Title: When the cold wind blows

Author: Wysawyg

Summary: Dean dies as the deal comes due. That's just the beginning.

Disclaimer: The boys don't belong to me. Hopefully the show will be nicer to them.

Rating: PG-13

Characters/Pairing: Dean, Sam, Gen.

Spoilers: Speculative spoilers for the finale, no real spoilers and likely to be utterly Kripke'd

Author's Notes: Title from James Taylor's Fire and Rain. Don't know where this came from but it demanded to be written. Beta'd by the utterly wonderful TraSan.

-S-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-S-

When it happens, it isn't how Dean expected. One second he is standing at the crossroads, cursing as the approaching rumble of Bobby's truck means he hadn't used enough sedatives. The next he was shedding his body like a favourite pair of jeans, ripped at the knees and too loose around the waist.

It should be wrong to be spiralling upwards while Sam is down there at his empty body, shaking it like maybe the foamy remnant of Dean's soul could fill it up again. He should be feeling guilty: for leaving Sam like that, for leaving at all. Instead it feels like every constraint had dropped away and he just is.

If this is hell, they need to sack their PR agent.

A breeze buffets him from the left and Dean only has the briefest moment to wonder how that could happen before his calmness becomes a maelstrom, tossing him around in every direction known to man. He sees America a blur of half-formed familiarity beneath him, never slowing enough to put a name to a place.

By the time the rollercoaster ride comes to an abrupt end, Dean is sure had he been in a bubble, it'd be technicolour painted by now. He focuses on the area around him and the small part of his mind not spinning around itself recognises it as the Grand Canyon. The irony isn't lost.

He hangs there for what seems like forever and Dean wonders if perhaps this is hell, an eternity of being stuck in the same spot, unmoving and unchanging. It almost seems like time was waiting for him to come to that conclusion as he begins to plummet, falling faster than he should be capable of, spinning and twisting and tumbling through rocks and earth and soil until finally he lands on a roiling sea of grey nothing.

-S-s-s-s-s-s-s-S-

It takes a while for thought to come back. He's aware that he is but somehow the being is doing so unconsciously. He drifts, buoyant in the midst, currents brushing against him, pushing him this way and that, leaving monochrome dust on the white blur of his self. He's not quite sure when he acquired a form, only that it's hardly there, just a discorporate funnel of white smoke. With concentration, he forces himself to maintain human form but it resembles the stay-puft marshmallow man more than himself. It is easier to dissolve into steam that lets him merge in and out of his surroundings.

With the return of awareness comes the return of pain. When it comes to pain management, Dean is a master. If you could get a degree in hunting life, Dean was a Ph double D. But this pain isn't like anything he's ever experienced before. There is no way to distract himself from it, no injury to push down on for that brief sting and even briefer lull of relief. This pain is unstoppable, it suffuses every part of him.

Usually pain this severe came with the promise of unconsciousness but that relies upon his body reaching its upper limit, a body he doesn't have anymore. Eventually he begins to wonder whether without the pain to define his boundaries there would even be a Dean anymore or if he would just merge seamlessly into the undulating whole that surrounds him.

-S-s-s-s-s-s-s-S-

New ones arrive frequently. Dean supposes old ones must leave but he doesn't know how. He thinks there might be a way out at the up but up was where the darkest swam, copper tang and sticky wet.

Most who arrive are grey like him, spun from slick anger and regret. Some come already coal dark, Dean stayed away from them and their shadow scorched wake.

A new one comes, pure with a whiteness that makes Dean think of cold. She shies back like there was an away to be had instead of the Us. Dean brushes against her, tasting her. She tastes of blackberries, sun warm, plump and freshly plucked off hedgerows. She tastes of the tart sweetness of juices licked off purple-stained fingers.

She leaves striations of white on him even as he smudges her with grey and for a moment, Dean has memories of his own. He has greasy burgers and cold fries and a smaller hand clasped in his that held on tight.

The next time Dean finds her, she is a charcoal blur in the monochrome sea.

-S-s-s-s-s-s-s-S-

Dean isn't quite sure when the It arrived, it is just there one day, a monument of solid in the fluidity. It isn't like the rest; when Dean flows to another there and comes back, It is still in the first there, unmoving while everything flows around It. It doesn't seem to understand that wasn't how things work.

It's not-grey all over apart from a few smears where those before him had already left their mark. It shapes itself in a strange way that Dean almost recognises and he stretches himself out into a Myna mimicry for a moment before coalescing back. He twines around one of its protuberances, leaving a spiral of smudges in his wake, but he can't find where the It is from, nor does any of It give. It separates, It blocks a part of the something off from Dean and It fascinates him.

He twists close to it, smearing charcoal and coaxing it to play. It seems to him that It should want to play and memories flicker-form: hide and seek, catch me if you want, just hold it steady and keep your eye down the sight and watch for the recoil. It doesn't move and Dean feels only pity once more.

It stays and he leaves.

-S-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-S-

Dean isn't sure how long he has been away, lost in the wash of everyone else, but when he comes back, It is there in the same spot. Dean wonders whether that is the price for being solid, to always be still. He isn't sure whether he'd pay it or not.

He is about to leave, to surge upwards and see if the sticky blackness has left the top when suddenly It moves, its upper part rotating sharply from side to side. Dean pauses and turns back, watching curiously. It stops, motion terminated, then a hole opens up in its top, exposing nearly forgotten white and glimpses of a red tunnel. Dean darts forward, wanting to look at the all of it and see how it can hold the everything out but there is a barrier even on its nothing and he is thrown back, kept away.

"Dean!" The sound erupts into the nothingness around and Dean tries to catch it, to hold it but it's gone before he ever thinks he saw it.

Dean is smart and waits patient near where the gaping hole appeared.

"Dean!" As fast as Dean is, he can't see the word, can't catch it before it's gone again.

The loss of the word affects the It too. Transparency falls down its face, clearing a path in the not-grey. Dean has never seen that before, he only knows black and shades of grey. He thinks there was white once but he isn't sure. It carries on down then reaches an edge, forming itself into a fat-bottomed shape of its own and spiralling down through the murk.

This he can chase. He chases it downward, watching as it plumb-lines straight down through the others. Down and down, never stopping. He isn't sure how long he follows it, only that one moment it goes, lost in a flash. Dean knows what to do though and he carries on upwards, re-tracing his previous path to where it came from.

When he gets back, It is there. It pushes that noise out over and over, bursting in sparkles that break the silence. The sound is different now, coarser, rougher, it scrapes where it smoothed. He swings close to its face, trying to find the pearlescent drops again. There is just a glossy shine where the wet came from and lines of blood-thick red.

It sounds like it should be familiar. The It is looking for "Dean" but he is just Dean and he isn't enough, too dirty. He doesn't want It to find the "Dean" though because then it'll go and It will go back to the ever-shifting of before and Dean won't be able to find his way anymore.

"Dean." It turns to look straight at him, fixing him with eyes that seem to contain all the colours that Dean has been missing. It unravels something strange, a tube of spiderwebs and moonlight. It pulls at it until it expands, pushing outwards, twisting and shimmering in an impossible wind. Dean nudges against it, watching it dance with him. He did that. He pushed and it moved.

"Dean, get in!"

The sound seemed directed at him but what was in? Dean knew the here and the not-here of the sack but there was no in. He twisted around the It's wrist, leaving smoky trails.

It pulls back, huffing outwards and shaking him away. "Dean! In!" There is a pleading note to It's voice, something that expects, that wants, that needs! It flaps the tube at him, pressing it closer to what Dean thinks of as his front. It scythes a hand through the smoke of him, pushing and pressing.

Dean undulates against the fabric, watching it give and ripple. He tries to inspect but suddenly it's moving towards him, faster than he can get away. He tries to escape back out into the here but the opening is gone and there's just him alone. He twists and puffs himself out, looking for the tear that'll let him out but it isn't there.

He thinks he's moving, thinks the sack is moving and the It is moving. He settles back in the bottom of the sack and waits to see where he'll end up.

A/N: Please let me know what you think. Feedback, especially concrit, is always welcome!