Supernatural: The End, Part 5
5 – This Corrosion
“Find another way,” Sam said, still steaming mad at Cas. But why? Dean knew that getting Death involved in any of this was all his fault. “That isn’t happening.”
But Dean, after his initial shock, realized that it didn’t scare him as much as it should have. In a way, this reeked of inevitability. He was always very good at killing. Seemed he was born to it. “What if you killed me, taking the mantle back?” Dean asked. He could see Sam’s reaction out of the corner of his eye, and it was exactly what he expected.
Cas shook his head. “You’d have to fully take the mantle first. Believe me, I looked for a loophole.”
“This is crazy,” Sam said.
“If I’m Death, I can bring everyone back to life, right?”
“No,” Sam insisted. “Dean, let me go.”
Dean ignored him, and kept his focus on Cas. He knew how Sam would react to this, but he still didn’t understand Dean was his big brother and he was gonna be goddamned if he was just going to let him – or the Earth – die without a fight.
“Those taken by the Darkness? Yes. Depending on when it’s done, maybe more.”
“Even if they don’t have a body?” Dean only realized this second he had a list of people he wanted to resurrect. Some were far fetched, and he had a feeling Bobby would kill him if it was even remotely possible to do, but their lives had been so full of death, the list could never be small.
“Angels are very good at physical resurrections.”
Sam grabbed Dean by the arm, and hauled him up out of his chair. “Cas, give us a minute.”
Cas didn’t even have time to consent. By the time Dean found his feet and yanked his arm free, Sam had dragged him half way across the room. “You are not even thinking about doing this,” Sam said, like it was an order.
“I am. It’s not nearly as crazy as it sounds.”
He scoffed. “A Horseman, Dean? You wouldn’t even be Human anymore.”
“Some people might argue I haven’t been Human for a while now.”
Sam’s eyes narrowed, and he sneered ever so slightly. “Don’t even start that shit. You can’t do this.”
“He won’t be harmed,” Cas said. He was still at the table, but standing now. He was encompassing Sam in his pity gaze too. “I promise you, Sam.”
Sam shot him a deathly glare. “Angels promise a lot of things. They don’t always deliver.”
“Hey, I appreciate this. But I’m not doing anything right now, okay? I’m just thinkin’ about it.” God, he hated lying to him. Okay, that wasn’t always true, sometimes he made up shit when he was really little just to scare him for no reason, but what brother didn’t do that? And right now, he had to look out for him, as much as Sam didn’t want to hear it.
Dean walked back to the table, and grabbed his beer. Meeting Cas’s eyes, he said, “I need time to think about this.” While saying this, Dean was thinking furiously ‘If you can hear me come to my room in ten minutes. Do not tip off Sam.’
Cas opened his mouth to respond, but paused and tilted his head first. Yeah, he was listening. “We can’t wait too long. Ascension is an involved process.”
Dean nodded, and as soon as he took the last swallow of his beer, Cas was gone again. He took the lantern with him.
“Dean, please, don’t do this,” Sam said. Cas was gone, and so was his anger. “We’ll find another way.”
“Can we?” Dean wondered. Honestly, he’d love it if they could. But he could almost feel the clock ticking. They were running out of time on so many things. “I’m open to whatever you can find, Sammy. But you’d better hurry up.” He wandered off to get another beer, and to think.
Dean knew, honestly, he’d done a lot of good for the world. But he’d also done a lot of terrible things, and he wasn’t sure he could ever be forgiven for some of them. Nor should he be. He didn’t forgive himself. Would it pay back any of the evil shit he’s done if he did this? He wasn’t sure. Maybe nothing could ever make that right. But it was a start.
He went back to his room, which was kind of spare. Dean was not big on decorating, but then again, he spent most of his life living in various motel rooms. He had his albums, he had his books, he had some porn … all he needed, really. Which was sad, right? Like, super pathetic. Dean sat on his bed and wondered what he’d miss. Or, more to the point, would anyone miss him?
Sam. The answer was always going to be Sam. And that was it.
If he wasn’t here, maybe Sam could finally have a life. He wouldn’t have to do the damn Winchester thing. He could live like a normal person for once, not in some goddamn bunker library with his brother. And if he was Death, he could hunt to his heart’s content, couldn’t he? He wouldn’t even have to expend any effort to put a hurt on the demons. He could be the one thing he was trained to be, do the one thing he was genuinely good at. He was a born and raised Hunter, and this would allow him to do nothing but.
Dean was finishing his beer when Cas popped into existence in front of his television. “Just in time.”
“I don’t feel good leaving Sam out of this,” Cas said, surprising him. “He will be angry.”
Dean shrugged. He was kind of surprised, but letting go of this life didn’t seem so bad. Not if he could do some good in the next one. “He’s gonna be angry regardless. He doesn’t wanna admit it, but this is gonna be as good for him as it is for me.”
Cas actually looked doubtful. “I don’t think he’ll see it that way.”
“He will. Eventually. It’ll take some time.”
Suddenly, the door to Dean’s room opened, and there stood Sam in the doorway. “I knew it.”
Dean levered himself off his bed with a sigh. “Sam …”
Sam ignored him and rounded on Castiel. “Are you really saying there’s no other way to bring back Death? That the angels are powerless?”
“Yes. There are very specific rules, even some we cannot break.”
“You’re talking about turning him into a Horseman. He won’t be Dean anymore, he’ll be Death.”
“He’ll be Dean as Death. I’ll make sure of it.”
Dean grabbed Sam’s arm, to pull him away from Cas, but he shrugged off his grip with surprising ease. “How can you promise that? You’re taking him over for Christ’s sake.”
“I’m only there to make sure Dean survives Ascension. I have no intention of negating his will.” Cas put a comforting hand on Sam’s arm, which was weird for all sorts of reasons, especially because such Human gestures were still strange for him. He rarely if ever got them completely right. Even Sam seemed momentarily taken aback by it.
“I’ll be in the driver’s seat, right?” Dean asked, just to make sure.
Cas nodded. “Of course.”
Sam turned, facing Dean. “You can’t.”
Dean clapped him on the arm. He was technically bigger than him, but he was always going to see Sam as his little brother, no matter what. “It’s okay. I promise you, it’s gonna be okay.”
Sam grabbed his arm, squeezed it for emphasis. His eyes were both panicked and sad. “No. Dean, there’s still time. We’ll figure something out.”
Dean smiled, and couldn’t help but feel a little sad. This felt like a goodbye. But in that case, he had to be strong for Sam. “Trust me.” He looked over Sam’s shoulder, and met Cas’s eyes. Even he looked a little sad. “I consent.”
“No!” Sam shouted. His first impulse was to pull Dean out into the hall, even though that would make no difference. It was too late anyway.
A blinding white light filled the room, making Sam raise his arm to protect his eyes, and when the light died as suddenly as it began, Sam found himself alone in the room.
No, that was a lie. Cas was gone, and Dean was unconscious on the floor. “Dean,” he said, dropping to his knees. Dean’s empty beer bottle rolled under his bed, and Sam had a brief moment of déjà vu. Dean didn’t do it all the time, but every now and then, after a particularly hard or ugly case, he’d come to Dean’s motel room and find him passed out, surrounded by empties, looking like a cut scene from Leaving Las Vegas. He didn’t want to call him an alcoholic because that seemed unfair, but he definitely self-medicated, and had since he was … fifteen? Sixteen? Since he began hunting in earnest. That was no coincidence.
Dean’s eyes opened, but even though they appeared the same as they always had, he knew it wasn’t Dean looking out of them. Sam blinked back tears of rage, and said, “You make sure no one hurts him, understand me? I’m going to hold you to that.”
Castiel nodded, and shut his eyes. When they opened again, Sam knew it was Dean looking out of them. He’d known his brother too long. “See? All good.”
Sam stood, and gave Dean a hand up. “I can’t believe you were gonna go behind my back to do this.”
“I didn’t want to argue anymore. The time for talking has passed. Now we gotta do something.” Dean looked around the room, even though nothing was different, and Sam wondered if he felt different. When Gadreel was secretly riding him, he felt strange, but he always chalked it up to his injuries.
“Yeah. I feel great. That’s the weird thing.” Dean suddenly cocked his head, like Cas sometimes did, and it was a little eerie. “Cas said it was because I was supposed to be the Michael sword. I was made to be an angel host.” Dean scowled. “Fuck, that’s depressing. Don’t ever say that again.”
Oh good. Now Dean and Cas were going to argue, and Sam was only ever going to hear one side of it. That would get old real fast. “What’s our next move?”
Dean opened his mouth to say something, and paused, as obviously Cas was saying something to him. But Dean shook his head. “No, we get Rowena first. She still has the Book of the Damned, and the sooner we get that back and toss it in the forbidden vault, the better.”
Sam actually couldn’t argue with that. The book was dangerous, and Rowena was dangerous. Together, they were an immediate and terrible threat. “I have some ideas on that front,” Sam said. He felt like the whole Rowena thing was totally his fault, so he wanted to make up for it if he possibly could.
He hoped there was still time for that.
At first, Crowley’s people balked at fighting with the angels. But after a death or two, they fell right into line, just as he suspected. None of them were thrilled with the Darkness, it was just they had to protest, because, ugh, angels. He totally got that. And if there were any other choice to be had, he would’ve made it.
He was strategizing, figuring they’d battle on the ground and leave the airborne bullshit to the angels, when he felt the world shift.
It was a feeling of power, of magic so dark it was tearing at the fibers of the universe, and when Crowley looked up, he knew two things. One, that this was his mother’s doing, and two, that he was trapped. “Hello, Fergus,” she said.
Crowley found himself trapped in a summoner’s circle, of a type he had never encountered before. It was made up completely of salt and blood, and not even the goat’s blood kind. This was Human blood. And even worse than that, virgin blood. He could see the corpses in the corner, two men and one child, probably a boy, throat slit open so wide he was nearly decapitated.
As best he could tell, this was happening in a burned out church, as what remained of the walls and floors was black, and there were huge holes in what was left of the roof. Bad shit had happened here; he could feel it against his skin like sandpaper. She’d picked a site of intense violence and black magic, which just figured.
Crowley tried to access his power, but found himself completely cut off this time. Not only that, but he felt dizzy, and collapsed to one knee. This whole time, she was throwing out both Aramaic words and some kind of pidgin Enochian. He saw she was reading from the Book of the Damned, which was on the burned out remains of an altar, and next to it was … holy shit, was that the demon tablet? “What are you doing to me?”
She glanced up from the book and gave him a ghoulish smile. “I’m turning you mortal, my dear. And not just mortal. I’m making sure you’ll turn your true age when you become Human. Do you know how old that will make you? That’s a genuine question. I stopped counting my birthdays after I hit two hundred. There’s really no point, is there?”
“You can’t do that,” he gasped, but yeah, she could. He could feel all the strength leaving him, and could hear his own bones creaking. “For fuck’s sake, what’s the point of this?”
“Well, dearie, you should have guessed by now, but you were a real disappointment to me. You can’t even run Hell correctly. So I’m going to take over, and do a damn sight better job than you ever did. With Earth in the condition it’s in, I should be running that too within a week. Has anyone even tried talking to the Darkness? I’m sure it can be bought. Everything can either be bought, controlled, or destroyed. All three if you’re lucky.”
“You’re deranged,” he said, finding it increasingly difficult to even form words. “I should have put you in a home.”
“You should have been a King, and not the Winchester’s little bitch.” She went back to chanting, and lit some consecrated remains on fire, filling the air with the acrid scent of charred meat and burned bones. That should have been appealing, but Crowley found it sickening, and actually gagged a little, spitting out bile on the bloodied pentagram. He watched the skin on the back of his hand start to shrivel.
Suddenly a gunshot rang out, and his mother staggered away from the book, grabbing her chest. Sam Winchester came through the burned doorway of the church, cocking a big ass gun. “Moose, I’ve never been so happy to see you,” Crowley gasped. He wasn’t sure he heard him.
“How dare you!” Rowena snapped, and waved a hand in Sam’s direction. Nothing happened, and she seemed surprised.
“Witch trap bullet,” Sam said. “Did you think only demon traps existed?”
She scowled at him, and put her hand over the bullet wound. She closed her eyes in concentration, and after a second, flung her hand away. A bloodied bullet flew across the room.
Sam had reloaded the gun, but before he could fire, she spat out a spell and he went flying right back out of the church, as if hit by an invisible wrecking ball. “Bloody pests,” she grumbled. “I should turn them into goldfish.”
Moving with a grace and silence Crowley never would have attributed to him, Dean had snuck through a hole in the rear wall, and was creeping up on Rowena. Crowley deliberately didn’t look in his direction, as he didn’t want to tip Squirrel off to her.
It didn’t matter. She must have sensed him, as she turned and barked out a spell. Squirrel managed to throw something at her before he went sailing into and through the damaged rear wall.
Rowena swallowed a scream and grabbed her face as whatever Dean hit her with bubbled and boiled her skin, turning it red and raw where it hit. It wasn’t holy water, but probably something quite like it. Crowley thought it smelled faintly metallic. “Oh, you little bitch,” she grated through clenched teeth. “I’m going to flay you alive for that.”
Sam had managed to crawl back into the church. He was bleeding from the mouth and nose, and seemed to grimace with every movement, but he wasn’t giving up yet. That was one thing you had to give to the Winchesters, as annoying as they were. They were tenacious little bastards. They were ticks who burrowed into your skin and refused to let go.
Belatedly, Crowley realized Sam was saying something under his breath. It was a spell, and he wiped blood from his own mouth before forming his hand into a fist. Blood magic. Crafty Moose!
“Oh no you don’t,” Rowena said, as she must have felt it. She raised her hand and held it outward, picking Moose up off the floor and leaving him hanging there, like a marionette dangling on slack strings. She began to incant a spell that Crowley knew well. It was one for organ liquefaction. A nasty, slow death. She stopped spellcasting for a second just to rub it in. “I can’t tell you how long I’ve been waiting to do this to you, you arrogant little berk.”
Moose could no longer enchant, as he was coughing up lumpy gouts of black and red blood. But Crowley felt a rush of strength, and belatedly realized the spell Moose had thrown had distorted the super-powered demon trap holding him here. Not enough for him to break free, not yet, but if Rowena kept concentrating on a Winchester assault, it may have been enough.
Squirrel was back on his feet, blood gushing from a deep gash on his scalp and turning half his face crimson, but his expression was odd. It took Crowley a moment, but he realized it wasn’t actually Dean. It was Castiel looking out through his eyes. How in the hell did he end up inside Squirrel?
He moved even more quietly than Dean had, and she turned with a curse on her lips as Squirrel/Castiel came up to her.
She got out a single word of a spontaneous combustion spell when Castiel put his fingers on her forehead, and her eyes exploded in their sockets. She’d opened her mouth to scream, and that was the last thing she did, as Castiel had already pumped enough angel fire through her to turn her brains to soup. She fell to the charred church floor like a hundred pound bag of dog shit, smoke still rising from her eye sockets.
Sam hit the floor, still horking up blood, until Castiel /Squirrel walked over to him and put his hand on his head. Instantly healed, Moose sat back on his haunches, wiping blood from his chin. “That coulda gone better.”
“You angels don’t believe in foreplay, do you?” Crowley said, looking back at the corpse of his mother. Her skull was still smoking.
“Nobody puts a spell on me,” Castiel said. Only it was Squirrel’s voice, which made it all the more confusing.
Castiel/Squirrel came up to the summoning circle, and smeared it with his foot, completely releasing its hold on Crowley. He stood up, straightened his jacket, and hoped his hair was all right. It was humiliating enough being rescued by the God squad; he didn’t need to look bad on top of it. “I knew that will they/won’t they stuff wouldn’t go on forever, but when I expected you and Dean to hook up, it wasn’t like this. What happened?”
Castiel/Squirrel cocked his head, giving him a puzzled stare. Yep, that was Castiel. “It’s a long story.”
“Is he all right?” Sam asked, standing up and retrieving his gun.
“Dean? He’s unconscious, but he’ll be fine.” Castiel finally noticed the blood dripping off his face, and put a hand up to the gash on the side of Squirrel’s head. When he removed his hand, it was gone.
Crowley held out his hands in open invitation, and asked, “How long a story?”
Moose cut between them, headed for the altar. “Dean killed Death. He’s inheriting the mantel. Cas is keeping him alive through Ascension.”
“Apparently not that long,” Castiel said.
“Dean is becoming a Horseman?” Now he really felt out of the loop. A Human becoming a Horseman was not only unprecedented, but Crowley was pretty sure it was impossible, even though Dean definitely had the temperament for it. Still, if Castiel was letting Moose and Squirrel have a sliver of hope, why should he puncture their bubble? “Wow. That makes so much sense. When you said Heaven was taking care of the Death situation, Cas, you really buried the lede.”
Castiel continued giving him that puzzled look, but on Dean’s face it was kind of hilarious. Crowley turned and saw Moose had retrieved the Book of the Damned. “I’ll take the demon tablet.”
Moose snorted, like he was making a joke. “I don’t think so.”
“And you think I’m letting you people take it, after you’ve done such a good job of taking care of it?”
Castiel walked over, holding out his hand. “Can I have it?”
Moose, to his credit, gave him a deeply suspicious look. “To what end?”
“To do what should have been done with it a long time ago.”
So vague. Angels loved that shit. Language was beautiful and precise, and they had to muck it up with lies that weren’t lies. It really looked like Moose was going to object, but he gave it to him. “Don’t make me regret it.”
“You won’t,” Castiel said, and then disappeared into thin air. He was back in the blink of an eye, but when he returned, he was soaked. He was dripping water like he’d just climbed out of a carnival dunk tank.
“What did you do?” Moose asked.
“I dropped it in the Marianas Trench.”
Moose shook his head. “Dean’s gonna be pissed. That’s his favorite jacket.”
“This?” Castiel asked, looking down at it. Crowley understood that reaction, because it was a ridiculous leather jacket. Tailored, maybe given a bit of style, it would have been okay, but it made Dean look like a total burnout.
Well, once he started Ascension, he’d be a charred corpse. That’d just complete the look.