After a sleepless, uncomfortable night he had made the decision to leave. He was damned if he would live in the same place as Dean. It was too much to ask. He couldn't bear the looks and the guilt he knew his brother was feeling. Which he deserved Sam thought. The anger bubbled to the surface again and he clamped down on it hard. He didn't want to engage Ezekiel again, didn't want to put up with the 'it’s for your own good' sermon AGAIN. Fucking angels.
When Dean had sat him down last night, he had asked one question first;
'Do you want to live Sam? Are you glad you’re alive?'
Sam had felt the all-too familiar nausea and ice in his stomach.
This was going to be one of those chats. One of the chats that sent their life spiralling, which tormented them with the angst and trauma of decisions and deals made.
Dean’s face had tightened, and Sam knew his fears must have shown on his face, he felt the rush of blood and then the draining of it from his cheeks. 'What's going on Dean? You're freaking me out, man.’
That was as close as he would come to saying he was terrified.
Couldn't they have a single fucking experience in their lives that was clean and whole, not tainted by another betrayal he was sure was going to be exposed by his brother.
Before telling him, Dean had made him promise two things. One, he would wait 24 hours before making a decision and two, he would let Dean explain everything fully. Sam was trying to hold on to those 2 promises - if Dean couldn’t live by their promise of no lies, no betrayals, at least Sam could do better.
When he had finished explaining; carefully, calmly, looking burdened and guilty, Sam stood up, enraged and betrayed.
‘You son of bitch Dean, after everything I have done and fought against, you think that was ok?’ Dean, just shook his head.
‘I know it wasn’t Sam, and I am sorry.’
He stood up and went to turn away. Sam’s rage flipped and he grabbed his brother’s shoulder. ‘Don’t you DARE!’ he raged, ‘Don’t you DARE try to walk away from this!’ Dean turned back, not speaking, not answering. He just looked sad, tired and guilty.
He didn’t get to do that though, thought Sam. He didn’t get to make Sam feel shitty for being angry. Sam’s rage, as always with the Winchester boys, turned physical and his large fist swung around, cracking Dean an almighty thump on the corner of his jaw. Dean didn’t even try to block it, and Sam could have sworn his brother just looked resigned as the fist swung towards him.
He knew when his fist hit, Dean was not getting up in a hurry. Dean fell back and hit the ground with a loose-limbed, graceless thud. Sam could tell he was out for the count, and he stamped down his rising panic at seeing his brother like that. He couldn’t stop his eyes checking Dean’s breathing though. Sam stalked out of the library and to his room, slamming the door with all of his strength. It made him feel like a tantrum-throwing teenager, but the shake of the walls also made him feel better.
Somehow he knew Dean was gone when he woke that morning. It was confirmed when he saw the folded white paper on the floor outside his door, 'Sam' written in his brothers always surprisingly neat handwriting.
He picked it up before crumpling it in his massive fist, the skin turning white with force and his teeth grinding until his head ached. 'Fuck you Dean' he thought, throwing the letter aside. He wasn't ready yet to read the apologies and the reasons and the guilt from his brother.
Sticking to his promise he watched the clock, waiting for the 24 hours to be up. He tried to get on with daily tasks as normal - checking the bunkers systems, cataloguing, and monitoring signs of demon or angel activity.
However the bunker was hollow and empty and surprisingly the low background hum of having someone else there was less distracting than this emptiness.
After a few hours he succumbed to the pathetic need inside himself and angrily stalked down to the hallway outside his room, snatching the letter from the floor before settling down at his library chair and smoothing it out.
I don't know if you will read this, or if it will be burned or thrown in the trash, but I am hoping you at least get to see these first few lines.
I am out of the bunker for a while, you need to not have me around while you sort this out in your head.
I am not leaving, I am not running away - I am just giving you some space. If I know anything, it will be that you have already thought of leaving yourself, but please Sam - I know I have no right to ask you this, but please stay in the bunker. It is the safest place, especially if you decide to kick Zeke out. You are not fully recovered and being out on the road would make it so much harder.
So the bunker is yours for a while. I am taking hunts, but only the little stuff, and I am going to keep within a couple of hour’s drive of the bunker.
I will text you every night with an update - I do not expect or need a reply, it’s just to let you know I am around.
Please know Sammy that if you need anything, if you have any questions, hell, if you just need to shout at me and call me a fucking son of a bitch, I will pick up your call. I will pick up.
Now on to the bit you probably don't want or need to read, but I need to say.
I am sorry Sam. I had no right to do this, and I can barely imagine how angry and betrayed you feel. I can say I am sorry until I am blue in the face, but I get that it is pretty meaningless.
When you were dying, all I could think was that when you started the trials, you said you could see a way out.
You always had hope Sam, even in the worst and darkest times, and for that I couldn't just leave well enough alone. The main reason I am sure you guessed though. I am the weaker one Sam, I always have been. I need people, I need family. Even if I never see them again, I need to know they are out there, living. Not dead because I was too stupid or reckless or slow to save them.
Sam sighed and rubbed his eyes. His anger was fading in spite of himself. He knew Dean wasn't that manipulative, but as usual the evidence of his brother’s insecurities and self-loathing - no matter how much improved they were - made his fierce protectiveness over his brother come to the fore.
If he knew Dean, he had spent days at Sam's bedside, going over every conversation in his memory, every glance, grimace and smile and come to the conclusion Sammy had to live, no matter what.
I know you think I just made another deal, but this feels different. I have promised Zeke something, and I don't know what - but it feels like *just* payment. I know now that all our previous problems and issues have been manipulated and arranged, that we were puppets for heaven and hell, and my issues, your issues - we were pretty powerless all told. This decision, for the first time, feels like it is one I made free and clear. I am probably lying to myself, but what the hell.
'Dammit Dean you stupid son of a bitch'.
When Sam had finally confronted Ezekiel in the night, tentatively mustering up the courage to deal with the cloying, ticklish feeling of having someone else in his head, Zeke had told him of a second deal Dean had made. Dean probably didn't even think of it that way, but in Sam's eyes it was a second deal, and Ezekiel was one manipulative son of a bitch.
When Dean had talked to Ezekiel, asking him if Sam could survive ejecting him, the angel told Dean that yes, Sam would survive, but he would be weak, sick, and it would never improve. Somewhat like suffering a debilitating permanent illness, Sam would be unable to hunt, would barely be able to stand. And he would *never* improve. Ezekiel went on to say that he would not be any better off than Sam, and he would never survive even a minor confrontation with other angels. Dean didn’t seem to see it, or he was denying it, but Sam saw in Ezekiel's words a veiled threat. The angel wasn’t ready to leave Sam’s body, and was going to do what was needed to make sure he wasn’t expelled. While Dean didn’t seem to register the threat, he had promised the angel that he could use Dean as a vessel until he was well. Sam knew Dean wouldn't have even thought twice about it. Not if it meant Sam was ok.
Against his immediate, screaming instinct he had restrained himself from the knee jerk reaction of ejecting the angel. It worried him in a way, was Ezekiel manipulating him without Sam realizing? If so he was very, very good because it felt like Sam’s own thoughts. Sam knew he wanted to live though. Even this life, screwed up as it was, meant something. At the least they had a big mission still to finish, he didn’t think it was conceited to believe he and his brother were important, still. He couldn’t afford to throw a tantrum and ruin their chances of fixing this thing. Of becoming a sick, weak burden. He had to nut up and deal with it for now, but when he was well all bets were off.
Sam understood Dean’s motivation, but he hadn't quite reached forgiveness yet. It was mellowing into anger - not at Deans decisions this time, but his stupid fucking sense of always being less than anyone else.
Sam, I will never regret this decision. You sacrificed yourself because you wanted to save the world, you are a better, more honourable and more compassionate man than I think I could ever be. Never doubt that. Man, I am so proud of you. I know I don't have the right to say that, but I am. You were never unclean Sammy, you fought so hard, and so long to be the good person inside, even though those sons of bitches poisoned you and hurt you. Even when you were a little kid, doing the normal selfish little kid things, you would turn around and do something so sweet and giving and compassionate, it blew me away.
Please hang on Sam, let yourself heal. Once you are well you live your life - however you want. I will not stop you, criticize you or drag you back into my crap. Time I grew up too.
I will not come back to the bunker unless you need me to, or on the off chance you can forgive me. You are driving the boat.
Look after yourself brother.
Sammy, I love you man.
Sam snuffled unashamedly and sighed. He would forgive Dean, he knew that. He couldn't lie to himself, he would have made exactly the same decision in Dean’s place. Co-dependent was right. His lips twisted in a vague grin. Maybe that was ok though, maybe they had been through enough that they didn't have to be poster children for perfect sanity.
He would, however, give it at least a week before he started to reply to Dean’s text. He needed to punish the man somehow.