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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They need a place to plan. Dean keeps shivering and Sam knows he’s covering up just how much he’s hurting. There’s time till Sam gets attacked by the doctor’s assistant, so Sam makes quick work of picking a lock and they hole up in a nearby deserted house. Sam wonders if the residents are dead — but it doesn’t matter, everyone is gone when it’s over. Rivergrove. If Sam has a list of worst times in his life – this is in the top five. He’s infected. Dying. About to change into a monster and his brother is telling him he’s tired of this life. Dean is giving up and Sam’s helpless to do anything.
Helpless. Useless. Worthless. Yeah, that’ll be his headstone.
Cas comes with them but can’t stay. The angel’s eyes never leave Dean. It’s like he’s memorizing his brother in case it’s the last time he sees him. Sam remembers doing this. Watching Dean. Learning from Dean. Trying to be like Dean. World’s biggest case of big brother worship.
Once, it was so simple. Sam’s world consisted of himself, Dad and Dean. The center was Dean. As long as he kept his brother in sight, Sam felt safe. Except Dean started hunting with his father and then Sam stopped feeling safe. And safety is all he wanted. He couldn’t tell Dean his fears. So he studied. Thought, maybe … maybe there was another way. A normal life. He asked himself … what do I want?
“Sam, you with us here? Cas doesn’t have much time.”
Sam has been standing at the window for minutes. What is he supposed to do? Figure out a way to get himself killed? To make Dean kill him? He was angry. Was scared out of his mind. Was mind-blowingly sad at the thought of leaving Dean alone. But he was ready to die. Cas says it fails if he simply kills himself. Dean has to do it. He looks at Cas. Needs to trust him. Knows that Dean does absolutely. Like Dean used to trust him. Used to.
Cas looks fragile. The time travel? Sam knows that Cas isn’t connected to Heaven any longer and that his mojo is fading. But … something is different. Cas looks frail … human.
“Cas. You okay?” he asks.
“I am weak. I can only remain a short while and I do not think I will be able to return. This must work.”
“The time travel draining your powers?”
Cas and Dean exchange a look. Secrets. More that Dean can’t won’t tell him. Suddenly Sam wants to explode. Dean clearly is giving Cas a shut up look and the muscles in Sam’s jaw do a jitterbug.
“Yes. It is not as absolute as when the angels all leave after you say yes in the future, but it’s still faster than I had hoped.”
Sam’s anger freezes in confusion. What is Cas saying?
“What do you mean?”
Dean looks furious and is trying to interrupt but there is no way in hell Sam isn’t finding out what the angel means. Ignoring Dean, Sam stalks over to Castiel who has suddenly ceased to be intimidating.
And then the clues align … Dean explained how Cas in the future was human … no angel powers left … how he’d changed when the other angels left. But Dean had never said why the angels left. And it’s not Cas who deliberately concealed the truth.
“I said yes and you didn’t think to tell me?!” Sam turns on Dean and pulls him half out of the chair by his shirt, barely containing absolute rage.
“Sam …” Dean doesn’t struggle. His eyes want Sam to understand.
Sam can’t look him, releases Dean back to the chair and stomps to the back door. The blazing pain of this lie is paralyzing. Lucifer’s cockiness, his sureness of Sam’s caving, everything falls into place. He says yes. This was the real reason why Dean let him come back after he’d first said they were better off as far away from each other as possible. He’s surprised Dean didn’t just lock him Bobby’s panic room and throw away the key.
He hears Dean limp up behind him. “Sam, it was Zach’s pretend future … it doesn’t have to happen that way.”
“Shut. Up. Dean.”
Sam wants to bust the door and start running and never come back. But the virus is out there and … there is nowhere to go. He moves as far away from Dean and Cas as he can, unable to think.
“I’m sorry, Dean. … did I put my hand in it?”
Dean looks at Cas. “Yeah. And shoved it up about as far as it could go.” But there is no blame in Dean’s voice. “It’s not your fault. It’s mine. I should have told Sam the whole story. I just … Never mind. It’s not your fault.”
Cas must have decided it was pointless to involve Sam further, and talks gently to Dean. “Dean, what you need to do … I understand how hard this is. Each time we’ve had this talk I’ve prayed that there is a way to undo Lucifer’s web. Each time I’ve failed. I have called to Michael … He does not answer. My Father has left me. And now I must go. Leave you.”
Unwillingly, Sam turns to see Cas as close to Dean as he can be without touching. The angel places his hands on either side of Dean’s face. Sam thinks he’s about to see Castiel kiss his brother and the shock of this knocks some of his anger away. But Cas does not touch Dean’s lips.
“Please, Dean. Be there when I get back.”
Dean locks eyes with Cas, gives the barest of nods. “See you soon.”
And Cas vanishes.
Dean slumps forward into the space Cas just vacated, face soft and sad.
Cas loves Dean. Sam’s never quite realized the depth of this attraction. He knows his brother enough to know that it’s not mutual in a sexual way. But it’s not one-sided. Sam looks away. When did Cas take his place? But isn’t it better for Dean that way? Now Sam is just someone to lie to and keep at a distance.
“Do you know what today is?”
Dean eyes him curiously, unsure of where Sam is going with this.
“Today is Cosmic Secret Day.” He sees Dean flinch at the bitterness in his voice. “Three years ago … I mean, today, you told me Dad’s parting words. Remember?”
“C’mon … no joke? It’s funny isn’t it … the irony? Dad says you’ll have to kill me and then your pet angel says the same thing. Today. Has to be today, I guess.”
For a moment Dean looks beaten, then he snaps, “What do you want me to say? That I’m sorry I didn’t tell you about you and Lucifer in the future? Cause I’m not. That wasn’t real. That wasn’t you.”
“That’s why I see you afraid when you look at me. Will this be the day Sam caves? You’ve just been waiting for it.” He turns and holds on to the doorway for dear life. If Dean believes this then … what chance does he have? There’s nothing but a gaping hole ready to suck him into the dark. With Lucifer. Where he belongs.
“Sam, do you want to save my life?”
At the blunt question Sam suddenly can’t breathe. The thing is... I don't wanna die. I'm scared, Sam. I'm really scared. With every fiber of his being Sam wanted to find a way to keep Dean from going to Hell. He didn’t do it last time. He couldn’t save Dean. He will probably fail this time, too. But God help him he has to try.
Words won’t come out. Sam just nods at his brother.
“Then we do this.”
* * *
The lock clicks and Sam’s in. Dean is still outside. He hates that they have to split up but Dean has to get the others to leave. There’s no way they can do this in front of a crowd. The sight and smell of the clinic brings memory back in a rush. The conversation as he sits on the examining table and begs Dean to leave his gun and go. The relief when he realizes that Dean isn’t going. The anguish when Dean says, “I’m tired, Sam. I’m tired of this job, this life.”
The doctor and the Sergeant are about to burst back in to show them the deserted town. The plan is for Dean to intercept them and convince them to leave immediately while they still can. They hope that in the craziness nobody will look too closely and see the different clothes, notice Dean’s limp.
Cautiously, he approaches the locked exam room. Picks a vantage point for a moment’s observation. He cannot see Dean from this angle but he is riveted by the tears on the face of his younger self. He is lost, vulnerable. Sam remembers the fear, the hopelessness, thinking he never expected to live to old age but he had hoped to make 30. A tiny part of him still does, although he knows how impossible that hope is. Gun out, knife and holy water ready, he knocks on the door. Showtime.
Dean not limping, protective, steadfast opens it and stares for a wide-eyed second before his pistol is aimed dead center. Young Sam jumps down from the table and pulls his own gun, stands shoulder to shoulder with his brother.
Sam remembers that solidarity. You’re my brother. I’d do anything for you. Realizes it’s still there. But the series of his spectacular failures renders the sentiment moot.
“Easy, guys,” he says.
“Shapeshifter?” young Sam asks, not moving his eyes away.
“Probably. Think they can get infected?”
Sam needs to start explaining. This should be fun. The door opens behind him. Dean enters, and the fun keeps on coming.
“What the …?”
“Stay cool. Don’t get your panties in a twist. We’re not shapeshifters.” Dean moves carefully into the room and holds his pistol away from himself delicately placing it on a nearby counter. Sam follows Dean’s lead and puts down his gun as well. Unarmed they face the other two.
Neither of their younger counterparts put down their weapons.
“Sam,” Sam begins. “We aren’t shapeshifters. Look, silver knife …” he pulls the knife out slowly, holds it up for the other two to see and knicks his forearm. Then he hands the knife to Dean who does the same thing.
“Got any holy water?” Dean asks like he’s asking for ketchup with his fries. “Really should wash these out.”
Young Dean looks at them warily but pulls out a small flask and steps close enough to splash both their wounds while keeping his gun trained on his look-alike. The water washes the stripes of blood away.
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“What the fuck is this?” young Dean asks.
“I’m you. From 2009.” He pauses. Deja freakin’ vu. “And this is Sam, from the same place … same year.”
“There’s no such thing as time travel,” young Sam snaps.
“Yeah, well, we used to think there’s no such thing as a lot of things, but now we know better, don’t we, Sammy?”
Sam wants to tell himself to give up this particular battle, but doesn’t bother.
As Sam expects, young Dean cuts to the chase. “Why are you here? Can you help Sam?”
From Dean, this question is as predictable as which direction the sun will rise in the morning. Sam glances at Dean his Dean and sees the flicker of pain pass his face. If he knows this is what Dean will say then clearly so does his brother.
They divide and conquer. Dean talks to his younger self and Sam to himself in the hope that each will respectively be better received by their other selves.
Young Sam stares at him, mistrust in the eyes nearly hidden by the bangs. He’s so used to looking down. It feels odd to be eye to eye with himself. For all that this Sam has gone through there is still innocence in him. So much darkness he has yet to experience.
They trust that the reset Cas promised, will wipe out all memory of this visit so they can be truthful. But Sam knows there’s just so much he will be able to bear to hear so he leaves out huge chunks. Drinking demon blood? Sam doesn’t think there’s ever a way he’d have believed this three years ago. Sometimes he still can’t believe it now.
Young Sam listens warily to his explanation. At times his face whitens but there is no other reaction.
Sam hears the present day Dean from across the room “Lucifer. The Devil?! Bullshit!”
Sam catches his younger self’s eye and a moment passes between them. Sam knows he’s gotten farther along faster than his brother.
Young Sam speaks quietly. “I already told Dean I’d do it myself. Just ... distract them and I’ll get it done.” Only Sam would notice the quaver in the voice.
“I know you would. I would have, too. I’d kill you myself if I had to … But the angel I told you about … Castiel … he says that won’t work. Doesn’t work. The only way that Dean comes out of this alive is for him to kill you. Castiel says this is the right path.”
Sam knows how he felt about angels back then. How he still believed in God. He’s selling himself that it’s God’s will for it to go down this way. It’s not so hard a sell. From across the room, on the other hand …
“You take one move toward my brother and I’ll kill you where you stand, future boy.”
Sam sighs. They have less than three hours. Young Sam will start to turn and then it will be much harder. Maybe impossible.
* * *
Dean fights the feeling that this is impossible. He will never believe himself. And if anybody other than Cas had come up with this plan he’d never go through with it. But Cas will never lie to him. And he’d promised Cas he’d try. Not with words, but Cas understood. He owes Cas more than he can ever repay. And the only damn thing Cas has asked back is for Dean to save his own sorry life.
He runs a hand through his hair and remembers what a dick he thought 2014 Dean was. This Dean is staring at him exactly that way.
“Dude, I’m not going to hurt Sam. I never could. But listen to me, Sam won’t really be hurt. It all gets undone. You two go on to fight another day. I swear it.”
“Because an angel told you so?”
“Not just any angel. Castiel. You can trust him. Remember Mom telling us angels were looking out for us? I think she meant him.”
Young Dean’s eyes grow brighter at the mention of their mother. It’s a low blow but Dean knows this will register.
“You’re asking me to trust this angel with Sammy’s life. Where is he? Why can’t he tell me all this himself?”
Actually, I’m asking you to trust this angel with our life. But Dean doesn’t bother with this, knows he’s not wired to care about it that way.
“He couldn’t stay.”
“No. Listen, outside of Sam and Dad, Cas is …”
Dean stops because there’s no way to explain this to his other self. It has to be lived.
“Do I turn freakin’ gay or what? You get positively dewy when talking about this dude.”
“It’s not like that.” Why is he so obtuse? “He’s just a good guy, who’s done some … who’s helped us. Helped me. Look, we are running out of time, Sam’s gonna turn. Gonna become one of them. You saw them. Animals. Mindless. Strong. He’s going to kill you.”
“Sammy could never …” But young Dean stops. Dean knows exactly what he’s thinking, remembering. The haunted mental asylum. Dr. Ellicott. Sam shooting again and again and again.
“It won’t be Sam. You want Sam back. You want Sam to be okay. Trust me. Take that gun and shoot. One second and all will be well.”
Dean’s younger self is vibrating with tension and he feels sympathy, he does, but this has to be done. He fights back the little voice that screams that if anyone hurts his brother he’ll kill them himself.
From across the room he hears the other Sam say. “You don’t know my brother. He’s not going to do this.”
Devotion. Certainty. Absolute belief. Dean sees his Sam’s face darken.
“You don’t know your brother, either. Trust me on this. He’s been thinking about doing this for months. Ever wonder what Dad and he talked about that last day?”
Dean cringes. No, Sam. Don’t.
“What’s that mean? Dean, what’s he mean?!”
Young Dean looks with panicked eyes. “Sam knows?” he asks.
Dean nods, mentally counts one … two … three and young Sam erupts.
“Knows what?! What the fuck does everyone know but me? Dean, you said Dad didn’t say anything. This is about me and the demon, isn’t it? My powers? And Lucifer’s involved. Is the demon Lucifer? What does he want me for?”
Dean is surprised at how close this Sam has gotten to the truth, but he’s also busy being pissed off at his own Sam’s big mouth. What is wrong with his brother? What’s the freaking point of bringing up all this shit now? They are running out of time.
There’s a brief twinge of remorse in his Sam’s face but it doesn’t last long.
“Dean?” young Sam looks to the brother he knows, but that’s not the Dean who breaks.
“Dad said that if I can’t save you, I might have to kill you. But Dad was wrong. Do you hear me? He was wrong.” He has never said this so vehemently. “This has nothing to do with Dad.” He turns to his younger self. “You protect your brother. It’s what you do. And it’s what you’ll do here, today. You’ll pull that trigger because he won’t be Sammy if you don’t.”
Both Sams have walked over and they all stand stiffly in a four-way face down. Dean looks into his much younger brother’s eyes. Oh no. Unfocused. Slightly dazed. The first symptom. They are running out of time. He turns his eyes back to himself. Dean knows how his own mind works, knows he is desperately working to come up with another way out of this fucked-up mess. Knows how he didn't believe in the future he was shown in 2014 and he was in it. Finally, he looks at Sam, his Sam, thinks that Sam at 23 is a lot more willing to believe he has to be the sacrifice than he should be. Reminds himself that Cas wouldn't have said this was the solution unless it was the only way. He has to trust the angel.
But of course this Dean has no idea of what Cas has done will do for him. So it all comes down to does he trust himself? Will he do it? He searches down deep. Keeps coming back to No.
He realizes he is wrong. He can’t be the one to convince himself. There’s only one person that Dean can imagine he’d do this for and it sure as shit isn’t himself.
* * *
Talking to a Dean who is only a year older than himself should let Sam feel equal. Yet it’s like the age difference hasn’t changed anything. Dean is still his older brother. It’s timeless and forever and for a moment he’s reminded of something precious. Something he’s forgotten in the maelstrom that’s come to define their lives.
Present day Dean looks up at him. “Dude, I swear you got even taller. Freakin’ Sasquatch.”
Sam’s lips curl slightly. So Dean. “I topped out at 21, Dean.”
“Maybe it’s the hair. Still hate haircuts, Sammy? And, what, baths are out now, too?”
Sam ignores the obvious avoidance and perseveres. “Dean, I know this sounds impossible. But we know what we’re talking about. If you want to save me. Save yourself. This is the way.”
Dean looks up at him again. Softly, “You ever forgive me for not telling you what Dad said?”
Sam is surprised. Didn’t figure Dean would care about that. Certainly it’s not like Dean ever learns this particular lesson. Keeping things from Sam is business as usual. Ask your brother what happened in hell. … Tell me about when I say yes to Lucifer…
“Yeah, Dean. It’s fine. Look, he’s right about that. This has nothing to do with Dad.”
Dean looks away, clearly he’s thinking it all over. “You’re here. So Dad had to be wrong. I never have to …”
“No. You never have to kill me.” Yet. But Sam figures this Dean really doesn’t need to know this.
“I … couldn’t, Sammy.”
Sam’s slammed by those expressive green eyes. Damn, he’d forgotten how naked they were then. How they tell him everything Dean never can voice. Sam talks, but Dean just looks at him and it is warmer than the tightest hug. So trusting, believing, those eyes. No Hell haunting them. Just one intractable rule – protect Sammy. And to this Sam has to say, kill your little brother in cold blood
“Dean. I’m sorry. You have to do this. My broth – Dean explained that everything else has been tried. Castiel told us this is the only way.”
“You believe this angel, Sam? He the real deal? The other me gets this googly-eyed look when talking about the dude. I wanted to ask him to strip and make sure he still has all his male parts.”
Sam treads carefully. There is just so much this Dean can possibly believe. He and Dean have decided not to mention Hell. No need, and that would bring up the deal and what came before it and Dean says he can’t tell himself this.
“Castiel is the real deal. One of Heaven’s Hosts. He and you … have become friends. Cas has gone out on a limb for us. I trust him. You trust him.”
Across the room Sam hears the other Sam say, “Let me try.”
His brother and younger self walk closer. “Dean …”
“Sammy … this is crazy.”
“I believe them.”
“Because they’ve been touched by an angel?”
“No. Because he’s my brother. And if it keeps him from dying then you don’t die either. I would do it myself, but they said that won’t work.”
“Dean. I’m sick. I’m starting to feel it. My head is fuzzy. It’s harder to think straight. You saw that woman go crazy. Do you want to watch that happen to me? Take me down like a rabid dog? This way I’ll have some…” his voice catches, but he goes on, “…dignity.”
Sam moves away a few steps. His younger self is crying and the memories are returning and Dean’s face … this time’s Dean … is shattered. Sam looks at his Dean, whose face is harder, resigned, yet is breaking just as hard.
Dean approaches himself. Picks up the gun and hands it to his younger counterpart.
“We’ll wait outside. Do it fast. He’s … he’s our brother.”
They stand in the hallway, side by side, backs to the door. The report of the gun shot is an accusation and Sam jerks and shuts his eyes tight. He hears Dean’s harsh intake of air. The crack of a second shot reverberates through the air and passes through Sam’s soul. Oh God. No.
Sam races back in the room, Dean behind him.
The bodies lay dead together in a crimson puddle. The larger one draped over the smaller as if to hold on, to shelter, to keep.
A final brotherly embrace.
That neither would ever feel.
Sam imagines how he must have slumped in his brother’s arms. Knows Dean held him tight to his own chest. Tears landing on young Sam’s still face. He hears Dean’s last words in his head. Right behind you, little brother.
He wants to scream. To make someone else feel this pain so he doesn’t have to. To wipe this unbearable sight away. He knows he’s crying but can’t stop and can’t speak and he grasps for the only thing he’s ever reached for when nothing makes sense.
Dean grabs him in return and they stand there looking down in silence Dean is shaking and he thinks that you’re not supposed to witness your own death and he wants to hug his brother or punch him or maybe both at the same time.
“Why Dean?” he finally chokes out.
Dean looks at him, eyes welling, tears starting to track down. “You know why, Sammy.”
“Lucifer wins,” Sam says.
“So he wins,” Dean replies.
Sam tries to shake free of the torrent that’s caught him. Tries to think. They’re still here. Both of them.
“Dean. It didn’t reset. We’re still here. In 2006.”
“Maybe we … I mean I hate sci-fi mumbo jumbo, but … we both just died in our own past. Maybe we no longer … exist?”
They jump at the clapping sound coming behind them.
“Ding, ding, ding. And the prize goes to Dumbo for figuring out that you two nimrods just wiped yourselves out of the ballgame. The stadium. Heck, out of the freaking universe. But, hey, you know, whoops.”