Supernatural: The End, Part 8

 

8 – Drown With Me

Sam knew he had to pick both the time and space where he deployed the Belial artifact carefully. He would be damning a particular spot to constant death. Nothing would ever grow there again. But it was better a mile of land died than the whole planet, so certain sacrifices had to be made.

 

He figured out the best bet was Oak Grove Cemetery, on the far outskirts of town. It was near an industrial area that was pretty well contaminated anyway, and the cemetery itself had gone to seed. It was mostly just a hang out spot for bored Goth teens. They’d probably find everything being mysteriously dead around it a huge turn on.

On his way there Sam stopped to see if anything worked on the Darkness. It was a big fat no on rock salt and silver, but they didn’t like the holy water very much, and they absolutely hated the sage smoke. And he made brief notes of this in case there was ever a time when another monster hunter needed to know how to turn back Darkness. And it kept his mind off the fact that Dean and Castiel were probably dying in Heaven right now. Or succeeding. What was the worse case scenario here? He couldn’t see Dean becoming a Horseman as an upside, and he tried, he really did. But he would dead, he would be non-human, he wouldn’t be Dean anymore. He’d be some kind of creature walking around in his meat suit. He hoped he was wrong. Sam never wanted to be so wrong in his life.

Once he got to the cemetery, he started making a protective circle of salt and started smudging sage in bowls, and when he ran out of those, on tombstones.

He could see the swirling black clouds of the Darkness over the city, as well as an occasional flash of bright light in the higher clouds that precipitated a rain of ash. It was the angels using the lantern, proving that it did indeed work on the Darkness too. It was possible some of that ash was also angels, because they weren’t all sweetness and light, but that was for Hannah to deal with.

Sam set up shotguns and the most magically powerful swords he had in a circle around him. He had the fragment of Belial blood wrapped in a silver mesh lined cloth, ready to be broken. But he wasn’t going to do that until he had the deepest concentration of Darkness possible.

You’d think since he’d put out all these precautions they’d run away, but the Darkness was particularly malevolent, and liked to go after anyone who targeted it, hence his stopping to see what worked on them on the drive over. He was trying to provoke them into following him, coming after him. The fact that Death was currently missing in action was no deterrent to their attacks. It was hard to say if they didn’t know, or just didn’t care. Nor was the fact that he was already dead by them any deterrent either.

Black clouds started drifting towards him, and he fired a shotgun into them, trying to make them pour it on. You’d think in such a form bullets wouldn’t bother them, but it did, even if it didn’t do much in the way of damage.

“How goes it?” a woman’s voice asked.

Sam just about jumped out of his skin. Hannah was standing behind him and off to the left a little, near one of the smudge pots. “Shouldn’t I be asking you that question?”

She gave the slightest nod of her head, hands clasped primly in front of her. “Crowley has managed to rally the demons, and they have the Darkness cornered in the Urals.”

This news was a little baffling. “All the Darkness in Russia?”

“All the Darkness in Europe and Asia.”

“Holy shit.” Well, you had to give it to Crowley. When he promised to bring the pain, he meant it. And there was a little dagger of hope in him that maybe the Earth didn’t die today. It was good, but it was also just a little bit terrifying.

“Yes. Castiel’s suggestion to bring him into the fight was genius. No one likes to hurt things more than Hell.” She winced ever so slightly saying Cas’s name.

Now Sam had an opening to ask. “What was that?”

She looked around. “What was what?”

“Before we left for Heaven, when you were saying goodbye to Cas. That looked permanent.”

She glanced down at the smudge pot, and he could see her deliberating on what to say. “It could be. There’s no telling the outcome of an Ascension.”

“Do you have any idea how it’s going?”

She shook her head. “We only know when it’s over.”

“If he comes through this … will Dean still be Dean?”

She opened her mouth to respond, but froze so suddenly Sam thought a monster might have stepped into view. But no, she was just pondering his words. “I can’t say. There’s never been a Human Ascended. I don’t know what to expect.”

“What about Ascended angels? Were they themselves afterward?”

Hannah considered this way longer than Sam was comfortable with. Way, way longer. Finally she said, “Some.”

“Some? As in half, two, what?”

She didn’t seem to want to answer, but Sam just kept staring at her, refusing to look away. The fact that he was dead and didn’t need to blink added an extra layer to her discomfort. “Three.”

Sam was glad he was dead, or his stomach would have plummeted. “Out of..?”

“Fifteen.”

Horrible odds. Tears wanted to come, but they couldn’t, because his eyes stopped being able to do that. Once again, creeping death. It was possible he’d said goodbye to Cas and Dean for good, and he was slowly turning to stone, so he couldn’t even feel the true horror of it.

“I have to believe they will be okay,” Hannah said, surprising him. “No angel’s been resurrected as much as Castiel. There must be a plan for him.”

That had already occurred to Sam, when he was back alone in the bunker. “What if the plan was to help usher Dean into being a Horseman? What if his plan ends there?”

She looked so sad. Sam knew then that that very idea had occurred to her as well. “If it does, it does. I just hope it doesn’t.”

“Yeah, me too.” Sam gripped the shotgun tight, and something in him wanted to squeeze the gun and try and make it snap. He should be with Dean, he should be trying to help him, or at the very least be doing even more in the fight against the Darkness. He couldn’t even use that spell he picked out for Dean, because he no longer had a life force to offer. “Get the angels to try and send as much Darkness my way as they can.”

She raised an eyebrow in surprise. “Why?”

“’Cause when I unleash this, I want it to matter.” He simply uncovered the shard.

Just like Castiel, she knew instantly what it was. “Oh, dear. I thought all of that had been purified.”

“The angels missed a spot.”

“Apparently. Yes, I will let them know.”

“Oh, and –“

But before he could say a word, Hannah nodded. “As soon as I know.” And then she was gone, in the faintest ruffle of wings.

Sam pulled the spent cartridges out of the shotgun and reloaded it, forcing himself to stay busy and not think about it. “Come on Dean,” he said under his breath. “Don’t leave me hanging.”

**

Dean woke up with the mother of all hangovers.

Super bad. Like head splitting like an overripe melon kind of bad. He didn’t get up so much as fall out of bed, and spent a minute or two lying on the cool floor, trying to regain his strength. Holy fucking shit, no more Jaegerbombs for him. He was getting too old for that shit.

He crawled to the bathroom, and felt marginally better after puking his guts out, but that was a very slim margin. When he pulled himself up to the sink and looked in the bathroom mirror, he saw he was bleeding from the nose, and had a huge black eye, almost taking up the left half of his face. His lower lip was also torn, and he had blood trickling from a cut at the hairline. And behind him, instead of the motel shower, he saw a startling black void, nothingness gaping wide and calling to him.

Dean turned suddenly, heart hammering in his chest, but there was just a small shower with a tacky blue and white plastic curtain. No yawning chasm of eternal nothingness. With great caution, he turned back to the mirror, only to find his injuries were gone along with that black void. What the hell was that? Was he hallucinating now? Had his drinks been spiked? It wouldn’t be the first time that’d happened.

Still, unease took up residence in his gut, and it wasn’t the hangover. Something was wrong here, he just didn’t know what.

He rinsed his mouth out, and tried to remember the last thing he was doing. He couldn’t remember. He couldn’t remember a time before this. But his head hurt so much, it was hard to think.

(Void. Why did a void scare him so much?)

Before he could get in the shower and wake up, he heard a brief knock before someone came into his motel room. “Up yet, you idjit?” Bobby asked.

“Bobby?” Dean was still in his boxers, so he headed out to find that yes, it was Bobby, standing there and looking like he was dressed for a day of lumberjacking, not monster hunting.

Bobby scoffed. “Yer not even dressed yet?”

“Dressed for what?”

He shook his head, and gave him the disappointed frown that Dean always hated to see. “Jo’s just gonna love that.”

“Jo?” The name startled Dean, although he couldn’t for the life of him remember why.

There was another brief knock on his door before it was pushed open, and Ellen stuck her head inside. “Hey, are – oh dear God, I never wanted to see Dean’s boney knees again.”

“My knees aren’t boney,” he protested, looking down at them. He was standing in a puddle of blood. “What the hell ..?” He looked around to see where the blood might have come from, and why Bobby and Ellen weren’t alarmed by it. But when Dean looked back up, they were gone. Looking back down, there was no blood, just his crumpled up jeans. “What the  ..?”

Okay, yeah, everything was wrong, and he had no idea what was going on. He stepped into his jeans, hastily pulled them up, and grabbed his shirt off the chair as he headed out the door.

He was expecting a motel parking lot, but it was the void again, a stark plain of nothingness that made him reel back with a strangled cry. (Nothing empty hungry nothing.) He slammed into the mattress and sat down hard, tasting blood. “What the fuck..?” he shouted this time, wanting someone, anyone, to answer him.

But there was no answer. And the door now showed a parking lot, with the Impala parked out front. Dean put his head in his hands, and tried to think. What the hell was going on? Was it the Trickster again? No, wait – he was dead. Or was he? He couldn’t remember. He couldn’t think at all; his mind felt like a broken box of crockery.

He grabbed the phone off the nightstand, and wedged the receiver against his ear. He needed to call Sam, see if he was having the same –

          -the phone squealed. The noise was high pitched and electric, and he felt it like a dental drill to his brain stem. It tumbled to the carpet, and he looked down to see the darkness had eaten the floor. The bed was tipping drunkenly, and he knew suddenly it was trying to find him, like a sentient monster.

(Pain void nothing everything nothing lie pain nothing falling pain lie.)

Dean scrambled back onto the bed, not sure how any of this was happening. What the fuck was going on?!

**

Castiel knew something was wrong the moment he opened his eyes, and found himself on the shores of the Indian Ocean.

He sat up on the sand, and watched the waves for a little while. The water was crystal blue here, beautiful, and the beach was abandoned, totally devoid of any Human elements. His only companion was a crustacean in a shallow tidal pool. It had nothing interesting to say.

He was dimly aware of his missing wing; he could still feel the ache of it. He also felt very weak, but that was to be expected. Mutilation usually had a cost.

It occurred to him he could stay here a while, recharge his batteries, but as much as it would help him, he couldn’t. He needed to find Dean. He’d just rolled up to his feet when Hannah said, “Leaving so soon?”

But it wasn’t Hannah. It visually resembled her, but he knew her energy signature, and that wasn’t it. He stared at the fake Hannah, and asked, “Why the charade? You’re not her, we both know it.”

The fake Hannah smiled. “I come to you in a form you will find friendly.”

That made sense. It was a very angel thing to do. “I need to find Dean.”

“You don’t belong here, Castiel.”

“I know, that’s why I want to find Dean.”

She shook her head. “That isn’t what I meant.” Behind her, a door appeared in the sand. “You don’t belong here. This is Dean’s fight, not yours.”

“I’m not leaving. Where is he?”

The fake Hannah canted her head like many angels he knew when they didn’t understand something. He didn’t know this angel’s energy signature, and considered the possibility it wasn’t a real angel, simply a test of Ascension. “You have a better destiny.”

Castiel shrugged. “I gave up on destiny a long time ago.”

“You may have given up on yourself, but Heaven hasn’t given up on you.”

“Heaven should. I’ve done horrible things.” He mentally cast out, seeing if he could find Dean that way, but this was a pocket universe within Heaven itself. His abilities were limited here, otherwise he’d cheat on the test. “Why don’t you want me to find him?”

“Have you considered what’s best?”

“For whom?”

“Us. Heaven.”

Castiel found the question curious, and played it over again in his head, trying to see what he missed. Of course he was weak from blood loss and fighting against the void, but it didn’t make sense. “Having Death in the universe is a necessity. There’s no arguing that point.”

“He can’t be Death.”

“He’s still alive.”

“He’s a Human,” she insisted. As if Castiel had somehow forgotten what species he was. “That doesn’t work for us.”

That made Castiel smirk. Maybe it was the blood loss, but this seemed comical. “And why do you think I give a flying fuck what Heaven wants?”

Her eyebrows drew together in confusion. “A flying … fuck? What is that ..?”

“I don’t care what Heaven wants,” Castiel reiterated. “Heaven wanted to end the world.”

She straightened up, and crossed her arms over her chest. This she understood. “If we really did, it would have happened.”

“Okay, yeah, tell yourself that.” Castiel rubbed his forehead, wondering where the exit was. There had to be one, and not just the door behind her. He knew that was a false exit.

“Do you really think your rebellion wasn’t planned? Do you really think everything that has happened wasn’t always supposed to happen? Are you truly that naïve?”

He threw his hands up. “I don’t care anymore. Where’s Dean?”

She narrowed her eyes at him. “Dean is not going to survive this. He can’t.”

“He can with my help.” Castiel had to believe that.  There was no point in doing any of this otherwise.

“You’re half dead already.”

“Half is not completely.”

She smirked at him, in a way Zachariah once had. He still wasn’t sure if this was real, or part of the test. “Who benefits if you both die?”

Castiel considered that a moment. “Heaven. If we die during Ascension, the mantel is defaulted to Heaven. An archangel can simply be assigned the job.”

“How does losing you benefit us?”

“It doesn’t hurt you either. I’m a neutral element.”

She shook her head, and gave him a disappointed frown. He’d gotten those from too many people to remember. “If you still weren’t useful to use, you wouldn’t be here.”

“Good to know. Where’s Dean?”

“You’re being deliberately difficult.”

Castiel was getting tired of this. No, correction, he was already tired of this. “What do you want from me?”

She stepped aside, and swept an arm towards the door. “To leave, now.”

“And I’ve told you that isn’t happening.”

Her eyes flashed with anger. Literally. They turned blue-white for a moment. “Dean Winchester dies today, for good this time. We no longer have a use for him. You have a very clear choice to make, Castiel. Are you going to choose your own people, or are you stupidly siding with the Humans again? Humans, whom, I might add, have done nothing for you.”

“You’re wrong. And I’m beginning to think you’re not a test at all. Who sent you to sabotage this?”

He didn’t think her posture could get any more rigid, but somehow it did. “No one needs to sabotage anything. Dean is destined to die here. You don’t have to.”

He met her gaze, and told her, “Fuck destiny. Now let me go to Dean.”

She shook her head sadly. “You used to be a great General of Heaven. You shouldn’t throw your life away so cheaply. You can be great again.”

He was so done with this obstruction he got angry, and the brief hit of energy was welcome. “I’m not throwing it away. And if I was, it’s mine to throw, isn’t it? Now let me go to him.”

Her jaw set, and he knew from limited experience with Claire she was becoming belligerent. “I could force you, you know. You’re in no shape to fight.”

Castiel glared at her, and his one remaining wing flared behind him, while an angel blade dropped into his hand from his sleeve. “Willing to bet on that?”

She arched an eyebrow at him, trying to project confidence, but he caught her doubt. She wasn’t a natural fighter, she was from upper management somewhere, one of those angels who kept accounts. Even she knew an angel with nothing to lose was a lot more dangerous than the norm. She had overplayed her hand. He wasn’t that weak yet. “You’re really throwing it all away for that piece of Human garbage? You are a fool, Castiel.”

“If I am, so be it. Now let me go.”

Reality was ripped out from underneath him, and he felt himself fall, but falling held no terror for him. Dying for nothing did.

But that’s why he and Dean weren’t going to die for nothing.

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