Title: My Family and Other...Demons
Rating: All Ages
Warnings: Spoilers for season 4; pure speculation for season 5. I am spoiler-free and intend to stay that way.
Notes: Written for spn_summergen (that is, before the S5 premiere turned this into an AU). It was posted weeks ago on LJ; I just remembered I hadn't cross-posted elsewhere. Thanks to raynedanser for the super-fast beta!
Summary: Screw the apocalypse. If you're a Winchester, family comes first.
It’s a hell of a life when you find the smell of burning gasoline and human flesh comforting.
He went out like a hunter, Dean told Sam, but they both knew that wasn’t true. Adam never even knew what was killing him. He wasn’t a hunter. Dean would be surprised if he even fought the damned thing. The flames around Adam’s body were dying down to embers as Dean watched. Sam was a silent, hulking statue beside him.
He’s a Winchester, Sam said, but that wasn’t true either, was it? Adam never had a clue what it meant to be John Winchester’s son. He thought his dad was a mechanic, the kind of guy who takes his sons to baseball games and remembers their birthdays. But what Sam called the family curse had found the kid anyway.
Eventually, Dean and Sam cleaned up the ashes as they’d done at a hundred other gravesites and returned all their gear to the Impala. As they burned out of town, Dean intended to forget they ever had another brother.
Dude, that had better be some amazing porn, Dean thought irritably as he hauled himself out of bed. It was nearly 4.30 in the morning and Sam had been tapping away at the computer all freaking night, keeping Dean awake. He walked around to where Sam sat, the motel carpet rough against his bare feet.
Instead of the latest from bustyasianbeauties.com, Dean was disappointed to see nothing but a page full of text when he leaned over Sam’s shoulder.
“Dude, are you still doin’ research?” he complained.
“I hacked into Adam’s college email account,” Sam explained.
You kept me awake all night for that? “What for?” Dean asked, in a tone meant to convey that he didn’t give a crap.
“Look at this,” Sam answered, pivoting the laptop a little to give Dean a better view. As he did, Dean caught sight of the scar on his wrist, the legacy of the ghouls that killed Adam, still not fully healed.
Dean leaned closer to the screen so he could read it. The email was from some chick, and from the look of it, she’d been emailing Adam for a while and was pissed because he hadn’t replied. Well, he couldn’t reply, Dean thought cynically, because he was dead. Then he saw the part that had gotten Sam’s panties in a knot.
...didn’t want to tell you in an email, but you won’t return my calls. I’ve decided to keep the baby, Adam. Mom’s going to help, so I can stay in school. I’d really like it if you...
Dean turned away. “It ain’t our business, Sam. Now turn that thing off. I’m tryin’ to sleep.”
The thing about an apocalypse is, it never ends.
Since Lucifer busted out, Dean had lost count of the number of exorcisms he’d done. There were demons everywhere but it was like Hell had no hold on them any more. He could send a thousand of ’em back to Hell, and the sons of bitches kept crawling back out.
Dean almost missed Sam’s demon-blood-fuelled-freaky-shit. Almost.
At least he still had Ruby’s knife.
Sam came to him one day with a cutting from a Wisconsin newspaper. Dean read it, and at first he didn’t understand. It was a simple announcement of a new baby being born. Not a hunt, not even a whisper of demons.
“Adam’s girl,” Sam reminded him.
Dean hadn’t known the girl’s name. “What do you want me to say, Sam? It’s nothing to do with us.”
“Dean, this baby is our – ”
“Nothing!” Dean interrupted. “And that kid is never going to hear the name Winchester. Better that way.”
“You’re not even a little interested?”
“No. So, where shall we go? The haunting in Florida or more demons in Nebraska?”
Despite his outward disinterest, the next time they passed a store selling them, Dean bought a small calendar that would fit in the back of Dad’s journal. He checked the news clipping Sam didn’t know he’d kept and circled two dates in the calendar: the date the baby was born and another date exactly six months later. Then he tucked both calendar and news clipping into the flap at the back of the journal.
Sam didn’t mention Adam or the baby again.
When the shit hit the fan, Dean forgot all about it, too.
Technically, it wasn’t Sam who left, this time. But it sure felt like it.
They were at a truck stop in the middle of nowhere, on their way to check out a case. The tip had come from Castiel and Sam was not happy about going. Sam was pissed every time Dean so much as mentioned Cas lately. They got into an argument over the pancakes and coffee: the same damn fight they’d been having every other day.
They were still arguing as they walked back toward the Impala and Dean just couldn’t take it any more. He thought that if Sam said one more word he was going to break his fist on Sam’s face. So he climbed into the car and tore out of there – without his brother.
He’d only gone a couple of miles before he calmed down and realised he was being an ass. He turned the car around and headed back, but when he reached the truck stop again Sam was gone.
Dean called, but when Sam finally picked up it was to tell Dean he was done following him around.
The Apocalypse doesn’t wait around just because Winchesters have...issues.
Dean didn’t know much about what Sam was doing. Sam did call sometimes, but if Dean answered the phone he’d hang up without saying anything. Eventually, Dean stopped picking up, and when he did, Sam started leaving messages on his voicemail. That was all he had of his brother.
Sometimes, Bobby picked up a rumour or two. Once, Sam sent a postcard. Enough that they knew he was still out there, and still hunting. What they didn’t know was what side he was on...or what he was really doing.
Every time Bobby mentioned a rumour, Dean wanted to drive out there, but he knew Sam would be long gone before he could get close. Besides, Sam knew where he was.
In his heart, Dean knew that this time there was no fixing it. He and Sam just weren’t the same men they used to be. Dean was fighting this fight the only way he could. Sam had no right to tell him who he should trust. It was Sam who’d trusted that demon bitch. Sam who couldn’t fucking deal.
When the stereo in his car died, Dean decided he was looking forward to the end of the world.
“You got a date I don’t know about?” Bobby asked.
The question was so totally out of left field it broke Dean’s concentration. He laid the journal on the arm of his chair. He’d been scouring he handwritten pages for anything he might have missed, any hint or clue. “I have no idea what – ” he started to tell Bobby, but broke off when he saw the crumpled calendar in Bobby’s hand.
“You dropped it out of the journal.” Bobby gave it to him. “That date’s tomorrow,” he mentioned casually.
Dean swore. Then he picked up the journal and reached for his leather coat. “I’ve got to go.”
“Whoa!” Bobby stepped into his path. “Are you forgetting a slight Apocalypse going on out there? Or the legion of demons gunning for your ass?”
Dean pulled the coat on. John’s journal slipped into its accustomed place in the coat’s inner pocket. The weight was comforting and familiar. Dean would have felt naked without it. “I haven’t forgotten,” he told Bobby. “But I’ve got to be in Wisconsin by tomorrow night.” He moved to walk past his friend.
Bobby frowned. “Boy, you sound just like your daddy. And that ain’t a compliment.”
Dean met his eyes, considering several answers, none of them good. Eventually he said simply, “This is just something I have to do, Bobby. I owe it to Dad.”
Bobby moved out of his way, muttering under his breath about idjits and Winchesters.
The drive to Wisconsin seemed to be six times as long with only the growl of the Impala’s engine for company. It’s for Dad, Dean reminded himself every time it occurred to him to turn back.
He found the house just before sunset. He double-checked the address, then headed out in search of essential supplies for the night. He bought a ton of espresso from Starbucks and a huge take-out pizza from a local place where the waitress called him “sweetheart”. Dean flirted a little while he waited for his order, but his heart wasn’t in it. Hadn’t been in it for a long time, he realised. Dean paid for the pizza, carried it back to his car and returned to the house. He parked a short distance from the house, in a position where he could watch the place without looking too much like a stalker. He settled in to wait.
Inside that house was John Winchester’s grandson. And the boy was six months old tonight.
Dean didn’t really believe the baby was in danger. Azazel was the one with a kink for kids on their six-month birthdays, and Dean put a magic bullet in that sonofabitch more than two years ago. There was no reason to expect anything to happen tonight. There would be no demon bleeding into the kid’s mouth, no fire, no mother burning on the ceiling. But Dean was absolutely certain of one thing: if his father were alive, he would be doing exactly what Dean was doing now. He would keep vigil all night outside a stranger’s home, not because he expected trouble, but because he would never forgive himself if trouble came and he wasn’t there to save a kid who was never gonna know his name.
But, damn, Dean wished the stereo was working!
By the time the coffee was gone, Dean was thoroughly bored. Yet he couldn’t take his eyes off the house. He had seen enough to know that both mother and baby were home. She seemed young to be a mom, a pretty blonde with shoulder-length hair. He’d watched her close the curtains of what he thought must be the nursery: now there was the faint glow of a night-light from inside that room and in the window below, the brighter electric light of the living room.
Dean hummed Metallica and grabbed another slice of pizza.
The Impala’s door opened and Sam slid into the seat beside him, casual as you please. He smiled at Dean. “Hey, you brought pizza! Is there coffee, too?” He reached into the box for a slice, just as if he’d never been away.
Dean batted his hand away. “Coffee’s gone. What are you doing here, Sam?”
“Same thing you are.”
It had occurred to Dean that Sam might show up. What he hadn’t been sure of was what Sam’s intentions would be if he did show. In the tiny, dark corner of his mind that maybe listened too much to Castiel, Dean was convinced he’d confront a Sam with yellow eyes, a Sam come to...to what? Did he really think Sam would...?
Dean pasted a fake grin on his face and said, “Me? I’m just here for the pizza.” He tilted the box toward Sam, offering him a share.
Sam took a slice with a tentative smile. “Dean, can we...” he pulled a face and started picking the olives off the pizza slice, avoiding Dean’s eyes, “...Can we not talk about...everything? Not now.”
Dean shrugged. “Tape deck is busted. It’ll be a long night if we ain’t gonna talk.”
Sam was still plucking olives. “Talk. Just not about that. Not yet.”
Yeah. Right. Dean pulled the hip flask out of his pocket. It was a new one, made of pure silver. He unscrewed the cap and offered it to his brother. “Whatever you want, Sam.”
Sam’s eyes narrowed as if he were suspicious of Dean’s agreement. He accepted the flask from Dean, who tensed, watching him drink from it.
Sam pulled a face as if the drink were bitter. He looked at Dean. “Holy water?”
“I had to check, Sam.”
Sam’s look darkened, a frown of anger creasing his forehead. “Is that what you think I – ?” he began, then stopped. “No. Not tonight.” Sam sighed heavily. “Go ahead, Dean. Any test you like.” His voice was steady, but Dean could hear his struggle to appear calm. There was a volcano simmering under Sam’s skin. This was the closest they’d come to a civilised conversation since before Lucifer rose. Dean didn’t want to spoil it now. Whatever else he might be, Sam was still his little brother.
Was Sam serious about Dean testing him? He seemed sincere, but short of trying an exorcism Dean had pretty much exhausted the possible tests with the silver and holy water. And even if Sam meant it, he wasn’t likely to react well if Dean started reciting Latin.
He didn’t feel quite easy about it, but Dean let it go. He looked up at the house just as the living room light went out. “Nothing’s gonna happen in there,” he said.
“I know,” Sam agreed.
“Did you check for demonic omens?”
“I did, but...” Sam shrugged, “they’re everywhere these days. It’d be weird if there weren’t any omens here. Unless...did you find something?”
“I didn’t check,” Dean confessed, feeling like he’d been caught napping on the job. “To be honest, I forgot about the date until yesterday.”
“That’s not like you.”
“Well, excuse me! I’ve been a little busy!”
Sam didn’t respond.
For a long time, they sat in silence. Between them, they finished the pizza and Dean’s whiskey. Sam asked after Bobby; Dean told him Bobby was doing fine. That pretty much exhausted the possibilities for small talk. Dean couldn’t ask Sam if he’d found himself a girl (not when his last girl was a demon whom Dean stabbed to death while Sam held her down), or if he’d seen the remake of Friday the Thirteenth yet (since that would mean pointing out they’d planned on seeing it together) or, well, anything.
Unconsciously, Dean tapped a staccato beat on the wheel with his fingers. Until Sam told him to quit, he didn’t realise he was doing it. Once he did, though, he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to annoy Sam. He was always such an easy target...and it was the first time Sam had spoken in hours.
Dean quit tapping on the wheel and started clicking with his tongue instead. Sam let him go on for three whole minutes.
“Dean. Quit it,” Sam said flatly.
Dean tried humming instead.
“Dean! For God’s sake!”
Sam glared at him with narrowed eyes. He shook his head, almost smiling. He ran his hand over the dash in front of him. “I’ve missed this car,” he volunteered, his voice soft. “I’ve been driving that beat-up Capri Bobby loaned me.”
“That thing drives like an old woman without her walker,” Dean snorted. “You couldn’t steal something better?”
“I could have,” Sam agreed. He lapsed into silence again.
Dean groped for a subject that wouldn’t end with them talking about the present, which Sam so obviously didn’t want to discuss. He ached to ask Sam what he’d been doing for the weeks – months – they’d been apart. It wasn’t so much that Dean was desperate to know, but the confession, good or bad, would let them begin to re-forge the connection between them. It could be the start of them being brothers again, and Dean wanted that more than anything.
When did it all go wrong? It was tempting to blame it on their last fight, the one that ended with Dean driving off and leaving Sam in the parking lot of some isolated truck stop. But it didn’t start with that fight, did it? The fight was old news. Sam thought Dean trusted Castiel too much, and the so-called prophecy about Dean was a crock. Dean didn’t believe it mattered: someone had to kill Lucifer – since Sam busted him out of jail – and if the angels thought Dean could do it he was damn well going to try. Sam wouldn’t accept that. Prophecy, he said, never led anywhere good. Prophecy was why the yellow-eyed demon killed their mom. Prophecy was why Ruby seduced Sam, lied to him and turned him into a junkie. Why would this prophecy be any different?
Dean pushed the thought out of his mind. He would not have the same fight with Sam. Not again. Not tonight.
“How many times do you think we’ve done this?” Sam asked in a friendlier voice.
“A hundred. Maybe more,” Dean agreed, glad for the change of subject. It was part of being a hunter, this night vigil, waiting outside a stranger’s home because something horrible was going to happen in there. Dean chuckled softly. “I think I was twelve the first time I got to go on stakeout with Dad,” he mentioned.
“Twelve. Where was I?”
“Sound asleep in the back seat, I think.”
“God. We never had a chance, did we?” Sam’s half-chuckle had a familiar, bitter edge.
“Don’t be so hard on Dad,” Dean argued reflexively. “He had his reasons.”
“I know, man. I didn’t mean it that way. It’s just...he had a choice, Dean. He had a choice, and he chose this for us.”
Dean looked at his brother. He wondered what was missing from that sentence. Dad chose this for them...and not Adam? Or was this the same old thing about Sam not getting to make choices for himself? Dean understood Sam’s resentment. He’d felt it himself, about the way they were raised. Dean wanted to believe that if Dad made different choices, he and Sam might have grown up “normal” in Lawrence. Dean would be a firefighter or maybe a mechanic like Dad. Sam would be a lawyer and married by now, probably with a kid on the way... But it was a fantasy. And it was Sam’s determination to control his own destiny that ended with Lucifer rising.
“You never have a choice, Sammy,” Dean said. “Not about the important stuff. You can choose country or classic rock, or what topping to add to your pizza, but – ”
“Speaking of pizza,” Sam interrupted, “did you have to get extra olives on that?”
“Dude, I’m trying to say something here!”
Sam nodded, his expression suddenly serious. “I hear you. You’re right.”
Somewhere, a dog started barking. Both men tensed, Sam’s hand disappearing to his side, letting Dean know he was packing. Dean kept his eyes on the house ahead, his hand on the car door, ready. After a few more seconds, though, the dog quieted. It was just a false alarm. Dean relaxed.
“Uh...Dean,” Sam began.
He sounded nervous. Dean eyed him worriedly. “Yeah?”
“When you said the tape deck is busted, did you mean the radio, too? Or just the tape deck?”
Dean frowned. “Both. Why?”
“If it’s both, I...uh...I think it might be my fault.” Sam looked worried.
Not without reason. Dude, you are evil. Dean spoke slowly, emphasising every word. “What. Exactly. Did you do to my car?”
Sam winced. “You remember the iPod I fitted while you were...downstairs?”
“Yeah. Loaded with girly emo crap.”
“Well, to get it working, I had to mess with the wiring a little. If you just hooked up a new stereo without checking...”
“Dude! That was more than a year ago! Why didn’t you tell me before?”
“It never occurred to me you wouldn’t check the wiring. And you would have given me more shit about it.”
“Damn straight. You were supposed to keep my car runnin’ while I was in Hell, not screw her over! You’re not an electrician.”
“I know my way around a circuit board as well as you do,” Sam said defensively. “Maybe better. Anyway, if that is the problem, I can fix it.”
“Only if you stick around this time.” The words were out before Dean could bite his tongue. Instantly, he wanted to take it back, but it was too late.
Sam stared at him. “Oh. Yeah.” He looked down at his knees, then raised his head and met Dean’s eyes. “Are you still BFF with Castiel?”
Dean frowned. “We’re not BFF. We never were. He’s still around if that’s what you mean.”
“Then I can’t go back with you, Dean. I want to. I could sure use the help. But...” he broke off, running a hand through his hair. “I hate this!” he burst out. “I hate not knowing who to trust.”
“You can trust me,” Dean insisted, stung by the implication.
“Not if you’re...with him,” Sam answered. He stared straight ahead, unable to look at Dean. “I think this must be how Dad felt. I understand him better now, why he wouldn’t tell us anything, why he kept us away from other hunters... Dean, I think I’ve found the answer. And I’m pretty sure the angels will kill me because of what I know.”
“You can’t be sure, Dean.” Sam twisted around, looking at Dean finally. “I know how this sounds. I do. And I know I fucked up and you don’t trust me any more.” His eyes were pleading in the darkness.
“What do you want from me?” Dean sighed.
“I want to tell you what I know. I want us to work together to fix what I screwed up. But you’ve got to promise me you won’t let Cas know. Not even a hint.”
Sam was serious. Sam was scared. Sam’s fear, more than anything, reached through to Dean. He took a deep breath. “Sam, you’ve got Cas all wrong – ”
“No!” Sam slammed his hand down on the dash with enough force to make even Dean jump. “No, I haven’t! No matter what he’s done for you, no matter what he’s said, he’s still an angel. They can mind-fuck him whenever they want to. So even if he believes he’s acting on his own, we can’t trust it.”
And I thought Bobby was paranoid. Dude, right now you’re makin’ Dad look trusting. “Sam...”
“Fine. Fine, don’t believe me. Just promise me.”
Dean nodded. “Alright, Sam. Between us.” So you’ll come back.
Sam visibly relaxed. He leaned into the car seat, tilting his head back as he let out a long breath. “Thank you. God...okay.” He took a deep breath again. “I’ve been researching the end-of-days prophecies from every culture I can track down. I found sources I don’t think even Bobby knows about.”
Dean caught himself smiling. I might have known it’d be research. You’re such a geek. “What Bobby don’t know, ain’t worth knowing,” he commented.
“I’m not so sure. Bobby’s sources are mostly Christian or Hebrew – stuff like the Key of Solomon and Revelation. They’re...well, they’re biased sources.”
“Meaning angels wrote most of the old prophecies. The sixty-six seals...they loaded the dice, Dean. Rigged the game. We never had a chance.”
“Sounds like an excuse to me,” Dean snapped, because it did, and because this was starting to feel like the same conversation all over again. There were no excuses, for either of them. This thing started because of Dean, because he broke in Hell. And Sam broke the last seal. They were responsible. So it didn’t matter to Dean if the game was rigged. Castiel said Dean was the only one who could end this thing. So Dean had to do it.
“No. No, it’s not an excuse. I know what I did. But...what if what’s coming is even worse?”
Dean looked at him. “We know it’s worse. Lucifer is gonna bring Hell to Earth.”
“Then why aren’t we already burning?” Sam argued. “He’s been free for long enough. Dean, I...I don’t have proof of everything yet. There are a couple of texts I can’t translate and I haven’t found an expert who’ll talk to me yet. But if I’m right, Lucifer is the last seal in the same way Lilith was. Kill him, the angels win...and everyone else loses.”
Dean shook his head. “No. No way. Cas would have told me.”
“Because he’s been so generous with the information so far?” Sam pointed out.
“So what are you saying? We should leave Lucifer alone to do his thing?” ’Cause that ain’t happening. “Do you know how that sounds, coming from you?”
“I know. But we can still stop it, Dean! I’m sure we can stop it.”
Dean was about ready to kick Sam out of the car. But Sam’s last words made him hesitate. It was what Castiel had said to him from the beginning. You have to stop it. Stop it, not kill him.
The first rays of the dawn sun hit the windows of the house they’d been watching, brightening the Impala with reflected light.
“You didn’t need to stay away for so long,” Dean said. It was as close as he could manage to an apology.
“Yeah, I did,” Sam answered, seeming to understand. “You were all Team Angel and I’m not wrong about them, Dean. They’re the wrong side in this fight.”
“You said you’ve got proof?”
Sam nodded. “Yeah. Back at my motel.”
Dean picked up the empty pizza box and tossed it onto the back seat. He turned the key in the Impala’s ignition, feeling the car vibrate beneath him as the engine rumbled to life. “Then let’s go,” he said. He glanced across to Sam, who was smiling. “And while I check out your proof,” Dean warned, “you’ll damn well fix my car!”
Sam’s tentative smile became a grin.
~ End ~
Note: This was written for apreludetoanend in spn_summergen. The thing about Adam's pregnant girlfriend came from the challenge prompt; I can't take credit for that. She also requested no apocalypse fic, but I couldn't figure out how to write a season 5 fic without it.