued, "You weren't making it out of those trials alive without some sort of intervention."
Sam's mouth opened in shock.
"Dean didn't make a deal, did he?"
Crowley rolled his eyes, "I don't think the Squirrel has it in him to go through that again. No, but he had some other help. I can tell. Like I said, I can sense something is different about you."
Sam took a step closer. What had Dean done? What did Crowley mean by 'different'?
"Do you know? Do you know what he did?"
The demon smirked, "You'll have to ask him that yourself."
Sam backed away, his heart pounding. He turned and nearly ran out of the room, not bothering to close the door behind him and dropping the file in his haste, scattering the papers across the concrete floor.
Sam took the stairs two at a time. He had to talk to Dean. Now.
What had happened? Why would Dean lie to him? What kind of help had his brother asked for?
Sam dashed down the hall, nearly slamming into his brother's bedroom door as he came to it but managed to open it in time.
"Dean!" Sam exclaimed as he reached the bed, shaking his sleeping sibling.
"Dean! Wake up!"
The older Winchester's eyes snapped open and he sat up, "Sammy! What's wrong? Are you okay?"
Sam shook his head and tried to calm down enough to have a conversation with his brother, "What did you do?"
Dean frowned, "When? Sam, what's the matter? Why are you out of breath?"
Sam sat down beside his brother and Dean grabbed his arms, "Sam?"
Dean's grip tightened painfully and Sam flinched.
"Crowley! Sam, where you talking to him?!"
Sam nodded but Dean spoke before he could continue.
"Damn it, Sam! You know better than that! That asshole gets into your head! Why the hell would you listen to him?"
Sam glanced down, "I was trying to find information on the Knights of Hell and he started talking to me. He said there was something different about me."
Dean smirked, "You are different, college-boy."
Sam looked up and scowled, "That's not what he meant."
"He was just messing with you, Sammy," Dean insisted, "Listen, why don't you get some sleep and tomorrow I'll kick that dickhead's ass for getting under your skin, okay?"
"Was I dying, Dean?"
Dean faltered, Sam could see it in his brother's eyes, the way they darkened.
"What? Nah," Dean answered, his tone too casual, "You just needed some long overdue rest and you were as fine as paint."
"It felt like I was dying," Sam countered quietly, one arm unconsciously wrapping around his belly.
"Sam," Dean said seriously, "Do you trust me?"
The younger man nodded.
"You were in bad shape," Dean told him, "The doctors couldn't do anything."
Sam's eyes widened, "But you said-"
"I know what I said! I lied, okay?" Dean snapped and Sam didn't speak again.
"You were in a coma," the older brother continued, "I didn't know what to do so I prayed."
Sam's mouth opened in awe, "Was it… Is wasn't God, was it?"
Dean shook his head, "No, He's still on vacation. I, uh, I asked any angel out there if they would help."
Sam stood up suddenly, "You… you asked them to heal me?"
Dean nodded, "I tried to get Cas but he wasn't answering so I tried anyone else who was listening."
Sam's mouth went dry, "What happened?"
"I got you some help," Dean said with finality.
"What kind, Dean," Sam asked, "What did you do? It was a fallen angel, right? It had to be? How could that help me?"
His brother shrugged, "They still have some of their mojo, I guess and this one could still use his healing hands."
Sam knew his brother was being evasive and it annoyed him.
"So, what, he just put his hands on me and poof! I'm cured," Sam asked incredulously, "Dean, I'm not that gullible. Cas couldn't even fix me."
"You were dying, Sammy," Dean began, "I didn't have any choice. I couldn't lose you!"
Sam closed his eyes, bile rising up his throat.
"Sam?" Dean said his name and Sam looked at him.
"Why?" he asked, "Why didn't you let me go? I was in a coma, I'd have gone peacefully enough."
"Sammy," Dean stood and took a step forward, pausing when Sam backed away from him.
"What if I didn't want to be saved?"
"Don't say that, Sam," Dean begged, "There's no me without you, remember?"
"Stop saying that!" Sam snapped, taking a step back, "I didn't ask you to save me! I didn't want to be saved."
Dean's expression was hurt, his hazel eyes filling with tears.
"We can't keep doing this," Sam continued, whispering, his voice barely audible, "That's why I didn't look for you after you killed Dick Roman."
"Sam… c'mon," Dean tried, "You just need some sleep. You'll feel better in the morning."
The younger man shook his head, "I'm tired, Dean."
"Okay," Dean brightened somewhat, "Let's get you to bed."
"I've been tired for a long time now," Sam continued, "I… I can't keep doing this… I just want to rest."
"Sammy?" Dean took a step forward, concern etched on his features.
"I just… I fuck everything up and I'm tired, Dean. I can't keep hurting people… hurting you."
"No," Dean argued, "No, you don't fuck things up… no more than I do, anyway, and you always try and make it better."
Sam looked at his brother, "I just want to… I was ready to go, Dean… and you wouldn't let me. How many more times are we going to do this? For how long? Are we still going to go through this when we're fifty? Eighty? We… we can't live forever… I don't want to live forever…. I don't want to… live-"
"Sam, stop," Dean rushed forwards and grabbed his brother in a hug, squeezing him tightly.
Neither brother spoke for a long moment before Sam once again raised his voice.
"What did the angel do?"
Dean didn't reply. He squeezed his eyes shut. This wasn't happening. This couldn't be happening. He was having a nightmare.
"Dean! What did he do?!"
Sam pulled back and held Dean at arm's length.
"He said he could heal you but he could only do it from the inside," Dean admitted.
Sam's face paled and he stepped back, staggering.
"I didn't want you to find out like this," Dean said, "I was going to tell you… I just needed the right time."
"I'm… I'm p-possessed?" Sam asked, his voice cracking.
"It was the only way to help you," Dean told him but before he could continue Sam was already out the door.
"Sam! Sammy! Wait! Stop!" Dean called, rushing after his brother, afraid of what his sibling might do.
To Dean's shock Sam did pause. He stopped mid-stride and stood ramrod straight.
"Sam?" Dean asked as he approached the younger man.
Sam turned and Dean saw from the expression on his face that it wasn't Sam but Ezekiel.
"Zeke," Dean breathed, not sure if he should be relieved by the angel's appearance or not.
"Your brother is afraid," the angel informed him tonelessly.
"Of what?" Dean asked, knowing the question was stupid as soon as it left his mouth.
Dean bit his lip.
"He is thinking about the past times he was possessed, by both the demon you called Meg and my brother," the angel explained and Dean nodded mutely.
"How long can you stay?" Dean asked, running a hand through his short hair anxiously.
"Sam does not yet realize that he can force me out," Zeke answered, "And I would like it to remain that way. He is still not strong enough."
"Okay," Dean muttered, "Can you hold on for a while until Sam calms down?"
The angel inclined his head in a nod.
"I can communicate with your brother if you wish," Zeke told Dean, "Show him I do not intend to cause him harm."
"You can do that?" the hunter asked and the angel once again nodded.
"Do it," Dean agreed, knowing that Sam was a reasonable man and would likely be willing to listen to the angel.
Ezekiel walked slowly down the corridor made narrow with rows upon rows of bookshelves. Although there were many tomes, there were also cardboard cartons on the shelves as well, Sam's writing on each of them, marking there contents as everything from music lyrics to movie quotes, and everything in-between.
As the angel approached the room where Sam was, he noticed that the contents of the shelves became more personal. Jessica Moore was scrawled across almost a dozen cardboard boxes, the last one blackened around the corners. Dean had numerous books and cartons of his own, his name written in childish scrawl to a young man's handwriting. The angel couldn't help but smile at the sight.
Ezekiel paused when he caught sight of a series of boxes, eighteen in all, that were battered- almost splitting at the seams- and alarmingly, appeared to have been soaked in blood, the substance now a dark brown. Glancing down, the angel frowned when he saw crimson drops leaking from the bottoms of the boxes, marring the contents on the shelves beneath. The angel wondered if he should move the other items out of the way so they would not become contaminated and then thought better of it. He was a guest here and he should not be touching anything.
Turning his attention back to the door at the end of the hall, Ezekiel hoped he could convince the young man of his good will. Stepping right up to the door- it looked like any motel room door, flaking beige paint and a rusty metal number hanging near the top, just beneath the peep-hole- the angel took a deep breath and knocked lightly.
"Sam Winchester," he called, voice raised to be hear beyond the door.
There was no response.
"My name is Ezekiel," the angel continued, "I mean you no harm."
Still silence. Was the young man even inside or had he hidden somewhere else? The angel looked up and his heart dropped at the sight of the twisting staircase that led up and up and up, to even more levels of Sam's mind.
"Dean is very worried about you."
Ezekiel thought he heard movement coming from within the room but when he strained to hear it, the sound vanished.
The angel turned and again his gaze landed on the bleeding cardboard boxes.
"I know what my brother did to you," he said quietly, "I will not hurt you as he did."
"I do not expect you to trust me," the angel continued, "But trust Dean when he says that this was the only way to save you."
Ezekiel heard movement again, he was sure of it and startled when the door was thrust open.
Sam was gazing at him with a wary expression.
"When you're finished fixing me, you'll leave? Right away?"
"Yes," Ezekiel said, "If that is what you wish."
Sam took a tentative step across the threshold and Ezekiel's heart broke when he saw the young man was trembling.
"Jessica Moore," the angel spoke up, trying to ease the young man's fear, "I knew her."
Sam's eyes misted and he smiled slightly, "Is she happy?"
Ezekiel nodded, "Yes. Many of the memories she chose to surround herself with are those she made with you."
Sam's face scrunched up in an attempt to keep from crying and he walked past the angel towards the box with his girlfriend's name written on it.
"Does she… Do you know if she blamed me," Sam choked out, "For what happened?"
Ezekiel shook his head, "She was glad for the time she had with you."
Sam nodded at the angel's answer and chuckled slightly. He brought down the cardboard box, hugging it to his chest and closed his eyes for a moment.
"I still miss her," he whispered, "Even after all these years."
The angel nodded and watched as Sam opened the box, smiling at whatever memories it held for him.
Sam Winchester might not fully trust Ezekiel but the angel hoped that in time the young man would come to look upon him as a friend.
1. Fanfic title taken from a Scorpions song of the same name.
2. Please let me know what you think! I love your reviews!