“Thanks a lot,” said Dean, and turned when he heard Sam’s footsteps pounding on the paving stones. Dean stood in front of the Fishers, knowing he had no weapons to defend them if it came to that.
Sam burst into the chamber, his eyes eerily gold, and held up the dish with Lorcan Murphy’s chanting head. “This castle is mine now. I claim it and all its magic.”
“You have no claim here,” said Sophie.
“You have no power here,” said Celine.
“You have nothing here,” said Maya.
“You have me,” Dean said and swallowed. “Put that thing down. It’s an obscenity.”
“Out of my way, Dean,” Sam said and drew the sword. “I don’t want to kill you but I will if you force me to.”
“I can’t force you to do anything,” Dean said. “I can only hope you do what I ask. Sammy. Please. Think of what you’ll do to every living thing if you go through with this.”
“The misery,” said Sophie.
“The suffering,” said Celine.
“The despair,” said Maya.
“Stop it,” Sam whispered. “You don’t know anything. I’ve seen it. I’ve seen the truth. I’ve seen the future I’ll bring. It’ll be — it’ll be –” He faltered.
“Sammy,” Dean said, “I love you. I love you more than anyone. You’re my only brother. My flesh and blood. When we’re not together I feel like half a person, like I’m missing half my soul. You kill me, you’re killing yourself.”
“I love you, Sammy,” Dean said again. “I love fighting at your side. I love knowing you’re safe. I love that you know me better than anyone.”
“Put down the sword, Sammy,” Dean said. “Put down the sword. Come and drink.” He held out the cup again, and it was different in his hand — not the plain clay cup he knew so well, but the cup as it truly was, heavy and shining and rich, made of gold, studded with jewels. “You know who the Grail serves, Sam?” he said softly. “It serves everyone. It serves life. It serves every man, woman and child who’s ever walked this Earth and will ever walk it. It loves us all completely.”
Sam stared at him, and the dish and sword fell from his hands. Lorcan’s head rolled off the dish and came to a stop.
“Drink,” said Sophie. “Be comforted.”
“Drink,” said Celine. “Be healed.”
“Drink,” said Maya. “Be true.”
Sam slowly blinked and fell to his knees. “Sam!” Dean shouted and crossed the chamber to him, catching him before he could pitch forward onto his face. “God, Sammy,” he said and held the cup to Sam’s lips. The cup filled itself with water that Dean knew was cool and sweet, and when it touched Sam’s lips it hissed and sizzled a moment before he opened his mouth and swallowed.
Dean cradled Sam on his arm and didn’t take the cup away until he had drained it. When Sam finally pulled back, his eyes closed, Dean kissed his forehead. “Love you,” he said. “Stupid ox.”
“Shut up, jerk,” Sam whispered and opened his eyes.
They were green.
They say the rain stopped abruptly. They say the clouds parted over San Francisco Bay and a beam of sunlight shone through, pretty as a postcard, and people who took pictures of it noticed later that the beam seemed to fall into the center of the city.
Celine knelt beside the brothers and held Sam’s face a moment. “Speak,” she said gently.
“I — I’m confused,” Sam whispered. “I was — so full of anger.” He looked at Dean. “I hated you.”
“Well, I hate you too,” Dean said. “But that doesn’t stop me from loving you, either.”
“Not what I mean,” Sam said and looked at Celine. “I don’t know what happened.”
“You nearly lost yourself, Sam,” she said gently. “You were so close that if you hadn’t drunk when you did we would have lost you forever.” She pushed the cup to Dean. “Drink as well.”
“I’m fine, Celine, really.”
“Drink,” she repeated. “Drink and be healed.”
Dean drank. As he’d suspected, the water the cup bore was delicious as a mountain spring, and he drank eagerly. Heat burned in his wounded leg and Celine steadied him when he wavered, and smiled at him. “The wound is gone,” she said and kissed his forehead. “Sam.” He looked at her, his eyes damp. “You are purified of the demon blood within you. You are forgiven.”