Season 10 Rewrite: Brother's Keeper
Summary: You know what Season 10 needs? A little artistic license. In this summary draft to his publisher and #1 fan, Carver Edlund lays out his plans for the "Supernatural" books after Dean becomes a demon – proving that the SPN writers totally got it wrong. A Season 10 summary rewrite. Demon!Dean, Cured!Crowley, tons of bromance, and unlike the canon – no plot holes! COMPLETE.
To my dedicated and understanding publisher,
Find below the requested summary for the unpublished continuation of the "Supernatural" series,
Books #196 through #218. Hope you enjoyed Book #195 culminating with Dean turning demon! Was rather proud of that. I know you're gonna love #200. Anyway, I hear self-publishing via ebooks is now very affordable. Maybe something we should look into? Things still going great with Becky; she says to say hi.
Read on, and as always, thanks for being my #1 fan!
These books in the series are about becoming our worst selves, either by external influence, or by conscious choice. Before now, love and family and bromance have always been redemptive Winchester qualities. But when one brother becomes a demon, and the other will do anything – even sacrifice the world – to save him, Sam and Dean are going to have to ask themselves just what it means to be their brother's keeper. Brace yourself, dear reader, and read these books with the lights on!
Dean is now a demon, black-eyed and soulless. Who needs the rack when the Mark of Cain has been slowly corrupting his soul throughout the last two dozen books? He and Crowley pal around, howling at the moon, and really living it up. Meanwhile, Sam copes with the loss and then disappearance of his brother.
It's obvious early on that Dean is actually too evil for Crowley, who quietly suffers the now-apparently permanent effects of the cure. Howling at the moon is one thing, but there is Hell to run, and standards to be upheld. When the reinstated King remarks that Dean's taking this being-evil thing a little too far, Dean goes off rogue.
Sam, after torturing his way through a fair share of demons, tracks his brother down. Their heart-to-heart doesn't go so well, and Sam barely manages to trap Dean with Castiel's help. Back at the bunker, their attempts to cure Dean fail, as the process that turns souls into demons differs from the process that turned Dean, via the Mark and while alive, into a demon.
"It ain't going to work, Sammy," the demon informs his brother, smiling. "Might as well accept me as I am. I sure have. It ain't that bad, being a demon. Considering my time in Hell and then Purgatory, who knows? Maybe this is what I was meant to be all along? Love yourself, right? And me? I love being free from it all, the guilt and the responsibility, and you."
Despondent, Sam and Cas are further taken by surprise when Dean escapes the bunker.
Unable to locate any information in the bunker's resources, Sam and Cas successfully scheme to free Metratron from Heaven's prison. They forcibly extract Metatron's grace, turning the former Scribe human. Under threat of torture, he reveals the mythology of the Mark of Cain – though not the location of Cas's grace – before escaping.
The mythology of the Mark of Cain involves the creation of the universe, and something malignant that Metatron refers to as the Darkness. Removing the Mark will release the Darkness into the world. Sam is now torn between saving his brother and protecting the world.
Resigned to his diminishing grace and impending demise, Castiel decides to spend his waning lifespan bolstering Sam against this moral dilemma. This furthers the story from earlier books that Castiel's perspective is now more human than angel, and continues the tradition of a duo of good guys that is the "Supernatural" staple. Now at least they have each other as they agonize over whether to save Dean or not. Aligned in loss and uncertainty, Sam and Castiel will take back up the mantle of the family business while they consider their options.
Meanwhile, unencumbered by either Crowley's or his brother's expectations, Dean is busy being an evil douche hunter. He kills bystanders and sometimes even the victims themselves, and is overtly brutal is dispatching monsters. Dean continues to hunt, because he doesn't know what else to really do with himself.
After a time, Cain encounters the newly-made demon and attempts to warn Dean off this dark path. He warns Dean that in time, the hunter will turn on the people he cares about: on the demon, then the angel, and finally his brother. Cain attempts to explain to Dean about the danger of what Sam will no doubt attempt in removing the Mark, and his own increasing desire for the First Blade. After a brief struggle between the two rivals, Dean kills Cain, claiming the Blade for himself. He's sliding deeper into the darkness, which we now know to be the Darkness. (Terrible name, I know, but I figured if my fans have lasted this long, they will put up with a little melodrama, don't you think?)
Sam and Castiel, muddling half-heartedly through a case, encounter a powerful witch by the name of Rowena. She manages to flout all their efforts to destroy her. She escapes the clutches of the Winchesters, but her unwarranted display of power draws the attention of demons. Believing her to a powerful asset, they capture her for their king.
I think you're really going to love the 200th book, dedicated to you and all my beloved fans, though I haven't quite figured out how to incorporate the music into the books. Maybe it needs to be an ebook only edition? Anyway, Dean's haphazard path collides with Sam and Cas who are working a separate case which involves a Supernatural fan production of the book series. (Meta, I know.) The songs are heartfelt, and it's really going to impact the characters. Sam and Dean get to watch their story unfold through the eyes of the fans. Cas, and Crowley, after another failed attempt to corral Dean, are watching from the wings, and are touched by the representation of the brother's bond. Even Dean feels something in response, but in the typical Winchester way, decides to run again rather than face what he's become.
In Hell, Crowley has been making significant changes, struggling with the juxtaposition of his humanity and the sinister, ugly things expected of the King of Hell. He continues to reach out to Dean, attempting to rein him in, recognizing his own rising humanity and comparing it to Dean's increasing demonic qualities. He eventually strikes up an arrangement with Sam and Cas, where he will help them save Dean. Crowley's got this whole "bromance" going on with Dean, but Dean is an increasing liability for the king, if he wants to keep the throne.
And Dean isn't the only thorn in Crowley's side. Turns out the witch in his dungeon is none other than Rowena MacLeod, his ex-wife! In life, Fergus had fallen hard for the independent, seemingly sophisticated young witch rebelling against the strictures of the Glasgow coven. The son of a witch drowned for her craft, the young tailor had been sympathetic towards the plight of Rowena and her fatherless boy, Gavin. Mutually ambitious and well-matched in their calculating attitudes, the pair had shared a passionate love affair and doting marriage of ruthless equals. Or so Fergus had thought.
When Rowena was offered the opportunity to increase her power and influence by taking a demon lover, she ran off with him, leaving Fergus with a broken heart and a now-unwanted son. He had sold his soul to the demon in an attempt to reclaim his wife – a woman he loved despite both their faults – but Rowena had rebuked and outright rejected him. She hadn't left Fergus because he was lacking as a lover, she said, but rather because as far as she was concerned, he had the indecency of being too much of a good man. To become truly powerful, one had to be willing to be selfish. And Rowena wasn't about to let her love for Fergus – or Gavin – slow her down. It was fair to say the former lovers had not parted on good terms.
Ten years later, Fergus had died in a ditch, just as Rowena had once taunted he would. But now. Well, now he was a demon himself, and the King of Hell to boot! Perhaps, Rowena sweetly muses to Crowley, old mistakes – on both their parts – could be forgiven?
Rowena becomes determined to use their relationship to her advantage. And poor Crowley, having been rejected by Dean, is so desperate for a little connection that he buys into Rowena's fawning affections. Crowley reluctantly acquiesces when Rowena begins referring to herself as the Queen of Hell, and while neither have any interest in reestablishing their marital relations from when Crowley was human, they agree to share and build on their mutual power in Hell, openly using each other to their own ends. For a time, Crowley believes he has found himself a true partner, and is even willing to allow himself to be a little vulnerable – a little more human – around Rowena.
More than the throne or Crowley's allegiance, Rowena wants the Book of the Damned. The Book is a spellbook used centuries early by a group of witches to place a curse of limitations on her power, and it is Rowena's hope that her ex-lover's – now semi-business partner's – power and resources can help her acquire the Book.
Sam and Cas finally catch up to Dean halfway through the arch in this series of books. There's brotherly confrontation, things are said, maybe a little fisty-cuffs. You know, the dramatic chick-flick stuff that sells so well. There's enough of Dean left to recognize just how far he's fallen, enough of the man behind the demon to feel that increasing emptiness inside himself and to hate it. He agrees to go back with them to the bunker.
It's not long before Cain's threats begin to appear to be prophetic. Inside the bunker, Dean paces. More of the old Dean is showing, but it is a constant battle against the corruption of the Mark. Sam and Cas search desperately for a way to break the curse, but time is slipping away. Dean struggles against the impulse to simply kill Sam and Cas, and be done with it. When his temper flares and bloodlust begins to demand an outlet, Dean often goes out hunting alone.
Rowena grows increasingly frustrated with Crowley, whose interest in influence and power is waning. He continues to reach out to Dean, desiring friendship and all those rainbow-sparkled do-good aspirations he once couldn't tolerate. On those lonesome hunting trips, Dean accepts Crowley's company, though not his offer to return as the king's second in command. Dean expresses frustration, uncertainty, and an intrinsic discomfort with his situation that he hadn't been ready to face during his early months as a demon. He remembers what it feels like to know right from wrong, but can't feel it himself. He makes his judgements vicariously through Sam. In return, Crowley shares his frustration with Hell, his longing for something more that he can't quite define.
Dean asks "How is it you do it, man? How do you live with the screams and the blood and the ugliness? How am I supposed to live with this?" and Crowley says that it's manageable so long as you're not alone. It's got to be manageable, right? But Dean's not buying it, and whether he wants to admit it or not, it's becoming difficult for Crowley to convince himself. Maybe Rowena is right – maybe he's bored, and lonely, and holding on to Hell for the same reasons Dean holds so tightly to hunting – he doesn't know what else to do with himself.
It is during one of these sympathetic conversations that Rowena spies on her ex-husband using spellcraft and discovers his little secret. In Hell, Rowena attempts to use Crowley's friendship with the wayward Winchester to blackmail her former paramour into further doing her bidding. When Crowley remarks that even if he called her bluff and she won, the demons would never follow a mere witch. Rowena simply is not powerful enough to rule Hell alone.
Deciding there is more than one way to skin a cat, Rowena attempts to kill Dean on one of his lone hunting trips. Perhaps if she can remove the temptation Dean poses for Crowley - that redemption and the value of something other than power are possible for the demon king - Crowley will be forced to return to his more demonic ways. But the Mark won't let Dean die, and he thrashes the witch. Rowena returns to Hell claiming Dean attempted to kill her, as a means of proving his dominance over Crowley. She wails that even if Crowley no longer loves her, he can't allow that vile Winchester to kill Crowley's co-regent and set himself above his king.
When Crowley confronts Dean, and learns the truth, Crowley accepts he's been in denial this whole time: his ex-wife doesn't really care for him, and is only using him to meet her ends. Dean explains to Crowley, as much as to remind himself, of the value of family, and what it means to have someone's back. In doing so, Dean realizes that while Sam and Castiel have his back, right now, he can't have theirs. He can't go on playacting his way into being the man he was before.
In light of all this, Crowley kicks Rowena out of Hell, saying he doesn't need her false affections. That if her ex-husband didn't also happen to be a powerful demon, she never would have bothered with him. Rowena vows revenge, declaring that once she gets the Book and removes the limits on her power, all of Hell will be sorry. That gets Crowley thinking.
Dean packs up and leaves the bunker for good. This time, he's got a plan.
Crowley arrives at the bunker too late, to find Dean gone. But he passes on to Sam and Castiel what he suspects about the Book of Damned – that it may contain the necessary spell to remove the Mark of Cain. Now Sam has hope for saving his brother.
United in their desire to save Dean, if for their own reasons, Sam, Castiel and Crowley seek out the Book of the Damned. Perhaps a dramatic race through the Vatican, Da Vinci Code style, with some snarky remarks about the King of Hell in Vatican city, etc. Or too much of a rip-off, you think?
Anyway, uncovering the Book is easy – translating it, not so much. They need the help of everyone's favorite redheaded geek, Charlie, to decode the Book. In the meantime, Sam considers whether he's doing the right thing or not. They now know that the Darkness Metatron referred influenced the nun who wrote the Book, and that using the spells in it will be allowing more Darkness into the world. If there is a cure for the Mark in the Book, it means the Darkness is actively seeking to be released. Can Sam sacrifice the world for his brother? Will Castiel allow Sam to destroy the world for one man? Does free will and familial love supersede the greater good?
While Charlie works on translating the book, Sam and Cas work cases. One of these includes Claire Novak, who has been searching for her missing mother. Castiel finds himself in an award position, responsible for the girl whose family he inadvertently destroyed. The angel has changed a great deal since he first possessed Claire's father, and understands now the damage he's caused. He hopes to ameliorate this by locating Claire's mother. But discovering Amelia Novak, whose soul is about to be consumed by a rogue angel along with countless other human souls, opens a new world of troubling possibilities for Castiel. Are some angels "feeding" on humans? What exactly is a soul anyway? Where does angel grace come from? If God is really gone from this reality, then where are the angels deriving their powers from? Could they have been sucking on souls for power all these millennium, and only higher ups like Zachariah and Naomi known about it? Cas now feels torn about reclaiming his Grace and becoming an angel again, if it means that when Sam and all their friends die, Castiel and the other angels will be using them as non-rechargeable batteries.
In the meantime, Dean tracks down Metatron in his hiding place. As the scribe of the tablets, and currently in possession of demon tablet, Metatron knows more than he let on about the Mark, and the Darkness. There is, of course, one way, to secure the "lock & key" against the Darkness – returning it to Lucifer. Now, Lucifer is an archangel and to an extent, immortal. He also happens to be stuck in the Cage. If Dean returns the Mark to Lucifer, the Mark will be forever secured.
But, Metatron points out, Lucifer will never take it back willingly.
Lucifer gave Cain the Mark when Cain killed his brother, Abel. In the first story arch of "Supernatural," Sam was the stand-in for Lucifer, the brother of darkness, and Dean played Michael, the righteous one. Now Dean has become Cain, the murderous brother in league with Lucifer, and Sam is the innocent Abel. If Sam, as Abel's representative, kills Dean in self-defense, the Mark is returned to Lucifer. The curse of the Mark is reversed if Dean can get Sam to kill him.
Until now, Dean had proved unkillable, but death by a brother's hand will do the trick.
Of course, Dean knows Sam won't even attempt to kill him, not even to save the world, so long as there is evidence of a spark of humanity in Dean. So he needs to go evil. Super, honest-to-god evil. He needs to let the Mark take over. And, he needs to stop Sam and Cas from using a spell from the Book of the Damned to remove the Mark. A new, terrible path emerges for Dean.
When Dean gets what he wants from Metatron, including the location of Cas' grace, he kills him, the first in what he knows will be a dark, if short, road.
Dean contacts Sam to meet, in the field where as children they lit fireworks. The brothers discuss what they've learned about the Mark, and the Darkness. Sam can see the demon and the man warring inside his brother, and wonders how much of Dean's choices are influenced by Hell. Dean sees the fear in his brother's eyes and wonders how much of Sam's moral decisions are based on Sam's selfish devotion to his brother.
While Sam avers that he could never kill Dean, his brother replies "I'm not going to give you a choice, Sammy." But of course, he doesn't go after Sam now. No, Dean says he knows directly attacking Sam isn't the way to go. He's going to go after the people they care about – people Dean used to care about. He's going to go after Castiel, whose stolen grace leaves him almost defenseless against demonic Dean. He's going to go after Charlie, who is translating the Book of the Damned, and who might unintentionally let something very evil into the world. He'll go after Jody Mills and her girls, after Claire Novak, after Kevin's mom, after anyone and everyone he has to, in order to get Sam to cut him down.
Dean tosses Sam the keys to the Impala. "She's all yours now. Take care of her for me." Sam swears he will find a way to save his brother, but Dean just walks away.
And so begins the hopefully enthralling final books in this arch of the series. Faced with these threats, and the ultimate perversion of everything Dean stood for, will Sam kill Dean? Is that not a form of saving his brother, from becoming something worse?
After walking away from Sam, Dean essentially says goodbye to his humanity and entirely embraces the darkness inside him. And Sam, Cas, Charlie and Crowley gather to discuss how to proceed.
Sam is willing to risk the Darkness to save his brother, and wants to proceed with performing the spell. Castiel is resistant, and maybe we see their strengthened friendship - because it's fair to say Sam and Castiel weren't that close before this; their bond was Dean, but they've had to grow closer - strain under dissention.
To save both brothers, the spell is the best option, but it means potentially sacrificing the world. Castiel and Crowley agree that allowing Dean to die looks to be a much better option. The Mark would be secured, the world still protected from the Darkness. Neither wants to sacrifice their friend, but they also recognize that Dean, in a moment of ultimate free will, has chosen his own fate. Shouldn't they support his bravery, his sacrifice, and innate humanity over Sam's selfishness?
Castiel and Crowley set out to mitigate Dean's self-destruction. While they agree that Sam will have to kill Dean, but that doesn't mean they're going to let Dean go nuclear. Sam agrees they should go, feeling at odds with the angel and demon.
Alone now, Sam captures Rowena, the one witch potentially powerful enough to work the spells in the Book. He promises to kill Crowley for her and provide her with the Book of the Damned if she removes the curse of the Mark. This would effectively make Rowena both the Queen of Hell and the most powerful witch in the world. Oh, selfish, desperate Sam. He secures her in the bunker with Charlie, insisting the three of them set to work on decoding the Book.
Castiel and Crowley track Dean, following in the wake of death and destruction. For Cas, Dean's rampage reminds Cas of his time as Godstiel, when he nearly destroyed the world to remake it in his own perception of righteousness. Crowley remarks the bodies they find along the way show evidence of Dean utilizing the skills he learned while a torturer in Hell. Dean is keeping his promise to become the most demonic version of himself possible. Everywhere the two go, they find dead hunters, dead friends, all brutally tortured for no reason other than to increase their pain and the demon's pleasure. There seems to be little of Dean left in the thing they're tracking.
They finally catch up to Dean in a library, where Metatron hid the tablets. The demon with their friend's face is on the verge of destroying Castiel's grace, to ensure the angel is weak enough that Dean can kill him. Working together, Cas and Crowley manage to send Dean into retreat, fleeing without succeeding in his dark deed. With reluctance, Cas takes back his grace and becomes an angel again. He insists Crowley give him the reclaimed demon tablet, but Crowley refuses. After Metatron's imprisonment, the angels reopened the possibility of prophets and the ability to read the tablets; in a moment of extreme vulnerability, Crowley admits there might be something in the tablet about what he's become: a demon with humanity.
In the bunker, Charlie becomes even more convinced that performing the spell is the worst possible idea. Not only would it allow the Darkness into the world – yikes! – but would give Rowena even more power. Rowena warns Charlie that the Winchester use people up and cast them aside. Charlie asserts how much she loves the boys, but Rowena (rightly) questions if that loves extends to allowing them to destroy the world.
"But you needn't worry about the Darkness, my dear," Rowena promises, "After we cast this spell, I will be the most powerful witch the world has or will ever know. A bit of formless black smoke from the Before Times will be nothing compared to me." Rowena informs Sam she's translated the ingredients for the spell, and insists Sam fulfill his part of the bargain. Charlie confronts Sam, saying she sees now she's stuck between Evil Option #1 and Evil Option #2, that in his own way, Sam is currently as monstrous as his brother. She won't help him anymore. Desperate, Sam locks her up, promising to release her after the spell is cast.
Castiel, now a fully-recharged Angel of the Lord, and Crowley discuss giving chase to Dean. They need to capture Dean now, to stop him as soon as possible. With Castiel's recovered powers, they can whisk Dean away to the bunker, to Sam, and force the necessary confrontation that will end with Dean's death. Crowley wants Castiel to use his angelic powers to easily locate Dean: stop time, remove all other humans from the Earth, anything that will allow them to corner Dean as quickly as possible. But Cas hesitates – what if the angels really are using up souls when they use their powers? How many souls – Kevin Tran, Jimmy Novak, Bobby – might he destroy in doing so? Crowley groans in frustration, and then his phone rings. It's Sam, needing his help – Rowena may have found a loophole to ending the world, but Sam wants Crowley's help managing her – so Cas sets off after Dean without him.
Unknowingly, Crowley walks into a trap set by Sam to fulfill his bargain with Rowena. He shoots the demon with a demon trap bullet, and stuffs a hex bag into Crowley's pocket, thus limiting the demon's power and physically weakening him. Having become so comfortable with the Winchesters, Crowley is shocked. He tries to reason with Sam, reminding him of his efforts with Dean, the changes he's made to Hell, his attempts to be something better. Sam retorts that as far as he is concerned, Crowley will always be a monster. He wants nothing more to do with Crowley, and once Dean is back to being himself, he won't want anything to do with the King of Hell either. He's nothing to them, except an ingredient for the spell.
Sam kneels before Crowley, catching some of the red smoke the demon coughs up due to the hex bag. The first ingredient to the spell: essence of demon. Shocked, Crowley can't believe he and Castiel are suddenly the good guys, that Sam and Dean have fallen so low. He tells Sam that with Castiel's returned grace, the angel will stop him; the spell will never be cast. But Crowley has overplayed his hand without knowing it.
Charlie, by this point, has managed to escape the room Sam locked her in, and begins to scour the Men of Letter's library. She can't stop Dean, and she can't stop Sam, but there might be something in here that will help her kill a witch. Without Rowena, there is no one to perform the spell to remove the Mark. They are running out of time!
Castiel believes he is on the verge of catching up to Dean, healing the few survivors from Dean's rampage as he goes. His phone rings, and Sam informs him time's up, that he's acquired the first ingredient for the spell. Castiel demands to know what it is, and Sam replies that it is the essence of a demon. Cas knows what that means. He wings his way to the warehouse to confront Sam, Crowley half crouched miserable and rejected on the floor. "What have you done, Sam? How far are you willing to go, how much of your own darkness will you let in before you stop this madness?" But Sam is hell-bent on saving his brother, regardless of the cost. He needs the second ingredient: angel feathers. He thought he would have to beg or coerce another angel. Now that Cas has reacquired his grace, everything is falling into place.
Castiel refuses – can't Sam see that he is becoming as much a monster as Dean? His love for his brother has become corruptive rather than redemptive. Sam and Dean are together spiraling deeper and deeper into darkness, and Castiel will not allow that. He loves them both too much. "Dean is like my brother. You, Sam, are like my brother. And I will not watch you destroy yourselves."
"But you're willing to watch us destroy each other," Sam fumes. Castiel refuses to relent, saying that among the many things the Winchesters have taught him – family, free will, sacrifice for the greater good – Cas has also learned that even the best intentions can lead a good person astray. No matter what Sam threatens, he will not assist with the spell.
That's too bad for Cas. Sam reveals that along with Crowley's devil trap, he has quite the angel banishment spell decked out in the warehouse, enough to blow Cas back to heaven for some time. The spell will give Sam enough time to grab a handful of feathers, obtaining the second ingredients and removing Cas as a threat all in one blow. Cas tries puppy eyes and well-intentioned words, but Crowley pipes up from the ground that can't Cas tell? It's too late to save either of the Winchesters from themselves.
In the bunker, Charlie is triumphant in discovering a means to kill Rowena, but before she can put her plan into action, we discover the bloody end to Dean's murderous rampage. He has returned to the bunker to kill Charlie and Rowena, the two people capable of translating the Book. He does not know how far they've gotten, that Sam is out collecting ingredients. Black-eyed and smeared with blood, he attacks Charlie, beating her mercilessly, demanding to know the extent of their success with the spell.
Castiel refuses to allow Sam to hurt anyone else, to call upon other angels to obtain the second ingredient, and instead intends to restrain him. He hopes to talk some sense into Sam, reach him as he couldn't reach Dean. But Sam is more ruthless, more willing to hurt Castiel, and enacts the angel banishment spell. As Cas is obliterated in a burst of light, Sam reaches out, screaming as the light burns through his skin, and tears a handful of feathers from Castiel's wings. An instant later, Castiel is gone, banished back to Heaven for who knows how long.
Crowley has used the distraction to rip the demon trap bullet from his chest and wobbles to his feet. "You bloody, stupid Winchesters," He mutters, as Sam cries miserable, triumphant tears over his burnt arm and the glistening feathers. "I'm done with you. Count me out. Destroy the whole soddin' world if you want. Why not? You'll never give a damn about anyone but yourselves anyway." Crowley is gone with a snap of his fingers.
Sam heads for the bunker, where Rowena will perform the spell. The last ingredient will come to him.
Meanwhile, Dean has essentially beaten Charlie to death. He's done unspeakable things to her, calling on his training as a torturer in Hell. At last she breaks, saying that Sam knows the ingredients, though Charlie herself does not. Well, if the Book has been translated, time to move onto the witch. Dean kills Charlie and leaves her in the main room of the bunker. He's on his way down to the dungeon to confront Rowena, and stops to consider the Men of Letters library. Ah hell, better to burn it all.
Dean puts the bunker to the torch, exploding entire sections. Sam arrives in time to see billowing black clouds of smoke coming out the vents and rushes in. In the heat and smoke, he finds Charlie's broken body. It is clear she suffered horribly before her death, and Sam instantly knows this is Dean's doing.
The others were right. Sam knows it now. Dean is beyond repair. Even if they conducted the spell, what would emerge from the blackened ruins of his brother's soul? Even if Dean could recover enough of himself, he would have to live with the people he's killed, the evil he's done. Dean would have to face the monster Sam was willing to become to save him. It's too much. The others were right – best to kill Dean and save the world. It would be a world without his brother, but for the first time, that might be the best world possible.
Thinking he is leaving Rowena to burn, Sam gathers up Charlie's body and flees the bunker.
In Hell, Crowley takes a metaphorical axe to his throne room, using his demon powers to trash everything in sight, his fury all-encompassing. He has been betrayed by the Winchesters, rejected by them. All his efforts, all his good intentions, all his hopes to be something more – something better – thrown back in his face. To hell with it. To hell with it all!
A handful of minions poke their heads in – one is instantly decapitated – and report that His Highness might be interested to know the Men of Letters bunker is on fire.
Sam carries Charlie's body safely beyond the flames. He leans back against the Impala, staring in horror as thunderous explosions rock the mountain in which the bunker is embedded. There is the soft crush of footsteps behind him, and the familiar, "Heya, Sammy."
In the bunker's dungeon, Rowena is panicking. In the shackles, she can't escape. She gathers up the Book of the Damned and backs up against the wall. Will the fire or Dean Winchester get her first? The figure that comes through the door isn't the hunter, however. It's her ex-husband. Crowley snaps away the chains and in blink of an eye, they are safely outside the bunker, not too far from where the Winchesters are preparing to face off.
"You came back for me," Rowena is amazed.
"You're my queen, after all," Crowley replies, but it's clear he's conflicted. It must have taken a lot for him to come back. Did he do it just for her, because without the Winchesters and Castiel, she is the only thing he has beyond the darkness; or was it to perhaps save the Winchesters themselves, if they had been trapped inside?
And now at last, we have come to it. The final epic battle that concludes this arc in the series. Sam and Dean have both become mired in their own darkness, in their recklessness and their self-sacrifice that turns out to be destructive. Both started off with good intentions but have managed along the way to hurt so many, including themselves. Sam has finally come to accept he must kill his brother, but there is not enough of Dean left to actually want that. He fully intends to kill Sam.
So the boys engage in battle, the sort of which needs no description, but is better left to the imagination.
This is also the moment Rowena reveals her true colors. She inserts herself into the fight, the purpose of which turns out to be to get ahold of both the demon knife and the ingredients from Sam. She escapes the flying fists and fury of the boys and whips out a bowl, into which she begins preparation for the spell.
"What the bloody hell?" Crowley demands, kicking the bowl aside.
"Once he's done with his brother, he's going to kill us," Rowena screams, "Better a world teetering on complete darkness than his hand 'round me throat!" She and Crowley tussle, cries of "bloody wench" and such, and then she stabs him with the demon knife.
Shocked, Crowley stumbles back. A little pig poker like this can't kill him, he insists. He's the king!
Aye, but it will slow him down! Rowena crows, then crouches and begins the spell again. Crowley huffs in amazement, clutching at the knife in his chest. He had come back for her. He had thought…
"Oh, aye, I know what ye thought, Fergus. Ye thought I'd choose you over power - ultimate, unstoppable power. You've always been a weak, foolish man." She continues to berate him as she works, saying she never loved him, that no one could possibly love him. He is a fool to think himself worthy of love or friendship. In her opinion, the only thing Fergus deserves is these bloody heroes, the Winchesters, and all their dead friends. He can justify his pathetic existence by calling himself king, with expensive suits and the occasionally displays of power, but the truth – the sad, wee little truth – is in the end, he's nothing. And when both the Winchesters are a pile of broken bones and good intentions, Crowley will have absolutely nothing.
And the worst part of it is, Crowley realizes, is that he knows she's right. As the demon knife spreads fire throughout Crowley's meatsuit, he closes his eyes in agony, flickers, and disappears.
Dean and Sam are on the verge of killing each other. It's graphic and ugly, brutal and like nothing before, because this is brother verse brother without anything in between them. Yes, there is the influence of the Mark, but this is also about Dean and Sam hating each other and themselves to an incredible, inescapable extreme.
It's a pitched and gruesome struggle, and at some point, Rowena obtains the final ingredient: the blood of the Mark's barer. In a moment of struggle between the two boys, Rowena is able to capture Dean's blood in the bowl, and escape Sam's attempts to knock the spell ingredients away. Dean drags his brother back into the fight as Rowena begins to chant.
Finally, Sam lands on his knees, spent, and overcome with guilt and self-hatred. He recognizes he has lost himself along the way. Because of him, Charlie is dead, and likely many more innocent people, all because he couldn't kill Dean. He has made an enemy of Castiel, and while perhaps it does not bother him quite as much, of Crowley as well. Sam, and not Dean, is fulfilling Cain's prophecy: attempting to kill first the demon, then the angel, and then his brother. Sam can hear Rowena chanting, about to open the world to the greatest evil, greater than Lucifer, or the Leviathans, or the Winchesters themselves. If Dean, the real Dean, were here, he would be disappointed in his little brother. And Sam knows it.
"Get up," Dean grinds out. "We're not finished."
But Sam just stares at him sadly. "It's okay, Dean. I'm here. I'm sorry. I'm sorry I messed up so badly. But I'm here now, and I'm gonna do what's right."
Dean goes in for the kill, but Sam pulls out the First Blade. "Oh, Sammy. You actually think you're going to go through with it? You think after all this, you can still be the hero?"
Sam just shakes his head. "I can't save you, Dean. But I can kill the monster you've become. The family business, right?"
"Yeah, right," Dean says dismissively, and pulls back for another punch.
The spell complete, a bright burst of light rips from Rowena's hands and flies into Dean, searing itself into his arm, just as Sam plunges the first blade through Dean's chest. Sam and Dean stare at each other in horror. The Mark sizzles and burns, disappearing in a roar of light that screeches up into the heavens.
Dean gasps, and slides down into the dirt. Sam, appalled and in shock, crouches beside him, begging no, no, no. Dean's eyes flicker, and it's him, the real Dean, behind the pain and the remorse and the encroaching presence of death. There's some heartfelt words, and tears, and then Dean's gone.
Rowena, decked out in all her new powers, strides by with a few mocking words, and there is the rumble of the Darkness gathering somewhere out in the world. Behind the brothers, smoke rises from the bunker, and Charlie's broken body lies limp beside the Impala. Somewhere in Heaven, Cas is struggling to reform himself, and Crowley, hopefully, recovering in Hell. For the moment, Sam is alone, with his failure and shame, his dead brother and the world about to spiral into chaos.
So, that is gonna be where Book #218 ends. I gotta say, not to sing my own praises, but I think that cliffhanger rivals the ones from #104 and #172, don't you?
The next book is going to pick up pretty close to where I left off. The boys are going to have to face Rowena in her full glory, and the Darkness, which I kinda envision as this evil influence that seeps into people and turns them into their worst selves. Not something physical that the Winchesters can throw themselves against, you know? Something really maniacal.
Sam is going be alone on earth for the first book or so, I think, though Castiel will likely return before too long. That relationship is going to need some band-aides and bromance to repair. Crowley will recover too, of course, though whether this will pit him against the Winchesters again or bring him more fully into the fold, I haven't decided. I really liked the idea of Crowley becoming more human while Dean becomes less human. What can I say, just want to give my fans what they want. ;)
And Dean? Poor Dean. He's done wrong, but he's earned a little divine reprieve. I'm thinking he'll come to in Heaven, locked up in his own personal paradise. Gonna be tricky getting out of that, getting back to Sam and the others. Not to mention, angels are eating up souls like they're ten cent taffy on the boardwalk. The boys are going to have to do something about that.
I'm going to take a bit of a vacation after this, I think, maybe a couple months in the Bahamas. Been promising Becky a trip abroad, and I get the feeling getting out of the country for a while might be a good idea. Something about the weather. Those dark clouds over in Kansas are giving me the hibbie jibbies.
Thanks for reading; comments and kudos are always very much appreciated. It was written in a single 6-hour period following the Season 10 finale in May of 2015 (yes, it is just now getting finalized and posted), as a ranting email to a friend regarding what should have happened in the season. Likely, this is a one-shot post, and Edlund's tease at the end of his draft is all we will get of a rewrite of Season 11, but one never knows. Scenes from that potential alternative Season 11 come to mind occasionally, and for anyone interested in a Season 13 rewrite - at least in part - check out Scene From An Alt!Dimension, to be completed in September of 2018.