Cas is safe. The building the brothers holed him up in is angel proofed and hidden. The wild goose chase they've led the angels on has brought them right into Sam and Dean's trap. They're ready, have already taken down most of the angels sent to kill Cas.
Save for two.
Sam fights his own angel, deals the killing blow, watches the flash of white light that means her death. He smiles and turns around to help his brother.
Sam turns just in time to see the last angel plunge his blade deep into Dean's chest.
Sam's world shrinks around him, until all he can see is Dean. Dean grabs at his chest, his eyes open wide. He looks at Sam, and the shock, pain, and more than anything regret in his brother's eyes makes Sam's heart shatter in his chest.
It's a whisper, it should be barely audible, but it echoes loudly in Sam's head. Everything seems loud to him. The thump as Dean's knees hit the floor, the thud as his body crumples to the ground, the smack as his head meets wooden beams. Sam even swears he can hear the sound of his brother's eyelids fluttering closed.
And then Sam hears the blood rushing to his head and an inhuman sob ripping itself from his throat. He sees red as the enemy turns to him, smile far too wicked for the face of an angel.
But Sam's on top of him before he can blink, and he shoves his own blade into the angel's ribcage and through his heart so hard he feels a few ribs crack. White light flashes as the body falls, but Sam only has eyes for his brother.
He turns Dean over, lifts him off the ground, and cradles him close. Sam checks for a pulse with his fingers, rests his head on Dean's chest to listen for breathing, even though he knows deep down that it's pointless. Sam feels it in his gut, in his soul, feels the pain of the truth ripping through his body and tearing him into pieces.
Sam screams his brother's name, shakes him, even though he knows it's no good. There's nothing he can do. He mumbles to himself, something along the lines of, Please, no. Not again. No. Sam's not entirely sure what he's saying, if he's saying anything coherent at all. He's hyperventilating, fighting back tears, shaking his head violently, as if he could make it untrue by denying it hard enough.
His vision blurs at the edges, until it's just him and the lifeless body of his brother. If more angels burst through the door right now, they will finish Sam off in a heartbeat, because all the fight drained out of him the moment he held his brother in his arms.
After everything they've been through, everything they've lost – and more than that, everything they've gained – it can't end like this. Dean has a home in the Men of Letters bunker, something he's never had before…and Sam was just beginning to see it as home, too. Only it wasn't the bunker itself, with its kitchens and bedrooms and books that felt like home to Sam. It was being with his brother. Dean is his home. He always has been, and Sam feels like an idiot for not seeing it.
And now he's gone, and Sam's alone.
He would do anything to get his brother back.
And that's when it happens.
Sam feels a rush of heat and energy flow into his body, reaching out from the farthest depths of his consciousness, and as it surges through him Sam feels an overwhelming sense of power. It reminds him of the power he felt in his veins back when he used the demon blood flowing through him to kill demons. Except that this power feels right and pure in a way that the demon blood never could.
Sam loses control of his limbs, and he sees himself raise his hand, feels himself touch the wound on Dean's chest. The power flowing through him feels warm, and he watches as a white light covers Dean's chest and the wound begins to stitch itself shut.
Sam feels himself cry out, but no sound leaves his body. He wants to say "what?" and "how?" but he can't. He can only watch in a mixture of fascination and horror as Dean's wound slowly disappears.
And then Dean opens his eyes and gasps.
Sam feels the power drain out of him, and with its absence he suddenly feels exhausted. He slumps to the floor, his arms still wrapped around Dean. He vaguely sees Dean sit up next to him and call his name, and then everything goes black.
Sam? Sammy! C'mon man, wake up. Sam!
Sam jerks awake, sitting up fast in a panic because he's not sure where he is. But then all it takes is one look at Dean, at the blood soaking his tattered shirt and his healed chest, and it all comes crashing back down.
"Sammy, are you okay?"
"Am I...am I okay? You…you died, Dean. You were dead."
"What are you talking about, Sam?" Dean looks at him in confusion, but there's the barest hint of dread in his voice that makes Sam wonder if Dean really doesn't remember.
"The angel killed you, Dean. You died, and I…this is crazy!"
Sam tries to get to his feet, wanting to walk around, pace, do something to get away, but he's still weak, and his legs give out.
"Easy, Sammy. Calm down," Dean says gently, putting a hand on his shoulder and squeezing it firmly. "Tell me what happened."
"I don't…I don't know, Dean," Sam says, and damnit he's hyperventilating again. "I felt this…this power flow through me, and suddenly I couldn't control my own body. I watched myself…I put my hand on your chest, where you got stabbed, and I…somehow I…I healed you."
There's no mistaking it this time. Dean's eyes open wide, but Sam knows his brother well enough to recognize that Dean's not confused by this news at all. Surprised, maybe, but not confused. Dean knows more than he's letting on.
"I don't know how I did it, but I healed you. My head is killing me, and I'm exhausted, but you're alive. Do you think this has something to do with the trials, or with what that creepy shaman said when he asked what I was?"
Dean doesn't answer him, and his brother's lack of reaction to the entire situation is really starting to scare him.
"Dean…what's going on?" Sam asks quietly, and he's surprised at just how small he sounds, like he's a little kid again asking his big brother to make everything all right.
Except his brother can't fix it, not this time. Instead, Dean looks at him strangely, like he's not sure how to answer him.
Sam jerks and looks around him quickly. That voice just came from nowhere. No…not from nowhere. It came from him.
"What's going on?" he asks out loud.
"What's wrong, Sam?" Dean asks.
"Did you…did you hear that voice just now? Someone said my name."
"Oh, god," Dean whispers, and the recognition in his brother's eyes terrifies Sam and makes his blood run cold.
Your brother cannot hear me, Sam. I'm speaking from within you. My name is Ezekiel. I am an angel of the Lord.
Well. That was just about the last thing Sam had expected. He's speechless at first, unable to process it.
"You're an… an angel?" Sam blurts aloud in wonder. "How did you…what..."
Sam looks at his brother, and his voice breaks as he says his name.
Sam's begging for an answer, and when Dean looks down at the floor in what can only be described as shame Sam gets all the answer he needs.
"Oh my god," Sam whispers in horror. "What did you do, Dean?"
Your brother saved your life, Sam.
"You were dying, Sammy."
You would have died. Your brother prayed for help, and I answered.
"You were dying and there was nothing I could do. So I prayed for help, and Zeke came."
I was weak from my fall from heaven, and I could not heal you from the outside. I needed to possess you in order to heal you.
"He promised that he would heal you. Only he couldn't heal you without…without possessing you. I had to help him convince you to say yes."
Dean helped you to say yes to me, and I have been healing you these past few months. I have healed Castiel, and your friend Charlie as well.
"We entered into your mind, and I begged you to let me in, to let me help you. You said yes. So Zeke possessed you, and he's been healing you ever since."
By healing you, I am also slowly healing myself. If you eject me now, before the healing is complete, you will die...and I will die as well.
"You can't shut him out now. If you do…you'll die, Sammy. You have to let him stay. Just…just long enough to heal you. Please man, I know it sounds crazy, but I…he wants to help."
I am here to help you, Sam. Know that I speak the truth.
Sam opens his mouth to speak, to ask Ezekiel just how he expects Sam to trust him. But before he gets the chance, Sam feels something shift in his brain, like a wall coming down, and he gasps as his mind floods with visions. Visions of all the good things Ezekiel has done, the people he has helped, and the lives he has saved. He saves not just Cas, and Charlie, and Dean, but he saves Sam once, twice, three times. And he watches him save others, people he doesn't know. He watches him fight his own brothers, even though he doesn't want to, in order to protect a small town from annihilation. Watches him weep for the family he has lost.
Sam sees these things flash through his mind so fast he shouldn't be able to grasp them, but he does. As he watches, he begins to feel some of what Ezekiel must have felt. Feels the pain of loss as if it were his own, feels the joy of saving a young girl's life, reuniting her with her family. He sees the good and the bad, sees and feels everything, and it's almost too much. Sam slumps to the ground as Ezekiel lets down all the barriers separating the two of them in his mind, and Sam feels himself begin to cry.
And then he feels the love: love that the angel feels for him; love that he is only able to know because he has felt the love Sam feels for his brother. Now that Zeke isn't trying to hide from him, Sam can feel the angel working within him, healing him slowly but surely, stitching him back together. He feels the warmth of Zeke's presence like a blanket wrapped tightly around him. Feels the angel's reassuring light flowing through his veins, feels the pureness of his essence. Feels safe.
When Ezekiel finally puts the wall back up, Sam whimpers at the loss. He's still there - Sam can feel his glow like a tiny spark in his mind - but it's not the same.
Eventually, Sam comes back to reality. He opens his eyes to find himself still parked on the floor, only now Dean's arms are gripping his shoulders tightly, fear in his eyes. Sam can't help it.
Then he wipes the tears from his face and smiles.
I understand, Sam says quietly in his mind so only Zeke can hear him. Thank you.
Sam swears he can feel the angel smiling within him.
"Sammy? Sam, what's going on?"
Sam shakes his head, and he finally takes in the sight of his brother before him, frowning, worry and fear clouding his eyes. Dean's grip on his shoulders feels like a vise, and Sam reaches up and pushes his brother's hands away.
"I trust him."
"You do?" Dean asks.
That's when it hits Sam like a ton of bricks. It's the sound of disbelief in his brother's voice, followed by the sigh of relief, which reminds Sam of why he was so freaked out in the first place.
Sam trusts Ezekiel with his life. But Dean….
"How did you get me to say yes?" It's the first question that pops into his head; maybe not the most important one, but he needs to know the answer.
"Answer the question, Dean."
His tone leaves no room for Dean to refuse him, yet Dean looks down at the ground, unsure of how to answer him.
Ezekiel starts talking in his head, trying to speak for Dean, and it's the last thing Sam wants.
Ezekiel, please. I need to talk to my brother alone.
As you wish, the angel answers, and Sam feels Ezekiel retreat into his mind. It's a weird sensation. Sam can still feel his presence, but it's small, hidden at the back of his mind, and Sam knows that Zeke can't hear them. He's still there, will come if Sam asks him to, but it's like he's tuned out.
Sam stares at his brother, waiting for an answer, and eventually Dean looks back up at him.
"I told Zeke what to say. He sort of…took me inside your head with him. Used me to talk to you. The things he said to convince you…they were my words."
"What did you say?" Sam asks again.
"I reminded you of what I told you…back in the church. You and me against the world, just like it's always been," Dean says with a laugh, and Sam can't help but smile. "I told you that you had to let me in so I could help you. I said…." Dean looks away, and Sam's surprised to find that Dean seems almost embarrassed.
"What, Dean?" Sam asks gently.
"It…it doesn't matter. The point is I told you I wanted to help, and you asked me how. You said 'yes.'"
"I said 'yes'…to what, exactly?" Sam asks in confusion. Something about this just doesn't seem right. For one thing, he doesn't remember any of this. For another, he would never have said "yes" to having an angel possess him, no matter what Dean said to him.
"You just…you just said 'yes.' I didn't…I didn't exactly tell you about…about the whole possession thing."
Sam's heart falls into his stomach.
"So you…you lied to me. Is that what you're saying, Dean?" Sam feels the anger growing in him; all that warmth that Ezekiel had left behind is long gone.
"I didn't lie, Sammy. I just…I didn't tell you the whole truth."
"Yeah, which is the same thing as lying, Dean!" Sam shouts, and suddenly he can't sit on this cold floor anymore, can't be so close to Dean, can't even stand to look at him. Sam gets to his feet, fighting the weakness in his legs, and turns away from his brother.
Dean's been dreading this moment for months. To be honest, he knew it would come eventually. Sam's not an idiot, and he's been suspicious ever since creepy snake guy wanted a piece of him. The guilt and the weight of the lies are crashing down on him now, and Dean just hopes that he and Sam can pick their way out of the rubble.
"Sam, I didn't have a choice," he replies shakily, getting to his feet. He puts his hand gently on Sam's shoulder, but Sam shakes it off with a growl of disgust. He walks further away and keeps his back toward Dean.
"So you tricked me into saying yes. That's great, Dean. So here's a bigger question…." Sam pauses and gulps heavily, like he's too afraid to ask. "Why don't I remember any of this?"
"Sam…." Dean shakes his head and turns away, because it's the one question he's most afraid to answer
"No. No, you don't get to do this, Dean." Sam walks up behind him, puts his hand on his shoulder, and turns him around forcefully. "You don't get to shut me out. Not after everything that's happened. I deserve the truth, Dean. No more lies, no more secrets."
The answer is there, plain as day, written all over his face, and Dean knows it. Sam lets go of him and scoffs in disbelief.
"He wiped my memory, didn't he?"
"You had him wipe my memory, so that I wouldn't remember how you tricked me into saying yes to letting an angel into my body."
But Sam is clearly done letting him talk. "You had no way of knowing if we could really trust him. No way of knowing he wouldn't betray us. That it wouldn't be like Ruby all over again."
"It's not like that-"
"After everything we've been through with the angels. After Michael, after Lucifer?"
Dean hears the desperation in his voice, feels tears of frustration pooling at the corners of his eyes, but either Sam's oblivious or he's too angry to care.
"And you know what the worst part is? It's not that I had an angel inside me without knowing. It's not even that you tricked me into saying 'yes.' You erased my memory, Dean. You made me forget that it happened. What else did you make me forget? How many times have I found out about Ezekiel before now?"
"None," Dean states emphatically. "This is the only time you've found out. I could never do it again, Sammy. Ever."
The comment only seems to make Sam angrier. "Like that makes it any better."
"Sam…." Dean won't even try to explain why he erased Sam's memory. The guilt's been eating away at him since he agreed to it, and nothing Sam says could possibly make him feel worse about it.
"You lied to me, Dean. Again. After everything we've been through, all the secrets we've kept from each other…you lied to me."
Dean can't defend his actions, knows he has no right. But he can't let Sam stay mad at him without at least trying to explain why he helped let Ezekiel into Sam in the first place.
"He healed you, Sam. You would have died if he hadn't been there to help you."
"Which is what I wanted, Dean."
Dean's heart skips a beat. "How do you-"
"Bits and pieces of it are coming back to me." Sam pauses for a moment, lost deep in thought. "I don't know why. Maybe part of it's from what Ezekiel showed me before. Maybe talking about it is bringing the memories back. Whatever it is…I remember."
Dean feels the tears rising in his eyes as he remembers, too. How Sam agreed to go with Death as long as no more deals could be made for his life. How Sam was ready to give up.
"I was ready to go, Dean. Did you even know that?"
He knew, of course he did. But he couldn't accept it. He's never been good at accepting the loss of his brother.
"I had already agreed to go. I had accepted it. And then you brought me back, just like you always do. Without a thought to what I wanted."
The comment hurts, more than Dean thought it would. Sam's right, of course, and Dean can't deny it. But that doesn't make it any easier to hear out loud, especially coming from Sam's mouth.
Sam shakes his head, and when his brother turns his back on him once more it's more than Dean can handle.
"You want to know why I did it, Sammy?"
Sam turns back again, curiosity reeling him in. "Yeah. Yeah, I do."
Dean takes a deep breath and lets it out, because he has nothing else left to give to his brother except this. "I did it because I can't do this alone."
"Yes, you can," Sam replies disbelievingly.
Dean would laugh if this situation weren't so serious. They've been down this road before; had this exact conversation eight years ago. Dean remembers his reply: Yeah, well I don't want to.
Only that's not true anymore. Hasn't been for a long time. So he gives the only answer he can give anymore: the honest one.
No more lies.
"No, I can't. I can't do this without you. Without you I'm finished, Sam. Finished with hunting, finished with…with everything."
Sam flinches. The implication of the statement is clearly not lost on him.
"'There ain't no me if there ain't no you.' That's what I said, Sam. That's what convinced you."
Sam's shoulders sink, like his anger is starting to deflate.
"I'm a selfish bastard, Sammy, and I'm sorry. Please, man, you have to believe that I didn't do this to hurt you. I did it because I…."
And then he says it, for the first time since he was a kid; before his father hardened his heart, molded him into a good little soldier, stamped down on all those pesky emotions and that desire to just talk about things, because keeping it locked up makes you stronger, makes you a better hunter.
Not long ago, he told Ezekiel that he wasn't comfortable talking about love. But he's told Cas that they're family. Told Kevin and Charlie, too. He sold his soul to Hell to save his brother's life, told him that there is nothing he would put in front of him. Told him that he needs him.
Dean takes a deep breath, and in the end he says it because he has nothing to lose…except his whole world.
"I did it because I love you and I can't do this alone, Sammy. Not anymore."
Tears are streaming down his face, and he has no idea when they started.
"I'm sorry, Sam. Please, I just-"
And then Sam pulls him into a hug.
Dean gasps in surprise. When it finally registers that this is really happening, Dean wraps his arms around his brother's strong shoulders and holds him tight, like he's afraid that if he ever lets go Sam will leave him again. And he is. Dean's terrified of losing his brother. That's why they're in this mess to begin with. Why Dean begged Sam not to finish the trials, why he sacrificed the world to save his brother's life. Why he let Ezekiel use his visage, use his words, to convince Sam to let him in.
There ain't no me if there ain't no you.
Dean holds his brother tight…but Sam holds him tighter, and he doesn't let go. Not for a long time. He doesn't say anything, and Dean knows that things are far from okay. But Sam doesn't let him go, and just for now, it's enough.
AN: I really believe Zeke is a good guy. I really want him to be a good guy. This is me making him the good guy. Also, I harbor no illusions that it will go down anything like this on the show, but a girl can dream. :)