A/N: Okay so after I posted Chapter Twelve, I realized that I had forgotten to add in a few things, so here it is! Chapter Twelve, the alternate edition!
Disclaimer: Nope. Sod off.
Chapter Twelve...Lost and Found...The Alternate Ending
I know now, just quite how My life and love might still go on In your heart, in your mind. I'll stay with you for all of time...
I was dreaming again. At first it was almost impossible to tell. The bedroom of the couple whose house Lucifer had borrowed remained the same as it had been when I had fallen asleep, albeit a little dimmer outside as night approached. My captor was elsewhere at the moment, at last unafraid of my escaping his clutches. It wasn't as if I could anyway and he knew it, the pompous prick. It wasn't until the sight of a figure leaning against the doorway caught my eye that I realized this wasn't reality. I was staring at myself though the Not-Me was healthy and vibrant like I had been before Lucifer had snatched me up. He was staring at me with a rage in his eyes that I couldn't even comprehend. It was the sort of fury that boiled seas to bare and sent firestorms falling from the sky.
"Hello, Harry." His voice sounded different than mine, just a little deeper in tenor. Darker.
Was this Lucifer trying to trick me? He had yet to actually visit me in my dreams, despite the nightmare of him some months back, though I knew Archangels had the ability. Could they penetrate my mind? In life, I never had mastered Occlumency but Death gave me some measure of protection against invasion just by being bound to me. The perks of being soul-bound to an ancient primordial being, I suppose. I flexed my fingers, observing them in a reserved kind of relief. Oh the blessedly pain-free world of unconsciousness. The agony I'd been in when I fell asleep had all but vanished. Well, at least until I woke up. The stranger came and sat at my side, seeming to read the emotions on my face impeccably if the pity in his eyes was anything to go by. It was awfully strange sitting beside yourself, looking into your own eyes and watching the play of expression change on your own face. Talk about perturbing.
"This is my fault, you know." He whispered, reaching over to tuck a strand of hair behind my ear. Ugh it was probably a disgusting mess. After the last time Lucifer had put me in the bath, I had never again wished for another. Consequently, my hair now resembled some horror movie dead girl's than my usually sleek, well kept locks.
"Unless your name is Lucifer then you'll forgive me if I disagree." My eyes narrowed at him suspiciously, one eyebrow quirking upwards, "It's not, is it?"
My twin laughed but it was a sound that verged on tearful, "No, no, it is not."
We sat in a companionable silence for a few moments, taking in the other and pausing to reflect on what brought us to this place. Well, at least that's what I was thinking about. How I'd felt letting all of my new friends drive away to Carthage, the pain of my first night with the Devil, how different it had been that first night sleeping alone without Death. Having to tell him goodbye as I ran off to save the world all over again. I didn't realize that I was crying until a soft arm wrapped around my waist and pulled me into a gentle hug. This stranger wearing my face, he felt so familiar. As if I knew him in his true form somehow. Could it be Gabriel? Castiel I would definitely recognize. He was too stiff and awkward to pass undetected but Gabriel had played human for centuries. He had comforted me before back at Bobby's after my nightmare. No doubt Team Free Will was well on it's way if they hadn't already arrived in Lawrence. I would have to stop into Heaven and give Ellen a big thank you if I ever got out of here. A kiss landed on my temple and my double laid me back down, tucking me in like a small child. The walls all around were beginning to bubble, crack and twist, a sure sign that a drugged consciousness was dragging me back to misery. My eyes found his and I gasped, finding them, not emerald as they had been moments ago but black. A darkness that consumed, not only his eyeballs themselves but spread beneath the skin out into the sockets themselves giving the impression of a skull inside a meat suit.
"The Winchesters are on their way and when they arrive, so too will I. This time, there will be no easy demise for God's prodigal son. I will obliterate his very essence for this."
Breath caught in my throat and a wild hope blossomed in my chest. It couldn't be...But it could! The only one with access to my mind, the one bound so closely to me that it actually made a weird sort of sense that he could take my very form.
I wanted to throw my arms around him, kiss him, beg for him to stay but before I could get even a sound out, the dream collapsed around me and I awoke to sunlight and a burning agony.
"Little Death, so good of you to join us at last." Lucifer's sickly sweet coo was the first thing that I registered when I awoke. That and the blinding sunlight pouring into my eyeballs. Wincing, I managed to roll over with some difficulty, a whimper crawling out of my mouth as the latest in a series of scratches and cuts along my back were reopened with the movement. My oxford button down I wore had dried to the scabs when the blood congealed last night and as I turned over, the fabric was torn away from the wounds. Sirens of pain shrieked in my brain and it was all that I could to not to cry out. Lucifer wouldn't be receiving that satisfaction from me today, or ever if Death had his way. Eyes finally adjusted to the light and at last the scenario that was playing out before me came into focus.
I had been dropped into a field. No, an old cemetery, I corrected myself, finally glimpsing the worn and crumbling headstones that had to be a century old at least. The graveyard was surrounded by a thick wood and it was a shockingly beautiful day for the end of the world. That wasn't what caught my mixed and admittedly swaying attention, though. It was Sam and Dean standing nearby, the Impala like a faithful dog at their side. Castiel followed them up, standing tall but wary against their brother. The four were looking to me with matching expressions of horror, disgust and sympathy. Cas's face held rage.
"What have you done?! How could you do this?!" His shout carried every ounce of his Angelic fury and shook the very ground beneath us. Nearby a headstone cracked and somehow, throughout the haze of the Spore, that was all that my limited focus could stay on. There was something there, something...Something I could use but the information alluded me, dancing tauntingly on the tip of my tongue. If only my mind would clear enough to reach it!
"Oh, Harry there? Well, you see, Castiel, I'm building him into the perfect Consort. Pliant, obedient, faithful. Just like Father made us. Granted he's still in the early stages, the molding isn't quite finished yet, but I assure you, when he's completed, he will be perfection. He's already a blast in bed."
Perfection, huh? Well, he could take his perfection and shove it up his arse as far as I was concerned. No one was building me into anything let alone the Consort for some bloody feathered arse on a power trip. He was like an infant who had found the button to his daddy's nukes and decided to play cowboys and Indians with it. I wasn't going to be trapped forever and when I got out, Lucifer would have all of Hell to pay. It did give me some comfort to see that Sam had not said yes to that bastard. That was another can of worms that would just be a headache to sort out once this Apocalypse mess was over. In the trees, I began to see the dim shapes of Reapers materializing from the woods. They remained far enough away that no one else noticed them but the Reapers were mine. I would recognize their presence anywhere. A slow, wicked smirk began to spread over my face. Soon.
"You bastard! We're going to kill you for this!" Oh, no Sammy. That honor wouldn't belong to you, that was a promise.
"Lucifer." A new voice entered the fray, one that I suppose we should have anticipated to begin with but had failed to really feature in my tormented thoughts of late. Michael. The Archangel was suddenly there, standing between the others and Lucifer and I like a buffer, wearing the body of the youngest Winchester son. Oh great. What was this, a freaking Angel fiesta? Adam's eyes found mine and he gave a nod of respect in my direction while I struggled to sit up. At least my faithfulness to Death was earning me paranormal street cred. Not.
"Do you really think you will get away with this, Lucifer? That you won't be held accountable for this?" My angelic friend spoke with a seriousness that could have weighed down mountains. There was a calculation in Castiel's eyes as he watched me, something there that hadn't been before. The three members of Team Free Will were being very careful to stay far back from where Lucifer and Michael stood. Too careful. Their plan slowly began to dawn on me as the vague dampness on the ground caught my eye. It was wet, but only in a circle. The only bit of dampness in a bone dry field and it was in a circle.
"Yes he will, brother, but his punishment is not for you to decide." Michael said stoically.
Enough of this rubbish. I rolled quickly across the circle, nearly shrieking in pain as a stick jabbed into my now free bleeding back. Lucifer spun around to see what the commotion was, to make sure I wasn't escaping, at the same moment that Dean flicked his lighter onto the ground. The holy Angel proofing went up in flames like a cheap liquor store on Guy Fawkes Day and the Devil screamed in fury. He was caught. And so was Michael. There was a figure standing behind one of the tomb stones, a man I hadn't seen since the beginning of this mess. He caught my eye because, against the backdrop of Reapers, he was exceedingly out of place. God, hiding from his parental responsibilities still but always present. Always just watching. When we got out of here, I think I had a few choice words for that man. He was wearing his street urchin suit again and still looked as if he hadn't had a bath in a week. A white flower was pinned into his sandy colored deadlocks, a stark contrast against all of the rest. God nodded to me kindly, smiling with an apology silent on his lips and snapped his fingers. What-? He didn't give me even a moment to waste with confusion because the next thing I knew, my stomach roiled furiously and I was heaving. Bile surged out of my throat and nose, black, thick and vicious and I heard Dean's cry of disgust from afar. Feet raced towards me and for the first time in months, Castiel's loving face came into my view. He held me as only a true friend will while I vomited out every little bit that had sat in my stomach. Eventually there was even blood mixed in with the bile but with every painful heave, my head felt clearer. I was purging out all of the Spore. Every little bit. Cas didn't even care that there was sludge on his token trench coat now. A high pitched click reached my ears and I knew, before I even looked down to see the cuffs now free of my wrists, that I was free. My magic soared, begging to be released. It pounded against me, reaching for the heavens, calling out to every Reaper and corpse in the area.
"You are right. It is for me to decide." Death's voice was a machete through the air. Everyone tensed immediately, but none quite so much as Lucifer himself. Why?
Death was here. I was unbound and undrugged. We were both pissed. My eyes jerked to my lover and it was only Castiel's arm around me that kept me from rushing to him. He was in full Horseman mode now. He stood impossibly tall, shrouded in black, his cane tapping the ground with every stride. This was the handsome, intimidating man that I had first seen upon my own death. This was the man I had fallen in love with, the man I craved. His sudden appearance made me immediately aware of my own sorry, barely clothed state. For the first time since my death, I felt shame in front of my lover. Was it possible to be both pale and red with humiliation all at once? Cas seemed to realize my plight because, before laying a hand on my head to heal me, he draped his trench coat around my shoulders to cover my nearly nude body. Oh, I owed Castiel the biggest and best Thank You dinner I could create after this. The wounds littering my body healed like they were just being washed away. Speaking of...I looked back to that tombstone where the hidden deity had been crouched only moments ago only to find his gone. Of course. Surprise surprise. My angelic friend helped me to my feet gently and I limped over to my lover's side to touch his hand tenderly. I felt my own eyes shift to black as he looked down at me, his own the spread out skeleton sockets they had been in my dream, the darkness shining through the thin skin stretched above the bone.
"Are you alright, Harry?" He whispered, his harsh demeanor breaking just for a moment when his softening eyes took in my filthy, bloody figure. His hand reached up to brush fingers over my cheek and I took his hand, gripping it like a lifeline. I had never felt something so precious as that hand in mine.
"I am now. Did you finish the list?"
He broke into a small smile and handed me a little slip of paper with all of the foods I had wanted him to try written on it. Each one was crossed out.
"I was particularly fond of the pizza in Chicago." Merlin, I loved him. Every inch, no matter what. "Now, let's take care of this little matter and we can go have a slice together."
"That sounds fantastic." And it did. Something as normal as getting pizza with my beloved after the last few months I'd had? Nothing sounded better. My eyes flicked to Michael who had been waiting with his brother within the circle appearing strong but shame faced. No doubt he had all of the Angels in an uproar trying to egg on and lure out Lucifer. Fortunately for him, our beef did not include him, "I would suggest you leave Michael. We have no quarrel with you." The flames were extinguished and the man disappeared quickly. Lucifer's escape, however, was blocked for the instant he tried to fly away, Death gripped his very soul in a vice.
"I don't think so, Angel. You're not going anywhere."
Lucifer met his end at my beloved's hands, his soul crushed to death while he screamed. Somewhere close, I could feel his Father watching his son be destroyed and weeping. It was a painful death, an eternal death. Not even a trace of his essence was left over. A Reaper crossed over quickly with a long black coat and I handed Castiel his trench coat back. It felt good to be back...in clothes, especially. The mission was over at last. I could go home. Looking up at Death, his hand in my own, I smiled, broad and sincere. I was already there. But something was missing. Something important. Sam came to my side quietly, a deep look of sadness in his eyes despite the victory.
"Sam...where is Gabriel?"
All three boys shared an expression of guilt, of loss, between themselves and it was with a sick feeling that I began to piece together the scattered bits of the puzzle.
"Lucifer got him...a few weeks back."
My eyes found Death's and he gave me a comforting smile, running a thumb across my cheek. I wanted to grab that hand and never let go, afraid that if I released him for only a moment, I would blink and be back in the nightmare.
"Tessa collected him herself. His essence is safe where it belongs." Safe in the Library. Good. It was just as well, I supposed.
Everything had to die sometime, after all. Even Angels. Well, everything except me.