Chapter 24 – falling down
"Dean?" Sam whispers out loud, and that's when I know he hears it too.
…sorry for what I did…
Sam and I turn around at the same time.
…sorry for what I put you guys through…
Dean's wall comes crumbling down. The link inside our heads opens up so loud and so fast it hurts, yellow light bright and fierce, a sharp ice pick right between our eyes, but I don't feel the pain, I don't think any of us do, all I can hear is Dean yelling, and he's madscaredsad, and Dad's yelling at him, out loud and with his thoughts "Dean? You're not leaving us, you hear me, you're not dying—"
My kid falls into the darkness, and those shadow bastards (/let/go/let/us/go/let/us/go/) bite and snap at him. All that does is make him growl ('m takin' you sonsofbitches with me).
First time I realize that he's not alone in there. Couldn't tell before 'cause of the damn wall. A part of the Endless got in there somehow (sorryI'msorry Dean's power yips as it cowers inside him) and the ones outside with us crowd up against my shield, pushing and probing, mouths pressed wide as they try to push their way in. They lap at the solid air with pointed tongues, nip and gnaw, trying to find a weak spot, and I ignore their sorry asses. All I can see is Dean's face, skin so pale his freckles look like specks of beige paint scattered over white.
I can't tell (Niño don't go listen to me don't go you're not leaving us Dean you're not you can't do this I'm not gonna let you do this stay here that's an order son y'hear me) where any of us begin or end.
Sam reaches out with his teke, and he tries to grab him. We all do, Dad with his voice and his touch, me with my power. All I can do is dig in all four paws into that gritty dead black earth, lean back and pull.
Nothing we do or say does any good.
We can't hold him, and it doesn't matter, none of this does, because Dean shudders, his head rocks back and his eyes roll white. He's leaving, pulling the Endless down with him. There's the fading echo of his heartbeat as Dean lets out his last breath in a low, slow, almost lazy exhale.
I knew he was going to do something stupid like this! I knew it!
All right, Dad says. He sounds tired. Resigned, and I know what he's gonna say, I know what he's gonna do, even before he says it.
You want to go? We're going with you.
That's right. Sam and I nod.
We hear a sound, a little stutter of surprise.
That's right. We're coming with you.
Sorry. We can't do that.
…let me go…
Not an option, kiddo.
…please…don't do this…
You go, we all go. Together. That's a fact.
I hear the rest of the Endless chitter as they gnaw and scratch at the shield behind me.
Dean's head jerks back. His eyes fly open. They're not moss green, but a blaze of dark and light gold.
"That's it. Come back home, son," Dad whispers.
He takes one long, slow breath that makes the air around him vibrate. At the same time his back arches and his arms and legs stiffen. His right arm jerks up, and his fingers tighten on John's hand, but Dad never lets go. His chest hitches, once, twice, but he's breathing.
He's back. Our boy is back.
Dean slumps forward into John's arms, his cheek against Dad's shoulder. His eyes are open, but he looks dazed. Held in John's arms like that Dean looks really young, despite the stubble and the leather.
"Welcome back, princess."
Sam walks over and kneels down beside them. He doesn't hesitate; he puts both arms around his brother and his father.
Hey, it's a group hug, all right? It was manly. We don't do it all the damn time.
Dad's hand is broken. John doesn't flinch, and he doesn't pull away. He circles Dean's shoulders with his good arm. I reach out and gently loosen Dean's grip on him. I deaden the pain in Dad's hand and knit the bones back together.
I'm healing my family way too much, when I should be kicking somebody's ass.
A growl rumbles up my throat, and the sky overhead answers. I turn around and grin at the Endless, and the whole lot of them freeze. The surprised looks on all their faces would be comical if they weren't so damn ugly.
Bastards. I'm going to kill them all.
My hackles raise up, high and stiff. I push my way through the shield, and with each step I take I grow larger, hundreds, then thousands of feet tall in a heart beat. I howl the sky down, my mouth fills with thunder and lightning. I catch those ruby red soul lights between my teeth, and I rip and bite and tear.
They blow apart into a million pieces, bits of black stone that turns cold and grey as it falls on the dead earth like rain. I spit the fragments out and snag the cloud things in my mouth, and the damned things lighten and die, threads of lifeless grey smoke.
I'm not done yet.
I grow even larger, until my nose and ears just brush the boundary between the earth and the black beyond the sky. I rise up on my hind legs and snap at the line.
The Old Ones, what remains of the Endless, jerk back. They sent the young and the stupid ones in first.
Just a little more, and I could tear them up too.
They know damn well I can.
I show them my teeth, and then they slide away among the stars, blacker than black, in the opposite direction.
I turn away from them, towards my family.
The hug's over, but I don't mind that I missed it. Sam and Dad kneel on either side of Dean. He's sitting up now, with his back against the wall. I don't even glance at her remains, but I 'port Gaia's charred carcass deep into the ground. Nobody needs to see that anymore. Not that I mind seeing her like that, but she reminds
"I heard you," the kid says hoarsely.
John nods. "Figured something was going on inside you. Your skin got cold." He reaches out and brushes at Dean's forehead. Kid looks flushed, faded spots of color on both cheeks. "Looks like you're running a fever now."
"I-I don't -" Dean gasps. He puts his hand on his chest; his fingers shake.
Dean's eyes flash, and his power, still in the shape of an overgrown pup, clambers out of his chest. The pup runs past John and Sam without even a glance, and sidles up to me grinning, tail down and wagging, bouncing all around me, jumping up to lick at my chin.
Sorry. I'm sorry. You're not mad at me, are ya? I'm sorry-
I bare my teeth at him in a full-on gape, mouth wide open. That startles the hell out of him so much he closes his eyes, lays his ears back and bellyflops on the ground. I don't move away. I stand stiff-legged over him and I gape even wider. The pup cowers on its belly with its head tilted to one side. He doesn't open his eyes. He doesn't dare.
Thought I was that easy, huh? After all this? He thought wrong.
Get back in there, I tell him. Go on. I'll deal with you later. The pup scrambles to his feet, turns and runs at Dean. Dean's eyes spark yellow again as the pup dives back in, then fade back down to this tired looking grayish green color. Dean grimaces and rubs wearily at his chest. "Dude, gonna haveta stop doin' that, okay? Make up your damn mind. In or out."
"Kind of hard on the little fella, weren't you?" Sam says mildly.
"Not hard enough." I sit down at Dean's feet. "He got carried away. He'll learn."
My kid won't look us in the eyes. Never realized it before, but he doesn't wear shame well. He's ashamed of what he is, what he did, and I know he thinks he doesn't deserve being here, even though none of this would have happened if Raven and Gaia hadn't stuck their noses in our business.
"Tried to fix it," Dean says dully. He stretches out his right arm, his hand palm down, towards the ground.
Dean shakes his head in disgust. "Couldn't even do that right." He finally raises his eyes and looks at each one of us in turn, and the look he gives us is raw, open. "You should've let me go. This is my weight. I need to pay for this, and I can't."
"Not an option," Dad says quietly. "Not now, not ever."
"After what I tried to do to you?"
"Dude," John huffs. "That wasn't the first time I got a headache because of you."
Sam shrugs. "And you've always been a pain in the ass anyway."
I expect the kid to say something smartass, or at least roll his eyes. He doesn't. That wounded look of his doesn't waver as he looks at the dead earth all around us. "I killed Bobby. I killed Ellen…"
John nods. "I know."
"If I had to choose between you and the world…dude, that's no choice at all," Sam says gravely. "I chose you."
"You haven't been paying attention, have you? I can't fix this."
"Yeah, you can." I raise my left hindleg and idly scratch at this itchy spot on my neck. "You can hit the reset button and bring alla this back."
Just like that, the whole mood changes. All three heads snap in my direction.
"What?" Dad rumbles. "What did you say?"
"Umm…the reset button?" I don't like the way they're looking at me.
I can see the light bulb go off over Sam's head. "Wait a minute. Coyote does figure in Creation myths."
That makes me grin and stick my chest out. "Yep."
Sam's on a roll. He actually grins back at me. "He created Mankind by kicking around a ball of shit."
"Well, I don't like to brag," I say modestly. "Oh wait a minute. Yeah, I do."
All three of them stare at me like I've done something wrong.
"Hey, I destroyed the world once. Wasn't even trying to. Don't know why everyone got so upset. I put it back."
"And you were gonna tell us this when?" Dean grates out.
I don't know why they're looking at me like that, but it's making me nervous. I gnaw at the fur on my right shoulder. That's a little better.
"So you mean you can fix this," Dean says slowly.
"Me? Nope. You broke it, you fix it."
"I just said I tried and nothing happened."
"You gotta try harder," I mutter. I lay my ears back. Damn. It hits me then. The kid doesn't remember what we did when we were One. That's one of the things about him I just don't get, like him creating those damn walls, and 'throwing his pelt" with that duster of his.
Dean growls at me. The next thing I know he's up on his feet and he slams into me hard enough to knock me over on my back. He's on top of me and he's got me by the throat.
"Sonofabitch!" The kid yells. "I asked you to stop me. I begged you to! I killed everybody, and you didn't stop me! You were supposed to stop me!"
"Stop you?" I grin up at him. Big mistake. "Nah. You had to get that out of your system."
Bigger mistake. Dean growls again and slams my head back down on the ground hard, and that's when I realize I should have kept my big damn mouth shut.
TBC this week.