A/N: This is the Epilogue for Zen. Knowing I probably couldn't use this stuff anywhere else, I decided to include it all here. Shout-outs at the end of the story.
Disclaimer: If you recognize them, I don't own them. Please don't sue me. I'm poor.
Epilogue – tricks and treats
Ellen Harvelle calls John six hours later. "Is Sam there with you?"
John tries not to laugh as he recalls that whipped puppy look on Sam's face. "Yeah. He's here."
"Good. Are Dean and Coyote around?"
"Nope. Road trip."
"Yeah. I bet. I just got the word from some hunters who were part of a group that Gordon was putting together. Seems they got it into their heads that Sam's the AntiChrist. They were going to hunt him down, John. Don't need to tell you what they were going to do when they found him."
John goes deathly silent. "And?"
"Don't think you have to worry about that anymore. These hunters that stopped by my place said Gordon had them all meet at this farmhouse up in Wisconsin. Did a lot of big talk about how unnatural Sam is, said Gordon was going to show them that Sam was evil and needed to be destroyed. Well, the thing is, later on Gordon went out to the woods in back of the farmhouse. Some of the others were curious about what he was up to, so they followed him. Watched him."
John holds his breath.
"Gordon started conjuring up things out of thin air. Weird stuff. Demons. Spirits. This big red demon thing with white eyes called him Master, said they were waiting to do his bidding, that the whole idea was to get rid of anyone who was a threat, starting with Sam Winchester. An the ironic thing was, they would get human hunters to do their dirty work for them. The idiots in the bushes stayed quiet just long enough to see it all, and when they got back to the house Gordon was there, trying to pretend he'd been at the farmhouse all along. Fight broke out, and somehow Gordon managed to get away. He's running now. Wouldn't wanna be in his shoes when they catch him."
John's quiet for a moment, so quiet that Ellen thinks they've lost the connection. "John? You still there?"
"Yeah. Yeah, I'm still here. Anybody get killed when Gordon took off?"
"Nope. The word's out on him now, though. Heard he was headed for Canada. When he hits that border he better not stop until he hits Alaska."
"Thanks for the heads-up."
John sits there for a moment, and then he does the only thing he can do.
My boys, John shakes his head. My boys.
New York City, here they come, baby!
(Sorry, I couldn't resist)
Later on that same night
"I'm sorry baby," Dean croons to his newly restored leather jacket. "Never let that happen to you ever again." He looks down at himself. Faded jeans. Check. Work boots? Check. Denim overshirt and black t shirt? Double check.
This life does have its perks.
"Hey, this is it." Coyote wags that thick tail of his. He runs on ahead to that building with the dark blue tinted glass windows, slips through the double glass doors like a ghost and back out again. He circles excitedly around Dean's legs.
Dean stares at the electric blue neon sign above. "Tricks 'N' Treats. Huh. Sounds like a hooker bar to me."
Coyote squints at him and shakes his head. "It's a trickster only bar."
"Okay. Yeah." Dean's got this uncertain look on his face as he stares up at the sign again. "Name just seems a little too…floofy to me."
"Floofy?" Coyote stops and stares at Dean.
Dean shrugs. "You know what I mean."
A minute later Dean's staring up at the host in his black and white tuxedo. Dude's about eight feet tall, covered in long thick brown hair, with liquid brown eyes.
"Damn," Dean whispers to himself. Last time he was this close to a bigfoot, damn thing tried to chew his face off.
"Good to see you, sir." The Sasquatch's grin is wide and friendly, reaches his eyes and even includes Dean.
"Hey." Coyote nods back. "How's it goin', Phil?"
Phil shrugs. "Pretty good. I got you to thank for me getting this job."
"Hey, No prob. I just returned the favor you did me. Can we get a table tonight?"
Phil nods. "Course you can. After I introduce you."
Coyote does an aw-shucks gesture that would do Gomer Pyle proud. Then: "Still got that spotlight and the drum roll?"
Phil grins. "Of course."
A second later Dean stands there blinking, his hand raised to shield his eyes from the intense light of this spotlight that comes from nowhere. He hears the drummer start up, and he's a little apprehensive. No hunters in here. Place is tricksters only.
Yeah. Like that's a reason to relax. Not.
Dean forces himself to relax. If stupid breaks out he can surely handle it.
Coyote sits there beside Dean like a visiting king surveying his subjects. Phil's on the mike as everyone in the place turns towards them.
"And here they are," Phil booms out, "two as one, the Master of Disaster, one of the First and still the Best. Often imitated, seldom duplicated, the Creator, the Magician, Roamer, God's Dog, the First Artist, Ban, Sinchlep, First Scolder, Akba-Atatdia ---"
"I love this part," Coyote whispers.
"--- Fine Young Chief Howling In the Dawn in the East ---"
"Damn, I miss hearing that one!"
"---the one, the only, Coyote!"
The applause is deafening.
I could learn to like this, Dean thinks to himself with a grin. He waves at the crowd and several of the ladies wave back. Good grief, they're fine.
Definitely learn to like this.
Coyote heads for a booth, something out of the way, in a corner. Dean feels better when he realizes he can keep an eye on the door that way. Old habits die hard.
It takes a moment or so for his eyes to adjust, and when he does he tries not to stare.
The room is bigger than it looks from the street, for one thing. Football stadium huge, for that matter. There's a large stage covered with a red curtain in the front. Place is packed. Half of them look human. The rest? No way.
It reminds Dean of the kiva back in New Mexico, the first time he woke up there. Everywhere Dean looks he sees something he's never seen before. Dean sees beings that have animal faces and human hands. A badger sits in a far corner daintily drinking from a glass with a straw. This monkey prowls up and down the aisles between the tables meddling with everybody, starting arguments, trying to pick fights. He's having a fine old time.
Dean sees this oversized black raven sitting at a table, and when the Raven sees Dean looking in his direction it very pointedly turns its head away.
Coyote laughs. "We had a competition going on back in the day. Claims he stole fire first and gave it to humans. Poser."
A tall, older dude with a wicked gleam in his eyes walks by the booth on his way back to his table. He looks directly at Dean and nods. "How you kids doin' tonight?" he drawls.
Son of a bitch. Dean's jaw drops.
Coyote nods. The man nods back and doesn't miss a step.
"Jack Nicholson is a Trickster?" Dean squeaks out.
"Huh." Someone else catches Dean's eye. "Is that…is that Bugs Bunny over there?"
"Who? Oh yeah. That's Manabozho. We call him Manny. The Great Trickster Rabbit. Went to work for Warner Brothers years ago. Saved the studio to hear him tell it."
"Huh." Dean sits there with his mouth hanging open.
"You're catching flies."
"Oh." Dean's mouth snaps shut.
The waiter comes over. Name's Kevin. He's tall, skinny, blond, and bored.
"Who's in the kitchen tonight?" Coyote asks.
Kevin rolls his eyes. "Kutnahin."
Coyote makes a face. "Crap."
"What?" Dean scowls. "Who's this Kutnahin?"
"He's the Trickster God of Medicine, Food Preparation and Hygiene."
"Oh-kay," Dean's hesitant. Judging from Coyote's tone, there's more. Dean waits for it.
"He's covered in dung. All the time."
"I'm not hungry," Dean says quickly.
"Dionysus has the bar contract. They oughta let Corn Woman do the food." Coyote grins at a fond memory. "That woman knows her way around a kitchen, lemme tell ya."
"So what'll you have?" Kevin the waiter is still bored and would obviously rather be anywhere but here with these yahoos. Hey, it's a living.
"Two beers," Dean drawls. "With Ambrosia shots."
It was perfect.
Well, it would have been.
He had a feeling that Dean would be home soon. Dean had a tendency to come home in the middle of the night. That much about him hadn't changed.
It was time. Sam puts four packs of cherry Kool-aid in the shower head. That's after he puts the other twelve packs of grape and cherry between Dean's sheets. Sam alternates the colors, lays it down in stripes, for full effect.
Fortunately Dean left his toiletry kit in the bathroom, so Sam puts the entire tube of Ambesol into Dean's bottle of mouthwash.
Sam remembered to keep the bottle of dish detergent out for later, just before he went to bed.
Later on just before he goes to bed, Sam dumps the whole bottle of detergent into the toilet tank. He also takes the top off the toilet tank, turns the tube inside outward, and then puts it toward the towel bowl with just the end sticking out. Sam replaces the tank cover. He can't help but grin. The tube will squirt water every time Dean flushes.
It. Was. Perfect.
Or at least, it would have been. Sam lies down and sleeps the sleep of the just and righteous for an hour or so.
He wakes up to the sounds of the water running in the shower and John Winchester bellowing like an enraged bull elephant.
When the red curtain goes up on stage twenty minutes later Dean glances up, stares and nearly pours his beer into his own lap.
The band's AC/DC.
There's that huge train prop that was used in the 2008 Black Ice World Tour. Dean wanted to go see them, but there was that business with that pack of ghứls up near Vancouver, definitely not one of Dean's favorite hunts. It was unseasonably cold and rainy that week, and those sonsabitches were downright nasty.
"They owe me a favor." Coyote nudges Dean with his paw. "Go on, kid, get up there and sing."
Less than a minute later Dean's on stage shaking hands with Brian Johnson (lead vocal), Angus Young (lead guitar), Malcolm Young (backing vocals, rhythm guitar) , Cliff Williams (bass guitar, backing vocals) and Phil Rudd on drums. Dean's shaking inside but he doesn't show it. He's got this slightly manic grin on his face.
Coyote snickers. He doesn't even react as Spider slips into the bench seat opposite him, elegant as always in those midnight blue robes of his.
"Are you happy, Old Man?" Anansi says quietly. He sits there with a goblet of brandy in one hand, his other seven hands on the tabletop.
Coyote looks thoughtful. "Yeah. Yeah, I am."
On stage Dean whispers something to the others, and they all nod and laugh. Dean goes over to the microphone, nervously clears his throat. The band plays, and what comes out of Dean's mouth is awful.
"You…light up my life…" His voice cracks, hopelessly, dreadfully out of tune.
Everybody in the audience groans and rolls their eyes.
"You give me hope…to carry on …you light up my days …and fill my nights with song…"
Coyote sighs, covers his eyes with both paws. Singing in the Impala was one thing. So was singing in the shower. Kid sounded good in there. Coyote considers diving underneath the table. Maybe this wasn't such a good idea…
"I…I can't do this," Dean stammers painfully into the mike.
"Darn right you can't!" Monkey yells out loudly. Dean stands there for a moment with his head down.
Angus Young starts playing, followed by Malcolm Young and Cliff Williams. Phil Rudd joins in on drums.
Dean lifts his head. The smile he gives the audience is bright and wicked sharp.
When he opens his mouth he practically roars, a clear, sexy growl that brings the crowd to their feet by the second line.
She was a fast machine
She kept her motor clean
She was the best damn woman I had ever seen
She had the sightless eyes
Telling me no lies
Knockin' me out with those American thighs
Taking more than her share
Had me fighting for air
She told me to come but I was already there
Shook me all night long
Yeah you shook me all night long
'Cause the walls start shaking
The earth was quaking
My mind was aching
And we were making it and you -
You shook me all night long
Yeah you shook me all night long
The crowd belts out the chorus with Dean. He smirks and winks at Coyote as the song rolls on.
"Tricky pup." Spider whispers to himself. "I like him."
Coyote can't stop grinning.
You can't have that many tricksters in one place without stupid breaking out at one time or another. Bugs Bunny (Dean just can't bring himself to call him Manny) dumps an entire salt shaker on Raven's tail. Raven misidentifies the culprit, sucker punches Badger instead, and the fight is on.
Dean's mightily impressed.
Monkey pulls out his Magic Wishing Staff , 13,00 pounds of mystical black iron, and starts whaling on any and everyone within reach, except, of course, Coyote, Dean and Jack Nicholson.
Coyote yawns. "The natives are gettin' a little restless."
Truth to tell, Dean's getting kinda bored too. AC/DC's been gone for nearly an hour. And now this. Once you've seen somebody get walloped once by a grinning monkey trickster with a mystical black staff, you've seen all there is to see.
Dean nods. "Let's go home."
Bobby Singer's place
Just before dawn
Sam's sitting on the front porch when they fade in. Dean picks up on the puppy eyes, Sam's body language, and it stops him dead in his tracks.
Sam looks downright miserable. "I'm…I'm grounded. By Dad and Bobby."
"Grounded? Dude, what are you, four?"
"It was your fault," Sam blurts out.
Coyote and Dean both stop and stare.
"My fault? My fault? What the hell did you do, Sam?"
It all comes out in a rush, his feelings about being dumped at Rebecca's in the first place, the constant thoughts of revenge, and Dean tries not to laugh when Sam talks about how Dad came in and used their shower, got sprayed in the face with cherry Kool-aid, then the bathroom was flooded with thick suds and the damn toilet sprayed every time John flushed it.
Grounded. I don't care if you are twenty five years old. Grounded, you hear me, Sam? And then some.
Of course, John's mouth was numb after he used Dean's mouthwash (he was out of his own) but Sam understood his meaning clear enough.
Bobby quirked an eyebrow at Sam. "You'll clean up this mess for starters, you idjit. And after that, later on today I got some chores you can help me with. Heavy lifting. How 'bout that?"
By the time Sam finishes Coyote's rolling on the ground laughing, and Dean leans against the porch railing, his broad shoulders shaking with silent laughter.
"Oh shoot, oh shoot," the Old Man gasps. He hugs himself and rolls back and forth on his back, from side to side.
"It's not funny," Sam growls half-heartedly.
That only makes Coyote laugh even harder. "The hell it ain't!"
Dean huffs short barks of hoarse laughter as he tries to compose himself. "Well, I …I gotta say, Samantha," he wipes tears from his eyes, "I leave you alone for a few days and you really step in it, don't you?"
"Did you arrange it, Dean? Did you…influence Rebecca somehow?"
"What?" It's one of the few times in life that Dean looks genuinely shocked. "Hell no. I figured she'd call you."
"And how did you figure that?" Sam says quietly.
Dean stares at the porch railing. "She's a friend of yours, Sam. You had a life when you were at Stanford, remember? You got friends there. Forget that crazy crap with the cows," he shrugs, "Rebecca would have invited you anyway." Dean lifts his head and stares Sam directly in the eyes. "They were having a party. She wanted you there."
That open, earnest look in Dean's eyes has the desired effect. Sam untenses, then groans. "And I acted like a total ass while I was there."
"Hey, I'm not cleanin' up that mess for ya, Gilligan. You're on your own with that one." Dean sighs. "All right. Lemme go in here and plead your case for ya." Dean stands there blinking at the front door. Probably won't do any good, but he'll take the weight for this.
Dean chuckles, low and amused. "How many times did you nail Dad again?"
"Three." Sam frowns a little. "No, wait. Four."
Coyote snorts, and then beats the ground with his paw.
"I just thought…you dumped me at Bec's house because you didn't want me around."
Dean shakes his head in apparent wonder. "No. You got that all wrong."
"We're all we've got, you know? You and the Old Man, me and Dad…"
"Aw shucks, Samantha. You say the sweetest things."
"Let me finish, will you? It's all about family, you know? We might be a little twisted—"
Dean snorts. "A little?"
"You know what I'm trying to say."
"Yeah. Yeah I do. And while you're at it, you can change the sheets in my bed. I'm not waking up striped all over with grape and cherry Kool-aid, dude. That's not my kink."
Sam sputters. "How did you ---"
He'd been hoping for just one prank on Dean, just one, and now he didn't even have that.
"For one. I can smell it on you. Enhanced senses, remember? For another," Dean grabs Sam around his neck, pulls him down and ruffles his hair affectionately, "You got that trick from me."
"Damn," Sam says softly.
He couldn't remember how long he'd been here.
There were cows. Cows all over the place, and they seemed to know what he'd done back on earth.
They chased him everywhere he went, foul things with sharp teeth, not like those harmless things on earth, and none of the magic he knew worked.
It was okay, though. That damn Coyote and his brat hadn't heard the last of him. He'd get back there, somehow, and make them scream just like that other Dean Winchester had. They'd die when he got his hands on them again, and this time it would be permanently.
The AU trickster crept around the corner of the rocks. He could hole up until nightfall. It would be safer after that, but he had to step out in the open momentarily to get to that cave he'd been hiding in. Just a few seconds of exposure, and then he'd safe for the night.
He stepped out and had just enough time to sense something in the air directly over his head. He looked up just in time to see.
He recognized the other trickster. The one from that damn Coyote 'verse, the one that tried to warn him to stay away. This one was screaming, spreadeagled out, stuck to the bottom of something huge. The AU trickster had just enough time to realize that what was coming down on top of both of them was an enormous pink foot.
A/N: Okay, that's it. I'm done. Zen is now complete. I'm glad to see that you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. Much thanks and much love to everyone who read and reviewed. I'm going to catch up answering your reviews, I promise! And thanks to everyone who lurked and read. I know you're out there.
Shout-outs: Thanks to Phoebe and Jenna, 'cause you two gave me much unholy encouragement. And Ikchen, I hope you're feeling better. Thank you all!