characters: Sam, Dean, Ezekiel, Kevin, Crowley, Abaddon
summary: There's a reason Ezekiel couldn't heal Sam.
many thanks to my betas quickreaver and manzanita_crow !
It had been a bad day.
It hadn't started out to be—pretty routine ghost hunt that went so smoothly neither he nor Sam had a scratch on them by the end of it. It was on the way back home that everything went to hell.
They'd pulled over at a rest stop to get gas and something caffeinated to keep them awake.
Sam went in for coffee, and didn't come back out.
It only took five minutes for Dean to get suspicious, but by the time he poked his head into the store, the clerk was dead, and the only other person in the store was Abaddon. She grinned at him, snapped her fingers and disappeared.
Luckily, between Sam, Kevin and whatever Charlie had done before she'd left for Oz, they'd figured out how to use the bunker's map table as a tracker of sorts. It only worked for people (or things) they had samples of. One strand of Sam's hair was enough for Kevin to pinpoint exactly where Abaddon and her cronies had taken him.
Dean drove at just under supersonic speed and located the empty warehouse. He broke down the door, stormed inside, and found Sam tied to a chair with blood smeared across his face. There were six corpses lying around him, forming a disjointed circle.
The air stunk of ozone and sulfur. As he got closer, Dean saw that two of the no-longer demonically-occupied bodies were still smoldering. One of them was facing him, empty burnt sockets where his eyes should be. There were large, round scorch marks on the ground underneath the fallen demons. The kind Sam used to leave behind back when he'd been using his powers.
Pushing aside the bitter memories, Dean checked his brother's pulse, and found him alive, but drenched in sweat and totally out of it. He could barely stay awake long enough to walk himself to the car.
It took him a while to get the story, but between what Sam told him, and what Zeke reported after Sam drifted to sleep in the car, Abaddon's demons had been under order to force-feed Sam their blood. Abaddon had plans to free Lucifer again, said that with Heaven empty its power was at an all time low, meaning the Cage holding him would be easier to crack open. She just needed to make sure his vessel was ready.
Dean knew Sam didn't want to talk about it, knew he was already planning on locking himself up somewhere and riding out the withdrawal when it hit. He hadn't looked Dean in the eyes once since he'd told him what had happened. "How much did they give you?" Dean asked hours later, when they were getting close to the bunker.
"Enough." Sam said quietly. "I took down all of them except Abaddon. She bailed the second she saw the first one fall." He turned to look out the window. "I was clean, Dean. Cleaner than I've ever been, thanks to the trials, and now..." He shook his head and fell silent.
"It's not your fault," Dean said. "We'll get through it."
"Yeah," Sam said, voice thin, but he still wouldn't look at Dean.
They'd debated on what to tell Kevin, where to lock Sam up and finally settled on one of the empty storage rooms on the lower level. They couldn't risk moving Crowley from the dungeon, and the storage rooms were warded nearly as well. They dragged in a cot with cuffs, a bucket, a pitcher of water and a few of Sam's books.
Dean sat outside the room until Sam fell asleep. Ezekiel walked towards the door, staring at Dean curiously.
"Can you make this easier on him?" Dean asked.
Ezekiel nodded. "You should sleep. I will make sure Sam's pain is minimal."
Dean agreed, dragged himself up the stairs and to his bed and collapsed, dreaming of blood and eyes that changed from hazel to black to yellow.
A sound woke Dean in the middle of the night. Or that's what he thought. He couldn't hear anything now, but he thought he'd heard something, a scream.
As the adrenaline hit his bloodstream and set his heart pounding in his chest, Dean stumbled out of bed, grabbed the angel blade from his weapons-shelf and rushed down the stairs to Sam's make-shift cell.
It was empty.
He ran down the hall checking every door, calling out Sam's name. Kevin woke up from all the noise, and Dean nearly collided with him, when he rounded a corner
"Did you hear that?" Dean asked him.
"What, you yelling?" Kevin asked as he rubbed at his eyes and yawned. "Something wrong with Sam?"
Dean didn't answer, but continued his search. Every room was empty, and he'd checked everywhere.
Except for the dungeon.
When he opened the doors, he knew instantly something was wrong. The smell of sulfur and copper lay heavy in the air, and the ersatz king of Hell was laying on the table. It almost looked like he was asleep, except that his eyes were wide open, fixed on the door and filled with terror.
Sam was standing next to him with his mouth locked on Crowley's wrist.
Despite feeling like he was trapped in a nightmare, Dean walked farther into the room, fingers clenched tightly around the warm metal of the angel blade. He stopped less than a foot away from the table and watched as Sam pulled away and let Crowley's arm fall back down.
Crowley let out a soft gasp and then lit up bright gold on the inside. His eyes grew brighter and brighter and then liquified, pure white fire shining out through the now empty sockets. The light faded leaving behind an empty corpse, and the faint smell of burning hair.
Sam wiped his hand across the back of his mouth, smearing blood across his chin and met Dean's gaze with blue fire in his eyes. There wasn't the slightest trace of guilt in his expression. Sam at least would have had the decency for that.
"Zeke?" Dean's hands balled into fists and he felt his face flush with anger. The king of Hell was dead on the floor of their dungeon. Sam had demon blood in him again thanks to the angel that was supposed to be healing him. Bad didn't even begin to cover it.
"This is what was missing. All this time I kept thinking…I thought maybe I'd lost my touch." Ezekiel smiled at Dean with bloodstained teeth. "No matter what I did, Sam just wouldn't heal completely. He was draining me. Bit by bit. And then those demons trapped us and fed him and—" he shook his head and laughed in a most un-Samlike way. "The power he gets from this is incredible."
"Yeah and so is the withdrawal. You have any idea what he had to go through when he got hooked on this stuff? It's poison!" Dean snapped, walking further into the room.
"No, not for him. This is…this is what he needed." Sam's—Ezekiel's—eyes widened. "This is what I needed." The room began to fill with light, which gathered behind him, revealing wings, massive and full. He didn't look injured in the least. "Lucifer always was the wisest of us."
"Get out of my brother. Right now," Dean said, voice low.
"The only one who can kick me out is Sam."
"You don't think that's exactly what he's gonna do once he figures out what you've been doing?"
"What I've been doing?" Ezekiel let out a disbelieving huff that sounded a lot more like Sam. "You think he will be angry at me? After what you did?"
"What are you talking about?"
"You kept him here. Kept him going when he was ready to move on."
"I saved his life."
"No." Sam's lips curled into a sneer. "I did. And you never once stopped to wonder why."
Dean's anger spiked. He didn't want to take the bait but he couldn't stop himself. "Why?"
"Because of who Sam is. What he is."
"He's my brother."
"He's Lucifer's true vessel."
"He will always be Lucifer's vessel." Ezekiel's eyes took on a distant quality and then closed. "He left his marks in here, you know. Not just in Sam's body, but in his psyche, his soul…" He opened his eyes again and looked at Dean. "Sam is broken. Incomplete without him."
"No. He was doing just fine. Until he started the damn trials." Dean hated how his voice almost broke, but he couldn't help it. The memory of Sam's gaunt face and his haunted eyes was still burned into his mind. He'd promised him they'd take care of each other. And he'd meant it. Every word. "They nearly killed him."
"Of course. That's what they're meant to do. The sacrifice of a human life is a powerful thing, especially one like Sam's. Powerful enough to seal Hell for all time. But then, he didn't finish, did he?"
"He wanted to. I begged him to stop."
Ezekiel cocked his head. "Why?"
"Because he's my brother. I didn't want him to die."
"And you stand by him, no matter what. You did this out of loyalty too, did you not?" Ezekiel nodded to himself. "Admirable. So few understand the importance of loyalty these days."
"Yeah, I guess Metatron dicked you all over, huh? So much for loyalty."
"Metatron did not cast me out."
"You said you fell."
"I did. A long, long time ago." Ezekiel took a few steps back towards the table and peered down at Crowley's corpse. "Pathetic. This was the king of Hell." He shook his head. "Lucifer would be furious."
"You sure talk about him a lot," Dean said. He glanced at the demon's corpse wondering how the hell he was going to explain all this to Sam once he came back online. Which he would. Once he figured out how to send Ezekiel packing.
"Lucifer was right. He's always been right." Ezekiel shrugged and rolled Sam's shoulders back languidly. "Even this. We didn't understand Lucifer's plans at first, spending so much time focusing on bloodlines, tasking us with manipulating cherubs, orchestrating accidents, illnesses, deaths of loved ones, everything...just so you two could be born." He smiled. "So Sam would be perfect."
"Maybe I didn't make myself clear. Get out of my brother."
"No. This is the perfect vessel. I'm not leaving. I'm going to finish what Lucifer started."
"The hell you are," Dean said, and lunged forward, brandishing the angel blade.
Ezekiel grabbed Dean by the wrist, and held him with an iron grip. The angel blade clattered to the floor rolling to a stop near the table. "You're not going to hurt me Dean. You kill me, you kill your brother. And you already made it clear you will not let him die." He wrenched Dean's arm down and pushed against his chest, sending him crashing into the far wall. "So stop bluffing."
He hit the wall at a nasty angle, his knee and shoulder taking the brunt of the impact, but the back of his head glanced off it too, and it took a few seconds for Dean's eyes to focus again.
"I'm going to set things right," Ezekiel said, straightening. "Here on Earth..." He looked upwards. "...and in Heaven."
Dean glared at him from where he'd been thrown on the ground. "Yeah? You know, better angels than you have tried and it never turns out well."
Ezekiel smiled, eyes bright. "They had opposition. Who is going to stop me?"
"I am," Dean said, pushing himself to his feet. He ran his left hand over a sharp bit of metal jutting out of the floor—a remnant of a shelf-anchor no longer in use. He cupped his hand together quickly, feeling warm blood pool in his palm. He'd cut his hand nice and deep, just had to make the sigil and hope Sam would figure out a way to stay behind. "Sammy?" he said, desperation making his throat tight. "I screwed up. Big time. But if you can hear me, you gotta hang on, okay? Lets kick this son of a bitch out."
Ezekiel looked at him in mock pity. "Sam can't hear you right now. He is fast asleep."
"Bull," Dean snarled. He dropped to the floor and dipped his fingers into his bloody palm, drawing the angel-banishing sigil as quickly as he could.
"What are you doing?" Ezekiel asked, taking a step closer.
"Evicting you, you dick." Dean slammed his hand down on the center of the sigil and looked up at Sam hopefully.
The pulling light of Heaven—or whatever mojo it was that tore the angels away—built, filling the room with light.
"No," Ezekiel growled, dropping down into a crouch. He touched his fingers to the floor and a huge crack split the stone ground, running through the center of the room and breaking the sigil Dean had drawn.
"Dammit," Dean spat under his breath. He eyed the blade and was about to make a grab for it when he realized the light hadn't faded. In fact, it was growing brighter.
"No! Stop! You don't know what you're doing," Ezekiel said, as he staggered back, face contorted in pain. The wall behind him glowed brighter, as did Sam's shadow—the angel's wings unfurling and growing, being stretched wider and higher until they reached the ceiling. "I'm not letting go."
Then he froze where he stood and blinked, and it was Sam's voice that answered, "Neither am I."
The temperature in the air soared, becoming so hot Dean felt like he was standing too close to a bonfire.
Sam turned towards the wall, raised his hand up and out and curled his fingers into a fist. The shadow on the wall became distorted and there was a distinct snapping noise as the shadowy wings broke in his grip, bones bending at twisted angles. Ezekiel screamed an inhuman roar, shattering the strip of lighting on the ceiling. Then all at once he fell silent, and the room went completely, utterly dark.
Sam was unconscious but alive—he was alive—for hours afterwards. Dean never left his side, sitting next to his bed on a chair. Kevin came by to ask what had happened, and Dean didn't have the energy to come up with an excuse. "There was an angel inside of him," Dean said.
Kevin's jaw dropped. "Shit! Is—"
"He's gone now."
"But, how—" Kevin started to ask.
Dean turned away from him, too tired to answer properly. Kevin didn't follow him, but just before Dean turned the corner, he asked, "Is Sam okay?"
"I don't know," Dean said. Because he didn't.
When Sam woke up he was facing Dean. He looked at him for nearly a full minute, but said nothing. Then he rolled over and faced the wall.
"Sam, I…" Dean started to say, but that was all he got out. He sat back down in his chair for a while, watching Sam quietly, and tried to ignore the subtle hitch of his brother's shoulders that meant he was crying. "I'm so sorry," Dean said finally, and left the room.
When he came back an hour later, Sam's bed was empty. Dean didn't panic, because he knew where he'd find him.
Crowley's corpse had been dragged just outside the dungeon, a long, thin streak of blood smudged on the grey floor. The door itself had been jammed shut from the inside. There was no window like in the panic room back at Bobby's, and on some level Dean was pathetically grateful for that. He didn't think he could meet Sam's eyes. But that didn't stop Dean from calling out to his brother, to ask if he was okay.
Sam didn't answer him. Not once. Not even when the withdrawal kicked into high gear. Sam screamed, but he didn't ask for help. Not from Dean, not from Kevin, not from anyone.
The psychic force of the demon blood leaving Sam's system was strong enough that the door bent from the impact of something heavy, probably the table or the cot, hitting it. A few hours after that, Sam fell quiet.
Dean nodded off to sleep with his back against the wall of the storeroom, face turned towards the dungeon.
In the morning, the door opened and Dean woke up just as Sam passed him.
"Morning," Dean said, scrambling to his feet. He followed Sam up the stairs, back to Sam's room, but gave him some privacy when he shut the door, probably to get changed into clean clothes.
He fought back the stinging in his eyes at being ignored, and went to the kitchen to make coffee and breakfast. Sam would be hungry. Maybe. Hopefully.
Kevin was still asleep, Dean noted as he carried the tray of coffee, pancakes, syrup and three plates with forks out to the library table.
Sam came out a few minutes later, carrying his backpack. He walked right past the library and up the steps leading outside.
Dean watched him leave, his gut clenching painfully as the door clicked open and then shut again. But he stayed where he was, maybe because he'd known this was coming. This was the price.
It hurt, but it was worth it.
Sam was alive.
Kevin came into the library, hair unkempt and still in his pajamas. He sat down at the table across from Dean and grabbed a pancake with his fork. "Everything okay?"
Dean nodded. "Yeah. Yeah it is."