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Fic: Final Straw (7/9)

Title: Final Straw
Author: Zubeneschamali
Rating: PG-13 (language, violence)
Summary: As hard as he tried, Dean couldn't erase the fact that it was his little brother he was preparing to shoot. Evil!Sam, captive!Dean, and the end of the world as we know it.
Spoilers: Through 4.14, "Sex and Violence".

Disclaimers and beta thanks are in Chapter 1.  Previous chapter is here.

 

This is the chapter that I've been dying to post from the moment I started writing the story, if that makes any sense. I'll be hiding out in my bunker waiting for your reaction...

xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

for this fear will not destroy me.
and the tears that have been shed
it's knowing now where I am weakest
and the voice in my head. in my head.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Just as it had in front of the Devil's Gate, time seemed to pass in slow motion for Dean after firing the gun. Lucifer's eyes gleamed like flames as he began to dodge to the side, and Dean started to squeeze the trigger again, terrified that the gun would go flying from his hand at any moment.

But suddenly Sam's blue-green irises lit up. He wrenched himself upright—directly into the path of the shot. In the fraction of a second before it hit, his gaze met Dean's, and the apology and forgiveness and relief there just about broke Dean wide open.

Then the bullet pierced Sam's chest.

His arms flew outwards, fists clenching. He stuttered back a few steps, yellow and white fire flickering around his form. There was an electric crackle in the air, a sizzling sound from overhead, and then the light bulbs in the auditorium started to pop, one by one, small fires starting here and there as sparks dripped down onto the worn seats and carpet.

Dean took a step forward, gun still leveled at the taller man's chest. The yellow fire flared brighter, and Sam sat down hard. Then a convulsion swept over him, knocking him flat.

Dimly, Dean heard shouting from all corners of the room as the panicking demons tried to figure out what to do. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw blue fire issuing forth from where Castiel had been, as bright as the flames that were eating their way up the curtains behind the stage. But his attention remained focused on Sam, who was twitching as bolts of white and yellow raced up and down his prone body.

Dean set his jaw as he came forward, the hunter in him keeping the gun trained on the threat while the brother in him wanted to turn the weapon on himself after what he'd done. He carefully went to his knees at Sam's side, heart in his throat, watching helplessly as bright red blood spread across the worn boards of the stage.

Sam's eyes opened, clouded over with pain. "'M sorry, Dean," he murmured, his hand weakly reaching out to grasp the front of Dean's shirt. "Sorry...hurt you. Couldn't tell you..."

"Shh, it's okay, Sammy." Dean kept the gun in his right hand but reached out to wrap his other hand around Sam's, the pain and terror of the last few days falling away at the sight of his brother in need. "Hang in there," he said, infusing his voice with that we're screwed and we both know it but let's pretend we're not tone that they'd both learned from their father and had way too much practice at putting into use. "You're gonna be fine, okay?"

"Dean." The single word was spoken with surprising strength. Sam licked his lips, blood trickling from one corner of his mouth. "You have to...let me die or...he'll get out."

Before Dean could protest, a film of black slid over Sam's eyes and his head lifted off the ground as orange fire flared around him. Dean involuntarily jerked back, heart pounding, fingers tightening on the Colt. A second later, Sam breathed out, "See?"

His eyes were normal again, but Dean understood what was lurking under the surface. "Yeah," he said roughly, and it was the hardest thing he had ever had to say. Biting his lip, he sat back on his heels watching Sam's lifeblood drain out of him, and the tears started to form in his eyes.

"Thank God," Sam breathed out, his eyes closing. His hand feebly squeezed Dean's, who dropped the gun and wrapped both of his hands around his brother's long, cold fingers. Sam took in a slow breath and said softly, "Love you...Dean."

And then he went completely still.

Dean's forefinger was resting on the inside of Sam's wrist, and he felt the weak pulse stutter and then fail. He waited for a few heartbeats of his own before closing his eyes and bowing his head, the tears streaming silently down his cheeks, pressing Sam's lifeless hand to his face.

He felt like the hellhounds had found him again, this time tearing apart his insides instead of his flesh. There were only scraps of him left now, small pieces like the hands clinging to his brother's and the cold knowledge of where the Colt was and that one more bullet was all he was going to need.

A loud shriek made his eyes snap open. Looking around, he saw a demon standing five feet away, hand extended in his direction. "No!" he shouted furiously, but a second later he was flying backwards across the floor, Sam's hand ripped from his grasp, his head slamming up against the wall where he'd been chained a few minutes earlier. The demon started coming closer, features twisted in rage. She raised both hands, but before Dean could even flinch, the floor gave a huge lurch and she toppled to the ground.

The rear doors of the auditorium were flying open, bolts of blue light shooting through them and striking the demons clustered around the back.

I'll be damned, Dean thought. It's the cavalry. About fucking time.

Something in his gut twisted. No, the time for them to arrive would have been about three minutes ago. Before he'd taken a gun and shot his brother dead.

The main room was pandemonium. Demons were running back and forth, some fighting each other, some trying to run, some falling to the floor like puppets with their strings cut. A dozen figures had entered the room, and Dean had to look away as the light radiating from them grew painfully bright.

Suddenly there was tremendous pressure across his windpipe, and he frantically looked back at the demon to see her holding out an open palm in his direction. Out of the corner of one eye, he could see the light and heat from the flaming curtains drawing nearer, and he started to think about giving in. Maybe this was better anyway: no worries about him or Sam becoming restless spirits if they went out in a blaze of glory. Maybe this was for the best.

Then the pressure eased so abruptly that he toppled over.

Dean almost reluctantly scrambled to his feet to see Castiel standing in front of the demon, his hand open over her face and white-hot fire lighting her from within as she struggled in his grip. A second later, the woman's head snapped back and black smoke poured out. But rather than shooting off towards the ceiling, the cloud of smoke roiled in the air, circling around its host's head. If it were possible to say that a cloud could look confused, this one did. A moment later, it started to fade from view, breaking into smaller and smaller pieces that quietly winked out of existence, a few bits falling to the ground like ash.

Castiel's eyes were blazing in triumph. The angel looked around for a moment and then pointed a finger at a demon on the ground in front of the stage. The same thing happened: black smoke erupted forth and paused as if it had nowhere to go. Then it peacefully dissipated into nothing.

Dean supposed he should be curious as to what was going on with the demons, but all he could concentrate on was the long-limbed, bloodstained body lying at center stage. He took a step forward and then another, eyes locked on Sam's pale face.

A hand on his shoulder made him jump, and he looked up sharply to see Castiel regarding him with more respect than he'd ever seen on the angel's face. "You have done a great thing, Dean," he said.

He jerked back from Castiel's touch. "What the hell are you talking about?" he snapped, feeling the broken edges of himself rubbing together in his chest.

"Don't you know what you have done here this day?" the angel asked, gesturing to the rest of the room.

"Yeah," Dean replied flatly. "I killed my brother." Nausea twisted his gut as his words fell on the air.

Castiel's face immediately fell as his gaze dropped to the body on the floor.

Taking a step forward, Dean jabbed a finger in the angel's chest. "But I bet you're real proud of me, huh?" he asked bitterly. "Maybe I couldn't save Sam, but I kept my promise. Not that it matters to you if he's dead or not; you got what you wanted out of it." His voice raised as he went on, "S'pose it's time to send me back, then, since I've finished that work you had for me?"

"Dean, no." The hand that fell on his shoulder was warm, and it took him a second to realize it was matching up perfectly with his scar, soothing away the burn from Lucifer's grasp. "I need to get you out of here, before it is no longer safe."

He let out a snort. "Don't worry about me, I'll be fine," he replied, his gaze flickering down to the Colt to make sure it was still there.

Now both of his shoulders were held in a firm grip, and Castiel gave him a slight shake. "I need to get you out of here," he repeated. "Your work is not finished."

Dean shook his head slowly. "I'm done," he said hollowly. "Find another sucker to do your damn work." He raised his eyes to Castiel's, feeling the utter bleakness in his heart bleed into his expression as he added hoarsely, "I've given all I can."

The bright blue eyes widened in understanding. "No," Castiel said firmly. "You are not done." Then he let go of Dean before swiftly kneeling down and hefting Sam into his arms as though he weighed no more than a child.

"What are you doing?" Dean barked, his whole body going tense.

"You need to put your hand on my back and hold on," the angel called over the roar of the fire and the demons' screams echoing around the room. "If you want to keep your sight, do not open your eyes no matter what you hear. Do you understand?"

The sight of his brother's lifeless face nestled against Castiel's shoulder sent a shudder down Dean's spine. When he lifted his eyes, he saw the angel's implacable gaze on him, and he knew that once again, he was going to be the good soldier and do what he was told. "All right," he tiredly replied.

Castiel gave a short nod and turned his back, the burden in his arms apparently not weighing him down at all. Eyeing him carefully, Dean bent down and scooped up the Colt, jamming it into the back of his waistband. Then he reached up and grabbed two handfuls of tan trench coat, closed his eyes, and held on.

It seemed as if the fabric in his hands was changing shape, or maybe texture was the better word. Then a humming sound struck his ear, like the low buzz from a high-tension power line. His fists shifted slightly outwards as the material they were holding moved, and he swore he could feel feathers brushing his fingers.

Then the ground dropped out from under his feet and Dean focused all of his attention on holding on as tight as he could. His fingers were soon cramping from grabbing...whatever it was he was grabbing, which he was really hoping wasn't feathers or skin or something up close and personal like that.

It could have been a few seconds or a few hours, but eventually Dean felt their pace slowing. There was a gentle thump under his feet, and he felt the uneven texture of gravel beneath his boots. The temperature around him was warm, and the rustle of leaves told him they were outside.

"You can look now, Dean."

He opened his eyes and staggered back a step. "The hell...?"

They were standing outside Bobby's house. He shouldn't be surprised that Castiel could take them halfway across the country in a matter of seconds, but it was still a shock to see leafy green trees and sunshine instead of the hellish smoke and fire of the battlefield they'd left. The dogs were quiet and the house was silent, and it finally occurred to Dean that if Bobby was around, he was probably down in the panic room, waiting for the end of the world.

Castiel was already striding away towards the house, Sam draped over his arms. Dean automatically followed. The door swung open as the angel approached, and he entered without hesitation, turning sideways so as not to jostle his burden against the doorframe. As Dean entered the silent house, the angel was already moving towards the stairs. Dean followed him up to the guest room, unable to tear his eyes away from his brother's still face as Castiel stooped to lay Sam down on the bed underneath the window. Memories of Cold Oak and its aftermath were rising up fast and thick, and he had to look away, pressing the back of his hand to his mouth so he didn't hurl all over the room.

The angel turned towards him, and a distant corner of Dean's mind noted that he no longer looked as tired and haggard as he had in the asylum. In fact, he looked like he was glowing a little bit. "You need to rest," he said, raising a hand towards Dean.

He saw the two fingers coming towards his forehead and tried to dodge. "What are you doing?" he demanded, but Castiel's other hand latched onto his forearm and kept him from moving. The angel touched his forehead, and Dean fought it as long as he could. But the warm darkness was overwhelming, and he sank into it without another sound.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

When Dean came to, the first thing he saw was Castiel, standing by the doorway, looking down at the twin bed next to the one he was lying on. Dean turned his head to the side, his gaze drawn like a magnet to his brother's body. It took a moment to sink in, but he soon recognized the gentle rise and fall of the sheets.

Sam was breathing.

Sam was alive.

"Oh, my God," Dean breathed out as he slowly sat up. "How—why—how did you..." He stared at Sam's chest, at his face, drinking in the sight of what he'd thought was lost. "Is he okay?"

"He has not regained consciousness, but that is to be expected." Castiel looked like his usual rumpled self again, leaning back against the wall with his arms folded across his chest. "It might be a while before he wakes."

Dean watched for a moment, feeling a few of the shredded pieces within him start to knit themselves back together. He noted how Sam's eyes moved under their lids and marked the weary lines around his mouth that hadn't been there before. Then something else struck him, and he drew back his head, frowning.

In the familiar tangle of lanky brown hair, there was a single shock of white directly over Sam's forehead.

"What's with the hair?" he asked warily.

"It is difficult to go through an experience such as you both have now done and not be...marked in some way," the angel replied. "It is harmless."

"So it's not a sign of something?" Dean's heart was in his throat. "Like, 'evil lives here'?"

"Sam will be fine," came the reassuring answer, delivered with a gentle smile. "In spirit as well as in body. He is as you knew him before."

Dean let out a long breath at that, feeling some of the tension in his shoulders ease. He paused for a moment, thinking things over, letting this last puzzle piece slide into place. He set his jaw, letting a slow flame of anger begin to burn in order to give him strength for what was coming next.

Then he raised his head and looked Castiel in the eye. "Okay, then you have some explaining to do," Dean said. "Starting with whose moronic idea this con was in the first place."

Castiel cocked his head to the side. "Con?"

"Don't play stupid," Dean snarled as he threw his legs over the side of the bed. "I don't know what you know about how human brains work, but sometimes when we're asleep, the wheels keep on turning." He raised a hand to make a circular motion near the side of his head. "It's the only thing that makes sense about how all of this went down, including this." He pointed at his brother, alive and well next to him. "Sam was faking it. And so were you."

"Why do you say that?" the angel asked quietly, his clear blue eyes giving away nothing.

Dean started ticking off points on his fingers, his voice growing more like a growl with each one. "He never laid a hand on either one of us, not really. He broke some seals, yeah, but the ones that would do the least damage. And he made sure that me and the Colt were there to take him out, but that you were there to patch him up." He added with a lopsided smirk, "Oh yeah, and he kinda told me."

"When?" Castiel asked sharply.

"When he—" Dean broke off and looked over at Sam, remembering the apology that had been the first thing out of his little brother's mouth as the blood poured out of his chest, that final puzzle piece that hadn't made sense until it was clear that Castiel had never had any intention of letting Sam stay dead. "When we were having our Hallmark moment back there on the floor."

Castiel blinked. "You believed he had turned, did you not?"

"He knows damn well how to push my buttons." Dean glared. "And you helped him all the way, didn't you?"

Castiel lowered his head, and Dean thought he saw a flush creeping along the angel's cheeks. "It is a long story," he admitted.

Dean exhaled abruptly, relief and anger and guilt warring within him. "How could you do that to him?" he demanded. "You had to take him right up to the edge, didn't you? That's a helluva lot of trust to put in someone you wouldn't shake hands with six months ago."

Castiel raised his chin, looking surprisingly defensive for an angel of the Lord answering a human's question. "I had my reasons for acting as I did then. And I had my reasons for trusting Sam now."

Dean made a sharp gesture before folding his arms across his chest, afraid that if he didn't, he would be unable to stop from punching the angel. "Then explain it to me," he said tightly.

Castiel gave a slow nod. "All right." He licked his lips. "The first thing you should know is that Lucifer is gone. Erased from this world and all others. He and his followers cannot return."

Dean didn't move. "That's supposed to make me feel better, right?"

The corner of Castiel's mouth twitched. "The first thing Sam thought you should know," he went on, "is that this was never a matter of trust. It was a matter of demons being able to read minds. If you had been privy to our plan, they would have known it in an instant, and all would have been lost."

He chewed on that for a moment, watching Sam's chest rise and fall, thinking about the helpless terror and betrayal he'd felt when he thought Sam was preparing to send the uber-demon into his body. "Mind reading, huh?" When Castiel nodded, he felt a little of the tightness ease in his chest.

"You should also know that the plan was always for Sam to take Lucifer into himself, never into you," Castiel added.

Dean shot the angel a look that clearly said no shit. That had been obvious as soon as Sam told his big brother to shoot him, not that it had clearly registered at the time. "So whose dumbass idea was all this, anyway?"

Castiel let out a small sigh. "I was the one who took Sam from your hotel room..."

xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

The next chapter is here.

 

Comments

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
apieceofcake
Mar. 4th, 2009 04:19 pm (UTC)
That was unexpected, well done!
zubeneschamali
Mar. 4th, 2009 06:09 pm (UTC)
That was unexpected, well done!

Yay! Glad you didn't see it coming, pleased that you liked it.
(Deleted comment)
zubeneschamali
Mar. 4th, 2009 06:08 pm (UTC)
Re: yessss
Thank you! Glad you liked it. :)
findingkathleen
Mar. 5th, 2009 04:15 pm (UTC)
Awesome and completely unexpected! It was such a great twist and I can't wait to hear the backstory to the plan.
zubeneschamali
Mar. 5th, 2009 06:24 pm (UTC)
Thanks! It was really hard not to give it away earlier; I originally had a few moments where Sam said or did something that made his position more ambiguous, but my beta persuaded me to cut them out. I think it ended up better like this.

And yes, there's lots of backstory coming up soon. :)
(Deleted comment)
zubeneschamali
May. 7th, 2009 08:52 pm (UTC)
As long as you didn't figure it out before Dean did, I'm happy. :)
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )