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[ what is, what was, what will be ]
"I'm sorry, Dean. "I had hoped it wouldn't come to this."
Dean shakes his head, sitting at the table and staring into a two day old cup of coffee. ""No."
"I'm sorry," Castiel says, resting a hand on Dean's shoulder, and that's almost enough. "It's almost enough to break him, make him lash out and kill every last son of a bitch left on Earth, good or evil, make him break down and cry every tear he's never let fall. "Almost, but not quite. ""You know what must be done."
"No," Dean says, looking at him with murder in his eyes. ""It's not happening, and if you do it I swear to God, I'll hunt you down and I'll find a way to waste your angelic ass, I swear to God I will." "He shakes his head, lets out a laugh that's about five different kinds of crazy. ""That ain't a threat, it's a promise."
"He's not your brother anymore, Dean," Castiel says, holding Dean in place with both his hands, speaking calm, soft, slow. ""He's the thing inside of him. "He can't control it anymore. "You saw it with your own eyes. "You're alive now only because of me."
"We'll find a way," Dean says. ""We have to. "He's my baby brother, Cas. "I have to."
Castiel looks into his eyes and there's such determination there that Castiel thinks for a moment that he can. "That if anyone can, Dean will.
"Okay," he says. ""We'll try it your way. "But if we can't, Dean..."
"I know," Dean says, standing and pulling on his jacket. ""Just... I know."
Bobby puts the double-shot of whiskey down in front of John and takes his place opposite him. ""So Sammy grew a pair and defied you, huh? "Good boy."
John's eyes flare shock and anger. ""Excuse me?"
Bobby shrugs, leaning back in his chair and draining his own double-shot. ""Ask me it's good for ‘im. "Boy needs some semblance of a normal life."
John rolls his eyes but it's not like it's the first time they've had this fight so he downs his shot before looking at Bobby again, something like understanding hidden behind the anger and the misery that always clouds his eyes. """Bobby you know as well as I do, there's no such thing as normal."
"I got to have normal," Bobby says. ""Ended in pain and misery and a demon possessing my baby, but I got to have it. "You got to have it 'til Mary died. "Hell, even Dean got to have it the first five years of his life. "Sammy should get to have it too."
John's eyes are trained outside to where Dean is looking in car after car for some part that the Impala's in need of. "Probably not gonna find it in the rust buckets littering Bobby's yard, but Dean has a way of finding that one diamond in the pile of coal most times.
"He's not safe, Bobby. "Alone. "This thing, man... it's not safe for him to be alone."
Bobby snorts and John gives him one of his patented if-looks-could-kill looks. ""The boy's not stupid. "He's learned just as much of what's out there and what it can do as Dean has. "Let him live as near to normal as he can and trust the boy to know when to call when he needs help. "Maybe you let him do this and it'll be near as good to all those I love you's you never said."
John picks up the bottle of whiskey and fills his shot again. "My boys know how I feel about them. "Don't need me to say it."
"Maybe Dean doesn't," Bobby says, leaning forward and lowering his voice, get that growl just right so John understands that he's dead serious on this. "Dean's got those memories of you before you were this obsessed son of a bitch, but Sammy don't. "Piggy back rides and a game of catch and runnin' up in his Daddy's outstretched arms. "Dean remembers the flames that took his Momma, remembers how you changed."
John's eyes close and Bobby knows he's hurt him, but he doesn't care. "Or, he does, but it doesn't matter. "Come on, man, I came here for some R&R."
"And you'll get it just as soon as I get this through your thick doggone skull," Bobby says, slamming a hand on the table. "Let him do this, John."
John smirks at him. "Is this the part where you say if you love something, set it free?"
"No, this is the part where I say if you don't want your son to hate your ever-livin' guts, you let him go off and live his own life until he says it's time to come back."
"Ha," Dean says, triumphantly holding up some grease-sodden piece of machinery as he barges in the door. "Got it. "Bobby, you got a gold mine out there in that wasteland you call a back yard."
Bobby grins, because how can he not when faced with that ten mile wide smile of Dean's. "All yours son, plunder at will. "And when you're done I got about ten movies I don't think you've seen yet."
Dean's eyes light up like it's Christmas. "Bobby. "You're awesome."
"Okay," John says, watching Dean's retreating back as he goes back out into the driveway to fix the car back to purring condition. "Hear me, Bobby? "Okay. "You're right."
Bobby looks at him and sees defeat in John's eyes and nods, satisfied. "Good. "Then how about I fix us some burgers."
John props his head in his hand and smiles up at him. "I ever tell you that Mary woulda loved you, Bobby? "Get on my last damn nerve, but Mary woulda loved you."
"What does this mean," Sam asks, staring down at the bloodied corpse of what was once a man, then a demon, and then a man again. "Only this time, a dead man, because the demon riding him was hard and rough and careless, and Sam had been too late to save him. "How long have you known I could do this?"
"That doesn't matter," Ruby says, and the dark hair still doesn't fit, the soft curves and the pretty, guileless smile. "Sam still can't get the thought that this isn't Ruby, isn't the real Ruby, out of his head. "What matters is that you can, and now you have a fighting chance against what's out there."
Even the words are softer, the tone, the sarcasm not as frequent. "What she knows though, her knife, her connection to Sam, whatever it is, is still there. "This thing, this girl, this vessel, might not look or feel or sound like the Ruby he knows, but it's her.
"I don't understand."
"You don't need to."
Sam grits his teeth, fists clenching. "The hell I don't, Ruby. "My brother is dead and my father is dead, and I'm fighting this alone, I need to understand!"
"You will when the time is right," she says softly, fingers running up the side of his neck and into his hair. "I promise Sam. "You're almost there, but not yet."
"We can't," Sam says, even as he feels his eyes closing at the scent of her, feels himself getting hard at the closeness of her. "This is fucked up. "We can't do this anymore. "Dean would never--"
"Dean's dead," she says, and there, that hardness, there it is. "It was there all along. "It doesn't matter what Dean would do or what Dean would say or what Dean would think. "You could have saved him if you'd just listened to me sooner. "Now it's too late for him, but it's not too late for you."
The salt Sam tastes on her lips is his own tears, but then her tongue's inside his mouth and all he knows is that some how, some way, this was always going to happen.
Jo grins at the drunk fratboy that's been trying unsuccessfully to play grabass with her for the past hour. "Sorry, I've been beckoned."
Tending bar at a college campus tavern might be annoying sometimes, but they tip a helluva lot better than hunters ever did. "Mostly because they got so stinking drunk they couldn't tell the difference between a ten and a twenty, but hey. "Jo's not complaining.
"It's your mom," Theresa says, holding the phone out to Jo. "Sweetie, I don't think it's good news."
Jo frowns and takes the phone. "Mom?"
"Come home, Jo."
Jo feels her whole body go cold. "Mom, are you crying?"
"Baby, come home. "We need to talk. "I don't want... I can't... not over the phone."
Jo feels herself start to shake. "Her Mom hasn't sounded like this since Ash died. "Momma?"
"Jo, it's Bobby."
Jo frowns. "Bobby? "Why are you with my mom?"
Bobby sighs, deep and heavy, and Jo freezes. "No. "Jo, Dean's gone."
"No," she says, turning around to face the wall. "The bar full of strangers melts into nothingness. "Don't, just... don't. "It's not true."
"I'm sorry, Jo, we tried like hell. "I tried.... But it, they, got him. "He's gone, Jo, it's true. "Your Momma wants you home. "You shouldn't be alone. "None of us should."
"Well being with you didn't help Dean, did it," she spits out, and then she slams the phone down, cursing and screaming and lashing out at the first person to touch her, elbowing and kneeing some random faceless fratboy in the crotch before bolting for the door.
She calls Sam three hours later, once the tears have stopped streaming down her face. "Is it true," she asks as soon as he answers. "Is he really..."
"Yes," he says, and his voice is dead, emotionless. "I couldn't... I saw him, it just... Jo, it ripped him to shreds."
"What was it," she asks, fingering her knife set and looking at her bag, just waiting for her to pack it to join Sam and Bobby on their hunt to kill whatever it was that got the man that couldn't be got.
"Hellhounds," Sam whispers.
She freezes. "He made a deal? "Dean would never do that. "Dean's not stupid enough to make a deal with..." "She stops when she hears a slam on the other end of the phone, followed by broken glass. "Sam?"
"For me, alright," he yells, and she'd thought the monotone was bad, but this was worse. "He made the deal for me, and yeah, Jo, I wish he hadn't too."
Jo closes her eyes. "Dean."
"It shoulda been me, Jo," Sam hisses, voice cracking, breaking. "It shoulda been me."
The worst part, the part that'll haunt her for years to come, is the part where she thinks yeah. "Yeah, it shoulda been.
"That was stupid," Dean yells, slamming the door behind him. "I thought, you're an angel. "You'd think you'd have some sort of sense about you, but you know what? "You're just a dumb mook like the rest of us."
Castiel's head turns sideways like a puppy that hears a strange sound. "Up until now Dean's kind of secretly thought of it as charming and cute but right now he just wants to punch him. "I don't understand what you're upset about.'
"Stepping in front of that bullet," Dean says, jabbing the end of his gun in the bullet wound. "Castiel flinches, but only slightly, and Dean thinks only because he thinks he's supposed to. "You moron. "You're riding this guy hard and wet and you're wearing him out. "You think this is what he had in mind when he prayed to God to save him?"
"He asked for this," Castiel says, so certain, so sure. "So idiotic. "He wanted this, after his wife died. "He wanted his life to mean something."
"So you think that makes it okay for you to do whatever the hell you want with his body," Dean yells, tossing his gun on the bed, stripping off his jacket. "You think that makes it okay for you to treat him like a rag doll, jumping in front of bullets and breaking every bone in his body? "And what happens when you're done with his meatsuit, huh Cas?"
Castiel frowns. "I don't understand."
"When you're done," Dean says, stopping in front of him. "When the war is over and you leave and go home, go back to the Pearly Gates of whatever the fuck, and leave him behind, used, and wasted, and broken. "He'll die, you know."
Castiel looks down at himself, lifts up his shirt to feel the dried and crusted blood on his chest. "He looks back up. "Then he'll live in the rapture of the Lord, be rewarded for his service and sacrifice."
"Right," Dean says, rolling his eyes and angrily yanking his shirt off on his way to take a shower. "Just do me a favor, alright? "Don't make me be the one that killed him. "Don't jump in front of bullets aimed at me, I can take care of myself."
"And when you can't," Castiel asks.
"I don't know," Dean says, walking into the bathroom and turning on the water. "Walking back out he looks at him. "You raised me from the dead once, do it again."
"I don't mean to," Castiel says after a moment's silence, looking at him. "I don't mean to cause this body harm. "I respect his life, Dean. "I think he's happy serving us. "I truly do."
Dean looks at him for a moment before nodding. "Just try to keep the damage to a minimum. "He might still have a chance. "He deserves so much sex after what you've put him through, he should get the chance to enjoy it when you're done with him."
Castiel nods and looks again at the bullet hole in his stomach. ""Thank you, Dean," he says, looking back up. "For teaching me. "It's easy to forget sometimes that the mission is not all that's at stake."
Dean's mouth twists at the irony, and then he strips off his jeans and takes the hottest, longest shower known to man, trying to wash off the blood that should have been his when the bullet pierced through Castiel's stolen body.
"Boy, what the hell is wrong with you," John yells, reaching over and yanking on Dean's buckle angrily. "Are you stupid, have you lost your God damned mind?"
Dean grins at him. "You're wearing lipstick. "It's green."
John grips the wheel tightly in his hands. "What did you take?"
"Acid," Dean says, grinning and closing his eyes. "It's awesome, Dad. "It's amazing. "The world is beautiful. "It's all purple and green swirls. "Hendrix tastes like strawberries."
John almost laughs, but then he thinks about what could have happened and that urge passes. "Do you realize how reckless that was, Dean? "How stupid?"
"Come on, Dad," Dean says finally sounding aggravated. "Most normal people my age are doing this shit every weekend," he says, rolling his eyes and shifting in his seat, pulling on the seatbelt like it's choking him. "Give me a fuckin' break for once. "I'm allowed to have fun sometimes."
"It ain't about having fun, son," John says, softening his voice as he turns to look at Dean, pupils blown wide and skin clammy with sweat. "Do you realize what can happen? "You're not everyone, Dean. "They don't know what you know. "They're not trained to snap necks with their bare hands, they don't know how to cock and load a shotgun in their sleep. "When they see an alien growing out the side of someone's neck they're gonna laugh and know they're tripping. "You? "You're gonna kill the son of a bitch because that's what you do!"
Dean frowns at him. "Huh."
"Yeah," John says, putting the car in drive and pulling out into the road.
"Never thought of that," Dean says, and when John looks at him he looks freaked, scared out of his mind. "Dad. "I could have.... It never even crossed my mind that--"
"Look, I know it didn't. "And I get it, I do. "You're a good kid, Dean. "And you're right, you deserve to blow off some steam. "And if you want to go to a bar, get drunk, that's your right. "You wanna go pick up a girl, get laid, whatever, that's fine too."
"Dad," Dean says, squirming uncomfortably. "Come on."
"But no hallucinogens, alright Dean," John says, looking at him. "Promise me."
"Yeah, Dad," Dean says, swallowing thickly. "Promise. "Yeah."
"Okay," John says, and after a few moments he reaches over and turns on the radio. "All Along the Watchtower comes on and he grins. "Strawberries huh?"
Dean laughs, forgetting to be freaked out. "Yeah. "With whip cream. "God, I want pie, Dad. "Can we get pie?"
John reaches over and takes the gun out of Dean's belt without Dean even noticing. "Sure, Dean," he says, smoothing down a wayward hair and leaving his hand on the back of Dean's neck, squeezing gently. "Pie sounds good."
"Couldn't sleep either, huh Bobby?"
Bobby looks up from his drink and notebook. "Nope."
"Whiskey," Dean asks, pointing at the flask in front of Bobby.
"Yeah," Bobby says, pushing it forward. "You want?"
"You know it," Dean says, grinning and taking a rather large swig out of it. "Pretty crazy past few days huh?"
"Crazy past few decades more like," Bobby says, taking the flask back and refilling it. "But yeah. "Past few days have been a bit more on the crazy side than usual."
"So..." "Dean stops, frown marring his face as he traces the etchings in the table with his knife. "I kind of... the thing is..."
"Dean," Bobby asks, raising an eyebrow. "Wanna pick a sentence?"
Dean digs his knife into the edge of the table and then looks up at Bobby and there's real fear in his eyes. "It chills Bobby to the core. "The thing is, I got an angel on one side telling me he pulled me outta the pit with his own bare hands because I got a war to fight and my side's already been chosen, and I got a demon on the other telling my baby bro what to do under the guise of well, she's one of the good guy demons, whatever the hell that is, and he's listening like he believes her."
Bobby nods. "Yeah."
"And see, my angel? "He ain't the cherubic, Cupid type, no, he's more like a fucking warrior God, like he's I don't know, who's the God of war?"
"Ares," Bobby says. "That is, if you're talking Greek mythology."
"Yeah, man, Greek, Roman, I don't know, either way, not that I believed in angels, but he's doesn't exactly hold true to what Hallmark makes 'em out to be."
"And you're wondering, how do you know what side to be on."
Dean looks at him, grim faced and thin lipped. "Yeah, Bobby. "I don't know what the fuck to believe anymore. "I wish..." "He pauses, looking away. "I wish Dad was here."
"Well, your daddy I'm not, but I think I know you pretty damn well and your gut's always served you best, so." "Bobby shrugs. "I don't know what to tell you to do, Dean, but trust your gut."
Dean scrubs at his face roughly and groans into his hands. "And if my gut says run screaming?"
Bobby laughs. "Then you come find me and we run together."
Dean smiles and reaches over, grabbing Bobby's hand in his tightly for a moment, squeezing it before letting it go. "I ever tell you thanks, Bobby? "For everything you've done? "We may not be blood, but..." "He pauses before his emotions can get the best of him. "Bobby can see the internal struggled playing out in his eyes. "You're my family, Bobby. "You and Sammy. "You're all I got."
Bobby smiles, reaching over and smacking Dean's cheek lightly. "Same for you, kiddo," he says, standing and walking towards the kitchen. "Pizza?"
"Hell yes," Dean says, following him and grinning, looking more relaxed than he had in over three days. "That's what holding stuff in'll do to you. "You sure know the way into a man's heart, Bobby."
Bobby laughs and fires up the oven.
"You sure this is gonna work?"
"Look, Henrickson, you wanna batton down the hatches and ride this thing out, you go on and do it, but I'm sure as hell not gonna--"
"Victor," he says, meeting Dean's eyes. "If we're gonna slay some evil demon ass together we might as well be on a first name basis."
Dean looks over at the man that he's been running from for near about a year now. ""All right."
"So are you sure?"
Dean grins. "Sure? "No. "But what choice do we have?"
"That's something you face a lot, huh," Victor says, still watching Dean with those cool, calculating eyes. "Dean's pretty sure at this point that he's done running from the FBI for the time being, but he still bristles under the scrutiny. "Not having much choice?"
Dean frowns. "What's that mean?"
"I thought you were a pretty fucked up guy for a long time there, Dean," Victor says, mouth twisting on an ironic smile. "But even more than that, I thought your Dad was."
Dean's fists clench. "Look."
"Moved you around from town to town, in and out of schools, never had much of a childhood, never got to grow any roots," Victor says, checking his gun, pumping it a few times, making sure it's not gonna stick. "It's what Dean does too when he doesn't want to look somebody in the eye. "Sam got out, went to college. "Guessing that didn't fly over so well with the old man."
Dean stares him down until Victor looks up and meets his eyes. "You don't talk about my father."
"Look, hindsight's twenty-twenty, alright? "I get it. "There's evil out there and he's a survivor. "He's a marine, trained to protect, to hunt down those that are gonna kill you and kill them first," he says, and there's a 'negotiator' tone to his voice that Dean never heard in the run-ins he's had with the man where he actually was supposed to be negotiating. "I get it. "Still. "Didn't leave you with much choice, did he?"
"No," Dean says, looking away. "But then, he didn't get much of one either."
"No, I guess he didn't," Victor says, stepping up beside Dean. "I thought you were the second coming of Ed Gein, Dean. "Grave desecration, mutiliation, trail of dead bodies left behind you. "I'm pretty good at my job, ya know, and you were fucking killing me with the evasion tactics. "Right on your tail so many times I started seein' double."
Dean smirked. "Sorry."
Victor laughed. "Yeah. "Sure you are."
Dean's grin widened. "Nope."
"You ever see the movie Frailty, Dean," Victor asks, and Dean quirks an eyebrow. "Guess you were busy slaying vampires and whatnot, but it's a good movie. "Matthew McConaughey, Bill Paxton. "Gritty. "Kind of underground. "Not your usual Hollywood tripe."
"Hey," Dean says, pointing at him. "Don't knock Hollywood. "There's some fine babes in Hollywood. "Hollywood's responsible for Porky's 2."
"It's about this guy see, his father raised him to think it was okay to dole out justice by his own hands. "You're watching this movie, right, and you're thinking, this guy. "This guy is fucked in the head man. "He sees the light catch in a guy's eyes a certain way and sees the devil in him. "Next thing you know the dude's dead, and the guy thinks he's some kind of hero." "
Dean frowns at him. "You're preaching at me? "Really? "Now?"
Victor just grins. "See, his father said he could see evil. "And him and his brother, they were forced into the life their father brought on them."
Dean rolled his eyes. "I'm outta here."
"The thing is, Dean," Victor says, something in his voice making Dean stop in the doorway. "And forgive me for giving away the end here, but the thing is, he was right."
Dean turns to face him.
"He could see evil. "He could touch it. "And he killed it, and he taught his boys to do it." "Victor laughs, and it's just this side of crazy. "Disbelieving, almost unhinged, hanging on by a thread crazy. "And yeah, that's just about right for the night they've had to a civilian all dressed up as a fed. "So see, this guy you thought was a psycho killer, this Ed Gein wanna be, well. "He winds up being the hero."
Dean watches him laughing and thinks he'd like to take this guy out for a beer one night. "He deserves it. "You alright, Victor?"
"How am I supposed to go back, Dean," Victor asks, and it's half a laugh and half a plea. "How am I supposed to go back to my desk job and do research and look at pictures and jackets and files and catch one maybe two guys every five years when I know this shit's out there."
Dean walks towards him, shaking his head. "I don't know man, you just do. "You leave it to us and you keep the feds off our ass. "That's your part."
"I don't think I can," Victor says, finally sobering up, laugh finally dying off. "Not after... I don't think I can do it."
Dean smiles. "Then you join up, and me and you have a beer one night a year from now and tally up our scores."
Victor looks at him and shakes his head. "All this time, Dean. "This whole time I was going around thinking I was the hero, and all along it was you."
Five hours later and Victor's dead along with five others, and Dean's never regretted any civilian's death more than he regrets Victor's.
Dean aims the gun at Sam's head and his aim is true, right between the eyes. "Don't make me do it Sammy. "I know you're still in there."
Sam laughs and snaps Ellen's neck.
Even then, Dean can't pull the trigger.
"Dean," Mary says, smiling down at the swaddled mass of sleeping baby in her arms.
John peers over her shoulder, tears of pride and happiness in his eyes. "Dean, huh? What made you pick that name?"
Mary doesn't look at John and holds the baby closer. "His name's Dean, John."
"I just thought... I thought maybe you'd want to name him after your father or--"
"No," Mary says forcefully, and then softer when the baby's face screws up and grows read, mouth opening to cry. "No. "His name is Dean. "It just is." "She smiles into those green eyes peering up at her from that teeny little face and runs a finger down his cheek. "Don't you recognize him, John?"
"Dean, huh," John says, reaching over and gently taking him from her arms, grinning down at him. "Alright, son. "That's your name I guess."
Mary nods and holds onto Dean little hand with her own. "He's gonna be beautiful, John. "Beautiful."
Dean grins, fingers wrapped loosely around the wheel as they haul ass down the 65. "Ah, Sammy. "The way it oughtta be. "Me, you, my baby," he says, patting the seat comfortingly, "and the open road."
Sam smiles and nods. "Yep."
"Him," God says, and Castiel follows his gaze into the bowels of hell to see the man, burnt and bloodied and broken, still fighting like hell to keep the demons at bay. "He shall be our savior."
"Yes, my Lord," Castiel says, watching him fight through the pain and the misery and the horror, never hesitating once. "I think so."