Word Count: 4,600
Genre: Gen, H/C, angst, humor, friendship
Summary: After Dean takes off on his latest guilt-driven, revenge quest, Sam and Cas bond on a road trip back to the bunker. One-shot tag to 'Road Trip'.
I haven't written anything in a few weeks since my muse took a little vacation over the holidays, but the latest episode gave me all sorts of feels and out popped this thing. This isn't beta'd, so all mistakes are mine and if you see any glaring errors, feel free to let me know.
Thanks for reading!
On a Road Trip With My Brother('s angel)
Sam tried to tell himself that he shouldn't be angry - that if the tables had been turned and he had had to make the same decision that his brother made in order to save his life that he would have done the same. But no matter how solidly he knew this to be the true, the anger outweighed reason and he wasn't sure how or even if he could ever get over this.
Because, really ... he was furious. Actually, he was so far beyond furious that he wasn't even in the same country as furious anymore. Sam had been prepared to die - he remembered that much now. Death had offered to send him off beyond the veil where no deal or self-sacrificing brother could bring him back, but Dean had done it again ... unable to just let go, he had decided Sam's fate for him and allowed an angel to ride shotgun in Sam's body. Certainly, Dean had done all of this because he loved Sam- of that, Sam had no doubt - but love could be just as destructive as the evil they hunted and if anyone should know that by now, it should be anyone with the last name of Winchester.
It was a family trait, he supposed. It started with their mother brokering a deal with Azazel to save their father, then their father doing the same to save Dean only for Dean to make a deal at a crossroads to save Sam. And back and forth they went, one deal leading to another, running around in circles and making the same mistakes over and over again- sacrificing body and sometimes soul for the ones they loved. It was an endless cycle and Sam was getting more than a little tired of it.
But that wasn't the only thing that Sam was sick of and pissed off about. Dean seemed to think that it was always on him to save everyone and when he couldn't, then he was somehow the cause. They had lost almost everyone that dared to get close to them, yes, that was true, but to Dean and his pathologically over-inflated sense of guilt, he thought of himself as poison ... too dangerous to be around or be loved in kind. Dean was drowning in an ocean of guilt and Sam wasn't sure he could pull his brother out this time. Kevin's death had been the last straw and the weight on Dean's shoulders was breaking him. Sam wanted to grab Dean and shake him until his teeth rattled when he said he needed to track down Gadreel alone. He wanted to scream in his face and slap some sense into him for wanting to run off on yet another guilt-driven revenge quest that would most likely get him killed, but Sam didn't.
Instead, he told him to go.
It was counter-productive and quite possibly self-destructive, but Sam wasn't going to stop him this time no matter how much he wanted to.
This was how Dean dealt. This was how Dean sought absolution. This was how Dean would make things right again in his own eyes and Sam wasn't going to take that away from his brother.
And to be perfectly honest, if Dean stuck around much longer, he might deck him.
Staring at his feet, Sam heard the loud rumble of the Impala's engine start up and then slowly drift away as Dean drove off. He couldn't watch him leave ... not just because he was still spitting mad, but because didn't think he could keep his word about not stopping him.
Soon is was quiet again save for the patter of rain hitting the dock and the gentle sigh escaping from Castiel. For a moment there, Sam had almost forgotten that the angel was still present, but he deliberately ignored him, wishing he was alone and without a witness to see his struggle to hold back the warring feelings of anger, frustration and fear inside.
Cas, not one to pick up on human body language, cleared his throat and spoke, his voice cutting into Sam's throbbing head.
"This weather must not be pleasant for you. Perhaps we should return to my car and find a motel room for the night."
Sam nodded his head without a word before wishing he hadn't, his headache ratcheting up. Apparently, having spikes drilled into your brain wasn't good for it and his hand went up automatically to rub his forehead. It wasn't nearly as bad as it had been before Cas healed him, and the pain had been reduced from a blinding, nuclear reaction to only a nauseating migraine, but he could kill for a couple of vicodin and a warm bed to sleep the next week in.
Sam pushed off from the dock railing he was leaning against, his legs suddenly doing a wet noodle impression as a wave of dizziness and a storm of black spots crowded his vision. A strong hand gripped his bicep, preventing him from falling to his knees.
Cas didn't say anything. There was no 'I gotcha' or snarky comments about Sam being a sasquatch and too heavy to carry, he merely led Sam towards the gigantic Lincoln Continental parked at the end of the dock. Keeping one hand gripped around Sam's arm, he kept him upright with his angelic strength while opening the car door at the same time. Sam waved Cas off ... he could get himself into the car under his own steam and he didn't want any more help - he had had enough 'help' lately, whether it was well-intentioned or not.
Sam practically crumpled into the passenger seat and shut his eyes with a heavy grunt. His whole body ached and was screaming for rest, how much of that was due to his body still being weak from the trials or just the plain physical and emotional trauma of having an angel wearing him for the past few months, he couldn't say. All he knew was he was exhausted and only wanted to sleep if his headache would permit it.
He heard the drivers side door opened and felt car rock a little as Cas climbed in behind the wheel. Sam expected the engine to turn over in the next moment, but when several seconds passed by in silence, he cracked an eye open and glanced at Cas.
Cas looked back at Sam expectantly as if waiting for him to do something.
"What?" Sam asked.
"I can't start the vehicle until you fasten your seatbelt. It's the law."
Sam stared at Cas for several moments. Cas stared back, not backing down.
Sam sighed and then reached for his seatbelt and buckled himself in. Cas nodded with a satisfied little grin and then turned his attention to the mirrors, adjusting them to and fro before reaching his seat for the lever to move his seat. Cas slid forward until his chest was almost against the steering wheel and then he moved back again, this time too far back for his feet to reach the pedal. Forward again he moved. And then back again.
Sam was getting whiplash watching the angel search for the perfect seat position, which did little to help the nausea building from his headache. "For God's sake, Cas!" Sam snapped, pinching the bridge of his nose, "Can we just go already?"
"I need to ensure that my seat is in an optimal position before I begin to drive." Cas calmly explained, "According to step two of the checklist outlined in the driver's training manual I read, one must perform this before engaging a car's engine. The author stated that it's important to be seated far enough away from the steering column to avoid injury yet close enough to reach all of the pedals and the steering wheel comfortably."
Sam rolled his eyes, grumbling under his breath as Cas moved his seat forward another fraction of an inch until finally ... finally, Cas seemed to be content with his seat.
At last the angel slipped the key into the ignition and turned it over. Sam closed his eyes again, expecting to finally get moving, but again several seconds went by and the car remained still. Sam chanced to open his eyes again. Cas sat peering forward, his finger flicking the headlights on and off and turning on the high beams.
"What the hell are you doing now?" Sam asked, more than a little irritably.
"I am ensuring that the headlights are in working order. It is step three on the checklist."
Sam heaved a sigh, "The headlights are fine. Let's just go."
"But ... step four is to check the brake lights and I haven't -"
"Go, Cas!" Sam snarled, his teeth clenched.
Picking up on Sam's frustration, Cas had the good sense to shift the gear into drive and press down on the accelerator, finally making the car pull forward. As soon as he did, however, the car suddenly lifted up from the rear and then down, repeating again on the other side. Up and down the car went, causing Sam's already sensitive stomach to slosh and churn.
If Sam hadn't been turning green with nausea, he might have found it amusing that Cas' car was equipped with hydraulic switches like some kind of hooptie pimpmobile, but as his gorge rose, his only thought was on getting out of the car and turning his stomach inside out.
"Stop!" Sam demanded, before clamping a hand over his mouth. Cas slammed on the brakes and the car stopped with a jolt that ended all of Sam's attempts to keep his stomach contents inside. He pushed his door open and rolled out, dropping to his hands and knees onto the pebbly gravel. The upheaval began even before Sam's momentum came to a halt.
Apparently, Gadreel hadn't bothered to feed Sam's body as was evidenced by the pure strings of bile he was only able to bring up. Dry heaves wracked his frame, squeezing and clenching his abdominal muscles in painful spasms that went on forever. Tears streamed from Sam's eyes as he gasped between bouts of sickness.
How long this went on, he wasn't sure, but when his digestive tract finally decided it was sufficiently purged, he rocked back onto his heels and leaned his head back, closing his eyes and letting the rain pelt him in the face.
"Sam ... are you alright?" Sam felt Cas' hand rest on his shoulder. He opened his eyes and let his head fall forward, exhaustion dripping off of him. He nodded his head weakly in response to Cas' question.
Sam wiped his mouth and then attempted to stand, but his muscles were still quivering too much for him to get very far. Castiel offered his hand and Sam had no choice but to accept the help up, allowing the angel to guide him back into the passenger seat.
"Thanks." Sam mumbled, leaning his head back wearily.
Can leaned in, his face lined with sympathy and guilt. "I'm sorry, Sam. I did not realize the hydraulic system was still engaged. I'm also sorry that my power is not at full strength and that my healing of you is still are out of danger, but in the meantime, I fear that I can do little to cure your discomfort."
"S'not your fault." Sam said, connecting his eyes with Cas'. "I actually feel a little better now that I got it all out." He stated honestly, the puking having eased his nausea for the time being. His headache, unfortunately was worse, but the pain beat the feeling of needing to vomit, hands down.
Cas nodded, "Is there anything I can do to ease your symptoms? I am rather unfamiliar with human panaceas for illness, but is there any kind of medication which might help?"
Sam rubbed his aching head, "Got any aspirin or Tylenol?"
"There are some pills in the compartment in front of you that I discovered upon acquiring this vehicle. Perhaps one of those will work."
Sam raised his head and reached for the latch of the glovebox, popping it open. His eyes widened a little seeing what was inside. Pulling out one of several small baggies from the box, Sam waved it at the clueless angel. "Jesus, Cas ... these aren't pills. These are crack rocks ... and this -" he picked out another bag, "is what I think is meth." Sam dug around some more, finding even more drugs including pot and possibly heroin. "Holy ... I think you stole a drug dealer's car."
"Aren't drugs what you need?"
"Not these kinds of drugs," Sam replied bluntly, flopping his head back against the seat again, tired beyond description. "Never mind ... I'll be fine without anything. Let's just get on the road and this time without the hydraulics, okay?"
Cas nodded and straightened, backing up to close Sam's door before walking around the extra long front end of the car to reenter at the drivers side. Sam shut his eyes again and this time they stayed shut as the engine rumbled to life. He was asleep before he could feel Cas buckling him into his seatbelt.
He raised his hand, his palm covering Kevin's forehead, taking the young man by surprise. Kevin's mouth opened with a primal scream of agony as fire ripped through him, boiling his brain and igniting his eyes. The prophet's cries died as his lungs were fried within his chest and he knew that the boy was dead, his task complete. He pulled his hand away, allowing Kevin's empty husk to fall to the floor, the smell of burnt flesh hanging in the air.
Sam woke with a sharp inhale, his neck stiff as he jerked his head away from door window it was resting against.
Shit ... Kevin ...
"Are you alright?"
Sam snapped his head back towards Castiel and nodded quickly, rubbing his face while his heart double-timed tried to put the images from his dream away and shove them into the back of his mind, but that was easier said than done because Sam knew it wasn't a dream as such ... it was a memory. It might not have been his memory per se, but nonetheless, Gadreel had stuck him with it and one thing he knew was certain was that this was not going to be the last time he had this particular nightmare.
Blinking, Sam looked around, noting that he was still in Cas' car, with the angel behind the wheel. Another look out the window showed him that it was daytime and judging by the height of the sun, it was sometime late in the afternoon. Other than shakiness the dream left him with, Sam actually felt much better than he did before and his headache was now just a mild throbbing. His only real concern where it came to his physical health was the sudden and insistent gurgle his stomach made, reminding him that it needed be fed and soon.
Almost as if in answer to his hunger, Cas reached behind and grabbed a plastic shopping bag and dropping it in Sam's lap. Inside were several bottles of water, sandwiches, bags of chips, candy bars, and most blessedly, a bottle of Tylenol. "It's good to see you awake, Sam. I figured you might be hungry, but I was uncertain about what you would want to eat, so I gathered a few things that I recalled enjoying when I was human."
"This is fine, Cas. Thanks."
"Where are we, anyway?" Sam asked, looking about and taking a bite from one of the tuna sandwiches from the bag. The scenery passing by spoke of the mid-west, but last time he had been awake, they had been in Pennsylvania. "I thought we were going to find a motel last night."
"You were asleep and I didn't want to wake you, so I continued driving. We are now in southwestern Indiana."
"Indiana?" Sam asked, a little surprised over how much distance they covered already. "How long was I asleep?"
"A little less than twelve hours." Cas stated evenly.
He almost choked on the bite of sandwich in his mouth. "Really?" It hadn't felt that long and he was still immensely tired. Sleeping another twelve hours straight didn't seem that far fetched.
"Yes. And we should reach the bunker in several more hours. Your recovery will go much easier there."
Sam couldn't really argue with that logic. He wouldn't mind sleeping in a familiar bed, especially given how stiff and sore he was from sleeping in the car. Thinking of sitting for this entire time and noting how cramped up his muscles were, Sam looked across at Cas and wondered if the angel had taken any breaks from driving at all other than grabbing the bag of food and gassing up.
Did angels even need breaks? He didn't think that Cas needed sleep anymore now that his powers were back and Sam envied him that ... sleeping always meant dreaming and in Sam's case, nightmares.
Whether or not Cas needed a break was quickly becoming a moot point as Sam sure needed one and so did his bladder. "How about we stop at the next gas station,Cas?"
"There is still half a tank of gasoline. Dean assured me that this car would not run out of fuel again so long as I filled it before the red needle reaches the 'E'. "
"Well yeah ... but unless you want me making a mess in your car, then I'm going to need a bathroom."
"Ah ... yes. I almost forgot how often people need to urinate. I can't say that I miss that aspect of being human."
Sam glanced at Cas, "So ... you must be pretty stoked to have your mojo back then, huh? No more pesky human things like peeing or sleeping to hold you back. "
To Sam's surprise Cas looked across at Sam with a wistful kind of look, " To be honest, I found the experience ... enjoyable at times. I found pleasure in eating and drinking ... and making love for the first time was -"
Sam raised his hands, cutting Cas off before he could go into further detail than Sam wanted to hear. "Okay, okay ... I get it."
"I don't think you do, Sam," Cas countered adamantly. "You may see being human as something mundane and ordinary or that compared to being an angel you are weak and powerless, but it's not true. You hope and and dream and love in ways angels could never comprehend and that's what makes you strong. And yes ... I do miss it. Being human was ... humbling ... and that was good for me."
Cas drove on in silence after that while Sam downed a couple of Tylenol and a bottle of water. When Cas pulled the car into a gas station a few minutes later, Sam couldn't get out fast enough and made a direct beeline for the restroom before his bladder ruptured.
After finding relief at the urinal, Sam washed his hands and then scrubbed his face after looking in the mirror and noting just how much like death warmed over he resembled. He had dark circles ringing his eyes and he needed a shave. Actually, he only had about a day's worth of stubble as Gadreel had likely stopped his body's ability to grow hair. Then again, maybe Gadreel had shaved him ... taking a razor to Sam's face ... using Sam's hands to perform a simple task that by all rights should have been his and his alone ...
Sam stopped cold, staring at his reflection.
Just how many times had the angel taken over without Sam knowing it? It must been often because for weeks, Sam was afraid he was losing his mind. He would find himself in rooms without any clue as to how he got there, chunks of time went missing, cuts and bruises he recalled getting would magically disappear. Sam had known something was wrong for a while, but he never once thought that he had an angel riding shotgun inside of him.
Sam felt a renewed burn of anger ripple through him.
His fingers tightened around the edges of the sink.
Goddamned Gadreel ... just thinking the name made his skin crawl and he wanted nothing more than to take a hot, searing shower to scrub away the feeling of being violated. After Meg had possessed him, he felt unclean for weeks and this time was no different. While he only had flashes of memories of his time being the angel's vessel, just knowing that someone else had been inside of him, seeing his most intimate thoughts and memories, knowing his most personal secrets and fears, and sharing in things that he had no right to take part in, is what disgusted him the most.
Sam glared at his face, hating what he saw in it, hating the hidden passenger that had stowed away and used it without his permission.
How dare he! How dare that fucking angel do this to him! How dare he dupe his brother into thinking that he had no choice but to trick Sam into letting him in.
Sam let out a gut-deep yell and propelled his fist forward into in the mirror. Once, twice ... over and over again until the glass shattered. The frame of the mirror fell to the floor along with the shards, but the concrete wall where it had once been hung was just as fine a target for his rage. Blood dotted the wall in a macabre polka dot pattern with each successive hit, but didn't care ... the pain was good ... the pain reminded him of what was real and kept him sane. Whether it was Lucifer or Gadreel or Meg ... it didn't matter because they were all the same; parasites each and every one of them and they weren't going to steal this from him. The pain was his and his alone ... they couldn't have that.
Sam reared his fist back for another blow against the wall when another hand suddenly gripped it, halting its momentum mid-swing.
That one word, spoken into his ear with fervent and unrelenting intensity was all he needed to snap him from dark hole he had slipped down into, pulling him out and dragging back into the light of reason and sanity. Sam panted, breaths harsh even to his own ears as his energy fled out of his body and his knees turned to jelly. In the next second, two inhumanly strong arms were the only thing holding him up and guiding him to the wall, easing him against it and slowly lowering him to the tiled floor.
Sam sat numbly, unable to think or feel as he looked down at his hand. The damage he had done to himself was ghastly; broken, bleeding skin exposed the white of several knuckle bones underneath. At least three of his fingers were clearly broken, bent at unnatural angles and already beginning to swell. The sight seemed to trigger his nerve endings to resume sending signals to his brain once again and all at once he was hit with the pain. Throbbing in time to his pulse, a fire began in his hand, traveling up from his fingertips and through his arm, taking his breath away. Gritting his teeth, Sam brought the shattered hand up to his chest and groaned. He squeezed his eyes shut, trying and failing to ride out the waves of pain and regret storming through him.
He had been so stupid ... so massively stupid.
Tears leaked through his clenched eyes against his will and dribbled down his cheeks, plopping onto the floor into a small puddle as he bowed his head forward, curling in on himself with his destroyed hand tucked between his chest and his lap.
The same hands that had stopped Sam's fists and supported him before were now gently pushing against his shoulders, coaxing him to straighten up before taking his broken hand into his own and cradling it carefully. Sam opened his eyes and watched as steady, long fingers traced over his own mangled ones, power flowing from those fingertips into his own.
With each gentle swipe over his skin, Sam felt bones knit back together and torn skin seal without even the hint of a scar. Even the blood that had coated his hand had been cleared away. With each repair, the pain lessened until it was completely gone and all that was left was the hollow feeling in the pit of Sam's stomach.
Sam looked up from his healed hand and met concerned blue eyes. There was no trace of judgement or anger in those eyes over the wanton display of self harm Sam had demonstrated and there were no words spoken between them - just an silent understanding conveyed between man and angel - Sam was forgiven for losing control and Cas was assured that Sam would be okay now that it was out of his system.
Sam remained seated on the floor as Cas stood and waved his hand over the broken glass, fixing the mess Sam had made and righting everything in the blink of an eye, leaving the bathroom in the same shape as it had been before Sam had entered it and took his anger out against it.
Extending his hand to Sam, Cas helped him from the floor, raising him up easily. Once on his feet, Sam clasped the angel's arm with one hand and his shoulder with the other, holding the angel's eyes with his own. "Thanks, Cas."
Cas furrowed his brow sympathetically, his expression sincere,"I don't think I can begin to understand the emotions you are feeling right now, Sam, but should you need to ... you know ... talk about it, I will be there for you and I will listen. All I want is to do is help."
There had been times in the past when Sam had questioned his friendship with Cas and times when he had actually been jealous of the relationship he had with Dean. Even before this road trip began, Sam had believed that Cas was simply driving him back to the bunker so he could continue healing him out of a sense of obligation to his brother.
But in the space of only a few minutes, Sam realized then that Cas had become more to him than just his brother's angel - he was Sam's angel too, but better than that, he was his friend without any doubt.
Cas clapped Sam on the arm, smiling. "Now ... we have many more miles to go, so let's hit the street."
Sam chuckled and shook his head, "It's 'hit the road'."
"Either way, I believe we should exit this bathroom soon. As Dean might say, it smells like shit in here."