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
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. 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 ...
The Road to Detroit is Paved With Hell
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.
* * *
* * *
“I see it.”
Dean swings the machete swift and hard, blinking against the blood spurting from the now headless vampire’s neck. So much for immortality, Eddie, he thinks with an inner grin. The head rolls across the cement floor landing a few feet from his brother.
He hears the flick of Sam’s blade and another head rolls. These vamps are wild, mostly starved, nothing human left. Pure, evil, feeding machines. He’d like to think that made this easier. Didn’t make a lick of difference, though. Not anymore.
Turning in a circle he takes a quick mental count. Six down. They’d counted eight in the nest. If the vamps had been more rational, they might have run. But they are ravenous and stupid.
On cue a female lunges at him, sounding an inhuman shriek. He sees Sam approaching behind it, moves himself deftly out of the way of the killing blow. A fresh spray of blood reaches him. The vampire’s blood is thick and sweet. He’s aware of its enticing qualities, has even tasted a minute amount when wiping his face. As long as it doesn’t get in your bloodstream you are safe.
“One more,” Sam says efficiently.
That was Sam these days, all business. They sweep the warehouse slowly working together in a long-practiced manner, synched, precise, could almost be one in their actions. And Dean has never felt more distant from Sam.
Sam indicates he’s spotted the last of the fangs. A hand motion tells Dean to approach from the right while Sam comes at it from behind and takes the kill. Sounds like a plan.
He spots the figure huddling against a wall. Seems calmer than the rest. Will be easy. Good. Dean draws its attention but as if sensing their plan it turns away from him and stares at Sam just as Sam begins to raise his blade.
Dean moves closer, weapon ready wondering, what the fuck?
It takes a moment but the memory comes. No name but the face. Pretty in a stringy way, with huge slanted eyes. Drank only animal blood – a vegan fang or some such shit — and Sammy had let her go.
The sprinkle of blood hits him by surprise, stinging his eyes. He looks up at Sam whose face is deader than the vamp he just took out.
“Let’s go,” Sam says to Dean’s blood splattered, equally empty stare.
* * *
They are on a dark road again heading west. Sam is driving. He is mildly surprised at how often lately Dean has simply handed him the keys. Long ago this delighted Sam. Filled him inside because it was proof of Dean’s trust, partnership, respect. The thrum of the huge engine pulling them forward as a team. Now it’s a means to get from here to there. The motion has no meaning. They go because they must but have no destination. Their plan is for things not to happen. It’s less than going nowhere, it feels like standing still and it’s the hardest thing he’s ever done.
Dean has been passive since Carthage. Quieter than Sam would have thought possible. He’s grateful for this and he realizes that makes him an SOB because part of him still knows Dean enough to understand that the quiet is covering unbearable pain. But he doesn’t want to know this. So he doesn’t.
The sun set some 300 miles back. Mile after monotonous mile. His neck is starting to ache on the left side like it did whenever he stayed still like this for so long. In school, after a long study session, Jess used to nuzzle up behind him and knead the knot until it’d melt into the warmth of her hands. But he’s forgotten what that warmth feels like.
“Okay if we stop?” he asks although it doesn’t matter what Dean says because he’s already pulling into the dingy motel’s parking lot.
He rummages through his pockets for the latest fake credit card. Jared Binks. Cute. Dean filled out these applications. Can never go wrong with Star Wars, he hears Dean say so many times. In the past. When Dean used to laugh. Different times.
Dean grabs their duffels and is just behind him as they enter their room. Sam is assaulted by plaid. Didn’t know there was such a thing as plaid wallpaper. Especially in pea green and brown. For a moment it makes him woozy. Dean stops two steps in the doorway and mutters, “Huh.”
They drop their duffels on each bed, Sam closest to the door. That used to always be Dean’s bed but now it’s just whoever claims it first. Sam pulls back the plaid bedcover to inspect. There have been unpleasant surprises other times so he always checks now. He won’t go so far as to describe the bedding as clean, but nothing is moving.
He needs a shower, hotter than hot. Turns to Dean. “Mind if I shower first?”
His brother nods okay and plops down on his bed reaching for the remote.
Sam sets the water to near scalding and he knows this means by the time Dean showers it will be tepid, but he’s too achy to care. Before he’d gotten back in the Impala he’d wiped off the surface blood don’t you get fang blood on my baby, Sam but when you kill eight vamps at once it gets everywhere. He watches the red rings swirl around the drain.
Surprising to recognize that last vampire. Lenore. She’d stared at him and he knew she recognized him as well, saw relief right before he lifted the machete and finished the job. Dean had looked at him then, and Sam had seen the disconnect in his brother’s eyes. Ah well, he’s long past worrying about disappointing his brother. His life is no longer about what he did. It is only about what he won’t do. It is only about saying no.
Eyes closed, water undulating against his skin and Sam is back in Carthage. Lucifer stands before him, shreds of skin flaking off. Talking about them. Talking about Dean. Anger burns at the recollection. Dean put a fucking bullet in the Devil’s brain. Why only throw his brother against a tree? Satan, Prince of Darkness, the Dark Lord – why not just slay his brother on the spot? Because Lucifer thinks Michael will just bring his vessel back? Because Lucifer wants to see his own brother again in Dean’s body? Because he can’t? This last thought tantalizes the most.
That loathsome bag of pus doesn’t have the right to utter his brother’s name. His brother is too good for all of this. The good son. The good soldier. His brother cares about people in a way that sometimes stuns Sam. Because for all the jerky bravado, Dean is pure. Pure blood. Pure heart. Pure soul. The Righteous Man. Who was only in Hell because of Sam’s failures.
Sam’s always known this deep down. Heaven knows it too, obviously. Even Lucifer does, it seems.
Time to turn off the shower.
Sam slips into his old sweats quietly. In the other bed, Dean has fallen asleep. Sam removes the remote from his brother’s hand and turns off the T.V. His eyes drift back to Dean’s peaceful face. Sleeping, Dean’s face is younger, unguarded. His body is still, no dreams for now. It’s been a long time since he’s watched Dean like this. Two years ago … as Hell got near … Sam stayed up and guarded as his brother slept. To memorize, to stay time.
Dean is still in his clothes. Sam carefully pulls Dean’s boots off. His brother doesn’t stir. He’s about to climb into his own bed and turn off the lights when he sees something and stops.
Moving back to the bathroom he returns with a warm washcloth and gently washes traces of vampire blood off Dean’s face. Caring for his brother hurts so bad he fears he’ll stop breathing. Dean, he lets himself think before dropping the washcloth on the small table and turning away.
There is a reason he’s locked those feelings all up. Back to business and nobody gets hurt.
* * *
“Rufus say why he’s hunting this thing? Seems … well …” Sam asks as soon as Dean hangs up.
“What’s a friendly neighborhood Wendigo, when the world’s burning, the end is nigh and Death is about to drop in for potluck dinner? That what I should of asked him?”
Sam looks at him like he doesn’t exactly want to agree but that is what he’s thinking.
“Said the land belongs to an old friend.“
It’s enough explanation for Sam and about as much conversation as they are likely to have all day.
Dean’s surprised Rufus called, figured it’d be Bobby checking in, as he does every couple of days. He hasn’t heard from Rufus since River Pass. The call was awkward and Dean wished the old hunter dialed Sam’s number instead. Except he knew that wouldn’t happen. Dean knew who most people figured the top Winchester was. The sorry replacement for his father.
Sam stared at him when he realized who called. The hardest damn part was just past the hello, when Dean thought for a horrifying moment he’d have to tell the older hunter about Carthage.
“Didja … do you know …?”
“Yeah. Bobby told folk.”
Dean nodded at this. That’s when Sam turned away. The rest had been about the case. Wendigo. North woods of Minnesota near Rosesu. Textbook. Typical hunting grounds. They agreed on meeting coordinates and that was that.
“Think I’ll drive,” Dean tells Sam. Not that he needs to ask permission or anything, it’s his damn car after all. Only after Carthage Sam drives more than usual. They didn’t talk about it. He’d just toss Sam the keys and crawl into the passenger seat, lean his head against the window, his own face reflecting back at him in the pitch black of night. Dry eyed and worn. So tired. He’d shut his eyes and struggle not to see the light from the explosion erupting behind his eyelids. Would there ever be a time when he’d stop seeing this?
And Sam would drive, staring straight ahead. No music. No sound at all. A fucking machine. He’d be the same way in shotgun, though, so, yeah, Sam might as well be at the wheel. ‘Cause then Dean could shut down completely. Not worry about getting them wrapped around a telephone pole from looking one too many times over at the body that had once been his brother.
Except this morning he thinks maybe he needs to get behind the wheel a spell. He misses this. Only true thing left in his miserable life. Didja miss me Baby? The car doesn’t respond in words but the engine turns as it only does for him, purring throatily like a gal who is really glad where your hand’s going.
“Oh yeah,” he sighs and senses Sam’s eyes on him. Turns to see his brother’s eyebrows slightly rise and his face settle into something resembling pleased. Surprising because it’s more of a response than Sam has given him in … well, too long to recall.
“What?” he asks thinking maybe, they can actually say something to each other.
“If I didn’t know better I’d think you were making out with your car.”
Dean manages to let a grin reach his eyes. “You’re just jealous baby likes me more’n you.”
“Dude, it’s a car.” Sam rolls his eyes and looks back out the window.
Bolstered by this small exchange Dean says what’s on his mind. “I, uh, appreciate … last night.”
He’d woken up that morning, saw that somehow his boots had come off, noticed the pink stained washcloth near the bed. No, it wasn’t nothing. But he can’t think of any more to say about this. It’s quiet again and Dean doesn’t like it, had liked those few minutes of words. Tries again. “So. A Wendigo. Last one was Colorado, remember?”
No response and Dean thinks Sam probably just nodded yes and the next 200 miles will be like all the rest. He glances over. Sam stirs at that moment. “Black Water Ridge. Dad’s coordinates.”
“Saved that boy.”
“Lost the guide.”
Always measuring, counting … what was that? He bets Sam has this running tally of every save and every … loss. The detonation pushes him with an invisible hand until he’s on his knees, face tasting dirt and sweat and tears, eyes blinded from the blast.
He pushes back. “That family is alive. Together right now because of what we did.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Nothing, Dean. You’re right. They’re alive.”
God -- if he existed outside of tortillas -- what has happened to his little brother?
Dean says nothing further. Waits a second although he’s certain that Sam won’t add anything. When the silence gets too loud he reaches across for his tunes. There isn’t even mock debating about his music choices any longer. There just isn’t anything.
* * *
Rufus is there waiting for them with backpack and supplies. They all load up flare guns. That particular trick is one they’d come up with on their last Wendigo hunt. Dean is rather proud that other hunters have now made it standard procedure. Slowly they start working their way into the woods, letting Rufus lead. The sun is low in the sky but there’s still enough light to see. Not much choice to hunting at dusk. The Wendigo holes up during the day. Comes out late.
They’ve gone a ways when Dean gets Sam’s attention. Maybe this doesn’t need to be said. But at this point he’s stopped taking anything for granted. “By the book, Sam.” He nods at Rufus. Dean cannot lose another friend. He just can’t.
His brother meets his gaze. Like he understands.
In the current between them, Dean hears, Nothing will go wrong. Sam doesn’t promise because they both know how empty promises are in their lives. But the reassurance helps. He blinks and starts walking a little faster.
Rufus points to a parting in the leaves and signals left silently. They have the creature’s tracks. Dean looks admiringly at the older hunter. Little grin. Wendigo stands no chance.
* * *
Sam’s aware of how far they’ve hiked and his assurance to Dean that he’d be at his best weighs like an oath. Rufus keeps up with them as if the 25-year age difference didn’t exist. Tough old bastard. Still hunting. Not in a million years does Sam expect to live to Rufus’s age. Nope, this is likely his last year on earth. He’s okay with this. As long as he says no while going down. And Dean still lives. He really wants that. Can’t really think about it going down any other way.
They hear it first. Unfamiliar voices. Probably the hikers it last devoured. Maybe some are still alive, hoarded like the squirrels save their nuts. Would be nice to save someone. Odds are very slim. Likely won’t happen. Still, it would make Dean happy. Saving people. Hunting things.
Within the beam of his flashlight Rufus points ahead and indicates how they can split up and triangulate. Sam catches his brother’s eye, waits for the go ahead and then heads off to the right. It’s not like Dean would disagree with Rufus’s strategy. Just that since freeing Lucifer Sam makes a point of checking in before making a move. Sometimes it irritates him that he can’t just trust himself. That Dean can’t trust him. But he will follow Dean’s lead. Lifetime of patterns doesn’t break easy.
Blood is streaked on the trees around him. The creature’s definitely been hunting here. He scans the area warily. There’s a hard crunching sound and then Dean’s loud, “Over here, you bastard!”
Sam stays frosty, unsure if the Wendigo is going to rise to the bait or not. Wendigos are smart, they know hunters’ tricks. Sure enough the blur moves away from Dean toward where Rufus is positioned. He hears Dean’s frustrated “Dammit” and hopes the old hunter is ready. A cry of pain. No. He runs on adrenaline and freezes a second upon seeing Rufus on the ground, blood on his arm. Impossible to tell from here how bad the injury is.
“Hey … meals on wheels here!” Dean is yelling. “Come and get it, juicy white meat still on the bone. Don’t get better than this, Wendy.”
Sam positions himself partly behind a tree and waits. Turn around, he wills the creature. Turn … there, he takes the shot aiming straight, cold and true. Same moment, Dean shoots as well. There is a sizzle as both flares hit the Wendigo dead center, exploding into each other. The blue fire consumes the creature in a surreal misty burst.
Rufus is up and laughing. “That, boys, was a thing of beauty.”
Dean is breathing hard but also smiling. Sam walks over to inspect Rufus’s arm. He’s pushed away. “’S nothing. Scratch.”
“Bleeding quite a bit for a scratch,” Dean says.
“Let’s just get you cleaned up,” Sam says, already pulling the first aid supplies from his pack.
It’s not that bad and Sam makes quick work of dressing the wound. Rufus still has a broad smile. “Double bull’s-eye,” he says to them. “You two make a heckuva team.”
Sam feels Dean’s eyes on him and purposely looks down.
“Yeah,” Dean says. “Maybe synchronized monster mashing could be a new Olympic event.”
Rufus laughs. Sam knows he’s supposed to join in, tries but it comes out odd, somewhere between a squeak and a sigh. After an awkward minute Dean says, “Let’s check for its lair. Maybe still someone left.”
They’re spreading out, scanning for tracks, when Sam thinks he sees something, a shadow in the trees in an area a few yards back that Dean’d already checked. Dean notices Sam pause and look.
Rufus, a ways ahead, stops at Dean’s question and looks back.
“Nothing ... just thought I saw something.”
“It’s an animal.”
“Probably. Only …”
Sam takes out his flare pistol and starts walking in that direction curious. Didn’t seem like an animal. Maybe there was someone lost out here.
“Sam, c’mon man, there’s nothin’ there … where are you …”
He hears the annoyance in his brother’s voice. Thinks he should just obey but something irks. What if it’s one of the Wendigo’s victims? “Just gonna take a peek,” he says still walking away from the others.
There’s a quick sting and the insane image of a skeleton with glowing red eyes. Before it all goes black.