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 stares blankly long after the soft-spoken doctor leaves. Bobby hasn’t left and hasn’t said anything and they let the silence drift on.
Finally, Bobby says, “I should call Sam.”
At this Dean turns toward Bobby with eyes deader than the older man ever recalls seeing. Emptier than when Dean was actually dead.
There is no anger in Dean’s voice. There is simply nothing. Bobby fights getting angry, knows that this last bit of news is just the icing on a cake of crap so deep you could fertilize all of Iowa with it. This boy’s been through so much. Was raised like a soldier to fight monsters that real soldiers would run away from screaming like little girls. And now that sawbones is talkin’ about cutting off his leg and it just ain’t right.
“I won’t stand a chance,” Dean utters. Bobby isn’t sure Dean realizes he’s speaking aloud.
He answers anyway. “These days they have these prosthetics that folks run marathons with. After a bit you won’t hardly notice any difference.”
Dean turns those vacant eyes his way again. “Takes months of therapy to even begin … Don’t have months. Probably don’t even have weeks. Lucifer wants me back, Bobby. And back is where I’m going.”
“I’m not lettin’ them take you back, boy. I promise you this. Not gonna happen.”
Bobby turns away because looking at the boy is just killing him. He tells Dean he’s going to search out some caffeine and wheels himself out. He’s got his phone out and dialing before he can talk himself out of it.
“Sam. It’s Bobby. Call me. It’s about Dean.”
* * *
Sam rolls into Ohio at night and starts scanning for a cheap place to stay. The pool money is pretty much gone and not for the first time he marvels at his brother’s ability to just always seem to have cash. Not a lot, not by a long shot. They’d gone hungry as kids more times than he can count, but in the end … by hook or by crook … Dean finds a way to make it work. Not always legitimate, but ... He stops himself from thinking about this much more. He is tired or he wouldn’t have even begun this train of thought.
He’s been driving eight hours straight down Route 70 and he feels like a pretzel from contorting his legs in the compact car. Why doesn’t he ever think to steal a boat like the Impala? But the answer to that is obvious even to his sleep-deprived mind so he ignores both the question and its answer.
He looks over at his traveling buddy. Reliable fellow that comes out only at night and never says a thing. Jack is a steadfast roommate these days. Neat, quiet and unpicky enough to not mind sleeping wherever he’s dropped … on the floor most nights.
Sam finds that he doesn’t dream when he drinks till he’s out. At least he hasn’t had one of those dreams. Maybe intoxicated brains waves are too scrambled for Lucifer to pick out of the ether. Fine. Better than fine … perfect. The last dream still haunts. He knows he says yes in the dream. Perhaps not yes to the ultimate question but it’s a yes nonetheless and it’s too damn close for comfort.
He stops at a light and closes his eyes a moment, so dry from staring straight ahead all day. God, if his brother knew how depraved he’s become … that he’s gotten hard over the Devil … Dean can never know. And even if it means pickling his already diced liver, Sam’s never going to give in to the Devil like that again.
A nondescript motel outside of Springfield with a flashing vacancy sign is as good a place as any to pass out. He takes a quick shower before climbing into the too-short bed and flipping channels for a few minutes. He’s tired enough to fall asleep without any aid but he’s afraid that Lucifer will find him so he swills down some whiskey, turns off the T.V. and tries to settle into some semblance of comfortable on the lumpy mattress.
There’s a crackle of static and Sam shoots up, knife in hand, as the television turns itself back on. He checks around but he’s still in the same room and he’s alone. The whiskey is on the table where he left it and nothing seems wrong until the television begins changing channels by itself and a symphony of infomercials and late night talk shows and old movies fills the small space.
“Hi Sammy. Oh my … you are yummy, aren’t you?”
Sam stares at the screen in a mixture of shock and awe. A gorgeous woman is staring back at him. Long, straight movie-star hair. Enormous eyes the color of the clearest summer sky. A shimmery white dress clings to her curves as she approaches the camera? and stands closer now as if literally peering out at Sam from behind the T.V. screen.
“The boss said I’d want to eat you up. Ohh, but he didn’t tell me I should bring a cherry.”
The words are playful but her tone gives off hunger deep enough to devour.
“What?” is all that Sam can squeak out.
She’s looking him up and down, licking her lips like he’s a lollipop and he wants to look at himself to verify he’s still dressed. He feels the fabric of the tee-shirt, the boxers he has on. He doesn’t know what he’s seeing, isn’t sure this isn’t Lucifer in a new meatsuit ... Then he remembers what Dean said. Death is a blonde in a white dress. But she can’t kill him, Lucifer needs his vessel … so what does she want?
She answers even though he doesn’t ask. “I’m not here, Sammy. Took my boss’s pets for a walk in North Dakota. Poor puppies were so hungry. They haven’t eaten in a while but I promised them a very tasty treat.”
Sam’s heart stops. Dean. She sent Hell Hounds after …
“What did you do?”
She looks off camera and smiles. Behind her he sees an empty street of ramshackle buildings. She tilts her head back to him. “They’re here,” she squeals like a child, bringing her hands up in clear delight. As if watching the most horrifying home movie ever conceived, Sam sees Dean run up the dead street with jerky frantic steps. Although Sam can’t see anything, can’t hear anything, he knows what is after his brother, what they will do.
“I can’t stay any longer, don’t want to miss the show. But Sammy … once you accept the master … you and I are going to have such fun.” She laughs then, deep and hearty and blows him a kiss and the television flickers once and returns to an infomercial for acne aid.
Brain shrieking No no no, Sam reaches for his cell, starts to dial, sees no signal. Goddammit. There should be reception. He grabs the motel’s phone but the line is dead. In a perfect fuck you the television sputters and the entire room goes dark. He looks through the window. No lights for as far as he can see. It would be like Lucifer to black out the entire Midwest corridor.
He has no way to save Dean. Sam sinks onto the bed in despair. He thought staying away would keep his brother safe. But he’s underestimated how much Lucifer fears Dean. How much Lucifer wants his brother out of the way. Does Lucifer think that Dean is the only reason Sam keeps saying no?
art by beckieb
I’ll find a way, Dean. I won’t let you go to Hell. I promise … It’s a thousand miles to North Dakota. Even if he starts driving immediately, he won’t make any difference. He’s too late. Again. Lilith fires her white flash at him and it does nothing, not even a tingle as he drops from the wall and approaches her, knife drawn, wanting to cut out her laughing tongue but she smokes away and all that’s left is Dean’s shredded torso and frozen green eyes, begging for help that never comes.
* * *
Dean is X-rayed and poked and prodded and different doctors come by each saying a flurry of words that Dean doesn’t hear. A nurse comes in and changes the dressing on his leg. He almost pukes when he sees it, oozy and festering and smelling from hip to knee and she draws a big red ‘X’ on his right shin because there’s nothing to mark on above there.
The surgeon visits last and has him sign forms and explains the risks and speaks reassuringly about prognosis and therapy and state-of-the-art prosthetics. Dean knows the doctor is trying to help him and thinks he should say something, thank him, but he doesn’t have it in him. Talking is too much trouble. Better to be quiet. Sam has it right. Dean always talks too much and all it’s gotten him is a one-legged ticket on the Hades Express.
The surgery is scheduled for early the next morning and as Dean lies in the bed he has a single wish. If only Tessa would show up and take him away … No, forget that, the only place he can be taken is Hell. And somehow he thinks Tessa doesn’t want to take him there. A funny thought in and of itself, because it’s not like reapers really care a fuck where the dead end up except … she was different.
He hears his father say buck up as he’s injured on their first hunts together and struggles to never let any pain show. Sammy silently patches him up, eyes concerned for him and angry at Dad and Dean would stare at this in absolute amazement because Sam’s standing up to Dad on his behalf and Dean admires his little brother’s strength. Dean can never be that brave.
There are male voices outside his room, and for a moment Dean thinks Bobby has called Sam and Sam came back and he doesn’t want to feel thank God but it’s there anyway. But Bobby wheels in alone and Dean turns his head away from the door and thinks, for the best, doesn’t want Sam to see him this way.
“How you doin’ kiddo?
Dean knows he has to look at Bobby. Has to reassure him.
“Been worse. Chicks dig pirates. Might go with a peg leg.”
Bobby snorts. “I can get ya an eye patch to go with.”
Dean tries to smile. Can’t. But continues the conversation anyway. “Now you’re talkin’.”
There’s more noise outside. This time Dean looks alarmed and Bobby quickly goes to investigate.
“I am a family friend.” Castiel.
Dean hasn’t seen Castiel since shortly after arriving at the hospital. Bobby says he just vanished that way he does. Dean is taken by surprise at the comfort he feels hearing that gravelly voice.
“Let him in. Please,” he says as loudly as he can.
The nurse lets Cas enter and Bobby says, “I’m gonna see about some food. Be back soon.”
Cas looks at Bobby briefly and says, “I’m sorry.”
Bobby looks at him oddly and asks, “For what?” But Cas doesn’t reply, his attention back on Dean and neither notices Bobby leave.
Cas slides a chair over and sits, eyes unwavering as always.
“Angel business?” Dean inquires by way of where have you been?
“I needed a favor.”
Dean breathes in and struggles to find the words to tell his friend what is going to happen in the morning.
“Injury is bad. Docs can’t save the leg. Comin’ off tomorrow.”
Cas leans in a bit closer with his laser stare. “No. It’s not.”
“Cas … I know you lost the healing mojo …”
Cas rises and walks toward the end of the bed and pulls back the blanket over Dean’s ravaged leg. He stares at the big red “X” and shuts his eyes and Dean sees a wave of what can only be described as pain pass over the angel’s face.
“I can’t make it perfect. It will likely always give you pain … but … “
Cas places his hands gently on either side of Dean’s ravaged thigh and a luminous glow starts to emanate from the angel. Whiteness surrounds them in a mist of blinding glory. It fills Dean, penetrating into his very being and Cas’s soul touches him, holds him, cradles him … Dean shuts his eyes, stunned by the intensity. So beautiful. Loving. I didn’t know, couldn’t have imagined.
The air hums and Cas starts to shake, moves back and the abrupt separation feels like a gut punch and Dean can’t breathe from the loss.
The angel staggers back to the chair and collapses. Cas is pasty and sweating and looks like he too has lost something vital. Consumed with worry over seeing Cas in this condition it takes several moments for Dean to becomes aware of an odd tingle in his leg, like pins and needles except it’s making the leg hot. Dean wriggles his toes, turns his foot, then shifts his whole leg and the pain that he’s been feeling even with the narcotic drip in his I.V. has diminished to the level of an unremarkable throb just like all the other injuries that have been patched up by his dad, his brother, and assorted ERs. He flexes and feels his muscles move again and his leg … his leg works. He’ll walk again.
“Cas …” But there aren’t words for something like this. Dean’s afraid to hear the price Cas paid for this.
“Dean. Is it better?”
“Yes. God, yes. Cas … how’d you do it? What favor?”
“I borrowed a little ‘juice’. I couldn’t heal you … but I did the best I could.”
The angel is as white as a sheet. He looks as human as if he were Jimmy. Suddenly, it all clicks. The angel mojo … whatever Cas had left … Cas doesn’t just look human. And Dean is afraid for him.
“Cas, what did you do?”
“Helped my friend.”
“You’re the craziest angel Heaven’s ever produced, you know this, right?”
Cas smiles wanly at this. “It is the company I have been keeping.”
Another joke. And as he wipes a stray tear, Dean thinks, one of these times, he might be able to laugh at one of them.
* * *
The doctors are baffled and the poor imaging technicians take most of the blame as clearly the damage is not as extensive as first diagnosed, and the Asian doctor smiles at Dean so widely as she changes her prognosis that Dean thinks her face must hurt.
Bobby is happy for Dean but doesn’t look at Cas and Dean can’t do anything about it.
The three of them begin to talk strategy right there in the hospital room because Lucifer means business and while this last time they stupidly waltzed right into the Devil’s trap, Dean hasn’t forgotten the romance novel demon is still out there.
Bobby gives Dean an odd look at this until Dean explains what Sam said, and both men share a weary smile and Cas looks from one to the other puzzled.
In the morning Dean checks himself out despite the doctor’s objections. He asks Cas how much more healing he can expect. Cas doesn’t know but seems very pleased by how far Dean’s come in a day.
In the truck, Dean says casually to Bobby. “So, you never called Sam.”
Bobby avoids looking at him and Dean’s suspicions are confirmed.
“They were goin’ to amputate your damn leg, Dean. I had to call him.”
“What’d he say?” Where was he?
“I never spoke to him. Left a message. He still hasn’t … called back.”
Dean says nothing and the silence bounces around the truck, pinging back and forth between them and never once landing.
In Bobby’s house Dean is given the couch so he doesn’t have to climb the stairs. Cas is offered a pillow and blanket and he stretches out on the floor not too far from Dean, and Bobby can’t get the thought guardian angel out of his head.
Dean takes two painkillers, strong ones, and falls asleep quickly.
Familiar red flashes. Steaks of silver binding him and pain burning in his chest where the Hell beasts have feasted repeatedly on his organs and he screams with no sound as Alastair approaches with his lash and runs it seductively up Dean’s body and says where shall we begin today? Eh, boy?
Dean screams no no no and wants to die, to really die, and begs for the pain to stop and then Alastair stops and says I’ll give you this lash and all you have to do is use it on other souls. It’s so easy. And it feels so good. And the pain will stop, Dean, it will all stop.
But he says no. And he is healed. Again. The hounds are on him slavering as they chew his insides and he screams and screams and screams. Alastair says, You can stop it, Dean. No more pain. Take the lash. Strike me. I’ll let you. Once. You want to, don’t you?
No no no … and the agony starts anew and the red flashes attack him as the acid in the air eats into every pore and the creatures munch down hard because this is a tasty treat and his insides are fed to him and he drowns in the red, gags on it, can’t see and it hurts it hurts … and there’s no one to help him, no one to hear him … Dad … Sam …
He tries to remember who he is but there’s nothing but pain and agony and all for nothing and forever passes and Alastair whispers again and again and again if he only hurts the demon it will be all right and with a blast of red flame he’s down … lash in hand and he strikes Alastair once and the pain eases instantly … and Alastair says now him and he slices blindly at the body before him … it’s better than no pain, it’s pleasure … it’s exquisite … an orgasm and he’s drifting in a sea of ecstasy as the soul before him squirms and moans and erupts in red spray and he thinks he’s giving the same pleasure he’s just felt … Isn’t it lovely? … Doesn’t it feel so good? And he does it again and again and again …
There’s a new soul and he seems familiar but not really because he doesn’t know anything other than the pleasure of wielding the lash and the knife and the chains … and the new soul is crying and begging and Dean says … let it happen … it’ll feel so good … he calls the puppies over and they start gnawing on this thing’s groin and he takes the pieces and brings them up to the man’s face and says … see … so delicious … I told you … one taste and you’ll see and the other man’s eyes are hazel and they accuse him. You’re a monster, a thing … You shoved me … pushed your brother into Hell.
Something’s wrong … can’t be because he didn’t … he couldn’t … he says no screams no but it’s yes yes … and it’s Sammy covered in red streaks and his insides are on the outside because Dean’s been pulling out his brother’s entrails and Sam’s screams ricochet through the pit.
And suddenly Dean’s back on the rack, hooks piercing his shoulder, sulfur choking him and fire burning him and Sam is there with a dagger, slicing back and forward across Dean’s chest, belly, legs … and the pain stops his breathing and Sam brings the knife to Dean’s chest and Lucifer’s laugh comes out of his brother’s face as he pulls Dean’s heart out with both hands … You don't know me. You never did. And you never will.
Sam … no … SAM!
“Dean, Dean, please wake up. You are dreaming again. You’re not in Hell. And Sam is fine. Dean …”
He’s gasping, can’t breathe … He tries to stand, but his leg can’t handle the weight and he’s down on his ass and Cas has his arms around him, steadying him.
Reality starts to return. A dream. Only a dream. He didn’t send Sam to Hell. He didn’t.
Cas looks at him a long moment. Walks away and returns with a glass of water and something else enclosed tightly in his hand.
Dean swallows the water with difficulty and sets the glass down. His breathing has slowed, he’s beginning to feel more … normal. He looks up at Cas. Tries to say thank you but Cas is holding out something toward him.
“Here, Dean. Thank you for lending me this but it … won’t work for me any longer and you need it back.”
Dean stares as Cas returns his amulet. He slides the familiar black cord over his head and a rightness comes over him, like he’s complete again. He stares at Cas, doesn’t need to say anything, the angel knows.
Then Cas tilts his head, eyes puzzled and Dean blinks and suddenly there’s nothing beneath him, he’s not in Bobby’s living room, he’s not indoors and just before he’s about to stumble onto hard ground he sees an oddly familiar billboard of a snow-capped mountain looming ahead of him.
Crater Lake, Oregon.