Rating: R (language, violence)
Length: under 30K total; this chapter, 785 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: spring.
"Sam, where are you?" Dean barked into the phone.
"Fourteenth floor. Hurry up, I think he's—" There was a clatter as if the phone had been dropped, then the swishing sound of a ghost being temporarily dispatched with salt or iron. Before Dean could ask what the hell was going on, Sam had picked up the phone again. "I think he's getting pissed."
"Okay, we'll be right there." Dean raised his hand and snapped his fingers to get Castiel's attention. The angel looked over from where he was examining the lobby display of the history of Sandover Bridge and Iron. It had to be as dull as dirt, but Castiel seemed to find it interesting.
"Wait!" Sam called, his voice faint as Dean started to lower the phone.
Dean brought the phone back up. "What?"
"Don't take the elevator," Sam warned.
"Dude, fourteen floors?" Dean whined.
"All right," Dean sighed and flipped the phone shut. "Hey, Cas, can you beam us up to fourteen?"
Castiel cocked his head to the side. "Beam you up?"
Dean rolled his eyes. "We need to be on the fourteenth floor, like now."
Seconds later, they were, just in time to see Sam swinging a heavy wrench through the air at a ghostly old fart who vanished with a scowl. "The gloves," Sam said, nodding towards a small display case holding two ancient leather gloves.
There was blood spattered all over Sam's yellow polo shirt, and Dean started towards him, eyes widening in alarm. Sam held up his hands and impatiently shook his head. "It's not mine," he said. "Just burn 'em."
Dean darted over to the case, pulling out his lighter. A second later, he felt cold air on the nape of his neck and instinctively ducked, both to avoid the ghost and the swing of Sam's wrench. When he popped back up, he snatched the gloves and held them over the lighter. "Bye-bye, P.T.," he said as he flicked it to life.
Or at least tried to. "Come on," he muttered, his thumb spinning the little metal wheel around and around to no avail.
A yelp from Sam caught his attention, and he looked up to see the tall figure of his brother sprawled out on the ground, weapon lying a few feet away, reaching desperately for the salt canister as P.T. Sandover loomed over him, malevolence in his dead eyes and blue lightning flickering from his fingertips.
"Damn it!" Dean cried, trying the lighter again.
"Let me." Castiel plucked the gloves from his hand and held them in front of him, staring at them intently. Dean didn't see any laser beams shoot from his eyes or anything like that, but a second later, bright flames were flaring over the cracked leather, and the figure threatening Sam was evaporating in a shower of sparks.
Castiel dropped the flaming gloves when his skin started to blister from the heat, although Dean noticed that with only a look, his hand was perfectly smooth. "Is that all?" he asked calmly.
Dean looked around at the mess of the elevator lobby: shattered glass from the case holding the gloves, salt sprayed out all over the floor, and scorch marks on the tile. "Yep, we're good."
Sam insisted on taking the stairs, and Dean didn't see a way to refuse without sounding like an old man complaining about his aching knees. The alternative wasn't any better; his gut felt all twisted around from being yanked along by Castiel, and even the thought of pie had him making a face.
They pushed open the crash bar at the bottom of the stairs and emerged into the Cleveland night. They were on a grass-and-concrete plaza, a fountain quietly splashing off to their left, trees with the first tiny leaves of spring to the right. Dean checked his watch to find it was half past four. Only five hours to find the remains in a fourteen-story skyscraper and burn them. Not bad at all.
"Where's the car?" Sam asked.
"Down a few blocks," Dean replied, pausing for a second to orient himself and then striding confidently along. As Castiel came up beside him, he clapped a hand on the angel's shoulder. "Dude, you were pretty good back there."
"I merely did as I was told," Castiel replied serenely.
"Yeah, but it was good." Dean cleared his throat. "I'm, uh, glad you decided to stick with us."
There was something like a smile on the angel's face for a second. "I'm pleased I can be of assistance," he replied.
As they strode down the deserted downtown streets, the breeze on their faces was warm with the promise of a new day and a new season.