Sam sighed as he looked at Dean, lying still on the bed. Jesse had put him in stasis once the ritual was done, and Sam had ushered the teens out to rest and clean themselves up while he called on the angels to heal Dean. Sam closed his eyes and prayed.
“Hey Cas? It’s, uh, it’s done. The ritual worked. If you - or an angel with their own grace - could come down and help, that would be awesome. Please. Amen.”
There was silence following Sam’s short prayer, and Sam remembered when he returned from the Cage, how much he begged and pleaded and screamed for Cas to come down, for anyone to come down and give him some answers, some idea of where to look for answers. There was another reason he sent the teens away; he didn't want them to have to see him desperate and begging anymore than they already had. And if his past was any indication, he had a lot of praying and begging to do before an angel answers him.
Sam closed his eyes again, bowing his head and resting his forehead against his clasped hands. “Cas, if you can hear me, it’s Dean. He really needs you, Cas, there’s not much left that I can do. Please, Cas, I know I have no right to ask this of you after everything you’ve already sacrificed for us, I know how busy you are -“
Sam looked up sharply at the soft sound of wings, and Castiel and Hannah stood before him.
Well. That was unexpected.
“Cas - uh. Hi. I hope I didn’t pull you away from anything…”
Castiel shook his head. “How’s Dean?”
Sam gestured to the bed behind the angel. “Jesse put him in stasis. He needs healing once we take it off, or - or he’ll…”
Sam trailed off, but Castiel and Hannah knew well enough what he meant.
“I will do what I can,” Castiel replied with a nod. “Hannah…”
Hannah looked dubiously between Sam and Dean, and Castiel pressed. “Please.”
Hannah nodded, and Sam stepped back. He felt relief rush through him as Dean’s wounds started to heal under the golden light coming from Hannah and Castiel’s palms, their grace pushing past Jesse’s stasis field and pulling Dean back to the world of the living.
It was over. It was finally over.
He’d finally done something right.
“He’ll be asleep for a few more hours for the healing to take,” Hannah warned, and Sam nodded.
Sam saw Cas’ hand coming towards him and reared back sharply. “Cas, what are you doing?”
Cas looked hurt for a moment, then guilty, remembering what happened the last time he touched Sam without warning. “You are severely injured, Sam. Let me heal you.”
“What, this? Don’t worry about it, Cas. It’ll heal up fine on its own; don’t waste your grace on me.”
There was an expression on Cas’ face that Sam didn't quite recognise. It was similar to the one he wore when Gadreel begged him to spare him, but gentler. Cas huffed softly and reached for Sam again.
“Cas - no - <<conserve your grace.>>
Castiel froze and Hannah looked like she might cry.
Sam swallowed down the blood rising at the back of his throat and grimaced. “Uh. Sorry.”
“You… no one has spoken that since Lucifer Fell,” Hannah whispered.
Sam cringed slightly. “Yeah, well. I spent more than enough time with Lucifer and Michael to pick it up.”
“You are still suffering the aftereffects of the ritual,” Castiel pointed out gravely.
Sam shrugged. “I’ll be fine.”
“If you will not let me heal you, then perhaps Hannah…?”
“Of course,” Hannah agreed immediately, “I’d be glad to.”
Sam glanced at her dubiously, but then nodded. “Thank you.”
Hannah touched two fingers to his forehead and her grace washed over him, cold as ice and he was back in the Cage, no, no, he couldn't do this again, mercy mercy please mercy -
- Whatever you want please have mercy I beg of you -
Sam crashed to his knees, the pain from hitting the hardwood floor jarring him back to the present. There was blood dribbling down his chin and his throat burned like acid, and his everything else still hurt.
“What - what happened?” Hannah whispered, and now she actually was crying.
“I - I’m sorry,” Sam muttered, straining against the urge to bow, press his forehead against the floor and beg for mercy.
Too close. After everything, the Cage was far too close.
“Your grace,” Sam rasped, trying to swallow back the blood, “It’s - cold. Like Lucifer’s. I -“
Sam dropped his gaze, focusing on the feel of the floor under his knees, the rough scratch of denim under his palms, the firm press of the bandages around his ribs.
“Perhaps we should call someone else,” Castiel murmured.
“It’s fine,” Sam replied slowly, “Like I said, this will heal up in a few weeks.”
“We’re angels, Sam,” Hannah answered softly, “Our purpose is to aid and protect humans. Please, let us do this.”
Sam wanted to protest, say that he didn't fall under that mission, that he didn't deserve it, why should he when he’s the Abomination, a creature of filth and sin, but Castiel and Hannah had already turned away, calling for another angel.
There was a soft flutter of wings, and another woman appeared in the room.
“I’m not healing him,” Flagstaff said flatly, and Sam lowered his head in acceptance. Someone understood. If he just stayed here, perfectly still, maybe they’d get bored and leave. It had worked before, sometimes.
“We’re not asking you to heal Dean,” Cas said mildly, “It’s Sam who needs help.”
Sam could see Flagstaff turn towards him at the edges of his vision, and he clenched his fists, keeping his head bowed. There was a part of him crying that he’s not in the Cage anymore, he’s not, he’s not, and he needed to think past the gibbering fear of angels surrounding him, because they weren't Michael and Lucifer, they weren't going to hurt him, they’re not - but he deserves it, the sinner, the failure, the damned.
Flagstaff touched two fingers to his forehead, and Sam tensed, waiting for the pain -
- It never came. Flagstaff’s grace wasn't hot or cold, it was like a distant storm, power contained and safety. Her grace washed through him, pushing back the memories of the Cage enough for him to think clearly.
Wow. His self-control was total shit.
Sam breathed deeply as the pain across his body faded, bruises and cuts and cracked bones healing. He peeled off the dressing on his eye, and blinked up at Flagstaff, taking her outstretched hand to help him stand.
“Thank you,” he said fervently.
Flagstaff looked at him consideringly and then glanced at Dean. “No, Sam. Thank you.”
“What did her grace feel like?” Hannah asked curiously.
Flagstaff’s brow furrowed, and Sam blinked. “Ah, sheet lightning - faraway sheet lightning, before the storm hits, y’know? Were you close to Raphael?”
“Yes,” Flagstaff admitted, surprised, “Sensing the nuances of an angel’s grace is a rare talent.”
Sam shrugged uncomfortably. “Yeah, well. Michael and Lucifer had to be good for something.”
“So that was Sam Winchester. To be honest, he’s not what I expected.”
Castiel looked Flagstaff sharply. “Sam is a good man. He is more than an abomination, more than Lucifer’s vessel.”
Flagstaff inclined her head. “I’m amazed he’s related to Dean.”
Castiel’s jaw clenched, but there wasn't much he could say in the face of Dean having been a demon.
“He was afraid,” Flagstaff mused sadly, “So afraid. He… He mistook us for our brothers, didn’t he.”
Castiel nodded. “It’s very likely. Memories of the Cage are a constant presence in Sam’s life, more so now that he’s using the knowledge he gained there.”
“I’m amazed he’ll let an angel near him after what he’s suffered,” Hannah admitted, “It’s a miracle.”
Castiel smiled. “Sam is a miracle.”
Sam glanced back at his sleeping brother, smiling slightly. “It’s gonna be okay, Dean. I promise.”
He stripped off the rest of his bandages, relaxing at the sight of his unmarred skin. Bearing the scars from when Dean - from when he was strung up in front of Dean - would just make moving forward harder for the both of them. There was already so much between them that needed to be resolved, adding another piece of baggage between them wasn't going to help anything.
He stepped outside Dean’s room and nearly walked into the angels still standing outside. “What - Uh, you guys are still here?”
Flagstaff looked him over, assessing him, and Sam almost felt the faint stirring of her grace under his skin. Hannah smiled slightly. “We wanted to see if there was anything else you needed. The children -“
There was a distant crash from elsewhere in the bunker and Sam’s brow furrowed. Were the teens still around? He'd sent them home long ago. “Wait, the kids are still here?”
Castiel looked at him oddly. “You didn’t know they were still in the bunker?”
Sam shook his head. “I sent them home before I started praying -“
There was another crash, followed by Ben’s shout and Jacob’s colourful swearing, and Sam winced. “I should go make sure that they don’t break anything else.”
The angels followed Sam as he made his way through the corridors, and drew short at the scene in the common area.
“Boys.” The stern voice of Jody Mills snapped, “Separate. Now.”
Ben and Jacob, having broken one of the tables, looked up from their roughhousing on the floor rebelliously, and then quailed at her look. “Yes, Ma’am.”
Sam cleared his throat. “Uh. Hi, guys.”
The younger hunters turn and looked up at his arrival, their faces lighting up. “Sam!”
“Oof,” Sam grunted lightly as Claire and Jesse tackled him in a hug.
“You’re all better!”
Sam smiled. “Yeah, good as new. What’s going on here?”
“We were waiting for you…” Claire’s attention shifted to the angels standing behind Sam and the smile dropped from her face. “Oh. Who are you?”
Sam winced slightly. “They’re friends, Claire.”
“Friends of yours, or friends of the douchebag’s?”
Sam glanced at the angels, unsure whether he can claim Hannah and Flagstaff as friends. “Flagstaff healed me, and Cas and Hannah healed Dean.”
Jacob snorted and Ben rolled his eyes. “Did you have to?”
Jody cleared her throat from behind them, and they shot up to their feet immediately, contrite. Sam rubbed his forehead. “How did you two break the table again?”
“He started it!” Ben and Jacob protested immediately, pointing at each other.
“I don’t care who started it,” Jody responded before Sam could roll his eyes, “Both of you are fixing it.”
“But Jesse can do that in, like, a second,” Ben pointed out.
“I will not!” Jesse replied, outraged.
Before anyone else could chime in, Claire’s angel blade appeared in her hand, pointed directly at Castiel’s heart. “You. Back away from Sam.”
Sam’s eyes widened, and he glanced back at Castiel, who looked chagrined. “Cas isn’t going to hurt me, Claire.”
“Like he didn’t hurt my Dad?”
Castiel’s mouth turned down at the corners, and Sam winced.
“Eh, Flagstaff might be okay,” Jacob offered, coming up behind his girlfriend, “She did heal Sam. The other two can fuck off.”
“Manners, Jacob,” Jody warned, but it lacked the severity of before.
Hannah gasped. “Who are you to - Castiel is a hero!”
“He’s a douchebag,” Jacob and Claire replied bluntly.
“And we’re Sam’s kids,” Jesse replied, still holding onto Sam, “As good as, anyway.”
“Claire, we weren’t able to find the - whoa, we interrupting something?”
Everyone turned to see Tracy, Krissy, and Alex entering from the library, and Sam’s eyebrows rose. “Wasn’t expecting to see you guys here.”
Tracy shrugged. “I wanted to raid your library.”
Krissy and Alex elbowed her in the side, and Krissy replied, “We heard you fixed Dean, so we wanted to see how things were going.”
Sam blinked. “… That was fast.”
Ben grinned. “The wonders of modern technology, man. Word’s spreading through the entire community right now, news’ll make its rounds over the next few weeks.”
Sam shook his head. “You guys didn’t have to do that. Dean and I’ll be fine, you didn’t have to come all the way out here.”
No one seemed very impressed with Sam’s response, and Jacob turned on Castiel. “Pay attention, douchebag. This is what you and your demon not-boyfriend have done to the man who saved the world.”
Castiel looked stricken, and Flagstaff and Hannah exchanged wary glances. Sam bit back a groan. “Jacob, Claire, go help Tracy find the book she wants.”
Claire sent one last glare at Castiel and then turned away.
Jacob pointed at the dark-haired angel. “You come within ten feet of my girlfriend, and I won’t stop her from stabbing you in the heart, understand?”
“I’m going, I’m going.”
Sam rubbed his forehead again, absently tousling Jesse’s hair as the younger boy remains attached to his side.
Hannah stiffened. “Dean is waking up.”
“So much for sleeping for a few hours,” Sam muttered under his breath. “Ben, Jesse, Krissy - look out for Jody and Alex.”
“Sam, we can help -“
“No,” Sam replied firmly, “If something’s gone wrong, I don’t want any of you getting caught in the crossfire.”
“Sam!” Jesse protested, but Sam was already striding away, angels following in his wake.
Dean woke up in his room in the bunker and blinked.
Was this it? Was this his heaven?
He got off his bed and stood, stretching his sore muscles. Okay, probably not Heaven, then. The last thing he remembered was getting stabbed by Metatron, and Sam…
… And Sam refusing to let him die.
It was like Hell all over, demons and lies and making stupid choices without knowing the consequences. “Dammit, Sam,” he growled under his breath.
The door to his room slammed open, and Dean barely heard Cas saying ‘He’s human, Sam,’ before he was being hugged tightly by 6’ 4” and 210 lbs of relieved plaid - and unexpectedly bony - hunter. He heard a whispered ‘Thank God’ in his ears as his arms came up slowly. Whatever trouble the kid had gotten himself into now by bringing Dean back, he was still his little brother, and his instinct was still to hug back.
Sam pulled away, a smile spreading across his face as he looked Dean over. “It’s good to have you back, Dean.”
Dean almost let it go, seeing the relief and joy on his little brother’s face, but then steeled himself. Whatever trouble the kid had gotten into now, they needed to get ahead of it immediately. “What did you do, Sam?” he demanded.
Sam looked confused, and dammit, this was just like coming back from Hell all over again, Sam thinking Dean would never find out about his dumbass choices if he was just happy enough. “What - what do you remember, Dean?”
“I remember Metatron stabbing me in the chest. I remember telling you to let me go,” Dean sneered. “But we can all see how that went.”
The expression fell away from Sam’s face. “… Oh.”
“Yeah, oh. After all that shit you gave me about what I did to save your life -“
“You turned into a demon, you stupid ape!” a woman snapped, and Dean turned to see the others gathered at his door. Cas stood with two female angels, one striding towards him angrily. “You took on the Mark of Cain, fell under the Blade’s lure like a child, and turned into the worst of demons. You left a trail of bodies, until your brother nearly destroyed himself and saved you, and this is how you thank him?!”
“Who the Hell are you?” Dean snapped.
“This is Flagstaff, Dean,” Sam cuts in quickly, “She’s a friend of Cas’.”
Flagstaff, right. The bitchy angel with a stick up her ass that Cas had asked him to interrogate.
“I’m supposed to believe this bullshit?”
“She’s right, Dean,” Sam said softly, and held out his phone. “It’s been months since we fought Metatron. I’ll tell you the details if you want, but… it was rough, man.”
Sam looked so tired, and Dean felt his ire rise. Where did he get off looking like that, when Dean was one with his world being shaken?
Flagstaff scoffed. “I’m returning to my post. Hannah?”
Hannah nodded, a little unsure. “I think it would be best. We’ll see you when you’re done here, Castiel.”
Cas nodded, and Sam smiled slightly. “Thanks again, for everything.”
Flagstaff and Hannah disappeared with the soft flutter of wings.
Dean turned to Cas. “Is it true?” he pleadded, “Did I really…”
Dean saw Sam slump in the corner of his vision, and resisted the urge to snap again. What, he wasn't allowed to get a second opinion? God only knew Sam was an unreliable narrator.
Cas nodded sadly. “I’m sorry, Dean. We couldn’t get to you before Crowley.”
“Crowley got to me?! Where the Hell is that smarmy bastard -“
“I, uh, I think you killed him, actually,” Sam cut in.
Dean turned to him in shock. “Come again?”
Sam shrugged. “No one’s seen or heard from him since you - since you changed, not even demons.”
Dean huffed a laugh. “At least something good came out of it. So how’d you bring me back, Sammy? A deal? Demon blood? What mess are we in now?”
“Dean -“ Cas interrupted, brow furrowed, “Sam did nothing that would land you or him in more danger.”
Dean’s eyebrows rose, and he looked at Sam expectantly.
Sam rubbed the back of his neck and sighed. “I and some other hunters got a spell from Cain. Hebrew, Aramaic, Cuneiform, Higher Enochian - old, old spells and warding. It took some doing, but we made it work in the end.”
“You went to Cain. And you didn’t think that would end badly.”
Sam snorted. “All he wanted was to die. And when we destroyed the First Blade, he died with it.”
Dean looked down at his arm, rolling up his sleeve to see bare skin where the Mark of Cain used to be. He felt a faint rush of disappointment at the loss of that kind of power, but Dean pushed it away. He was out of the frier, no sense jumping back into the fire.
“I should get back,” Cas said reluctantly. “It’s good to have you back, Dean.”
Dean grinned and clapped his friend on the back. “It’s good to be back, man. You go whip those angels into line.”
Castiel smiled slightly and left.
Dean turned back to Sam. “So, what’ve we got to eat around here?”
“Things are a little chaotic in the bunker right now, sorry,” Sam apologised as they make their way through the corridors.
Dean smirked. “I disappear for a few weeks, and you start throwing keggers in my absence, Sam?”
Sam rolled his eyes. “A couple other hunters stuck around to make sure everything went okay.”
Sam and Dean returned to the common area to find Jacob attempting to screw one of the table legs back in place under Alex’s watchful eye, while Claire and Jesse argued animatedly over a book.
Jacob was the first to notice them. “Head’s up, everyone’s favourite emotionally abusive murderer is back,” he called out, and the others stopped what they were doing and looked up.
Dean frowned. “The Hell did you say to me, punk?”
Jacob shrugged and sat up. “You did kill my mother, I don’t know what else you expect me to call you.”
Sam placed a hand on Dean’s shoulder before he could move towards Jacob, and Jesse attempted to diffuse the rising tension. “Sam, Claire doesn’t believe me that Temeluchus was an angel of judgment.”
Sam blinked. “That’s because he wasn’t - not in the end, anyway. After that long in Hell, he turned away from his purpose as God’s arbiter of judgment and just tortured souls as a demon.”
“How do you even know that?” Dean asked, bewildered.
Sam shrugged. “I killed him.”
Everyone stares at Sam. Sam’s lips twisted wryly. “He took on the name Alistair. Hell’s best torturer.”
Dean’s expression blanked beside him, and Jacob made a strangled noise. “Dude. How have you not taken over the world yet?!”
Sam rolled his eyes, moving into the room. “Sure, Jake. I’ll get right on that. Where’s everyone else?”
“Jesse told us everything was okay, so Tracy disappeared into the stacks, and everyone else went to make lunch.”
Dean frowned. “Jesse… Wait, Jesse Turner, the Antichrist?!”
“What the Hell, Sam, one monster wasn’t enough for you?”
“They’re not monsters, Dean,” Sam replied evenly, stepping in front of Jake and Jesse, ready to shield them, “They’re good kids.”
Sam gestured towards Jacob. “Jake, give me the screwdriver. You’re never going to get the leg standing evenly that way.”
“Oh, thank God,” the teen muttered, scrambling away from the table.
“And do not attempt to kill Dean while my back is turned,” Sam warned.
“You never let me have any fun!”
“Would you rather I made you run laps for breaking the table - did you wrap this with Scotch tape?!”
Tracy reappeared later, after Sam had dragged Jacob back into fixing the table, and Dean watched them from the other table, leaning back in his chair, legs propped up on the table.
“Can I borrow this?” Tracy asked, holding up a book.
Sam turned to her and frowned. “Uhh… Do you read Spanish?”
“Pretty well, yeah.”
“Use the Spanish version, it was updated last year.”
Tracy flashed him a smile. “Got it.”
“Just make a note that you’re taking it,” Sam called out as she disappeared into the stacks.
“Since when did we become a library?” Dean demanded as he rights his chair and put his feet back on the ground. “I thought she hated you, anyway.”
Sam shrugged, smiling awkwardly. “It’s been an interesting few weeks.”
The voice of boy singing ‘YMCA’ slightly out of tune floated down from near the kitchen, and Jacob called out, “You sound like a dying cat, Braeden!”
Dean stiffened. ‘YMCA’ went sharply out of tune and actually did sound like a dying cat, and Claire slapped her boyfriend upside the head.
Ben appeared at the mouth of the corridor, carrying a nearly empty bag of kale. “Hey, Sam, we’re going to run out of -“ Ben stopped abruptly, his expression shutting down. “Oh. You.”
Dean shot to his feet and stared at him, eyes wide. “… Ben?!”
Ben gave him a cold once-over and turned sharply on his heel. “I’m going back to the kitchen.”
Ben flipped him off over his shoulder without looking back.
Dean rounded on Sam furiously. “What the Hell, Sam?! I warned you -“
“I really don’t think you want to punch your brother in the presence of two monsters and a hunter who would happily kill you to protect him,” Jesse commented serenely.
Sam gave a long-suffering sigh and buried his head in his hands. How, exactly, did he wind up with these kids?
Dean growled and looked at the teens gathered around him. Alex was the only one not glaring daggers at him, but the former blood slave didn't exactly look friendly, either. Fucking Hell. After Ruby and Madison, he really should have known the company Sam preferred to keep.
Dean unclenched his fist and dropped back in his chair, glaring churlishly.
“So, how’s school going, Krissy? You been on any good hunts lately?”
Lunch was an awkward affair, despite Jody and Sam’s valiant affairs to prevent it. Jesse sat cross-legged along with Tracy on the table, while Claire sat on a nearby couch, with Jacob perched on the armrest. Ben and Krissy wer perched against the table beside Jesse, with Ben glaring at Dean and Krissy refusing to meet his eyes.
Sam wasn't sure if Ben and Krissy were still doing their dating-not-dating thing, but from the way Krissy kept reaching for Ben’s arm, they probably were. Alex sprawled out at the feet of Claire’s chair, in a habit no one was entirely comfortable thinking about where she picked up.
Krissy nodded, staring down at her food. “School’s going good. Jo and I tackled a rougarou out west a while back, Jo’s graduation celebration.”
Dean frowned. “Everything alright, kid?”
“You mean apart from you trying to torture and kill her?” Jacob said brightly, eyes glittering with malice.
Dean looked at Krissy sharply. “Krissy? Did I…?”
Krissy nodded and then squared her shoulders, finally meeting Dean’s gaze. “It was - yeah. You did. You were a demon, and you needed our blood for some ritual -“
“Krissy, what I did back then - you gotta know that wasn’t me,” Dean pleaded, “You know I would never hurt you!”
“That’s what I thought, too, Dean,” Krissy replied unhappily, “I trusted you - and you tried to kill me. If it wasn’t for Sam, I’d be dead right now. Tracy and Claire, too.”
Dean looked stunned and distressed. “Krissy -“
Tracy set down her plate and snorted, hopping off the table. “Yeah, I don’t have to listen to this bullshit anymore. Thanks for lunch, guys, but I’m gonna head out. Krissy, you coming?”
“Yeah.” Krissy nodded. “Thanks for lunch, Jody, Sam.” She glanced back at Dean. “It’s good to have you back, Dean. Stay out of trouble.”
“Thanks for the books, Sam,” Tracy added, picking up the stack of books.
Tracy hissed and wrenched Dean’s hand away from her before he could touch her, nearly breaking his wrist. “You don’t get to touch me. Not after what you did!”
Dean reared back, and Sam sighed. “Tracy, Dean doesn’t remember anything from the last few weeks, remember?”
Tracy sneered. “Well that’s fan-fucking-tastic for him, but it doesn’t change the fact that I’ve still got a gash up the back of my arm that he put there.”
Sam immediately frowned, standing and moving towards her. “Did it get infected? Do you need the stitches replaced?”
Tracy blinked and shook her head. “What? No, they’re holding. If this hunting thing doesn’t work out for you, Sam, you should think about becoming a surgeon.”
Sam chuckled. “I’ll keep it in mind.”
Tracy and Krissy were gone before Dean could formulate a response.
“Jody, can we head out, too?” Alex asked, clambering to her feet.
Jody frowned slightly, but nods. “Once the clean-up’s done, sure.”
“Don’t worry about that,” Sam replied easily, “Ben’ll take care of it.”
“I what?!” Ben demanded, outraged.
Sam looked at him evenly. “Jake fixed the table, you get to clean it.”
Ben opened his mouth to protest, but promptly shut it under both Sam and Jody’s disappointed parent looks. They were as bad as his Mom’s used to be, maybe even worse.
“I’ll give you guys a lift,” Jesse added, taking Alex’s hand as he got down from the table.
Jody smiled and hugged Sam. “You take care of yourself, alright? Try not to get killed for at least a month.”
Sam grinned. “I’ll do my best. Scout’s honour.”
Jody turned and hugged Dean as well. “And you, stay out of trouble, Mister.”
Dean smirked. “Yes, Ma’am.”
Alex squeezed Sam’s hand with half a smile, and then reached back for Jesse.
They were gone in a flash of shadow.
Ben, Jake, and Claire staunchly refused to leave Sam alone with Dean, ignoring Sam’s attempts to assure them that he’d be fine.
“Let’s run down the last few weeks, shall we,” Jacob snapped when they’re in the library, “Dickbag over there turned himself into a demon, killed a bunch of people, tried to kill you and Ben, killed more people, tortured and tried to kill you, went back to killing people until you undemonified him. Did I miss anything?”
Claire pinched the bridge of her nose as Ben added, “You missed the whole Sam nearly destroying himself to save him to the point that even angels noticed it and yonder asshole still being an ungrateful dick in denial about it.”
Jacob nodded. “Thank you.”
Sam groaned, burying his head in his hands. “Oh, my God.”
“This is none of your business!”
Claire grabbed Jacob’s arm before he can lengthen his nails into claws. “You running around trying to kill people I care about is damn well my business,” Jacob retorts.
“That wasn’t me!” Dean protested.
“Really? Because it sure as Hell looked and felt like you when we pinned your sorry carcass down so Jesse and Sam could destroy the Mark,” Ben snarled.
“I would never - that was the demon, the Mark, alright? I wasn’t me, I would never have done any of that!”
“The Mark turned you into something you weren’t,” Sam replied gently, “I get that.”
Jacob sputtered in Claire’s grip. “Oh, my God - Oh, my god, I can’t be hearing this. Sam!”
“Jacob,” Claire warned, tugging on his arm again, and Ben looked back warily, but Jacob bulldozed on, his voice rising in fury.
“He tortured you for two fucking hours, tried to shove demon blood down your throat - you were in bandages and couldn’t see out of one eye for two weeks because of him. That was all him - he’s the one who turned into a demon because he has the fucking ‘heart of a killer’ or whatever - have some self-respect, Sam!”
“Jacob!” Ben and Claire snaped.
Jacob ground to halt and finally saw what his anger had missed - Sam’s shoulders hunched slightly, his expression blanking as he drew into himself. His breath caught in his throat. “Sam - I -“
Dean snorted. “I told you, kid, this ain’t any of your business -“
“Dean,” Sam cut in, steeling himself, “He’s not completely wrong.”
Dean’s eyes widened. “What the Hell -“
“Look, what you did because of the Mark - that’s over. But what lead up to that - that’s still not okay, Dean. I put it aside to fight Metatron, to save you, but that doesn’t mean it’s gone.”
Dean scowled. “This again? I saved your life, Sam!”
“Your definition of ‘saving’ is bullshit if it covers torture and mind-rape, asshole,” Ben snarled. His lips twisted into a bitter smile. “But that’s not really new territory for you, is it?”
Dean reared back slightly. “I was doing it to protect you!”
Ben rolled his eyes and turned away.
“Look,” Sam said evenly, drawing Dean’s attention to himself, “I didn’t come here to pick a fight.”
“Whatever,” Dean said abruptly, pushing away from the table and standing. “You want to hold a grudge, fine. You know where to find me when you put on your big boy panties and remember that I saved your life and have always been there for you.”
Sam’s expression blanked completely. “Look, this conversation isn’t getting us anywhere. Get some rest, Dean. I’ll come get you for dinner.”
Claire slipped her hand into Sam’s as they left the library, Ben and Jacob flanking them like bodyguards. They could feel Dean’s glare burning into their backs, but if it hit them, maybe it wouldn't hit Sam.
Maybe they could spare him that, at least.