Summary: 9x03 Tag – Come Darkness, Come Light 'verse – Tired, Slightly Hurt Sam / Big Brother Dean / Aloof Ezekiel – Sam was pale and quiet as he slept at the opposite end of the couch. And Dean was worried.
Disclaimer: Not mine
Warnings: Spoilers for season nine and usual language
A/N: I love Dean. But I do not love how he completely ignored an unconscious Sam twice to instead focus on Cas. And I like Ezekiel. I want him to be a good guy. But I just don't know about that. Something seems a little off...
It feels alright as long as nobody knows. ~ Grace Potter and the Nocturnals
The yellow-blue glow of the television was the only source of light shining in the part of the Batcave they considered the living room.
The part of the bunker that had a couch with two oversized armchairs on either side of it and a coffee table within easy reach no matter which seat was taken.
There was a rug in the middle, its fringed edges reaching out beyond the borders of the table to cover a decent portion of the floor beneath it.
The television across the room was big enough – though Dean was always campaigning for one even bigger – and there was usually some sports game or action movie playing out onscreen...or something far more academic and far less interesting if it was Sam's turn to pick the channel.
There were floor lamps beside the armchairs and lamps on the smaller tables bordering both ends of the couch.
The room was spacious and comfortable and felt like home more than any other room in the bunker.
Because here the boys would just hang out and watch TV...and banter and swap inside jokes...and roll their eyes at each other and pull faces...and smile and laugh...and punch arms and shove shoulders and roughly pat backs.
Sam and Dean just being together and doing all the things that made them brothers.
It was their routine.
They did whatever had to be done during the day knowing that in the evening they would usually come home, eat dinner together, and then would crash in the living room.
Those few hours spent relaxing and unwinding with his little brother before turning in for the night was Dean's favorite part of the day.
But tonight was different.
Tonight, Dean was alone.
...or might as well be alone.
Because Sam was pale and quiet as he slept at the opposite end of the couch.
Dean's little brother's sock-clad feet pushing against Dean's thigh as Sam shifted beneath the blanket Dean had thrown over him.
Sam having seemed tired as he had picked at his dinner...and then having looked exhausted as he had stretched out on the sofa within seconds of sitting down, commenting that he was dizzy and his head hurt.
Moments later, he had drifted to sleep.
That had been over an hour ago.
Dean glanced at his watch.
No...make that almost two hours ago.
And while Dean knew he didn't need to borrow trouble, experience had taught that a little brother who napped this long, this close to bedtime was an unwell little brother.
The realization made Dean's stomach twist with dread and concern as he remembered Sam's body's reaction after Ezekiel had surfaced within him long enough to heal Castiel.
Remembered how his little brother had grunted in pain and had stumbled backwards, had appeared disoriented and overwhelmed...and then had promptly lost consciousness.
On instinct, Dean had been crossing to Sam in the next second.
But then Cas had called his name and...
Dean shook his head at the memory of his lapse in being a big brother, having already sent himself on a guilt trip earlier...but now freshly annoyed with himself again.
Freshly wanting to kick his own ass for not checking on Sam more thoroughly when the kid had collapsed in a motionless heap on the floor...twice.
Good job in ordering those priorities, Dean.
Well done in letting your actions back up your words.
Don't you dare think there is anything past or present that I would put in front of you.
...except a former angel.
Obviously Cas would be put in front of Sam if Dean was forced to choose between the two.
Because based on his actions today, that was exactly what had happened – former angel #1 on Dean's list...and little brother #2.
Better luck next time, Sammy.
Dean inwardly cringed and then snorted his disgust at his inner dialogue, hoping Sam's inner dialogue hadn't matched his own.
Because it wasn't true.
Sam was always Dean's first priority.
He just sometimes sucked at showing it.
Dean sighed harshly.
"I'm sorry, Sammy..." he apologized, staring at Sam as he slept and hoping his kid was okay.
Because regardless of how Sam had said he felt these days – or how much Ezekiel confirmed that feeling – Sam was still recovering from the effects of the trials.
Not to mention that Dean's little brother had been knocked unconscious two weeks in a row.
Then there were the residual effects Sam suffered anytime Ezekiel resurfaced – the subtle confusion, the drain of energy, and the kid's eyes often irritated and bloodshot from the repeated flashing of angelic blue.
Not that Sam knew that.
Sam just knew that he was tired and his eyes hurt.
Dean glanced around the living room, remembering how he had turned off the lamps earlier when Sam had squinted against their glare.
"Thanks," Sam had mumbled inside of a yawn as Dean had settled beside him on the couch.
Dean had scanned the length of his brother before he had refocused on Sam's face, wondering when those dark circles had reappeared beneath the kid's eyes.
"You need to go to bed, Sam."
"Mmhmm..." Sam had hummed in agreement but hadn't moved.
Dean had quirked a smile at his drowsy kid.
"Sammy. You hear me?"
Sam had nodded, his head rubbing against one of the couch pillows.
"In a minute..." he had stalled about getting up and going to bed.
Dean had rolled his eyes and had reached for the remote on the coffee table.
Sam had continued to lay on the couch with his feet practically in Dean's lap.
Several minutes had passed, a comfortable silence settling between them as Dean had channel surfed...and Sam had blinked long and slow at the TV across the room before he had finally surrendered to the pull of sleep.
Dean had snorted affectionately at his predictable little brother.
"I told you to go to bed..." Dean had grumbled as he had reduced the TV's volume and then had tugged the blanket from the back of the couch to cover Sam.
Sam had sighed, had briefly turned his head toward Dean's hand as his big brother had tucked the edge of the blanket over and around Sam's shoulder.
But Sam had settled after that, leaving Dean by himself in the dark living room.
...which was dangerous.
Because when Dean was alone, he thought too much.
And when he thought too much, he worried.
About the prophet living down the hall...about the former King of Hell tied up in their basement...about a graceless angel no longer protected by the safety of the bunker but now back out there roaming the streets.
Dean could still see the confused expression on Cas's face as he had tried to process Dean's lame reason for why he had to leave.
"I'm sorry," was all Dean could say in the aftermath of his half-ass explanation.
Cas had blinked at him. "Was it something I did?"
Dean had shaken his head. "No."
Cas had said nothing, trying to process the sudden change in plans, and then had glanced to the next room.
"Is it because of Sam?"
Dean had followed the former angel's gaze to Ezekiel standing beside the glowing map table and watching them from behind Sam's eyes.
"Dean..." Cas had prompted. "Is it because of Sam?"
Dean had sighed. "No."
...though that wasn't entirely true.
In a way, this was because of Sam.
Dean was sending Cas away to protect Sam, to keep the angel inside his little brother happy so Dean could still have a little brother.
Cas had tilted his head at Dean's answer and had glanced back at Sam. "He looks angry."
Dean had nodded in agreement, because Ezekiel was contorting Sam's expression to reflect how pissed the angel was that Cas hadn't left yet.
"He's just tired," Dean had covered about his brother, knowing that was likely true. "You know how Sam gets when he's tired..."
Cas had twitched a smile. "Yes," he had replied and had refocused on Dean.
Dean had sighed again. "I'm sorry," he had repeated. "But you need to go."
Cas had nodded. "Okay. I don't understand...but okay. In the morning, I'll – "
" – now," Dean had corrected about how quickly this needed to happen, sensing Ezekiel's growing anger from the next room...and that couldn't be good for Sam. "You need to leave now, Cas. Right now..."
And he had.
Cas had stood, had waved off Dean's offer of money and extra clothes or food, insisting he would be fine as he had left.
Dean had followed behind him, had watched Cas go as he had stood at the top of the steps outside the bunker until the former angel had disappeared from sight.
Then Dean had returned inside, a mixture of emotions tightening his chest.
"Sam..." Dean had called as he had approached his brother from behind and then had startled to find Ezekiel waiting for him instead.
The angel still manning the controls inside of Dean's kid.
Dean had glared. "I think we've talked enough tonight, Zeke. You got what you wanted. Cas is gone. So, how 'bout you go...wherever it is you go...and let Sam drive the bus for a while. I wanna see my brother."
Ezekiel had shaken Sam's head.
"No. Sam is unavailable at this time," the angel had replied with Sam's mouth as if he was taking a message for Dean's brother. "He will return shortly. But in the meantime, we will continue our conversation."
Dean had snorted. "I'm done talking. At least to you..."
"But I am not done talking to you," Ezekiel had countered, his tone sharp inside of Sam's voice as he had narrowed Sam's eyes.
Dean had stared at the angel animating his brother, hating the uneasiness that always rose in his stomach whenever he caught glimpse of a less angelic side of Zeke.
And that had happened too many times over the past half hour.
"Fine," Dean had allowed, his tone cool. "Say what you gotta say. And then you let my brother come back."
"I mean your brother no harm," Ezekiel had assured.
The often repeated phrase only increasing Dean's suspicion and worry.
The big brother had sighed, still standing in front of Sam and desperately wanting to see his kid looking back at him from behind those familiar hazel green eyes.
"Alright..." Dean had prompted Ezekiel. "Let's hear it..."
The angel had nodded, bobbing Sam's head.
"First and foremost, I am not your pet. If you wish to have something that comes when it is called and performs tricks at your command, then I recommend that you acquire a dog."
Dean had arched an eyebrow. "Excuse me?"
Ezekiel had stared at him.
Dean had blinked, realizing. "Oh..."
He had paused, further remembering when he had called to Zeke earlier in the Impala and what he had asked the angel to do.
"Look...I know that was risky, okay? But Cas – "
" – Castiel is not my concern," Ezekiel had interrupted, had once again used Sam's expression to reflect his anger over the issue of the former angel.
Dean had frowned at the unmistakable hostility.
"And he should no longer be your concern, either..." Ezekiel had continued about Cas. "I know that he is of greater importance to you than your brother, however – "
" – whoa!" Dean had blurted and had felt the heat of his own anger surge through him at the accusation. "You don't know shit," he had informed the angel.
Ezekiel had tilted Sam's head. "I know what Sam knows."
...which meant what – that Sam still thought Cas was more important to Dean than him?
Who are you gonna turn to next time instead of me? Another angel?
"Jesus..." Dean had growled, had hoped that all the progress he and Sam had made hadn't been destroyed over this.
Ezekiel had blinked. "Why do you call on the Son of God?"
Dean had cut his eyes at the angel.
Ezekiel had blinked again with Sam's eyes.
Dean had shaken his head. "Never mind..."
Ezekiel had transformed Sam's expression to a neutral, unreadable mask at the dismissal.
"Very well. But there are greater concerns now beyond Castiel. Concerns of which you do not yet have knowledge..."
Dean had frowned at the vague statement. "Okay," he had allowed. "Then tell me."
Ezekiel had stared at him in silence.
Dean had sighed. "We're on the same team here, remember? I mean...you said Cas had to go because he's a danger to you, so he's gone. I did you a favor, so – "
" – no," Ezekiel interrupted, shaking Sam's head. "You did yourself a favor. Castiel's presence here was as dangerous as what you keep in the basement."
Dean had glanced down at the floor at the mention of Crowley beneath them.
"We're not talking about that right now," Dean had reminded the angel. "But I do wanna know what you're talking about. What greater concerns?"
Ezekiel had remained silent.
Dean had felt his muscles tense in frustration.
"Alright...listen, Zeke. You're inside my brother. So if something involves you, it involves Sam. And if it involves Sam, then you can bet your shiny angelic ass it involves me. And if it involves me, then I wanna hear about it. So, let's hear it."
"No," Ezekiel had denied, as stubborn as Sam. "But I will keep you informed as the time approaches. Until then, I urge you to keep watch over your brother. I will do what I can to protect him, but there are those who are more powerful than me that would inflict harm upon both of us."
Dean's heart had begun to pound. "What?"
"You heard correctly," Ezekiel had assured. "While an angel blade would fatally pierce my essence, it would also mortally wound your brother...just as banishment by blood sigil would cause us both to disappear."
Dean had blinked. "Oh, wow. I hadn't thought about that..."
"I know," Ezekiel had replied. "You have not thought about many things."
Dean had arched an eyebrow at the underhanded insult.
"And this is why I urge you to keep watch," Ezekiel had repeated. "For as it reads in John 13, 'He who shared my bread has turned against me.'"
Dean had narrowed his eyes at the quoted Scripture. "What does that mean? Betrayal?"
Ezekiel had not answered but had continued with the verse. "'I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe…'"
Dean had swallowed, hating how ominous this sounded. "What the hell are you talking about?"
"You will not understand it now," Ezekiel had replied, brushing Sam's hair from his face. "Each day must be lived as it comes. And with each day, new knowledge is gained. But, by and by, you will know. And in that moment of enlightenment, you will remember this moment of warning."
The angel had paused, stepping closer to Dean.
"But I ask that you also remember that whatever happens...you allowed it, Dean. As choices and willful deceit have consequences often unforeseen..."
Dean's heart had hammered in his chest. "What – "
" – I will speak of this no more," Ezekiel had suddenly announced, backing away from Dean. "Sam is tired and weak. He should sleep. And I should work to repair what was damaged within him when I healed Castiel. Neither he nor I were well enough for that strain."
Dean had frowned at the revelation. "Healing Cas hurt Sam?"
"Unfortunately, yes..." Ezekiel had paused, seeming to look within. "There is much to mend...again."
And in the next second, the angel was gone and Sam had resurfaced.
Dean's little brother having stood there, looking dazed.
Dean had waited to see where Sam would pick up the conversation.
But Sam had just blinked at him.
"What was I saying?"
Dean had hesitated, then had shaken his head.
"Hell if I know..." the big brother had replied with a shrug. "You're always rambling about something," he had added and had reached for his little brother, grasping Sam's arm. "But don't worry about it now. I say we finish eating and then crash on the couch. It's been a long day..."
Sam had nodded and had allowed Dean to steer him to the next room where the bags of burritos were still waiting on the table.
"Here..." Dean had told his brother, passing some kind of taco salad crap to Sam as the kid had sat across from him.
Sam had accepted the Styrofoam container and had glanced around the room. "Where's Cas? I thought he came in here to eat..."
"Yeah," Dean had answered and had quickly formed yet another lie. "He, ah...he already finished and, ah...turned in."
"Oh..." Sam had replied, still sounding disoriented, and had glanced down the hall that led to the extra bedrooms. "Guess we'll see him in the morning."
"Yeah, guess so..." Dean had agreed, knowing he had to figure out what he was going to tell his brother when Cas didn't show in the morning.
And now, several hours later, Dean still didn't know what that explanation was going to be.
He would think of something.
But right now, Dean's only concern was Sam.
The big brother needing to wake his kid, make sure he was okay, and then get him to bed.
Dean nodded. "Hey..." he called to his sleeping brother, lightly shaking Sam's foot as it rested in his lap.
Sam stirred at the sound of Dean's voice, then settled more deeply into the cushions of the couch.
Dean smiled. "Hey..." he called a little louder and patted Sam's leg.
Sam stirred again, scrunching his face in that way he always did when he was waking up, whether he was three or 30.
Dean waited, his hand resting on his brother's feet.
Sam finally opened his eyes, blinking and rubbing his arm over his forehead as he tried to orient himself.
"Where are we?"
Dean frowned at the question. "We're at home."
Sam yawned and glanced around the living room, squinting at the television and then shifting under the blanket to lay on his back and sleepily stare at Dean from the opposite end of the couch.
Dean arched an eyebrow. "What?"
Sam seemed to consider the question, then shook his head. "Nothing."
"Nothing, Dean. I'm not telling you something that you'll just worry about."
Dean narrowed his eyes at the cryptic comment. "It's my job to worry," he informed his little brother. "Especially to worry about you."
Sam smiled tiredly and shook his head. "It's nothing."
Dean pulled a face. "I'll decide," he informed his kid. "No secrets, remember?"
And Dean almost choked over those words.
Because Sam wasn't the one who needed to be reminded about not keeping secrets.
"Good. Then let's hear it..." Dean told his brother just as he had told Ezekiel several hours before. "It's time to care and share. So, tell me everything."
Sam snorted. "Like you tell me everything?"
Dean felt the color instantly drain from his face. "What?"
Sam shook his head, his hair whispering over the couch pillow.
"Dean. C'mon, man..." he sighed, sounding tired. "I know you. You say you're fine. But something's going on. Something's bothering you. Ever since I survived the trials, ever since we got home from that church..."
Dean held Sam's gaze. "I'm fine," he replied. "I'm just worried about you, man."
And that was the truth.
Sam shrugged. "I'm fine, too," he assured. "Just...I don't know...maybe I overdid it today."
Dean frowned. "Your head still hurt?"
"Yeah," Sam admitted, rubbing his forehead. "And my eyes...and I'm dizzy and tired and have all these pockets of time that I don't remember."
Dean felt his heart begin to pound. "What do you mean?"
"I don't know," Sam responded. "There's just all this lost time. Just blanks all throughout the day." He paused. "And I was just...I don't know. I was just wondering if maybe I was having those silent seizures, you know?"
Dean swallowed at the thought, hating whenever the word "seizure" was used in relation to his brother.
"Those seizures where you just space out and can't remember what happened," Sam further explained. "What if that's happening to me? What if that's why I can't remember things happening that you say happened? I mean...have you seen me spacing out?"
Dean shifted on his end of the couch but said nothing, wishing he could tell Sam the truth...but knowing he couldn't.
Sam wasn't well enough yet to handle that kind of news.
So, Dean would do what he usually did these days – play it off and redirect.
"Hell, I don't know, Sam. You're always spacing out..."
Sam scowled at the comment and kicked his brother. "Dean. I'm serious."
"So am I," Dean countered and smacked Sam's feet still resting in his lap.
Dean did the same.
"Sammy. Listen...you're not having silent seizures, okay? I would notice shit like that. You're fine...you said it yourself. You're gonna be fine. But like I told you, you're still recovering from the trials. And that's gonna take some time, man. Stop pushing yourself."
"I know," Sam agreed reluctantly. "I just...I want to help you, Dean. There's a lot of crap we have to deal with now that the angels have fallen. And then there's Crowley...and Kevin...and Cas...and now this Bartholomew. And meanwhile, Abbadon is out there, too, raising her own kind of hell. And I just...I want to be there to back you up."
Dean felt something deep inside his chest twist sharply at Sam's words, his little brother so open and honest and genuine...while Dean continued to keep secrets and cover his tracks.
"Sammy..." Dean began and cleared his throat when his voice threatened to crack. "You know I want you right there beside me. But I mostly want you to be okay. I want you to get better, to be truly healed and 100% again so everything can go back to normal. Or at least our normal..."
Sam smiled. "Yeah. I like the sound of that."
"Me, too," Dean agreed, ready for the day when it was just him and Sam with no danger of Ezekiel surfacing whenever the angel damn well pleased.
Because the longer Zeke stuck around and the more Dean got to know him...the more uncomfortable Dean became with their deal and with what it would ultimately cost Sam.
Dean sighed, reminding himself that the end result would be worth it.
A healed and healthy Sammy would be worth it.
But in the meantime...
Dean sighed again, glancing at Sam as his little brother continued to lounge on the couch and stare at him.
Sam looking at him as though he thought Dean still had all the answers and could still make everything right.
That kind of trust and love making Dean's heart ache...because he didn't deserve it.
The big brother swallowed against the emotion clogging his throat.
Sam frowned. "What's wrong?"
Dean shook his head. "Nothing. Just...you're gonna be okay, Sammy. I mean that. And I'm not saying that you won't have some days when you feel like crap or maybe don't remember much. But you're gonna be okay. 'Cause I'm watching out for you...and nothing bad is gonna happen."
Sam smiled in that sweet, sappy way he sometimes did.
"Thanks." He paused. "And although by now I think we both know that you can't always keep that promise, I know you'll always try."
Dean nodded at his little brother's confidence in him. "Damn right."
Sam's smile widened at his big brother's determined tone and expression, allowing himself to feel loved and protected.
Dean smiled back.
There was a beat of silence.
The ignored TV still playing in the background; its volume a low murmur, its light flickering around the otherwise dark living room.
"Alright. That's enough bonding for one night," he grumbled and pulled the blanket away from Sam. "It's late. So, what d'ya say you go to bed now like you should have the first time I told you..."
Sam rolled his eyes but slowly sat up, holding himself still as the room briefly spun around him.
Dean frowned his concern. "Hey. C'mon..."
Sam focused on his brother now standing in front of him and then accepted Dean's outstretched hand, allowing Dean to pull him to his feet.
Dean's grasp lingered on Sam's arm, waiting for his kid to find his balance. "You good?"
Sam nodded and yawned.
"Good," Dean returned, clicking off the TV with the remote and nudging his brother in the direction of their rooms.