Rating: R (language, violence)
Length: under 30K total; this chapter, 986 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: noon.
A/N: This is why I hate posting WIPs: my attention tends to wander elsewhere even when I'm so close to finishing. Hope there's someone out there still interested in how this ends...
"Let me get this straight," Dean said as soon as they were outside the house. "Chuck sees everything that's happening to us?"
Castiel tilted his head sideways. "Not every moment, but many of them."
"Even the, uh, personal moments?" Dean asked, his cheeks faintly coloring.
"Dude, you were the one reading the book with the 'full frontal'," Sam snapped as he pushed past him. Trust Dean to be thinking about voyeurism as the worst aspect of this prophet thing.
"What's your problem?" Dean asked.
Sam whirled around, arms spread wide. "My problem is that free will just went out the window. Everything we do has already been seen by that guy in there. Whatever choices we think we're making, they don't matter."
"That is not entirely accurate." Castiel's calm voice cut through the air.
"What does that mean?" Sam huffed.
"Time is not entirely linear for us. It is possible to see the future, or at least the most likely future, which often hinges on a choice that has not yet been made."
"You mean there are multiple possible futures?" Sam asked.
Castiel nodded. "Unfortunately, the one that Chuck sees always comes true. And what he saw was you and Lilith."
"That's not happening." Dean's rough voice cut in. "'Cause we're getting the hell out of here."
"The hotel room he saw could have been anywhere." Castiel shook his head. "There is no use in trying to run."
"What does she want?" Sam's hands curled into fists.
"I believe she wants what you would call a showdown," Castiel said. "She knows you do not know how to defeat her, so she wants to take control of you now."
"Take control?" Dean burst out, stepping forward. "What's that supposed to mean?"
Castiel sighed. "Demons are also sometimes able to see the future. And since most of the futures I have seen have one thing in common, it is likely that Lilith knows this as well."
Sam swallowed. "What's that?"
The flat tone with which Castiel spoke was utterly at odds with the import of his words. "If Lucifer rises, you will become his vessel."
Sam hadn't realized that it was actually possible to feel the blood draining from one's face, but he did in that moment. "What?" he asked quietly but incredulously. Maybe he hadn't heard Castiel right. Maybe he really meant—
"You are Lucifer's vessel, Sam. In every future where the last seal is broken."
There was dead silence for a moment. Finally, Dean rubbed his hand over his mouth before saying, "Okay, so we get you an anti-possession tattoo for angels."
Castiel shook his head, his eyes sad. "Angels do not possess," he said. "Not in the same manner as demons. Jimmy Novak had to consent to my presence."
Sam blinked at Castiel uncomprehendingly. "If I can't be possessed…"
"You say yes." Castiel's voice was flat, unbending, and Sam suddenly understood why the angel had been so harsh to him from the start. It didn't have anything to do with his demon blood, at least not directly. It had to do with a choice it apparently would lead him to make, a choice that he couldn't even comprehend making.
Sam shook his head fiercely, denying it with every fiber of his being. "No. I would never do that."
"Not if Dean was in danger?" Castiel asked quietly. "Not only his life, but his soul? Not if he had been captured and imprisoned in Hell, once again being tortured and—"
"Stop!" Sam held up his hand, casting a quick glance at Dean. His brother was pale, but his jaw was clenched in fierce, familiar determination. "Look, Chuck didn't see how it ended, right? Just that Lilith and I were in the same place?"
"Apparently getting horizontal," Dean muttered.
Sam shot him a glare. "So we make preparations. We make a stand. Maybe in what Chuck saw, I was distracting her, pretending to go along with her."
"Perhaps," Castiel agreed. "But there is something else you should know."
"Now what?" Dean growled, and Sam echoed the sentiment with a frustrated gesture.
"I was not privy to all available information regarding the seals before I left my brethren, but I do know this." Castiel fixed Sam with a hard stare. "Lilith is the only one who can break the final seal. She must be defeated at all costs. But she is very old and very powerful, and the knife you carry will not harm her. I doubt any earthly weapon will."
Sam felt his gut twist at the mention of no earthly weapon. "But you think I can."
Castiel nodded, looking vaguely uncomfortable. "Anyone powerful enough to be Lucifer's chosen vessel would have to have that capability."
"Can we stop with the vessel crap?" Dean snapped, and Sam was more than grateful for the diversion. "What do you think, Cas? Are we making a stand here or what?"
The angel looked back and forth between them, and Sam got the sense he was looking through them, or into them, seeing something more profound than two tired and ragged men standing beside a dusty black car. But all he said was, "Yes, I think we can."
"Awesome." Dean clapped Sam on the shoulder. "I feel the need for some grease and alcohol. Let's get dinner and hatch a plan."
"Dean," Sam said, unable to voice what he was thinking, but hoping his brother could read his uncertainty and fear and need for reassurance anyway.
Dean, of course, had no problem doing all of the above. "I don't care, Sam," he said in a low tone, meeting Sam's gaze straight-on. "I don't care what he's seen or thinks he's seen. That's not gonna happen to you. Not while I'm around."
"Okay," Sam whispered. He might not know how to kill Lilith, but he knew how to trust his big brother.
He had to hope that that would be enough.