Rating: R (language, violence)
Length: 26,915 total; this chapter, 1,000 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, and the previous chapter is here. Prompt for this chapter: time.
This is it! The last chapter! Thanks again to kasman for beta reading and for everyone who's encouraged me to finish this up. There will be an epilogue and some author's notes to follow.
"What the hell?" Dean exclaimed.
A second ago, he'd been watching in stomach-curdling dread as Lucifer's light poured forth from the convent floor. Now he was standing in a room that looked like the overblown hotel room Sam had told him about, where Uriel had stashed him after kidnapping him in Wyoming.
"Dean! How nice to finally meet you."
He whirled around, reaching for a gun that wasn't there, to see an older man with receding hair and a car salesman's smile. "Do I know you?"
"We haven't had the pleasure. I'm Zachariah." His eyes narrowed. "Castiel's boss."
Dean stepped back, bumping against an elaborately-carved end table. A statue wobbled precariously; he grabbed for it, but it fell with a crash.
When he straightened up, the statue was on the table, whole and untouched, and Zachariah was smirking.
"What do you want?" Dean ground out. "Where's Sam?"
"Sam." Zachariah let out a sigh. "Sam's done his part, or at least the first part. Nice job killing Lilith and breaking that final seal, by the way." He gave Dean a light punch on the shoulder. "Good teamwork."
"What?" Dean's stomach sank. "We were keeping her from breaking the final seal."
"Actually, you weren't. Funny story, but it doesn't matter now. You need to focus."
"What the hell are you talking about?" he demanded.
"The Sword of Michael." Zachariah gestured towards a painting on the wall. "The only way to defeat Lucifer."
Dean glanced up, seeing a pansy-assed blond with a spear stabbing a claw-footed creature at his feet. "Okay, so where can we get it?"
Zachariah shook his head like Dean was being stupid. "You are it, Dean. You're Michael's sword."
He drew back, frowning. "I'm what?"
"Castiel didn't tell you?" The angel smirked. "You're his true vessel. Just as your brother is destined to be Lucifer's."
"Whoa, no." Dean shook his head. "You're oh for two, buddy."
"Dean, Dean, Dean," Zachariah said patronizingly. "Only he who broke the first seal—that's you, in case you forgot—can end it. You're the one. You have to say yes to Michael, and the two of you will take on Lucifer and triumph."
"And Sam?" Dean asked, his throat dry.
Zachariah shook his head sorrowfully. "Already gone."
"You son of a bitch, what did you do to him?" Dean demanded, grabbing fistfuls of Zachariah's jacket and shoving him against the wall.
A second later, he was staring at the blank wall, and Zachariah was speaking from behind him. "So handsy, Dean. It won't do you any good. Lucifer was almost upon you. We barely managed to get you out."
Dean shook his head, his stomach sinking. "He can't possess Sam without his consent, and Sam will never say yes. Not in a million years."
The smile on Zachariah's face was more cold and calculating than an angel's should be. "It took you what, fifteen years to say yes to Alastair? A second-tier demon who was only good for training wheels? Those who can, do, those who can't, teach, am I right?" At Dean's icy glare, he went on, "But Sam's with Lucifer now, one on one, and the only thing Lucifer needs in this world is to get inside his vessel. Even if Sam hasn't already said yes, it's only a matter of time."
"No," Dean snapped. "I don't believe you."
"Oh, Dean," Zachariah said pityingly. "You should know. No matter how strong you think you are, everyone says yes in the end."
Dean turned his back, unable to see that smarmy face without wanting to punch it. So the angels had snatched him up and left Sam to face the devil? That was one fucking fantastic reason right there not to listen, never mind the whole angel condom thing.
"I could show you the future if you say no," Zachariah growled. "Do you want that? In five years, the population will be decimated by a demonic virus, the handful of survivors doomed to succumb because you were too damn stubborn. And by then, it'll be too late. This is a limited time offer, Dean. Say yes now, and you and Michael can save the world. Say no too many times, and your entire species is doomed."
Dean wiped his hand over his mouth. This wasn't how it was supposed to go. They were supposed to have saved the world, stopped the final seal from breaking and gone home heroes. Instead, this jackass wanted to pit them against each other in a cage match, winner take all, no way out, with the whole world at stake.
"Michael's willing to throw in something extra," Zachariah said. "The slate wiped clean, anything you might have done downstairs forgiven. Front row seat in Heaven." He cocked his head to the side. "If you were to bite the big one right now, there's no guarantee you won't go right back down to the rack."
Dean shuddered. "And Sam?" he asked, his voice cracking.
Zachariah shrugged. "Out of our hands, but I'm sure Michael would be willing to ask for your brother's soul before grinding Lucifer into a pulp."
Dean closed his eyes. Was this how it was going to end? He doubted there was anywhere to run even if he found a way out, not with angels able to find him anywhere. The thought of Sam facing Lucifer…he was stronger than he gave himself credit for, but Zachariah was right: Dean knew that sooner or later, everyone broke.
Maybe he couldn't save Sam anymore. But he'd made a promise years ago, and maybe there was still a way to keep it.
"All right," Dean said, turning around and looking Zachariah straight-on, despair winning out over pride. "Goddamn it. Yes!"
Zachariah smiled and started chanting as light filled the room.
Dean choked back tears and stared at the blank wall behind the angel, imagining Sam was there, wishing he could see his brother one last time to tell him that he believed in him and that he lov—