Rating: R (language, violence)
Length: under 30K total; this chapter, 984 words
Spoilers: through the end of Season Four
Summary: What if Sam and Dean knew one crucial piece of information about the future before Dean's deal came due? Would it have changed everything, or would the end result have been the same? AU version of Season Four, written for spn_30snapshots .
Master table is here. Prompt for this chapter: midnight.
"I told you four months ago where to stick it, and I'd be more than happy to repeat myself."
Dean didn't flinch as the dark-skinned angel suddenly appeared inches away from him. "This isn't a choice," Uriel rumbled. "You're going to use those special skills of yours and find out from Alastair who is killing our brethren."
"No." Dean lifted his chin, drawing on Sam's solid, supporting presence at his side as he faced down the two angels who'd appeared in their motel room in the middle of the night. "I'm not."
"Dean, we wouldn't ask if this wasn't serious." Castiel looked surprisingly apologetic. "We believe that you know certain…techniques that will get the information we need out of Alastair."
"You can't ask him to do that," Sam burst out. "You have no idea what it's done to him just to remember that, much less—"
"Sam, shut up." Dean wasn't too keen on his sob story being spilled to the angels. He was finally getting back on his feet, and he didn't want the reminder of how fucked up he'd been all winter.
Uriel was shaking his head. "You owe us. You owe the world."
Castiel's voice was sharp. "Uriel, do not—"
But the other angel was going on, "Do you know how the first seal broke?"
Dean looked at him warily. Based on what Bobby had said about the Rising of the Witnesses, it must have happened while he was down under. "I wasn't exactly around at the time."
Uriel gave a low chuckle. "Oh, yes you were," he said. His dark eyes locked on Dean's, he intoned, "And it is written that the first seal shall be broken when a righteous man sheds blood in Hell. As he breaks, so shall it break."
The words sank in, but they didn't compute. It wasn't until he heard Sam's gasp next to him that they started to make sense. And then it took every bit of Dean's iron will to keep from hurling all over the avocado-green carpet.
"You're lying," Sam hissed, lunging forward.
The angel flicked a hand in his direction, and Sam froze in mid-reach. "Angels do not lie," he growled. "Your brother broke the first seal."
"That's not possible," Sam snapped back, eyes flashing.
"They don't lie, Sam." Dean could hear the defeat in his own voice, but he tried to straighten his shoulders against the weight of this new burden. "They might be dicks, but they're not demons."
Across the room, Castiel's blue eyes were looking back at him sorrowfully, softer than Dean had ever seen them, and he knew that what Uriel said had been right.
Dean closed his eyes, feeling despair wash over him like a physical force. If Sam hadn't made that fucking wish, if he himself hadn't been so goddamn weak, if he'd known it was forty years and not four and a half months, or if he'd not known at all…
Not that any of that mattered. All Dean could do now was respond to the angels' request, to their insistence that he owed them. But if he went along with what they wanted, the blackness he could feel hammering away at the edges of his mind would have a clear path in, and he couldn't bear the thought of what that would do to him.
"I won't do it," Dean finally said. "You can try all the emotional blackmail you want, but I'm not going to become up here what I was down there."
Uriel looked back at him steadily. Finally, a cruel smile turned up one corner of his mouth. "I keep telling you. You don't have a choice."
Faster than Dean's eye could follow, Uriel reached out and touched Sam's forehead. A second later, the two of them vanished, Sam's surprised yelp echoing in the air.
Dean blinked. "What the hell?" he shouted.
Before Castiel could reply, Uriel appeared again, ostentatiously dusting his hands together. "Changed your mind yet?"
"Where's my brother?" Dean demanded, his stomach sinking.
"If you want to see him again, you'll do as we ask." Uriel loomed over him, and Dean could almost see the shadow of wings against the wood-paneled walls. "If you refuse me one more time, I can guarantee that you will never see Sam again for the rest of your pathetic life."
Dean was shaking with fury. If he had an angel-killing knife in his hand, there was no question that he'd be plunging it into Uriel's gut right about now. "You son of a bitch," he said slowly.
"Dean, there isn't much time." Castiel came up and put a hand on his shoulder, and Dean jerked away so violently that the angel had to take a quick step forward to retain his balance. "I am sorry that we are asking this of you, but we must save this seal and our brethren."
He turned to Castiel, letting the betrayal and fury he was feeling wash over his face and seep into his words. "If they're all like you, I think I'd rather they were dead.
Castiel actually flinched. "Please, Dean. Sam will not be harmed, but you must get the information from Alastair."
Dean already knew he was going to give in, knew that "yes" was going to fall from his lips the same way it had in the Pit. He let his anger simmer into a slow boil, let it fuel the small, dark internal remnants of his time in Hell into a black flame that burned from inside. He took the rage he was feeling towards the beings in front of him and used it to wall off a corner of his mind as he opened up everything else to the memories he'd tried so hard to repress over the past six months.
And then he looked Uriel in the eye and said in a growl, "Bring it on."