Ode To The Dreamers

Summary: If there are infinite alternative universes out there, then anything is possible. Dean takes comfort in that. Somewhere out there, things ended different for Crowley. Mid-season 14 vignette. COMPLETE.

Note: Ode To The Dreamers can be read as a companion piece to Cue The Dramatic Entrance. The latter ended on a sad note, with Dean's denial and grief reflecting my own. Ode To the Dreamers takes place almost two years later, and offers the closure that Cue The Dramatic Entrance lacked. Thanks to Thayerkerbasy for helping me get there.

Note on canon-divergence: All my SPN fanfiction, unless otherwise noted, diverges from the canon in that I write Rowena as Fergus MacLeod's ex-wife, rather than mother. This is keeping with Mark Sheppard's preference for the characters' relationship, rather than what the SPN writers settled on.

The road stretches out ahead. It stretches farther and brighter than Dean ever imagined it would. And though there was a time he imagined he'd be traveling it alone, he knows now that was and will never be the case. Dean stares down that open road, rushing towards him before disappearing under the guttural, triumphant roar of the Impala, and thinks back on all the people, lost friends and found family, who drove down it with him. All the different roads, different journeys, they might have traveled down together, the different endings.

If there are infinite alternative universes out there – an anthologized cosmos of unbridled creation, a multitude of divergent worlds and disparate lives – then anything is possible. Dean takes comfort in that. All those cursory imaginings and half-formed, heavyhearted what-ifs might be actual dimensions. Might be real. For him and Sam. For Cas. For Bobby and Charlie and Kevin and everyone else they've shared this long, tumultuous road with. Maybe, Dean likes to imagine from time to time, for Crowley.

That endless road opens up before Dean, every poignant exchange and sacrificed second chance, each of them makeshift, unrehearsed, heart-felt.

Dean imagines Crowley could have outlived them all. Survived the apocalypse and the Winchesters' well-intentioned self-destruction and all the rest of it. Likely with style, and a glass of good scotch. The undisputed sovereign of Hell. The subjugator of Heaven, seizing both thrones through sophisticated schemes and subterfuge. Characteristically cavalier about conventional incorrigibility and divinely ordained limitations, confident in his capacity to rule over all creation. At least for a little while, Crowley would have had it all. And he'd have been happy. Because if any of them could ever actually get to know what that felt like, Dean always imagined it would be that repugnant, smug son of a bitch.

He imagines the pair of flannelled hunters did kill the King of Hell, after the Leviathans, after the tablets or the trials. Crowley and the Winchesters never getting the chance to discover what each were capable of becoming.

Dean imagines meeting Crowley before Castiel. The hardscrabble hunter and snarky demon forming their own peculiar, profound bond. How that would have changed everything, or maybe nothing at all.

That after everything with the Mark, rather than pushing Crowley away, Dean might have pulled him into the fold. The two of them, leaning on each other as they stumbled towards humanity, together.

That they completed the cure. Completed it during the third trial, as the bodies of falling angels seared the night sky. Completed it later, three broken men attempting to heal a fourth. Dean imagines the Winchesters forced the cure on Crowley, free will be damned, because of the threat he posed: to them, to the world. Completed the cure against Crowley's will because Dean knew, with soul-rendering certainty, there was a man inside the monster. They completed the cure with Crowley's full consent, because he asked it of them. Because he wanted to belong; because he already belonged, with them.

Crowley made human, vulnerable at first, thin-skinned, depression and frustration raging each in their turn. Only to discover he didn't have to be any of those things – that wounds and past mistakes, emotions and humanity don't have to be weaknesses.

Maybe Crowley remained a demon. Maybe it didn't matter what he was, only who. And who Crowley was, was family.

Dean imagines they found some other way to close the rift. The four of them now five: two hunters, a fallen angel and a risen demon trying to raise a Nephilim. The names Crowley would have conjured for Jack, the avuncular role the demon might have played. The notable and unjustified certainty that there wouldn't be a repeat of the Amara situation. That the four of them were in this together.

Crowley there with them, in the bunker, on the road. Saving people. Saving himself along the way.

Crowley staying behind as Dean and Sam and Cas charged into that other dimension to save that wayward boy and Mary. Crowley working with Rowena, estranged husband and wife at least temporarily reconciled as they combine powers to keep the rift open, waiting for their strange little family to come barreling back through, triumphant.

Crowley there to face off against Michael with them. Sweeping into Dean's head just as he had Sam's all those years ago. Sympathetic and irate in his role as savior, railing at Dean's constructed utopia of one of their old summer-time haunts. This, the demon would have demanded, caustic in his sentimentality, this is living the dream?

Crowley, forever safe in the bunker Dean has erected in his mind, with Bobby and Charlie and Kevin, and all the others the Winchesters have lost along the way.

All those other potential realities and this one colliding like universes slingshoting across the vast delirium of creation, countless fingers clattering away on keyboards, fashioning love in all its possible forms out of the rendered mess of their lives. And each of them – Dean and Sam and Castiel, and Crowley, tucked gently into soft oblivion – contributing to it soul-shaped pieces of themselves. Creating other roads to travel down together.

Maybe not in this life, this world, this reality. But somewhere.

Dean is certain of it.

And like all writers, he churns out draft after draft. – AU!Michael, "Nihilism", Supernatural 14x10.

In a single, potent monologue by an itinerate archangel, the entirety of the Supernatural fandom was canonized. We are no longer an audience – we are ourselves creators of the Supernatural reality. With our keystrokes and brushstrokes and lucid daydreams, we create the infinite alternative universes beyond the single world once deemed 'the canon.' We are Arthur O'Shaughnessy's dreamers of dreams, the music makers, the forsakers (and makers) of worlds. And this recognition and inclusion by the SPN writers, this ode, is one of the greatest gifts Supernatural ever gave the fandom – after, of course, each other.

To read more on my ramblings about constructed realities and SPN, check out this Tumblr post, Another Apocalypse on the Horizon: post/183651704425/another-apocalypse-on-the-horizon

Thank you for reading my work, and thank you to those intending to leave a comment, and to all the SPN fandom and family, for creating and sharing and making tangible these realities together.