A/N: Yes, I'm back. For good this time.
You may recognize some of the lines from various SPN episodes, notably S1 through S3. Dean's line "I got my car…I got a case" is paraphrased from "Bloodlust." John's referring to "Dead Man's Blood" ('we're stronger as a family") when he chides Dean about his bullshit. The lines"Roads? Where we're going we don't need roads" and "Back to the future" are from the movie "Back to the Future" starring Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd.
Chapter 27 – back to the future
I KNEW it!" Sam yells out. "I knew you were gonna do something terminally stupid!"
My not-so-little brother is standing there holding my duster in his oversized hands and man, he looks pissed. I can't help it, I flash back to when he was seven. He was bitchfacing about something, I can't remember exactly what, but I do remember him standing there in this crummy apartment we were holed up in, holding his jacket in his hands the same way he's holding my duster, yelling at me that he was gonna run away and that I better not try to stop him.
Dad's just standing there. When I look at him I think of that saying, "Still waters run deep". People don't usually think of my dad in that way, but he is. Deep, I mean. He's afraid he's gonna lose me. He doesn't look worried. He just hides it well.
Coyote blinks. It looks kinda funny when he does that because his body's laying stiff-legged on the ground on its side. He fell over when things got lively and his eyes stayed open.
The Old Man's back.
He lifts his head, looks around and then he looks at me.
His ears droop. "Oh, hell."
"Welcome back, fuzzy."
Coyote gets to his feet, looks at the shadows around us, mutters something ("Who the hell turned out the damn lights?") and then he looks up. And up. And up.
The terrain around us was flat as a pancake before. Not anymore. We're in the middle of a ring of the weirdest looking mountains I've ever seen. Rough dark grey rock, and these sonsofbitches are huge. They go up to the sky and then curve back down, towards us. The damn things have what looks like hundreds of faces, mouths stretched open wide with bugged out eyes and the creepy thing is all eyes are on us. The part that's reaching down has hands.
Hands with claws. It's the kind of special effects you'd see in one of those Lord of the Rings movies. Not that I ever saw one, y'understand. Some of those elf chicks look hot, but Terminator and Die Hard are more my style.
Coyote's ears go up and his eyes get wide. "Wha- where the hell did this come from?"
That's one of the few times I've ever heard him sound really spooked like that.
"Huh." The Old Man eyes the things some more and actually bares his teeth at 'em as if he's not sure whether they're gonna start moving again.
They're not. Gaia's carcass is still on the ground, but she looks different now. She's covered in thick green grass. That stuff exploded out of her body when I put my hand on her forehead and fired her up.
As soon as I did that the ground shook all around us. And those mountain fugs showed up.
She's quiet now. I took her juice away when I broke contact. I'm guessing her spirit's still in the Underworld, waiting for my next move.
So I might as well make it. Nobody on this end is happy. They won't be, not even after I lie to them.
Sam glares at me like he really wants to wring my neck. "You're talking about giving up a part of your lifeforce to power this thing!"
Dad shakes his head. "I dunno about this."
"Power what thing?" Coyote looks puzzled.
They're all looking at me now, and I want to tell them that everything's gonna be all right, but hell, I don't know that for sure. Usually I never have any problem speaking my peace. And I usually don't give a damn who likes it or doesn't. But this is my family, the people I care about most in the world.
I take a deep breath. "If we stay here, and go forward, Gaia is gonna try to kill us again. We gotta go back. Back to the future." I can't help it. I grin a little. I've always wanted to say that. Doc Brown, eat your heart out.
Everybody stares at me like I've lost my freakin' mind. Maybe I have. No sense in shutting the hell up now.
"Going backwards is gonna take more control than just jump-starting her. I'm going to have to tap into her, link her lifeforce to mine. That means total control over any psycho trick she might pull on us. We go backwards, maybe she won't remember. I can keep her confused. And we can get to Thomas before Raven did.""
Dad says quietly, "And what are the rest of us gonna do while you're doing this?"
I don't even blink. "We'll be linked together. I need you guys to have my back on this."
That's a damn lie. What I don't say is: "I'm going to stash you guys away on a separate plane of reality, even you, fuzzy. You won't even realize I'm being tricky until it's too late. If things go south, and knowing Winchester luck, they probably will, I'm going to protect you any way I can. And if that means dropping the link and using my last breath to push you away to a safe place, I'll do it. If I have to die to keep you guys safe, then that's exactly what I'm gonna do."
I don't say any of that. I don't even think it. We're all still linked, remember?
Complete silence. I swear I hear crickets chirping and tumbleweeds rolling along. Tough crowd.
"Um...roads? Where we're going we don't need roads?" Yeah, it's lame, and it's exactly the wrong thing to say.
Next thing I know everything goes white and I'm on my back looking up. At first I don't get what happened. Then I sit up. My chin hurts when I touch it. I see my duster on the ground, and it finally dawns on me.
He hit me.
Sam hit me.
Dad's got him from behind pulling him backwards. Sam's glaring at me with his chin stuck out, just like he used to do when he and Dad were at each other's throats. I always figured he was daring Dad to hit him.
Sam looks ready for Round 2 now.
Not with Dad. With me. No
Now he wants to kick my ass.
"The nerve of you," Sam snarls at me, and it's disgust and wonder all mixed together. "You selfish bastard. You don't have to do this by yourself."
"Yeah. Yeah, I do, Sam."
That pisses him off even more. He jerks forward and Dad jerks him back.
Coyote's whole body droops, ears, head, tail, everything. "Look, kid, you don't have to do this, okay?"
"No, you were right, Old Man. If I broke it, I need to learn how to fix it."
"No. No you don't."
"This is my weight."
Coyote's eyes go to slits and his ears flatten as he shakes his head from side to side, as if that's gonna make all of this go away. "Not that damn angst again."
Dad laughs. The sound of his voice sends a chill down my spine, but not for any good reason. He lets go of Sam, then steps back shaking his head. "You're full of shit, son. Just like I was back then."
It's my turn to stop and stare at Dad.
Sam turns and looks at him. His mouth drops open a little. Even the Old Man looks stunned.
Dad's got our full attention now.
"We're stronger as a family," Dad says quietly. "You told me that once, remember? Years ago, when we went after those vamps who had the special Colt. You were right, and I was wrong. I used you boys as an excuse. Said I couldn't make my usual moves without worrying about you. That was bullshit then. And now you're doing the same thing I did."
"You're not doing this alone." Dad says. "You're not. We stay linked. All of us.You do what you have to, but we stay together. No matter what happens. And if you have any notion of ditching us, you'd better think again." He stares me right in the eyes, they all do, and I know that I'm busted.
Whatever happens, happens to all of us, or none of us.
My family wouldn't have it any other way.
I nod. "Yes sir."
Sam comes over. On the way he leans down and scoops my duster up. Then he walks over to me as he shakes it out. He gives me this hard stare that's not quite a bitchface, and then he sticks out his hand. "Are we doing this together, oh Great and Powerful Macho One?"
"Guess you're stuck with me." I grab hold and Sam pulls me up.
"Damn right." He hands me my duster and I slip it back on.
As I turn towards Gaia Dad and the Old Man fall in on my right. Sam's on my left. I kneel beside her and push my right sleeve up. I wiggle my fingers like some punk kid who's about to try some lame magic trick. I feel like that punk kid too.
Hell, I'm making this up as I go along, remember?
"All right, then. Let's get this party started."
I put my left hand down, palm against Gaia's forehead. My skin tingles as my power revs up inside me. Zero to infinity in less than a heartbeat.
the rush fills my head my skin
feels good, better damn great
better than anything I've ever felt in life…
- got you now, you dumb bastard, I got you now-
Gaia's spirit comes roaring back.
She fills her body. She twitches all over. Her eyes open and fill with white light as she jerks her head towards me. The skank looks full-on crazy.
...got you, boy, I got you...
She never stops grinning, not even when I put my right hand on her belly.
The mountains all around us shake. Eyes blink, mouths flap open. Hands and claws twitch...
...dead now, you're all dead...
The shield around us flares up bright yellow as the mountain fuglies tear into it. Fingernails on a blackboard. Gaia never stops grinning at me.
I ignore her freaky ass. I got work to do.
My power comes out of me so hard and fast I jerk forward a little, but then I steady myself. I see myself as Sam and Dad sees me, full of light, eyes blazing. The air around me's on fire, takes on the shape of a huge coyote, head thrown back, mouth gaped open. Lightning flashes in its mouth, thunder rolls through the dead air of the earth around us.
Just like last time. I sang the death of the world then, burned it right down to bare rock. This song's different.
At least, I hope it is.
Cali New Mexico Arizona never been to the Grand Canyon
but I have been to the Grand Canyon
places I've never been places I've never seen
but I have I have
doesn't matter nothing does
….miles beneath the dead earth
I'm the cold wind the cold dead sky cross country Missouri all the way to the Big Apple and beyond
they're all dead
all dead because of me
can't do this
I trust you dude do it
Bring it on home, niňo
they're not scared'a me
they..they love m-
can't believe it
we're havin' a damn chick flick moment right in the middle of this clusterfuck
(Sam/Dad/Coyote) Hell no we're not
couldn't do this without them what the hell was I thinking
Gaia may be one planet-sized psycho bitch but
we're Winchesters, damn it
I see myself sitting behind the wheel of my baby
Dad's riding shotgun
Coyote and Sammy on the back bench
Old Man's got his head stuck out the open window grinning like a fool with his tongue hanging out
I got my family
got my car
got a case
Open roads ahead only where we're goin' we don't need roads
left hand on the wheel reach for the gearshift with my right
my girl's got three speeds
right now I need only one
I throw reality into reverse
dead earth rumbles underneath our feet grey clouds run backward Gaia jerks upward I push her back down hard
mountain fugs around us crumble faces hands fall apart disappear gone
Gaia goes from thick green grass and black soil to burned black skin again
another turn backwards
she jerks and jitters underneath my hands but I pour my power my life into her
her heart my heart
running hot and steady
together in sync
don't can't won't stop
Coyote tearing into the Endless again ruby red lights screaming and dying
calm before the storm
ghost images of Sam Dad and Coyote
me sitting zoned out with my back against the wall
Gaia's stuck up there just like…
…just like Mom-
Sam puts his hand on my left shoulder Dad does the same on my right pretend I don't notice just like I don't notice Coyote pressing against the side of my right leg
damn chick flick moments
Wha - what did I do what have I done-
I scream until my lungs should've burst but they don't
Another hard part's coming up next
Gaia's in two places now on the ground underneath my hands and up on the wall
she's screaming I'm laughing
Best seat in the house, sweetheart...
I see myself, dark
I fill the sky my power eats the earth
Bobby, Ellen, Jo, Cassie all of them everyone
candles that scream and burn
I'm doing this all for you
for my family
and I'm happy about it
For them. Always for them
Everything burns then fire's out
I stumble a little when I stand up
Shoulder to shoulder with Sam and Dad
Coyote holds me up steady
grateful for that
still got her haven't lost her
my eyes are blazing I can feel the heat on my skin
Shadows around us
Walls flicker into place
Sky goes from fire orange to bright blue again
Melted broken concrete
then green grass and parking lots
Apple pie normal
The town's back. Squid Boy's back on top of the mall
SWAT guys die again
so does Gordon Walker
Dad, Coyote and Sam ditch me
and a part of me feels
Everyone in the whole freaking damn mall's staring at us
We disappear, and so does Squiddy
Slow down...slower...tap the brakes slow and easy
The world goes spinning along, backwards, free and easy. Bobby, Ellen, everybody's back
Raven steps through a tear in reality. I see Thomas lying on the bed Raven dumped him on. Their mouths move backwardspeak but we can understand them just fine.
"He'll come..they all will. Kill four birds with one stone." Gaia nods at Thomas.
Like hell, bitch.
The light in the room darkens and changes.
I'm back behind the wheel again, back in my girl, just me and my family. Baby's idling. Just waiting for what's gonna happen next.
They trust me.
They trust me enough to let me do this my way.
I can't remember how the Old Man did it before, when he brought everything back. We were One then and I should remember, and the thing is, not remembering doesn't bother me. That old hound probably figured I had to find my own way, and he's right about that.
The Old Man probably stood there furry, on two legs, with his right arm thrown out like Carrie. Bet it didn't take him this long, either.
I've always been hands on, right? Putting everything back like this feels right to me.
I shift into neutral. It's not a full stop. Full stop would be bad. A body in motion stays in motion, remember? I paid attention when I was in school. I pull back my power and the momentum's still there. Creation is just coasting along. Everything slows: people, clouds in the sky, I mean every damn thing there is. A slow half turn, that's all I want.
I shift gears again. Drive. Give the gas pedal a light tap.
Forward, smooth and easy. Clouds slide through the sky overhead. I can hear 'em, This old world turns like nothing ever happened.
I'm done with Gaia. When I let go of her she blinks, looks around like she just woke up from a bad dream.
I follow Thomas.
I smell witch rot disease and darkness.
It's a cave somewhere. Figures. These sonsofbitches never pick a bright sunny place to hole up in.
Thomas is on the floor now. I see four witches dancing around him. The smell of human skins they wear makes my head ache, and I know they're going to hurt him some more. They already have. He's missing bones in his left arm, back and right leg. Don't know why I didn't notice that before. They're taking him apart, piece by piece.
Using his bones to make bad medicine.
Because of me.
Raven's incoming in fifteen. I'm cutting this close, but I don't give a damn. Now I'm in a mood to do onto others beforethey do it to us. The Old Man and I don't need weapons, but I want Dad and Sam to have them. I think up rifles with special loads of silver and herbs out of thin air and fill their hands with 'em. Ordinary loads work just fine, but I want to make sure with these sonsofbitches.
"Okay. Let's go."
We step out into the darkness and the shocked looks we get are pretty damn priceless.
I throw up a shield around Thomas just as one of them takes a swipe at him with this long curved bone knife. Coyote snarls and in less time than it takes to tell it he's on top of the bastard with the blade, slamming him into the ground, ripping and tearing into him.
Two of the skinwalkers turn towards us, howling. They raise their knives and rush us.
Dad doesn't hesitate, and neither does Sam. Turns out those special loads work just fine.
The third one drops his knife and runs, but he doesn't get far. I reach out with a thought, grab his entire body and slam him into the far wall. His life flares out, gone, just like that. It's too quick and clean for what he's done, but I've got bigger fish to fry just then. I turn just as Raven slides out of a pathway behind us. Dumb bastard never had a chance. He blinks, and we're standing nose to nose, with my hand around his throat.
I smirk at him. "Heya, bird boy. How they hangin' these days?"
The shocked look on Raven's ugly mug is pretty damned sweet. His eyes bulge and his beak flaps open. I can tell he's thinking about slashing me with those damn wing feathers of his, but that's all he does. Think about it, that is. I see what he's thinking.
My hand's wrist deep inside his chest, my fingers twined around his still beating heart.
"There's more than one way to pluck a pigeon," I smirk at him. "But I guess you already know that, huh?"
My eyes flare dark gold and a thin sheet of flame flows down my arm into his body. Raven blows apart in a cloud of flaming black feathers, muck, and yellow bone.
The moment passes and we're back in that damn cave again.
Damn. Raven remembers what I did to him before. The sonofabitch remembers. He doesn't know when it happened, all he knows is that it did. I ganked him, I killed him, and now I'm back in his face again.
I wasn't expecting that. I figured going back would mind-wipe everybody. But that probably works only on humans, not Other. And maybe...if he's not the only one who does remember...maybe I can use this to my advantage.
Raven's throat stutters underneath my fingers as I tighten my grip. Behind me I know Dad and Sam have Thomas sitting up. They're checking him out. He's okay. The Old Man's already healed his body. I dunno if Coyote has any mojo for his mind, though. I kinda doubt it.
Bird boy flinches again when I smile at him. "Well, Feathers, what d'ya say we take a little trip back to the mall?"
When I 'port in I aim for the porch of that building Thomas was held in. We come in flashy and loud as all get out. I make sure that everyone knows we're there. They can't miss that bright flash of light, brighter than the sun. I call down lightning; thunder rolls overhead. When the light fades all eyes (and whatever else they use to see with) are on me and my family. Coyote's the size of a small pony now. His hackles are raised and he's snarling at the crowd. Dad and Sam stand there with their rifles. Thomas is wearing a tan duster, blue jeans, a white shirt and workboots. All the scars on his face and body are gone. He looks healthy. He also looks pissed. He's holding that rifle I gave him, and Gaia and Raven are really worried that he's thinking about unloading on their sorry asses.
Wouldn't blame him if he did.
Don't know if I'd stop him, either.
You could've heard a pin drop in Keel, New Mexico. We definitely got everyone's attention, all right.
We're shielded, just in case someone grows a pair and decides to get cute, but I can tell right away the chances of that are pretty slim.
They remember what I did.
They all do. Every frigging critter in the place. From the old gods to everything in between, feathered serpents, harpies, the Monkey King and the chick with the moon for a head, even Antler boy (Cernunnos, I think the Old Man called him) looks at me all wide-eyed. He wants to run, but he doesn't. None of 'em do. Running from me wouldn't do any good, remember?
Gaia turns pale as a ghost and backs up in the doorway behind us when she sees me. When I let go of Raven he crawls over to a far corner and goes fetal.
Try to imagine how little I care.
I walk down the stairs into the street, and I make sure I walk heavy. My spurs jingle.
"ALL RIGHT, YOU SONSOFBITCHES!" I roar. "LISTEN UP!"
The sky overhead darkens. My doing. I need them to get the visual.
"You know what I did. I know you do. If you bastards ever decide to pull this crap again and threaten me, my family or my friends I will personally gank the whole sorry lot of you."
What the hell. I figure Bobby, Ellen, and everyone else I know can use all the help they can get.
Everywhere I look I see fear. The Others are scared of me.
When I reach the middle of the street I stop.
"If they so much as stub a toe, your asses are mine. Now and forever. And next time, damn it, there better not be a next time. Because if there is, I'm not hitting the reset button. Pay attention, bitches, 'cause this is the only warning you'll ever get. Are we clear?"
I don't hear anything. The sound of grass growing is louder.
Fine. We can play it this way.
My eyes flash and I call down a massive lightning strike that fills the air around me with blue and white flame. I put the fire out. The street underneath my feet is fused green and black glass.
The fire I called down rolls over me, through me, until it disappears underneath my skin. I stand there so they can get a really good look, and then I walk forward. I leave melted bootprints in the glass. The ground shakes with each step I take.
"I. SAID. ARE. WE. CLEAR?"
...sorry we are...
...never happen...never happen again...
"DAMN WELL BETTER NOT."
I could 'port us all out, but I have a better idea. More memorable. You've seen those westerns where the good guys mount up and slowly ride out of town? And the townspeople stand there with shit-eating grins on their faces? I wanted that, a cool and badass exit.
My big black mare, Dad's red roan, Sam's big grey gelding, and a buckskin mustang for Thomas appear saddled up in the middle of the street. My girl starts walking when she sees me, and the others follow.
Dad, Sam, Coyote and Thomas walk down the stairs behind me. Baby walks around me and as she does I gather the reins with one hand, put one boot in the stirrup and swing into the saddle. I fill my hand with a brown cowboy hat. I saw it in a movie once. I slip it on just like Eastwood or McQueen would, just as my family forms up around me. Thomas is on my right. Dad and Sam are on either side of us.
I hear Thomas through the link.
Winchester? I wanna thank you. All of you -
Don't thank me. It was my fault you got grabbed in the first place.
Coyote drops down on all fours, shakes his head and rolls his eyes. I know I'll hear about this angst stuff later.
Sam rolls his eyes at my hat. Nice. Who'd you steal that from, The Man From Snowy River?
The Old Man slinks by, still pony-sized. Dude, good one.
We're trying to make a badass exit here, I growl. A little help?
Dad and Thomas keep their game faces on and don't laugh.
We head on out at a leisurely pace. None of these sonsofbitches have the nerve enough to look any of us in the eye. That's good enough for me. Maybe some of the Others out there didn't get the memo about me, but these sure in the hell did. If anything else comes up I'll deal with it.
We leave Keel behind, and we never look back. I reach out towards the Two Dogs spread and sure enough Bear starts bitching at me.
Like father, like pup. Trash the Earth and then take your own sweet time putting it all back.
Bear and Bertha fled to some alternate reality when I torched the earth. They made it back okay. Bertha feels anxious until Thomas sends the thought out to her: Hey, Babe. I'm coming home.
I dial down the link just then, so it's just a two way conversation between him and her. Dad nods slightly. It's a private conversation, and I'm really glad Bertha didn't get the chance to thank me. I know that's coming too.
This whole clusterfuck is my own damn fault. I don't need any thanks. I don't deserve it. Thomas was grabbed because of me. Redd was killed and Slymm's still missing. Dad, Sam and Coyote are out here.
All because of me.
Bertha's my daughter and Thomas is her husband. They took me and Redd and Slymm in after Vashon Illinois went nuclear. It still seems kinda weird to me that Coyote and I have a daughter, but we do. Huh. My family's gotten bigger.
I can get used to that, though.
We ride along in silence, and I feel good. Pretty damn good actually.
I kept my promise to Bertha. I'm bringing Thomas home.
Next: Homecoming at the Two Dogs ranch, and Dean decides to check in on Bobby and Ellen before he and the boys continue their search for Slymm.
Typical Winchester luck: none of that goes as planned.