Supernatural: The End, Part 11 (The Actual End)
11 – Back In Black
Sam looked out at the pond, and tried to remember when he had ever seen this place. When he was five maybe?
He was standing on a back porch that looked kind of rickety, but you couldn’t argue with the view. A placid blue-gray oval of water, a couple of ducks bobbing on the surface, with scattered clots of willows and aspens arranged around the perimeter. This was some hunter’s home, wasn’t it? A friend of their dad’s. Sam couldn’t recall any of the finer details, just this peaceful view, which was so unlike the motels and truck stops and other random places that made up his scattered childhood.
“Hey Sammy,” Dean said.
He turned to find Dean standing there, but he knew somehow this was Dean and yet not Dean. What was the giveaway? Maybe it was the fact that he had a small hand scythe hanging off his belt. “Is it really you?”
Dean shrugged. “More or less.”
Sam hugged him, even though he knew real Dean would hate it. Still, Dean hugged him in return. For a second. Then he gave him the manly pat on the back that let him know Dean wanted out of this right this moment. Sam almost didn’t oblige him.
Angels could walk through dreams. If Dean was really here, and this wasn’t just wish fulfillment on his part, he made it. He survived Ascension.
Sam sat down on one of the porch steps, and Dean sat down beside him. “Oh, hey, I remember this place. Miguel’s, right?”
“I don’t remember. All I remember is the view.”
“Yeah. Most of the pastoral stuff we saw had monsters in it.”
They just sat for a long moment in silence, enjoying the setting, and avoiding reality. Then, Sam finally couldn’t stand it anymore. “So you’re a Horseman.”
“Angel of Death, yeah. Seems inevitable, now that I think about it.”
“That’s not fair.”
Dean glanced at him, and gave him a sly but still kind of sad half smile. Usually Sam saw it before Dean said something really dickish. “I appreciate it, but yeah, it really is. I’ve always been very good at killing things.”
“We both are. Dad taught us well.”
“Yeah, but you never had the taste for it like I did. When we were kids I thought that made you weak. I’ve grown up since then.”
“I’d hope so, old man.”
Dean had a beer in his hand, because of course he did, and took a gulp. “You say that now, but wait for a thousand years. Then I’ll really be decrepit.”
“Does Death age?”
He shrugged. “Probably not. I have a feeling I could look however I wanted. I could probably look like Adrienne Barbeau.”
Now he knew it was the same old Dean. He just made a baffling reference. It was both heartening and a little sad to realize it was indeed his brother, no longer a member of the Human race. “Who?”
“’70’s actress. You know, she was in The Fog, she had these … never mind.”
Sam just let that one go. It was usually for the best. “What was it like?”
“Ascension? I don’t remember a lot of it. What I do remember … wasn’t pretty.”
Dean sighed, and started picking at the label on his beer bottle. That almost told Sam everything he needed to know. “Still missing. Hannah believes he may have sacrificed himself to jump start the whole thing. And oh man, Cas thought he had some haters in Heaven before. There is a faction that is totally pissed at him for allowing a lowly Human to Ascend, ‘cause they think it sets a bad precedent. Ain’t much they can do about it though, ‘cause I’m Death. I can’t kill them, but they can’t kill me either. Stalemate.”
“Missing’s not dead though, right?”
“Right, and that’s the one thing that gives me hope. Heaven knows what happens to its angels. The fact that they don’t know in this case is kind of a good sign.” Sam nodded, and decided to accept that. What was truly weird was Dean using the word hope and meaning it. “How did it go fighting the Darkness?”
Sam shrugged. “Just another apocalypse battle. They tried to turn me into sidewalk pizza by dropping me from a mile up.”
“Fuck. What was that like?”
“No idea. Hannah got me right before I hit the ground.”
Dean smiled, looking at the pond. “I totally get why Cas liked her. Likes her.” He took another pull from his bottle, trying to pretend he hadn’t screwed up the tense. Sam let him have it. “But the Belial thing worked?”
“Like a charm. I might as well have detonated a briefcase nuke.” Suddenly it occurred to Sam he hadn’t slept or felt the urge to sleep since he was dead. “Am I alive?”
Sam scoffed, shaking his head. “What’s it like for you, being an Angel of Death?”
“Oh crap.” Dean put the bottle down with a slight clunk. “I feel everything. I mean, everything. Plants, animals, insects, you name it. If it’s alive, it’s on my sense network. I think that includes aliens too. By the way, there are aliens.”
Sam grinned, trying to imagine Dean, the man who wanted so desperately to be as emotionless as possible, suddenly being inundated with the stuff. That was either karma or irony, depending on who you asked. “None here, I hope.”
“Oh no. Faster than light travel is either still Star Trek stuff, or they’re avoiding humanity which, let’s face it, is probably a good call.”
Dean picked up his bottle again. It looked full, which would be impossible, except apparently that wasn’t true for an Angel of Death. “People still freakin’ out, huh?”
“Yeah. There’s a rise in weird cults and religious fanaticism, which is troubling.” Everybody now knew supernatural things existed. It was impossible to get that genie back in the bottle, especially since armies of Hell chased hordes of rampaging Darkness through the streets of Beijing and Moscow. Maybe nobody’s camera phones or the internet didn’t work at the time, but some people had old film cameras (most of the shots were blurred or damaged, but some came through), and once the Darkness was banished and everything came back on, people talked. The world hadn’t been ready for a monster explosion, but they got it anyway. “By the way, I’m not sure Crowley is giving all those possessed people back.”
Dean raised an eyebrow at him. “He is now. I paid him a little visit before I came to see you. I let him know he was giving those people back, or I was taking his demons. All of them. Let’s see him run Hell with three guys and a janitor.”
Sam laughed, and wished he could have been there to see that. “I bet he just about shit a brick seeing you as the new Horseman.”
“Oh hell yeah. He was sure I wouldn’t make it. Actually, I think Cas was the only one bettin’ on me.”
“Don’t forget me,” Sam said.
“Well, you had to. You’re my brother.”
They sat in companionable silence for another few seconds, and Sam was aware he felt both happy and sad. Happy because Dean was still very clearly Dean. No angel could successfully fake the weirdness of his brother. But sad, because he wasn’t really his Dean anymore. He was another kind of being altogether. Maybe it hadn’t fundamentally changed him yet, but it might eventually. And he had a long time of eventually, because wasn’t he immortal now? Barring another supernatural being grabbing his scythe and using it on him.
“You still at the Bunker?” Dean finally asked.
Sam nodded. “Why?”
“’Cause I’m bringing someone back, and they’re going to be disoriented. They could probably use a friendly face to get ‘em back up to speed.”
“Charlie. She was just at the cut off point between revival and turning into a zombie, so I got in under the wire.”
Sam sighed in relief. “Oh thank God. Or should I say you now?”
Dean ignored that. “She didn’t deserve to die for me, or for us.”
“No, she didn’t.” Nobody did, but that was probably a given at this point.
Dean reached into his coat pocket, and pulled out a piece of paper, which had a weird symbol on it. It looked Enochian, and seemed to be angular marks inside a crescent moon shape … which looked like a scythe, now that Sam thought about it. “Okay, you ever wanna summon me, just draw this and splash some blood on it. Doesn’t matter what kind, and just a drop’ll do. I’ll be right there.”
“There’s a death summoning sigil?” This was news to Sam. He studied it for a moment, memorizing it, and then tucked it in his own pocket. It might actually be there when he woke up. Angel stuff was crazy.
“It’s Heaven’s best kept secret. I’m not really supposed to spend much time on Earth, ‘cause portents happen and stuff like that, but if you ever need me, I’m there.”
Sam nodded. “I know. You usually are.”
Dean smiled at him and looked away before it got too icky. He was taking another gulp from his endlessly refilling beer bottle when he cocked his head in a very angel like way. “Hannah’s calling me,” he said.
Sam heard nothing, but he wouldn’t. He wasn’t part of that network. “Better get going. I’d hate for you to get fired.”
Dean scowled at him. “Hey, I’m Death. Don’t you sass me.”
Sam smiled at this, and Dean stood, abandoning his beer bottle. “See you around, Dean.”
Dean put a hand on his shoulder and gave it a comforting squeeze. “You’re free now, kid. You don’t have to do the whole Winchester thing anymore. Go live your life and enjoy it, okay? There’s a whole new world of Hunters now. Let them have it.”
Before Sam could say anything, Dean was gone in the faintest sound of ruffled wings. He picked up his beer, and felt a couple of tears gathering in his eyes. He was going to miss Dean, but he was right.
It was a whole new world.
Dean still wasn’t quite used to willing himself places, but it was so damn cool he just wanted to do it all the time. Now he knew why Cas came and went so abruptly. It was fun! But did he know that? Angels never seemed to be a naturally fun bunch.
He went from Sam’s dream to Hannah’s ice blue office with a single step, and he felt the change in energy right away. Not only was she not alone, but she was with a major powerhouse, one of the upper echelon angels.
Which was why it was such a shock to see it was Cas.
“You’re back!” he said stupidly. Of course he was back! Goddamn, how could he be turned into an angel of death and still remain kind of dumb?
But Cas not only smiled, he hugged him. “And you made it.”
Two hugs in one day. This was really weird. But as he patted Cas on the back and tried to subtly push him away, Dean saw the shadow of his wings on the wall. Not only did he have two again, but they were huge. If they didn’t have feathers, he’d have thought they were dragon wings.
Cas still looked like himself otherwise. Still wearing the Jimmy Novak guise, with the dark suit and trench coat, but he kept smiling, and it was weird. Dean finally pried him off, and asked, “What’s up with you?” He glanced at Hannah, to see if she knew, but since she sent no thoughts his way, she waiting for Cas to tell him.
“I’m an Archangel.”
Of all the things he expected, that wasn’t one of them. “Aren’t Archangels all warlord dicks? And dead?”
“He’s a new kind,” Hannah finally said. “It was decided there should be a better way.”
Cas was smiling so broadly, it looked like his face was going to split in half. “He said he was proud of me, Dean.”
He? But Dean knew, even as he thought about it. Accepting that there was a God was going to be the hardest thing about all this.
He hoped he never met him, because after all he and Sam and Cas and the Earth in general had been through, Dean was pretty sure he’d try to kill him.
Two Months Later
“Come on, I can get us a great price on business class tickets,” Charlie said, holding out her laptop. “We need to go get them before someone else does.”
Sam sighed, looking at the news article she’d called up on her screen. It was from a British news service, reporting about some strange stone tablets that had recently been uncovered in Scotland, in “never before seen writing”. The problem was, that writing looked like a sloppy Enochian to both Sam and Charlie, although the photos with the article weren’t the greatest resolution. “I thought we were slowing down on the whole hunting thing.”
“This isn’t hunting,” she replied crisply. “This is gathering.”
He rolled his eyes at the weak joke, and looked away so she wouldn’t catch him smiling. Once Charlie got accustomed to being alive again, which didn’t take long, she’d moved into the Bunker temporarily, at least until she could find more permanent accommodation. But somehow she and Sam had slid into working the whole Men of Letters thing (or as she rightly called it, Person of Letters) again, and they had it up and running as an information hub for the Hunters. With her help, he’d been able to totally digitize the archives, although some of it was still off limits, stored on a server that could only be accessed physically within the Bunker itself. While it was nice to have a back up copy of all these books and letters, they weren’t crazy.
They never intended to hunt together. It was just that one time, when some desperate werewolves bikers rolled through a nearby town, and they were the closest to the place. Then there was the demon serial killer. And that shapeshifter. So they’d ended up doing it a few times, and Sam hated to admit it, but it was kind of fun. He and Charlie clicked on a whole different wavelength than he and Dean had, although it probably helped that they weren’t family, and they spoke the same geeky language. He imagined he and Charlie could probably have a nice, sexless marriage together, if they ever wanted to throw their lives away like that. (He could almost hear Dean in his head snarking, “Wouldn’t all marriages involving you be sexless, Sam?”)
He’d began making baby steps towards having a normal life. He’d just started renting a small place in town, not far from the Bunker, and he was thinking of adopting a dog. Sam knew he’d eventually get to the point where he would never want to hunt again, so he felt like he was getting it out of his system now. In his head, there was a sort of division – the time before the world knew (and Dean became Death), and the time after. While the world was technically more chaotic, with people still not adjusting well to the uncanny, there seemed to be less demonic horrors. Charlie had once remarked, “I bet they’re scared of Dean.” And he wondered that himself. Word had gotten around about Dean’s new role, and the general reaction of the demon community had been shock and horror. A Winchester as the Horseman of Death was the worst thing they could think of.
Sam still had the sigil. He’d even shared it with Charlie, on the off chance she ever needed Dean to show up and wipe out a town on her behalf, but they’d never used it yet. Sometimes Dean would stroll by one of his dreams, have a chat, but Sam was never sure if they actually occurred, or were just in fact dreams.
They were sitting outside on the lawn, close to the Bunker. It seemed to be weird working down there on such a nice day, so he and Charlie had packed up their laptops and some snacks, and came out to enjoy the view. It was easy to forget the world wasn’t all dark and horrible when you were working underground all the time.
Sam knew they should just go to Edinburgh and get the tablets, in case they turned out to be something really bad, but his train of thought was interrupted by the soft sound of rustling wings. “Cas!” Charlie exclaimed, climbing to her feet and engulfing the new Archangel Castiel in a bear hug. Rather than be awkward about it, he hugged her back, smiling. “It’s so fun to hug you,” she told him. “It’s like a spa day.”
She wasn’t kidding. This version of Cas may have been even more powered than previous versions, but he also radiated a kind of remarkable peace that made you want to stay in his presence. He seemed happy, which was weird given all that had happened, but that was Cas for you. Besides, when you thought about it, it all made sense. It wasn’t only Dean who Ascended.
“It’s nice to see you too, Charlie,” Cas told her, holding her at arm’s length. He then looked past her at Sam, and he sighed and put the laptop aside. Cas did visit casually, but not much anymore.
Sam didn’t want to say Cas was functioning as Dean’s minder, but he totally was. Having ridden shotgun with Dean for so long, Sam knew that was kind of a shit job, but Cas never complained. “How are things with Dean?”
“Good. But that’s why I’m here. If you get any reports about ominous portents around Hidalgo del Parral, Mexico, you can ignore them.”
Sam checked his phone, and found it mentioned in his notes. He immediately deleted it. “Dean?”
Cas grimaced slightly. “It seems a girl who was destined to die two years from now showed up early, and Dean got angry and checked it out. It was a huge nest of vampires.”
Sam wasn’t surprised. It wasn’t even the first time Dean had come to Earth to take out a monster threat on his own. He was keeping Heaven busy. “How many?”
Cas thought about it a moment. His eyes looked clearer nowadays, as if partially translucent. But that was the only physical change, beyond his wings. He still appeared to be the same old Cas, just more powerful, and more at peace, than ever. “About two dozen. By the time I got there, Dean had already killed half, and was taunting the rest for picking a fight with Death.”
Charlie snorted a laugh. Sam rolled his eyes. Yep, that was Dean all right.
“I took out the rest and got him back to Heaven.”
Sam raised an eyebrow. “You?”
Cas shrugged. “I only needed to show them my light. They’re vampires.”
Maybe Dean had gotten himself a new (old) hunting buddy too. Good for him. “Thanks for the head’s up.”
“Of course. I like having an excuse to come to Earth.” Cas looked around, still smiling. “In spite of everything, it’s still beautiful.”
“You haven’t been to Omaha lately, have you?” Charlie asked.
Sam got up to shake Cas’s hand. Hugging him seemed a bit too familiar for an Archangel, although he suspected Cas wouldn’t actually mind. When he did, Cas met his eyes, and said, under his breath, “It’s okay, Sam, He’ll never be alone. I’ll make sure of it.”
He felt a cold spike in his stomach. So he knew that was bothering him, huh? Sam did worry about Dean. Not so much now, but what happened fifty years down the road, or a hundred, when everybody he knew was dead? Except Cas. Cas would be the constant, whether he liked it or not.
Cas gave him a beatific smile. “Why wouldn’t I like it? Dean’s the best friend I’ve ever had.”
“Get back to me after twenty years, see if you still feel that way,” Sam said, although he knew Cas meant it. Cas had always loved Dean, in one way or another. He wasn’t going to stop now.
“Hey Cas, you don’t happen to know what these are, do you?” Charlie said, showing him the picture of the tablets.
He studied them a moment, not seeming very concerned. “These might be the lost tablets of an 18th century prophet named Mary Gallagher. Her gift was taken the wrong way by the British, and she was hung as a witch.”
Charlie shook her head in disgust. “The patriarchy, always putting women down.”
“The tablets probably aren’t dangerous, but they may have useful information on them.”
“Okay,” Sam sighed, knowing when he was beaten. “We’ll go to Scotland.”
Charlie made a small noise of triumph, and started searching for plane tickets.
“If you need help translating, just let me know,” Cas offered.
Sam nodded. “Take care of yourself,” Sam said.
Cas gave him a small salute, an irreverent gesture of a kind he actually did nowadays, and disappeared in the faintest ruffling of wings.
“Okay, I got us booked on a flight out tonight,” Charlie announced. “We’re brother and sister Dan and Nancy Wilson, and we’re in business class, ‘cause first class was ridiculous.”
“Dibs on the cutest flight attendant.”
“No,” Sam replied reflexively. “You got dibs last time.”
“Yeah, but she was straight. I get a do-over.”
Sam was going to protest, but what was he protesting exactly? He ended up shaking his head in disgust. “Don’t turn into a female Dean on me.”
She scoffed. “As if. I have better dress sense, for one thing.”
“That’s not difficult,” Sam replied, smiling.
It was a brand new world all right. But some things never changed.