Sorry for taking, you know, years to get this finished! I've had the ending mostly written for quite awhile, but I've never been happy with it and so kept putting off posting it. But I figure by this point, it's as good as it's going to get! Thanks to everyone that read/reviewed, I hope it doesn't disappoint.
Part Ten: Azazel
Sam watched through a strange double vision as Mary kneeled beside Dean. John was standing beside her, staring at the dead man the demon had been in like he couldn't believe he was there. Bobby was still in front of Sam, with his hands on his shoulders, shaking him like he thought he was just ignoring him on purpose, or something. Bobby's mouth was opening and shutting as though he was saying something urgent, and the world rushed back all at once-sound came barreling back in and he realized that what Bobby was actually doing was shouting at him.
"Sam? Sammy? You okay, boy?" Bobby asked.
Sam nodded, and forced himself to his feet. The Colt was still clutched in his hand. He held it pointed towards the ground. "Dean?" he asked.
Mary looked up, and her eyes were frantic. "He doesn't look good," she said.
John turned to her at that, and then dropped beside them. He placed a hand on Dean's forehead, forced an eye open. Dean groaned and tried to pull away. "What happened to him?" John asked, looking over at Sam.
"The demon did something to him," Sam said. "I don't know what."
"We have to get him to a hospital," Mary said.
Sam waited for his father to tell her that it couldn't be done. John never did hospitals. He used the first aid kit and a bottle of whiskey, and there wasn't anything he couldn't fix.
Sam felt sick when John's protest didn't come. It meant that it was worse than he thought. "Yeah, we do. Sam, help me get him up," John said.
Sam and John got Dean held up between them as Mary went through the house ahead of them, and straight into the driver's seat of their rental. Sam got in the back and pulled Dean with him, settling him in his arms.
Bobby nodded to John as he moved around to the passenger seat. "I'll take care of the body," he said.
"Don't leave anything but the ashes," John told him, before slamming the door.
Mary pulled out the driveway like she was auditioning for the Indy 500, and Dean grabbed onto his hand, and looked up, suddenly awake and gasping. "He's here," he said urgently. "Sammy, he's here."
"He's gone," Sam told him gently. "Just hold on, Dean. We're going to a hospital."
"He's not, he's here," Dean said again. "He's sitting right beside you."
Sam ignored the chill against his back by telling himself it was just the cold air pressing up against the door. "Don't talk," Sam told him. "Save your strength."
"I know what he wanted from us," Dean continued. "Sam, I know."
"Dean-" Sam glanced up at his parents. They were both looking straight ahead. Mary's knuckles were white against the steering wheel. "You're going to be fine. We're almost there."
"He says it doesn't matter," Dean said. "He says it's already too late."
"Who, Dean?" John asked, turning around to lean into the back seat. "Who do you see?"
"Azazel," Dean said. "That's what he was called."
"He said you weren't going to make it?" John asked carefully. "Dean, I need to know exactly what he said to you."
Dean pressed his eyes shut. "No, he said Sam," he said. "He said it was too late for Sam."
"He's delirious," Mary said firmly. "He doesn't know what he's saying. We just need to get to the hospital."
Sam held Dean a little tighter. He wondered if he was delirious too, because he could swear that he could hear laughter coming from just behind him.
They rushed Dean away as soon as they made it to the emergency room doors. Mary went running after him, but John held Sam back. "Where are you hurt?" he demanded. He ran his eyes over Sam, tracing the blood as it went from his nose down his shirt and onto his hands.
"It was just a nosebleed," Sam told him. "And I got tossed around a bit. Nothing serious."
"We're getting you checked out too," John said.
"I'm fine," Sam said. "We need to check on Dean."
"Don't argue with me," John said, and passed him an insurance card. "Remember, your name is Avery Rhodes."
Sam knew better than to argue with his father, so he went into the waiting room and waited until a nurse came and called the name that wasn't his. Dean would be admitted under his real name. Sam would have to be careful not to mention that they were brothers.
The doctor took X-Rays just to be sure because Sam was still shaking so badly, but they all came back clear. They couldn't figure out how all that blood could have come from one nosebleed. Sam shrugged and told them he got them all the time. They said he should schedule an MRI just as soon as he could.
Sam promised he would, lying like the expert he was, and then quickly went back to the waiting room. John and Mary were standing in the hallway. "You check out okay?" John asked him.
Sam nodded. "Dean?" he asked.
"They took him into surgery," John said. "They think he has internal injuries. We said he was hit by a car."
Mary stepped forward, grabbing Sam and pulling him to her. "Oh, Sam," she said.
Sam was a good deal taller than her, so he hunched his head down to return the hug and tried not to notice when she started crying. He wanted to tell her it would be fine, that he knew it would be, but he wasn't sure how to explain it in any way that made sense.
All Sam knew was that he wasn't going to let Dean die, not after he'd just gotten him back.
It was two hours before anyone came with news. A young doctor, probably not much older than Dean, stopped in front of their seats, solemn and professional.
"How is he?" John demanded, before the doctor could speak.
"He's stable," the doctor said after a moment. "But we can't wake him."
"When can we see him?" Mary asked.
"He's still in ICU, one of you can see him now," the doctor said. "But I'm afraid only one at a time."
"That'll be me," Sam said firmly, getting to his feet.
Mary looked startled, and John frowned. "Sam, I think that Mary—"
"She's exhausted, you should take her for a coffee," Sam said. "I won't be long."
"Sam-" John started.
"Please, Dad," Sam said. "I just need a moment a alone with him, okay?"
Mary reached out to grab John's arm. "It's fine," she said quietly. "Let him go."
The doctor nodded and then led the way. "He's doing really well, all things considered," the doctor assured him, but Sam wasn't listening, he just stepped into the room, and let the doctor fade into the background with all the rest.
He looked down at his brother, before looking back up to make sure the doctor had gone. Once they were alone, he shut the door with a thought and sat down in the chair beside the bed. He leaned forward, resting one hand on Dean's forehead, and the other on his wrist.
"Dean, wake up," Sam said. Dean opened his eyes, coming awake with a gasp. Sam uses the grip he has on him to keep him still. "It's okay, you're going to be okay."
Dean's eyes focused on a water glass on the bedside table as it shook, vibrating so violently that it slipped off the edge and crashed to the floor. The lights were flickering and there was a rumble sounding from somewhere far below the foundation, shaking the hospital room so hard that plaster dust started falling around them like snow.
Then just as quickly, it stopped.
Dean turned back towards Sam. He knew without asking that Sam had done this, had brought him back somehow. He remembered being somewhere very very dark, where groups of people had closed in around him, Meg and Daniel among them, welcoming him like an old friend.
Dean swallowed to try and clear his dry throat, and closed his eyes. "You're getting stronger," he said to Sam.
"And you're getting better," Sam said, and leaned back in the chair.
Dean realized he was. The pounding behind his eyes was easing. "What happened?" he asked.
"The demon is dead," Sam assured him. "Dad and mom and Bobby are all alright."
"Good, that's good," Dean said, but even as he said it he felt a bit like he was burning. He had inhaled more than his fair share of smoke in his line of work, and this felt a little like that, like he'd sucked in hellfire and gotten it stuck in his chest.
"You said you saw the demon," Sam told him gently. "You said he told you that it was too late for me. Do you know what he meant?"
"I don't remember that," Dean said. "I'm sorry, Sam. The last thing I remember was trying to kick the Colt to you."
"That's okay," Sam said quietly. "It doesn't matter. It's over"
They take Dean home the next day, AMA. They don't like the hospital with all its dark corners and unfamiliar faces—they'd gotten rid of the yellow-eyed demon but that didn't make them safe.
Mary had the salt lines already drawn when they got there. The nosy neighbor was still looking out the window. This time Sam raised his empty hand to wave, and watched the curtain pull closed just as quickly as it had before.
Mary began fussing over Dean the moment they brought him through the door, so John took the opportunity to corner Sam. "You took a hell of a risk back there," he said roughly, because of course there could be no 'good job,' not even for this. Sam had come to expect nothing less.
"I did what I had to," Sam said. "It was my fight. It always was."
"When we got trapped in the house," John began, not looking at Sam, "was that him or was that you?"
Sam faltered for only a moment. "I wanted you all to be safe, and it just happened," he said. "Dean was meant to be in there with you, but he was too quick."
"Since when are you telekinetic?" John demanded.
Sam looked back into the living room, where Dean was laid back on the couch, laughing softly at something Mary had said. "Since I met Dean," Sam confided. It has always been there a little, a bit out of his reach, the potential buried by all of his fears about what he was.
Then Dean had taken off that pendant and all the lies he'd told himself had been ripped away just as easily, gone in an instant that had left him torn open, power buzzing in his ears. Sam knew he'd made a kind of bargain with the demon in that instant, when he gave into the power, and decided to use it.
"Well, maybe you should stop it," John said. "It may draw attention."
"You mean what happened at the hospital," Sam said.
"Nearly brought the place down around our ears, Sam," John said. "And that wouldn't have done any of us any good, let alone Dean."
"I didn't mean to do that," Sam said. "I was worried."
John frowned, but didn't tell Sam the fact that it was unintentional was far more frightening than if it had been planned. "Just be careful, okay?" he asked. "There's no telling what's going to happen to those powers you and Dean have, now that demon is gone."
"Okay," Sam promised. He meant it, too, and he would keep it for as long as he could. Still he couldn't turn it off—he knew that, he could feel it building in him. He remembered Meg's words: i All that power in you, untapped all these years, building up, boiling over-and that bond you don't know how to control./i
Sam waited until Mary went to make them dinner before sitting down beside Dean. Dean wouldn't quite look him in the eye.
"You said it was too late for me, do you remember?" Sam asked again. "What did it mean?"
"I'm sure it didn't mean anything," Dean said. "If that's what I said, and if I really saw him, then it was probably just being spiteful, that's all. We're fine, the both of us."
"Could you talk to him again, do you think?" Sam asked. "There's still so much unanswered about what we are."
"I know where the dead go, Sam," Dean told him. "It isn't anywhere good. If he's still around, I'm not heading off to find him."
"No, of course not," Sam said, though he had a feeling Azazel would be coming to find him.
John was uneasy, though he didn't quite know why. The demon was gone, his family was together, it was the absolute best possible result—it was the happy ending he'd been chasing since the start.
Still, he couldn't quite shake the feeling that something had shifted, so he called up Missouri the first moment he got alone. "What's the forecast?" he asked her.
"If you still had that pendant, I'd tell you to put it back on him," Missouri said. "I have a feeling we've all gone and opened up Pandora's box."
"What are you saying?" John demanded.
"I can feel those boys from here," Missouri said, and she sounded uncertain. Missouri knew everything. She was never uncertain. "They're powerful, John. So strong it scares me to the core, and they're getting stronger all the time."
"You say that like they're dangerous," John snapped. "They're on our side, Missouri."
"I don't mean to," Missouri said. "They're good boys, the both of them. I know that."
John let out a breath. "Then why are you worried?"
"Because it wakes me at night, just one stray thought from Sam. I feel it in my bones," Missouri said. "He wasn't ever meant to be."
"Don't you say that, not about my son," John growled.
"I'd just watch them, if I were you," Missouri said. "I'd watch them both."
John hung up the phone without promising anything. Missouri already knew he'd be watching them anyway.
These days, Dean had nightmares too, but at least he didn't have to worry about his coming true. He'd still taken to keeping a knife under his pillow and when he heard the sound of that laughter he grabbed it and was on his knees, ready to strike.
The demon just tilted his head, and laughed again. He wasn't wearing any poor soul's body now. His skin was molted and charred beyond all recognition. He looked like he was covered with ash, his wings stretched out behind him—but when he smiled his teeth were straight and white.
There was still the gaping bullet wound, right where his heart may or may not have been. Sam was still snoring a few feet away, in the deepest sleep Dean thought he'd probably had for awhile.
"There's a reason I kill the mothers after the first kid, Dean. Couldn't risk the second one being stronger than me. And Sam's getting there." Azazel isn't the only one-most demons want them dead, they're dangerous. Dean realized this too, even though this part, Azazel didn't say.
"You lied to him," Azazel said. "You told him you didn't remember our little conversation."
"You lied first," Dean told him. "I wasn't going to repeat your little fantasies."
"I'm not lying," Azazel said. "No reason left to lie, not like this. I've got nothing to gain. I've got nothing to lose."
"You're still evil," Dean pointed out. "Your track record indicates you like causing trouble."
"Sam let me in, I'm part of him now," Azazel said. "He couldn't have that much power any other way. I wasn't lying, Dean. He gave himself to me whether he meant to or not."
"Are you sure about that?" Dean asked. "Maybe it was love that drove him."
The demon looked uncertain, but he was shaking his head. "It doesn't work like that," he said.
"What do you know about love?" Dean asked.
"I was an angel once," he told him. "Of all things, I was banished for love. So I know a little something about it."
"I find that hard to believe," Dean said.
"I wanted children," Azazel said. He was close enough now that he would be touching Dean if he had skin. But there's no substance to him now, just a slight chill from where they nearly overlap.
"If you say Luke, I am your father, I will-well, I don't know what I'll do, but it won't be good," Dean said.
The demon didn't seem to get the joke. "John is your father, in the way that you mean," Azazel said. "But you are my children all the same."
"You can't hurt us anymore," Dean said. "You're dead. You can't even get back to Hell."
"There's more than one kind of hell," the demon said. "Personally I'd prefer the real one to this."
"Glad to hear it," Dean said. "You deserve to suffer."
The demon smiled. It was the wings that bothered Dean the most. They were burned almost beyond recognition and one was missing most of its middle, a crescent gap right in the center, like something had taken a bite. But Dean was enough of a Stones fan to know better than to have sympathy for the devil.
"There are others," the demon said. "They'll be drawn to you. Drawn to you both. Sam's opened the floodgates, Dean. He's only going to get stronger."
"If others come we'll fight them too," Dean said. "If Sam gets stronger it can only help."
The demon laughed like he was pleased. "You were always the wild card, Dean. I never counted on you. You surprised me, I admit it. Still, you have to know you can't kill them all," he said. "Just ask Sam. He knows. He's been at this a lot longer than you, and every demon he sends back to Hell, another five are breaking out some place else."
"Sam would tell you the same thing," Dean said. "We won. You lost. Get over it."
"You think this fight is over?" Azazel whispered. Dean could almost feel his breath ghosting across his ear, like a caress.
The demon laughed and disappeared, just as Sam woke screaming on the cusp of some new vision.
And Dean knew then that it was only just beginning.