It was truly a beautiful place. Simple and elegant.
Profoundly devout, King Philip II of Spain had wanted his home to take after the famous Temple of Solomon, and the plans followed the surprisingly detailed instructions written in the Bible nearly to a T. That was how the unique site known as Royal Seat of San Lorenzo de El Escorial came to be.
But the question wasn’t ‘what’ or ‘how’. The real question was ‘why’. Why would the most powerful monarch of his time, whose empire extended across the seas, decide to locate his main residence in an unknown little village situated twenty-eight miles from the capital? (Especially since in the 16th Century, twenty-eight miles were a damn long distance). Why, against the advice of all his architects, did he choose a hill that local people believed to be cursed? And why instead of the typical royal palace did he prefer to build a castle half-fortress and half monastery?
Sam closed the book he was reading with a resounding thud. He has been reading the whole day and he wasn’t any closer to the answer than he was yesterday. Up until now he had only found something about Teluric lines and other ridiculous theories that he just couldn’t take seriously.
He stifled a yawn. His eyes felt gritty, like he hadn't sleep in days. Which, now that he thought about it, it was probably the case. And all this reading in Spanish was not doing anything to help with the pounding in his head.
He had already checked the Internet, so he knew there was little to no information available in English. But what he hadn’t expected was that all the modern Spanish sources simply ignored the darker side of Philip II’s reign. So in order to find something, anything, about the subject, he had to look into the ancient chronicles. And as pleased as he was to realize that his Spanish wasn’t as rusty as he had feared, he still was in no way prepared to read old Spanish. Hell, as far as he knew, even Spaniards had difficulties understanding it.
As he stretched to give some relief to his aching muscles, a brief, wistful smile found its way to his face. He remembered his Spanish lessons at Stanford; it had been Jess who insisted he should take them, so there would be at least one class they attended together. She would have been proud to see that the lessons had paid off and he remembered enough to get by. Because God knew that nobody in this country, not even in the restaurants or information centres, seemed to speak or understand a word of English.
His smile vanished. Well, maybe proud wasn't the correct word for it. If Jess saw him now she probably wouldn't recognize him at all. After all, in a few years he had gone from honor student to blood-sucking freak. Not to mention he had brought over the apocalypse. And that was just scratching the surface of his failures... Yeah – if she could see him now she would probably hate him or feel disgusted. At least that seemed to be the pattern nowadays.
Sam looked out of the window. The sun was setting and the library would close soon. As would El Escorial. He had been there yesterday, during the touristic hours and the EMF had picked some promising readings. Even though with so many people around those readings were not totally reliable, everything seemed to point that the king’s soul still walked the corridors. Sam wasn’t so sure about the black dog that supposedly followed him, though. True, there had been a lot of sightings along the centuries but there hadn't been one strange death or unexplained event connected to this place. Sam knew well that the apparition of a black dog was usually an omen of bad things to come; at best it was a notice of misfortune and imminent death, and at worst... well, at worst the black dog was a hellhound, and no one had to remind him what was the outcome of that.
He groaned and hid his face in his hands. A couple of students looked at him funnily and the librarian exclaimed “Silencio!” but Sam ignored them all. He worried he was heading towards another disappointment, like Mexico and Argentina, and that this whole odyssey was only an enormous waste of time.
Philip II had been a haunted man, that much, at least, was clear (even if Sam wasn’t sure it was in the literal sense of the word). He was obsessed with Hell and he spent most of his considerable wealth amassing thousand of holy relics from all around the world. And he died in a terrible, painful way that Sam couldn’t really rule out as natural: For fifty-two horrific days he suffered of high fever, pustules, ulcers and wounds, while still claiming he could hear the black dog howling at his door and talking about his ‘final battle’.
But all his secrets, if he actually had any as opposed to his words having merely stemmed from the delirium of a perturbed man, Philip II had carried with him to his grave. Only the king himself knew the truth, and there was no way Sam could...
That was it! How hadn’t he thought of it before? Maybe he didn’t have the time or knowledge to read through the thick old volumes looking for answers, but he could go to the original source and ask him.
Sam grabbed his duffel and left the library. He had to pick up some things at the hostel and then break into a public monument.
Time to summon a king.
* * *
Sneaking in was surprisingly easy. There was still a small part of the monastery closed to the public; the part in which the handful of monks in charge of taking care of the basilica lived. That section was only protected by an alarm system quite easy to deactivate (at least if you had been doing this kind of thing since you were twelve) so after climbing over the fence, Sam only had to cross the monk’s courtyard and pick the lock of the small wooden door that opened to the king’s quarters.
He had crossed several corridors when he heard a small scuffle in the distance and quickly hid behind one of the columns. Maybe one of the monks was still awake? Sam waited for a couple of minutes, keeping his breath, but nothing happened. Eventually, he decided whoever or whatever had made the sound wasn’t coming this way soon and resumed his path.
The large mausoleum was nearly pitch black, but he couldn’t risk turning on his flashlight now. He slowly moved forward while his eyes got used to the darkness. Sam had been in a lot of mausoleums before, but never one so large, with so many tombs and statues in every corner and even in the middle of the corridor. And even though he wasn’t disturbed easily, he admitted the giant tomb which contained the mortal remains of all the kings’ children who had never come to adulthood across the generations was definitely creepy.
Finally, after descending a last flight of stairs, he arrived at his destination: The king’s pantheon: a small octagonal room, decorated in black and gold, with the sepulchers of the last twenty-six kings and ruling queens of the Spanish royalty.
Sam sat in the middle of the room and started setting the items for the summoning ceremony. But just when he started mixing the ingredients, he heard the wind howling in the distance felt the hair on the back of his neck stand up. It was an odd sound to hear, considering he was underground. However, Sam was more than used to odd things. He finished the mix and made to light the candle when there was another, closer, howl. And this time it couldn’t be mistaken for the wind. It was definitely the voice of an animal.
The ground started trembling and the the temperature inside the room dropped several degrees. There was something coming towards him, he could sense it. He could hear it getting closer and closer, running through the corridor and pounding down the stairs. Suddenly, Sam realized he didn’t have anything to defend himself with – after all it was nearly impossible to smuggle firearms into airplanes nowadays, and he knew his small hand-knife would be useless against the beast coming for him. Also, in his haste to start the ritual he had left the bag with the salt somewhere near the entrance, and there wasn’t any hope he could find it in the dark and draw the lines before the beast arrived. He was powerless. He was going to die.
Sam realised this with a cold detachment. He wasn’t nervous, he wasn’t worried, he wasn’t scared. He just sat there, his eyes glued to the door, and absently he wondered if maybe he had been this careless on purpose. (Leaving the salt out of reach? Really? Dad would be so proud...) If this maybe was exactly what he had been hoping for: a gruesome death in a foreign country where no-one would be able to identify him. Just another one for the statistic.
And nobody (Dean) who had loved him (not anymore) would ever know.
* * *
Dean was hallucinating. Or dreaming. Or maybe he had fallen into another dimension. Because the first thing his brother did after seeing him for the first time in weeks, after Dean had followed him all across the globe to a creepy room in the basement of an old castle in frigging Spain, couldn’t possibly be screaming at him in outrage for interrupting his ritual.
“Damn it, Dean! I told you not to shoot! You totally ruined it!”
And Dean was still waiting for the hidden camera to appear and a cameraman to tell him everything was a bad joke, even if he would most likely end up punching the cameraman in the face the moment his heart rate went back to normal and his blood stopped pounding in his temples.
“Excuse me?” Dean yelled back, incredulously. “Was I the only one who heard the howling? I saved your ass here! You were the one who was so immersed in your little ceremony that he didn’t see the evil spirit intending to have him for dinner!”
It was definitely not the little family reunion he had pictured.
“Evil spirit? That wasn’t...!” Sam sighed and ran his hand through his hair. “That was King Philip II, Dean, and if you had stopped to think before making your stellar appearance you would have seen he wasn’t the one howling. I needed to talk to him and after being shot close range with rock salt I don’t think he’ll be very inclined to have a conversation with me!”
Dean sputtered. How was he supposed to know his brother wanted to chitchat with the creepy man in black hovering behind him? Sam hadn’t even been looking at the ghost! In fact he was fairly sure he didn’t even know it was there until Dean aimed at it.
Sam signaled him to shut up and knelt on the floor to light the candle. They waited for a few seconds, Sam glaring around the room as if willing the king’s spirit to materialize from thin air again. But nothing happened.
“Great. There goes a night’s work.” Sam stood up, picked up the candle and the bowl and walked past him. Dean wasn’t in the least disappointed that his brother didn’t seem remotely happy to see him. In fact he didn’t seem anything, hadn't even reacted to his arrival. At all.
Dean could swear he had seen something in Sam’s eyes, though. Just for a second, when he had come running down the stairs and Sam was looking directly at him (clearly expecting somebody else). His eyes had widened and something had flashed in them. It had been definitely surprise, maybe mixed with something else (something resembling pain and fear, but he just wasn’t dwelling on that), but then his face had totally closed off and now Dean wasn’t even sure he hadn’t just imagined it.
“Where are you going?”
Sam didn’t even look back while he climbed up the stairs. “You can go wherever you want. I’m going back to my hostel, there is nothing else I can do tonight.”
Ignoring the nagging voice in his head telling him that Sam had clearly dismissed him, Dean went after him. They sneaked through the courtyard and Sam stopped to connect the alarms again before climbing over the fence. He didn’t say a word, and Dean told himself that the strange tightness in his chest was due to the pride of being able to see his brother at work after so long.
Once outside, Sam started walking down the street and Dean followed suit. He kept sending side glances to his brother, but Sam didn’t offer anything. Well, two could play this little silent game. Finally after three turns, when it was glaringly obvious that Dean wasn’t going to give up, Sam stopped and finally looked him in the eyes.
“What are you doing here, Dean? How did you find me?”
“I, huh...” As much as he had wanted his brother to acknowledge him, Dean found himself at a loss for words. It was drizzling (and really, wasn’t this country supposed to be hot and sunny?) and he didn’t want to have this conversation on the street. “Can’t it wait until we have a roof over our heads?” he replied.
Sam shrugged. “I have a room in a hostel just a few blocks from here.”
Yeah, I know, Dean wanted to say. But he bit his tongue. Sam didn’t seem to be at his most understanding right now. Besides, going back to the hostel was a good thing. After this fucking endless chase to Spain Dean needed to rest and Sam didn’t look that well either. In fact, if Dean looked closer, his little brother appeared sickly pale and the circles below his eyes betrayed that he probably hadn’t had a decent night’s sleep in days.
“Okay, lead the way."
* * *
The hostel looked like it had seen better days. But then again, so did the whole neighbourhood. It wasn’t so much that it was in bad shape – quite the contrary, it seemed clean and sturdy, but it also was terribly old-fashioned, like Dean had suddenly been transported to the nineteenth century. Sam probably found it charming, would say it was vintage or some other ridiculous word to describe it, instead of admitting it was plain old.
He glanced at Sam and sighed. Well, that was what the old Sammy would have said. He had no clue what this distant, silent Sam was thinking about the place, because so far he hadn’t goddamned said anything.
To be honest, Dean was stumped. He hadn’t known what to expect exactly; after all Sam was unpredictable at the best of times. But he had guessed it safe to expect at least some kind of reaction or emotion. He couldn't, in a million years, have foreseen this nothingness that radiated from his brother in waves. This cold act that made it seem like he didn’t care at all if Dean stayed or left. Dean didn’t know how to respond to that, and it made him feel wrong-footed, entirely out of balance.
The small bells over the door tinkled softly when they entered, but the old woman behind the desk didn’t pay them any attention. Sam headed for the stairs (no elevator, obviously) and three floors later they were in Sam’s room. Not surprising, it was the only room on the whole floor with the ‘keep out’sign hanging on the doorknob. The room was spotless, though, except for the folders, documents and prints that were spread on the desk besides the window. Dean eyed the two queen beds with some relief – this definitely made it easier.
Sam leaned against the wall and looked at him expectantly. Clearly awaiting an explanation but not bothering to ask again. Well, Dean wasn’t one to beat around the bush either.
“You’re still using the same aliases and you paid this hostel with one of the last batch’s credit cards. You weren’t exactly difficult to find.” He shrugged.
“You have been monitoring me?” Sam exclaimed incredulously. “I wasn’t exactly trying to hide, Dean. Though it looks like maybe I should have.”
“Well, it surely seemed like you were, what with all that jumping from one place to the other.” Dean was feeling defensive. “And what have you been doing exactly? First Mexico, then Argentina, now Spain... you can’t blame me for thinking it’s a little strange!”
Sam narrowed his eyes. “I’ve been doing my job, Dean. As always.”
“It must be really some hunt then, since as far as I know our jobs have never carried us to another fucking continent before!”
Sam ignored the question in his words. “That’s it, then? Are you keeping tabs on the fuck-up? And how did you know where I was exactly? Did you put some kind of tracking chip on me or something?”
“No. I was...” Dean coughed. “…kind of hovering outside the hostel when I saw you get out. I went after you into the castle.”
“You were hovering...” Sam didn’t seem to be able to come to terms with that. “For how long? Didn’t it cross your mind to talk to me instead of keeping watch outside of my fucking hostel?”
It had. Dean had been trying to gather the guts to enter just when Sam had gotten out. Dean hadn't been near ready to confront his brother then. He still wasn’t.
“I don’t need your supervision, Dean,” Sam continued. “As you see, I’m doing quite fine on my own.”
Oh, yeah. He was doing wonderfully. Dean could see that. No near death experiences at all.
Dean sighed, trying to calm himself. This conversation wasn’t going as he had envisioned it. It was time to man up.
“I wasn’t monitoring you, or supervising you,” he replied in a soft voice. “I was simply looking for you. I was...” He gulped. “…worried.”
Silence. Sam looked at him in disbelief for a moment and then threw his head back in a horrible self-deprecating laugh that chilled Dean to the bone. Scratch what he had thought earlier about Sam not having emotions. He obviously had at least one: Bitterness.
It didn’t become him.
“Oh, yeah, of course. I can clearly see you were ‘worried’ about me.” Sam had the gall to make the quotation marks with his hands. “It was obvious in all the nice little conversations we’ve been having every week. Oh, wait.” He shook his head. “Sorry, Dean, not buying it.”
Against his will, Dean could felt the anger boiling again, although if he looked closely, it seemed fuelled by something that strongly resembled shame.
“Well, that’s a funny thing for you to say after you have been fucking ignoring my calls!”
That stopped Sam cold. “Calls?”
“Like you don’t know! I tried to call you like fifty times in the last forty-eight hours!”
Sam looked at him for a few seconds with an unreadable expression. Then he turned and started rummaging through his backpack. He finally found the infamous phone, seemingly retrieving it from the very bottom of the duffel.
“No shit, Sherlock!” Dean was still fuming. “I noticed that when after a few calls you decided to change tactics and switch it off!”
Sam looked at him in outrage. “I didn’t! I...” He sighed. “I meant the battery. It must have run out while I was doing research and I didn’t notice.”
Of course, like that wasn’t strange either. And what the hell was the mobile doing in the backpack and not in Sam’s pocket?
“Well, I guess your charger is dead too, then.”
Sam looked down and tiredly rubbed his temples. Dean was hit again with how damn exhausted his little brother looked.
“I don’t know if you have noticed, Dean,” he finally said, his voice nearly a whisper. “But the plugs in this country are totally different from ours. I couldn’t use my charger.”
There he had it, a perfectly reasonable explanation. And yet, it still didn’t make any sense. His brother was nothing if not well-organized, he must have known about the plugs here. Dean just couldn’t believe he had simply forgotten to buy an adapter. He kind of wanted to pursue the issue, but evidently Sam wasn’t in a sharing mood, and pushing it only would lead to a dead end.
“Well, if you had bothered to check your phone before it died, you would have seen my calls. In fact, I even tried to leave a voicemail warning you that I was coming for you, but it was disconnected.”
And yeah, it was such a stupid little thing, but Dean still wasn’t over it. So he thought he should point it out and maybe get another unconvincing excuse. What he wasn’t expecting though, was for the blood to suddenly run out of his little brother’s face, or for the stricken look in his eyes.
“Voicemail?” His voice wavered. “Are you... are you hunting me?”
And Dean would have been delighted at the first crack in Sam’s cold mask, if he hadn’t been too busy feeling sick to his stomach.
“Of course not! How can you even think that?”
“How can I...” Sam didn’t finish the sentence. He breathed deeply, clearly trying to compose himself, and ran his fingers through his hair. “Nevermind.”
Nevermind? Nevermind? His brother looked like he was expecting Dean to empty a magazine into him at any moment and he was just supposed to ignore it? He opened his mouth to argue, but Sam beat him to it.
“Please Dean, let it be. It’s just that ever since...” He shuddered. “...you know, all the Lucifer issue, I’m not too fond of voicemails. If someone wants to tell me something, I prefer they do it face to face.”
Sam looked pointedly at him, and Dean remembered some of the disturbing rumours that Bobby had pulled from the hunter network. It seemed Sam had had some kind of nasty fight with two of them several weeks ago. Maybe some of the more vocal hunters had used Sam’s voicemail to let him know exactly what they thought of him.
Dean clenched his fist. Now he really wanted to punch someone. Nobody had the right to put that look in his brother’s eyes.
“Okay,” he finally said, and damn if the relief on Sam’s face didn’t make him even angrier. “Care to enlighten me about this job you’re doing?”
“You want in?”
Dean shrugged. “Nothing better to do around here.”
“Of course,” Sam muttered. “Can it wait? It’s kind of late.”
Dean followed his brother’s gaze to the window.
“Yeah, you’re right. It’s been a long night.” He smirked, trying to lighten up the mood. “Besides, if I have to kick your ass for going to a haunting unarmed, I’d prefer to do it tomorrow.”
“Not all of us have the luxury of Bobby’s connections,” Sam stated tiredly, but at least he wasn’t taking offense. “I’m surprised he managed to get you the sawed-off, though, since firearms are totally forbidden here.”
“Huh? Nothing to do with Bobby. I brought the sawed-off with me.”
“You did?” His brother seemed honestly awed “How the hell did you manage to smuggle it into the plane? It’s dangerous! You could have been arrested for terrorism!”
“I didn’t come here by plane.” Dean smiled goofily. “Cas zapped me here.”
And just like that, Dean’s smile froze in his lips. Suddenly you could cut the tension in the room with a knife.
“Well, you know how much I hate flying. And he’s faster than any plane.” Dean felt the strange urge to explain himself, not even sure why he should be embarrassed.
Sam’s eyes had gone cold again, his face unreadable. He seemed, if possible, ten times more unreachable than before.
“Of course, your new best pal.” Sam spit the word. “Isn't he useful?”
He was. But for some reason, Dean didn’t think his brother wanted a real answer.
“So where is he, anyway?” Sam continued, looking around like he was waiting for the angel to appear in the room at any moment.
“No idea.” Dean didn’t rise to the bait. “I guess fighting the apocalypse in his own angelic way.”
“I’m surprised he’s not with you.” Acid was dripping off Sam’s voice. “You seem pretty inseparable lately.”
“What the...?” Dean was at loss for words. What was exactly was Sam accusing him of?
“That’s okay, though. I can see it, really. The angel and the future savior of the world. The best hunter duo in the world!”
Dean exploded. “I don’t know what you’re thinking but I did not spend all this time hunting with Castiel! And what the hell are we arguing about anyway?”
Sam sent him a look he couldn’t decipher. Again. “We aren’t.”
He headed to the door, giving his back to Dean. “I’ll go speak with reception about your accommodation for the night.”
Sam didn’t slam the door, but it was a close thing.
And Dean wasn’t even sure if he should consider this whole conversation an improvement or a step back.
* * *
Sam paid for Dean’s room with the same credit card he had used for his own. Now that he knew his brother was using it to keep an eye on him he would have to get rid of it after the hunt. But it wasn’t really a big loss – after so many flights it was almost maxed out anyway.
It was true what he had said before. He hadn’t been hiding. But it honestly hadn’t occurred to him that Dean would want to follow him, not after what he had said during their last conversation. (And hadn’t it been Dean himself who told him they should be as far from each other as possible?) But now that he stopped to think about it, maybe it shouldn’t have come as a surprise. Dean always took his duty very seriously, and even from afar he probably still considered it his burden to keep his disastrous little brother from making any more mistakes.
Dean had been very clear: He wasn’t here to stay (and how had Sam managed to get his hopes up again? Would he never learn?). He only wanted to know exactly what Sam was up to, and probably wouldn’t have made his presence known if Sam hadn't messed up at the crypt. As soon as Dean’s curiosity was appeased he would disappear again. He could call Castiel at any moment and vanish from his brother’s life, maybe this time forever. If he hadn't known better, Sam would have said Dean was being deliberately cruel.
But Sam did know better. His brother wasn’t a cruel person, he was only being cautious. Sam simply didn’t deserve to be trusted. Not only had he betrayed his brother in the worst possible way, choosing a demon over him (and no, the addiction wasn’t a valid excuse, no matter how much it had clouded over his mind) but he had also unleashed the apocalypse, bringing on the end of the world. From the moment the cage had been opened, each and every death was on Sam. And even if he tried to atone for it for the rest of his life there was just no way to make up for something like that.
So yeah, Sam had not only worn out his welcome, he had stomped all over it. Monsters got no second chances.
With a sigh, Sam opened the door to his room. Dean was sitting in the bed closest to the door, the one that would have been his if they still were a team, and that was now free because Sam still couldn’t break the stupid habit of renting twin rooms and sleeping in the bed at the back. Sam felt another pang, but firmly squashed it. He could feel hurt all he wanted, but deep inside he knew that hunting with Castiel was a lot better for Dean than the alternative. That was how it should be.
“Your room is downstairs, on the first floor,” he said, throwing the keys to his brother. “It’s a single room, so it’ll be smaller than this one, but you should be all right.”
Dean looked up at him in surprise, and Sam noticed him eyeing the bed he was sitting in. That wouldn’t do.
“Didn’t they have a closer room? Actually, couldn’t they just change this one for twin use?”
Sam broke eye contact, looking at the wall. “I didn’t ask.”
“Right.” Dean stood, looking decidedly wounded. But as much as Sam wanted to wipe that look from his brother’s face, sleeping in the same room just wasn't an option. Not if he still wanted to keep Dean from discovering how utterly pathetic his little brother really was.
“See you tomorrow?” Sam couldn’t help himself from asking, and mentally kicked himself. Really, could he sound any more needy?
“Bright and early I guess,” Dean answered. He opened the door and then hesitated, like he wasn’t sure if he should be saying something else. Finally, he sighed. “Good night, Sam.”
The door closed with a soft click.
“Night,” Sam replied to the empty room.
* * *
Sam couldn’t sleep.
Well, not that he wanted to sleep. But he had to. Sam wasn’t stupid, he knew his body badly needed a full night’s rest. He had been working on fumes for the last week and if he wanted a chance to measure up to his brother he had to be in perfect condition. Dean would easily notice if he was sleep-deprived and Sam didn’t want his brother to consider him even more of a burden than he did anyway.
Still, sleep wouldn’t come, and it was not only the jitters of hunting again with his brother (albeit temporarily). It was because sleeping also meant dreaming. And dreaming, more often than not, meant Lucifer invading his subconscious and playing his little mind games.
Sam couldn’t really describe what was so disturbing about his little nightly conversations with the Devil (except that he didn’t seem to be able to break out of them). Lucifer never raised his voice, never insulted him, never even touched him anymore... In fact he was the perfect image of calm and understanding.
But they still felt like nightmares.
Sam still woke up screaming.
And this time Sam wasn’t sure if he could bear Lucifer’s sympathy in the face of his reunion with his brother. Because even if Lucifer didn’t seem to know exactly where he was, he always knew what was inside his mind.
The light of the streetlamps filtered into the room, and Sam could see the outline of every piece of furniture in perfect sharpness. He let his eyes wander across the room until they stopped on the desk where his mobile still rested after he had pulled it from his backpack.
He felt a sudden lump in his throat and had to go to the bathroom for a glass of water in order to be able to breath normally again. He still remembered how he had clung to the phone the first few weeks. Checking it several times an hour to make sure he hadn't missed a call or a message from his brother. Once, after the mess at Mexico (and a little more whisky than was advisable) he had needed to hear his brother’s voice so badly that he had checked his voicemail, for a moment believing Dean had actually left a new one. His joy had been short-lived though. It didn’t matter that he had heard it all before – his brother’s hateful words still cut him to the core. He had spent the rest of the night in a drunken haze and by morning, still with the sour taste of vomit in his mouth, he had disconnected his voicemail. Not only to make sure he didn’t make the same mistake again, but also because he was afraid Dean would decide to leave him a similar message which said he had decided to carry out his threat.
Sam didn’t need to hear the message again to know he was living on borrowed time.
Not long after that night, unable to bear his phone’s ominous silence any longer, he had decided to throw it into his backpack and forget about it (except he never forgot). It was easier than looking at the screen day after day, waiting for a call that would never come. This way he didn’t have to bear witness, over and over again, of how he had chased away his own brother. He could pretend that Dean was calling him. Pretend that Sam had simply missed it. Pretend that he was the one who wasn’t calling back.
Which was ironic, since it seemed he had really missed Dean’s calls. But still, he couldn’t make himself regret his decision now. Dean had only called to check up on him, and if Sam had answered in time, his brother would never have come to meet him across the sea. At least, missing those calls had given him the opportunity to see his brother one last time.
Sam rubbed his eyes tiredly.
He definitely regretted the way he had lashed at Dean that afternoon. He should really learn some self-control, but his brother had always had a way to nag and annoy him. Still, Sam didn’t have any right to get angry or accuse Dean of anything, and even less to ask anything of him (to ask for forgiveness). Sam looked at himself in the bathroom mirror, not recognizing the pale and sweaty stranger that looked back at him. He would fix that mistake tomorrow. He would act professional and composed, not needy and childish.
But before he faced his brother again, he had to stop being a coward and go to sleep. Sam reached for the bottle with the tranquilizers and popped three pills. Forcing himself to swallow them dry before he had time to change his mind.
Dread filled his stomach as he lay down in the bed. Right before he fell asleep he prayed Lucifer wouldn’t find him.
His prayers, however, had always fallen on deaf ears.
He would wake up screaming.