122 - Wayward Sons by Bayre
Summary: To stop the Apocalypse choices must made and lines must drawn. Dean, Sam and John all must choose the right path to save themselves and a world forever altered. The choice to kill a father or a brother or a son, to fight side by side or die apart, the choice between Heaven or Hell. The choice between survival or death.
Categories: Virtual Episodes Characters: None
Challenges:
Series: None
Chapters: 4 Completed: Yes Word count: 15717 Read: 45904 Published: 23 Aug 2010 Updated: 26 Aug 2010

1. Part 1 by Bayre

2. Part 2 by Bayre

3. Part 3 by Bayre

4. Part 4 by Bayre

Part 1 by Bayre


PART ONE

Dean straightened to his full height, panting in big gulps of air to catch his breath. He felt Sam’s arm brush his and heard the rustle of Sam’s jacket as he turned. Dean scanned the area—they were alone, just Sam and him.

The top of Devil’s Tower was a disaster. Rocks were upturned and large chunks of earth gouged out and strewn over the ragged ground. Turning in a circle, Dean threw his arms up and let them drop to his sides with a thud. Sam was scanning the countryside of Wyoming, one hand pressed against his forehead to shield his eyes from the glare of sunlight.

Every single other thing was gone. No angels, no demons, no one was left up there except them.

“Now what the hell are we supposed to do?” Dean kicked at a loose rock, sending it sailing off the edge to arch toward the ground far below. “How do we get down? We sure don’t have enough rope for that climb.”

Rubbing the back of his neck, Sam leaned closer to the edge and looked over. When Dean reached out and grabbed his sleeve between thumb and forefinger, urging him back from the edge, Sam shook his head. “I don’t know.”

“Yeah, well, stay back.”

Sam turned so his back was to the edge and looked at Dean. “We—”

His words were cut off when the ground shook. Scattered rocks rolled side to side and the remains of shrubs rattled. Something under their feet cracked and popped as if they were standing on top of a popcorn popper.

“Sam, get away—”

The south face of the Tower was composed of huge columns of rope twining alongside each other reaching from the ground into the air. The top of the column Sam stood on snapped and dropped away. Sam looked down, wide-eyed, then for a brief second turned a horrified expression to Dean. Half a second later he was propelled down the Tower face, sliding on a wave of loose rock and dirt.

“SAM!” Dean dove at his brother, landing flat on his stomach with a hard oommppfff. Sam was scrambling upward against the river of dropping rock. He looked like a dog trying to run on a wet linoleum floor. Dean saw how the skin peeled away from Sam’s fingers in his efforts to grab onto something solid.

Inching forward, Dean got a hold of Sam’s jacket and pulled back. Another loud pop and the next column over gave way, tilting Dean precariously on his side and more on his imagination than on hard rock and stone.

“Let me go. Dean, I’m too heavy.”

“Shut up and get your ass back up here. Sammy!” Dean lurched forward for a better grip. He realized much to his horror, Sam wasn’t struggling to climb up and get a better grip on Dean, he was struggling to get out of his jacket. “No, Sam, NO!”

A third column gave way, bits of greenish and white dirt rolled down, more pebbles and bigger rocks dragging Sam down and away. Throwing himself over the edge, Dean got a tight grip on Sam’s arms and yanked his brother against him. Kicking both legs out, Dean tried digging his heels in to slow their fall, but it was impossible, there was nothing solid to brace against.

“You should have let me go,” Sam shouted. “Stupid bastard.” He twisted to the side, trying the same maneuver as Dean, getting his heels dug into the sliding rock to stop their descent.

“No way am I staying up there alone.” Dean grit his teeth against the sting and bite of hard, fine sandy grains raking over his skin where his clothes rode up. Sam’s hands fisted in his jacket, clinging desperately, despite his plea to let him drop.

Rocks bounced past them; the Tower’s base was twelve-hundred feet below them and getting closer each second. As more of the south face of the Tower fell away. Dean was vaguely aware of more shaking and rumbling from the flat ground below. Sky and rock turned end over end on each other in a dizzying kaleidoscope of color and texture.

Sam’s arm slid around Dean’s middle as the world went gray. He couldn’t tell if the screaming of rock was inside his head or only outside. Dirt and dust filled his nose. Kicking one leg over Sam’s and pulling up enough to boost him still a bit closer, Dean got a better hold on Sam’s arms.

When the world blacked out Dean’s last thoughts were if they were supposed to stop the Apocalypse, them dying in a rockslide was a bit counterproductive.


-o-


Sam jerked awake.

Every bit of him hurt. His hands and fingers throbbed in time with the pounding of his head and the rush of blood through his ears. The ground under his ass was hard, making that hurt, too.

Ground. Hard land. Under his butt.

Groaning, Sam pushed gingerly against the ground and tried to straighten. He was half sitting, half lying and leaning against something hard that smelled of rubber, oil and gasoline.

Blinking, he cleared dust out of his eyes and tried leaning forward, promptly whacking his forehead on something. Reaching up, Sam felt the obstacle blocking him from moving much. It was a boot. Inching sideways far enough so he could turn and look, he saw he was leaning against the Impala, with Dean’s boot in his face.

Grasping the ankle above the boot, Sam gave his brother’s leg a shake. “Dean. C’mon, wake up. Dean?”

Climbing to his feet, using the side of the car as a guide, Sam leaned against it. His brother was sprawled across the hood of the car. Sam reached out and let one hand drop to Dean’s shoulder. He gave it a hearty shake. “Dean.”

Relief flooded through Sam and consumed him when Dean groaned and raised one hand to rub at his eyebrows. “Oh, crap, that was…not taking that ride again.” Dean moved his other arm under him and pushed up on his elbow.

Sam slipped a hand under Dean and helped him sit up. “You were the one wondering how we’d get down.”

Glaring at him for a few seconds, Dean reached out and pinged Sam between the eyes. “How’d we get here?” He sat up and let his hands dangle between his knees. When Bob appeared, Dean sucked in a breath and put one arm across Sam’s chest, moving him away from the angel.

“I moved you off the rockslide to here.” Bob looked from one to the other, but stayed maintained the distance between them, obviously heeding the silent threat Sam saw plainly in his brother’s expression. “It’s all I can do for you for now. Good luck, you know the way, keep going this way. Godspeed.”

“Goddamn!” Dean spat and slapped the hood of the car when Bob vanished.

“Looks like we’re on our own,” Sam grumbled.

“Just the way I like it, Sammy.” Dean eased off the car and took hold of Sam’s wrist, turning his hand over. “We need to bandage these up. You can’t get an infection, no hospitals to go to for help, at least not here.”

Dean moved, albeit a bit slowly, to the trunk and returned with a handful of bandages and maps. He set the maps on the hood of the car and nodded. Sam turned and leaned his back against the car, holding one wrist with his other hand. Now that the adrenaline was easing back, the sting from lost skin and ache of the cuts covering his hands were getting stronger.

Taking Sam’s hands, Dean carefully dabbed at his torn flesh, glancing up a few times when Sam panted through the pain, receiving a tight nod from his brother, permission to continue. Ten minutes later Sam’s hands and forearms were expertly cleaned and bandaged. “There’s some ibuprofen in the glove compartment,” Dean said, patting Sam’s shoulder kindly.

Sam walked to the other side of the car and reached in, fishing out the bottle of pain killers. He took a few and found a bottle of water on the back seat. Swallowing them he took another bottle of water and went back to stand beside his brother, tapping Dean’s shoulder with the bottle and smiling when Dean took it, cracked it open and guzzled half in one go.

One map was spread out over the hood. Dean wiped one hand over his mouth and jabbed at a point on the map. “We’re here. Well, more like here.” He moved his finger away from the little square that said Devil’s Tower Nat’l Mon to a spot farther south and west.

“Bob said we knew the way and to continue that way.”

“I hate that cryptic shit,” Dean grumbled, leaning one hand against the car and staring down at the map.

Sam leaned over and traced one finger over the map. “We came down the south face of Devil’s Tower and we parked south-west of it. Maybe he means literally to keep going that way?”

Dean stood and looked at him. “Huh. You think it could be that simple?”

Shrugging, Sam gulped down the rest of his water. “Why not? What’s to lose anyway?”

“Uh, our lives?” Dean sighed and stared back at the map for a few more minutes. He leaned back, crossing his arms over his chest and chewed on his lower lip for another half minute. “Okay,” he pointed to the map. “We stick to the railway and old Mormon trails, near main roads, but not on them. They’ll be too congested and if not, they’ll have people on them we don’t want to deal with. Southwest takes us to Utah.”

“Army test ranges.”

Dean nodded. “Yeah, we’ll have to avoid those. Stay under the radar of any military.”

“If we keep going south-west we’ll end up on the coast,” Sam pointed out.

“We sure can’t go there. I don’t even know if we can get there.” Dean rolled the map up and stepped around Sam to the car door. “One step at a time, Sammy. Let’s get the hell away from here, get some supplies and find somewhere we can form a plan, figure things out.”

Sam nodded and jogged around to the other side of the car, happy to sink into the familiarity and safety of the Impala.

“Make a list of places to stop. We need to stay away from the small towns and big cities, find mid-sized towns, big enough to have some supplies and keep us anonymous. Small enough to have been mostly abandoned.” Dean guided the car away from its hiding spot and onto the road.

-o-


The sun was high in the sky and they’d gone maybe a hundred miles Sam estimated. Going was slow. Most of the roads were trashed. Every now and then they’d see others, people fleeing away from the quakes, not knowing there was nowhere to go. Whenever Sam or Dean tried their cells they got nothing but static. The car radio didn’t work either.

When they reached signs stating they were nearing Midwest City limits, Dean pulled off and reached for the map again. He spread it over the steering wheel, studying it. “We can pick up a stagecoach trail, they’re marked and if those things can get over them so can we.” Looking up he squinted out the window. “Let’s scout around here, find gas, food and more water.”

“Dean, no power, how are we going to get gas?”

Handing the map back to Sam, Dean grinned. “The old fashioned way. Keep your eye out for a fairly good sized gas station.”

Keeping to the outskirts of the town, a short time later they found a gas station in a suburban neighborhood that looked fairly deserted. Sam set to work clearing off what little remained on the shelves, making sure to take not only the food, water and juice that were left, but also car oil, brake fluid and other vehicle maintenance supplies.

He’d just finished loading it all into the back seat when Dean came from the behind the building hauling a thick, pleated hose, a few tools and some gas cans. “Gimme a hand with this, will you?”

Sam darted forward and relieved Dean of half of his cargo. “What’s all this?”

“This,” Dean dropped the hose, which was probably a good twenty feet long when uncoiled, to the ground at his feet and held up the tools, “is how we get gas. C’mon, let’s search every inch of this place for something to put it in.”

A few minutes later they had a respectable stack of not only gas cans, but empty bottles scattered around one of the access plates to the underground gas tanks. Using the tools, they got the plate off and slid the hose down. Sam held it while Dean rigged up a hand pump and started cranking away. Within minutes they had their containers, as well as the Impala’s tank, filled. The entire process had taken less than an hour and then they were back on the road.

As they neared the general area of Casper they saw more signs of people. Some traveled in gangs in pickups, the passengers armed with rifles and handguns. There were others they saw on foot, mostly from a distance because anytime they were close enough to see, they were also close enough to be seen. Getting themselves shot at or worse would serve no purpose. Dean deftly guided the car away from others and kept a good amount of distance between them and anyone else on the roads.

Sam knew exactly what Dean was doing, he was running. To where, neither of them had a clue, but staying in one spot too long was dangerous. There was probably no point in running away, sooner or later they’d—Sam—would be found by John and killed. For right now, however, Sam couldn’t help but sit quietly as Dean drove and marvel at his brother’s determination and fortitude. His never say die, never give up, never surrender attitude was something Sam felt gratitude beyond words for. The world he’d been born into, that they’d both been born into, was likely gone forever. Yet, Sam knew beyond a doubt, they’d survive in it because of Dean.

Dean was tricky and wily and street smart like no one Sam had ever known. Every decision made since they’d arrived back at their car was correct and it amazed Sam how much and how quickly his brother seemed to adapt to their new environment.

If Sam had to be stuck in a post-apocalyptic world fleeing from Hell’s minions, there was only one person he’d want with him and that someone was right beside him driving their car.

-o-


They’d gotten through the Green Mountains without incident and through most of Sweetwater County by the time the sun was low in the sky. It’d be dark soon and Dean wasn’t keen on traveling at night. Most roads were in horrible condition and without power for many lights along the way, it was simply too risky. Staying to the east of Rock Springs and giving it a wide berth, they finally stopped at a small science center just outside Flaming Gorge National Recreation Center.

Inside the recreation center was likely to be hordes of people, camping or still in RVs.

“Why are we stopping here?” Sam asked.

Dean glanced over and grinned as he drove the car around the building, coming to a stop outside a truck delivery door. Ever since being bounced, literally, off Devil’s Tower, Sam had been looking at Dean with a sort of awe in his expression. Neither one of them had ever had to survive on their own to this extent and Dean was discovering knowledge and inner resources he’d never known he had. Or that Sam had for that matter.

Mostly Dean was working on common sense and a sheer will to keep himself and his brother alive. It felt incredibly good to have some of the little brother hero worship he knew always lurked beneath Sam’s surface come out.

“Resources. People aren’t going to come here for supplies. They’ll go to grocery stores and hospitals, but not somewhere like this. We can hole up for a few days if we need to.” Dean cut the engine and got out of the car, heading for the garage door. “But first we have to get inside.”

Sam examined the door, there was a security system. “No power,” he said as he picked the lock.

Dean grabbed a chain tucked into the juncture of door and building. “Help me with this.”

There was a matching chain on the other side of the door. Sam grabbed hold and glanced back. “On three?”

“Yep. One, two…three…” Dean leaned his weight into the chain and pulled hand over hand, hearing Sam do the same. The door rattled and the chain caught a few times, but they reeled it open. Sam stood, holding it open while Dean ran back to the car, jumped in and drove it inside.

It took a few minutes for his eyes to adjust to lower lighting, but when he took a good look around, Dean was delighted with their finds. “Yes!” He punched the air and crossed the garage, Sam on his heels.

“What?”

“See that, Sammy. That is a thing of beauty.”

“It’s a delivery truck. A big delivery truck, but just a delivery truck.”

“Yep, and it’s…” Dean popped the truck’s hood and whooped. “Perfect. This is a diesel engine. The average car battery has about five years of life brand new. The battery in the Impala is about two years old, and I have a spare in the trunk. That gives us a good five to eight years of car battery and that much time to find another one. We can rig up other batteries using smaller ones. But what we’re going to have trouble getting is gas. This baby, she’ll run on less fuel and…”

“And, we can make our own,” Sam finished.

“We can put the Impala in the back, store way more supplies and food than in the car. Eventually we’ll have to find something a bit bigger, something we can armor up and sleep in if we have to. But for now,” Dean ran his hand over the truck side, “this will work great. There was a computer store down the street, let’s check that out while there is still light and then go through this place.”

“Dean, no power, what do we need computer supplies for?”

They left the center garage, closing and relocking the door before setting out on foot to the store Dean had spotted. “There’s going to be a lot there we can use, and I bet no one loots an electronics store when there is no electricity. We get all the batteries we can carry. We also get any computer supplies you want. There may not be an internet anymore, but that’s still a good, compact way to store information and keep journals. So, a few more laptops, some extra hard drives, and all the computer batteries we find, even if they’re not the right kind. Those are lithium and last far longer than regular ones. Cords, wiring, anything like that is going to be useful.”

Sam nodded as they headed to the back of the store; again he picked the lock to a delivery entrance. Guns out and at the ready, they prowled the store. Just as Dean thought, there was very little taken or disturbed giving them ample selection of what they needed. They took some large shopping bags near a register and filled them with as much as they could.

Long shadows were covering the street and sidewalk by the time they’d finished and returned to the science center. Dropping their bags near the truck, they went from the garage to the main part of the building and searched completely. Their first stop was the gift shop.

Sam went straight to the reference section, pulling out a few books and maps. “Here’s one of the fault lines.” He held it up. Moving away from the books, he grabbed clothing and several of the totes on sale. Grinning, Sam held one up. “Seems fitting that we have clothes with T-Rex skeletons on them.”

“Speak for yourself, I’m not wearing that. It’ll make good bandaging material though.” Dean moved along the rows, picking up a few things here and there. “Hey, Sammy, check this out.” He went back to where his brother was, shaking a flashlight as he walked. When Sam did nothing but raise a curious eyebrow, Dean held one out to him. “Try. This is a—” Dean flipped the packaging over and read the label. “Faraday light. No batteries. Dude, you shake it and it makes light.”

Shaking the thing heartily for a minute, Dean then hit the button on the side and shone bright, bluish-white light at Sam.

“Sweet!” Sam grinned and shook up his own light, producing the same effect.

They carted what they took from the gift shop back to the garage. First they rigged a ramp and got the Impala inside the truck. Next they began packing their new found supplies inside. When Sam’s stomach gave a grumble, Dean stopped and glanced at his watch. How long had it been since either of them had eaten anything other than gas station food? Dean could only guess.

“Let’s raid the cafeteria and find a place to bed down for the night.” Dean jumped clear of the truck.

“We should be sure the building is secure, too,” Sam added, handing a freshly loaded handgun to Dean.

It was a single story structure with a basement holding offices and storage areas. The cafeteria was in the center. Clearing out all the canned and freeze dried food first, then heading to the vending machines for more perishable items, they sat and ate sandwiches and candy bars. The lower storage rooms had cases of water and some extra food, so that was hauled to the garage and packed away in the truck.

They took sleeping bags and blankets from the Impala and returned to the basement, spreading them out for a bed. It was the last place someone breaking in would go and the easiest place to defend. Dean didn’t like leaving the truck with the Impala and all they’d collected in the garage, and saw by Sam’s expression he felt the same, but this was the most logical way to go. In the days since all the destruction had begun no one had bothered with this building, it was unlikely anyone would now.

Sitting cross-legged on his sleeping bag, Dean shook one of the Faraday lights and studied the fault line map Sam found earlier. This was going to help them plot where to go. They needed to go away from the quake zones and steer clear of unfriendly people. They could guess from the fault lines where people, desperate, wounded and frightened would be coming from.

Glancing over at Sam, Dean smiled, the kid was out like the lights of the town. They’d been well trained, were smart and resourceful. They’d survive. He turned off the light and set everything carefully beside him and settled in for the night. Tomorrow was another day.

Run. Run, Dean. Take your brother and run.

Continue in the direction you are going. Run, take Sam and run.

Images of the desert, then the Grand Canyon and finally road signs flying by, Flagstaff, Sedona flashed in front of Dean.

Run. Run. Run. Take Sam and run.

Save Sam or kill Sam.

Run.


Pulling air fast and hard into his lungs, Dean bolted upright, instinctively throwing off the hands gripping his shoulders. His first thought after waking was Sam was the worst kind of wanted man, he was the final seal and it was unlikely those wanting the kid dead were going to give up until they completed their mission.

“Dean. Wake up, man. You with me?” Sam was inches from his face, pale and shaking, eyes wide and pleading. He sat back on his heels and scooted a few inches away. “Dean?”

“Yeah, I’m…gimme a minute…” Rubbing his eyes, Dean picked up the light and turned it on, scanning the area. “I was dreaming?”

“I’d call it more like a nightmare.” Tentatively Sam reached out and let his fingers rest lightly on Dean’s forearm. “You okay?”

He looked at Sam, studying him briefly before answering. Sam needed, desperately needed Dean to be alright. He also needed the truth from Dean. “I was, I could hear John and Bob, first one voice then the other, then sort of both of them together.”

“What did they say?”

“Run.”

“Dean, we can’t keep running.” Sam looked away for a second, before meeting Dean’s gaze again. “Running just means we’ll be chased and it won’t do any good.”

“I think I know where we can run to, though. I heard, or saw, I’m not even sure, a place. We need to head south, to the desert. And we need to go now, Sam.”
Part 2 by Bayre


PART TWO

Sam didn’t have a lot of time to argue or even question. Dean had a hold of his arm and was pulling him up and shoving him at his sleeping bag. “Pack up, seriously, we gotta go. Now.”

“Dean, wait, stop. Why now?”

“Because it’s not safe here. Because we need to be somewhere else and it’s important. I heard it.” Dean twirled one finger in a circle beside his head. “In here.”

Sam threw both hands in the air before running one through his hair and pushing it back. “It’s not safe anywhere, Dean! When are you going to get that?”

“We need to go to where we can make a stand. Please, Sam, trust me on this.” Dean wasn’t looking at him; he was grabbing their things off the floor, movements erratic and almost panicked.

Yanking the sleeping bag Dean held out of his hands, Sam threw it to the side, shouting, “I’m not running anymore. I’m finding John and facing him. I’m ending this. I don’t care what happens to me, but one way or another I want this done. He wants me, he wants my head on a plate or else, well he can goddamn have the or else. I hate him and I hope he burns in Hell forever. If I’m going to die I’m damn well taking as many of them, including John, as I can with me!”

Fists bunched at his sides, Dean glared at him. His voice came out low and even. “You’re not dying, so you can forget about your death wish, it’s not happening. I won’t let it. I’m not running, but we can fight back and win in Arizona. I don’t know what we can do about John, or even if we can do anything about him, but I do know the only chance there is for you to live through this is in Sedona, Arizona. So, you’re going there if I have to knock you out, hog tie you and force you to go there.”

Sam swallowed thickly. Dean would carry through on his threat, that wasn’t even questionable. Nodding, Sam turned and bent down; retrieving the sleeping bag he’d thrown to the side and quietly rolled it up.

“You didn’t really mean that, about Dad,” Dean said softly.

Barely glancing back over his shoulder before taking an armload of their supplies and heading back to the garage, Sam pressed his lips together and refused to answer. Dean wouldn’t like what he had to say anyway.

They were used to fast departures, and frankly, darn good at them. Sam had to admit, having the delivery truck to toss stuff into made it even more convenient. He’d have to find some shelving to put along the sides for more storage, maybe some sort of bins. He made a mental note to look whenever they stopped to search out more supplies to remember to gather more things to store whatever they collected.

Except that he wasn’t likely to be alive long enough to accomplish that task, so why was he bothering to make long term survival plans?

By the time they left the town’s limits the sky was light pink and gold. Sam sat staring out the passenger window, not ready yet to deal with his brother. He certainly wasn’t ready to deal with a father-turned-demon who wanted him dead if he didn’t get with the program. A program that involved Sam spending eternity in Hell.

Yeah, that was a fun program.

His confronting and distracting John was also a way to keep Dean safe and alive. If John, Yellow Eyes and whatever other demons were involved were busy with Sam they wouldn’t be chasing down Dean. In fact it was even possible they’d ignore him for a long enough time Dean could melt into the countryside and disappear. That move would give his brother time to find a way to put a stop to Lucifer and the Apocalypse.

Convincing himself Dean would do that worked, too—for a short while. He did a good job of ignoring the rather annoying voice in the back of his head that kept reminding him Dean would no sooner leave Sam and fade into the background than Sam would were their positions reversed.

Sam sat staring out at the craggy and ruined countryside, turning more deserted and barren with each mile, considering his very limited options. He could strike out on his own. Getting away from Dean would be difficult, but not impossible. Sam didn’t have the mechanical skills that were proving to be almost a necessity now, but he wasn’t without resources of his own. It wasn’t like he’d need any resources for very long, anyway.

On his own he could find John and confront him without worrying about his brother being hurt or worse. Sam bit down on his lower lip; the idea of confronting John was a difficult one. It was likely Sam would die, and do so at the hand of his father. A father who was a demon, but still his father. He stole a glance sideways at Dean. John was his father, but not his dad. John had trained him, Dean had loved and raised him. Dean’s safety over John’s was the choice Sam made and would stand by.

If Dean didn’t survive there was no purpose in saving the world as far as Sam was concerned. Dean could stop the Apocalypse, he had the angels to help him and even if he didn’t, Sam was sure his brother was the only one who could put a halt to the destruction. Demons might have a Lucifer to bring out, but humanity had Dean Winchester to stop them and send them back to where they belonged.

Priority one as far as Sam was concerned was making sure his brother survived. Everything depended on it. At least everything Sam cared about.

He stole another quick look at his brother. Both of Dean’s hands gripped the steering wheel, the very tip of his tongue stuck out from between his lips. He did that when he was really concentrating. Memories of another Dean flooded Sam’s brain without warning.

His friend, a hunter he’d always looked up to, stared back. “I want you to be careful. I don’t want you going off, half-cocked and loaded for bear. Sam wouldn’t want that.”

“Well, we don’t always get what we want, do we? I mean, Sam is dead. Do you think that’s what he wanted? I sure as hell didn’t want that. He should be here, Bobby. Sam should be here.” The words were growled in rage.

In front of the cottage, other-Dean sat in the Impala, rocking back and forth. Through the car’s open window, Sam could hear Dean muttering, “Never make me choose…wrong to choose…not fair…never make me choose…”

Shouldn’t have made me chose.


Dean rocking and babbling in the car. Dean sending a young man into his own bedroom as bait, knowing the instructions he’d given that man would surely result in a horrible, painful attack.

Other-Dean stumbled into the center of the cavern waving a handgun. Sam squinted at it, it wasn’t just any gun, it was a Colt, The Colt. Babbling, image-Dean staggered, taking as many steps sideways as he did forward. “Made me choose…should never have made me choose…can’t choose…can’t…can’t.” Dean putting a gun, the Colt, to Sam’s head and pulling the trigger and ending Sam’s life then wanting to shoot himself.

Shouldn’t have made me choose. Nasty, borderline insane Dean.

The Dean Sam had seen repeated over and over in his dreams lately. The Dean who would become reality if Sam went ahead with his plan, he knew that for sure now. Those simply hadn’t been flights of fancy dredged up by Sam’s subconscious. He realized what they were: an actual foretelling of the future. His brother’s future. Confronting John alone would probably end in Sam’s death which would condemn Dean to a lifetime, however short, of inner pain with no reprieve.

If Sam allowed that he’d be the monster he’d always feared becoming. He’d be torturing Dean without laying a hand on him or even being alive. Sam would be responsible for the demise of the one person he looked up to, worshipped and loved beyond all others.

He loved his brother too much to be responsible for Dean sinking to the gloomy depth of despair Sam had seen in his dreams. He couldn’t do that, he couldn’t.

“You know, it’ll take us a few days to get to Arizona. We’ll have time to come up with a plan,” Dean said quietly.

Sam glanced over at his brother. The man never quit. Dying alone and tortured wasn’t what Sam wanted, not at all. Being honest with himself, he never wanted to strike out on his own, fight John, or anything, without his brother at his side. Sam might only have a few short days left to live, but he wanted to spend them with his brother. He owed it to Dean to at least try whatever plan his brother was being fed via angel radio.

Leaving Dean suddenly wasn’t an option. Their most precious resource and strongest point were each other. Dean believed, truly believed, there was nothing he and Sam couldn’t do if they worked together. Sam decided to follow his big brother’s lead, have a little faith in them and believe.

He’d start by finding shelving material on their next stop. Focus on the little things and the big things would work themselves out. It was all Sam had to hang onto right now, that and his brother’s undying determination to win.

“I don’t want to die,” Sam confessed. “But if that’s what I have to do—”

“It’s not. You’re not. We’ll figure this out. Isn’t that what we’ve been told over and over, it’s up to us and we have what we need?”

“It’s kind of scary, thinking about what might happen if John gets his way.”

“Sam.” The warning was plain and clear.

Sam forged ahead anyway. “I have a hard time thinking of much else. Why me? What did I do? I’m not that special.”

“I don’t know.” Dean shrugged and slowed the truck, pulling it off the road when they approached a small store and gas station. He’d done this every time they saw some building, eased the truck to a stop so they could investigate.

As with every other building they’d come to, they each took a shotgun. Going slow and quiet, Dean went to the left around the building, Sam to the right, peering through open doors and any windows. When they determined the place was as empty and abandoned as it looked from the road they stood to either side of the back door.

Dean leaned over and gave the door a shove. It swung open. Sam rested his shotgun in the crook of his arm and took his flashlight from his jacket pocket; nodding to his brother he was ready.

Wheeling around and away from the building wall, Dean hit the door with one foot, making it bounce open fully. He moved quickly, filling the doorway, shotgun going through first. Sam stood behind him, shining the flashlight over Dean’s shoulder so he’d be able to see anything coming at them. Sam had to admit he never really tired of watching Dean do this stuff, his brother literally exploded into action like some sort of cartoon superhero come to life and it fascinated Sam. Dean was compact and muscular in a way Sam’s frame would never allow him to be. The thought drove home even more to Sam how they complimented one another and the team they comprised was far more than the sum of individual parts.

A team that if it were to have one part taken away would be less than one half of both. They were nothing without each other, Sam knew that. He needed to accept it and let it work for him, not keep working against it.

They spent a few minutes, as they’d gotten into the habit of doing, making a quick scan up and down the aisles to check for what they’d want to take with them. While Dean set about finding boxes to pack up what they were taking away, Sam headed to the storeroom and rummaged around, grabbing milk crates and large storage bins with covers.

“Whatcha doin’, Sammy?” Dean poked his head through the storeroom door, arms loaded with a stack of small cardboard boxes he’d already filled.

“I thought we could pull out some of the shelving and mount it to the inside of the truck. We can use these bins to store and organize stuff so it’s not flying all over the back and into the Impala. If we have a lot, we don’t want to lose stuff or have anything go bad because we forgot we had it.”

Dean straightened, rocking back on his heels and studied Sam until he looked down, thinking maybe he’d forgotten to put on jeans in their rush to leave. Glancing down at the floor then back up at Sam, Dean offered him a small smile and a tight nod. “Good thinking, Sam.” Another nod and the smile broadened when Sam’s message sunk in further. “Very good thinking.”

“Yeah,” Sam said softly, motioning around the storeroom, “we have to plan ahead and organize better I think. You get the gas and car parts, I’ll get the storage stuff.”

“Works for me.”

It hadn’t taken long, but in the short time since they’d left Devil’s Tower they’d gotten a routine going, get into a place, clear out what they needed and get going. It took them less than an hour to completely pack supplies and load them into the truck. Dean siphoned more gas from the underground tanks. Others obviously were doing the same thing, but not at every place. This one had been hit, however, the store was low, almost empty of supplies. That spurred them to move faster, knowing others could still be in the area with skills comparable to their own.

Sam wasn’t sure if that was a comfort or a concern. Either way they weren’t anxious to run into anyone.

Dean rigged up an adapter so Sam could use a power drill while they drove. He spent most of the hours they traveled anchoring shelving to the inside of the truck, sorting their belongs, making lists of supplies they had and what they’d likely need to find. It wasn’t the easiest task, the truck bounced over the roads more than it didn’t, but Sam was determined to see his project completed. When the truck rumbled to a halt, and Dean pulled up the back door of the truck Sam was surprised to see it was getting dark outside. His stomach rumbled almost as loudly as the truck’s engine had when they were driving.

“Wow.” Dean hopped into the truck and looked around. “Maybe after all this work we’ll keep this one. With those shelves and bins we can store three times as much.”

“We’ll probably need every single thing we can get, too.”

They were on what had been a local side road in the middle of the desert. “We should be in Arizona in another day, two tops. The roads here aren’t so bad.” Dean got a small fire going, making sure the truck was between them and the road. They’d see anyone coming for miles. The land was flat, open, and the darkening sky clear.

“They weren’t that great to begin with,” Sam pointed out.

Dean chuckled. “True.”

They reheated some pre-made burgers they’d scavenged from a service station, added fruit cups and candy bars to round out their meal. Night descended and by the time they were finished stars glittered across the sky.

Gathering up the food wrappers and containers, Dean tossed them at the fire. “You cooked, I’ll clean.”

Sam smiled softly, leaned forward, pulled his knees up and rested his elbows over them. “It scares me, thinking of what could happen to me, my soul if I—”

“We’ll beat this. Nothing to worry about.” Dean stood up and went to the cab of the truck. Pulling maps out he came back and settled down beside Sam. “We’re here, by midday tomorrow we’ll be here.” He pointed to a name on the map. “It’s a decent sized town; there should be at least one library big enough to find out all we can about Sedona. I don’t know why we’re being sent there, but there has to be some reason.”

Sam swallowed the thick, wet patch in his throat. “Yeah. Scares me more thinking of what could happen if we fail.”

“So, we don’t fail. First we hole up there and find out what we can for a few days before heading to Flagstaff, it’s the biggest town close to Sedona.” Dean replaced the map and retrieved blankets. “Let’s get some sleep so we can be on the road as soon as it’s light tomorrow.”

Exhausted, Sam didn’t argue. He took the offered blanket and stretched out on the ground, staring up at the black sky dotted with bright points. As he was drifting off to sleep he heard, then felt Dean moving around, getting settled on the ground a foot or so away. The last sensation Sam had that night was a solid weight resting for a few seconds on his head, fingers brushing through his hair, gone nearly as quickly as Sam’s brain could process the feeling.

Dean loved him and had raised him. Sam owed it to his brother to stand and fight with him.

-o-


The first thing to hit Sam when they pulled into the town was the stench. Rotting food, sewage waste left pooling, stagnate water, animal and human remains all combined together to permeate the air, a constant background odor. Dean rolled up his window, reached over and gave Sam’s forearm a quick squeeze. They both knew this was coming, but knowing and experiencing were two different things entirely.

This really was a different world than they’d grown up in and had lived in only a week ago.

As they’d done in the science center, Dean found the service entrance of the library, Sam picked the locks and they drove right inside. Sam was grateful there were no dead bodies to be cleared away before he could start combing the bookshelves for references he’d need.

The place was quiet, even more so when Dean disappeared for a few hours. The sudden clump, clump of boots on the roof startled Sam only for a few seconds. He’d recognize Dean’s footfalls anywhere. When his brother returned Sam had filled half the pages of a legal pad with notes on Sedona.

“What were you doing up there?”

Dean grinned and pulled off his shirt, using it to wipe his face off. “I rigged up a shortwave radio to transmit a message broadcasting that the next target for attack was Arizona. We’re not going to a tea party. I wanted the place as cleared out as possible. What did you find?”

“Sedona is an energy vortex. Some legends claim it’s an entrance to Hell, and maybe the door swings both ways, so Heaven, too.”

“Energy vortex? Huh.” Dean pulled the duffel they’d brought inside over and dug through it, yanking free a cleaner t-shirt. “Makes sense I guess. Maybe whatever we’re supposed to use can be super charged by the energy there?”

Sam nodded. “And maybe so can demons.”

“Oh that’s an ugly thought.” Dean pulled the clean shirt over his head. “Any clues as to what it is?”

Opening his mouth, Sam drew in a slow breath and squinted at Dean, or more exactly at Dean’s shirt.

Looking down, Dean swiped one hand across the cloth covering his chest. “What? I like this shirt. You got it for me and it’s cool.”

“Everything I know I learned from…” Sam lifted his gaze away from his brother’s chest and focused on his eyes. “…Star Trek. Dean, what if what we’re looking for isn’t a thing? What if this power, this weapon we have is inside us?” He reached out and skimmed two fingers down the words on Dean’s shirt. “What if it’s something we know or some talent we have? We’ve been looking for a relic or incantation. Maybe we should have been looking at ourselves?”

Dean stared at him for a few seconds before nodding slowly. “Sammy, I think you’re on to something.”
Part 3 by Bayre


PART THREE

“Well it’s about time you two figured it out. I thought you never would!” Bob’s voice, the flutter of wings and the hand clamping down on Dean’s shoulder all happened at the same time.

Dean nearly jumped out of his skin. He coughed and quickly wiped one hand over his mouth to cover up the snicker when Sam startled backwards a full foot then lurched forward and grabbed Dean’s arm, yanking him back from the sudden movement and sound.

“Stop that!” Dean shouted at the same time Sam did.

Bob simply chuckled and grinned. “You two always so jumpy?”

“Can I hit him again?” Sam let go of Dean, straightened and squared his shoulders.

Dean crossed both arms over his chest. “Only if I get to, too.”

Bob sniffed and stepped back. “No need to get testy.” He tapped one of the books Sam had been reading. “Your brother is right, Dean, all the two of you need to stop the Apocalypse is within you already. Sedona is special because of its higher concentration of energy. It’s a gateway to other planes, Heaven and Hell included.”

“And are we right about demons having more power there?” Dean asked.

Bob nodded, smile dropping slowly off his face. “Yes, sorry.”

“Well, we really didn’t expect it to be easy,” Dean said. “What else can you tell us?”

“Nothing until you figure it out for yourselves.”

Sam groaned and Dean simply shook his head and went on, giving his brother a fast side-long glance. “Alright, new tact. What about our dad? Is there some way to save him? Without Sam dying?”

“Dean,” Bob began in a quiet voice. “You have to understand, your father is a demon. In a round about way this is something he chose. By saving him, do you mean returning his life? His human life? That’s not possible. Nothing can undo him to become human again.”

“But Sam—?”

Gaze shifting to Sam briefly, Bob shook his head. “Sam was returned from the dead, returned as a human. It’s an entirely different thing. Your father is a demon and he was simply given back his appearance as John Winchester because of what he needs to do.”

“What about his soul? Release his soul from Hell, from being a demon?”

“You want him alive, Dean, that’s really simple. I’ll just go meet him and whatever happens, happens,” Sam barked.

“Sam, do you honestly want Dad to burn in Hell forever?” Dean shouted.

Sam took a step forward, fists bunched at his sides, anger all over his face. It was Sam’s eyes that told the real story, the shimmering tears, the flashes of hurt and betrayal. “That’s what he wants me to do!”

Dean had no answer to that, it was the truth and they all knew it. “You’re not dying,” he said softly. “Dad, our dad, he’s already dead and has been for a year. But, if there is way to stop his soul from burning in Hell forever then I want to try.”

His words seemed to deflate Sam. Staggering back until he hit the table covered with books, Sam leaned against it, gripping the edges with his hands until his knuckles were white. He didn’t look at Dean or Bob, but focused instead on some point on the floor between them, biting down on his lower lip.

Bob drew in a deep breath, folded his hands in front of him and spoke in a quiet, calm voice. “Your father made a deal with a demon, one that when his life ended included him going, willingly, to Hell. He made that deal freely and was an adult, it was his choice. He fully accepted whatever fate would await him in Hell, and becoming a demon was one.”

Dean’s heart sank. If possible Sam’s expression became even stonier.

“But…” Bob held up one finger. “…he didn’t do what he did for personal gain and he had no way of knowing Azazel’s plans. John did what he did to save his sons.” He turned a sharp gaze on Sam. “Both of his sons. It was Dean’s life, literally, but also yours, Sam. The simple fact is you would have never stayed with your father, fought beside him and quite likely the two of you would have killed one another. It’s also another fact that neither you nor Dean would have survived Yellow Eyes alone. I’m not sure John knew that, but what he certainly did know was his sons are far stronger together than apart.” He looked pointedly from one to the other, resting his gaze on Dean. “I’ll see what I can come up with. I’m not making you any promises. In the mean time you two need to get your asses to Flagstaff and get yourselves a battle plan.”

Dean nodded. “Thank you.”

“Oh, and you have to be there by May second, so put a move on. I’ll meet you there,” Bob added and in a flutter of wings was gone.

Packing up, they set out for Flagstaff. The drive was quiet, solemn even. Dean gave his brother every opportunity to leave, if that’s what Sam wanted so badly then so be it. Dean might not stop him from going after John, but he sure would never let him do that alone. He planned to follow Sam if it came to that. What Sam did was stick to Dean like they’d been glued together. The message Sam sent was received loud and clear and Dean couldn’t have been happier about it.

They might disagree on their father, but what they didn’t disagree on was that they needed to stick together, to stand together to stop the Apocalypse. Without each other they would both be lost.

Flagstaff was the largest city closest to Sedona and as they had in previous cities they found a telephone book and located the largest library in town, the main branch. Hopping from one library to another not only was the way they’d get information they needed since there was no more internet to research on, but the majority of people wouldn’t see the benefit of a library now. They were sturdy buildings, with lots of space to park inside and filled with information. They were perfect for two young hunters to use and one would no doubt eventually become a home base for them, if not here then some other part of the country.

First priority was securing the building. That done they set about learning all they could regarding Sedona and its supposed powers.

“I think I know how we can trap them, even with the energy vortex.” It was the most Sam had spoken since they’d gotten there.

“Good, what do you have in mind?” Dean scooted his chair around the table so he sat on the same side as Sam, leaned over and looked down at what Sam was reading. He had a legal pad with all sorts of scratchings and notes and half sentences. Until now Dean hadn’t paid too much attention to what his brother had jotted down. Jabbing at the words scribbled on the margin of one of the pages, Dean read the words. On top and in big letters was the word deal. Under that were conditions of a basic deal with a demon. “Sam, I think I’m getting an idea.”

Sam snorted. “I knew I smelled smoke. I hope there’s a fire extinguisher somewhere around here.”

A whoosh of air had them both looking up.

“You never have doors to knock on,” Bob complained. “I did some talking and worked some things out and here’s what needs to happen for your father’s soul to be redeemed and sent to Heaven. This isn’t going to be easy. First and foremost the Apocalypse must be halted. The final seal cannot be broken, and Lucifer cannot be permitted to rise from his prison in Hell. That happens and it really won’t matter anyway. You have the seal coins. Once the Apocalypse is averted they will be restored to their original state.

“You know what to do, it’s inside both of you. I am confident you’ll find a way to halt this. Now, as for your father’s soul. He’s instrumental in bringing on the Apocalypse. He must chose for himself and with no prompting or signaling from either of you to assist him. If you try to give him the slightest hint of your plan then he will burn in Hell forever. To redeem himself, John has to save both of you and do so because that is what he wants the most; his sons to be spared and the Apocalypse averted. If those conditions are not met he will not get another chance.”

“Okay, that’s fair,” Dean mumbled, he wasn’t happy about it, but at least it was a chance, a small chance, but a chance.

“There is one other thing. Both of you have to agree to his redemption and by doing so forgive him.”

Dean’s response was immediate, he didn’t even think before the words came out of his mouth, “Of course we do.”

Sam was silent. When Dean looked at him, waving one hand to prompt his response he said nothing, simply stared at the floor.

“Sammy? You can’t possibly not agree.” It was more than Dean could wrap his mind around. Sure, Sam and their Dad had had differences, but this went beyond mere arguments.

Lifting his chin, Sam looked everywhere but at Bob or Dean. “Whatever Dean wants, I’ll go along with it.”

“You know, Sam, I don’t think—” Dean shouted, his rage boiling up faster than he could stop it.

Bob stepped forward and put a hand on Dean’s shoulder forcing him back a step. When Dean’s lips pressed shut Bob let go of him and moved to Sam, placing the same hand on his shoulder and squeezing. “That’s good enough. Since he agrees simply because he loves you more than he fears anything else, it’s good enough. Sometimes we have to do things only because someone else wants it. There is nothing wrong with that.”

Dean nodded.

“Now,” Bob said, moving back to the table with their notes and research. “Show me what you have so far.”

It didn’t take them much time to run through what they’d worked out so far, which wasn’t much. Figuring out how to create a Devil’s Trap that would hold in the energy vortex was a serious stumbling block.

“I’m worried with the extra energy and extra power that’ll give John and Yellow Eyes they’ll get loose,” Sam said quietly. He still wouldn’t really look at Dean, but Dean chose to ignore it for now.

“Sacrosanct oil,” Bob said. “I’m surprised neither of you thought of it.” Smug bastard. “There is a large church about a mile from here, I happen to know they have some. I suggest you take something to carry the bottle in. The stuff can be…volatile.”

“Volatile?” Dean asked at the same time as Sam, his brother’s voice sounding as dubious as his own.

“Well, maybe that’s the wrong word. It’s no different than suntan oil by itself, but when mixed with certain…elements…it can become beyond deadly. Using a mixture of holy water and salt to create the lines of a Devil’s Trap with the oil sprinkled on top should create a strong enough barrier.”

“And when we begin the ritual, we ignite it. That will keep them inside for sure?” Sam asked.

“I haven’t actually tested the theory, but yes that’s the plan.”

“How—exactly—are we supposed to get our dad out?” Dean met Bob’s gaze and didn’t waver.

Bob sighed, dropping his own gaze to the floor. “Only your father can do that. It was what I was trying to explain earlier. He must choose his own path.”

Dean didn’t like that answer, but it was the best he could get and he knew it. They still needed more information about the oil. “What does this stuff react with and what happens?”

“For one, Sam.” Bob shrugged.

“Sam?”

“Yes.” Bob turned to Sam, placed a hand on his shoulder before speaking. “Sam, you can not, under any circumstances, allow yourself to come into contact with the oil, or cross the lines created by it.”

“What happens if I do?” When Bob didn’t answer, Sam shoved against his arm, raising his voice, “What the hell happens if I do?”

Bob drew in a deep breath and let it out slowly. “You have to understand, Sam, this oil is simply oil. It’s an object with magical properties, it can’t judge and makes no distinction. It simply reacts with certain things like any other chemical reaction.”

“Bob!” Sam shouted, stepping away from the angel and running one hand through his hair.

“You’re not evil, but because of what was done to you, if you come into contact with the oil or try to cross over its lines your blood will ignite and no one, not even God can stop that or undo it. You will spend the rest of eternity between life and death, burning from within.”

Sam sucked in a breath, took another step away from Bob, his face blanching and his hands starting to shake. In two long strides, Dean moved closer, sliding one hand to Sam’s elbow to steady him. When Sam’s head jerked around obviously seeking out his brother, Dean smiled softly and squeezed his elbow. “We’ll be sure that doesn’t happen.”

“Dean, you should probably wear gloves and use a paint brush with it just to be on the safe side. It’ll be dark soon, shouldn’t you get going?”

“Why can’t you get it? Just pop over there, snatch the oil and pop back here.” Dean really didn’t like this whole oil idea and he certainly didn’t want to have to risk Sam coming into needless contact with it.

“Me?” Bob thumped his chest, voice rising indignantly. “Steal from a church? I can’t do that. Besides this whole stopping the Apocalypse job is all on you two.”

Dean rolled his eyes. Moving the hand that was on Sam’s elbow to clap on his shoulder, he gave his brother a nudge. “Let’s get going. And dude—”

“I know, I know.” Sam stuck his hands in his pockets. “No touching the oil.”

-o-


Getting to the church didn’t take long, Bob had been correct when he’d said it was only about a mile from the library. Finding the oil was hardly a chore, it was stored in a cabinet and plainly marked. Dean made Sam stand behind him while he picked the measly lock to the cabinet and eased the door open. He’d have come alone, he was that worried about Sam and this oil, but he knew Sam wouldn’t ever put up with sitting around the library waiting for Dean’s return. Dean couldn’t blame him, he wouldn’t want to do that either and wasn’t going to ask his brother to.

Pulling on gloves, Dean carefully removed the bottle; it was the size of an average spice jar with a screw-on top. The oil looked like olive oil, only it shimmered slightly when the bottle moved. They’d brought a small, extra shaving kit case and Dean placed the bottle inside, carefully zipping it closed. He slipped it inside his jacket pocket and gingerly patted the outside with his other hand.

Sam blew out a breath and grinned. “That was almost too easy.”

“That won’t get you money or drugs on the streets.”

They turned in unison, Dean smacking Sam’s arm as they did. “You had to go and say it,” he grumbled.

A priest, he was a tall man, maybe in his early forties and looked like he worked out a lot, stood between them and the door. Blocking the door.

Sam plastered his ‘little boy lost’ smile on his face and used his most placating voice. “Father, sir, we’re not stealing this for—”

The priest stepped away from the door and to Sam. “Yes, you are stealing. If you need food, I will give you some, but this is not—”

“We don’t really have time for this crap.” Dean lunged forward, starting his swing at his hip and following through. The thwack when he connected solidly with the priest’s jaw echoed around the room.

“You decked a priest?”

Dean grinned and rubbed his knuckles. “Knocked him out cold. Cleaned his clock! What are you bitching about you decked an angel.”

Sam glared at Dean for a second then smirked. “I did, didn’t I?” Wetting one finger he made an invisible hash-mark in the air between them. “I still have more points.” He grinned outright. “I win.”

Anything that made Sam smile like that was fine with Dean. “Do not.” He shoved against Sam’s shoulder as they left the church. “I let you win.”

They walked back to the library in silence. Dean’s trick of broadcasting that this part of the state was next on the ‘terrorist attack’ list seemed to have worked. Other than the priest and a few stragglers here and there, the city seemed abandoned.

Sam sat back in his chair and stretched his arms high over his head. “There are still holes in this and we’re running out of time. I don’t suppose you know what time I came back?”

Standing up, Dean eased his own kinks from his stiff limbs. “I was a little too preoccupied to be looking at my watch. We’ll just have to go with what we have. I’m going to make a last check of the doors, then we should get some sleep.”

Walking quietly from one door to the next, Dean checked them and the windows. Everything was intact and secure. He made his way to the service entrance, stepping outside for some fresh air. Slight movement in the shadows had his hand immediately reaching for his gun. In the next second the shadowy movement resolved more clearly. “Hello, Dean.”

He relaxed a small amount, he’d always be wary around this visitor. “We have it as done as it’ll get. There’s really only one sticky spot.”

The figure in front of him nodded, but said nothing.

Dean was hit with a flash of inspiration so suddenly it nearly shoved him off his feet. He narrowed his gaze, studying his visitor closely. “You can help. Sam and I, we can’t do this alone, we need help. Your help. I’ve never asked anyone for anything like this before, but I think I have an idea, if you’ll help us. We’re out of options and have no where else to turn.”

It only took him a few minutes to explain their plan and what help they needed.

A slow nod was the answer Dean had hoped for. He blinked and was alone, Dean’s visitor had vanished.

-o-


When they reached Sedona just after sunrise the next morning Dean could feel the change in the atmosphere. The place glowed with energy. It was as if there was a constant low level hum, nothing that could be actually seen or heard, but was felt deep down in every nerve ending. As they walked they had a good view over the landscape. He could tell by the way Sam turned every so often, looking in all directions that his brother felt the same energy shift. On another day, in other circumstances they would both find the phenomenon interesting, downright cool in fact.

Today it was simply another thing to either help or hurt their cause and they’d have no way of knowing which until they were in the thick of things.

There was a visitors’ center at Red Rock State Park, a large, one story building with enough open space in the center and a few smaller rooms to the side. The open-air ceiling was thick wooden beams supported by bricks made of the area rock. Iron railings ran beside the rock pillars, lining the walkway into and out of the structure, which delighted Dean. It was the first stroke of good luck they’d had and might be a good sign.

If Dean believed in signs, which he did not.

To one end was a gift shop filled with aisles of trinkets for travelers to take home. The rising sun shone down cheerfully through the rough wooden beam ceiling. It was a lovely picture.

Too bad it was likely going to be nothing but rubble in a few hours.

Using a large, flat brush, Sam began the task of creating a Devil’s Trap drawn with holy water in the center of the facility’s main room. Dean followed along behind him, with a drawing in hand to be sure it all went smoothly. Once the water dried on the stone floor it was difficult to tell exactly where the lines were, which was crucial to their plan. They didn’t want Azazel or John knowing exactly where the boundaries were. Their fear was since the area offered higher energy, and therefore more strength to the demons, if they had lines they could see to focus their energy on they would be able to crack them.

If these two demons were allowed to escape the brothers, and the world, were certainly done for.

The salt they sprinkled over the holy water blended in with the stone flooring; as long as Dean kept either demon from looking too closely it wouldn’t be immediately apparent the salt made a pattern. Pulling on gloves, Dean took the shaving kit case out and opened it, revealing the bottle of sacrosanct oil. He opened it, setting the top down on at his feet and dipped a small eyedropper into the bottle, pausing before he did anything.

Sam stood a foot or so away, peering over Dean’s shoulder.

“Dude, go over there.” Dean sighed and pointed to a spot near the gift shop.

“Dean, don’t be ridiculous,” Sam huffed, bitchface working overtime. “I’m not dumb, it’s not like I’m going to go roll in it.”

Keeping his features neutral, Dean asked in a soft voice, “Please?”

Nodding, Sam scratched at his arm, looked around the building and nodded again. “Okay, if it’ll make you feel better.”

“It would.” Dean didn’t move until Sam was safely a few yards away. “Thank you.” He moved slowly around the perimeter of the trap, dropping oil every few inches. It swirled and shimmered over the stone, but like the salt unless one looked very closely the fact it made a circle wasn’t noticeable right away.

Sam took the bag of seal coins and spread them across a counter top between maps and broachers. All were cracked and tarnished except one. A single coin was bright and shiny, perfect. The one coin left to be cracked, the one seal left to be broken and Sam’s life would end while the Apocalypse began.

Bob stood watching them. Once Dean completed the trap, Bob closed the distance between he and Sam, and placed a hand on his shoulder, leaning in and speaking into Sam’s ear. The two of them moved into the shadows of the gift shop.

Dean pulled out a paper with the summoning ritual written on it, stood well outside the circle and began. It didn’t take long before there was a flash of light and a demon inside a man stood inside the circle, staring out with snapping yellow eyes and a scowl on his face. Dean ignored the vile glare and kept reading until a second flash produced a second figure in the circle. His father, John, watched him with eyes equally as yellow as Azazel’s, though his expression seemed more curious, or maybe it was that of someone who’d won a contest.

He felt more than saw Sam move cautiously and silently across the floor to stand next to Dean. He didn’t say anything, what was there for the kid to say anyway?

“Well, you two finally figure it out and come to your senses?” Yellow Eyes crossed both arms over his chest and stopped scowling. Now he was grinning as if he had the canary in his fangs. “I love it when a plan comes together, I really do. The Bringer of Light will rise up and take his rightful place and rule this piece of crap rock.” He turned to John. “Seems like your boys finally got with the program. Nice to see your family reunited.”

“Dean,” John began in that voice that was half order, half placating, “Don’t you see, it’s the only way. It’s what you’ve always wanted, us together.” He shrugged. “Hunters in Hell are a little like cops in prison. This was the only way I could ensure both of you would have a place in the new order of Hell that would keep you safe. I did it for you. You and Sam.”

Dean’s heart gave a violent lurch when John’s gaze landed and lingered on Sam’s face. Sam stood there, not moving, barely breathing. Dean needed the focus kept on him. “There’s a certain logic to that.”

John’s gaze swung back to Dean, the very corner of his mouth twitched up for a second. Dean reminded himself demons couldn’t read minds, they learned a person’s inner workings through possession. Dean had never been possessed, but John had. He’d been possessed by the demon standing next to him.

“But, Dad, it’s a bit twisted. You of all people wouldn’t want to see Lucifer rise, it’s what you’ve fought against most of your life.”

“The time for Lucifer is now and there is no other way, son.” John’s softened gaze turned to a glare. “Now stop fooling around, it’s time for you and Sam to play your part and take your places with us.”

Dean kept his face neutral, his hands at his sides. No tells. Wasn’t that the first lesson in poker and pool hustling his father had taught him? Dean had learned well. He nodded and spared a glance at Sam. “Time to take our places. I guess Sam and I can accept that, but first I want to be clear on how this is going to go down,” he snickered, “no pun intended. You,” Dean pointed to John, “kill Sam. You’re the only one who can do that?”

“I’m his father, it’s only fitting,” John confirmed.

“I’m curious, what happens to us, to me, if someone else kills him or he falls off a cliff and dies?”

Yellow Eyes laughed, “You amuse me. If he dies I bring him back.”

“Don’t you have to get to him first?”

Azazel looked at the ground then took a few steps forward, stopping when his toe hit the unseen barrier.

“Oh, my God, did you honestly expect there not to be one of those? These are my kids after all.”

“Johnny, language.”

John rolled his eyes and mumbled, “Saawwrrreee.”

“So,” Dean held up one finger and made sure they were both watching him. “Before we, Sam and I, go jumping into the abyss as it were, I want to be sure this is the deal. Sam lets John kill him. And I die, how?”

“Anyway you chose,” John said. “You tell me how and it’ll be done.”

“Fair enough. So, you kill Sam, I die too, we all go to Hell, protected from any torture and from other demons because Sam died and Lucifer rose?”

“Yes,” John and Azazel said together.

“No other way to do this? That’s the deal, right Dad, you have to kill Sam?”

“That’s the plan. No one else can break the final seal but the one who, in essence, created it. I enhanced Sam’s blood, but it was John’s seed that brought Sam into creation in the first place. No other scenario will open the door for Lucifer.” Yellow Eyes rocked back and forth on his heels looking quite pleased with himself.

“Well, if that’s the only way that is the deal then, right?”

“Yes.” John met Dean’s gaze steadily.

Dean shrugged. “Well, heck, if that’s the only way, then there’s only one way to put a stop to all this.” Pulling his gun out from under his jacket, Dean turned in one smooth, swift movement and raised his weapon. “Sorry, Sammy.”

Sam gasped, stumbled back a half step, looking around wildly he shook his head. His mouth opened, no doubt to protest, but he never got the chance to say a word.

The shot Dean fired was straight and true, cutting through Sam’s heart. His knees buckled and his face crumpled. It was all Dean could do to keep from looking away, but he had to watch every second until the light faded from Sam’s eyes. Crumpling to the ground, Sam’s limbs sprawled out and a pool of blood began slowly spreading across the stone floor eventually sliding alongside the oil and holy water of the Devil’s Trap.

“Sam?” John’s face was blank, but his voice had shock and pain all rolled into one. He turned to Dean, meeting his gaze.

Dean chuckled and used the barrel of the gun to scratch an itch on his forehead. Shrugging he then spread his arms wide and grinned at them. Because he could, he fired off a few shots into both John and Azazel even though it did nothing but make them look at him as if he were insane. “Problem solved.”
Part 4 by Bayre


PART FOUR

“Little snot-wipe shot me!” Azazel grouched. He turned to John, shoved against his shoulder and repeated, “Your irritating brat shot me.” He wiped at his chest. “This hurts you know. Do you have any idea how hard it is to keep this old body in tip top shape?”

Dean quirked an eyebrow and shrugged. “Not my problem.” Dean finally had to look away from the image of his dead brother. Turning on his heels he took a few steps around the circle and away from Sam. “But, Sam and what happens to both of us is.” Snickering, Dean waved his gun in the air in front of him. “Guess I haven’t done a bang up job of that watch out for Sammy thing lately. Oh well.”

John ripped his gaze from Sam and landed it on Dean, his hand barely brushed the spot on his shoulder where Dean had shot him. “You killed Sam.” His voice was hollow, his expression confused.

“Yep. I did. It was the only way to keep Lucifer where he belongs. So, we’re off the hook, right? Sam, wherever he is, won’t have to suffer in Hell and neither will I. Right?”

When neither John nor Azazel answered and John simply stared at the body on the floor, Dean took a few more steps away. Keep control, keep their attention. “Hey, boys.” Snapping his fingers, Dean pointed to himself. “Talking here. Sam sure ain’t gonna say much now. And he never was one to listen to anyone—well you, Dad.”

Two sets of yellow eyes focused on him making Dean’s skin crawl.

“Without Sam we can’t carry through on the plan.” Azazel smirked. “At least not right now.”

“So, we’re off the hook, right? That’s the deal, no Sam, no Lucifer out of his cage, no need for me?”

Azazel nodded and John mumbled a “yes.”

“I think you pushed him too hard, your kid has cracked in two.”

“Yeah, sorry, Dad, no father, son and…” Dean snickered and waved in the general direction of where Sam lay. “…unholy ghost with the three of us playing our respective parts. I want to make sure that is the deal. Oh, and if either of you have any stupid idea I’m going to do some smooching with you, forget it.”

Snorting, Azazel rocked back and forth on his heels and crossed both arms over his chest. “You and Sam’s soul are off the hook. It’s a deal. Minor set back really. I have hundreds of children and more being born every day I can use. Isn’t that right, Johnny? So, the question now is, to let you go or not?” He nudged at John. “What do you say?”

John shrugged, eyes narrowing on Dean for a few seconds. “You’re the boss, I’m just the hired muscle, remember? You want to let him go, it’s up to you.” He glared at Dean. “You killed your brother.”

“Sheesh, Dad, get with it. That’s old news.” Dean giggled, “Been there, done that.” Looking down at his chest, he let his fingertips skim the material. “Like my shirt? Oh, yeah, you never did get into Star Trek, did you, Dad? Sammy bought me this not too long ago. I love it. I loved him too much to let him be responsible for the end of the world.” He met John’s gaze unwaveringly. For a split second John’s gaze slipped to Azazel then was back on Dean again with an eerie, apprising sort of feeling radiating off him. “Oh, and before you go and set this up again, I’d consider it a personal favor if you waited a few hundred years, make sure I’m good and gone. Once is more than enough.”

Dean resisted the urge to back away; instead he stared up for a few seconds and whistled a low tune. He worked to keep his face completely without emotion, his breathing steady and his limbs under control, no random twitches—his father would hone in on those things like a hawk to a rabbit.

“Definitely, deep end.” Azazel made a diving motion with his hand and shook his head. “Let me out. Now.”

Tucking his hands behind his back, Dean walked even farther around the circle until John and Azazel had to turn so their backs were to Sam, Dean stopped and scratched at the back of his head. Plucking at his shirt a few times, Dean sighed. “Bet you don’t get a lot of television down in Hell, huh? I love TV, really love Star Trek, it’s cool and like the shirt says, everything I know…”

Azazel threw both hands in the air and turned to John. “You raised a lunatic. This is not helpful.”

“I did my best,” John talked to Azazel, but he kept his gaze firmly on Dean.

“See there’s this thing on Star Trek, called the Kobyiashi Maru,” Dean went on, pacing a few steps back the way he’d come, ensuring both demons were completely focused on him.

“What’s that and why do I care?” Azazel snapped. Looking down at the ground he closed his eyes and held his hands out, palms down. Dean felt energy surge along the floor and a low rumble began at Azazel’s feet, oozing out to the perimeter of the circle making the stone floor shiver and the walls tremble.

John’s lips twitched up ever so slightly. He tapped on Azazel’s shoulder. “Before you do that, let’s hear him out. Maybe we can salvage this operation. Or get something useful to us.”

Sighing dramatically, Azazel opened his eyes and bunched his hands to fists, opening them at once and repeating the movement. “Fine. What do you think you could possibly tell me?” he snapped at Dean.

“Kobyiashi Maru, it’s pretty simple actually, best cons are. See, when you’ve lost all hope, all the odds are against you and there is no way out and no way to win, you only have one course of action left.”

“Shoot your brother?” Azazel asked.

“Good one,” Dean chuckled and shook his head. “No. Cheat.” He folded his hands in front of his thighs and rocked back and forth on his heels. “See, it’s what my Dad taught me, how to hustle, cheat, never lose and always…always put family first.”

Azazel cocked his head to one side. John shuffled back a step, dipping his head ever so slightly in a nod. Dean pretended he didn’t notice, but he knew the gesture for what it was, admiration, maybe even pride. John knew. John knew and was standing there pretending he didn’t. Dean concentrated on how his heart thundered in his chest, sure both Azazel and John could hear it as plainly as Dean felt it.

Moving closer to the countertop covered with coins, Dean spared a glance at them. One at a time, each coin transformed from tarnished and broken, restored to its original luster, whole and perfect. Putting the few extra feet between himself and the Devil’s Trap helped ground him and steady his nerves.

Step one accomplished.

On to step two.

“Cheat?” Azazel really did look confused, Dean almost felt sorry for him.

“You didn’t think I was going to let you get away with this, did you? Let you bring Lucifer out? Kill my brother? No body kills my kid brother but me.”

“Dean always was a natural con. He took what I taught him, which was minor compared to what he’s since learned to do.” John looked down at his foot, scuffed one toe over the floor and raised his chin high enough to look at Azazel. “I don’t know how, haven’t figured it out, but looks like my boy beat you at your own game.”

“You sound almost pleased, Johnny. If I didn’t know better I’d think you were.”

John shrugged. “Dean is my son.”

“A son who I am going to be sure burns in Hell forever,” Azazel snarled.

“No, actually you won’t,” a soft voice said from somewhere behind Dean. Sam stepped from behind one of the pillars and onto the walkway, not stopping until he stood beside Dean.

Azazel growled, “How did you—?”

John’s eyes widened. “Sam?” He breathed the word out.

“Let’s not forget, boys, a deal is a deal,” Dean let himself relax a small amount. He felt better with Sam’s solid presence at his side.

Azazel narrowed his gaze, glowering at them

Sam’s gaze flicked to John’s face and away almost at once. Dipping his head he turned enough to peer at Dean from under his bangs. Turning one corner of his mouth up, Dean winked.

“Dean was always good with the cons, but Sammy? His thing was the languages,” John said and took another step away from Azazel. “Isn’t that right, Sam?”

“Yes sir,” Sam said quietly.

Azazel laughed, his booming filled the entire space. “You two dolts think a few ancient words and musty rituals will affect me? Hardly. I would like to know how you did that?” He pointed at Sam.

“Cheat, remember?” Dean waved grandly at the spot ‘Sam’ lay dead.

When John and Azazel turned to look, the body of the youngest Winchester faded away and another form resolved. Bob stood up, grumbling and brushing his pants off. “That floor is cold.” He pointed at Azazel and grouched, “As much as I hate to admit it, he’s right. Getting shot hurts. Oh, and look, yet another shirt ruined. That’s two you owe me, Winchester.”

“You?” Azazel’s yellow eyes flashed and his face hardened.

“Howdy, Azazel, sucks to be you.”

Sam walked around the circle until he stood beside Bob. Taking a small knife from his jacket pocket, Sam sliced his finger and dipped it in the pool of blood left by the angel. Taking a few steps closer to the circle, Sam flicked the blood from his finger, a few drops landed on the circle, intermingling with the oil. Sparks slithered along the circle, lighting up the design of the trap. A second later it ignited, small flames lapped steadily at the air. He sidestepped around it until he was once again beside Dean. Bob flickered out of sight.

“Oh no. No…no…no…” Azazel said, holding his hands out, palms down again. This time the floor shook, cracks formed a ring around the trap threatening to move through and break the trap.

Grabbing Sam’s collar, Dean stepped back, forcing Sam farther from the circle. “Crap.”

Sam sucked in a breath, shot Dean a look, squared his shoulders and began reciting the exorcism. Azazel inhaled deeply and laughed again. The pressure in the room dropped, every inanimate object not nailed down took flight as wind swirled around, going fast enough it was creating a vortex.

This was the really dangerous part, demons actually gained power before they were exorcised. Fist tightening on Sam’s collar, Dean dug in his pocket for the vial of sacrosanct oil and salt he had as a back up.

“Not this time,” John said in a low voice and with a jerk of his chin Azazel was hit with an unseen force from behind, sending him sprawling face first onto the ground.

Rolling to his feet, Azazel never even flinched. Glowing ember like points of light erupted around John and he was flung full force off the ground until he connected with the Devil’s Trap, smashed into the barrier and bounced off, landing on all fours in the center of the circle. Lifting his head, John glared at Azazel, spit dripping from his lower lip.

“Screw this.” John stood to his full height. “I always liked the old fashioned way better.” Closing the distance between himself and Azazel, John grabbed Azazel’s shirt, lifting him off his feet, shoved him backwards, let go and landed a solid, audible punch to the demon’s jaw. “Never shoulda quit working out, Sparky!”

Azazel hit the ground with a dull thud. Sparks flew, literally, making Sam’s words falter. Dean jostled him back into reciting the rituals.

“Seriously? SERIOUSLY?” Azazel bellowed. “You should have kept up on your demon power studies.”

The ground shaking increased to the point Dean and Sam stumbled. Dean threw his weight against Sam, keeping them both on their feet. The small flames encircling the trap grew and spread along the inner symbols.

A loud boom and a splash of light flared between John and Azazel, blasting them away from each other, both landing on their asses a few feet apart. John was up first, crossing to Azazel again, throwing himself onto the demon.

It was the distraction they needed. Azazel couldn’t fight the ritual words Sam was reciting and John at the same time. The flames reached the center of the circle and swirled into a bullseye dead center of the Devil’s Trap. The floor split open, bits of it dropping down into some abyss, creating a perfect round eye of glowing red. In the next second a black column of flame burst out, winding around Azazel’s ankles and began pulling him at the hole.

Simultaneously the ceiling above them glowed then ignited in a brilliant wave of blue, silver and white. John staggered away from Azazel as the wave from above flowed over him, spinning faster and faster until his body distorted. What looked to Dean to be thousands of tiny wings fluttered out of the eddy of light, flapping around, some seemed to actually slip inside John.

The yellow of John’s eyes vanished, replaced by their normal color. He looked at Dean and Sam for a few seconds, smiled, nodded and whispered, “Get him boys.” John’s body glowed, blues and silvers, purples and brilliant whites spun faster, weaving into and out of his legs and torso. The spinning increased and the wings coalesced around John, drawing him in before pulling toward one another until they and John were a singular opalescent ball of light.

The entire sky lit up for a few seconds in the same pearly light and the ball shot skyward into the larger light. An instant later it was gone.

Step two, accomplished. John might never be human again, but he’d never be a demon either. Hunters in Hell might be like cops in prison, but hunters in Heaven had to be heroes. There was simply no other way.

Sam yanking Dean away from the Trap and throwing his arm across his face at the same time drew Dean’s attention back to the room around them. Rocks, paper, pens, books, everything was a monstrous tornado and they were in its path. The floor beneath their feet split and crumbled, stone tiles becoming rubble. “Dean, we’ve got to—”

“Finish it,” Dean shouted, using his own body to shield Sam. “Talk faster.”

The maelstrom in the room forced them to hunker down on their knees while Sam finished the ritual. The floor exploded upward with his final word and Azazel shrieked as he was dragged through the glowing red opening in the ground. Reaching out, he scrabbled with both hands at the disintegrating floor, leaving scratches as he sank farther down.

Dean grabbed Sam under the arms and hoisted them both up, shoving his brother ahead as they ran at the walkway. The fissure dipped inward and without warning everything stopped. As they made their way to the building entrance, they both turned and looked back in time to see Azazel sucked down, stone from the floor falling in after him.

Then there was silence. The flames along the Devil’s Trap lines died down and went out, leaving nothing but smudgy marks on the chunks of floor that remained. A spider web of cracks covered the entire floor sprawling out from the hole Azazel had dropped down. Dust swirled in the stilling air and things that had been flying around seconds ago fell harmlessly to the ground.

Sam’s fingers curled in his jacket sleeve, tugging at him insistently, demanding they leave.

“Big mistake, making me choose. Should’ve never made me choose,” Dean said to the empty Devil’s Trap and let Sam pull him from the building to the safety of outside world, new and uncertain.


The End
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