Epilogue (two notable entries from the bunker's record book that Walker gave Sam for Christmas):
October 18, 2022
Today marks the birth of Bobby Ellen Ada Turner Winchester
Welcome to the world, kiddo. I will never let anything happen to you. You did good, Sammy.
Your Uncle Dean
Momma C says I can't show you how to use my slingshot yet. But I will when you are older. I love you.
I wonder if you'll end up as tall as me and your dad. Good luck with that. I'll always have your back.
My Daughter -
You are the miracle of my life. Your mom and I will love and protect you to our last breath.
To my perfect daughter -
I can't wait to watch you grow to become an amazing woman. I didn't know I could love this much.
Walker Turner Winchester
I wish your grandparents could have met you.
I told your grandparents about you today. I also told Ellen. Ellen was happy that you have her name (Bobby is too and Adam appreciated the "Ada"). Ash is giving Ellen, John, Bobby, and Rufus a round on the house (whatever that means) and they all can't wait to meet you, though they hope it's not for a very very very long time. I will watch over you.
Castiel, Angel of the Lord
June 2, 2043
Dad and I graduated from Stanford last weekend. Weird, huh? I got a bachelor's in philosophy and he graduated law school. Dad says you used to have to live at college for all four years you went. I don't know who could stand to do that. I'm glad I don't live in the Stone Age like he did. It WAS kinda fun to spend the mandatory six months on campus in California, but the rest I did online like everyone else does. It's also required that you go to campus for graduation and EVERYONE insisted on coming.
It's like I have four dads and four moms. I have my real dad, then there's Uncle Dean (he's the one with nine fingers and every time he tells the story about how he lost that one it's a different story. Probably because no one would believe what really happened), Ben (well, he's my cousin but he's so much older than I am that he's more like a dad), and my Uncle Garth. You know how everyone has a weird uncle? That's Uncle Garth. He lived on a boat until it got so rusty it started to sink two years ago, then Uncle Dean insisted he come live with us. He's a total sweetheart though. I'm getting off track here. My moms were all there too. My real mom, then my Aunt Lisa, my Aunt Dora, and my Aunt Charlie. Scarlett came too. She's like my sister. She taught me how to do all the important stuff (shoot, drive, kick a football, even put on makeup). Well, my moms and dads think THEY taught me, and they did, but Scarlett taught me all that stuff first. Don't tell anyone.
Everyone yelled so loudly when I walked across the stage to get my diploma. It was completely embarrassing. But I have to admit that I yelled really loudly for dad too when he went across. Stanford even had him give a speech; he was first in his class, even though he’s older than a bunch of his professors. I don't know what he's going to do with a law degree, but Uncle Dean could probably keep him busy. He seems like he could use a good lawyer.
I don't know what I'll do next. I've thought about maybe going for another degree and becoming a psychologist. I'm still deciding. Right now I just want to enjoy graduating. I don't know where this road will take me, but I do know that I came from somewhere amazing. I have the best family ever.
Ellen (Ellie) Winchester
writing from home
Back to Masterpost
October 5, 2020
"Hey, Dean, you got a minute?" Walker asked when they were the only ones clearing the table. Everyone else had gone out back to enjoy the perfect October weather. Dora and Charlie and Scarlett were spending the weekend and Garth had agreed to come down too in order to make it a party.
"Sure, Blue," Dean responded, "Whaddya, need?"
"Well," Walker looked suddenly agitated and uncomfortable.
Dean could always read people well. This was not the confident Walker he was used to. "What's wrong?" he asked.
"Nothing," she responded. "Actually, things couldn't be better."
"So what is it then?" Dean asked.
"I um," she stammered, "I want to marry Sam."
Dean smiled. "I'm pretty sure he's not going to be opposed to the idea. But you know, you could get someone way hotter," Dean teased. "I still say you're out of his league."
Walker chuckled, then got quiet. "I mean, I want to ask Sam to marry me."
Dean gave her an amused look. "Blue, are you asking me for my brother's Goddamn hand?"
"I don't know what I'm doing, but yeah, I guess I wanted to ask you," she replied.
Dean didn't have to think for a second. He walked over and hugged Walker to him. "Sam would be the luckiest bastard on earth," he said, putting his chin on the top of Walker's head. "Well, the luckiest bastard aside from me when Lisa agreed to marry my sorry ass."
"You have a fine ass," Walker said before she could stop herself.
"Well, thanks? I think?" Dean replied, smiling at the compliment.
They both laughed as Walker broke the hug.
"I know it's not traditional," Walker said, "but I've never been much for tradition, or for waiting, so, I'd like to ask him tonight."
"I think that's a great idea," Dean said. "Hey, hang on," Dean said as he disappeared into the back of the bunker headed for his own room.
Walker stood there wondering what he was up to.
"Can't propose without a ring, right?" Dean asked as he reappeared. He placed a plain gold band in Walker's hand.
"Where'd you get this?" she asked.
"It was Dad's," Dean said quietly. "I know he and Sam fought like dogs, but that's only because they were so much alike. I think Sam should have this."
"Thanks, Dean," Walker said softly. She hadn't really thought about needing rings until the actual wedding sometime down the road.
Later that night, when everyone had just sort of naturally congregated around the long table for some coffee, Dean stood up and tried to get everyone's attention. "I think Walker has something she wants to say," Dean winked in her direction.
Walker smiled and stood up. She got in front of Sam who was sitting down, and got down on one knee. She took his hand. Sam briefly gave Dean a confused look. The fact that Dean was smiling like an idiot didn't explain anything.
Walker said simply, "Matrimonio?" (marry me?)
Sam broke into a grin and totally ignored Dean's voice in the background asking them to use English for once instead of being such Latin geeks.
Sam replied in Latin: "You know I'm already married to you here", putting a hand on his heart. Sam continued in Latin "I have been ever since Montana".
Walker smiled and nodded and felt herself starting to get a bit uncharacteristically choked up.
Suddenly, Sam reached into the pocket of his jeans. He continued in Latin: "I'll say 'yes' if you'll say 'yes'," and he opened his hand to reveal a smooth silver ring crowned by a deep red garnet.
Walker literally sat back on the floor. She and Sam hadn't REALLY talked about it. She had no idea. More Latin: "Oh my God, Sam...when were you - "
(In Latin): "I planned it for tonight," Sam admitted, "Garth had the ring made about a month ago."
Walker turned briefly to Dean, "You knew?!" she accused him.
Dean laughed and ignored her accusation. "I don't know what the fuck you guys are saying to each other," Dean complained. "You wanna share with the rest of the class?"
"I'm saying 'yes'," Sam said hauling Walker to her feet, pulling her onto his lap and kissing her to a round of applause and a loud whoop from Dean. "Me too," Walker confirmed when she'd had a chance to catch her breath. Sam was a great kisser.
"It's official then," Sam said, sliding the ring onto Walker's finger.
"It's beautiful Sam, I love it," she said, "and I've got one for you."
Sam looked amused. Walker took the gold band out of her pocket. Sam took one look at it and immediately looked at Dean. "That's Dad's," Sam said seriously. "You told me the hospital lost it."
"I thought they did," Dean replied. "But I found it in Dad's coat and decided to hold onto it."
"I can get you something else if you don't want to wear this one," Walker said, worried. She knew about Sam's relationship with John, but she also trusted Dean.
"No, no," Sam said softly to Walker. "There's nothing I want more than this. And I'm not just talking about the ring," he pulled her to him. She hugged him tight as Sam and Dean exchanged looks over her head. “Thank you for this," Sam mouthed at Dean, glancing down at the ring on his finger as he said it. The ring actually fit him. More than that, it suited him.
December 31, 2020
Sam sat looking down at the new ring on his finger. The new old ring. Even though he'd been wearing it for a few months now, it still felt a bit new to him.
"It had to be yours," Dean said, following Sam's gaze.
"I never thought I wanted anything from him, you know?" Sam admitted. "But I miss him. I wish he could've seen you get married. I wish he could have met Blue...and Ben..."
"Me too," Dean agreed. "He was a bastard, but he was our bastard."
"Yeah," Sam huffed out a rueful smile. "Shit, Dean, she wants to MARRY me. Me," Sam trailed off, sounding totally amazed. Like it hadn't sunk in over the past few months.
"You're worth it, you idiot," Dean said. Sam heard his own words to Dean reflected right back at him. "She couldn't do better. You know that, don’t you?"
"I don't always get it right," Sam admitted. "I've fucked up a lot."
"We do the best we can, Sammy," Dean said forcefully. "That's all we can do. And God knows why these women love us like they do, but we had better have the sense to shut up and not question it, if you ask me."
Sam smiled, "Yeah, I guess you're right," he said.
"Of course I'm right," Dean replied. "Happy New Year," Dean said to Sam, holding up his glass of whiskey. Sam clinked his own glass against it. The rest of the family hadn't made it to midnight. They'd all had a long day and the others had fallen asleep from the hour and the whiskey...sprawled around on various couches and armchairs. Sam and Dean were the only ones still up.
And then it dawned on Sam. "Holy shit, Dean," he said.
"What?" Dean asked.
"You know what happened this year?" Sam asked.
"Could you be more specific?" Dean replied.
"No one died," Sam said.
"Naw, you're shittin' me," Dean scoffed, looking skeptical.
"Think about it, Dean. Really. No one that we know or helped died this year," Sam shook his head slowly in disbelief. As far back as Sam could remember, there had never been a year when someone they knew or met or helped or loved hadn't died.
"Well, then, I'd say it was a really good year, Sammy," Dean said, raising his glass again and waiting for Sam to click his own against it.
"It was," agreed Sam. "Really good."
Maybe it was because they were another year older. Maybe it was because they felt like they had more to lose now, now that it wasn't just the two of them trying to endlessly sacrifice themselves for each other to prove how deep their love went. Maybe having Lisa and Walker to come home to kept them from taking so many unnecessary risks. Or maybe, just maybe, the people around them who loved them had finally started to make Sam and Dean believe that they were worth loving. That just maybe they deserved better than the grisly hunter's death they'd always assumed awaited them.
There were going to be plenty of chances...to get injured, to die, to suffer unimaginable loss, to completely and totally fuck everything up. Again. Sam and Dean had a hard time letting themselves enjoy anything because they knew, if history was any indication, the winding road of their lives generally veered towards misery. But tonight, right now, here in this place, there was only warmth and laughter and people who loved them who were very much alive. It was a room full of orphans, save one, but, to be sure, no one present felt at all alone. Sam and Dean would risk anything and everything to hold onto this. It was so rare and so valuable.
It was home.
May 2, 2020
"Happy Birthday, Sammy," said Dean.
Sam was helping Dean clear the dishes from the table. Sam smiled. "That dinner was awesome," he praised Dean. Lisa, Ben, and Walker had disappeared to another part of the bunker, making Sam a bit suspicious about what they were up to.
"Maybe if you're a damn rabbit," Dean teased him. It was the one day of the year when Dean lowered himself to fixing salad and side dishes that included more vegetables than cheese.
"Were we eating the same dinner?" Sam asked, "Really, it was amazing." And it had been. Dean's slow-smoked chicken, green salad, homemade bread, and several vegetable-based casseroles had left Sam feeling completely satisfied. On top of that, Walker's bakery training resulted in the most amazing dark chocolate cake Sam had ever tasted. He was glad there was a piece of it left. If Dean didn't get to it first, he hoped to share it with Walker later. He could already picture her soft, full lips closing around his finger, licking the icing off...Sam silently vowed to clear the table as quickly as possible.
As they carried plates to the kitchen, Sam heard Dean say as he followed behind him, "So...37...Jesus Christ, you're almost 40."
"And how did 40 feel for you LAST YEAR?" Sam teased Dean.
"Shut up," responded Dean, but he chuckled. "No, seriously, there's something I think you should have," Dean said as he set the dishes down on the kitchen counter.
"I thought I said no presents this year," Sam said suspiciously.
"C'mon, Sammy," Dean almost pleaded, "there's something I want to give you."
"Um, okay," said Sam cautiously. He was half expecting some kind of prank from Dean. "It's not more homemade underwear, is it?"
Dean laughed, "No, but you have to admit, that was a good one....the look on your face..." Dean trailed off, chuckling, remembering Christmas two years ago.
Sam smiled at the memory himself. It was pretty amazing that there were so many memories from the past couple of years that made him smile.
"Let's go," said Dean suddenly.
"But, the dishes..." Sam protested.
"Leave 'em," Dean responded. "To hell with 'em. Let's go."
"Go where?" asked Sam, but Dean was already halfway down the hall and Sam had to jog to catch up.
They got out to the garage. Everything looked the same. Sam looked at Dean questioningly. Dean was smiling really big now, like he couldn't wait. Like HE was the one getting the present. Dean reached around behind a small shelving unit and hit some kind of lever. A large section of the floor at the far end of the garage started to lower.
Sam looked at Dean in surprise, "What the fuck? There's a room UNDER the garage?" Sam asked in amazement. "We've lived here all these years and I never knew that?!"
"Yup," said Dean who now appeared to be almost bursting with pride "Told you this place was the fuckin' bat cave". There was a faint, far-away rumble and then silence except for a barely-audible voice yelling, "Okay!"
"Thanks!" Dean yelled back at the unseen voice.
"Was that Ben?" asked Sam. Ben had insisted on coming home from college for Sam's birthday.
"Yeah; he's helping me out," replied Dean and threw the switch the other way to raise the floor back to ground level. "Okay, now, close your eyes and keep 'em closed."
Sam sighed, not really trusting that Dean wouldn't do something to him while he had his eyes closed, but he did as Dean asked.
Slowly, a car appeared, though Sam couldn't see it yet. A classic beauty. It was both sleek and curvy. Beautiful and menacing.
Sam heard something jingling behind him. "No peeking," admonished Dean. "Now put out your hand."
"You do know this is my 37th birthday, right? Not my 9th?" Sam groused.
"Shut up and put out your hand," Dean repeated.
Sam held out his hand and felt a couple pieces of jangling metal fall into it.
"Okay, open your eyes," Dean said as he stood behind Sam.
Sam looked down. Keys. That much he had guessed. But keys to...holy shit. Sam looked to the far end of the garage. "Fuck, Dean, you got me a CAR?!"
Dean beamed. "Well, I didn't so much get it as build it."
Sam turned to Dean dumbfounded. He didn't know what to say. They had never gotten each other anything this big.
"You're 37," Dean teased, "It's about time you had your own set of wheels."
Dean just about had the breath squeezed out of him by Sam’s intense hug. Sam had never been big on material possessions. And Dean was the one who had the love of all things automotive. To Sam, cars were usually simply a way to get from one place to another. They never fit him right. Mostly they irritated him. But Jesus, Dean BUILT this for him.
"You like it then?" Dean asked when he could get a breath of air into his lungs. When Sam didn't say anything Dean continued talking close to Sam's ear. Sam was still hugging him. "Look, I know you never fit in anything because you're a giant freak of nature, so I found something that’ll work, and I modified it a bit, and it's a car that you might actually get laid in once in awhile instead of some SUV piece of crap which is probably the only other thing that would ever fit you. But I can't have my brother driving something he can't get laid in."
Sam reluctantly loosened his hold on Dean. "Oh my God, when did you even have time..." he asked, trailing off in disbelief.
"I've been working on it for about 3 years," Dean admitted. "I grab some time here and there...ever since I figured out there was a second garage below this one."
"I wanna know everything you did to this car," Sam said with awe, knowing Dean was practically dying to tell him.
Dean's smile was huge. He put his arm around Sam's shoulders and said, "Come on, I'll show you."
They walked down to the car. It was even more amazing up close. Midnight blue; almost black. Gleaming like it just rolled out of the showroom. Just enough chrome, but not too much. Dean knew Sam wasn't much for bling.
"Whatcha got here Sammy is a '71 Boat Tail Buick Riviera GS. I found the body when I was picking up a part for my baby in a salvage yard and it's such a huge land yacht, I just thought there's no way your sasquatch legs wouldn't fit in here. C'mon; get in.” Dean held the door open. "See how it feels."
Sam slid in. He couldn't remember a time that he didn't have to fold up his legs when getting into a car.
It fit like a glove.
He could put his legs out straight and the steering wheel wasn't too far away from him. Sam could hear Dean continuing with the tour...souped-up engine, it'll do 140 no problem, Charlie helped him wire it for hands-free phone and Sam could play whatever crap music he wanted just by sending it to the stereo from his tablet, even though Dean had no idea in hell how to do that because all a car really needs is a tape deck, but if Sam wanted to be all new-agey he'd have to get help from Charlie...
Sam looked up at Dean. Dean was taken aback by how serious he looked. "What is it Sammy?" Dean asked, "Something wrong?"
"No, Dean, it's amazing. I just can't believe you did this for me. And the seats..." Sam trailed off.
Dean didn't know if Sam would notice but his heart twisted in his chest that he did. "Yeah, I figured your ass was so used to the bench seats in the Impala, it probably wouldn't know how to sit on anything else, so I put 'em in...same ones that go in a '67 Impala. Plus they're great for gettin' some action and now that you have a girl, well..." Dean winked at Sam.
"Get in," said Sam suddenly. "Hit the door."
Dean didn't have to be asked twice. He pulled the lever to open the overhead garage door and slid into the passenger seat. They smiled awkwardly at each other at the weird role-reversal.
Sam raised an eyebrow at Dean, "Let's see what she can do," he said as he floored it and they roared out of the garage. Dean let out a whoop.
It was an awesome birthday. Sam never thought he even cared about having a car. But this car was a little piece of Dean, and Sam cared about having that. A lot.
Plus, it was an incredibly sweet ride.
August 20, 2020
Sam and Ben went with Dean and Lisa down to the courthouse. (They wanted to get it done before Ben went back to college in a few days.) Dean had just wanted to have Cas do a ceremony. Who better than an angel of the Lord to join two people together? But Sam convinced Dean that he owed it to Lisa to do it right and do it legal. This actually might be one of the few officially legal things Dean had ever done. Dean groused about the paperwork, but it wasn't that bad and he knew Sam was right.
Sam and Ben signed as witnesses and slid the paper over to Dean. Dean was trying to find the right line he was supposed to sign when something caught his eye.
"Witness #2: Ben Winchester"
Dean blinked. He looked up at Ben who had a slight smile. "Sam?" asked Dean, still looking at Ben.
"Yeah?" responded Sam absentmindedly.
"This has to be legal names, right?" he questioned.
"Of course, you idiot," said Sam, "so don't even think about signing 'Robert Plant'."
Dean slid the paper back over to Ben. "You heard the man," said Dean.
"That is my legal name," said Ben, smirking slightly. "I changed it a week ago. Mom and I had a talk," he said, sharing a knowing glance with Lisa. "It was my decision. I wanted to do it on my own."
Dean spontaneously broke out into a huge smile.
"I know this is a completely fucked-up family," said Ben, still smiling, "but it's my family."
Dean rubbed his hand over his face from his forehead to his chin. He really hoped Ben couldn't see that he was barely holding his emotions back.
Ben saw. He nodded back at Dean in unspoken understanding.
Lisa reached out and grabbed Dean's hand on one side and Sam's on the other, giving both a squeeze. Sam looked at her, slightly caught off guard. She smiled at Sam. This was going to work.
"Can you help me out?" Dean asked Garth nervously when they were back in the bunker after filing the paperwork down at the courthouse. He told Garth the idea he had for Lisa's wedding ring, but he had no idea who could make something like that.
"No problem," Garth smiled big. "I know a guy who knows a guy. I got this, man."
Dean smiled and slapped Garth on the back. "I owe you one," he said.
"Aw, don't mention it, bro," Garth smiled sheepishly.
Four weeks later, Garth pressed a small box into Dean's hand with a secretive grin. Dean opened it. It was perfect. A band of leaves, but in the voids between the leaves, every single void made up some kind of protective symbol. A regular person would never notice it, but it was exactly what Dean wanted for Lisa.
Dora casually strolled up behind them and peeked over their shoulder. Dean slammed the box shut.
"That's a beaut," Dora observed. "I love the symbols," she winked at Dean. "Maybe you have some taste after all," she smiled.
Dean went to give Dora a light punch to the arm which she easily dodged.
"What about you, stumpy?" Dora asked, gesturing at Dean's drastically shortened ring finger, "Whadda you gonna do for a ring?".
Dean frowned. "I thought I'd have to wear one on a chain around my neck, I guess," he admitted. He hadn't really thought about a ring for himself.
"I've got a better idea," Dora said. "Just come see me about a week before you're going to do this; this wedding thing," she said.
Dean told Lisa he cut the stump of his finger in the kitchen. He had it wrapped in a bandage for about a week.
"It must have been a bad cut," Lisa said suspiciously. "Sure you don't need stitches?" she asked. "Or Cas?"
"Naw, it's okay," Dean blew it off.
"Do you, Lisa, take this man, Dean, to be your lawfully wedded husband?" Cas asked Lisa with a small smile.
"I do," Lisa said, staring into Dean's eyes, her own eyes, and his, shining.
"Then please take Dean's left hand," Cas instructed.
Lisa looked at him questioningly.
"Remove the bandage," Cas instructed.
Brow furrowed, Lisa followed Cas' instructions and drew in her breath. Though Dean's ring finger was only about 1/3 as long as it once was, what was left was encircled in the most delicate tattoo Lisa had ever seen. A copy of the ring she now wore. Only permanently inscribed on his skin. Dora beamed as she stood next to Sam.
It was a great night. They were sitting around the table with everyone they cared about, all drinking in earnest and making toast after toast to Dean and Lisa. Even Jody made the trip, saying she needed to see Dean Winchester getting married with her own eyes in order to believe it before quietly taking Dean aside to tell him that she wouldn't have missed it for the world. She had to be there to represent Bobby. Dean hugged her so tightly he almost squeezed the breath out of her.
Lisa could see that Dean was loving it. He looked happy; relaxed. He was joking with Jody and teasing Sam and making lewd comments to Dora that were making Charlie simultaneous blush and gasp for air because she was laughing so hard.
Finally, Lisa leaned in and whispered, "This is great, but what does a girl have to do to get fucked around here? I mean, I married your ass...what more do you want?"
Dean tried to choke back a laugh. He pulled Lisa close, "I thought you'd never ask," he said, leaning down and kissing her to the chorus of hoots and hollers from everyone around the table.
Dean and Lisa finally excused themselves from the rest of the group who were, at that point, mostly completely toasted. Sam loudly protested their leaving the party until Walker elbowed him in the ribs and gave him a pointed look.
"Oh, yeah, um, congratulations you two. Have a great night," Sam said sheepishly.
"Will do, Sammy," Dean replied, quickly leading Lisa down the hall to their room.
"Oh my God," Lisa said when she pushed open the door. The place was awash in candlelight. "Dean, did you do this?"
"Are you kidding me?" Dean asked, wrapping her in his arms. "This has Charlie written all over it; I had no idea."
"Remind me to thank her - " Lisa said, cut short by Dean's lips on hers.
Dean looked down at her and smiled. "Now, I know it's your first time, so I promise I'll be gentle. You know, your wedding night and everything."
Lisa playfully swatted him as she burst out laughing. "You had better not be gentle!" she exclaimed. She expected a laugh in return, but when she caught Dean's eye, there was nothing there but lust.
She knew what would drive him crazy. She slowly began to undo the lacing on the back of her simple white dress. The one that fit her perfectly and showed off the shape of her breasts and her hips. As it fell to the floor, revealing the thong and corset top underneath, she could see that Dean's dress pants definitely weren't doing anything to hide his desire for her.
"Jesus, Lis'," Dean breathed. "You are so fucking gorgeous."
Lisa lowered her head and smiled up at him; just the way she knew he found irresistible. She walked over to him and slowly began stroking him through his pants. Dean looked up at the ceiling and groaned loudly.
"Good?" Lisa teasingly asked.
"Fuck, yeah," Dean responded. Inadvertently thrusting up against her hand.
Lisa undid his pants and he greedily removed her thong. Lisa loved how sexual Dean was. So gorgeous. All the more so when he was so hard, wanting her so badly. Trusting her implicitly. She kissed across his chest, pausing the give him a mischievous look as she slowly teased a nipple with her tongue. She was rewarded with an "Oh God, Lis'," as she got a hand around his impressive erection.
"I dunno know how long I'm gonna last," he admitted. Lisa was stroking him exactly right and just looking at her, he was about to lose it.
"Get over here then," Lisa demanded in a low voice and Dean groaned as she let go of him and settled on the edge of the bed. She suggestively spread her knees as she let her own hand snake down her body. She inhaled sharply at the first touch from her own hand, "I don't know how long I'm gonna last either," she replied.
A minute later, Dean was on his back, hands on Lisa's hips as she straddled him and drove down hard onto him over and over.
“I don’t want to hurt you, Lis’,” Dean could barely form the words as the pleasure started to overtake him.
"Harder," she pleaded, which drove Dean out of his mind. Lisa's breasts spilled out of the corset from the force. The bed shook. Then Dean shook as he came hard into Lisa.
"Yes!" Lisa leaned forward and found Dean's lips so she could have his tongue in her mouth as she came.
A couple of hours later, Lisa woke to the smell of candle smoke as a few of the candles had begun to burn out. She felt, and then heard Dean behind her in their bed, his breath coming quick, his cock rubbing up against her ass. Wordlessly, she brought one knee up and whispered "Yeah, baby," as he groaned and pushed in from behind while wrapping one arm around her waist; holding her still as he moved inside her. "Okay if I help?" Lisa whispered.
"Please," Dean breathed, "you know I love it when you do that."
Lisa smiled to herself and reached down, matching Dean's rhythm as she insistently caressed herself and couldn't help but moan a little.
"Oh, God, Lis'," Dean whispered into her ear.
She felt his pace pick up. "That's it, baby," she whispered back, "come on, come for me."
Dean shut his eyes tight and let go. Flooding her with heat. He kept moving inside her as she rode him out and then let go herself.
Lisa and Walker were waiting outside the door after they got Sam's call that everyone was on their way home. That one word, "everyone", was all they needed to hear.
They didn't realize that "everyone" included Ben.
Mary rolled up first. The Impala rumbled to a stop right behind the Mustang. Ben got out of his car and ran to Lisa, hugging her. Lisa was in shock. Wasn't Ben supposed to be tutoring at the school? I mean, he'd just e-mailed her back that morning.
"Ben?" she sputtered, "What are you doing here?"
"I had to help, mom," he replied, still hugging her as she tried to push him away.
Dean blew past the two of them and headed into the bunker.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Hey, man," Garth got up from the table to head towards Dean, "welcome home, it's so good - "
"Garth, I'm sorry," Dean said tightly, "I just need a minute, okay?"
Garth felt like he'd been slapped, but could see that Dean was most definitely not okay. "Uh, yeah, sure," he said as Dean walked past him, "we'll catch up later!" he called to Dean's retreating back.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Sam locked eyes on Walker as soon as he stepped out of the car. She drew in her breath. Sam had some deep bruises starting to form around one eye and his split lip was swollen. His right hand was thickly wrapped in bandages. But there was something else.
Sam had a single-minded intensity that she'd never seen before. Like every fiber of his being was focused. On her. She thought that he looked like he was missing something. (She would later realize he was missing the hesitation and the worry. They were completely gone from his face. The distractions. It made Sam look like a different person from the Sam who had softly kissed her goodbye before hitting the road a few days earlier.)
She ran out to meet him and he put his strong hands on either side of her face and brought her mouth to his. He kissed her with such intensity that she could feel warmth, and more than a little wetness, spark between her legs. Sam guided her hand to him. Jesus, he was already rock hard. He gasped in a small breath at the touch he had insisted on and said in her ear, "Now, come on," as he hauled her behind him, down the stairs and to his room.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Oh God, Blue," was all he could say as he locked his bedroom door behind them and hurriedly undid her shirt. This kind of urgency on Sam's part was new. "If you want me to stop, you're going to have to tell me," he whispered to her, "but God, I need you," she nodded in return, trying to decipher this new version of Sam. He hesitated for one second.
"I want it too," she said directly.
Then all hell broke loose.
In a good way.
Walker found herself stripped out of her clothes. Sam's jeans were off and she was flat on her back. Sam hooked an arm under one of her knees and lifted it up, exposing her completely. In the next second he was over her, pressing, hot and urgent, into her wetness as she yielded. She brought her other leg up to attempt to better accommodate him and she gasped as he entered her without any foreplay. She completely trusted him and so didn't resist when he grasped both her wrists in his good hand and held them, pinned, above her head as he buried himself inside her, all the way to the base, over and over until she couldn't hold back much longer. But Sam wasn't there yet. He'd get close, then slow down for a second, then speed back up. It was driving her crazy and somewhere, through the overwhelming haze of pleasure, the thought occurred to her that this was Sam, totally in control. Maybe for the first time in a very long time. He needed more than release. He needed to be in control. He was bringing her, and himself to the edge, only to pull them back at the last second. When she opened her eyes to look up at him, she was surprised that he wasn't lost in the sensation, with his eyes closed, as he had been all the other times they'd made love. No, his gaze was fixed on her, a slight sheen of sweat on his shoulders. "Please, Sam," she managed to gasp out, "I need to, please let me."
Sam smiled through the exertion and she could tell that she had guessed right. She had just given him the control he was asking for. He let go of her wrists long enough to roll one hard nipple between his fingers and he felt her open and then close down around him as she screamed out and came, soaking him all over again.
He kept up the pace as she contracted again. Too spent to scream this time.
"Oh yeah," Sam breathed out. "So beautiful," he said hushed, before giving one final, incredibly deep thrust and groaned as his body stiffened, then relaxed. She felt him release inside of her in a flood of warmth.
Walker held on, legs wrapped around him now, as he dropped his head down and she ran her hands through his hair.
"I've never needed anyone....like that." Sam admitted
"It's okay," Walker responded. "I'm here and I'm not going anywhere. I love you."
Sam responded by gently tilting up her chin and kissing her with a softness that was the exact opposite of what she had just experienced.
"That was intense," Walker said, breathing hard.
Sam raised an eyebrow at her.
"Intense-good," she clarified, smiling.
Sam smiled back, "Yeah, it was," he agreed.
She thought she might like this version of Sam.
Dean slumped, exhausted, against the wall of his bedroom and slowly sank down until he was sitting on the floor. He put his head in his hands.
The door flew open and Lisa stormed in. She was pissed.
"I cannot believe you put Ben in that kind of danger," she seethed. "What the fuck were you thinking?!"
Dean looked up at her, exhausted. "He wasn't supposed to be there, Lis'," he said weakly.
"But he WAS there," Lisa went on. "You said he would be safe."
"I know what I said," Dean responded quietly.
Lisa was a bit confused that Dean wasn't getting into a fight with her. She was so angry; terrified that Ben had been in such a dangerous situation. She WANTED to fight with Dean, but he wasn't taking the bait.
"Look Lis'," Dean said, not meeting her eyes, "Ben is an adult. I can try to stop him, but he has to make his own choices."
"Not when they're bad choices," Lisa shot back.
Dean finally looked up at her. "Well, his bad choice is the reason that I'm alive right now."
"What?" said Lisa.
"Michael; he had me by the throat. Ben killed him," Dean said.
Lisa looked stunned. "But...how?"
Dean actually managed a small chuckle, "He shot him with an archangel blade that Cas gave him; loaded into the crossbow.” Dean shook his head slightly in disbelief. "I don't know how he made that shot. He was, like, half a mile away." Dean didn't reveal the fact that Michael had actually succeeded in killing him. Now was not the time.
"You mean Ben wasn't right there?" Lisa asked.
"No," Dean responded, "I didn't know he followed us. But he was cautious. He didn't barge in, guns blazing. You should have seen him Lis'," Dean said, unable to hide the pride in his voice, "He was careful. He was smart. He was everything I'm not."
Suddenly, Lisa was on her knees on the floor next to Dean with most of the fight gone out of her. "I just assumed you involved him without telling me," she confessed.
"Well, I don't blame you for thinking that, with my history," Dean admitted, "But everything Ben did was something he did on his own."
Lisa suddenly put her arms around Dean and buried her face in his neck, inhaling deeply. "I was just so scared," she said quietly. "You and Ben are my life. If anything had happened - "
"We're okay," Dean said hugging her back tight. After a few minutes she loosened her grip on him and sat back down on the floor next to him heavily. She went to lace her fingers through his and, "Oh my God...what happened to your hand?!" she exclaimed.
"Cas patched me up, but he couldn't save it," Dean responded.
"But how'd it happen?" Lisa persisted.
"Lis'," Dean took her hand and looked into her eyes. "It was bad. I'll tell you about it, I swear I will, I just don't know if I can do it right now." Dean thought he might not be able to give her the unadulterated version. Ever. But he'd tell her as much as he could. When he was up to it.
"Okay," Lisa responded. "You're here. You're okay. Ben's okay. Sam came home. That's all that matters."
"Jesus Christ, Lis'," Dean said, putting his free hand over his face. His shoulders heaved a bit. "I didn't know if I'd make it back this time, and just when things are this good..." A tear fell on his lap through the hand over his eyes. "All I wanted was to come back to you. To our family." He couldn't stop it now. "I didn't give a shit about winning," he confessed, "I just wanted to come home."
Lisa wrapped her arms around him. "You made it back, babe. You're here. It's going to be alright," she reassured him.
This was Dean letting go. Letting go of the guilt, of the responsibility, of the crap from his past. He was tired of needing the control. So tired. Control was all he knew, but...he felt Lisa's arms around him and pulled her close, holding her tight as he put his head down on her shoulder and just let it go.
Lisa rubbed the back of his neck and let Dean cry. She knew he needed this from her. He needed to be able to be this vulnerable in front of her. He needed to be able to loosen the reigns.
When the wave of emotion started to subside, Dean wiped his face on his sleeve, slightly embarrassed.
"I love you," Lisa stated, looking deep into his red-rimmed eyes.
"I love you Lis'," he replied. "And I'm getting too old for this shit."
Lisa cracked a smile and Dean gave a small smile in return. "I know you'll always be a hunter, but I hope this is the last time you plan to mess with archangels. Or Lucifer."
"Oh, it's definitely the last time," Dean confirmed.
And it was.
It had been three weeks since they put Stull Cemetery and the mound of dirt on Adam's unmarked grave in their rear view mirror. Sam couldn't remember a time when he'd slept this well in his life. There were no more nightmares. No more Adam's name ringing through his head at 2:00 am. He felt unstoppable.
But Dean wasn't quite his usual self. He seemed distracted. Preoccupied. Sam wondered if, with the crisis averted, Dean was now stressing over marrying Lisa. Sam had tried to talk to him, but Dean blew him off.
At the end of the third week, Dean said, "Hey, Sammy, take a drive with me, would ya?"
"Um, okay," replied Sam. "Where are we going?"
"We're just going," Dean deflected the question. "Come on."
"Should I pack anything?" Sam asked. "Should we tell anyone?"
"Naw," replied Dean. "We're not going that far."~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
About 20 miles down the road, Dean pulled off into an empty rest stop.
"Have to pee already, old man?" Sam teased him, but then Sam turned to face Dean and he could see that this wasn't meant to be a joyride.
"I gotta know something," Dean said.
"Okay?" Sam responded.
"Jesus, how do I even start?" Dean said to no one in particular.
Sam began to get a little worried. What did Dean want to know?
"Okay, I'll just say it," Dean said. "Back at the cemetery. Sam, I died."
"I know," Sam responded quietly.
"Oh, yeah, I guess you saw that," Dean said.
Sam looked away.
Dean continued, "When I was out, well, I uh, I talked to Chuck."
Sam snapped his head back to look at Dean, "Chuck the prophet Chuck?!" he asked, incredulously.
"Well, he said he wasn't Chuck, but he looked like Chuck," Dean explained clumsily. "He said he took Chuck's form so that he wouldn’t freak me out."
"Dean; Jesus, Dean, did you...did you talk to God?" Sam asked in a hushed voice.
"No, maybe, I don't know," Dean responded with irritation. "It could have been my brain hallucinating as I was on my way out."
"But maybe it wasn't," Sam prodded.
"Fuck, I don't know what it was, Sam," Dean replied. "But when I was talking to Chuck, I asked about you...if you were okay. He told me that your injuries were, what'd he say, 'grievous', but that you'd survive. What was he talking about?"
Sam shifted in his seat. "He must have been talking about my hand," he replied. "I had a pretty wicked burn."
"I don't think that's what he meant," Dean pressed. "What'd you do, Sam?"
"Look, Dean," Sam said. Dean wasn't going to like this. "Lucifer was coming at me. Austin and Nick were giving it all they had, trying to push him back into the pit, but they were only slowing him down. I had to distract him, break his concentration, so they had a chance."
"Cas already told me all that," Dean replied. "But when I asked what happened to you, he wouldn't tell me. Said I had to ask you myself. Why wouldn't he tell me what happened,?"
"When you say 'yes' once, they have all-access pass to you forever," Sam tried to explain.
"Know that," Dean cut him off. "Michael, remember?"
"Uh, yeah," stammered Sam. "Guess you know that."
"What'd you do?" Dean was starting to raise his voice.
Sam was going to have to tell him. "I couldn't let him wear me. And you were GONE Dean. You were just...gone," Sam looked away again.
"What'd you do?" Dean repeated.
"I shot myself, okay?" Sam said is exasperation. "I had to distract Lucifer."
"What, like you shot yourself in the leg or something?" Dean asked.
"No, Dean, I, I uh, I ate my gun," Sam admitted.
"YOU WHAT?!" Dean yelled.
Sam was worked up now. Who was Dean to criticize? He hadn't been the one left without his brother, "I fucking pressed my gun to my jaw, Dean, and pulled the fucking trigger because....I can't do this without you," Sam responded angrily.
"What are you talking about?" Dean replied, brow furrowed. "Sam, you can do anything in the world you want."
"I guess I have to spell it out for you then," Sam said, voice rising, "I don't fucking WANT to do this without you, okay?!"
Sam expected Dean to unload on him. For giving up. For not going down fighting. For choosing to leave their family and friends. For throwing away the life that Dean had spent so many years protecting.
But there was only silence.
Sam slowly looked back to Dean, wondering where the shitstorm went.
Dean was looking at him intensely.
"I don't want to do this without you either," Dean replied.
They looked at each other for a minute.
"Come here, bitch," Dean said, and Sam scooted over and accepted the hug. He hugged him back.
"Shit, that was close," Dean said, voice low.
"Yeah, I know," Sam responded.
"I'm sorry I left you," Dean said with sincerity.
"Not like you can stop a fucking archangel," Sam replied, finally pulling away.
Dean looked thoughtful. "Ben stopped him," he said simply.
"Yeah," said Sam, smiling. "That was pretty fucking amazing. Killing an archangel on your first trip out?" Sam gave a low whistle. "No one does that."
"I know," replied Dean. "So, you thinking 'one and done' for Ben?"
"I dunno, Dean," Sam replied honestly. "He's good. He's smart too. He's like you and me put together."
Dean smirked. "Yeah, I guess he kind of is. Which is why he can't be a hunter. He's gotta go to school."
"Walker's on it," Sam reassured him. "He's going to go to college Dean. He's gonna kick it in the ass."
"Yeah," Dean smiled proudly, "I know he will."
They sat in silence for a moment. The silence was broken by Dean firing the Impala back up.
"So," Dean asked, "do you think Austin is going to be able to toe the line?"
Sam looked thoughtful. He'd spent a few days with Austin, trying everything he could think of to see how much juice he had left in him. It wasn't much. Without Nick around, and with Lucifer locked up tight again, just as Sam and guessed, Austin's powers were minimal. "He's pretty much like any other kid right now," Sam surmised.
"Yeah, but what's to stop some other demon bitch from dropping by his school and making him an offer he can't refuse?" Dean asked.
"Austin's got his head on straight," Sam replied. "He knows it's up to him and, well, you heard him at the diner, he knows that the only way he can stay out of it is to choose to stay out of it."
"Do you think he's always going to choose right?" Dean asked.
"I can't answer that," Sam admitted. "But he's going to be okay. At least for now," he finished rather ominously.” We’ve left others alive before, Dean," Sam reminded him, "And we owe Austin a hell of a lot more than any of the others."
"Yeah, I guess you're right," Dean agreed. "But it makes my skin crawl...knowing a kid with that much power, someone that a billion evil sons of bitches would love to get their claws on, is out there walking around right now."
"I know," Sam acknowledged, "but he's strong and as long as he stays strong in the right way, we'll never have to deal with him again."
"Here's hoping," responded Dean cautiously. "Except that he and Ben seem to get along pretty well."
"Yeah, I noticed," Sam replied. "But maybe that's good...maybe that will help Austin stay focused. I mean, Ben's never going to encourage him to go dark side; maybe he'll help him resist."
"I'd rather he didn't have anything to do with him, at all" Dean admitted, concern lining his face.
"Do you think they'd really keep in touch when Ben goes to college in the fall?” Sam wondered aloud, “Ben and Austin?"
"I hope not," Dean replied. They knew that any contact with Austin was really up to Ben. They also knew that if anything even started to look like it might go south, they'd be there to protect Ben in a second. They sat together in thoughtful silence for a minute.
"Sam?" Dean asked, before throwing it into reverse.
"Yeah?" responded Sam.
"Don't you ever even think about ending your own life, you hear me?"
"You too," Sam responded. "I don't care how bad it gets Dean. Ever. We go down fighting together or we don't go down at all, deal?"
"Deal," responded Dean, squealing the tires out of the rest area.
As they pulled back onto the 2-lane highway, Dean said, "Hey Sam?"
"What?" Sam said, not really paying attention.
"How does someone miss when they are trying to fucking shoot themselves in the head?"
Sam looked at Dean smirking. Figures Dean would joke about suicide. "I didn't 'miss', asshole."
"Oh, don't get me wrong; I've never been so Goddamn thankful that you're such a lousy shot."
"I'm a great shot, jerkwad," Sam responded, also smiling now. "You know Cas healed me...I didn't miss."
"Put your money where your mouth is then," Dean taunted him. "When we get home, you and me, at the range...I bet $100 I can beat you."
"Do you HAVE $100?" Sam asked sarcastically.
"Shut up," Dean responded.
"Hey, Dean," Sam said after a few moments went by.
"Can we try to not die fighting anytime soon?" Sam asked.
"Yeah," Dean responded. "I'm kind of enjoying getting laid all the time. It's pretty awesome."
Sam broke into a grin. "Yeah, me too," he admitted. "You know it's not just about getting laid though, right? Me and Walker."
"I know," Dean responded. "Even a blind guy could see that you love her."
Sam smiled quietly in wordless admission. "That obvious, huh?"
"It is to me," Dean replied. "But I think I know you pretty well."
Sam nodded, smiling quietly to himself. Sometimes it infuriated him, but mostly he loved that Dean knew him so well.
"Hey, you wanna grab some food, Sammy?" Dean asked. "Maybe that place that has those stupid huge salads that you love?"
"You mean the same place that has the chocolate pie with the caramel sauce that I think you said was 'better than sex'?" Sam asked.
"Aw, I love it when you talk dirty to me, Sammy," Dean joked with him.
"Shut up," Sam laughed. "That's what, like an hour away?"
"Yeah, about that," Dean confirmed.
"I'll call home," Sam said, "let 'em know we'll be gone a little while."
Dean sat there thinking about how weird it was that they had a home. A home that felt like home. With people there they loved. Loved enough to report in to and not feel like they were reporting in. Suddenly he said, "I don't wanna check out anytime soon, Sammy."
Sam nodded in agreement, "Yeah, me neither."
"Good," Dean said quietly.
Ben slid to his knees next to the motionless bodies of Sam and Dean. He had staggered, head pounding, towards them as fast as he could since coming to after the blast. He still felt like it had taken him forever to close the distance.
Dean's eyes stared up unfocused. They were completely still. "NO!" Ben yelled into the sky. Ben felt a breeze and Cas materialized next to him. "Cas, Oh my God, Cas; you've got to do something," Ben began to talk in full panic mode as he stood up to grab onto Cas.
Cas put his arms around Ben. "I might be able to help Sam," Cas began, "But Dean was killed by an archangel. I cannot repair that damage," he said as a tear fell down his cheek. Cas had seen a lot of death in his time. But he could not stand to look down at the motionless bodies of the two men who mattered most to him in this world. Cas could heal people, but restoring life lost at the hand of an archangel was not within his power.
Ben's shoulders heaved and he fell back to his knees again. Sam's head was on Dean's chest and he had his large hand around Dean’s. Ben, without thinking, reached out and put his hand over Sam's, his body shaking with loss.
Cas was inexplicably drawn to the image in front of him, as much as he didn't want to look. Suddenly, he noticed something. "Ben," he said with some urgency. "Do not move." Cas saw a light peeking out from between the fingers of Dean's deathly still hand.
Ben looked up at Cas, his face blotchy and wet. "What?" he asked confused.
"Look," Cas said, "your hand. Do not move it."
Ben looked down to see the glow coming from inside Dean's closed hand, shining through Sam's hand on top of it and Ben's hand on top of Sam's.
"What is it?" Ben asked.
"So that's it," Cas smiled.
"What's 'it'?" Ben asked, panic starting to rise in his voice again.
"It's God," Cas breathed out. Ben looked at Cas as if he'd lost his mind.
It was the amulet. Dean had absentmindedly wrapped the cord around his ring finger in his pocket and now, in the palm of his lifeless hand, it was starting to glow. "I gave it to Dean," Cas explained. "Well, I gave it back to Dean...it is a long story, but it is an amulet that glows in the presence of God."
Ben looked shocked, then looked around, expecting to see he didn't-have-a-clue what. He looked back at Cas questioningly. Cas creased his brow in confusion. Cas thought he had finally understood. It was the trinity. Three people, connected by blood and love and devotion, that's what drew God in. This amulet glowed in God's presence. It had to be this trifecta of family; Dean, Sam and Ben, that was making it work. But it should be doing a lot more than this. This, faint glow, God wasn't close. Not close enough to help. Cas tried to think quickly.
It dawned on him.
Dean, Sam, Ben...none of them were believers in God. It wasn't like this was something you could fabricate. You either believed or you didn't. Cas' temporary hope started to darken. After all of this. How could what they had, the three of them in a pile there on the ground, not be enough?
"What?" Ben asked when he saw Cas' expression.
"The amulet in Dean's hand glows white hot in God's presence. I understand now that it needs this trinity of you and Sam and Dean, but it requires more. I think it also requires complete faith and trusting belief. I am afraid it requires more faith than any of you have," Cas explained.
"But you're an angel of the Lord," Ben pointed out with a more hopeful tone.
"I hate to admit it Ben, but it requires more faith than I have." Cas looked down. Ashamed to admit it. A dismal realization dawned that if his faith had been stronger, he could have saved them, these men he loved. He and the amulet.
Austin suddenly appeared next to Cas and Cas flinched, remembering Dean's warning not to get near him. He was surprised to see the utter calm on Austin's face. A face still streaked with tears from crying over the body of his best friend.
"I got this," Austin said calmly. He knelt down and put his hand over Ben's. Austin closed his eyes and extended his free arm, turning his face to the heavens. Ben's hand started to feel hot. Really hot. He caught the faint smell of what he could only identify as a steak cooking on the grill. That was his last thought before the suffocating heat overcame him and everything went black.
In the pure white room, Dean felt a stab of pain and put his hand on his stomach.
"They figured it out," Chuck said.
"Figured what out?" Dean asked, wincing.
"How to find me," Chuck responded. "You will not see me again, Dean. Never. Not even when it is your time. One day, many years from now."
"Will I remember this?" Dean asked.
"Yes," Chuck responded. "This time, you will remember. What you do with this memory is up to you."
Cas couldn't quite believe what he was witnessing. It was something he hadn't experienced since the first spark of creation...since the first single-celled organism emerged from the mud. It was ecstasy. It was a sensation that an angel could only experience at the hand of their creator. He didn't want to miss a second so he made sure to keep his eyes open as he fell to his knees, face turned up to soak it in.
Cas could FEEL it, the spark of creation. When the scientists called it "the God particle" they were not far off. This is the force that first breathed life into the first living thing in the universe, the force that made something where there had previously been nothing, and it was being given, as a gift, to bring back these extraordinary men. Again. Cas understood that he was being trusted to deliver this gift.
Cas felt heat and light and love surge through him. His eyes glowed like blue lasers. He turned to the heap of Winchesters, folded over on top of each other on the ground. Austin, transfixed by Cas' blue eyes, slowly backed away when Cas directed him to do so with a wordless request. Cas gently moved Ben aside, then separated Sam from Dean, laying him next to his brother.
Dean would go first. His injuries were catastrophic, even though Sam actually looked worse. Cas put his hands on Dean and felt the surge of power putting him back together internally. He'd deal with the external injuries later. Life was the first priority.
Dean began to breathe. It was shallow though. Cas didn't remove his hands until the breathing was strong, then he turned to Sam.
Sam's self-inflicted gunshot wound was bad, but it had actually been a clean through-and-through and had just barely grazed the left side of his brain. Cas put his hands on either side of Sam's head and concentrated. Sam gasped and his eyes flew open, just as Dean started coughing from the ground next to him.
"Sammy?" Dean sputtered, immediately trying to crawl towards Sam when he saw him gulping down air next to him.
"Dean!" Sam responded reaching out for him. "Dean?" Sam asked, "what's that smell? Ow," said Sam, suddenly looking down at his right hand. It was incredibly painful. There were already large blisters forming on the red peeling skin of his palm.
Ben was beginning to come to groggily and he gingerly rubbed at his own hand. It felt like he had a serious sunburn.
"Oh my God, Dean," Sam breathed out as he caught a glimpse of Dean hand. "Dean, don't look," Sam pleaded with him. The skin was charred black. The ring finger around which the amulet cord had been wrapped was burned down to the bone. "Cas!" yelled Sam, not realizing that Cas was already right there, he'd been so focused on Dean.
Dean did as Sam told him and tried not to look. "How bad is it, Cas?" he asked. "I can't feel anything."
"You can't feel anything because your nerve endings have been burned away," Cas said matter-of-factly. "I can heal you," Cas confirmed, "but I cannot replace something that is no longer there," he said quietly.
"What's missing?" Dean asked, finally turning his head to look and immediately feeling a wave of nausea upon getting a glimpse of his mangled hand.
"You are going to lose a finger," Cas said flatly. "But everything else will survive."
"What about Sam and Ben," Dean said, grimacing. "Help them first."
"Restoring life is difficult," Cas said with a characteristic understatement. "I have limited power left."
"Help Dean," Sam insisted. "Ben and I will be okay."
"No Sam," Dean started.
"Dean, quit being a fucking martyr!" Sam raised his voice. "You're hurt worse. Cas is going to help you first."
"I agree with your assessment," Cas chimed in. "You and Ben may have to heal without me if I'm not strong enough."
"It's okay, Cas," Sam said reassuringly, "We're okay. Just please help my brother." Sam rubbed the underside of his jaw with his good hand. It was smooth and unscathed. "Lucifer?" Sam asked aloud to Austin who sat about two yards away, holding Nick's body. Sam realized suddenly that he could, obviously, hear again. Dean's voice had been the first thing he'd heard.
"Nick and I," Austin said, drawing in a ragged breath..."it's over," he said vaguely.
Sam wanted more details, but he had Dean to worry about. He turned back to Cas.
Cas nodded and placed his hands on Dean's wrist. Light began to emanate from beneath Cas' palms and Dean roared in pain. "I am sorry Dean," Cas said, "but you are feeling your nerve endings coming back to life, it will be over soon."
Dean gritted his teeth and broke into a sweat, but he trusted Cas, and soon enough, the pain subsided. Dean rubbed his healed hand. Well, healed minus 2/3 of his ring finger. Everything above the lower knuckle on that finger was gone.
"Do we get to call you 'stumpy'?" Ben asked, smirking.
"Shut up," Dean responded, smiling. "Thanks, Cas," Dean said with sincerity.
Cas put his hand on Dean's shoulder as Dean started to sit up, "I accept your thanks," he said, looking intensely into Dean's eyes.
"Okay, we gotta take care of these two," Dean said, looking over to Sam. "We need to get to a hospital."
"We only need a drug store," Sam said, "just some bandages."
"Bullshit," Dean replied. "Sam, your damn SKIN is hanging off your hand, you need a hospital.
"Castiel?" came a quiet voice from a few yards away. Everyone turned to look. Austin was still cradling Nick's lifeless body in his arms. "Can you help him?" he asked with sincerity.
Cas' expression softened. "I am sorry. I cannot," he said.
"Is it because you think he's a demon?" Austin asked, anger starting to rise. "Because you think he's not worth saving? After we helped you?!"
"No, Jesse," Cas replied softly. "It's because Phoenix inhabited a vessel who was already dead. Phoenix, Nick, your friend was destroyed by Lucifer. And this vessel was been dead ever since Phoenix entered him."
Austin knew Cas was right. The body he was holding was already starting to darken, much faster than it should have. He gasped as he witnessed the deterioration and quickly stepped away from all that remained of what he thought had been his friend.
A gurgling sound drew everyone's attention to a spot about 30 feet past Austin. "Oh my God," Sam said, suddenly remembering, "Adam!"
Sam staggered to his feet and stumbled towards Adam's crumpled body. Adam was alive, but struggling to breathe, and in incredible pain. He looked so much older than he had when Michael had been inhabiting him...as if the centuries he spent in the cage were real years as far as his body was concerned.
Adam couldn't speak. He could not turn his head and could not move. Only his eyes moved and followed Sam above him. Sam grabbed Adam's limp hand and squeezed. Adam blinked deliberately in acknowledgment.
Sam realized he had tears in his eyes again. "I am so sorry," he said through tears. "You're our brother. You didn't deserve any of this. I want the chance to actually BE brothers."
Adam blinked again. Sam realized that the blinking was an attempt at communication.
"Maybe Cas can help you," Sam said quietly. "Maybe he can heal you."
Adam deliberately blinked twice. Sam looked him, confused. "Don't you want that?" Sam asked.
Adam blinked twice again.
Then Sam remembered what Adam had wanted. Why he agreed to let Michael in in the first place. "Do you want to see your mom?" Sam asked quietly.
Adam blinked once.
Dean had finally managed to make his way over to Sam's side, leaning heavily on Ben. He fell to his knees next to Adam. "It should have been me down there. You took my place. This is on
me and - "
Adam blinked twice.
"He's saying 'no', Dean," Sam said softly.
"What?" Dean asked, his frayed emotions getting the best of him as he looked up at Sam with desperation.
"He's talking by blinking," Sam said. "Two means 'no'."
Dean looked back down at Adam, stunned, "Yes, this is on me," Dean began again.
Adam blinked twice.
Sam put his hand gently on Dean's arm as Cas materialized next to the group.
"I can hear his thoughts," Cas told Sam and Dean matter-of-factly. "Adam wants to you know that he made his own choices. He doesn't blame you for what happened to him."
Adam blinked once.
"Well, he should blame me," Dean said, tears burning his own eyes now.
"He does not," Cas said. "Adam is in a lot of pain right now. I think it might be time to say goodbye, so I can help him."
"I don't want to lose a brother," Dean admitted, taking a deep breath and looking away to try to get it together.
"He knows," said Cas, "but you'll all see each other again some day."
"This is what you want?" Sam asked Adam directly.
Adam blinked once.
Ben, scared to approach someone who looked so bad, suddenly stepped forward. Dean looked up, "Adam," Dean said in a broken voice, "this is your nephew Ben. He killed Michael."
Ben could almost see a slight hint of a relieved expression wash across Adam's face.
"He thanks you for freeing him," Cas said to Ben. Ben could only swallow and nod.
"I, I wish I could have the chance to get to know you," Ben said to Adam.
"He would have liked that too," Cas spoke for Adam. "I think it would be kind to help him now," Cas said, looking from Dean to Sam and down to Adam.
Adam blinked once.
Sam took one of Adam's hands with his uninjured hand and Dean took Adam's other hand. Ben knelt down and put an arm around Dean's shoulders.
"Are you ready?" Cas asked Adam.
Adam blinked once. Cas paused as if listening. "He says he knew you'd come for him," Cas said. "He says he'll tell Dad all about it."
Sam and Dean just squeezed each of Adam’s hands harder.
Cas gave a small nod. It was time. Adam turned his eyes to the sky. Cas put a hand on his forehead and light shot from Adam's eyes. The light made a beeline to the heavens. Sam and Dean and Ben watched in awe as the light wound skyward until it disappeared from view.
When they looked back to Adam's face, they saw only his burned out eye sockets, smoke rising from the black holes. Dean pulled off his jacket, laying it over Adam's body.
"He's in heaven now?" Ben asked Cas.
"Yes," Cas responded. "He answered the call of an archangel. He will be treated well. He should be reunited with his mother at any moment - "
Just then a brief but blinding ray of sunshine burst through the clouds. It only lingered for a second, then was gone.
Sam and Dean exchanged looks.
"We need to get a shovel," Dean said with resignation. They had to bury what was left of Adam.
"I want to do it," Ben responded. "He was my uncle."
Dean nodded silently.
On the trip home, they stopped for food. Ben offered to let Austin ride with him when the left the cemetery, but Dean shot him down. Austin just shrugged, too spent to argue or protest though he would have preferred to ride with Ben. Instead he passed out, asleep, in the back set of the Impala for much of the trip.
Everyone sat at the diner, eating in silence, pretty much just trying to process everything that had just happened. Ben looked over at Austin, "Hey, are you okay?" he asked.
"Why don't you tell me?" Austin responded sarcastically. "NOW do you guys think I'm okay?" He gave Sam and Dean a slightly disgusted look.
"What I meant was - " Ben started.
"I know what you meant," Austin said. "I did what I did because it was the right thing to do. But I lost the best friend I ever had so you'll excuse me if I don't feel like celebrating. The only person who believed in me is gone and I'm left with all of you, still looking at me like maybe you'd like to put me in handcuffs just to be safe."
Sam sighed. "Look, Austin," he said, "I gotta admit, I believed Cas when he told us that you were the only one there who had faith strong enough to bring us back. Thank you." Sam reached his hand across the table.
Austin cautiously reached out and shook it. "Like I said, it was the right thing to do."
Dean suddenly spoke up, "Why didn't he get to you?" he asked Austin with a tinge of suspicion. "How were you strong enough?"
Austin was irritated at Dean's tone at first, but then it dawned on him. Dean was jealous. He couldn't believe that Austin..Jesse...the Antichrist had been able to somehow deny his true nature. Austin let out a breath, "I didn't do it alone," he said, lookingdown. "Nick chose to stand with me. I don't know what would have happened if he'd sided with Lucifer. I was only able to do what I did...to resist it...to push it away...because I had someone fighting next to me."
Sam and Dean exchanged glances. Austin had just voiced the narrative that comprised most of their lives. They couldn't argue with that.
"But you were supposed to be created to do what Lucifer wanted," Dean pressed. "How come he didn't have you by the balls from the get-go?"
Austin leveled his gaze at Dean. "From what I understand, you, of all people, should know that destiny isn't set in stone. Was it easy to not go to him? To Lucifer? When he called me, all I wanted to do was to go. Going to him felt like the most perfect and right idea in the world. It took everything I had in me," he paused and swallowed hard, "and everything Nick had in him to keep that from happening."
"I don't buy it," Dean said with a dismissive wave of his hand. "Was it part of the plan? Hell, you might be doing what Lucifer wants right now."
"Would Nick be dead if it were all part of some plan?" Austin asked bitterly.
"Maybe that was part of the plan too," Dean responded.
"Fuck you," Austin shot back. He was upset. He didn't swear that often. "I can't fucking believe you. After everything that just happened, you still think I'm the enemy? Believe me, there was NOTHING in this for me. There IS no fucking plan!"
"Hey," Sam interjected, trying to diffuse things a bit. "I know you're pissed," he said to Austin.
"Yeah, so what?" Austin responded.
"Notice anything?" Sam asked.
Austin looked at him like he had two heads. "No, I don't 'notice anything' other than this jerk sitting across from me," he said gesturing at Dean.
"Oh, Ouch," Dean said mockingly.
"You're mad," Sam pointed out, "and the plates aren't moving."
Austin gave a surprised huff. "Yeah, I guess you're right," he admitted.
"Why don't you come back with us," Sam said suddenly.
"Sam, are you out of your fucking mind?" Dean asked incredulously.
Sam held up his hand in Dean’s direction, "Hang on," he said, "we wouldn't be here if Austin hadn't stepped in." Dean looked away, irritated, but he knew Sam was right. "So let Austin come back with us and we'll just make sure he's not...not what he used to be."
"And how do you propose we do that?" Dean asked.
"I'll work with him," Sam offered. "Just to make sure that his powers, or whatever, are weaker. Then he can go back to school."
Austin perked up momentarily. "That's all I want," he admitted.
"Do I get a say in this?" Dean asked.
"We can vote," Sam responded. "Everyone in favor?" Sam and Ben held up their hands.
"Awesome," Dean said, rolling his eyes.
Austin looked at Sam, the Ben, "Thank you," he said.
"It's literally the least we can do," Sam responded.
"I could think of less we could do," Dean commented.
Austin looked at Dean with a stony expression. "You know, I feel sorry for you. You just don't get it, do you?"
"Get what?" Dean asked, not backing away from Austin's stare for a second.
"You can choose to be fueled by hate. I'm guessing you've been fueled by hate a lot," Austin surmised.
"You don't know shit about me," Dean responded.
"I know enough," Austin said, leaning back in his seat. "But you always have a choice. You're only an alcoholic when you decide to take a drink. So whatever I'm 'meant' to be, it's still my choice which way I go."
Sam raised an eyebrow and looked at Dean who scoffed.
"You know it's true," Austin said. "You always have a choice. It's what you love that always wins. You love the darkness, then that's going to win. You love the light, the light's going to win."
Dean did his best to outwardly look like the thought it was a bunch of schmaltzy crap. Inwardly, he hoped it was true. If it were true, maybe he could actually keep everyone he loved safe.
"So you want me to believe that the Antichrist had enough faith in Jesus to do what no one else, not even an angel of the Lord, could do?" Dean asked.
"Just because you don't believe in something, just because you've never seen it or felt it yourself, doesn't mean it doesn't exist," Austin said pointedly in Dean's direction.
"Just think of all the stuff you've seen that no one else would ever believe," Ben reasoned to Dean.
Dean wasn't going to give in, but, to himself, he admitted they made sense.
Sam agreed they weren't going to bring Austin back to the bunker. They'd set him up at the motel down the road and he'd spend a few days working with him to see how powerful he still was, or wasn't. Then Austin would go back to school.
When Ben offered to let Austin ride with him the rest of the way, Dean responded, "Whatever."
Just as Sam finished the incantation, there was a low, earsplitting sonic boom. The world went silent for Dean and the way Sam was wildly gesturing at him, it appeared Sam's hearing was gone too. Dean felt the blood from his ruptured eardrums trickling down his neck. He caught a glimpse of Austin who, with Nick at his side was staring, transfixed, at something behind Dean. No blood on him. Dean guessed that Austin had somehow been immune to the auditory blast.
Dean wheeled around. He had the fleeting thought, ‘I can't believe you actually did it, Sammy.’ It looked as if a vast sinkhole had opened up and, climbing out of that hole was Adam. Or, rather, Adam was trying to climb out of that hole. But it was as if something still trapped below the surface was trying to pull him back. Suddenly, he scrambled free and rose to his feet at the edge of the abyss. Adam spun to face a glowering, stinking, pure black cloud that rose up from the depths he had just escaped. The SMELL of the thing was overwhelming, but it was the crushing sadness that Dean felt to his core. It was pure evil.
Once above ground, the black mass started to waver. It seemed to be trapped in the swirling vortex over the pit. Still in his pure form, without a vessel, it was apparently more difficult for Lucifer to move between realms than it had been for Michael, still wearing Adam like a suit.
Austin and Nick stood staring, as if in a trance. In spite of the smell, Austin felt a pull. It felt warm and right. It felt seductive and good and like going home and -
"NO!" Austin said aloud. He had to prove it. To Nick. To the Winchesters who couldn't seem to leave him alone. To himself.
Nick was soaking it in too. The power, the strength, the purity of evil. He was sure Austin was feeling the same thing. Nick tore his eyes away from the black mass long enough to study Austin's face. The only thing he saw there was steely determination.
“Our father made you strong,” Nick observed. Austin didn’t respond. "Perhaps too strong."
Austin momentarily got his wits about him, long enough to whisper, "Nick, you can be with me or you can be against me, but I'm not giving in."
Nick nodded. He'd made up his mind a long time ago when it came to Austin.
Adam turned to Dean. Even though his lips did not move, and Dean could not hear a sound, Michael's voice rang through his head. "Dean Winchester. Back to rescue your brother. You Winchesters just don't know when to quit." Adam shot a quick sideways glance at Sam and Sam immediately found himself unable to move a muscle.
Michael seemed to easily read Dean's thoughts when Dean shot back, "You lied to Adam. He never deserved this."
"Maybe not," replied Michael, silently, "but he took your place and cleaned up your mess. I must say, Dean, there's not much left of Adam in here. It's been a long time."
"You bastard," was the only thought Dean could form.
"If I'm going to finish this now, here, up on earth, the way it was prophesied," Michael continued, "I don't think Adam will hold out long enough. I think it's time for you to step up, Dean. You're my rightful vessel. We'd be unstoppable, you and me. We could win.” Adam was getting closer to Dean with every word.
So this was it, Dean thought. Time to get down to brass tacks. If he let him in, perhaps good could win over evil. It wouldn't be the worst reason to die. Suddenly, Adam's attention went from Dean to the slight rise behind him. He must have heard something. Dean heard nothing but silence in the absence of Michael's voice, disguised in the voice of their brother, reverberating inside his head.
"Then again, maybe your chance has passed you by," Michael said inside Dean's head, giving Dean a hard look. Dean followed Michael's gaze to see what in the world Michael was looking at. Dean saw something glinting in the distance. Something metal. His stomach dropped when he realized. When he FELT more than saw, that it was Ben.
"Why take the old, used-up stallion when you can take the colt?” Michael, looking for all the world like Adam, brushed past Dean and started to make his way towards Ben.
"NO!" Dean yelled at the top of his lungs. Or he thought he did. He could hear nothing. He lunged at Michael with the only ace he had, literally, up his sleeve the way Cas had taught him; Rafael's angel blade.
Adam easily dodged it, wheeling around to face Dean and sending the blade skittering off into the tall weeds with a wave of his hand.
"You shouldn't have done that, Dean," Michael's words boomed through Dean's head. "You have always been more trouble than you were worth. I've held out hope, all these centuries, that you and I were still meant to be, so it hurts me to do this. You and I were supposed to be each other's destiny. It's what my father intended. But you've done nothing but interfere with His plans and my patience has just. Run. Out." And with that, Michael grabbed Dean by the throat and lifted him off the ground. A sickening crunch ensued for anyone who could still hear and Sam watched in horror, rooted to the ground and unable to move, as his brother's throat collapsed under Adam’s hand.
Up on the ridge, Ben watched as Dean was lifted off his feet by Adam. At least it looked like the photo of Adam that Sam and Dean had shown him. Ben pulled the scope of the sniper rifle to his eye and through it he could see Dean. Struggling. Tearing at this throat and gasping for air. He involuntarily shouted out, "DAD!"
‘THINK, damnit’ Ben chastised himself. Okay, if this was Michael (and it had to be, Adam wouldn't have been strong enough to lift Dean off the ground like that), then the sniper rifle was useless. But it was the only thing that was reliable at this distance. Suddenly, Ben remembered the crossbow. He lined it up as best he could and used the sniper rifle to sight his target. Ben replaced the crossbow bolt with the angel blade and engaged it under tension. His hands were shaking. He had one shot. Not to mention he'd only trained on this thing for the sum total of about one hour.
Suddenly, Ben felt a hand on his. His own hands steadied under the calming touch. "You'll need this," said Cas. Cas eased the tension off the crossbow quickly and replaced the angel blade in the crossbow with one that looked identical. Ben hurriedly gave him a confused look.
"What are you doing, Cas? Just go help them!" Ben pleaded.
"I promised Dean I would not interfere. Also, I cannot kill an archangel," Cas told him quickly. "They outrank me. And a regular angel blade will not work either. Only a blade from another archangel."
Through the scope, Ben had seen Dean's blade skitter into the weeds. "Dean's?" he asked.
"Dean's was from Rafael," Cas said, "This one is from my brother Gabriel. NOW, Ben, you don't have much time."
Ben took a deep, steadying breath, and released the blade from the crossbow.
Suddenly, Michael stiffened. The last thing Dean saw was the business end of an angel blade sticking through Michael's chest.
Sam turned his head, though doing so took every ounce of effort he had, and caught sight of Ben lowering a crossbow from the rise behind the cemetery. Ben yelled at the top of his lungs and started running at breakneck speed towards Dean, crumpled on the ground and still.
Michael's death was spectacular. Like a nuclear explosion of light. White beams streamed towards heaven from his eyes and mouth while a shockwave emanated from his body. Ben’s forward progress ceased entirely when he was forcefully thrown back against the hill by the blast. Ben hit the ground, temporarily knocked unconscious.
When Michael was gone, Adam's broken body lay a short distance away from Dean's.
Freed from his invisible bonds, Sam ran for Dean.
The concussion caused by Michael's death had had an unforeseen effect. The shock wave breached the vortex over the pit and a stinking black cloud was now stealthily crawling towards Sam.
Sam could hear nothing, but he knew the voice in his head belonged to Lucifer.
"Hiya, Sammy," the voice drawled.
"Don't call me that," Sam instinctively replied to the voice.
"I always knew we'd end up together, Sammy," the voice continued. "You freed me. And, judging by the force of that explosion, you just helped me win this war."
Sam could feel the evil glee emanating from the blackness.
"But if I'm going to stay topside, I'm going to have to take back my one true vessel. You already said 'yes' to me, Sammy. No do-overs." The impenetrable black void was within four feet of Sam now who knelt protectively over Dean's broken and motionless body. No way was he leaving Dean.
Three feet. Two feet. Sam closed his eyes, expecting the worst, but nothing happened. When he opened them, he was stunned to see the swirling mass seemingly held at a two-foot distance from him. Sam slowly turned to see Austin, hand raised, eyes closed, stopping Lucifer's advance. Sam could hear the silent conversation between Lucifer and Austin. At least snippets of it.
Lucifer was calling Jesse/Austin "his child" and Jesse was telling him that he was NOT his ’child’. Lucifer told him that he couldn't fight who he really is.
Austin was using all of his strength to hold Lucifer at bay. Nick was next to him, eyes closed too. They were working together. This detail was not lost on Lucifer who let loose on Nick with every insult in the book, ending with "disloyal cocksucking bastard".
Of course Austin heard everything. "Stay with me, Nick," Austin pleaded, telepathically.
Nick, Phoenix, had been the most loyal of the loyal. He had pledged fealty to Lucifer eons ago and had never wavered. This was the reason why Lucifer gave him the honor of being the one to protect his most precious half-human creation; Lucifer's son who would rise up to oppose the son of God. When that honor had been bestowed upon Phoenix, he never doubted for a second that no one would protect and serve Lucifer's interests better than he would. He was the right demon for the job. He would follow Lucifer to the ends of the endless universe.
Lucifer's voice rang out inside Nick's head, "YOU serve ME!"
Nick knew that if he broke concentration, Lucifer would show no mercy. He also knew that there was something about Austin. Something he hadn't counted on when he gratefully accepted the job of protecting him only because it was a great honor that Lucifer had even considered him for the task.
"I serve you, brother," came Nick's answer, reverberating with quiet certainty through Austin's conscience.
Nick and Austin were concentrating at full bore. Sam couldn't believe that the black void that was Lucifer's true form was actually starting to recede. Back towards the edge of the impossibly deep sinkhole. But the immense effort was starting to take its toll, and both Nick and Austin were showing signs of distress. Lucifer began, again, to move in Sam's direction.
Sam quickly looked to his left. Adam was motionless on the ground. Suddenly, Adam turned his head towards Sam and Sam gasped. He had looked like himself a minute ago, when he was inhabited by Michael. But now he looked like a prisoner of war. Sunken face. Skin and bones with an overall yellow cast. Barely alive. Adam locked eyes with Sam. Sam could hear nothing, but he read Adam's lips. "I knew you'd come back for me. Thank you."
Austin was getting weaker. Lucifer resumed his forward progress at a snail's pace. He was gaining on Sam. This was the last thing Sam wanted to do, but he could see no other way. He was not strong enough to keep Lucifer out. No way was he going to walk the earth as Lucifer's vessel again. He only needed to distract Lucifer for a minute or so. The portal would not stay open much longer, if the lore he had counted on up to this point continued to be reliable. Austin was giving it all he had and it had been working. Up until now. The black mass stalled again briefly as the struggle of wills played out.
Dean didn't remember it starting to rain. He stared up into the gray clouds of the sky which were slowing giving way to the brightest light he'd ever seen. He felt drops on his face and idly wondered why he was only feeling the rain on one part of his body. Briefly his thoughts went to Lisa. He had made her a promise. About never leaving again. Damn, he did not want to break that promise. But he felt powerless to stop himself from slipping away.
Above Dean, Sam cried, his tears falling on Dean's face as he grabbed Dean by the shoulders, "Do NOT do this to me, man!" he yelled. "Stay with me!" Then, seeing Dean's vacant stare and stilled chest, Sam tears flowed as he choked on a sob.
Sam's thoughts flashed, unbidden, to Walker. Smart, beautiful, funny, perfect-for-Sam Walker. He hadn't breathed a word of it to anyone, but he had already easily imagined raising a family with her. He wanted more time with her. He wanted that more than almost anything. ALMOST anything.
Sam looked down at his brother and his bright green eyes, fixed on something Sam couldn't see. Sam laid his right hand over Dean's left.
"Wait for me," Sam said, through tears. He said it out loud, even though he couldn't hear his own voice and knew Dean couldn't hear him either.
Sam concentrated on Dean's face. He pressed the barrel of his pistol to the underside of his own jaw. He gritted his teeth.
He pulled the trigger.
The sound of the gunshot and of Sam's body falling on top of Dean's broke Lucifer's intense concentration for a fraction of a second. In that fraction, Austin and Nick worked together to push the mass back to the edge of the hole.
Lucifer roared in anger, realizing that without a vessel, his power to freely move on earth was limited, and with his last burst of energy, he focused that anger on Nick. His loyal demon to whom he had entrusted the care of his most precious creation. The demon who had betrayed him.
Austin felt his own power flag and looked to his side just in time to see Nick's neck snap; his head facing backwards on his neck where it should have been facing forwards. Nick's body crumpled to the ground and black smoke oozed slowly from his mouth and nose, leaching into the cemetery dirt with a small sizzling surrender.
"You motherfucker!" Austin yelled in pain and anger. His anger fueled him and he mentally shoved with all his strength. The evil void that was Lucifer was sucked into the vortex over the abyss for a second, then, with a reverberating scream, the black cloud was sucked down, the ground closing up over the temporary portal.
Dean didn't feel anything anymore. He found himself standing in a clean white room. It was impossibly huge. He thought he saw a tiny speck just barely visible at the other end of the insurmountable distance. He blinked, and in that second, standing before him, dressed in a pale gray suit, was someone he actually recognized. He did a double-take.
"Chuck?" Dean asked, incredulous. "Are you?....Am I....? Chuck, are you - ?"
Chuck smiled softly. "Hello Dean," he said. "Yes, you are. And no, I'm not."
"You're not God?" Dean asked.
"I'm not Chuck," came the reply.
Dean felt as if his legs might go out from under him and he sat down heavily, surprised that a chair had somehow materialized beneath him.
Chuck continued, "My prophets serve me and any of them are willing to let me take their form if I choose. I chose Chuck because he is someone with whom you have a history."
"This can't be real," Dean said aloud.
"Only you can accept whether this is real or not," Chuck responded matter-of-factly. "That's your choice."
"But if I'm dead, why didn't a reaper come for me? Or Death?" Dean asked.
"I decided to skip the middleman this time," Chuck replied. "It seems that your son killed my son."
"What?" Dean asked.
"My son, Michael. The last archangel is dead. Your son killed him," Chuck stated.
"And you brought me here to make me pay?" Dean asked.
"No Dean," Chuck responded. "Michael was unable to see the whole picture. I will grieve for him, but the way he was carrying out my will was not what I intended. You're here because I have a question for you and I think you have some for me."
"So I can ask you something?" Dean began.
"Yes," came Chuck's response.
"Where were you?" Dean said, looking at the floor. "We asked, we called, we begged. You never came."
"Dean, do you think humans are my only responsibility?" Chuck asked.
Dean blinked at him.
"You know that the universe is endless. There are many worlds that need my attention. Not just yours," Chuck said with a small smile.
Dean's mind was already blown. Damn, he wished Sam could be here to hear this. Sam loved this shit. "SAM!" Dean yelled out of nowhere.
Chuck nodded slowly.
"Is Sam okay?" Dean asked, standing.
"Sam will be okay," Chuck responded. "His injuries are grievous, but he will survive."
Dean breathed out in relief.
"This is not Sam's time," Chuck continued. "This is not the end of his line."
Dean looked at Chuck, his brow furrowed. What was that supposed to mean "not the end of his line"? He truly wondered if this entire experience was real or just the last firings of his dying brain.
"Now I have a question for you," Chuck began, walking right up to Dean. Dean looked up at him. "Are you worth saving, Dean Winchester? I'm not talking about going back for Sam. Sam will always love you, but Sam can take care of himself. Are YOU worth saving?"
This was not Dean's first rodeo. He had died before. A couple of times. He was no stranger to seeing his life flash before his eyes at the moment of death. Usually, this review was a Technicolor parade of regret. In the past, he would be barraged by images of everyone he had not been able to save. The moments when John had been most disappointed in him. Blood and death and pain. That litany always, mercifully, concluded with an image of Sam. Sam dissolving into laughter over something Dean had just said to him. That was always what came last.
So Dean was more than a little surprised that this time was different. Maybe it was the presence of Chuck (Dean would not allow himself to believe this was really God in the same room with him; he could not wrap his mind around that), but this was different. The images started to roll, just like they had in the past, but this time, it was everyone he and Sam had saved. Some people didn't look all that familiar to him, until he realized with a jolt that he was being shown the adult versions of some of the children that he and Sam had rescued, decades ago, only he was seeing them as they looked now, with their own wives and children. He relived several thank-you kisses planted on him by some very grateful women over the years, and the reel of his life rolled on to images of John slapping him on the back the first time he successfully shot a can off a fence post, Bobby sliding him a glass of bourbon with a "you did good, kid", Garth squeezing the air out of him with a hug, Walker smiling at him over her glasses, Charlie and Dora standing with their arms around each other, Scarlett hugging his leg and looking up at him with reverence, Ben rolling out from under a car, grease staining his face, Lisa in her Christmas sweater and nothing else, looking at him with her eyes dark and deep and warm, and finally, always finally, Sam. Stretched out on the hood of the Impala dissolving into laughter over something Dean had said, bathed in the warm light of the setting sun, a slight breeze ruffling his long hair.
Clear as day, the answer rang through Dean's consciousness. The answer was different from every other answer he would have given, if he had been asked this question, at any time in the past.
"Yes," Dean said.
"You are right," Chuck said.
"If you knew the answer, then why'd you ask?" Dean responded.
"Because you have never known your own worth, Dean Winchester," Chuck told him. "You are an extraordinary human being. In many ways, one of my most evolved creations."
Dean successfully fought the urge to roll his eyes.
Chuck continued, "If you fail to see your own worth after all you have accomplished, then saving you would be pointless because you would only find a way to destroy yourself all over again."
"I have people who need me," Dean responded. He'd never been more sure of anything in his life. Or death.
A short distance from the cabin, Dean sat by himself on a large rock next to the road. A half-second later, a small breeze was the only thing that tipped him off that he was no longer alone.
"It is done," Cas reported to him.
"Awesome," replied Dean, sounding like it was anything but awesome. "Will you be able to un-do it?" Dean asked.
"Everyone is different," Cas admitted, "but yes, for pretty much everyone, I should be able to bring back their memories when you return."
Dean nodded in response, looking off into the distance.
"Dean, this thing you're trying to do...it's not going to be easy," Cas said, looking at Dean with concern.
"I figured," Dean replied, still looking off into the distance.
Cas continued, "Lucifer and Michael, they've been locked in this battle for years. It is going to be like walking into the middle of a dogfight. It's war down there and a war doesn't stop just because someone new walks onto the battlefield."
"So what should I do, Cas?" Dean asked, finally looking at him. "You know it's our fault that Adam is stuck in that hell. And Sam hasn't been the same since that day. If it means that I can't make it out of this one, then, I guess that's how it's going to go."
"No, Dean, not now," Cas put a hand on Dean's arm and Dean looked at him questioningly. "You have much left to do."
"So you're saying I'm going to survive this?" Dean asked skeptically.
"I'm saying you need to be careful," Cas responded.
Dean scoffed, " 'careful'?" he asked, "I don't think 'careful' can be part of this."
"It has to be, Dean," Cas said. "I used to think that everything was preordained. You have proven to me though, that you are in charge of your fate. Not angels. Not demons. Not even God. If you are going to make it through, it is going to be because you decide you are going to make it through."
"And how am I supposed to say 'yes' to Michael long enough for him to let go of Adam but without him actually wearing me?" Dean asked.
"What does Sam say?" Dean asked.
"Sam says that there's an archangel binding spell he found, and if we can recite it at exactly the right time, if he lets loose of Adam, and if we can do it before, you know, he's inside of me, then we can stop Michael long enough to kill him or shut him back in the cage again," Dean said, sounding tired.
"Those are a lot of 'ifs'," Cas commented.
"Tell me about it," Dean responded.
"Michael is powerful," Cas mused, "though centuries of battle may have weakened him slightly..."
"Centuries?" Dean asked. "Cas, it hasn't even been two decades."
"You know time is different, both above and below," Cas reminded him. "Lucifer and Michael have been fighting for centuries."
"Shit," Dean commented. "Can Adam possibly still be alive?" he asked. "Or are we on a suicide mission?" Dean looked intensely at Cas now.
"I wouldn't let you go on a suicide mission," Cas said softly. "I hope you know that by now."
"Yeah, I know," Dean admitted. "But how can we know that we're not heading in to try to save a dead man?"
"Remember how that demon told you that it would still 'feel' something that felt like a connection to Lucifer?" Cas asked. Dean nodded. "Well, I've tried to tune in to Adam. I can't be sure. The cage has incredibly thick walls. But every few years I think I hear something."
"What kind of something?" Dean asked.
"You won't like it," Cas responded, brow furrowed.
"You'd better tell me everything you know Cas," Dean said forcefully. "I need as much intel as I can get before we do this."
Cas sighed. "Every few years, from the direction of the cage, I hear, or, it might be more accurate to say I feel, this wave of anguish. It's so strong, it makes me feel sick. I thought maybe it was Michael. I was concerned that what I was feeling was Michael...losing."
Dean was staring at Cas like he might burn a hole through him with his green eyes.
"But I know what an angel's energy feels like, and this was not that. This was...so much pain. A complete absence of hope. Even worse, it felt like someone who forgot what it was ever like to experience love." Cas looked down. "Dean," he looked back up and straight into Dean's eyes, "I've never felt another creature in pain like that. For that feeling to be strong enough to reach me....it is more pain than I can imagine. "
It was everything Dean had tried to forget over the years. What must be happening to Adam while he and Sam carried on with their lives.
Dean took a sharp breath. "Then I'm even more sure that we gotta do this, Cas."
"But the plan," Cas said, "it does not sound like you trust this plan."
"I don't," confirmed Dean. "But I trust Sam."
"I know," Cas replied.
"If we can get Adam, will you be able to help him?" Dean asked Cas.
"I doubt there will be enough left of him to put back together," Cas responded honestly. "But I will do my best to help him get to heaven. With his mother. Where he belongs."
Dean nodded. "Cas," he turned to look into Cas' crystal blue eyes, "if this doesn't go well - "
Cas held up his hand to stop Dean from talking, "Dean, don't - "
"No Cas, I gotta say this," Dean was determined. "If I don't make it back...can you watch out for everyone?" He held Cas' gaze as Dean's eyes started to water slightly. "You gotta promise me you'll watch out for Sam. And Lisa and Ben...." Dean wiped his eyes quickly.
"You know I will," Cas responded with steely determination, "But Dean, they need you. Not me. I can protect them, but they need you to love them."
"Fuck, Cas," Dean put his hand over his mouth and looked away. He swallowed hard. "I want you to know, you've always been there for me. I trust you with everything. I want to say thank you. You know. For everything."
"I do not accept your thanks," Cas stated flatly.
Dean looked insulted, "Man, I'm trying to lay it all out here, gimme a break, would ya?"
"You can thank me by coming back." Cas said simply. "That is the only thanks I will accept."
Dean gave a startled Cas a quick hug and nodded briefly. Next thing he knew, he was sitting alone on the rock again. Dean looked down and saw something small glinting in the spot that Cas had just vacated. It looked somehow familiar. He reached down and touched it and knew instantly from the feel of it what it was.
It was his amulet. The one he had thrown away so many years ago. The one Cas had proclaimed to be "broken".
Why had Cas left this behind? When did Cas even get it back? What the fuck?
"Cas!" Dean yelled into the air, "Cas! Why'd you leave this?!"
In the back of Dean's brain, there was a slight hint of fondness for this amulet that he thought had been lost forever. Only because it was the first present Sam had ever given him. But in no more time that it took to have that thought, it was replaced by a newer one. The memory of the feeling of utter despair and defeat he had felt the day that he threw it away. Seeing it again brought it all back. He wished Cas had never rescued it from wherever the hell he had found it.
Dean stuffed it into his pocket anyway. Was everything from his past going to come back to bitch slap him this week, he wondered? Shit.
Cas, invisible to the human eye, watched Dean from a short distance away. He had only intended the amulet to bolster Dean's spirits as he went into this battle. He meant it to be a reminder of Sam's love for his brother. He could see that his intentions had totally backfired by the look on Dean's face.
"What the fuck are they yammering on about?" Dean asked as he came back inside after his meeting with Cas about a mile down the road.
"I can't understand all of it," Sam admitted, "but Austin wanted to discuss what the Bible says about Lucifer. In Aramaic, of course."
" 'Of course'," Dean said mockingly. "This is too fuckin' weird," Dean commented, looking at Walker and Austin actually SMILING together as they talked. "I mean, he's the fuckin' Antichrist, Sammy."
"Maybe that's only part of what he is," Sam responded.
"What are you talking about?" Dean asked, confused.
"Well, am I a guy cursed by demon blood?" Sam asked.
"No, you're my brother," Dean responded matter-of-factly.
"Exactly," said Sam. "Maybe Ben's right and Austin's not just the Antichrist."
"I'd think that would be a hard thing to get past," Dean responded with a sarcastic smirk.
"So was the demon blood," Sam said seriously, and the smirk drained from Dean's face.
"Sam, I'm about to crawl out of my skin here," Dean admitted. "If we're going to do this, can we hit the road before I fucking go insane thinking about all the ways this could go sideways?"
Sam looked at Dean, concerned over how stressed he was. Sam felt the same, but at least he was trying to hide it. What had gotten into Dean? "Sure, yeah, let's get this freakshow on the road," Sam said, trying unsuccessfully to lighten the mood.
"Alright then," said Dean as he gathered up their bags. The truth was, just knowing how bad it was for Adam, knowing that Cas had just confirmed that it was worse than he even feared (he had tried to convince himself for all these years that Michael must be treating his vessel with respect and as much care as possible, but obviously, that had only been wishful thinking), had Dean sick with guilt. He had to get moving. He had to do something. He had to fix it.
With the cabin packed up, the Impala and Walker's pickup headed for Kansas. The return trip was a hell of a lot more somber than the trip to Texas had been just a few short months earlier.
Ben barely hesitated long enough to check the message for grammatical errors.
"Monsignor Delaney, I regret to inform you that I have a family emergency that I must attend to. My Uncle Adam is in critical condition and I need to see him before it's too late. I'm sorry that I have to leave immediately. I hope you will consider welcoming me back to finish out the term as a tutor here at Brook Hill, and I am beyond grateful for the opportunity you have given me thus far."
Barely a minute later, Ben heard his computer alert him to a new message. He was just about finished packing.
"Take all the time you need, son. Your family needs you. Go to them. God's speed. Sincerely, Monsignor Delaney."
'Yeah, God's speed,' Ben though to himself as he looked around his now-empty room and picked up his duffel bag. The irony was not lost on him.
Ben switched on the smartware on his computer. It had been learning his e-mail style for a week. Now it could send out messages that sounded like they came directly from Ben. His first automatic message went out to Lisa:
"Mom, my phone crapped out, send me an e-mail if you need me. Love, Ben."
This program would answer anything she sent him as if he were typing it to her himself.
Ben hefted his bag over his shoulder and headed outside to Mary.
Lisa and Walker pulled up to door of the bunker in Walker's truck. Garth threw open the door and ran out, hugging them both tightly at once. "I'm really glad to see you two," he confessed in a rush with his usual level of enthusiasm.
"Were you waiting by the door?" Lisa asked him, smirking.
Garth blushed, "Naw; I got bored and installed a camera; it's hidden in that post over there," he said, pointing to the left. "I saw you drive up. You two okay?" he asked with complete and utter sincerity.
"I've been better," Lisa replied. Walker nodded.
"I know," Garth said. "It sucks lemons to have to wait here. But you know that they couldn't focus on what they have to do if you were with them, right?"
"I know," Walker said dejectedly.
"Hey, don't sound like that!" Garth chastised her. "Sam would still be waking up in a cold sweat every night if you hadn't helped him figure all of this out...the spells, the incantations."
"But it's so risky," Walker lamented.
Lisa had been trying to ignore it. They'd tried to talk about Ben and college and the stuff that Sam and Dean did that drove them nuts...mostly they had tried to focus on the good things on the drive home from Texas, but Lisa's ability to hold back the fear was starting to wane. She had been trying to be strong for Dean. She felt herself go a bit pale and lightheaded.
Walker looked at her, "Lisa, what's wrong?" she asked.
Lisa stumbled sideways slightly and Garth caught her, "Whoa," he said, "I know I'm a handsome devil but I've never made a woman faint dead away before." That got a smile out of Lisa at least and some color started to return to her face. Walker was relieved.
"What we have to do now is take care of each other, okay?" Garth proclaimed. "Now listen to me, both of you. Sam and Dean have always won. Even when it looked like it wasn't going to go their way. In the end, they win. That's what they do. They aren't like other hunters."
"Yeah," Walker said with a small smile, "that's for sure." Lisa let out a slow breath and nodded.
"And they would totally kick my ass if they didn't think I was taking good care of you two," Garth said looking back and forth from Walker to Lisa. "Please don't make them kick my ass," he pleaded with mock sincerity, "If you haven't noticed, they have a very slight size advantage."
Walker couldn't help but laugh. Garth broke into a huge smile. "Okay then," he said, "I've got stuff for loosemeat sandwiches on the stove, you two must be starving."
Walker looked skeptical. "I am, but, sorry, what in the world is a 'loosemeat' sandwich?"
"You're in Kansas now, baby," Garth replied. Then, when her expression remained unchanged, he continued, "You're kiddin' me! You've never had a loosemeat sandwich?"
"No?" Walker said cautiously.
Lisa put an arm around Walker's waist, "Think 'sloppy joe'," she added helpfully. "They taste a lot better than they sound. Come on," Lisa said as Garth held the door open for them. Always the gentleman.
When they were seated around the table, Garth, who had decided he would do whatever he had to to get Walker and Lisa through this, offered, "Hey, anytime you want to talk...it's okay."
Lisa looked at him, eyes shining, "You're something, Garth, you know that?"
Garth looked down sheepishly, then back up at her. He reached out and took her hand, "It's going to be okay," he said with utter conviction and pure trust. So much so that Walker and Lisa couldn't help but want to believe him. Garth held out his other hand and Walker took it. "I know we don't usually do this around here, but it can't hurt," Garth said, "so, if it's okay with you?" he looked questioningly back and forth between them.
"It's okay, Garth," Walker said. "I think it's what we all need."
Garth smiled quietly, closed his eyes, lowered his head and started, "God, please watch over Sam and Dean. They're damn strong, but they're gonna need all the help they can get. They have people here who love them and need them. They need to come home. Please help them come home."
Walker had tears in her eyes. So Garth got up and gave her a hug which she gratefully accepted. How had she been so lucky to stumble into this weird, but, to her mind, perfect family? She'd never had a real family before. 'This must be what it's supposed to feel like', she thought to herself.
"Let's eat," Garth said, letting go of Walker. She nodded. She took one tentative bit of her sandwich. She brightened and looked up at Garth. "This is really good, Garth," she said.
Dean, Sam, Austin, and Nick pulled to stop at the gates of Stull Cemetery. Sam and Dean exchanged looks.
"Let's go get our brother," Dean said simply. Sam nodded silently.
Out in the clearing in the center of the cemetery, they set up the ritual. It had taken Sam years, but this was the culmination of all of his study and all of his work. Piecing together lore from hundreds of different sources. This was going to be complex, and it would take awhile.
Ben had been following the Impala's path about an hour behind. He wanted to make absolutely sure nobody saw him.
He cautiously skirted the cemetery. He saw the Impala parked in a clearing, but no one was in sight. Ben didn't want to be a distraction, but he couldn't stay away from this. He parked a short distance away and cautiously approached the car.
Ben hadn't brought much with him. He only had his one handgun. He thought it might be a good idea to gather a few more supplies. He had no idea what he might encounter.
Ben worked the lock on the Impala's trunk until it popped open. He silently thanked Sam for teaching him how to pick a lock. Ben sorted through the contents in the trunk. Sam and Dean really hadn't taken much with them. Ben thought they must have an awful lot of faith in the incantations they planned to use. (Ben didn't realize that Sam and Dean had decided that most weapons were pretty much useless against these adversaries, so why carry anything they didn't need?) Ben picked up the sniper rifle; the new one with the awesome scope. He pulled an angel blade from the corner of the trunk. Then, just for good measure, and because it looked pretty bad-ass, he picked up the high- powered crossbow and slung it over his shoulder. He quietly closed the trunk and tried to figure out where to go next.
Ben saw there was a slight rise on the north side of the cemetery. It was at a pretty safe distance; about half a mile away. He headed in that direction and just as he was crawling up the back of the rise, he heard it; a deafening, deep, low sonic boom. His ears were ringing, like he'd just spent four hours at a rock concert. Everything he heard after the boom sounded muffled, the way things sounded after a heavy snow. He quickly scrambled the rest of the way up to the top of the hill to see what had caused the sound.
Sam and Dean arrived, rather breathless, outside of Austin's dorm room. They'd seen Mary parked outside, so they knew Ben had probably found Austin. They communicated without speaking and silently nodded in agreement as they drew their weapons. Sam counted down under his breath, "three...two...one" and Dean kicked the door in.
Austin, sitting at his desk, jumped when the door banged into the wall. His eyes went wide when he saw Dean's gun trained directly on him while Sam swept the rest of the room. Sam's weapon came to rest on Nick, sitting in the room's only chair.
Ben was sitting on the bed. "Jesus Christ, Dean," he exclaimed, "you coulda knocked."
Dean ignored him, "Ben, you okay?" he asked, eyes never leaving Austin.
"Yeah, I'm okay," Ben responded. Dean looked quickly to Ben to make sure he wasn't putting on a brave face while he sat there bleeding to death or something, but Ben looked completely unscathed.
"We were just talking," said Austin.
"What about?" inquired Sam cautiously.
"About Kansas," Austin said, "and how you lied," he looked directly at Sam. "You don't know how to make me normal," Austin said, accusingly.
"I don't have a spell, or anything like that if that's what you mean," Sam said, giving Ben an obvious 'thanks a lot' look. Ben gazed steadily back at Sam, not willing to back down an inch. "But I do have some ideas about how to make some of what makes you different go away."
"Could you put the guns down?" Ben asked from his place on the bed.
"On him, sure," Dean said, lowering his gun. Austin sighed, relieved. "But him?" Dean said, looking at Nick who was still firmly in Sam's crosshairs, "not a chance."
"You know a gun isn't going to hurt me," Nick taunted.
"Nick," hissed Austin, "we talked about this."
Nick averted his eyes, looking almost guilty, "We did," he confirmed, looking over at Austin, "but I'm only doing this for you and if they hurt you at all, so help me, I'll take them apart."
"They aren't going to hurt him," Ben said calmly.
"So, what exactly have you all been talking about?" Dean asked, coldly.
"You don't have to hint around it," Austin said directly. "I'm still going to help you."
"Why?" asked Sam warily.
"Because Ben told me how you guys screwed up his life too, and the life of this guy you want to save." Austin looked out the window. "I don't give a shit about you guys, but I want to help someone who needs help." Austin looked directly at Dean. "It's what Jesus would do."
Dean almost choked, hearing Austin say those words. Nick's reaction wasn't much different. Nick and Dean actually exchanged skeptical looks.
"I told you," said Austin, "Jesus is my Savior. I don't care what you think I can do or how bad or unwanted you think I am. Jesus judges us on our actions and I want to do something good. Something that means more than winning a stupid football game or getting a 4.0 in school. I want my life to count for something."
"I told him you don't deserve his help," comment Ben dryly, "but Adam does; Adam didn't do anything to deserve what happened to him."
"And you're not looking for anything in return?" Sam asked, still wary.
"If YOU want to do the right thing, you could help me stop these, these stupid powers I have that make me a freak," Austin said, voice wavering. "But that's up to you," he finished. "I've prayed that you'll help me," he finished, looking down.
You could have knocked Sam over with a feather. Sam gave Dean a questioning look and Dean gave a subtle "I have no fucking idea" shoulder shrug.
"It's not a trick," Austin offered. "I mean it."
Suddenly, a voice came from the other side of the room, "Don't do this, Austin," Nick pleaded. "These guys don't give a shit about you. It's my job to protect you -" as Nick trailed off, several heavy objects lifted from their shelves and began to fly through the air towards Sam and Dean. Sam threw an arm over his face and Dean hit the ground.
"Nick!" yelled Austin and he threw up his hand. The books and game consoles seemed to hit an invisible wall at high velocity, exploding into small pieces about a foot away from coming into contact with Sam and Dean. Ben was sprayed with plastic shrapnel from the blow-back as the debris rained down.
"I. Said. No." Austin said to Nick in a menacing voice that Ben hadn't thought the kid was capable of. He practically growled it. Austin stayed where he was, but Nick suddenly brought his hands up to his throat. He looked like he was clutching at an invisible rope for a few seconds before he began gasping for air, the unseen stranglehold suddenly released.
"I'm s s s sorry," Nick gasped out. "I just have to, have to protect you," he choked.
"Oh my God," Austin said, seeming to snap back to his normal self, "Oh my God, Nick, I'm so sorry," Austin ran over to him, "are you okay? You know I'd never hurt you, right, you know that?!” Austin still saw Nick as his best friend, in spite of what Sam had told him and what Nick had basically admitted to him in private.
He was embarrassed that he'd let his temper get the best of him. Honestly, if Nick WAS what they said he was, Austin was determined to help him too.
"I know," said Nick, but he looked shaken. Sam took note. The demon looked shaken. The high muckity-muck Marquis demon (whatever the hell that was) looked shaken. Dean noticed too.
"Awesome," said Dean, trying to sound casual, "No one's going to hurt anyone else, so can we just talk?" he asked, looking around at everyone in the room after picking himself up from the floor. "We all want to help Adam," Dean continued, "Well, everyone but you," he said, giving Nick a derisive stare. Nick glared back at him. "So can we please just focus the fuck on that?"
"Good idea," said Ben, continuing to shoot Sam rather pointed looks.
"Let's hear it then, genius," Dean said, looking over to Sam. "What's the plan?"
"Okay," began Sam, "but he has to go," he said, looking over at Nick.
"No way am I leaving you alone with Austin," Nick responded, eyes narrowing.
"It's okay," said Austin.
"Look," said Dean, "Just down the hall to another room...you'll be close enough for Austin to borrow some of your mojo if he needs to. But I'm pretty sure Austin can take care of himself."
Nick looked to Austin for direction and Austin nodded. Nick left without incident, closing the door behind him and telling Austin to call for him if he needed him.
When it was just the four of them left in the room, Dean turned back to Sam, "Okay Sammy, please fill us in on just how the hell we're supposed to do this thing." Dean couldn't entirely hide the skepticism. He walked over and sat down heavily on the bed next to Ben. All eyes were on Sam.
Sam cleared his throat nervously and laid out what he knew. Or hoped he knew after all the hours of research and study with Walker and what he'd surmised in the years of sleepless nights as he concentrated to the point of giving himself regular migraines on how best to get Adam out of the hell that he and Dean had created for him.
When Sam finished, Dean looked a bit ashen. He hadn't quite heard Sam spell it out in that much detail up to this point and damn, it sounded like suicide to him. There were so many chances, in this plan, for something to go horribly wrong. And Dean was sure as hell of one thing. No one could die on this mission. No one. But from what Sam had described, the odds seemed stacked in favor of casualties.
Austin sat there, deep in thought, for a minute or so. He looked at Sam, as if trying to work through a calculus problem. "So you think that you can use this incantation, or whatever, to open the portal and you want me to call out to Lucifer. Like, the DEVIL, Lucifer, so that he'll be distracted. Dean's supposed to offer himself up as a new vessel to Michael...and if Michael falls for that and if I can get Lucifer's attention, then you'll save Adam once Michael is no longer using his body and you’ll do all of this before the portal closes again on its own. Oh, and somehow you’ll also make sure that Lucifer and Michael are locked up again when it does close."
"That's the basic idea," confirmed Sam. It was so much more complicated than that. "Look, I know it's scary, but - "
"I'll do it," said Austin with conviction.
"Austin," said Ben with kindness in his voice, "You know they can't guarantee you'll be safe...I mean, you'll be face-to-face with Lucifer."
"I know," said Austin, "but I also know that Jesus will protect me." Austin stated it as if it were a fact; like stating the sky is blue.
"Look, I know you believe that," said Ben, "but I don't know if this is the situation where you want to test your faith. It's dangerous."
"If it's dangerous, then this is the only situation where I SHOULD be testing my faith," Austin said calmly.
Sam and Dean looked at each other. Dean couldn't believe that this kid had bought into his Christian school's "Jesus loves you" mantra hook, line, and sinker. What were the odds. The Antichrist devoted to Christ.
"Are you sure?" asked Sam. He looked up to meet Austin's steady gaze.
"Yes," responded Austin simply. "I need to prove it. I know who I am and what I believe and I need to show you that I am not what you think I am. I'm not Lucifer's chosen one or anything like that. I'll prove it to you."
"The only one you have to prove anything to is yourself," said Ben quietly. Austin nodded. Ben and Austin exchanged small, nervous smiles.
"So how, exactly, am I supposed to run off to Kansas with you guys in the middle of school?" Austin asked. "The team might miss me."
"Don't worry about that," Dean responded. "I think Cas, uh, he's the angel you didn't like much last time, can do a temporary memory cleanse...they won't know you're gone because they won't know they ever knew you."
Austin's face fell. "But he'll fix it, you know, when we get back, right?" he asked, his voice sounded pained.
"Yeah, of course," Dean responded with more confidence than he felt.
"I have a life here," Austin continued. "I can't lose that again," he said, looking down.
Sam felt a pang of sympathy. Poor kid. He just wanted to be normal and Sam knew exactly what that felt like. They had taken Austin's family from him once before. Sam knew that Austin was the Antichrist, but damn, at this moment, he was really just a lonely kid. Ben was right. They couldn't fuck it up for him again. "You'll be able to come back and it will be, at least to everyone else, like you never left," Sam confirmed. "I know you don't trust me, but I'm not bullshitting you."
Austin gave Sam a hard look. Sighed. Then nodded. "Okay then," he said. "But Nick's coming with me."
Sam and Dean exchanged looks.
"That's the only way I'll go," Austin said. "You two are wrong about him too. And even if you're not, he's got my back. You said yourselves that it's his job to protect me."
"We think so," responded Sam. "Okay."
Dean rolled his eyes, "Great....a demon, the Antichrist, and two Winchesters walk into a bar..." he mumbled under his breath. "This is going to be a fucking picnic."
Sam huffed out a humorless laugh.
“Don’t call me that,” said Austin forcefully.
That night, Dean was out on the bench on the front porch of the cabin, watching the sun set over the Texas hills and slowly nursing a beer. It was his third and he thought he should probably slow down a bit.
The screen door slapped closed on its springs as Lisa walked across the porch, settling on the bench next to him. He pulled her close and she laid her head on his shoulder. They watched the sun go down in silence for several minutes.
"You didn't say much at dinner tonight," Lisa pointed out, still looking straight ahead. Dean usually ate like it was his last meal. Tonight he left half of his food on his plate, then left saying he had to get some air. The only thing exchanged during dinner were glances between him and Sam.
"Um, yeah, sorry," Dean said absentmindedly. "Just got a lot on my mind, I guess."
"Wanna talk?" Lisa asked earnestly, looking up at Dean.
Dean squeezed her a bit harder. "I'm scared, Lis'," he said quietly. "I'm honest to God scared shitless."
"Well, you'll be glad to know that that feeling is proof that you're an actual human being," Lisa responded. "You're not a machine, you're not a soldier...it's normal."
"It's fuckin' dangerous is what it is," Dean replied. "I can't go into this thing feelin' like this."
"With all you've been through," Lisa said, "why is this so different?"
Dean drew in a deep breath. "Because of you, and Ben, and the fact that I get to see Sam happy with Blue every day. I've actually got a whole hell of a lot to live for. It's just felt...different -better...these past few months. It's felt, I dunno; right. But now our past is coming back to bite us in the ass just like it always does. We've fucked up so much..." Dean trailed off.
"The only thing you can do when you fuck up is try to make it right. That's what this is about, isn't it?" Lisa reasoned.
"Yeah," Dean responded. But Lisa wasn't sure he was really hearing her.
Lisa got up and straddled Dean's legs. Sitting down and facing him so he couldn't look away. "Listen to me, Dean Winchester," she began, "you know it scares the crap out of me to watch you go off and do this thing too, but if you want that shit from your past to stop following you, you have to face it and get it done, and then we, our whole family, me, you, Ben, Sam, Walker...we can all move on. You want to be free of this crap, right?"
"More than anything," Dean admitted, looking Lisa in the eye. Lisa was the only one he could be this open with and he didn't know how he had survived all of those years without her. "And I want Sam to be free. He's had to carry so much crap,“ Dean swallowed hard.
Lisa felt like she could feel Dean's gaze, all the way down to her soul.
"Then there's no way past but through," Lisa said. "You keep your head on straight and come home to me in one piece," she had no illusions that Dean would ever let her come along on this mission. He had assured her that Ben would be nowhere near any of this either.
Dean managed a small smile, "Just be sure you've got Cas on speed-dial, okay?" Dean asked nervously.
Lisa nodded. She knew that meant that bodily harm was likely. It made her stomach drop. She couldn't think of a way she could possibly tell Dean how he was everything to her. How deep it went. So she leaned in and pressed her lips to his.
Dean brought a hand up and twined his fingers through Lisa's hair and kissed her back like his life depended on it. As it always had been with them, the smolder ignited in no time and Lisa could feel Dean pressing against the crotch of her jeans as she straddled him. When they breathlessly broke the kiss, she saw so much in his face. Love and lust and need and raw emotion. He was open. Way open.
"Come on," she whispered.
Dean got up with some difficultly and she pulled him to the Impala, parked behind the garage. (Ben had raced Dean home from the school and he had won, so Mary occupied the garage at the moment.) For the first time all night, a smile crossed Dean's face. Lisa and his car. Just about his two favorite things. He held the back door open for her and she slid in.
As soon as the door closed behind him, he was on her like a man who was starving. Dean pulled her shirt off over her head as she smiled seductively and he deftly released the clasp of her bra with one hand. He threw it to the floor and took in the view as he kneeled over her. He'd never ever get sick of this. Lisa's perfect breasts swaying as he put a denim-clad thigh between Lisa's legs and she ground down onto him.
They kissed hungrily as she worked at his belt buckle and then the button. Dean thought he might explode out of his zipper.
There was usually a fair amount of talking during sex with Dean and Lisa. They both got off on it. But this time was different. When Dean began fucking into Lisa in earnest, she pulled away from the kiss. Nothing had been said so far. All she said was, "I want to look at you while you’re inside me," which just about drove Dean out of his mind.
He braced himself over her and fucked her like he meant it. Consistent and hard. She wrapped her legs around him, pressing him to go deeper. The whole time she had her deep brown eyes locked onto his bright green ones. There really weren't any words for this. This went past fun. It wasn't gentle by any means, but they both needed it like this. They both needed the other one to know how much, after all they'd been through, they trusted each other and were as important to each other as air.
Lisa dug her nails into Dean's back. She could feel him getting longer, harder and then - "God, Lis', I can't, I'm gonna, oh fuck." And she could feel Dean jerk inside of her as things suddenly became a lot wetter. Never breaking eye contact, Lisa gasped and shook and came hard. The next thing she was aware of was Dean kissing her softly and she arched to kiss him back. They held each other, breathing hard. Dean felt like he'd just let go of more than just some bodily fluids. It's like he'd felt the release down to his soul. The stress and anxiety over the upcoming trip had temporarily dissolved into nothing but heat and trust and love. He felt as if Lisa would willingly take all he ever hoped to offer her.
Sam and Dean quickly agreed that Cas wasn't going to go anywhere near Austin. Not after what happened last time. But Cas immediately offered to help in whatever way they wanted him to and he methodically set about erasing Austin from the memories of everyone who loved him (Cas threw in the memories of Nick for good measure...Sam had told him he was pretty sure he wasn't going to have to restore any of those).
While Cas made the rounds, Austin waited nervously with their bags at the cabin. Nick was in the second bedroom in the warded handcuffs; a humiliating situation he'd only agreed to because Austin asked him to go along. With everyone in the family sufficiently inked with anti-possession tattoos, Sam and Dean had reluctantly agreed that it was okay for Ben, Lisa and Walker to stay until Sam and Dean left for Kansas with their new charges. Actually, they were all going to Kansas. All but Ben. Ben said he wanted to stay behind in Texas and see this tutoring job through. Lisa and Walker planned to drive home to the bunker after parting company with the others who were going to make their way back to Stull Cemetery.
Stull Cemetery. The site of the single worst day of Dean's life (and that was saying something). Dean wasn't looking forward to being there again and wasn't at all sure that he wouldn't go into a full-blown PTSD panic attack when he saw the place. Dean was expending an awful lot of energy just trying to NOT think about where they were headed.
Sam and Dean had filled Walker and Lisa in on what was said back in the dorm room. Lisa was spooked by the whole thing (and was staying as far away from Austin and Nick as possible) but Walker was fascinated. Here was, as far as Sam and Dean knew, the actual living embodiment of something she thought was always just a myth. The Antichrist. Sitting here on their rented and slightly threadbare couch. More to the point, an Antichrist who loved Christ. He looked just like any other scared, nervous, uncertain teenage kid. He looked so much like the students she had sometimes tutored. She knew what he was, but she felt a little sympathy for him. More than just a little, actually.
She had been watching Austin from the kitchen but couldn't help herself. She walked into the room and towards him.
Suddenly, Sam's huge frame was in front of her in an instant, blocking her way. He slowly shook his head "no".
"I just want to talk to him," Walker said, her voice low.
"No, Blue," Sam had taken to calling her by Dean's nickname for her. When it came from Sam, it felt like a term of endearment. Actually, she was used to it now and it felt like that coming from Dean too, "I know he doesn't look like it, but he's dangerous,” Sam reminded her.
Walker kept her voice down, "You said he's dangerous when he gets upset. I'm not going to upset him," she insisted.
"I don't want to hurt anyone," Austin said, slowly turning his head in their direction. Apparently, the kid had supersonic hearing.
"I know you don't want to," Sam began cautiously.
"I'm telling you I won't hurt anyone," Austin said, getting more exasperated. "Could you give me the benefit of the doubt here?" he asked, "I mean, I'm willingly helping you and if we have to wait for the go-ahead from your angel before we leave, I'd love to be able to do something other than sit here and stare at these damn walls if it's okay with you."
Sam held his hands up, "Okay, Austin," he said, trying to add weight to every word. "I'm trusting you here," he said as he stepped aside and let Walker pass.
Walker sat down next to Austin on the couch. "So, what do you want to talk about?" she asked.
"Ben says you're nice," Austin began cautiously. "He says you're really smart too. Can you speak Aramaic?" he asked, hopefully.
"Fluent," Walker responded.
Austin smiled, "I can never find anyone who can discuss the Bible in its original language." Austin perked up. "This might be a good time to go over what it says about Lucifer." Walker could hear the stress in his voice.
When Sam came back, Walker was rewarded with a soft, deep kiss for her breakthrough which left her rather breathless. (As Dean yelled, "get a room already," from the kitchen.) She was about to suggest that they take a walk for some privacy when Sam very reluctantly stopped her. "God, you don't know how much I DON'T want to do this, but I have to slog through some more of that stupid dorm room footage. If I don't keep up with it, I'll never get through it."
Walker let out a groan. "You're killing me," she said, frustrated. "But you gotta do what you gotta do. I'm going out for a walk to cool down then," she said, giving Sam one last kiss.
Sam settled down in front of the computer, trying to think about something, anything to make the aching in his groin disappear. He started up the day's footage. The room was empty, but the window was open. About half an hour into his extremely boring video surveillance session, the drapes blew back in the breeze and Sam thought he saw something for a second. He backed up the recording and froze the image. It was a circular symbol of some kind. Drawn on the wall behind the curtain. He'd seen it before. Crap, where had he seen that before?
Sam opened a few of the books they'd brought with them. It took him about 20 minutes, but he found it in Johann Weyer's Pseudomonarchia Daemonum. It was a seal. A seal for the demon Phoenix.
Sam read about how this demon, Phoenix, often appeared with the "voice of a boy", which could be "friendly and seductive".
Sam read, "He hopes that after one thousand two hundred years he can come back to the seventh Throne. He rules twenty legions."
'Twenty legions of what?' wondered Sam. Sam looked it up online and found that a Roman legion could consist of as many as 6,000 men...so that's twenty times 6,000....120,000 what? Men? Demons? Hellhounds? That thought almost made him break out in a cold sweat.
Apparently, this Phoenix was something called a "Marquis" demon. There were instructions about how to summon a demon of this rank, including that the summoner has to be "clean from all pollutions and (must) have fasted for three or four days.” If one followed those instructions, the demon would be more obedient. Then Sam read over the specific summoning spell.
It was a bit obscure, but it fit. Phoenix. Nick. A demon especially close to Lucifer.
Later, Dean told Sam there was no way in hell that he was fasting for three or four days in order to summon a damn demon. They'd just have to find out where Nick was an question him there.
Nick had just finished collecting the towels in the locker room. He hated this degrading menial work. It was so incredibly far beneath him, but it was his turn and he had to be "one of the guys" on the team so he did the work even though it made is blood boil. He was startled by an unfamiliar voice behind him, belonging to someone who must have stepped out from the shadows between the rows of lockers, "C'mon River Phoenix, you little delinquent, you're coming with me," and before he could react, he felt a pair of handcuffs on his wrists. This amused him. 'Handcuffs, really?' Nick thought, and prepared to eviscerate whoever had the audacity to try to hold him. But nothing happened. Nick strained at the restraints helplessly. "What the fuck ARE these?!" Nick roared, spinning to face his assailant...a disarmingly good-looking guy with green eyes. "Who are you?" has asked, settling down slightly since it seemed he wasn't going anywhere.
"I'm your chaperone for the night," Dean responded. "And those are warded handcuffs. Demons, angels, you name it, once they're on, you're power's off."
"How do you know my name?" Nick questioned.
"Oh, I know a lot about a lot of things," Dean evaded him. Dean gave a low whistle, "A demon at a school full of Jesus freaks...and I thought I'd seen everything."
"Shut up," snapped Nick.
Dean looked around the quiet locker room. "Bet you wish you could really give it to Austin...here in the locker room...the way you look at him when he doesn't know you're looking..." Dean trailed off.
"Shut your fucking mouth," Nick struggled against Dean's grasp. Then a horrible thought hit him, "Where's Austin?!" he asked, panic rising in his voice.
"Austin, or, should I say, Jesse," Dean began, which only made Nick struggle harder, "is somewhere safe. My brother's having a chat with him, that's all. Don’t worry. We're not going to hurt your boyfriend," Dean finished.
"Fuck you," replied Nick.
"You're really not my type," Dean responded as he closed and locked the door of the empty locker room so they wouldn't be interrupted, "Let's talk," Dean said as he shoved Nick down onto a nearby bench. "I insist."
Sam entered the room slowly, with his hands clearly visible in front of him, "Hi Jesse," he said calmly.
Jesse's head turned towards Sam's voice, "My name's Austin," he said reflexively. "Nobody here calls me ‘Jesse’." He regarded Sam warily. "Wait a minute, I know you." Sam could see the wheels turning. Austin's eyes opened wide with recognition when it hit him, "You're the guy that showed up and made me leave my mom and dad." His eyes narrowed and all of the loose objects in the room started to vibrate, but everything remained in place. Austin looked a bit surprised. "Where's Nick?" he asked.
"We have Nick somewhere safe," Sam responded. "I needed to talk to you alone."
"Why can't Nick be here?" Austin asked, confused, "he's my best friend."
"I know," Sam said, then added, "I had friends like him in college too."
"What do you mean?" asked Austin.
"I had demons keeping an eye on me when I was in college, just like Nick is keeping an eye on you," Sam responded. Austin was smart, better to just be direct.
"Nick? You're crazy," Austin protested. "He's just, well, he can do stuff, like me...he's just like me," he explained.
"No, he's not just like you," Sam responded. "He was sent here to watch over you and, in a way, keep you safe."
"Sent by who?" Austin asked, suspicious.
"Lucifer," Sam said plainly.
"Lucifer? No, no," Austin started backing up to get further away from Sam while shaking his head, "I love Jesus," Austin professed, "he's my Savior."
Sam sighed and looked critically at Austin.
"Hold on," Austin said, "why was someone watching over you when you were in college? Could you do stuff too? Like me?"
"Yeah, I could have back then," Sam said honestly, "I just didn't know it at the time."
Suddenly, Austin was across the room and standing right in front of Sam, looking directly into his eyes. He looked so hopeful, every bit of wariness he had a moment ago had vanished. It took Sam aback.
"How did you make it stop?" Austin asked. That was the last thing Sam expected him to ask. "I want it to stop," Austin looked down. "I don't want to be different anymore."
"We both are able, well, I WAS able, to do things because we have something in us that certain people can bring out," Sam tried to explain.
Austin looked confused.
"Look, I had people in college that I thought were my friends, but they were sent by Lucifer to watch over me; to keep me safe and to keep other people away from me because Lucifer had plans for me. In my case, I became more powerful when I got addicted to demon blood."
"Gross," said Austin. "You drank blood? Like a vampire?"
"Yeah," admitted Sam openly. "But for you," Sam continued, "you're more powerful the closer you are to Lucifer, or to anyone who's close to him, like Nick," Sam finished. "Remember when you were little, when you turned an angel into an action figure?" Austin nodded. "You could do that because Lucifer was walking the earth; he was nearby."
"But that was the last time I was able to do that," Austin pointed out. "I didn't want to do it. I just got mad and it happened."
"I know," said Sam sympathetically. "But you can still move things with your mind, right?"
"Can you do it now?" Sam asked.
Austin closed his eyes and concentrated again. Everything around them vibrated, but nothing moved. "No," Austin said. He opened his eyes and looked at Sam in awe. "Am I getting more normal?" he asked hopefully.
"Yes and no," Sam replied. "You could move things because you were getting some power from Nick. And, you should know, 'Nick' isn't his real name."
Austin furrowed his brow, "He wouldn't lie to me," he said, defending his friend.
"Well, he didn't lie entirely. His name's Phoenix. He's one of Lucifer's favorites," Sam explained.
"Bullshit," Austin spat back. "You're making this up."
Sam reached over and drew the window curtain back. The black symbol stood out against the white wall. "What did Nick tell you about this?" Sam asked.
"He said it was a good luck charm; for protection, just some silly thing that would make us win more games," Austin replied.
"It's his seal," Sam told him, reaching into his bag and pulling out the book he brought. "This is in German, but - "
Austin grabbed the book away from him, "I'm not an idiot, I can read German," he shot back and Sam had to laugh.
Austin read and then looked up at Sam, his brow furrowed. "But Nick's never said anything about this, and he's never hurt me."
"He would never hurt you," responded Sam. "In fact, he'd probably die for you because he's loyal to Lucifer and guarding you is the job Lucifer gave him."
"So why are you here at all? Why do you want to screw up my life again? Why are you telling me any of this?" Austin was becoming increasingly distressed.
"I know someone who is in trouble and I think you might be the only one who can help me help them," Sam responded.
"ME help YOU?!" Austin scoffed. "Why in the world would I do that?"
"If you help me, I'll make it go away," Sam was completely talking out of his ass now and he had no idea if what he was telling Austin was even possible.
"You can do that?" Austin asked suspiciously. "You can make me just like any other guy?"
"Yes," Sam lied.
"How?" Austin asked.
"If I told you that, you'd have no reason to help," Sam reasoned with him.
"What do you want?" Austin asked. Wary.
Sam explained the whole thing, though he tried to keep it as bare-bones as possible. He didn't want to give Jesse any more information than absolutely necessary. When he finished, Jesse sat, thinking. "And exactly HOW am I supposed to get your brother out?" he asked incredulously.
"I think that if you get close to Lucifer, even just in the same vicinity, he'll be drawn to you," Sam didn't mention that he thought Jesse would also be drawn to Lucifer. Like a magnet. "If he can be distracted, just for a minute, by your presence, then that will give us a window."
"A window for what?" Austin asked.
That night, Sam and Dean called Ben up to the rented cabin. Sam had convinced a reluctant Dean that it was time to let him in on what was going to happen next.
Ben listened, then interrupted Sam mid-sentence. "So, you're saying you're going to take this poor kid to Kansas, a kid that just wants to be like every other kid, and you're going to risk his life for your 'mission'?! I thought you just wanted information from him!"
Sam and Dean exchanged slightly guilty looks. "Look, Ben," Sam started.
"No," Ben shot back, "YOU look," he was standing up now; the only way he could ever look down on a still-seated Sam, "I trust you Sam, God knows why, but I trust you. I KNOW you aren't going to get this kid killed just to try to save someone who may not even be human or even be alive anymore."
"We're going to do everything we can to keep that from happening," Sam responded, voice low.
"And what's Austin going to get out of this?" Ben asked accusingly. When Sam didn't reply, it slowly dawned on Ben, "You promised him something, didn't you?" he asked, "and I bet it's something you can't deliver on, isn't it?"
Sam shifted in his chair.
"What the fuck did you promise him, Sam?" Ben asked, raising his voice. Sam couldn't hide the surprise on his face. Ben sounded exactly like Dean at that moment.
"Austin has always been different. He can do things no one else can, like move things with his mind. I told him I could help take away his powers," Sam admitted. "Make him just like any other guy. Normal."
"And just exactly how are you going to do that?" asked Ben, sarcastically.
"I'm still working that out," Sam responded, irritation rising in his voice.
Dean could see this wasn't going anywhere good. "Okay, okay," he said, standing up between Sam and Ben. "Cool it; both of you!"
The room got quiet. Ben glared at Sam and Sam stared right back. Eyes locked on each other.
"Damnit," said Dean, "will one of your just blink already so we can move on?!"
Ben looked away first. "We can't screw up his life," he said quietly.
"What do you mean 'we'?" asked Sam. "Your hands are clean here. Whatever happens, it's on me, not you."
"Don't you get it?" Ben shot back, " 'I thought 'we' were a family and I don't want my family fucking up the lives of innocent kids."
Ben had never called them a family before. Sam and Dean were both momentarily stunned into silence.
Finally, Dean sighed and said, "He's the Antichrist, Ben."
"What?!" Ben raised his voice. "Who, Nick?"
"No. Austin," said Sam.
"You told me Austin was a kid who was special," Ben said, his voice not getting any quieter. "Now you're telling me he's the Antichrist?! And you didn't think I needed to know that?! Way to fucking keep me in the fucking dark when I went through all that training shit because I wanted to be good enough to come help you on your fucking 'mission'," Ben turned and stared out the window, seething. "I can't let you do this," Ben said suddenly and in a flash he had grabbed his keys and slammed the cabin door behind him.
Dean was up from the table and sprinting out the door after him in an instant. He got a hand on the Mustang but that's about it as Ben roared away down the drive.
"Fuck!" yelled Dean into the night sky as Sam caught up to him.
Dean headed for the Impala with Sam right behind him.
"He's going to get himself hurt," Sam said as he rushed to get in the passenger side.
"He's fucking right is what he is," Dean said as he threw the Impala into reverse.
"What did you just say?" Sam asked, raising his voice to Dean.
"Sam, we don't even know if Adam is alive and we're willing to risk this kid...what if we just let Austin live his life? We could exorcize Nick and Austin probably WOULD lose most of his power and be like any other screwed-up kid," Dean argued as he pressed his baby to go faster. Ben had taken the time and effort to install the engine kit that turned his 351W into a 427 which had basically taken Mary from a straight 6 up to the equivalent of a V8 and Dean was pretty sure Ben could out-run him. Easily. Fuck.
"Dean," Sam practically yelled, "Adam is in a living hell because of US. We have to fix it. And I'm pretty sure that Jesse isn't going to be able to pray his way out of being the Goddamn Antichrist!"
Suddenly Dean hit the brakes and Sam was forcefully flung forward, almost hitting his head against the dash.
"WHAT THE FUCK, DEAN?!" Sam yelled.
Dean turned to Sam and grabbed him by his shirt. Dean's eyes were blazing green and Sam could see he meant business.
"I want to save Adam, Sam, I do," Dean began, "and if doing that will take away the fucking nightmares you've had, that's the only reason I need. But Ben's right about what we're doing here and I don't want him to have the fucking guilt that we have for screwing up the lives of people who don't deserve it. I can't pass that on to him. I won't."
Sam drew in his breath and nodded, "I get that Dean, I do, and I don't want that for Ben either, but right now he's probably headed to tell Jesse that there's nothing in this at all for him, and you know what happened the last time Jesse got mad."
"You think Jesse would hurt Ben?" Dean asked, looking slightly panicked.
"I don't think he would, but Nick's not that far away and Austin has some power...you know he's stronger when he's upset," Sam finished.
"And Ben's probably on his way to tell him something that's not going to make him very happy. Fuck!" Dean exclaimed to no one in particular as he threw the Impala into drive again and spun the tires as they screeched off.
next - HOME (part 2) chapters 60 - 62
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