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The Wanting Comes In Waves

All Sam/Dean, All The Time

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Fic: Aftertaste (Sam & Cas, G)

Title: Aftertaste
Author: smalltrolven
Rating: G
Wordcount: 2,500
Pairing: Sam and Castiel, references to Sam/Dean
Summary: Sam and Cas after Dean leaves them on the dock at the end of episode 9.10 “Road Trip.”
Author’s Note: Not my characters, only my words. For my wildcard space on my Spn-Pairing-Bingo card.

Read it over on AO3

“I do not think he understood you Sam,” Castiel says as the roar of the Impala fades in the rainy distance.

Sam shifts against the wood railings of the dock, examining his boots in the dim light. “Yeah. I know. If he had, he’d still be here.”

Castiel interrupts Sam’s silence with an impatient sounding, “Do you not think we should go after him?”

Sam looks up in surprise at Castiel’s suggestion. “No, he’ll come back when he’s ready. After he’s had some time beating himself up. It’s our pattern.”

“I have noticed,” Castiel nods exactly twice, face solemn and unmoving.

Sam tips his head to consider this new suggestion. “Really Cas? You have?”

“Yes, I have been with the two of you during enough of your arguments to see how you normally proceed,” Castiel answers.

Sam laughs even though he doesn’t mean to or want to. He vaguely notes how bitter and tired he sounds, even to himself. “Go on, I think I want to hear this.”

“First you will make your case. He will listen, but also make the opposite case because he is threatened either by your correct reasoning or superior moral authority. Depending upon how you respond to his opposition, either he leaves the immediate area or you do. I have not been near enough to see many of the aftermath situations to determine how those normally go,” Cas finishes with a flair of authority.

Sam rolls his eyes, picturing just how many times those reunions have ended up with torn clothing and wrecked hotel beds, suddenly glad that Cas is either not fessing up to observing them when in invisible mode or was lucky enough to miss all the drama-fueled sex. “It’s usually not too pretty, you haven’t missed much. We get back together, he’ll crack some jokes because he’s nervous, I’ll laugh reluctantly because I can’t help wanting to, he’ll admit I had a point or he might admit I was right, that’s usually enough for me. I mostly just want to be listened to you know? And then there’ll be some celebratory eating or drinking. That’s pretty much how we roll.”

“Do you not think this will be different though? I believe Dean has concluded that he has done something unforgiveable. Even by you whose capability for forgiveness is legendary,” Castiel asks, his curiosity getting the better of him again.

Sam stands up a little straighter against the railing at the preposterous suggestion that he’s at all remarkable. “Legendary? Me? Anyways, I don’t think this is unforgiveable. Nothing is, he knows that’s what I believe.”

“That Dean surely knows, and no doubt treasures as he well should.  But in this case, he does not believe himself worthy of your forgiveness. He thinks he has gone too far this time, and that you should not forgive him.”

“Based on what exactly?” Sam asks, after a long pause where he truly considers just jumping off this bridge to not have to think about any of this for one more painful second.

“Based upon the words that you just exchanged here on this bridge and what he said to me while Crowley was torturing Gadreel,” Castiel states.

Sam shivers at the reminder of that pain, still shimmering in its intensity. The pain that had been in his own body, but was somehow not his pain. He leans onto the railing heavily all of a sudden, the tiredness, the accumulated pain, the heartache all catching up with him. “Listen, can we uh, get out of the rain? You want to drive us back since it’s your car?”

Seeing Sam’s near collapse, Castiel steps forward and holds Sam up with an arm around the waist, beginning to walk him to his car. “Yes, of course Sam. You are not in the condition for driving, or for having long conversations in the rain. But as I will be driving, I will be controlling the music.” He helps Sam get situated in the passenger seat, and starts up his car.

“Yeah, ok, whatever Cas, that’s cool, ‘m used to it at this point. I’m gonna just sit here and think about what you said, m‘kay?” Sam trails off, falling asleep against the window almost as soon as Castiel gets the car going.

Castiel smiles at the sound Sam’s voice made at the end of his sentence, and says to his now completely asleep passenger, “Sam Winchester, you are worth all the care and worry, do not let anyone ever tell you otherwise.”

Sam sleeps for a while, not too deeply that he is able to ignore the music selection completely (Earth, Wind & Fire really?), it’s such an unfamiliar car, but finally awakens when Cas pulls them into a gas station, lurching to a stop at the pumps.

“I think you might need new shocks buddy,” Sam observes.

“I like a soft ride. That is what Dean called it.”

“You were right. About Dean. It is different this time. We probably should have gone after him,” Sam admits.

“Where would he have gone?”

“I have no clue. I guess we should just keep heading back to the bunker.”

“There are times I regret having incised your ribs with the Enochian warding symbols.”

“Well, with Metatron on the loose, it’s still probably a good thing. Except for right now.”

Cas is quiet the rest of the drive back to the bunker, seeming to pick up on Sam’s need for silence. And now that he’s awake, Sam’s thinking. Honestly, he wishes he could stop. But he can’t stop thinking. About Dean, and whether Cas is right that Dean thinks he shouldn’t be forgiven this time. Sam’s already forgiven Dean for saving him, even if it was an angel possessing him. Because deep down he knows he would have done the same. Of course he would have. So he can’t hold that against Dean, even if possession is pretty much the worst thing he’s ever experienced. No that’s not true, that would be Dean being ripped to shreds by the hellhounds, that was the worst, or maybe the Cage. What a scale to have to compare things to, what a strange life I’ve led he thinks for what must be the thousandth time in the last few years.

The whole reason Sam had stopped the trials was to live, all because Dean had asked him to. Sam wanted to live, he wanted both of them to live, together. He wanted to close the Gates of Hell too, but he gave it up, because Dean had insisted they could take care of the demons with all their new Men of Letters knowledge. But what keeps stopping the automatic forgiveness-train is all the lying after the possession. It went on for such a long time, when Dean knew that Sam’s still been having trouble with nailing down reality. That leaves out the killing Kevin part of course, but the angel did save both Charlie and Cas, so maybe in their messed-up world it balances out somehow? He curls away in distaste from himself just for thinking something like that.

All the conversations Dean had with Gadreel when he thought it was Sam are playing through Sam’s mind like watching some horrible home video. Am I really that easy to impersonate? Or does Dean just really not pay much attention to me, or not know me very well? Or was most of it really me? It’s all so jumbled up, but it seems like there were a lot of points in time where Dean could have tried to say something, but he didn’t.

Over and over, reviewing the tape, Sam sees Gadreel maneuver Dean into choosing to stay silent. It feels awful watching Dean making that choice so many times, hearing his own voice altered by the angel warning Dean about the dire consequences of telling the truth. Did Dean really believe that? For so long? Was I really that bad off to begin with? It seems like Dean was taking the easy path, but as Sam looks at it closer he sees his brother wearing down under the strain of the big lie.
He can remember now all the strange things Dean was saying at first “what would Sam Winchester do?” for instance. All the unusual concern Dean was showing for his well-being, more than the usual big-brother/mother-hen routine. No wonder Sam had felt so off, with all the missing time, and Dean acting so strangely.

But these past months had been some of the best they’d had together in years. And how sad is that?  He’d even said something to that effect, and that makes his heart sink, because what would that have done to Dean hearing that? He’s so angry still, about all the lying, but his compassionate heart is always going to win out, worrying about how his brother is handling this is superseding what he should rationally do.

Sam knows that he should just get out. Leave and never look back. Dean even thinks he should, that it would be the right thing to do. Because Dean did go too far. But that’s not going to happen. And now what it comes down to, is that is what he’s angriest about.  That it is even a possibility in Dean’s mind, that he, Sam would actually leave for good.  After everything they’ve been through. And expecting that result, Dean had taken the big step off himself first.  It’s like breaking up with someone right before you know they’re going to break up with you. Even though you don’t want to, in your mind it will save you some heartache, but of course it doesn’t. You just feel dumb, and you still are heartsick. And you’re an asshole.

Yeah, heartsick, that’s how he’s feeling now. His partner has left him, reeling from the aftereffects of angel (and demon!) possession, torturous cranial surgery and whatever’s leftover from the Trials. Left him in the care of an angel that may or may not even be a reliable ally or a competent caretaker. Thanks for that Dean, thanks a lot. You cause this big mess and then wash your hands of the whole thing by stomping off in a tornado of self-pity.  When I get my hands on him again, I’m gonna wring his neck he swears to himself.

Sam pictures it, Dean sitting in his favorite seat at the war table, drinking yet another glass of whisky in a cut-glass tumbler, and his surprise at Sam’s hands wrapping around his neck. No, that’s not really what he wants. He just wants Dean. He wants his big brother, the person he counts on to get him through the hard stuff in life. And he’s just gone. As if he didn’t think he’d be missed, as if Sam would be better off without him. “I’m poison, Sam” starts up on a loop in Sam’s brain. Dean’s tendency towards cripplingly low self-esteem is not helping this situation. But what else could he have done? Dean’s had months to make up a story of how this was all going to go when Sam finally found out what he’d done. Sam barely had an hour before Dean was driving off and leaving him on the rainy dock with Cas. He’s never felt more abandoned. He lets out another heavy sigh.

“You are certainly sighing a lot Sam, is there something you’d like to discuss?” Castiel finally asks, looking over very briefly from piloting his boat of a car.

Sam turns his head so that he can see Cas, hands at ten and two on the steering wheel, just like Dean showed him. He thinks about what he could say, what Cas would understand, and decides to be honest. “Just going over the last few months, what I remember, what Gadreel remembered and what Dean did.”

“He saved you, as he always does,” Castiel replies as if it is an elemental truth of the universe. Which it kinda really is.

Sam lets out another mammoth sigh that feels like maybe the last one, for now. “Yeah, I know. I’m over that part of it already. It’s the rest of it that’s the problem.”

Castiel looks over quickly and scans Sam’s face, obviously struggling to understand. “What is the rest of it?”

“Leaving me like he just did when I need him most,” Sam says with an obvious note of how deeply hurt he really is, unable to hide it from himself when the words are spoken aloud.

Castiel makes a wounded face, as if he is taking on some of Sam’s pain. This is apparently the angel version of empathy. “He did not make a wise choice in that regard. But I am here for you Sam.”

“Yeah, I know Cas, uh…thanks,” Sam says, realizing that he is lucky, that he still has someone around, that he’s not completely alone. The possibility of actually being friends with Cas is suddenly a real thing, maybe it would be good for both of them. Instead of just having a second-degree friendship through Dean like they do now.

“Sam may I ask you something?” Castiel asks after a long pause.

“Of course,” Sam answers, wondering if this question will relate to the conversation they’re having at the moment, Cas still not reliable for staying on topic.

“It may not be a question you’ll want to answer,” Cas says, hedging a bit, like he knows he’s probably asking something he shouldn’t.

“It’s fine, go ahead and try me,” Sam says, knowing that he just won’t answer if it’s too much.

“Why do you stay with Dean when he treats you this badly?”

Sam sighs, weary of thinking about this subject. “It’s complicated.”

“I would imagine so. Humans are much more complicated than I’d realized.”

“Let me try and explain it to you this way. I love Dean and he loves me. We have the whole soul mate thing, and our long history together. There’s that love we share mixed in with my feelings of gratitude for what he’s done for me during our journey, the duty I feel to honor our connection and a more basic need for him as my partner. But mostly it’s that my life doesn’t work without him in it.”

Castiel looks over for a long moment and sees the tears hanging on Sam’s lashes. He asks carefully, “Does he truly know all of that Sam?”

Sam looks down at his hands, twisting them together, pushing on his old scar out of habit. “I dunno, I think so. He’d better.”

“Would he really have just left if he did?” Castiel asks.

“You got me Cas.” Sam says, frustrated with all the questions, with his brother ditching him, with angels and demons and everything.

“I do Sam, I do have you, until Dean returns,” Cas says with complete seriousness, as if he’s realized the weight of what Dean’s left him to carry in his absence.


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I'm sorry, I don't have time for a longer comment right now, but I at least wanted to let you know that I loved this! New fic from you always makes my day. :) Thank you!

Thanks bb, I'm so glad you enjoyed the story. You are welcome :)

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