Supernatural: The End, Part 6
6 – Dam That River
Sam knew he was taking as long as humanly possible to secure the Book of the Damned in the forbidden vault. But he also had no desire to move any faster. In fact, he wished he could stop time completely.
Because Cas was eager to get this whole Ascension thing started, and seemed to either not notice or just ignore the fact that Dean’s time as a Human could now be counted in minutes. Sam guessed that if he were alive, his anxiety about this would be in the stratosphere, but at the moment it had a weird removed quality to it. He could see his anxiety, examine it from all angles, and yet could neither dismiss it or experience it entirely. He was starting to feel death in bits and pieces, even if it couldn’t fully commit.
This was it, wasn’t it? He was going to be saying goodbye to Dean for good. He knew eventually this would happen, one way or another, but it still hurt. Dean was pretty much the only family he had ever had. Dad was more of a myth to him, and he couldn’t remember Mom. Dean was his constant. He had no idea what he was going to do without him, but he was going to find out soon enough.
Sam finally returned to the main room, where Dean was looking at an array of weapons spread out across the table. Despite the fact that Dean was probably going to miss the beginning of the fight, he was setting out an arsenal for Sam, as he wanted him to be equipped for any contingency. And there were a lot of contingencies to choose from.
The Darkness could attack in its basic form, as a wall of solid black smoke. It could possess people in masses and make them attack, like Dawn of the Dead finally started to happen. It could also possess animals en masse, and bring to life everyone’s favorite nightmare of zombie bears and wolves. As Cas pointed out, before Dean regained consciousness and took over the conversation, Sam couldn’t be more dead, but he could be dismembered. Which was a fair point Sam hadn’t considered before. And now that he had, he wanted a suit of armor, but that might not be practical. He kept imagining himself as the Black Knight from Monty Python and The Holy Grail, and suddenly it wasn’t funny anymore.
He joined Dean in looking over the table of weapons. There were shotguns, pistols, machetes, knives, silver bullets, bullets full of rock salt, mystically imbued daggers, amulets and talismans. Salt and silver probably wouldn’t work against the Darkness, but Cas actually wasn’t sure, so they figured what the hell. Might as well try the old standbys. “I’m gonna need a bigger boat,” Sam finally said.
“They’ll fit in the trunk,” Dean said, with a great deal of confidence. “And the back seat.” After a pause, he added, “The passenger seat will be open.”
Sam nodded, and grabbed a duffel bag, which was where all the ammo would be going. It wasn’t the best system in the world, but it would have to do. “Our lives are ridiculous.”
“No shit.” Dean said it with a big smile on his face. He loved stuff like this.
Dean started packing up the knives in a hard case container, as that was generally the best way to handle a buttload of them, but he paused and stared at Sam. He noticed this out of the corner of his eye, but Sam didn’t stop packing. “I’ll be joinin’ the fight. Save me a seat.”
Sam nodded, clenching his teeth. All he could think was Dean was not coming back, despite his big talk, and despite Cas’s assurances. He would be Death, a Horseman. Not Human, not his brother, not anymore. It seemed worse than death.
Dean grabbed his arm, making him look in his direction. “Sam, I’m serious. I’m coming back. I’m not leaving you alone to fight them.”
“You don’t trust me.”
“I trust you. I don’t trust the angels.”
Dean nodded. It was still him, he knew this was reasonable. Hopefully Cas was keeping his mouth shut. “I’ve been to Hell, and I’ve been to Purgatory. I survived them both. No fucking way is Heaven punching my ticket. It isn’t happening. You get me?”
Sam met his eyes and nodded, and swallowed back the lump in his throat. “I’ll be waiting for you.” Cas had told him he could accompany them to Heaven, but he couldn’t stay. Humans weren’t allowed at Ascensions. The fact that Dean was being allowed in at all, even though he was the one to Ascend, was a massive breach of protocol.
It wasn’t that Sam didn’t trust Castiel either, because of all angels, he trusted him the most. But Cas had been lied to again and again by his own people. What he could do to stop of any of this was unknown, probably even to him. This whole thing was uncharted territory, and it reeked to Sam. He had a bad feeling he couldn’t shake.
But then again, he was dead. Everything felt wrong.
Dean stopped to take a slug from a whiskey bottle – because of course he would – and then grabbed one of the knapsacks they were using for the bigger guns. “It’s gonna be okay, Sammy. You’ll see.”
Once again, Dean hated lying to Sam. But he could see how this was haunting him, and he didn’t want to add to his burdens. He needed to focus on this fight.
It took a while, but Dean finally got Cas to admit the most likely outcome to the Ascension was death. Not becoming Death, but actual dying. It was an uphill battle from the jump. Dean was used to those, so he probably wasn’t as alarmed by the prospect as he should have been, but there was no way he was cluing in Sam.
Also, according to Cas, Rowena fractured his skull (although Cas fixed it.). He wasn’t telling him that either. You had to pick your battles.
Just like the battle he was ignoring, as Cas suggested he probably shouldn’t be drinking before Ascension, but fuck that. He was going to be as numb as possible. Even Cas couldn’t argue with that. Well, not for long, at any rate. Couple of big swallows and Cas was more casual about things.
Was this his last day as a Human? Cas’s answer was “yes and no”, but he was sounding a little drunk, and Dean wasn’t sure how seriously to take him. When Dean pressed, Cas had to admit he didn’t know. Still sounded kinda drunk. What a lightweight.
Dean felt something like a twist in the wind, which was really odd since there was no wind in here, but Cas knew what it was. And sure enough, Hannah was standing in the center of the room, waiting for them. Dean thought she always dressed a bit like a casual librarian, and today was no different. Neat earth tone suit, flats, sensible haircut. Still kinda hot. ‘Hey,’ Cas warned.
“It can’t be time yet,” Sam said.
“I’m afraid so.”
Dean took another swallow of whiskey, and then dropped the bottle on the table. “Okay, let’s get this rodeo started.”
“Just like that?” Sam asked.
With Cas in him, Dean now got a sense of Sam’s emotions, and he didn’t want to. He didn’t want to believe Sam was kind of relieved he was dead, he didn’t want to know Sam was mostly worried about losing the last piece of his family. And also? A little relieved too. Dean knew he and Sam had a love/hate thing going on. They always had, and they always would. That was family, pretty much.
‘Not really … is it?’ Cas asked.
‘Totally, dude. You should know that from Claire.’
Dean almost faked a smile, then figured fuck it. “There’s no point in drawing this out. It’s almost war time.”
‘I don’t hate Claire,’ Cas said. ‘I don’t understand her.’
‘Welcome to teenagers.’
Sam was giving him that worried mother hen look that he had down pat, and number three of his twelve sad looks (his favorite was number ten). “You’re gonna do this macho bullshit stuff to the end, huh?”
Dean just shrugged. He couldn’t argue with the assessment. “If I was any different, you’d know it wasn’t me.”
Sam couldn’t argue that either.
Hannah joined them at the table, and she did something really weird. She put a hand on Dean’s face, and stared into his eyes so fiercely he could almost feel her gaze in the back of his skull. There was something like tears in her eyes, although she was an angel, so it was hard to tell. “Oh, Castiel,” she said, and it was so full of sorrow it felt like a knife in the gut.
Castiel shut down his emotions fast, but Dean got a glimpse, enough to know that he and Hannah had a kind of a thing (was that allowed in angel circles?), and Cas had been lying to him about something. But hey, families lied to each other, right? They all had to have their secrets.
To Dean’s surprise, Castiel spoke through him for a moment. “It has to be this way.”
“I wish it didn’t,” she said.
He felt reality twist, and suddenly they were in sunshine, on a stone path in front of small house with rice paper walls. Dean looked around, and they seemed to be in a garden of some sort. The air was painfully clean, and that was Dean’s tip off that this was Heaven.
Instead of standing in front of him, Hannah was off to his left, and Sam was off to his right. He thought he heard birds somewhere, but he didn’t see any. A water fountain burbled away, and he could hear the sound of one of those weird wooden wind chime things, that sounded like someone hitting a block. “Say your goodbyes now,” Hannah said. “You don’t have much time.”
“Why not?” Sam said. From his posture alone, Dean could tell he was getting angry. “You’re acting like you’re doing us a favor.”
“I am,” Hannah replied, not at all cowed by angry Sam. “No Human should be here.”
“And then what happens?” Dean asked.
“Castiel knows.” She twisted her lips like his name caused her pain.
‘Okay, Cas, I gotta ask –‘
‘The danger isn’t only to you.’
‘She’s acting like this is an execution.’
Cas answered that so fast, Dean knew it was at least some kind of lie. But it was too late to turn back now. Dean turned to Sam, and said, “Go kick some Darkness ass for me. But save me some ‘kay? Somebody’s gotta pay for the cracked windshield.”
Sam grimaced, partly in amusement and partly in pain. “You wouldn’t be Dean without the attitude. Okay.” Sam then hugged him, which was as weird and awkward as it always was, but Cas thought it was nice. Cas was one of those sloppily emotional drunks though. “No matter what, you keep fighting,” Sam whispered to him. “Don’t let go.”
“You too.” Dean slapped him on the back and let him go, ignoring Cas, who was on the verge of weepy.
Sam said, “Cas, I’m holding you to your promise. You hear me?”
‘What promise?’ Dean wondered.
Cas didn’t answer his thought, but he talked to Sam. “I haven’t forgotten.”
Hannah gave Cas/him one last sad look, then touched Sam’s arm, and the pair of them disappeared.
“You’re never gonna tell me, are you?” Dean said. It wasn’t really a question.
‘Sam’s advice is good,’ Cas replied. ‘Don’t stop fighting.’
“I won’t if you don’t,” Dean said, taking a step towards the little house. It looked barely big enough to hold a Port-A-Potty. How could it be the site of the Ascension thing? But Dean knew, because Cas knew. He was supposed to walk inside. “And then what?”
‘Nothing. It will happen.’
“Just like that? Hell of a party trick.” Part of Dean really didn’t want to make the five steps to the door. Part of him wanted to run, even though there was no place to run.
‘Not true,’ Cas said. ‘If you want to go, we’ll go.’
“And Death doesn’t exist, and the Earth goes tits up?”
‘There will be a little time before it does.’
Dean took a deep breath, enjoying the clean air, and knew that while that would be the safest play, he couldn’t do it. He had to take one for the team here. He killed Death. It was all his fault. He had to fix this if he could.
‘It wasn’t all your fault,’ Cas said. ‘Many bad decisions led to here and now.’
Dean snorted a laugh at that. You could probably say his entire life was a series of bad decisions. Suddenly he remembered meeting Famine in that greasy spoon so many years ago, and the bastard telling him he was empty and broken. “Was that why Famine had no effect on me? Was I always supposed to be a Horseman?”
‘No. No Human has ever been a Horseman. It’s unheard of.’
“There’s a first time for everything, isn’t there?” Dean looked at the narrow rice paper door, so dainty and innocuous, and wondered what was on the other side. “Thanks for being willing to back my play, Cas, but let’s get this done.”
He stepped towards the door and slid it open. It was rice paper all right, and felt as flimsy as a one dollar taco. And while he thought he saw nothing inside, as soon as he stepped over the threshold, Dean felt himself falling into intense white light, both way too hot and way too cold.
And in an instant, Dean lost his mind.