Disclaimer, Summary & Rating: see Chapter 1 – reminder that this story is set in early Season 3, not Season 4, and Viktor Henrikson, etc., are still alive at this point.

WARNING – AUTHOR'S NOTE CONTAINS MAJOR SEASON 4 SPOILERS!! DON'T SCROLL DOWN TO IT IF YOU DON'T WANT TO KNOW!

FALSE MEMORY

Epilogue

"Dude! Your Thin Lizzy? Awesome." Dean grinned hugely as Cale Fischer handed him some tapes.

Sam shook his head at he watched the exchange from the porch; one more night in real beds in a real home had been irresistible. Now he would pay for the indulgence with yet more pounding "classic" rock courtesy of Dean. He was aware of Shay coming to stand beside him from the kitchen, her face pensive.

"I underestimated him."

"Most people do," Sam pointed out. "Sometimes even me...especially me. We get so wrapped up in 'the mission' that it's too easy for Dean to just stay in that crap 'lecher persona' 24/7 and for me to just take that portrayal at face value. Yes, Dean is highly sexed but he's not a slave to his dick, incapable of thinking with what's between his ears instead of his legs."

"He was right too," Shay conceded, "I did slot both Dean and Drew Williams in that bottom drawer, and look how it came back to bite me in the ass. It sounds terrible to say about a guy I shared the ultimate intimacy with, even if only once, but like poor Miranda wells I could have walked past Drew in the street and not recognised him from Adam."

"And that's what he couldn't deal with, even when it killed him." Sam reiterated the point Dean had made last night that if Drew hadn't gotten so consumed by his obsession, he would never have been on that road to have a fatal car crash in the first place.

"I never really appreciated until now how the past is always impinging on the present, how we're shaped by our childhood. I only hope me and Cale manage to do as good a job with our kids as our parents did with us."

She stepped down off the porch, holding a large box of what Sam guessed would be home-baked goodies for him and Dean to 'share' – or for Dean to snaffle as many of as he could first. But he remained where he was. Shay was only partly right – sometimes what you were was shaped by the actions – or the inactions – of people before you were even born. If mom had come from a hunter family, he seriously doubted her parents had died peacefully in their sleep, so why had great-uncle Teddy Campbell gone to ground instead of hunting down and killing Azazel in whatever interim had been available before the yellow-eyed bastard had murdered Mary and ruined her sons' lives? A question to which there would never be any answer. In twenty years from now – maybe only ten, given the boy's evident precocity – what legacy would be left behind of his father and uncle for Ben Braiden to find?

"I'm grateful to you boys for coming all this way," Missouri spoke softly as she came to stand beside him as Shay had done. "But I know how hard Lawrence is on you both, so you drive safely when you go."

"Do you know if mom was a hunter?"

Missouri shook her head slightly so Dean wouldn't see it. "Truthfully Sam, I don't know – your parents had already been married a year when I moved here."

"But you have an opinion…"

"Your mom…Mary…had a way about her. A vibrancy of personality – she was never the life and soul of the party but she always seemed the most real person in a room. I think…people like you – hunters – you're…so aware of everything, so alert to your environment and surroundings. Hunters are so in tune with the world – the universe itself – than practically everyone else that…you seem more real than anything else is."

"Go on," Sam encouraged when she stopped, her eyes slightly unfocussed in the manner of someone who is looking within, not without.

"I'm not explaining it very well but…hunters to me always seem more solid than the things around you, more substantial. It's as if what you are imbues you all with a sort of density, a weightiness that perceptive people can see…Before the fire, your daddy didn't have that…"

"But Mary did."

Missouri didn't answer, which was an answer.

Sam wasn't interested in small talk. "Missouri can you tell me anything? Can you see anything?"

Missouri sighed, mentally scolding herself for hoping that Sam would ignore her psychic abilities. Mary and John had always shot straight from the hip and their boys were the same. "Sam, it's not like that – most of us see only glimpses of what could be."

"Right," Sam didn't hide his disappointment or his bitterness, or his fear.

"Sam, I'm not trying to be awkward, but let me give you some advice – anyone who tells you that "destiny" is carved in stone is a liar – be he god, man or devil." She pressed on as Sam looked taken aback by her vehemence. "The reason people like me see only glimpses is down to one thing: free will."

"What has that to do with anything?"

"It has everything to do with everything," Missouri scolded him. "The good Lord didn't need to make anything that could think for itself; think how much easier it'd be for Him if the universe was populated by automatons. But He did. Everything and everyone has a choice Samuel. Even Azazel – he could have stopped at any time had he chosen to. Lucifer himself could have remained an angel of the lord had he not chosen to become consumed with ambition and resentment."

"I get it."

"Do you? That's one of the things about evil, Sam. It tries to cloud your judgement. Azazel pressed in on every side, trying to make you so focussed on picking one of two evils that you forgot all about options C, D and E. So why didn't Azazel simply force you into being his puppet prince?"

"Because he couldn't?" Sam asked with hope and scepticism battling for tonal supremacy.

"Exactly – no demon ever does a stroke more work than it has to, but Azazel couldn't force any of the psychic children, he had to get you to do it to and by yourselves. What I mean is that I know where you're going in your head and you're no more doomed to turn evil than anyone else, man or angel, is or isn't. It all depends on what you choose to do or not to do – or have you forgotten about that vampire girl you saved from Gordon Walker who chose not to murder humans? Ask me whom of those two were evil? There are six billion humans in this world, goodness knows how many weird supernatural entities out there, all choosing and not choosing – the variables are endless and the future is pure chaos. Anything can happen."

"That's what I keep telling myself," Sam admitted quietly – his greatest fear was that he was like a train on a track, hurtling inexorably towards certain doom.

"Good, 'cause it's true." Missouri snapped and then sighed. "But I will admit I'm scared, Sam. I don't know what Azazel had planned, and I don't know how things will work out, but one thing I haven't been able to get out of my head lately is that old saying about how all too often the evil that men do lives on after them, whilst the good dies with them."

"What do you think it means?" Sam asked.

Missouri didn't answer straight away. She had no intention of telling Sam about the dreams because they were literally just glimpses of bizarre, almost psychedelic images – a magnificent necklace of rubies that dripped blood and tears, a shadowy pair of black feathered wings hovering above Dean, a horrible snarling and howling of big dog and – most terrifying of all – the image of a small, wooded copse with a simple wooden-cross grave marker; no matter how hard Missouri had tried, the only letters she had ever been able to make out on the marker were WI…CH…STER.

If the path remains unaltered one of the brothers will die. But that had happened before and would again in the hunter world. Bill Harvelle had died partly because he took foolish risks trying to live up to the hunter legend of his older sister, Cale Fischer's mother. Gordon Walker had had a sister; John Winchester had been about the last person besides herself and Bobby Singer left who knew that Daniel Elkins had been born as a pair of identical twin brothers. Bobby had arranged for Elkins' ashes to be scattered up in Wyoming with those of his brother…damn, it had been so long since that hunter's funeral pyre that she could no longer remember what Elkins' real name and that of his brother, had been. In the hunter world, the abrupt and brutal loss of parents, children, spouses, lovers, siblings and cherished friends was a commonality, not a rarity.

"Missouri," Sam pressed.

"I think…" Missouri took a deep breath and let it out wearily. "In the short term, evil gobbles up big chunks, but traditionally good has always won the endgame because the one advantage good has is that people will work together for the greater good and the higher purpose even if doing so is individually detrimental or disadvantageous."

"Evil won't do that – the bad guys are always looking for their own chance of greater power, more wealth or higher advancement." Sam recited impatiently. "I know that."

"Well I know – or at least I'm pretty certain, that's what's happening here. I think Azazel was so focussed on his little tit-for-tat game with John Winchester that he forgot his underlings had minds of their own and that those more powerful in the halls of hell wouldn't just let him move up the…"

"Food chain?" suggested Sam.

"It'll do. Move up the food chain without opposition. I think Azazel let slip more of his master plan than he realised, and now, even though Azazel is dead…"

"His magnum opus isn't," finished Sam. "Someone or something recognised genius when they saw it – evil, twisted, sick, but still genius – and adopted the plan for themselves?"

"Yes…that's exactly what I think."

THE END

© 2009, The Cat's Whiskers

WARNING SEASON FOUR SPOILERS AHEAD

Author's Note:

Dear Readers, I wish to thank everyone for their extraordinary patience and kind emails of encouragement and support to me.

This story should have been finished by halfway through Season 3. Due to illness and other real life brickbats, the UK is now into the 4th episode of Season 4!

I did enjoy writing the story – I always thought that "Dean the lecher" was too shallow for the emotional maturity and depth of character that Dean (and Sam) would have to have in view of their upbringing.

My conviction that Dean doesn't have sex on the brain of course is shown in the Season 4 episode Sex and Violence which ties in to the plot of False Memory, along with demon-hunter grandparents, and Dean being 'divinely chosen' to be some sort of warrior of god.

To be honest the way of how Season 4 is playing out in paralleling some of my own plot ideas in False Memory now I've re-read the story has got me a bit worried about in tune I am with the mind of Kripke. Scary. There is also the introduction of the younger Winchester half-brother due to carelessness of John Winchester's part, which as some readers know was exactly the plot of my first ever story in this fandom – Living La Vida Loca (archived here on ).

I think Kripke will tie the boy's character into Sex and Violence and how the Siren lured Dean. Family relationships are complex and Sam has always been the protected, cherished baby brother. Now he has a rival for Dean's love and affection and given his Dark Side journey, I doubt it's going to end well. Mind you, on saying that, I'm keenly anticipating the outworking of Ruby and the angels' story arc, particularly since Castiel often seems more in need of protection than a protector and Uriel is a supernatural psycho who gets off on being allowed to mass murder humans. If forced to choose between turning my back on Uriel or Ruby, I know which one I'd take my chances with!

My health is still very changeable, but I hope to be back in the swing as soon as I can.

The Cat's Whiskers