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The Precipice of Change

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They landed in Harry’s sitting room in a flurry of feathers, limbs and shouting.

My car!

Your car’ll be fine, hotshot.

I can take you back.

Harry tuned out the loud argument that had started almost before they materialised in his sitting room and turned his focus on Sam, who was still right next to him, still with an arm around him to keep him up. Now, Harry could feel the tremors shaking Sam, see the way his pupils were dilated, and, if he focused, he could almost smell the scent of demon inside Sam. The scent of the blood was thick and cloying, almost making him sick. Harry wasn’t sure why he hadn’t done that before, back at the diner, but it probably wasn’t all that important. But now that he could, he was starting to feel crowded and jittery, and some of that fear that had stricken him when he was attacked at Bobby’s started trickling back. Harry really didn’t like demons.

Instead, he placed his hands on Sam’s neck because the blue text flashing behind his eyes was pushing him in another direction. “Come with me.”

Sam started, at once alert and suspicious. “What? Harry? What’s going— Hey! What’re you doing, man?”

Harry managed a small grin, feeling rather proud of himself at the way he had seamlessly transported the two of them without that jolting, disturbing feeling apparition usually brought. He was getting better; all that practice with Gabriel had certainly paid off.

“This is my and Castiel’s nest,” he said instead, and not without a hefty piece of pride. Sam’s eyes were a bit wide and wild, his forehead furrowed.

“This is what he was doing with all the blankets and stuff?”

Harry nodded, another spike of pride going through him. “Yeah.”

“It’s… I mean, no offence, man, it looks nice. Just, you know, a bit…padded, maybe?” Sam babbled, running a hand through his matted hair.

Harry chuckled. “Yeah, I still have got basically no clue why we did it, but I kinda like it. Now, come on.” He took Sam’s hand, tugging lightly to get Sam to follow him.

“Um. Seriously, Harry? What’s going on?”

“I need you to lie down.”

“In your bed? You want me to lie down in your bed? No offence, dude, but you’re not really my type. Besides, I…”

Frowning, Harry looked over his shoulder. “What d’you mean? It’s easier if you lie down. I’ve no idea how you’re going to react, or, well, anything really. I’ve just got a hunch that says I’ll most likely be able to clear the demon taint right out of your system. But I don’t know—”

Sam jerked his hand out of Harry’s grasp. “What?”

“I said—”

“I heard. But, it’s just, why couldn’t Cas? Heck, why not Gabe, for that matter? He’s an archangel and way more powerful than you. No offence, dude, but…you know.”

Harry frowned, then shrugged. “I’ve no idea. Maybe they can, maybe angels are as diverse as humans and the two of them don’t have the necessary training or something. I honestly don’t know. But I’m not an angel, you know. I’m… Maybe I’m not technically human any more, but I’m pretty sure I can do this.” Harry flashed a shy grin. “It has to do with why Gabriel took an interest in me in the first place, so even though I kinda want to tell you, I’m not really supposed to? Gabriel gets ever so cross, y’know.”

Sam pursed his lips, eyes a little narrowed. “That the same stuff that had you dropping in on us just now and chatting up Death?”

The tips of Harry’s ears went a little red. “Um. Maybe?”

“Uh-huh,” Sam mumbled, not sounding all that convinced or as if he was even close to putting the subject to rest. “So, that’s what you whammied me out of your living room for? To put me through rehab?”

“Basically.”

Sam nodded, then asked, “Will it hurt?”

“I think it’ll burn, really bad. All I can really promise is that you won’t die.”

“‘All you can promise’?” Sam mocked, snorting. “That’s kinda big, and, y’know, usually the only thing doctors and stuff can’t guarantee.”

“Well,” Harry said, voice carefully even and detached even as he looked Sam straight in the eye, “That happens to be just about the only thing I can guarantee.”

“How can you promise that?”

Harry looked away for a second. “Let’s call it mine and Gabriel’s best kept secret. Do you remember the time Castiel and I took off flying the first time we met?”

“Yeah.” Sam frowned. “He went all archangel on you, nearly blasted mine and Dean’s brains out.”

“I healed you and Dean then, you know. Gabriel was angry because we went outside the wards. Out there, if the demons or the other angels realised what I’m… What I represent, what it means for the Apocalypse— They’d want me dead so fast not even I’d see it coming. Probably.”

“Which side are you on? Heaven or Hell?”

Harry opened his mouth, the automatic ‘Heaven’ dying on his tongue. Cocking his head to the side, Harry narrowed his eyes. The text was coiling lazily around his spine, warm and slow and bright. It was what the change was all about, wasn’t it? The whole scale tipping its balance in a new direction entirely. “Earth,” he murmured. “I’m with Earth.”

Sam blinked, then he grinned. “You know what? I think I’m with Earth, too.”

“Y’know, the bible is all about the Holy Trinity, isn’t it? So if there’s a Heaven and a Hell, then there’s got to be a third, right? I’m guessing, in this case, that third ‘power’ is Earth.” It resonated within him with a sense of rightness Harry hadn’t been entirely prepared for.

“So, now that we’ve established that we’re on the same side, are you going to let me help you?”

Sam shifted his shoulders. It made Harry uncomfortably aware of how easily Sam could, probably and most likely would, overpower him in a fight. Unless Harry resorted to magic, that is. “That doesn’t really tell me anything about what kind of powers you have, though.”

“Earthly powers?”

“Which means?”

“I can tie your life to the Earth and ensure you can’t die until I’m done with you?” Harry chanced, a hopeful smile on his face.

“Which means you’re not gonna tell me.”

“Not yet, no. I’m…not done yet. There’s still something in me that’s changing. It’s strange, looking back, and realising that you’re not the same person you were ten years ago any more, even though I had everything back then that I do now, only something along the way changed.” Harry rubbed his hands together. “So, down on the bed, on your back, if you don’t mind.”

“I do mind,” Sam protested sullenly, but he did as ordered, albeit with obvious reluctance.

“Is it okay if I need to sit on you?” Harry asked after Sam was stretched out as comfortably as he could be on his back. Harry was perched on the edge of the bed. “I need to have my hands on your heart and mouth, I think. No. I definitely need that,” he murmured. “Shirts off, I guess.”

“Why do I get the horrible feeling you’re just making this up as you go along?”

Harry flashed a grin even as he was busy conjuring a bowl out of thin air that he filled with sand, dirt, sea water and water from the tarn outside his house. “I’m sure I’ve no idea what you’re talking about. Oh, before I forget. D’you want me to fetch Dean?”

Sam paused in the process of unbuttoning his shirt. “I. No. Not yet. Just, after? Get him up here as soon as you’re done.”

“Promise.”

“Good.” Sam tugged his shirt off, handed it to Harry who folded it up and placed it beside the bed, then did the same with the t-shirt Sam’d been wearing underneath. “Why d’you need me to take my shirt off?”

Harry shrugged a little as he moved to sit on the bed next to Sam’s head. A paintbrush materialised in his hand. “I dunno.”

“You don’t—”

“Look, maybe I could’ve done it with your clothes on, I’ve honestly got no idea. But.” Here Harry paused, dipped the brush in the mud he’d mixed in the bowl, then started drawing symbols on Sam’s chest. “At least, this way, I don’t mess up your clothes more than they already are.”

“I see your point. What’re you doing?”

“Working on a hunch,” Harry murmured, distracted by the pattern he was slowly creating, all the while being subtly influenced by the part of him that wasn’t quite human any more, the part of him that he suspected was the very essence of what made the Master of Death become the Master of Death. The part that was older than time, the part that had been created for one purpose, and one purpose only.

Harry tried not thinking about it too hard.

“The heart is what makes humans so unique, you know? Some say they do what their hearts tell them to do, others work on instincts and gut feelings, others still use cold logic and scientific facts. Close your eyes.” Sam did, and Harry moved his brush up to gingerly write runes exactly where they needed to be. “So, if we’re going to make you all human again, we need to work with what makes humans human. In your case, the love you have for your brother, the urge to do right and protect the ones that need protecting. A part of you craves revenge, justice and vengeance. A part of you is filled with hatred, righteous fury and envy. You have dreams, desires and wishes just like everyone else. All of this, it makes you a perfect human being, Sam. We’re perfect because we’re flawed.”

In a smooth, calm voice, Harry continued, “The angels and the demons, they’ve never really understood that. They seem to think that because we’re so flawed and fractured, then we can never reach perfection. I don’t really agree with that sentiment. But because they think that way, they seem to gain some power over us – or at least the illusion of power. Demons make deals, and angels look down their noses. I think, personally, that when humans rise up and take pride in what they are, then demons won’t have anything to offer in terms of deals or powers. If more people were like you and Dean, then the angels wouldn’t be able to gain foothold on Earth any more, either. It’s why I suspect God wasn’t quite done with the universe he created, because Heaven and Hell are too different, too at odds with each other to ever truly reach a balance. Enter a third power, however, and balance might be obtained.”

Sam was breathing slowly in and out, his eyes closed and his face relaxed. “Does Gabe know you think that?”

“He suspects, at the very least.” Harry dipped his brush in the bowl one last time, then focused on drawing a large symbol in the centre of Sam’s forehead. “Sometimes, I suspect that it was God who sent him to go Pagan in the first place, to prepare him for, for…”

“For you? Isn’t that a bit egoistic?”

“Maybe. But I needed a mix between Heaven and Earth – Pagan – to ground me, to train me. Who’d I be apprenticed to if Gabriel hadn’t become Loki only to become Gabriel again? God may be missing these days, but back then when Gabriel skipped out of Heaven, God was still around.”

“You saying he couldn’t hide himself from God, but that he could make all the other angels think he was gone? Yeah, I guess I can see that.”

“I’ve thought about it a lot.” With a last swirling spiral, Harry closed the circle he’d been drawing around Sam’s navel.

“It kinda burns,” Sam murmured moments later.

“Yeah, sorry about that. It’s gonna get worse, though. A lot worse.” Harry put the bowl aside, then glanced at the paintbrush and transformed it into a supple leather disc. “Open up,” he said, then placed it between Sam’s teeth. “Bite down on that.”

For a moment, Harry simply sat back and regarded his work. Every last symbol and rune on Sam’s body was complete, there were no loose threads or mistakes. Beneath that, beneath Sam’s skin Harry could see the sluggish, struggling movements of the demon blood in him, no longer itching to take over, rather, instead fighting against the magic Harry was now working on the blood of the cells it was possessing. Scooting closer until he was kneeling next to Sam’s head, Harry placed his palms over Sam’s heart and eyes, softly intoning, “close your eyes,” when Sam continued to stare at him with a wide open gaze.

It was kind of like when he exorcised the demon possessing Bobby, except it was nothing at all like that. The light coming out of his hands was more like the sun reflected on the surface of a lake, rather than blinding whiteness. It chased through every orifice of Sam’s body, cleansing and purifying until there was nothing left but human blood, pure and uncontaminated. Dimly, he was aware of Sam screaming behind his gag, of Sam struggling and twisting against the invisible bonds Harry was holding him down with almost like an afterthought.

“You are of this Earth, Samuel Winchester,” Harry murmured as he sent a last, pulsing wave of magic – pure and unadulterated – through Sam. When he was done, Sam was soaked in sweat, shaking and trembling and pulling in panicked breaths through his nose.

As if he were soothing one of his skittish thestrals, Harry ran a hand through Sam’s hair until his eyes went from wide and unseeing to heavy lidded and calm. By then, his jaw had relaxed enough that Harry could remove the leather disc Sam had been biting down on hard enough to leave a lasting dental impression on.

“Hey,” Harry murmured, running a soothing hand down Sam’s throat as he sent a wave of healing magic through the man. It made Sam exhale in bliss. “How d’you feel?”

“Like I could fly. Man, I. Feel. Awesome.”

Harry grinned. “Good, good. Humour me for a second, but what colour are Gabriel’s underwear?”

“Not wearing any,” Sam slurred. “You forgot to do the laundry.”

Harry’s grin widened. “I did forget, yeah.”

“Dean’s got blue. Cas’…Cas’ wearing something black and white, and you’re green and—”

“Yeah, that’s good enough, Sam.”

Just as Harry conjured a new bowl with clean, lukewarm water along with a towel to wipe the dirt off Sam, Sam murmured, “Purple towel.”

“How do you feel here?” Harry tapped a finger in the centre of Sam’s forehead. “Inside, right here?”

“Open,” Sam murmured. “Sore. Stretched thin and tight and open.”

“That’s what I thought,” Harry said as he calmly started to wipe Sam’s chest and stomach clean, careful not to drip any of the dirty water on the bed. Magic was neat like that.

“Can feel you, you do that thing. Tingles. S’kinda warm and fluttery.”

“I think, Sam, that Azazel chose you and the others for his little experiments because you were already likely to develop psychic abilities—”

“Dean!” Sam gasped, interrupting Harry, clutching at his arm. “You promised!”

Harry had the feeling that Sam wasn’t really aware of half of what was going on, much less what either one of them was saying. “I did.”

Harry sent out a tendril of his mind, searching for Castiel. It was easier, finding him, especially since they had started communing almost every other day.

Harry? Where are you? Dean is very vexed about yours and Sam’s abrupt disappearance. We could hear him scream.

“I, I can feel you! Is, is that Cas?”

Harry smoothed a hand through Sam’s hair. “Yeah. Shhh.” We’re in our nest. Bring Dean, please. And Gabriel.

“Cas’ gonna bring Dean?”

“Yeah. He’ll be here any minute, now.”

“Good. Good. Dean’s awesome. He can make everything all right.”

The door clattered open, and Dean rushed inside, closely followed by Castiel and Gabriel. “Sammy!”

“Dean’s got blue boxer briefs and yellow socks with kittens on them,” Sam blurted.

Harry laughed a little. “Yeah, that’s good, Sam. Now close your eyes so I can clean your face.”

Sam did close his eyes, but he kept turning his head around. “Dean?”

“Dean’s right here, Sam,” Harry said as he carefully washed Sam’s face clean. The bed dipped a little as Dean stepped down on it, then sagged as he sat down next to Sam’s head on the other side of the bed.

“Right here, Sammy,” Dean said, and he sounded only a little choked up.

“Dean! You’ll make it better.” Sam reached out with a hand and blindly patted Dean’s thigh. “Harry, he fixed me and I’m awesome, and Gabe’s not wearing any underwear, and Cas’ are made of organic cotton, and—”

“Shhh,” Harry whispered. Sam closed his mouth with a smack.

Dean was gripping Sam’s hand tight with one of his as he reached out to brush Sam’s hair out of his face. “It’s gonna be all right, Sammy.”

“What did you do, Harry?” Gabriel murmured from behind Harry.

“I cleaned out the demon blood. All of it.”

“He’s wide open.”

“I noticed.”

Dean fixed a glare on them. “What’s going on?” he demanded. He startled a little when Castiel came to perch behind him, glancing down at Sam over his shoulder. “What the fuck did you do to Sam?”

Harry placed a palm over Sam’s forehead. “I removed the demon blood. All of it. The bit Azazel gave him as a baby worked as a, a vaccine, almost. Made him immune to most of the nasty side effects it’d give anyone else who’d try to drink it. I’m pretty sure it’d be just as poisonous to Sam now as it is to everyone else.” Harry paused, frowning. “That’s the good news.”

“The good news?” Dean grit out. “How the fuck—”

“—Bobby’s gonna call, and Gabe’s got black socks with red stripes, and there’s a hole in Cas’s left sock and there’s a Chamber in the basement and a soul—” Sam blurted, as if the effort of having kept silent had become too much for him. Or as if the temptation of speaking was irresistible.

“Very good, Sam,” Harry interrupted. “Can you feel my hand?”

“Yeah. S’good.”

Harry focused a bit of magic to come to his hand, making Sam gasp. “What’s behind my hand?”

“Too open!”

“Shh, it’s all right. Why don’t you try to put some blinds up, or close the curtains? You can tie the knot as tight as you need.”

“What the fuck is going on?” Dean growled.

“Best guess?” Gabriel offered. “I’m betting Sam would’ve been precognitive with or without the demon blood. Happens in humans sometimes, no one really knows why. But you know all about that, don’t you, Dean? Missouri. Pam.”

“Silence. Now,” Harry filled in, then closed his eyes. “I want you to focus on Dean, Sam. Can you do that? On what Dean feels like. He’s not open—”

“Still, quiet, dark, calm, awesome, cool,” Sam rattled out.

“Yeah, now, try and be exactly like him.”

“Easy,” Sam drawled, then he was clutching just as tightly onto Dean’s hand as Dean had been clinging to his all along. “Dean?”

“Right here, Sammy.”

“Do you see what Dean looks like right here, where I have my hand on you?” Harry asked. Sam nodded. “Try and make this spot, right here, look exactly like Dean’s, okay?”

“Can’t! Not, not—”

“You don’t need to seal it shut, Sam, just close it. Then, when you need to, you can still open it again. I promise.”

“Okay,” Sam agreed, then he was frowning really hard as he closed, what a teacher of Harry’s had once referred to as, his third eye.

“Then, when you’re done, you can sleep. How’s that?”

“Awesome,” Sam breathed, forehead furrowed as he concentrated on what he was doing.

-b-

“I reiterate: what the fuck, people?”

Sam was basically conked out, but there was a frown on his face that Harry didn’t like. Scooting closer to where Dean had pulled Sam’s head into his lap, Harry placed his hand back on Sam’s forehead, then urged him deeper into sleep. Little by little, the furrow disappeared and smoothed out.

“I purged him, Dean,” Harry explained as he picked up the damp towel and set about cleaning up the last traces of the dirt that he’d missed.

“From the demon blood,” Dean stated. Harry nodded. “How?”

Harry shrugged. “I don’t know, really. I focused on everything that makes him human. Used that as a motivator. Sam helped, mostly on a subconscious level, but if he hadn’t wanted to change, then it wouldn’t have worked.” Of course, Sam hadn’t known that. Sometimes, not knowing made certain actions much easier to fulfil. “He was a baby, right? When Azazel—”

“Yeah. Cut to the chase, Harry. My patience’s wearing a little thin here.”

“My best guess is that the demon blood latched on to the tiny, undeveloped part of him that could, one day, have the ability to develop into something psychic. He could’ve gone through his entire life without ever knowing. A lot of people do. But, well. Sam wasn’t really given the chance to develop at his own pace. When I burned the demon taint out of his system, I. I don’t know. Maybe I ‘woke’ that part of him up, or maybe it was always awake, simply busy battling with the demon. I don’t know.”

“He’s psychic?” Dean demanded, voice low.

Are you wearing yellow socks with kittens on them?”

Dean scoffed, but he didn’t outright deny it, either.

“Dean… I honestly don’t know how much of this he’s going to remember when he wakes up. I don’t even know if he’ll be able to ‘open’ that inner eye again.”

“Whatever you did, though, I hope you know what you’re getting yourself into, kids,” Gabriel interrupted suddenly, voice low and hard.

“Gabriel?”

“Kiddo, you just neutralised Hell’s most powerful weapon in their fight against Heaven. Without the demon blood, there ain’t no way in hell that Lucifer’s gonna be able to ride his ass without burning Sam up like a firecracker on the fourth of July, much less a fight to the death with Michael.” Gabriel’s grin was grim and bloodthirsty at the same time. “Just hope you know what you just got yourself into, ‘cause this is gonna get real nasty from now on. People’re gonna wonder who changed Sam, gonna want to know who’s got the power to turn a potential Vessel of Hell into just another ordinary mook. They’re gonna start looking, digging into every little thing that stand out until they find out exactly where the road took a sharp turn to the left. They ain’t gonna be happy, s’all I’m saying.”

“Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned/ Nor Hell a fury like a woman scorned.”

There was a moment of silence, then Dean patted Castiel on the shoulder. “You almost got it there, Cas.”

“So, what was the bit with the soul and Chamber about?” Dean asked after his phone started ringing, Bobby’s name flashing across the display. “Since wonder boy here got the rest of it right.” With a raised eyebrow, Dean flipped his phone open. “Yeah, hey, Bobby.”

Harry cleared his throat. “Yes, quite,” he mumbled. “I’ll just pop down to the Chamber—”

“Oh, hush, you!” Gabriel snapped out, exasperated grin playing about his lips.