Blank Pages: You Say Goodbye, I Say . . .
“Damn right they’re flawed, but a lot of them try to do better. To forgive.”
They took Crowley back to Bobby’s where the demon died not long after. He explained to Sam that Aziraphel had made the same sort of pact with him that Gabriel had with Sam, a bond of blood to blood. When one died, he said, the other would shortly follow.
Sam neatly folded up his last pair of jeans, jamming them into his duffle and zipping it up fast so as to make sure nothing would come flying out in it’s overstuffed state. His hands on his hips, he smiled in triumph at his packing handiwork and nodded to himself.
“Ready to go?”
Looking up he saw Dean’s head poking around the doorframe, eyebrows raised in impatience. Sam chuckled, “Yeah, as ready as I’ll ever be I suppose.” He slung the duffle over his shoulder before following his brother out into the hall, shoving him aside as they raced down the stairs side by side. Dean shouted once they hit the ground floor that he’d cheated. “It’s not cheating if you shoved me back,” Sam protested.
“It was self defense!” Dean exclaimed haughtily.
“Says the man who brags about winning every fight he’s ever had against his brother,” a low, faintly amused voice spoke up.
Sam glanced over his shoulder to see Castiel standing there, arms folded as he watched them, though his blue eyes sparkled with unspoken laughter, “He lies,” Sam informed him, “I’ve won some.”
“Two,” Dean confessed, holding up the required number of fingers.
Castiel shook his head, striding to the front door to gesture outside with a wave of his hand, “I thought you wanted to be off before noon, Sam.”
“I do, I do,” Sam chuckled as he was practically pushed towards the door by Dean as he said this. “And I thought you were sad to see me go.”
Dean snorted, “Sad to see you go, glad to have the house to ourselves.” Castiel nodded and Dean went on, “I mean, sex is only so much fun when you have to be quiet.”
Sam put his hands over his ears, “I don’t wanna know, I don’t wanna know,” while Dean took his duffle and tossed it into the trunk of the Impala. At this, Sam paused, “Wait . . . I thought I was taking the Toyota,” he made a motion towards the truck parked on the curb.
“Naw,” Dean shrugged, tossing Sam his keys, “Take the Impala. She belongs out on the open road., not this domestic thing. Plus, at least I know if you take her you won’t end up stranded with a messed up engine on the side of the road.”
“I’d prefer not to, yes,” Sam laughed. He stepped forward then and lifted his arms, “I better get a hug.”
“Dude that’s gay!” Dean protested, raising his hands in front of his chest in defense, to which Sam merely fixed him with a stare, flicking his eyes to Cass and back again. “Okay, yeah, I get your point, fine.” Sam grinned, enveloping his brother in a tight hug. “Squeezing . . . The life outa me there, Sammy,” Dean gasped into his shoulder.
Sam jumped back, “Sorry!”
Castiel approached then, holding out a hand for the younger Winchester to shake, “I wish you well, Sam,” he said evenly.
“Gee . . .”
“And I ask that you call Dean every night before you go to sleep, or he’ll worry incessantly and drive me ‘up the wall,’” Castiel took the liberty of adding air quotes to that last part, and Sam and Dean both stared at him for a moment before cracking up at the sight.
“Cass, that is not how to use that motion,” Dean gasped out, holding his sides as he laughed.
“It seemed appropriate to me, since I will not be literally climbing any walls.”
Sam shook his head, “Nice try, but no. I’ll try to call though.”
Castiel frowned, “Not try, do.” He rested a hand on Dean’s shoulder, the other still laughing so hard he was having trouble breathing. “Or I’ll pop in wherever you are and drag you back home.” Sam blanched.
“Er, I’ll call then,” he said, sliding into the drivers seat of the Impala.
He was taking a trip cross country, stopping wherever he ended up each night and taking the back roads and side streets.
It had been a little over a year since Gabriel had given him his life, vanishing as if he’d never been there at all. Eleven months since Crowley had died, the demon withering away like a leaf in fall. When Bobby had asked why he’d simply given up. To Sam, though he had explained everything. Crowley had laid out the typical rules of a blood bond to Sam in the last hours of his life, from every unexpected aspect that could show up, to every inevitable one, such as the death of the holders not long after each other. They held no ceremony when Castiel had informed them one morning that the demon inside the host had turned to the spiritual equivalent of ash, and Bobby had stood alone while they burned the body, tossing an old chess set into the flames.
It was Crowley’s words that had forced Sam to leave. When Castiel had first gotten it into his head that he wanted a home, a house to call their own (while staying out of Bobby’s hair, thank you very much, as the older Hunter’s own words had been), Sam had refused to have anything to do with it. He feared that if Crowley’s words were true he would be on his own deathbed soon as well, with Gabriel gone.
When a month came and went, then two and three, he readily agreed to take up one of the spare bedrooms when Dean excitedly showed him the new house in Wyoming, giving in to the relieved and delighted look on his brother’s face.
But Sam itched to keep moving. While he loved the domestic life more so than Dean, who even though he insisted he wanted it took to it like a cat to water, Sam couldn’t sit still. More often than not Dean stayed home while he and Castiel ran the errands.
They didn’t Hunt anymore, But they kept their old phones, including John Winchester’s, active, answering whenever they rang and finding other able Hunters for the job. Castiel’s wide expanse of knowledge aided many particularly nasty hunts when Bobby asked for an opinion or advice for a Hunter in need somewhere. They weren’t outside of the loop of the supernatural, and they never would be, but they were tired of stepping willingly into the fray. They’d done their part a thousand times over. When Sam had expressed his wish to return to the road, Dean had argued until he’d convinced his elder brother that he had no desire to hunt, and that he simply ached to keep moving. That was one of the few things Dean understood.
Sam stopped in Arizona and stood on the edge of the Grand Canyon. He stayed overnight in New York, geeking-out (as Dean would say) at the museum at Ellis Island and taking the ferry to the Statue of Liberty. He lingered awhile on the beaches of Florida, and sat on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC. For a day and a half he went up into Canada and lingered, breathing in the air that he knew was the same as that in the United States, but thinking that maybe it tasted just a little bit different.
He carried on like that, shifting from place to place and taking in the sights he and Dean had never stopped to see, making sure to call his brother every night, lying on the motel bed and talking to both him and Cass about what each had done that day, until he’d been on the road for just under a year. It was not long after that that he found himself in Springfield Ohio.
Sam had been driving with no particular destination, having forgotten what state line he crossed a few hours before in the early hours of dawn. But when he saw the sign he braked, thankful that there were no other cars behind him as he skidded on the road to a halt. Dean would tell him no, warn him to just drive on through and forget he’d ever been there. As Sam gazed up at the blazing white letters against a blue metallic background reading Welcome to Springfield Ohio his heart went to his throat, and he swallowed it down in with a flash of resolve.
Just a look, a little peak. Surely it wouldn’t hurt to have just a look.
The university was just as he remembered it as he parked the car in an empty visitor space, paying the meter. The hustle and bustle of students running between classes and whispers of a Friday night party, which, Sam realized, would actually be tonight. He’d stopped keeping track of days and dates months ago.
Pushing his way through a crowd that had gathered outside Crawford Hall he made his way towards the door and shouldering his way inside. No one spared him a glance, and he thanked God for the lack of security on big campus buildings such as this. He found the stairs easily enough and took them slowly, counting each step up to the third floor. Forty-six. He found the room just as easily as he did the stairs, even after over five years.
Pushing it open, Sam glanced around the empty room and breathed out a breath he didn’t know he’d been holding. “That room is cuuuuurrsseeed!” Some kid wailed behind him as he walked past, and Sam let the door swing shut, shoving his hands in his pockets. He shouldn’t have expected anything, really. What did he want to find? A professor ready to jump, an alligator in the pipes?
Rolling his eyes at the very thought, the Hunter began to trudge down the hall back towards the stairs with his gaze locked pointedly on the ceiling. Which was why when his foot hit the glistening tile of freshly cleaned floor, he didn’t notice until he lost his balance and went crashing right down the flight of stairs to the second floor.
Sam groaned, hands finding his head and rubbing at the bump he could already feel forming. He lay back against the cool tile in an effort to ease the swelling, ignoring the nervous stares of the students as they shuffled past, not wanting to get involved or be the one to call for help should he needed. Which he didn’t, this was nothing compared to the things injuries he’d gotten Hunting.
“Ouch. Need a hand there, kiddo?”
Sam froze, palms still pressed against his head and his eyes closed in pain.
“I’m afraid that the water on the other floor is totally my fault, sorry about that. But you see, I was trying to make this certain sasquatch epic fall down the stairs so that I could watch and giggle creepily to myself.”
Sam breathed, the inhale as stuttering as his heart that pounded in his chest, “So, how long have you been working here?”
“I’ve been mopping this floor for almost two years.”
The Hunter opened his eyes to stare up into pure honey-gold and an sarcastic grin on the face of a five foot eight man leaning over him before he closed them again, scrubbing away the moisture that welled in the corners. Oh, God, he’d hit his head harder than he’d thought. He was hallucinating a terrible, evil, hallucination.
A hand touched his shoulder, “Hey, kiddo . . . You okay?”
Sam pushed himself to his knees and whirled, flinging his arms around the other, “You . . . Idiot! Do you know that I thought I was going to die?! Or that I’ve been practically a fuckin’ nomad these past few months? I hate you, Gabriel!”
Gabriel laughed, wrapping his arms underneath Sam’s, “Ha ha, no you don’t, you adore me.”
“I hate you.”
“I’m sorry I didn’t come find you,” Gabriel murmured near his ear, “But I knew that if I did, it would have been too easy.”
“I hate you,” Sam said again.
“You would have pushed me away, eventually,” Gabriel went on, “And besides, absence makes the heart grow fonder!”
The archangel pulled back, taking Sam’s face between his hands and forcing him to meet his eyes, “And I knew that if you truly cared, you’d come find me first. I’ve been waiting, Sammy.”
Sam swallowed, leaning in and kissing the other quickly, hesitantly, “I’ve been looking,” he replied softly.
Gabriel grinned, “I guess we found each other then.”