Pairing/Characters: Sam Winchester / Patrick
Word count: ~4,200
Warnings: demon blood withdrawal, copious angst
Summary:After defeating Famine, after days of suffering through demon blood withdrawal in the panic room, Sam needs time to clear his head. Early in the morning, he heads to a small lake seeking solitude, but instead finds an unexpected ally.
(for the prompt: Sam learning and using witchcraft or spellcraft. Max, Rowena, or Patrick (from 5.7) particularly welcome, whether gen or pairing.)
Sam sat on the bench, looking out at the lake. The sun wasn’t all the way up yet, and the sky was rose-streaked whisper blue, tinted darker near the horizon by the clear mirror of the water.
After a long three days—four maybe—in the panic room, after letting the last of the demon blood ride its way out of his system in a series of violent purges, Sam felt alone in his skin again. Sober, in the worst possible way. Everything hurt, and he remembered that too from the last time, the veins in his hand still spasming every few minutes, pulsing of their own volition, trying to draw fuel that wasn’t there anymore. He pushed against the worst aching spot and shut his eyes, sucking in a breath.
He could still see Famine: yellow teeth and withered skin, his raspy voice offering Sam all the demons in that restaurant. The first night in the panic room had been that other road unfurling—the one where Sam took up Famine’s offer instead of killing him, sinking his teeth into each of the demons one after the other, tearing the flesh from their throats and gorging on their blood until he’d drained them all and then finally Famine himself. In Sam’s hallucination, Famine had turned to ash in his mouth; Sam’d snapped out of it with a hacking cough, blood-flecked spittle coating his fingers.
Bobby had let him out of the panic room last night, sent him to sleep on the couch next to where Dean was zonked on the floor. Sam was sure Dean had heard him sneak out the door, despite how quiet he’d been, but hadn’t stopped him, for which he was grateful.
The park, if that’s what you could call it, wasn’t too far from the junkyard. It was a local fishing hole that Bobby had brought them to on more than one occasion when they were younger. He’d taught Sam to bait a hook here, a vivid memory that time hadn’t faded much: the twitchy wriggling of the worm, Sam wondering if it could feel the metal tearing through its body, wondering if he was supposed to care as much as he did.
He sat, looking out at the water, watching for ripples, trying to breathe slow, trying not to think about everything he’d done—break glass stab flesh open blood blood blood power more stop no stop pull pull pain—and everything he still had to do.
“Nice morning,” said a voice next to Sam, making him jump to his feet. He hadn’t seen anyone sit down, hadn’t even heard anyone approach, and when he turned to look at the speaker, he realized why. “Patrick?”
The man—the witch—smiled at Sam, leaning comfortably back into the bench. “Don’t mind if I join you?”
Months earlier, Bobby, Dean and Sam had all nearly died because of Patrick, who played high stakes poker in exchange for decades of life. Sam’s fists clenched in reflex. He didn’t have a single weapon on him. But even if he did, few things would work against a witch of Patrick’s caliber. “Would it matter if I did mind?”
“Of course it would. Who do you take me for?”
“Somebody who trades in lives.”
Patrick nodded. “Used to trade in lives.”
“You stopped playing cards?”
Patrick’s smile stayed stiffly in place but the joy left his eyes, leaving them icy. “Because eternity is torture if it’s spent alone. And love is too precious to cut short.”
“Lia left you,” Sam said, as the realization hit.
“She…” Patrick cleared his throat, trying to steady his voice. “She threw the game.”
“I see.” Sam chewed on his lip, considering. “Is that why you’re here? To confess to me? Because I’m not really in the mood.”
“No.” Patrick snorted a laugh. “I’m not one for absolution. And I doubt you’d give it, even if you could.” He gestured to the empty half of the bench. “Have a seat, I promise I won’t bite.”
After a second of hesitation, Sam sat, putting as much space between them as he could. His legs were still shaky, as much as he hated to acknowledge it. And if Patrick wanted him dead then it wouldn’t make a damn difference if he was standing or sitting right next to him.
Patrick turned to look Sam in the eyes. “I’m here because you and I have far more in common than I originally surmised.”
“Yeah?” Sam was getting annoyed, not just because of the lingering headache pulsing behind his temples. He wasn’t going to let this witch, who'd nearly killed his brother, give him some kind of pitch. “Like what? Getting people killed? Hurting people we care about? Or is it the body count?”
Patrick’s eyes widened a fraction and his next words were softer, gentler, like he knew he only had one more chance, “That too, I suppose. But I was referring to power, Sam. Power and an affinity for magic.”
“I’m not a witch,” Sam said. “I’m infected.”
“Call it what you will, but you blew a major player off the map earlier this week. A Horseman. Mind telling me how?”
The hairs on the back of Sam’s neck prickled, rising. “How do you know about that?”
Patrick scoffed. “How could I not know? You think you can just take down the manifestation of ravenous human appetites during the End Times without ringing some metaphysical alarm bells?”
Sam gripped at his knees, pushing aside the thought of what that meant. How many others knew what he’d done? Had he put Dean, Bobby and Cas in even more danger by killing Famine? “What does that mean?”
“It means that I pay attention, Sam. And about two months after I had the pleasure of meeting you and your brother, and your dear old friend Bobby, I start hearing things: about the End Times, about Lucifer walking the Earth, about angels flitting around—and I’m hearing this not just from crazy prophet types, yeah? I’m hearing it from the restless dead. From people who had their eyes burned out of their skull. Or their insides boiled. And from the ones they left behind. You know how many people came banging on my door begging for help with their loved ones? Husbands, wives, siblings, children.”
“Yeah, that sounds like angels,” Sam said stiffly.
“And they’re supposed to be the good guys?” Patrick whistled, slow and pointed.
“Had another hunter come after me, about a month back. Tried to kill me, didn’t end well for him. Before he choked on his own tongue he accused me of being in league with the Devil. Not just in the way people always like to say that about witches. No, he said I’d helped you, specifically, and that you had set the Devil free.”
Sam stayed quiet and kept his eyes on the water. He was already overfull with guilt from the last few days, but it’s not like he’d ever stopped hating himself for that either. He never would.
“So I ask you again,” Patrick said, staring intently at Sam. “How exactly did you kill the Horseman Famine?”
“Why do you care how I did it?”
“Call it craftsman’s curiosity.” Patrick gestured wide with his hands. “See, I can do some pretty impressive stuff, but you…” he moved his hands further apart. “That was off the charts. Obviously you’re under no obligation to tell me how, but I’m damn interested.”
“Why?” Sam's eyes narrowed. “So you can learn how to do it, too?” He got angrier, his heart thudding—a bass drum in his chest. “So you can end up like me? Locked in a room with your insides tearing themselves apart as the poison leaves your system? You want to know how I did it? By killing two people possessed by demons and drinking their blood.”
“Wow.” Stricken, Patrick sank back against the bench, eyes never leaving Sam. “Really?”
“Yeah,” Sam said dryly, “really.”
Sam stared at him. “What the hell is wrong with you?”
Patrick looked taken aback, but only for a moment. “Two souls, four if you count the humans, that’s a lot for some things, but—a Horseman?” He leaned closer to Sam, staring into his eyes. “There’s something else going on with you. A regular person can’t just drink demon blood and get that kind of power.”
Sam felt the weight of Patrick’s gaze. There was no compulsion to answer, at least not that he could tell, but he felt inclined to answer anyway. Everything was still so raw: his nerves, his guilt, his fear that it’d happen again—that it was inevitable. “I was fed demon blood as a baby. My family was manipulated for decades so that someday I could be the vessel for Lucifer.”
Patrick kept looking at him, said nothing for a beat and then cracked a half-smile. “Get out of town.”
“Look, I don’t even know why you care—“
“So it’s destiny, then? Fate? You are what you are because they made you this way. Is that what they’re telling you?”
“Well, they’re full of shit.”
“You may have been...tampered with, but your power isn’t tied implicitly to Lucifer, or to demons, or to anything but you.”
Sam was getting righteously irritated. He still had zero reason to trust Patrick, who suddenly knew an awful lot about him. And his immediate interest in Sam’s power reminded him painfully of Ruby. “How the hell would you know?” he snapped.
“Because I know power. And I have common sense.” He tapped the side of his skull. “Why would they give you enough power to take out Lucifer’s weapons? That’s what the Horsemen are, you know. He’s got them bound to him. And here you come along, supposed chosen vessel, and knock two of them off the chessboard. Bad planning on the Devil’s part, no?”
“He probably didn’t think I’d fight back,” Sam said. “Or he didn’t think it mattered if I did.”
“It matters. You saved—or at least delayed the death of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of people.” Patrick shrugged his shoulders. “Maybe, if you stop wasting so much time hating yourself, you could save even more.”
Sam laughed bitterly. “Look, I’m—I’m not in any shape to save anybody right now.”
“Why?” Patrick’s voice went steely, the humor gone completely. “Because you got low? Or because you don’t want to get hurt again?”
“I don’t care if I get hurt. That’s par for the course. But I don’t want to hurt other people again,” Sam said. “I don’t want anyone else to die because of me.”
“So you’re just taking yourself off the field? Even though you could turn the whole damn tide?”
Sam stayed quiet, ruminating while his temper flared and ebbed. He didn’t believe Patrick. Couldn’t believe him. The last time he’d believed he was saving the world, he’d started the Apocalypse.
“So here’s the deal: You can’t just ignore your power. You suppress it, bad things happen. Take my word for it, or don’t, but it’s the truth.” Patrick turned over his hand, and a tiny flame appeared, a marble-sized fireball. “You can enhance it if you like”—The fireball grew to the size of a golfball—“but try to snuff it out….” He closed his fist around the ball of flame, and smoke curled up between his fingers. “And you’ll only hurt yourself.” Liquid fire dripped down to the ground from between Patrick’s fingers, sizzling where it struck the grass. “And others.” He opened his fingers, showing Sam his unmarred skin. “But either way, you have to learn what it is that you can really do.”
“And you’re what—you’re going to show me?” Sam asked, scoffing.
“What? How could I show you? You don’t even know what you can do.”
“But you just said—“
“I do have some idea of how you could channel energy more benignly, and that seems to be the main cause of your...moral conundrum.” Patrick reached for Sam’s hand, carefully, like he was afraid he’d spook him.
But for some reason, unbeknownst to even him, Sam didn’t flinch away. He let Patrick wind their fingers together and followed him off the bench, kneeling on the grass. Patrick moved their joined hands down towards the ground and pushed Sam’s palm against the damp soil. Patrick’s fingers were smaller and slimmer than Sam’s, but his grip was firm and steady.
“There’s power in everything,” Patrick said. “All you have to do is find it, and learn how to talk to it.”
“How?” Sam asked, feeling more than a little silly and uncomfortable, kneeling awkwardly as he was, with his hand in the dirt.
“Just think of what you want.”
“What I want?” Sam huffed. That was a loaded question. One he could barely answer on his good days, let alone on days like this.
“Something simple. Something you don’t have complicated feelings about.” Patrick gave Sam a look. “There’s got to be something somewhere in that wonderfully coiffed head of yours.”
Sam flushed. “Yeah, I’m just— I can’t really focus on anything.”
“Close your eyes. Listen to what your body needs. That’s an easy place to start.”
Sam closed his eyes and turned his focus inwards. His ribs still ached from where his withdrawal had slammed him against the wall of the panic room, his shins were bruised, his heart was still alternating between palpitations and a sluggish crawl, his lungs felt tight and his throat was rough from screaming. “I’m hurt. I’ve uh—got bruises, and probably some cracked ribs.”
Patrick rumbled a laugh. “Sorry. That’s far too complicated to start with.”
“You’ve got so many kinds of pain—we try healing you, as unfocused as you are now, we’re gonna have trouble.”
“What kind of trouble?” Sam looked at him.
“The kind you’re trying to get away from.” Patrick smiled at him, with just a hint of pity. “Pick one ache. One basic need. One thing you know how to fix.”
“I’m thirsty,” Sam said finally. “For water,” he added with another flush.
“Good, let’s go with that.” Patrick shifted his weight and pointed at the lake with his free hand. “Can’t drink that. There’s all kinds of critters in it. And oh, would you look at that, I forgot to bring a water bottle. What’s a witch to do?”
Sam frowned, unsure if Patrick was expecting him to answer.
“There’s water in nearly everything,” Patrick said after a moment. “You just have to coax it out.” He tightened his grip around Sam’s right hand again. "Close your eyes, and think wet thoughts. Wait that came out wrong. Think of what water feels like, on your skin, in your throat.”
Sam obeyed as best he could, but it was hard to keep his thoughts from wandering. He could feel Patrick there, nudging him mentally away from iron walls and pain and back to the present.
“Water,” Patrick said. “Keep it simple.”
So Sam kept thinking of water, imagined swallowing mouthfuls of it, how good it felt after a run, or first thing in the morning,
“Good. Good,” Patrick said softly, “there you are.”
Sam opened his eyes and saw a small globe floating in front of him. An oversized water drop, the size of a marble shooter.
“That’s all you,” Patrick said.
“What?” Sam asked and the water marble broke, splattering back onto the ground. But he’d felt it then, a thread connecting him to the drops, to the soil below. It had been him.
“Knew you could do it.”
“Where’d it come from?” Sam asked, his mind spinning.
“What were you touching?” Patrick asked. “Besides me.”
“That’s right. And it rained last night, remember?”
Sam shook his head.
“Right, of course you don’t.” Patrick let go of Sam’s hand, stood and brushed off his knees. “Try it again, no training wheels.”
“I—I don’t know how.”
“Clearly you do. Just let your instincts guide you.”
My instincts haven’t been exactly trustworthy, Sam thought bitterly.
“Stop punishing yourself,” Patrick snapped. “We all fuck up. Every single one of us. We’re a sorry lot. But you know what’s worse? Wallowing in self-pity when you could be helping.”
Sam stood, anger building again. “It’s not self pity. Every time I try to help, every single time, I make things worse.”
“Not true. You’ve helped plenty of people. I saw you do it. You just dwell on your guilt. It’s an easy out.”
“No, I—“ Sam’s anger boiled over into rage, and those threads still connecting him to the ground set it trembling beneath his feet. The realization that it was him—that he was doing this—was sobering, enough so that Sam’s temper dissipated and the earth calmed again.
Patrick raised an eyebrow. “Water.”
“Water,” Sam repeated. “Right.” He closed his eyes again, and thought of water: from the tap, the feel of it on his tongue, the way it carried him when he swam, its current when he struggled against it, the feel of being caught in heavy rain—the exhilaration of a breaking storm.
Thunder rumbled, too close, way too close, and a fat drop of rain struck the top of Sam’s head. His eyes flew open just in time to see lightning streak across the sky. Another rumble of thunder followed, and rain burst out of a cloud directly above him.
Patrick clapped his hands together, laughing. “Plus one for showmanship.”
Sam stared at him, stupefied. “That wasn’t me,” Sam protested, but the rain kept coming, harder and heavier, and he really was thirsty, so he held out his cupped hands, let the rain fill them to the brim, then drank his fill.
“Magic is a means to an end.” Patrick walked around Sam in a wide circle. "You’ll notice that I’m still dry." To punctuate his point, he reached one hand in, close enough to Sam that it got wet. “Your little storm is extremely localized. Quite the coincidence, don’t you think?”
“How do I stop it?” Sam asked, as the rain kept striking his face. His hair was sopping now.
Patrick came a step closer and took Sam by the wrist, pulling him out from beneath the cloud. “That’s significantly harder to explain,” he said, taking hold of Sam’s other hand too. “But I’ll show you.”
Closing his eyes, Sam looked inwards, focusing on the feel of what Patrick was doing. He could sense a pulse running between them, a current where their skin touched, traveling through him, looping around his heart and back, traveling his whole nervous system and flowing back out, focused by Patrick’s will which didn’t so much drag him along as show him the way.
“Good,” Patrick said. “There we go.”
The sun hit Sam’s eyelids and he opened them to a cloudless sky. “Wow.”
“Not bad for a first lesson.”
“First?” Sam asked. “You want to do this again?”
“You think I’m just going to send you on your merry way with one, maybe two parlor tricks and call it a day?” Patrick scoffed. “At least let me teach you one more.” He snapped his fingers and Sam’s clothes and hair were instantly dry. “Pretty handy, don’t you think?”
“I’m not—“ Sam chewed on his lip. It couldn’t—shouldn’t be this easy. Power never came without a cost, he knew that. He’d learned that lesson over and over in blood and agony and heartbreak. “I’m not like you. I can’t just…”
“I know,” Patrick said. “You’ve got other things to do. Important things. This can help. I can help, if you’ll let me. Just let somebody do something nice for you for a change.”
“My brother won’t think it’s nice. He’ll think it’s another mistake.”
Patrick frowned. “I don’t really care what your brother thinks. What do you think?”
“It doesn’t feel like a mistake,” Sam said after a minute. “But I don’t understand where the power’s coming from.”
“From you, you dense, beautiful man,” Patrick said shoving at Sam’s chest.
“But my power is—“ Sam started, but found he couldn’t even finish the rest of the sentence.
“Is what? Evil?” Patrick smirked. “That’s a load of bollocks, and you know it. You convinced yourself it is, but think about what you were actually doing.”
“I told you, I was drinking demon blood.“
“No, not what you were using to unclench your inhibitions, what were you doing? What’d you do to Famine?”
“I pulled the demons he’d consumed out of him. That’s what I can do. I can pull demons.”
“You did that to possessed people too?”
“A lot of them, yeah.”
“You literally pulled the evil out of them, and yet somehow that still makes you evil?”
“You don’t understand.”
“No, I do. You feel bad about it, because you fucked up, so you’re punishing yourself. Forbidding yourself from even considering that maybe you did do some good and you could do a hell of a lot more. Pun intended.”
Sam watched Patrick, waiting to see if he was done making his point. He wasn’t entirely wrong, Sam supposed.
“So now, we’ve taken your ability to pull evil out of people and turned it into its most basic principle: pull things out of things. Water from the earth, rain from a cloud. There’s no way you can spin that into evil, is there?”
Sam huffed a dry laugh. “There’s always a cost. Always.”
“Right. Okay then, let’s go with that. Here’s the cost.” Patrick moved in close and took hold of Sam’s chin. Their eyes locked and Sam knew his intent, heart fluttering as he felt the same need echoing inside him. He leaned down and met Patrick in a kiss, deep and desperate. A wave of warmth flowed through Sam, comforting and light and one by one every ache, every broken rib and bruise, every pain inside his battered body healed, cells alight with a gentle fire. He pulled back breathless and stared at Patrick in awe.
Patrick smiled back at him, and he looked happy, but different, the crinkles around his eyes deeper, a streak of grey shockingly bright in his dark hair.
“Did you just—“ Sam asked, once again at a loss for words.
“The cost is only what you’re willing to give. And it doesn’t have to do lasting damage. To anyone. Not if you’re smart about it.” He closed his eyes, lips parted slightly, waiting for another kiss.
And then Sam understood. He kissed Patrick again, letting the swell of his emotions build and channeled them the way he had with the rain, willing a thread of his power back into Patrick, who gasped, sending an echo of energy back into Sam, forming a completed circuit, an endless circle of energy, the both of them combined. He could feel Patrick recovering, his youth returning, even before they both opened their eyes.
“That was…” Sam started, breathless. “That was amazing.”
“I aim to please.” Patrick winked.
“Why are you doing this?” Sam asked. “Helping me?”
“You mean aside from the part where helping you helps save the world?” He looked down at his feet for a moment and then back at Sam. “I wasn’t exactly kind to you last time we met, Sam. And it seems, from everything I’ve heard and everything you’ve told me, that your life is immensely unkind.”
“Yeah,” Sam said, “you could say that.”
“You deserve some kindness.” Patrick said, holding up a hand before Sam could voice his protest. “You do.”
Sam looked back at the lake, ignoring the stinging in his eyes, because he didn’t, he really didn’t, but god it felt so good to hear someone say it.
“So you gonna head back to your brother now? Pretend you had a nice lonely morning by yourself?”
“Probably,” Sam admitted.
“Well, when you’re ready for another lesson, or anything else, give me a call, will you?” Patrick flicked his fingers and a silver business card appeared between them.
Sam took it, noting the way the gold lettering caught the sun, and stuck it in his pocket. “Thank you,” he said, which didn’t feel adequate at all. His whole body felt better, like the lead in his heart had been replaced with sunlight. He felt hopeful and whole in a way he hadn’t in years, decades.
“See you around, yeah?” Patrick said with a wave, before disappearing back into the trees.
Sam took one last look at the lake just in time to see a small fish leap out of the water, glinting silver in the light before dropping back down with a plop. The ripples in the water spread, concentric circles widening until the lake smoothed out again into a deep blue mirror.
Turning on his heel, Sam headed back to Bobby’s, playing with a tiny marble-sized ball of water he’d called into his hand, just like that.