Disclaimer…All together now: The TV show Supernatural and all characters therein are owned by assorted Americans, not me. Maybe I could sue for custody… g Anyway: this fiction is purely for the enjoyment of readers; no money is being made. All Original Characters remain the property of Catherine D. Stewart and may not be used without the express permission of the authoress.

Summary: Armageddon has nothing on us…the End of the World, Winchester Style

Rating: 'T'/15; yes I know you were expecting the next chapter of I Thought I Saw, but this snippet was triggered by something Eric Kripke said in his new IFMagazine interview with Bob Singer (see www.Supernatural.tv website), Ergo, it's Eric's fault. Take it up with him…I dare yah…

CONFRONTATION

The Yellow-Eyed Demon laughed in Sam's face and held a big ceremonial dagger like knife to the defenceless throat of little toddler Rosie. "Come on, Sammy," it sneered through the lips of its victim host, "time to step over to my team, or you can watch little Dean butcher this brat!"

Behind Yellow-Eyes, the psychics who'd been corrupted like Max Miller and Andy's twin Anson grinned in eerie, silent unison, their ranks of coal-black eyes betraying the lesser demons in possession, showing the price they'd paid for their folly in thinking the Yellow-Eyed Demon wanted them for anything other than to be meat-suits, each one a convenient motel room for one of his underlings to kick back in – with free psychic-whammy en suite.

Although he could feel the alarm of the 'good' psychics behind him and the terror of Rosie's mom and dad, Sam showed no reaction as he stared calmly into eyes that should have been as green as a fresh hazel-tree leaf, burnished with an overlaying sheen of antique gold, not their current dirty, swirling bile off-yellow. The beloved face was twisted into a gleeful sneer and lust to hurt that Dean Winchester had never shown in his life, no matter the provocation.

"No."

There was a momentary pause as everyone including Yellow Eyes waited for Sam to continue with some heartfelt, inspirational speech about good and right and then realised it wasn't going to happen.

"You'd really let your brother kill an innocent?"

"No, but I'm not doing that, and neither is Dean." Sam contradicted. "You are threatening to murder Rosie."

"Semantics."

"Oh, I don't think so." Sam contradicted again. "You see, I know Dean. If you murder Rosie, he will feel very angry, and very upset, but he won't feel guilty, because Dean knows he didn't kill Rosie any more than he killed Zach Warren's girlfriend – you're just another monster who's stolen his face."

"Looks like those law classes did you some good after all," Yellow Eyes conceded. "Okay, come over here, and not only will I find a new des res., I'll even let Dean live once I vacate his fine form –"

"No." Sam didn't even let the creature finish the offer before he flatly refused.

But this time the demon chuckled, "Ouch, poor Dean, how crushing. You really think I don't know you'll do whatever it takes to save Dean?"

"No, you don't know, but Dean knows." Sam again kept his reply calm. "My brother loves me, more than anything in the world, and there is nothing he would not do for me. Dean will cope – not well but enough – with you murdering Rosie using his body to do it, but he never would me going Dark Side simply to save his life. He would never forgive himself, and he would never forgive me, and as you knew perfectly well when you made the offer, it wouldn't be long before he ate his gun from the guilt of costing so many innocents to suffer - which would make my doing any such thing an utterly pointless exercise."

The Yellow-Eyed Demon's face twisted in irritation at Sam's effortless figuring out that any such sacrifice on his part would be meaningless and futile, "You always were stubborn. Very well, you are going to be my slave whether you like it or not. Your power will be mine to command, and I promise you every second will be unspeakable agony for your defiance."

For the first time, Sam showed a bit of attitude, shifting his stance slightly and folding his arms across his chest, "I really don't think so, asshole. A human soul cannot be sold or stolen, only given away freely – and I'm not in a giving mood. Unlike those greedy idiots behind you, I will not serve you or join you. I don't want riches, or power, or women – or men for that matter – and if you murder Rosie, or Dean, or any other good, decent person, it will only make me work harder to destroy your evil ass."

He had enunciated all this in a sharp, measured delivery, ejecting words from his lips like spitting pips, but as he came to the end, the Yellow-Eyed Demon rallied. Dropping Rosie so the child fell to the ground with a whimper, it slowly brought Dean's hands together for a bout of slow-clapping, fortunately ignoring the toddler as she crawled towards Sam with a tear-stained face; Sam could feel her parents willing her on, even though logically they must know the demon could kill her from a distance.

"Now that's the Hero Speech I was waiting for," Yellow-Eyes commented, "How long have you been practising that – no, don't tell me, it doesn't matter. Sorry Sammy, there are only two options here – obedience or death. Since you won't obey, you'll die."

"Sorry," Sam mimicked the mock-solicitous tone, "but actually I chose option number three before I came, thanks anyway."

"Okay, I'll bite…" It rolled Dean's possessed eyes dramatically. "What's Option Number Three?"

"Winning."

The Yellow-Eyed Demon blinked, then Dean's face sort of scrunched up, then his body guffawed. Deep, hooting belly laughs erupted from Dean's body, accompanied by a discordant chorus from the bodies of the demon's possessed puppets, and he doubled over with mirth to such an extent Sam began to worry the demon would rupture one of Dean's internal organs with it's infernal hilarity.

"W-w-w-" hooted the Yellow-Eyed Demon helplessly as it slowly straightened up. "You know, you're almost worth keeping alive just for the entertainment value." He wiped tears of laughter from Dean's eyes, "But needs must when I drive and all that. You seriously think you're going to go mano-a-fiendo against me and win?"

"No, I'm not powerful enough to defeat you," Sam admitted.

The Yellow-Eyed Demon looked faintly surprised Sam was honest and realistic enough to know this, but then it grinned again, "Oh please, are you seriously expecting some sort of divine intervention here? Hordes of Heavenly Hosts charging down? Big-ass six-winged seraphs leading the charge and flaming-sword wielding cherubs hurtling down from above?"

"I know God won't interfere," Sam conceded again. "Humans rebelled against God because we selfish and wanted our own way. The mess the world is in is our deserved punishment for disobeying a direct order – don't eat that fruit – and He warned us He wouldn't save us from the consequences of our disobedience: "'A God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, abundant in loving-kindness, pardoning error and sin, but by no means will he give exemption from punishment.'"" Sam smiled briefly, "'Or as my Dad would have put it, 'Clean up your own shit boy'…I think he and God have a lot of common traits, actually."

Having listened to this little speech with an expression of contempt, the Yellow-Eyed Demon now gave an exaggerated sigh. "Alright, alright…I'll play along…You've admitted that you can't defeat me, and you've admitted that God won't stop me…so, who do you think is going to defeat me?"

"Them." Sam pointed over Yellow Eyes shoulder and everyone, including Yellow Eyes, looked in the direction of Sam's finger.

It took a moment before people cottoned on that Sam meant the black-eyed minions currently inhabiting the evil psychics' physical bodies.

"You have got to be kidding!" The Yellow-Eyed Demon snorted derisively, his eyes momentarily flashing green-gold as Dean's belief in his brother's craziness allowed him, for a split second, to wrest back control of his physical body.

Sam shrugged. "Not in the slightest. You see, when I realised I couldn't defeat you and that God or Good wouldn't, I asked myself a question: What Does Evil Want?" He smirked at the Demon. "The answer of course is power and domination."

"True," the monster conceded with interested amusement.

"But then I asked myself: What Does Evil Want more? What do demons desire more than power and domination? The answer is simple: for other demons not to have it."

Dean's face lost some of the superimposed arrogance as Sam elaborated his theory, but Sam knew he needed to keep the Yellow-Eyed Demon distracted and off balance if he had any chance of pulling this off to even survive, never mind beat the thing, so he rattled on.

"You're not stupid," he stated as if graciously conceding the Yellow-Eyed Demon one solitary virtue, "so, did you really think that your fellow fiends have been doing nothing but watch your antics from some hellish peanut gallery and exerting themselves no further than composing witty critiques of your performance?"

The lesser demons looked visibly uncertain, and Yellow Eyes had a peculiarly arrested expression, as though this thought had, indeed, never occurred to it.

"I'm going to win," declared Sam flatly, "right here, right now. I'm not strong enough to send you back to hell, but I don't need to be, because I'm not going to do that – they are…All of them, because whilst you might be strong enough to defeat one of your fellow hell-bitches, you can't beat the lot of them."

Dean's face was suddenly not as sneering and quite a lot paler. But the Demon snarled, "Hoping Evil will defeat Evil? And you're the bright one of the family – I don't think so, boy!"

"I'm not hoping," Sam contradicted him, "I know. I know that they are going to save Dean, and our Dad, and stop you because they haven't got any choice. If your little megalomaniac plan succeeds, you won't just have an edge, you'll reach a whole new level of evil whammy, and they can't allow you to achieve that kind of advantage. In fact, the whole reason I've been keeping you occupied and distracted is because starting about…oh twenty seconds ago," Sam checked his watch, "your motley crew of black-eyed underlings started being forcibly evicted from their meat-suit motels by bigger, badder demons - Your minions have been kicked back to hell and the new residents aren't your servants any more."

And all hell, quite literally, broke loose.

The Yellow-Eyed Demon's eyes widened and it spun Dean on his heel to look behind him, where pair after pair of uniformly-black eyes had been replaced by equally inhuman colours to that of the Yellow-Eyed Demon's bile-yellow streaks – red, orange and colours unnameable swirled in place of human blue, brown or green.

SAVE DEAN!! GET THAT THING OUT OF MY BROTHER!! Sam mentally roared the commands at that very instant, towards those former minions, now all powerful individual demon lords, with all the psychic power he could throw. One of John Winchester's oft-repeated lessons to his sons had been that, in any crisis situation, people instinctively tended to automatically obey the first person who started barking orders in an authoritative voice, regardless of whether they were an "'Admiral or an ensign'". If you did that, and applied "forward momentum", by keeping the commands coming fast enough and confidently enough not to give people time to think, you could win your way through situations and even beat a vastly superior enemy by sheer chutzpah and audacity where under any other circumstances, you wouldn't stand a chance. John had summed it up in Latin, as usual: Carpe Initium Quod Tutela - Seize the initiative and charge!

So Sam did. Barely had he psychically bellowed that order than he turned his attention to the 'good' psychic youths and mentally send another frantic order for them to 'run for it'. Sam had no time to see if they obeyed, though to his relief he saw in his peripheral vision that more than one had crouched down safely about a thousand yards away, behind the sheltering wall of the outer warehouses that dotted this still-under-construction skyscraper/mall complex, and were peering with terrified eyes back at him.

Terror he could understand – he dared not think what was happening around him – he was in the centre of the maelstrom and if he actually focussed on what his eyes were seeing he would collapse in a gibbering, whimpering heap. Not thinking about one puny human boy daring to bark commands at a dozen or more immeasurably powerful hell-fiends Sam continued to mentally yell in the hope that they were all too busy to actually think about it – It feeds on psychic energy! he "yelled", so burn out these kids' psychic power!

If he'd been asked, Sam could not himself have said whether he hoped the demons would include him in their deep-frying, but he felt nothing, even though the bodies of the corrupted psychics suddenly started to flow blood from their noses, ears and mouths. Any of the psychics that got back in the driving seat of their physical bodies were going to be badly injured if not permanently insensible, assuming any of them survived – already several shapes lay sprawled on the ground with that utterly unmistakeable stillness.

Sam continued to mentally yell repeated orders to release his Dad, and get the Yellow-Eyed Demon out of Dean, in the hope that the demons would obey without thinking about what they were doing. Sam was aware of wetness on his lips, and tasted a harsh tang and realised as he felt strangely light-headed that his nose was bleeding copiously. He raised his hands but his ears and his mouth were dry. He could feel an immensely pressure winching tighter and tighter in his brain, and inside his skull seemed to be seared constantly as power – unutterably cold and vilely slimy and absolutely evil – surged like a dam-burst flood through the conduit of his psychic abilities, as all manner of pyrotechnics and raw, elemental energy struck all around him in rainbow-coloured lightning bolts as thick as a man's waist.

Under attack from all sides, the Yellow-Eyed Demon twisted Dean's body in contortions, making an inhuman roaring noise that threatened to burst human eardrums. Abruptly one of the most beautiful of the evil psychic women bounced off the smoking corpse of another and launched herself into "Dean's" embrace, clamping her mouth to his in a lip-lock that made it look as if she were attempting to suck the air out of his lungs. In some tiny, distant section of Sam's brain, he noted her streaky red eyes and remembered Dean's reluctant description of the Crossroads Demoness, she of the invisible pet Hellhounds, who sealed deals with quote Dean, "'serious demon-tongue tonsil-hockey'". Possessed or not, Dean Winchester knew how to react when a gorgeous female form got up-close and very personal. Using all his willpower, the real Dean surged to the fore, flinging his whole being into helping the she-demon haul the Yellow-Eyed fiend from the bolt-hole of his body.

With a hideous howl of fury, a boiling black cloud poured out of Dean's mouth and hurled into the air, diving back down only for other clouds to come seething from the bodies of the evil psychics (who collapsed like marionettes with the strings sliced through) and surge around it in darting attacks. There were lights dancing in front of Sam's eyes as Dean slumped to his knees in the middle of what really was hell on earth, and their eyes – one pair blue, the other pair once more green – locked on to each other as Dean and Sam fell together into darkness.

Epilogue

There were reasons why Sam tried to avoid getting drunk. The principal one being it wasn't that he couldn't hold liquor, it was that Dean had always been one of those lucky bastards who could bound out of bed after a night of intimacy with Jim, Jack and Johnny sporting only a slight headache and minimal pain, whereas Sam really suffered for his overindulgence.

If his current level of pain was any measure, he had just celebrated his graduation and engagement to Jessica in one stupendous bender…

But college was three years ago, and Jess had been dead as long.

Certain pertinent memories began to replay in front of his mind's eye, and Sam snapped open his eyes and managed to sit up. His lips felt gummed together because they were gummed together. Raising his fingertips Sam touched his mouth and realised his lower face was encrusted with dried blood from his nosebleed. It was a miracle he'd collapsed unconscious in such a way that he hadn't choked to death on his own blood or suffocated from his tongue blocking his windpipe, speaking of which –

Dean. Sam twisted round to see Dean's face-down form groan and lever itself up slightly. Gold-green eyes met Sam's and revealed that Dean felt as bad as Sam did – and looked it. Together, both brothers lurched/crawled forward and clasped each other's arms before using each other as a support to lever themselves into mostly vertical position, looking around them with wide eyes.

They were lying in the middle of a wide but shallow crater, with smoking deposits of sulphur all over the place. The surrounding construction had dozens of girders twisted as if some invisible giant had attempted to use them for origami, with wide black holes blasted in concrete and occasional miniature arcs of sparks coming from the ground or a charred corpse.

There came odd squeaking sounds and a couple of the surviving evil psychics had staggered to their feet, their faces stamped perpetually with the horror they'd endured, staring at Sam with terror and loathing. One of them clamped his hands to his head and, shockingly, burst into tears before stumbling away.

Dean and Sam let them go, let them all stumble and stagger away. There was no way any of this could be rationally explained and no cover story would be good enough. In a very short while, the local construction workers would arrive and find the carnage, and no doubt conspiracy theories and outlandish scenarios would be generated for years.

"We need to get out of here as well," Dean rasped in a voice that was like that of an 80-year-old 60-a-day cigarette smoker, clearly attempting to find one final puddle of inner fortitude that would carry him through the gargantuan task of making it back to the Impala under his own steam.

Sam looked at the most wonderful sight in the world – Dean who was really Dean again, back in possession and control of his body – and realised that Dean was a wreck. His face wasn't just pale but completely bloodless as if his veins simply did not have the energy to pump blood up that high, causing his freckles to stand proud like miniaturised mountains across his nose and cheeks in stark relief. The green eyes were dull as stagnant pond algae instead of their usual brightness like a storm-lashed-sea and even his hair was wilting as if the slathered on gel was too weary to hold shape.

Sam reached out and closed his fingers around that soft, worn leather of Dean's favourite jacket and –

Dean stubbed his toe on the front driver's side wheel of the Impala, but he didn't notice as he stared with saucer-like eyes at Sam, who had just teleported them a good quarter of a mile without so much as batting an eyelash.

Sam shrugged helplessly even though Dean had neither questioned nor accused. "I don't think the demons could brain-fry me with the others because just like they needed to hijack the evil psychics' physical bodies to be able to attack the Yellow-Eyed Demon, they needed a physical psychic conduit to send their attack through. It feels…" he groped for an appropriate analogy, "it feels like before my brain was some winding back road in the middle of nowhere and the demons turned it into an Interstate. I don't feel evil!" he defended himself against the protest Dean still did not utter.

Now he was able to use the metallic hulk of the Impala to support his body against, Dean was able to exert his personality more. He rolled his eyes, "Of course you're not evil. Dude, how many times have I told you that your Shining was just another part of your physical body like that stupid shaggy hair and those baby-blues? The YED wanted to use it for evil but it in itself isn't either good or evil, just like an Interstate in itself is a neutral thing and can't be blamed for what drives on it."

Part of Sam that had still been wound tight collapsed in a limp puddle of relief at the exasperated, sarcastic tone that, to a Winchester, was the equivalent of a comforting cuddle. Dean still loved him, Dean didn't think Sammy was bad, and thus all was right with the world.

"What I want to say is don't ever try anything as half-assed as that again," Dean was still going on, "do you realise how lucky we were that the demons fell for your grandstanding?"

Sam shrugged again. "It was all I could come up with when the YED stole your body – which is something we should have known it would do to try and turn me, I guess. I didn't really expect to survive, let alone win; I just hoped my Generalissimo impression would get the other demon lords going long enough for us to get away, not for them to send the YED back to Hell. It was Dad's plan anyway – like he used to say, remember? Carpe Initium Quod Tutela – seize the initiative and charge."

Dean rolled his eyes, "Only you could pick that sort of moment to actually start listening to what Dad said…but I'm glad you did."

"Me too, Sam."

It was a good job both of them were exhausted else Sam and Dean would have given themselves whiplash as they spun round. John Winchester moved out of the shadows, his face haggard, his beard bushy, his clothing thick with suspiciously yellow dust, but his dark eyes were bright and they glistened with moisture as he looked at his cherished sons.

They continued to imitate stunned goldfish and he sighed. "Yes, I'm real. No, I'm not possessed – you can bathe me in Holy Water if you like. Come on Sam, why are you so surprised, you got me loose from Hell."

"But – you – I –" Sam couldn't string a coherent thought together. "We cremated you."

"Of course you did, if I had my way everyone in the world would be cremated," John replied, "it would save so much trouble. But matter cannot be destroyed, only changed from one form to another. Reconstituting my physical body once I got free wasn't as much of a problem as getting free and out of hell, which was all thanks to you."

"Dad…" Dean's face crumpled, up until now he had been silent and the sudden reappearance of John Winchester was too much for his battered spirit to take.

Without seeming to move, John was suddenly tugging his eldest son into a tight embrace. "Aw, Deano, I'm so sorry I made you feel that you cost me my life, but I made that deal with the YED willingly – it was all part of the plan."

"I knew it!" cried Sam triumphantly. "I knew that whole thing at the hospital was too easy for the YED to pull off against you."

John kept one arm round Dean who seemed to be intent on burrowing into John's torso and tentatively lifted the other. Understanding the gesture was a plea for forgiveness John could never utter, Sam stepped forward and hugged both his Dad and his brother.

John took a deep breath and squeezed them both to him tightly. "It was that old saying, anything too good to be true…from the minute we got the Colt from those vampires that kept running around my head - special gun that would kill any demon, and some old cantankerous hunter just kept it in a display cabinet for decades?"

"Too easy." Dean's voice was muffled but understandable to his father and brother.

John nodded in agreement, "Right. The one problem I always had with the demon was 'know thine enemy'. I was determined to kill it, not just banish it, and though it might take it a long time to get back out, the…YED…always had Hell as a bolt-hole of last resort. If I wanted to kill it, I would have to understand how it operated on its home turf and come up with a way to kill it there, instead of on this side, which was mine."

"And in order to do that, you had to end up in Hell, but without the YED realising what you were up to," Sam realised finally.

"More or less." John sucked in air deeply. "I'm not going to sugar-coat it – Hell was – well. Was I in agony? Yes. Did the YED torture and torment me? Yes. Was it worth it? Yes. Someone once said that Heaven or Hell is only in the mind of the individual, and it's true that a lot of people live in personal hells of their own making – the Bible I think says something along the lines of, 'while their conscience is bearing witness with them and, between their own thoughts, they are being accused or even excused.' It took everything I had, but I managed to think rationally and shut out what my senses were telling me. When I'd done it once, each time it became a little bit easier to move about with my mind and ignore my body. I couldn't stop the sensations of pain altogether, but it got a lot easier to move about and eavesdrop and see what was really going on."

Sam raised his head and looked at his Dad hopefully, "You mean when the YED got sent back to hell, it was killed?"

John's lips twisted ruefully. "No, unfortunately; but, it's fellow demons have trapped it there for well over ten centuries worth of time, and now I know how the place works, I intend to concentrate on finding a way –"

"To kill it there from here," Dean put in, colour finally back in his face as he grinned at their father wolfishly, "because demons can get from hell to here and back again, which means there is a way to send the YED a little Winchester family gift from this side to that side - we just have to find it."

John Winchester grinned, and so did Sam, and if any observer had passed by, they would have seen three dishevelled, battered-looking men in a group hug laughing like loons.

© 2007, C D Stewart

Biblical quotations taken from Numbers 14:18 and Romans 2:15