Fanfic: The Road to Detroit is Paved With Hell
Beta: borgmama1of5 – World’s best editor and all-around muse! Thanks to zatnikatel for the encouragement.
Summary: Post-Abandon All Hope. Lucifer wants Sam to say yes. He wants Dean back in Hell. And he's tired of playing nice. Sam and Dean will never know what hit them.
Spoilers: Set in Season 5. Follows 5X10 Abandon all Hope
Genre: Gen, H/C, Angst, Hurt!Dean, Limp!Sam
Characters: Sam, Dean, Castiel, Bobby, Lucifer
Rating: T (mature themes, strong language)
Disclaimer: I don't own Supernatural or any of its characters. They belong to the CW and Eric Kripke -- who'd best treat them well
Author's Note: Story is 18 chapters plus epilogue (approx 55k words). Complete. Will post over several days. Show has been/will be in hiatus for 8 weeks. But we know the boys aren't just sitting in a motel room waiting to go back to work stopping the Apocalypse. My beta says I have filled in the missing weeks, which is not what I started out to do. But the original six chapters just kinda took off ...
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Dean senses Bobby wants to ask more questions about what happened with Sam, but at Dean’s closed face, the older man backs off. Castiel walks around the crowded room, picking up books and papers with a look of utter absorption.
Dean tracks his angel friend’s movements for a moment before asking Bobby for the latest on the Death research.
Bobby rolls into his kitchen and returns with two cold beers. “He gonna want one?” he asks Dean, pointing to Castiel.
Cas has his nose in one of Bobby’s older texts and as he slowly turns pages his finger gently trace over the etchings of God’s Warriors. “This is one of my former garrisons,” he says to no one in particular.
Dean peers over Cas’s shoulder. “Cool. You in that book, Cas?”
“No. I am a minor angel. This battle was fierce and I was there but only at the edges … not in the front line, as you would say.”
Dean thinks how old Castiel is. The millenniums he’s experienced, how he’s witnessed the rise and fall of entire civilizations and yet here he is … in Bobby’s musty old living room … wanting to help Dean. Everything I did … I did it for you. This is one of those mysteries Dean knows he will never unravel.
“Cas,” he says waiting until the angel is looking at him once more. “You’re not a minor angel. You’re the awesomest angel I know.”
Dean senses Bobby’s eyes upon him. Feels a bit self conscious at this naked show of sentiment. But Cas is looking at Dean in a way that helps fill the holes in his soul that he left back in the pit, and maintaining a tough guy image just doesn’t seem as important as it once did. His father comes to mind.
Dad kept it all bottled up tight. Proud ex-marine that valued loyalty, obedience, order. Dean has tried to be like his father. His music. His car. His jacket. But he knows now that his father wasn’t perfect. And the times that stand out aren’t when his father was stoic.
He is twelve the first time he remembers seeing his father cry. At least the first time when he wasn’t a tiny boy right after his mother was killed. Dad is away on a hunt. Dean stretches out their cash and provisions as long as he can but within a couple of days the money and food run out, which isn’t the biggest deal because he is able to steal most of what they need.
Then three days into the food shortage little Sammy catches a cold and then develops a fever and Dean gives him what they have of Children’s Tylenol but there isn’t much and soon it’s gone. Dean does what he can with cold compresses but the fever isn’t breaking and stealing from the drug aisle is too dangerous and he’ll get caught and he doesn’t know what to do. He can take Sammy to a clinic or an emergency room but then they’ll ask questions about their parents and the single most terrifying thing in Dean’s life – scarier than every monster he’s ever seen or been told about, more petrifying even than the thing that took his mother – is Children Protection Services. He didn’t know how he’d live if they took Sammy from him.
On the seventh day their father finally walks through the door. Dean hasn’t eaten in two days and feels slightly nauseous but he’s managed to save a little soup for his brother and Sam has kept it down. The fever, however, is still there … hovering around 102.
Dad assesses the situation quickly asking briskly how long Sam has been this way and Dean explains about the Children’s Tylenol and that they’d run out and that he’s tried to keep Sammy cool as best as he could.
Their father pulls a regular bottle of Tylenol from the medicine cabinet in the bathroom and quickly splits the larger pill in half and has Sammy swallow it down even though his little brother never swallowed a pill like that before and gags twice before he can do it.
Then Dad turns on Dean. “Why didn’t you give him a half pill … we had a whole bottle?!”
Dean stares at the bottle in his father’s hand and feels the bile in his stomach rise at his own stupidity.
“I’m sorry, sir, I didn’t think …”
“That the problem. You don’t think. It’s the same damn ingredients, just the kid’s version are smaller. You should know this. It’s common sense. I wouldn’t leave you boys without any first aid.”
Dean struggles to remain standing at attention but the strain of worrying about Sammy and lack of food and overwhelming guilt at how could he have not known this knocks his legs out from under him and he lands on a chair with a loud thud and mumbles, “I’m sorry, sir. It won’t happen again.”
Sammy stirs in his bed then and struggles to sit up. Dean recognizes the fire in his little brother’s fevered eyes. “No. But Daddy, you left us without food!”
His father turns back to his youngest son, mouth open. “What …?”
“You were gone a long time and there wasn’t anything to eat.”
“I went shopping before I left, stocked the pantry.”
Dean shakes his head silently at this. Food for two days, not over a week. Part of Dean wants to yell at Sammy to shut up as this will hurt their dad. Dad didn’t know he’d be gone so long, it wasn’t his fault.
“We were hungry! If Dean hadn’t stolen from the grocery store…”
Sammy has stopped yelling. Even at his young age he knows he’s said too much.
Dean shifts backward slightly in his seat certain he’s in big trouble after what Sammy let out. He hangs his head down in shame ready to apologize.
Dad rises from Sam’s bed and collapses in the chair across from Dean. “I’m sorry, sir,” he says softly to his father.
His father looks at Dean as if he is seeing him for the first time and Dean is shocked that his father isn’t angry at him. He stares wide-eyed at the tears tracking down his dad’s face. His father’s voice hitches, “I’m so sorry. You boys deserve so much better. I drag you everywhere … put you in constant danger … starve you.” His voice rises scarily on the last words. Dad halts, fists the tears from his eyes. “I should call the county right now and have them send someone to take you boys to safety. Away from me.”
Dean panics at this as if someone put a gun to his temple. From across the room he hears Sammy cry out, “No.”
Eighteen years later, Dean shakes the cobwebs free, fighting to forget his brother’s cry from that long ago night. He misses that boy so much it feels like a body part’s been surgically removed. Cas touches him gently because even though the angel can’t read minds he can read Dean.
“I would like that beer,” Cas says, looking toward Bobby over Dean’s shoulder.
* * *
Bobby has shared all the research he’s done the past several weeks. He pulls out a large map of the country and lays it across a table. He’s drawn the beginning of a five-pointed star in red. The star is incomplete with three points left to be finished. The cities are mostly in the Midwest – Sioux City, Iowa; Polk, Wisconsin; Damiansville, Illinois. Some are large, some are tiny. Dean struggles to make sense of it. The attack sites seem random. Cas is staring intently.
“What?” Dean asks his friend.
“The center, Dean.”
Bobby and Dean trace the points inward until they zone in on one state – Michigan.
“Oh shit,” Dean breathes.
Bobby looks at him oddly. “Whatcha find boy?”
The center of Death’s pentagram is Detroit. I win. So, I win. NO. You’re wrong. Sam’s fevered confession stabs Dean. What if Lucifer is still molesting Sam in his dreams? And Sam’s alone, helpless. It was Sam’s choice. Again. Still. Always.
Bobby prods him again.
“I haven’t told you this,” Dean struggles. “Hard to talk about.”
“Zachariah sent me on this trip. It was the same night Sam … Lucifer found Sam, told him he was his vessel. The dickwad sent me five years into the future. Remember that demon virus Sam and I came across in Oregon a few years ago? Croatoan. Well, it’s everywhere in the future. Turning people into wild, vicious animals. Whole cities with nobody human left in ‘em.” Pause. “There’s a group of resistance fighters. I’m -- one of them … only I’m a real SOB … Didn’t give a damn about using my … friends as bait without even telling ‘em.”
“Was I there?” Bobby asks quietly.
Dean looks away. The older hunter nods and doesn’t ask for more.
“Future me has a final smackdown with Lucifer behind this old factory, in this overgrown garden. S-Lucifer … kills me … future me. Breaks my neck, steps on me like a bug.”
“And this is in Michigan?”
“No. We … were in Missouri. Kansas City.”
“Then …?” Cas’s hand is on Dean’s shoulder again and Bobby is staring intently at the interplay between angel and mortal. “Dean. What aren’t you telling me?”
Dean looks away. Can’t find the words. This is why he’s never told anyone what his future self said happened in Detroit … what will happen … might happen … Because seeing the Devil shining out of his brother’s eyes …
Cas answers for him. “Sam said yes in that future. That possible future. The Dean of that time said it happened in Detroit. We do not know for certain it will happen like that. Despite what Lucifer says … he does lie.”
Bobby runs his hand through his beard and shuts his eyes a moment. “Does Sam know?”
Dean faces his friend. “I told Sam about the trip. The virus. I told him that I learned we need to work together—“ Dean stops and turns away from Bobby and Castiel.
Bobby looks at the angel for a long moment and then wheels closer to Dean who is staring at the cluttered fireplace mantel.
“We gonna talk about this?”
“What?” Dean says.
“What happened with you and Sam?”
“I already told you. He said he wanted to hunt alone. Sam’s a big boy. His choice, nuthin’ to be done.”
“But knowin’ what you know. Shouldn’t we keep him close?”
Dean doesn’t mean to yell at Bobby. “How?! Am I supposed to lock him in your panic room again? Keep him like a freakin’ Chia pet? I tried. I apologized. I bit my tongue a million different times. I don’t know what to do anymore. You said it yourself, Sam hasn’t been Sam since …”
“Since you went to Hell?”
Dean’s eyes darken. “Don’t you dare pin my brother’s issues on me! I went to Hell to save his life. I thought … I hoped he’d make something of it. A second chance at a normal life. Be happy.”
Bobby stares straight into Dean’s hurting eyes. “You Winchesters are all so ready to sacrifice yourselves that you don’t stop and see what you’re actually sacrificing.”
Dean moves away from the man he thinks of as a father because he can’t talk about this any longer. Sam made his choice.
He runs a hand over his face and through his hair and turns around to face the men watching him with worry. He puts his best Dean Winchester smirk on his face “So where do we think this Death babe is heading next? Cause I’m thinking I wanna get a piece of that action.”
* * *
Sam stares at the map again and knows he’s sweating even though it’s cold but it’s hard to think when the center of what he’s drawn on the map is fucking Detroit. You’re going to say yes in six months. And you’re going to say it in … Detroit.
He’s running out of time and his instinct as always is to reach out to Dean but bottom line he can’t because Lucifer wants Sam’s ass and he has to keep Dean as far away as possible. He knows Bobby’s been tracking Death and Sam’s pretty sure his brother is with him in South Dakota.
Sam isn’t sure if Dean heard Lucifer in Carthage. When Lucifer threw Dean against that tree he’d been knocked out cold. And Dean’d never mentioned hearing the conversation between Sam and Lucifer. Maybe he’s been waiting for Sam to say something? Doesn’t matter. Sam’s mission is the same now as it’s been since the Devil first appeared in his bed. And Sam sees that thought in a new and very revolting light.
Thank goodness that Dean is unaware of Lucifer’s depraved desire toward Sam. Dean can’t ever know this. How screwed up are their lives? Dean has an angel of the Lord jonesing for him and Sam has Satan, himself. If that doesn’t just about tell you everything you need to know about the Winchester brothers, nothing does.
He studies the map some more. Death can go in one of two directions to continue the star shape. South toward Ohio or north toward North Dakota. Sam figures Dean and Bobby will check out North Dakota, given their proximity. He packs his duffel — never really unpacked-- and stows it in the trunk of his newest vehicle – he upgraded to a Volvo this time – and starts driving toward Ohio.
* * *
“You sure on this, Bobby?” Dean asks from the passenger seat of Bobby’s truck. Dean knows how normal it makes Bobby feel to be able to drive his refitted truck.
“Ramsey County, North Dakota. Home of Devil’s Lake. Got the perfect name, given Lucifer’s sense of irony. That’s where Death’s going.”
Dean continues to be unsure about this plan but he also thinks he has nothing left to lose. This is riskier than anything they would have even imagined trying in the past. How do you fight Death? Bobby has this idea that they can use a ritual he’s unearthed to protect the town. Cas hasn’t exactly weighed in on this but he hasn’t said no either. He’s just sitting quietly in the back seat, stoic, staring straight ahead. Not that Dean’s complaining but he’s been wondering about Cas’s sudden interest in car travel versus his usual transportation.
He worries that his friend is losing more of his angel mojo, making him more vulnerable by the day. It’s impossible not to think of the future Cas he met – all strung out and … empty. Dean doesn’t want this for his friend. If Castiel becomes human one day he wants him to have a meaningful life. Yeah, well, that’s not gonna happen as long as he’s hanging around with you, Winchester. A normal person would be driving as far away from where they thought Death might be, not to mention the Devil. But, no, he thinks it’s a good idea to head right at it.
They pull slowly into town and Dean is surprised at how ordinary it all looks. People strolling around a small historic commercial center with quaint mom and pop shops with names like Ray’s Bakery and Garrell’s Sports. Cas says he sees nothing unusual … no reapers or demons or even other renegade angels. They pull into a parking space and put money into a meter, which Dean’s never remembered doing his entire life. He helps Bobby into his chair before wondering if the bakery has good pie.
“Seems quiet enough,” Bobby volunteers.
“Think you got it wrong?”
Bobby scrunches his face a bit. “Think we’re early,” he replies.
Dean nods fighting back the tension and suddenly his legs cramp from all the sitting in the uncomfortable truck not his baby and he tells Bobby to start setting up, that he’s going to walk a bit further and look around. Dean looks at Cas and silently orders him to stay with Bobby and Cas nods understanding.
Dean walks far enough that the wholesome middle-America milieu turns into liquor stores with burglar bars and run-down houses with boarded up windows and overgrown yards. He hears a noise from down a side street and heads to check it out. Might have been a kid or a car or a … dog.
It comes fast and furious and invisible. Dean takes off running so fast his lungs are on fire. He can’t yell because that takes air and his companions are too far away and he is fucked he knows the Hell Hounds are closing in with rabid intensity because they’re here for one thing, have one purpose … he’s going to be torn to shreds and dragged back to Hell.
Dean seeks shelter, yanks on doorways but everything is locked, there are no stores here only homes, and while before people milled about now there’s no one. The beast’s roar deafens and he smells its rancid breath. Oh God. No No NO!
A jagged claw cleaves his leg like a hook through a slab of meat and a soundless scream leaves his lips. He crabs backward, but his leg is hamburger and he almost passes out from the pain and rolls instinctively up in a ball and suddenly he’s back in the possessed child’s horror house and Sam’s pinned to the wall crying and shouting no, stop and Lilith is laughing with white eyes and in excruciating horror Dean looks down prepared to see his heart shred to chunks before his eyes.
A blur pulls back hard at the beast but its teeth have sunk into his thigh and when its head yanks back with a slushy tear it takes tissue and muscle and tendons with it, spraying up a bloody spurt so that Dean’s world goes red before it goes black. He comes to grunting, swipes at the blood, feels a second’s relief that the thing is gone, isn’t biting him, slashing him. Then he sees Cas wrestling the beast in a mad tangle of fur and claws and trench coat. Adrenaline surges and Dean tries to rise, to fight, save his friend, but movement sends sparks of agony to every nerve ending and the pain of every lash returns as one. Another hound lunges ignited by the raw meat of his leg and he screams till his throat closes and the dark mist lets him escape.
The report of the Colt blast rips the air around Dean and then another and a third and he comes to as a weight crushes him. There’s no breath left in his lungs and he struggles against the invisible mass, tries to move but his leg is in utter agony. He calls for Bobby but only a whimper comes out.
Castiel is there, strips of his coat fluttering madly behind him like streamers. He lifts him out from under the dead Hell Hound and as the angel pulls him further away he hears feminine laughter and he thinks Lilith … she’s back … she’s here … she’s going to kill Sammy … he has to stop her but the Hell Hounds are coming and it hurts it hurts … Sam … SAM!
“Dean … Sam is fine. He’s not here. The Hell Hounds are dead but we must get you out of here. Now.”
There’s a ripping sound and Cas is tying something around his thigh and squeezes and the pain is so bad he sees black then he sucks in air faster than his lungs can handle and he’s panting like the Hell Hounds before they feast on his guts.
Bobby rolls up close and murmurs Shit … and says, “Put him up here. I’ll hold ‘im. Then you zap us all outta here to an emergency room.”
“I cannot. I need time for my body to mend itself. We will have to drive him to a hospital.”
Cas lifts Dean and he’s half-cradled in Bobby’s lap and he’s five and staring up the bushiest beard he’s ever seen outside of Santa Claus and Dean wonders if this is Santa, you know, when he’s off duty. But the whiskers are dark and not white so he’s not sure and then he’s tearing around the junk cars and Uncle Bobby ruffles his hair and tells him he doesn’t have to call him sir, but Dean doesn’t know how to call him anything else and it takes a very long time until he first calls him “Uncle” and Uncle Bobby seems very pleased when Dean says it.
Dean fades in and out of consciousness and catches snippets of conversation around him. Lucifer means business. The pattern means nothing. Just a trap for Dean. The contract is binding, it is forever. Yeah, well, forever ain’t what it used to be.
He raises his head slightly, he’s in the back of the truck, his head resting on Cas’s lap. This should make him feel uncomfortable but Cas is gently stroking his forehead and Dean accepts the warm touch and thinks thank you … wants to say it but before the words can come he retreats from the unbearable pain back into unconsciousness.
“Sammy! Sam …”
“Dean. Your brother is not here. He is fine. We’re taking you to the hospital.”
“Lilith didn’t kill him? He … He’s okay?”
“Lilith didn’t hurt your brother, Dean. He is fine.”
“How’s he doin’ back there? Lost a lotta blood.”
“He keeps drifting … will we be there soon?”
Bobby’s voice is gruff. “Nuther few minutes. Shame you don’t have your zapping powers any longer.”
Cas stiffens, draws Dean minutely closer. Dean wants to tell him it’s okay, not to worry, but his head is underwater and he’s afraid if he speaks, he’ll drown.
Dean is on a gurney and it’s familiar and wrong and there’s a tearing sound as his jeans are cut and someone moves him and it pierces from his groin to his thigh to his knee and he utters a guttural moan and squeezes a soft hand and shuts his eyes against the stinging tears. Someone adjusts his arm and he feels a prick and then numbness travels over his body and he sleeps.
Dean awakens and there’s a momentary disorientation, then he pretty quickly realizes where he is. He looks down and peers under the blankets. His leg is still there thank God and it’s bandaged from the top of his thigh to below his knee. He tries to move it a little but he gives an involuntary gasp at the attempt and he thinks he isn’t going anywhere for a while.
He shakes a little, thinking how close those barbarous claws came to the family jewels and how despite everything maybe luck is on his side for a change. Then the doctor walks in and Bobby rolls in right behind her.
She’s a small Asian woman with a pretty, thin face and sharp, bright eyes and Dean instantly feels like he’s in good hands. She’s talking but he’s imagining the incredible grades this woman achieved all through her academic life and how proud her parents must have felt when she graduated medical school. He would have been proud to see Sam accept his Law degree and he never told his brother that, only made it seem like it was a waste of time. And it was, of course, a waste, given their line of work, their lives. But that didn’t mean he hadn’t been proud of Sammy all the same and maybe he should have said something when it would have mattered.
The outside world intrudes on his thoughts when the doctor inquires about his next of kin.
Bobby answers, “He has a brother. But he’s not here.”
Dean looks at them both thinking, I’m right here, aren’t I? This isn’t like the last time when he was walking around and his body was in a coma, but then the doctor looks right at him and smiles warmly so he know he’s not invisible.
The physician turns her attention back to Bobby. “You might want to contact his brother, he would want to be here, I’d think.”
Bobby’s eyebrows rise slightly and he looks up at the petite doctor.
She looks away and touches Dean’s arm and asks, “Do you know where you are?”
“Do you know what day it is?”
Dean thinks, isn’t sure. Has he been out a while?
The doctor begins to explain. Her voice is soft, deliberate. Seems like he’s lost a day. Not surprising given what happened. She touches his arm again and looks him straight in the eyes. “Mr. Page. The dog that attacked you was exceptionally vicious. We have done all we can to save your leg but the injuries are too severe …”
Dean’s eyes widen and he interrupts, grabbing her arm. “You’re saying I’m going to lose my leg?”
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