Supernatural: The End, Part 7
7 – Bear Away
Crowley tried to remember the last time he was in London. Was it ’82? Something like that. The Thatcher years had been a real boom time for him, as people couldn’t sell their souls fast enough. Since these things were cyclical, he was pretty sure the city was ripe for harvesting, as he had a feeling the new boss was going to be great for business. You could smell desperation in the air.
Well, mostly it was smoke at the moment, because half the city was on fire. London wasn’t alone in having Great Fire number two, as most major cities worldwide were burning. Governments had been overthrown, the economy had broken wide open, and everything was burning. Humans were not coping well with their new reality, which would also be damn good for business. Now, these silly buggers just needed to die again, so he could collect all these wonderful, juicy souls.
He was within spitting distance of the West End, where there were poncy shows for posh people. The fact that it wasn’t burning went to show you how much respect the British still had for the arts.
There were no cars on the street, except for ones crashed, turned upside down, or on fire. He walked down the center, unmolested, and shouted, “Forget it brothers, you can go it alone!” Would anyone even get that reference now? People just had no respect for the classics.
Dean probably would have gotten the reference. But he was probably dead now. And genuinely dead, not claimed by the Darkness but still walking around bullshit, because Heaven was a special snowflake and had their own system. Cas was probably still alive, for the moment. He’d die last, and he’d die hard, knowing he’d failed. Angels really took that kind of thing hard for some reason. That whole impressing daddy complex.
Crowley felt eyes on him, and couldn’t help but grin. They probably thought he didn’t know. They probably also thought he was alone.
The Darkness was big and nasty, hunger and chaos without surcease, but they were also intensely stupid. He bet that was true of the band as well, although he couldn’t say for sure, as he’d never met them.
A black cloud, hanging low over the buildings, proved itself not to be fire smoke by moving snake like towards him, skimming the tops of buildings and surging towards the street like a sentient wave. Finally Darkness possessed people began to come from the buildings as well. Whoever they were – male, female, or other; young, old, or indeterminate – they all looked roughly the same. Black smoke drifted from their eyes, their nose, their mouths, and their veins bulged black, like there was a fire inside them raging unchecked. They were stronger than they looked, but the host bodies had a tendency to rip apart under the strain. In fact, he saw a little kid, maybe ten, already bleeding from the shoulder blade, a pressure point starting to separate.
By the time Crowley stopped walking, there were at least two dozen possessed waiting for him at the end of the street, a swirl of uncontainable Darkness above them, coiled like a snake ready to strike. He gave them his best grin, and said, “You’re the welcoming committee, huh? I can’t help but feel a little cheated. You couldn’t have put out for a party sub or a few beers?”
They just stared at him. No sense of humor. How could anything be more humorless than angels? You wouldn’t think the universe could bear it.
“Let me clue you in on a few things, okay?” Crowley continued. “The Earth isn’t yours anymore. You had a chance, you blew it, you got your ass handed back to you by the feather brigade. That’s just embarrassing. How do you have the nerve to show your faces again?”
There was a noise like the wind roaring through an empty skull, and after a moment, Crowley recognized it as a voice. “Ours.”
He shook his head. “Nope. You need to go back to whatever hole you crawled out of. There’s no room at the inn, sunshine.”
“Ours,” they said again.
Crowley rolled his eyes. “I feel embarrassed for you, you know that? You’re letting down the evil side in a big, big way.”
The group started lurching towards him, a drunken stagger step that suggested they hadn’t been controlling them long enough to get the hang of bipedal ambulatory systems. “I think you’re confused. You don’t seem to know who I am.” Crowley whistled sharply.
Behind him, the sky suddenly turned black with swarms of demons, plunging into buildings, taking human hosts unclaimed by the Darkness. The demons of London who already had hosts flooded the street behind him, and there was the soft noise of padding paws on the asphalt. Just by the volcanic breathing, he knew his favorite Hellhound, Buffy, had sidled right up to him. She was a beautiful beast, seven feet tall from claws to crown, as red as old blood, with three beautiful black eyes and a gigantic mouth with three rows of pristine white fangs. He felt bad for all those who couldn’t see her. She was a gorgeous nightmare. He patted her side. “I’m the King of Hell, and I told you to leave. I don’t give people second chances.” He glanced back at his demons, impressed by their number. They were easily double the Darkness, and they hadn’t all arrived yet. “All great military operations need a name, don’t they? How does Operation Hell On Earth strike you? Too flamboyant, or just flamboyant enough?”
The Darkness had paused. They had no facial expressions whatsoever, but he got the sense they were confused. It was so hard to be that stupid.
He gave Buffy a final pet, and checked to make sure the rest of her pack was here. Yep. All eighteen of them.
Crowley gave the Darkness a sarcastic little wave goodbye. “Sic ‘em, darlings.”
Void. All was void. Empty darkness, yawning, hungry, endless. Broken. Empty, broken. Eternity was empty and empty was all and oblivion was everything and everything was nothing. Everything hurt and nothing mattered.
Down. Falling down forever, into a hunger that could never be fed, an emptiness that could never be filled, a void that expanded to encompass everything. Forever falling, nothing to grab onto, all was lost, all was broken and empty and meaningless. Nothing but pain. Pain like a scream, attached to nothing, going nowhere and meaning nothing. Pain was pain was pain was.
Nothing. Was nothing. It was all black and meaningless and empty. Everything was the void. The void was the beginning and end, the start and the finish, the being and nothingness. The void was pain and the void was all. There was nothing but empty shells, empty shells made only to feel pain and feed a nothing that could never be fed.
(“Dean, you need to focus on my voice.”)
Screaming. There was screaming, and it was everywhere and nowhere, close and far. It was in the void, but couldn’t fill the void, because the void couldn’t be filled. It echoed into eternity and came back around, and it was never enough. It could never be enough.
What the hell was that? That was nothing. Nothing on nothing on nothing. More screams from the void. Unfettered, full of pain, bleeding into the darkness, filling the void that couldn’t be filled.
(“I am here. I need you to reach out to me.”)
It needed to stop. The pain, the screaming, the void. It couldn’t stop. It needed to stop. There were threads in the darkness, black on black on black, all tunneling down, veins of the void, reaching towards a bottom that simply didn’t exist. The void was everything and the void was endless, and the void was filled with so much pain, but never enough. There could never be enough.
(“Dean, goddamn it, listen to me!”)
It felt good to fall and fall and fall. If there was just an end to the screaming, the pain, the void wasn’t so bad. Nothing was okay. Nothing was better than something, because something was a lie. It was all lies, a way to dull the screams, a way to forget the pain, but the pain couldn’t be forgotten. The emptiness couldn’t be filled. The void was the void was the void was the void was.
The voice … the voice. The voice was someone. The voice couldn’t be someone, because no one existed. There was nothing but void, screaming and pain and falling. It was a lie it was all a lie it was all a trap a void a way to a lie to pain to falling.
(“Focus on me. Understand? Focus on my voice.”)
There was a pinprick of light in the void in the black. It was a lie lie lie lie lie.
(“Don’t give up.”)
There was there was a border to the void. It was a lie lie lie. That way led to more screaming falling pain. That way laid nothing on top of nothing on top of nothing. There was nothing here no one here just lies and void and pain and.
It was like falling through a ceiling, to hit another ceiling, to hit another ceiling. Pain like shards of glass being pounded into his brain with a claw hammer, and so much screaming. Why was there so much pain in the void, and so much screaming? So empty, so much nothing so much so much …
And just like that, Dean snapped back into his body. Or maybe not. He didn’t know anymore.
It was a long time before he was able to put together a coherent thought, or to recognize Dean was his name. He was on a wooden floor, in a vast pool of blood. He was watching it spread out crimson over the slats, watched dust motes dance in sunlight, and saw books piled haphazardly near a window with peeling paint. After much time had glided away, he realized he was in Bobby’s house, even though he didn’t know who Bobby was right now.
“What in the holy ever loving fuck was that?” Dean asked, when he finally remembered how. His voice sounded like a rusty gate, and he felt blood congealing in the back of his throat. Oh, so he was the one doing all the screaming. That made sense.
He thought his arm hurt, but after more time slid away like an ice cube melting in the sun, he realized it was Cas still holding on to him. His grip was so tight his fingers hadn’t unlocked yet. It took him another ice cube’s worth of time to realize who Cas was, and how it was his voice trying to find him in the void. You’d think he’d have been tired of pulling him out of deep, bad shit by now.
Dean was lying on the floor, but Cas was sitting beside him, slumped against the base of Bobby’s couch. It hadn’t been a joyride for him either, as he wasn’t moving, and Dean was pretty sure he wasn’t conscious for a while. Either he hadn’t heard his question, or simply couldn’t answer it.
Dean was trying not to move too, mostly because it felt like his organs had been removed and replaced with broken glass. All his bones had shattered, and he was pretty sure he lost the top of his skull, although, again, that probably wasn’t true. Or maybe it was. No way to tell down here on the floor.
Dean tried to lift his head, and blood drooled out of his mouth, widening the pool in increments. The pool had a shape, and he tried to prop himself up to have a better look at it, but his arms could barely move, and he hurt so much he was dizzy from it, his brain reeling around his skull like a broken carnival ride. Finally he saw that the huge pool of blood was shaped like a wing, and after more time glided away, he realized Cas had had a wing ripped off pulling him out of the void. No wonder he was unconscious. On the very narrow plus side, most of the blood probably wasn’t Dean’s, so that was something.
He collapsed back into the blood and just lay there, unable to work up the strength to do much else. Cas coughed, letting him know he was still alive, and now awake. He began prying his own fingers off Dean’s arm. “Are you all right?” Cas asked.
“No,” Dean responded, as soon as he was able to. “How the hell am I still alive?”
“I don’t know.”
“How are you still alive?”
“I don’t know.”
“Well, good. As long as we’re all on the same page.”
Cas finally let go of his arm, and Dean half expected to fall through the floor, but he didn’t. He almost wanted to. “We’re not done here, are we?”
“No. This is barely underway.”
Dean wanted to laugh, but couldn’t. Great, so their first round with Ascension was a total TKO. He didn’t think they’d survive round two. Maybe they could just stay here and bleed to death on Bobby’s floor. There were worse ways to go.
He tried to remember what actually happened to him, but couldn’t. It was like his brain just exploded, there was so much … something. Input, output, pain, something. (Nothing.) He was everywhere and nowhere. It was the most hideous sensation he had ever been subjected to, and he had a fucking epic list of hideous sensations.
Worse yet, he could feel his soul being eaten away, one greedy bite at the time. He was a meal for the crows. They were still peeling his soul clean, and he didn’t know you could feel such a thing. Maybe only here, in Heaven’s basement.
It was possible more time had passed, but it was an intangible thing here. Time was a concept for an outer world, a better world. Not here. But the blood wing puddle on the floor was wider. “Why aren’t you healing?”
“I am, but it’s very slow,” Cas said. Even his voice sounded weak. That explained why he wasn’t even trying to heal him. They were on their own in here, left to their own devices. Which meant Cas was gonna last a lot longer than he was. In fact, Dean thought he’d really like to throw in the towel now, if he knew who to tell.
But it was too late. He was all in, whether he liked it or not, whether or not he’d survive the next five minutes. “What happens now?”
“I don’t know. Everything that happens here is autonomic.”
That was way too big a word for Dean to understand right now. Even blinking hurt. “There’s no way out, is there?”
“Only through. Or death.”
“I wish death would hurry the fuck up.”
Cas made a noise that may have been an attempt at a laugh. It was amused at any rate. “There are so many things worse than death. And we’re going to experience most of them.”
“Wow, Crowley’s right. You are a buzzkill.”
“I’m an angel. Buzzkill is our middle name.”
Dean very carefully turned his head and looked up at Cas. He was smiling faintly and looking paler than he had ever seen him. There was a slight possibility he was in shock, if angels could actually experience such a thing. Maybe here they could. “Don’t you fucking die on me.”
His eyes moved towards him, but his head remained perfectly still. Maybe he was healing, but he was still in pain. “It’s not going to be that easy.”
“You are just a bundle of good news today.” Dean concentrated, and pushed himself up to his elbows. It hurt so much he had to swallow a scream, and he almost collapsed. Had he been pounded flat with a steamroller? He mentally pictured himself as a cartoon coyote, and had no idea where that thought came from.
More blood dribbled from his mouth, and he felt the tiny death of his soul being bitten in two. It was like he was being pulled apart at the molecular level, and sewn back together with cactus needles and a staple gun.
Dean used the couch to climb to his knees, swallowing back even more screams. He felt screamed out right now. Maybe they could check in with him later. His head felt like it was full of helium, like it was in danger of detaching from his neck and floating away. He was going to die here. That thought should have bothered him, but it didn’t. Actually, he couldn’t wait.
“Dean, don’t give up.”
“I’m not giving up,” he replied, and wasn’t sure if that was true. There were so many things he didn’t know anymore. Finally he pushed himself up to his unsteady feet, and held his hand down towards Cas. “C’mon, we’ve got a job to do.”
Dean wondered when he’d shatter so irrevocably even Cas wouldn’t even be able to put him back together. He was willing to bet that moment was five minutes away.