Summary: Dean had been happy, had been safe. He'd had a family. He'd been loved. They'd taken it all away from him, and he just wanted it back. Alternate ending for 4.17.
Rating: PG (mild language)
Warnings: Spoilers for 4.16 and 4.17. Beware!
A/N: I really didn't like the ending of last night's episode. This is how I would have done it, to a certain extent.
Disclaimer: I own nothing. Not show, not characters. Not a darn thing.
It was a big bonus. Dean Smith could not deny that fact. A huge bonus. And the possibility of a promotion to boot.
That kid from Tech. Sam. He'd seemed so heartbroken, so confused when Dean had turned him down. It had been weighing on his mind all day, muddling his thoughts, making him confused. Making him wonder.
Something deep down inside of him, something ingrained within his brain wanted him to go with Sam. To hunt with him. Ghost and ghouls and monsters and all that shit. Wanted to throw caution to the wind and just drive. Ditch the Prius and the suits and the desk and go.
Something inside of him wanted to make Sam happy. Never wanted to see him look so sad, so dejected, so hurt. Something in Dean identified with Sam, maybe even loved him. Not romantically, but fraternally.
Which was weird.
But Sam was gone and the ghost was gone and Dean was going back to his life. His normal, safe, insured life.
Adler was looking at him, waiting for an answer. And Dean almost said no. Almost tore up the paper and walked out of the office and called Sam. Almost.
Because as much as that part of him wanted adventure, the open road, and to make Sammy - Sam - happy, another part of him didn't. That part was louder, more annoying, and made a far better argument.
That part of him, the one he really wanted to listen to, told him to stay. To work, and please his boss. Because Adler liked him. Adler believed in him. And that felt so good. For some reason, all of a sudden, it felt like he'd been needing to hear that, had been waiting his whole life for someone to praise him and accept him.
And he liked it.
Besides, he was safe there. That's what his brain was telling him, even after the whole ghost thing. He was safe and he was happy. He had a home and a family that loved him. He wasn't sure why that suddenly seemed so important, but it was. He would accept the bonus and go home and call his parents. Tell them all about it. They'd come down and have a party in his honor.
He really wanted to see them. He didn't know why, but he did. It was a sudden, random urge, but he needed his mother to hug him and his father to be proud of him and his sister to look up to him like the hero he now knew he was. They would tell him how smart he was, full-ride to Stanford and all. New bonus. Nice, big office.
They loved him. They liked it when he went home. They waited for him.
Adler kept staring at him, but Dean didn't care. He was lost in a wave of emotion, pushing him farther away from Sam and ghosts and closer to his family, his job, his safety and his home and the people that loved him and believed in him.
Something inside of him was screaming to stay, saying that if he followed Sam, bad things would happen. To both of them. He wanted to stay safe, to simply shoulder the responsibility of his job and nothing else. He didn't need the rest of the weight. Didn't need the world on his shoulders, Hell's Atlas and Heaven's bitch and he didn't know where that had come from, but his stomach sank and he saw blue eyes and black eyes and red eyes and white eyes and he was scared.
He was losing his mind. Right in front of his boss, he was losing his mind.
Had Adler noticed? Had he seen it in his eyes, the whirlwind of alien thoughts and emotions?
"I'll take it. Thank you, sir."
Adler's face fell. "Are you sure?"
"Positive. It's a very generous offer." He smiled. "My whole future laid out on a plate."
"Isn't there something else you might like to do?" Adler pushed.
Blue lightning flying from Sandover's fingers. Blue lightning raining from the sky. He shuddered. "No, sir. I enjoy my job."
"Really? You're satisfied here?"
"Of course, sir. I love my life. I've got a great apartment, perfect family. I'm safe and happy and loved." And spilling his guts, apparently. "I'm not scared anymore."
Suddenly, though, he was scared. He hadn't meant to say that. Hadn't even been sure he was thinking it. Just knew that he liked the words, liked saying them, the truth behind them. He was happy and safe and perfect and unafraid.
Adler sighed. "I'm sorry to hear that, Dean."
"Why is that, sir?" Because, really, the guy should be happy for him, had just offered him a bonus. What had he done wrong?
"I thought you would learn something from all of this. It's in your blood, see? Your very genetic make-up. It's in your family."
Dean blinked. "My mother owns a restaurant and my dad's a mechanic."
Adler laughed. "Not that family, Dean. Your real one." He leaned over the table and poked Dean in the forehead with two fingers. In that instant, everything changed.
The hunter lunged across the table at what was obviously an angel, ignoring the sharp pang of hunger in his gut as he took the guy's suit jacket in his hands and wrestled him up against the wall. "Change me back."
The thing looked surprised. "I'm sorry?"
"Change. Me. Back."
"You don't understand."
"You did it once, you can do it again."
"Dean." It was a warning tone, but Dean obviously didn't care. He could still feel them, those foreign memories, the ones that had kept him buried in his own head. He'd seen everything. The life he could have had. No monsters. No death. No pain. No responsibility.
He'd been smart. Gotten a full-ride. His parents had actually encouraged him to go to college. They'd thought he was smart. Brilliant. A genius.
He'd had parents.
He'd had parents, and they had loved him and they had wanted him to stay, but they'd let him go. And he'd made friends. He had friends at work. He'd known what he was doing at all times and it wasn't dangerous and he'd thought he was getting a little flabby.
He'd had a home. He'd had things. Things that were his and his alone. Crisp new clothes that he had picked out from high-end stores. He'd played golf. He was good at it. He played with other people, and they all told him how amazing he was, how he should be a pro.
He'd been safe and loved and happy. He'd enjoyed his job and never been hurt.
"I wanna be happy, dammit." He knew he didn't deserve it, but he still wanted it. Wanted his own things, his own life. A family. He wanted friends and real relationships and a soft bed and a boss that actually liked him. He'd gotten so used to drill sergeants and demons and angry angels that it had been a nice change. A safe change.
"Please," he whispered.
Adler just stared at him. "Don't you see it, Dean? This life, normality, they're not you. You were meant for greater things. It's ingrained in you. It's destiny."
He shoved the angel harder into the wall. "Screw destiny. I want a home. I want a family."
"They were all an illusion, Dean. False memories. None of it was real. Nothing but the haunting and the office."
"And what did it prove? That Sam and I can take out a ghost?"
Sam. Sam. Where was Sam? Had he left already? Was he gone? Had he really quit, headed back out on the road, left Dean all alone again?
"To prove that you can do it," Adler said. "Even without your memories. It's destiny, Dean. You can do it."
"Yeah," Dean scoffed, finally letting go of the shorter man. "Well maybe I don't want to." He turned from the angel and stalked out of the office.
Sam was out, so Dean was doing what he'd been doing for the past week and a half whenever he was alone.
In front of the mirror, full suit, modeled. He'd never liked the way suits had fit him before, always seeming so confining, so stupid. Like a seventh grader at his first dance.
Now they just reminded him of what he'd lost. And of what he could have again. A real job. A life. A home. A family.
He didn't turn from the mirror when beating wings sounded in the room and Castiel appeared on the bed behind him.
"Zachariah is angry," the angel reported.
"Adler's angry," Dean countered. "I shouldn'ta quit."
"You didn't really work there."
"Like Hell I didn't."
"No." He turned to face the angel. "I'm going back."
"Dean Smith no longer exists."
"I don't care."
"You went to the apartment. You saw the truth."
He was right. Dean had gone back, had broken in, had wanted something. A memento. A keepsake. Something that was truly his, and his alone.
The apartment had been empty, run-down. Abandoned. Like he'd never lived there, had never spent what he was coming to think of as the best three weeks of his life safe and happy and warm there.
Dean stared at the angel and felt his anger ebb away. There was no going back. No Dean Smith. No happy family waiting to welcome him home with open arms. Nothing.
"You can fix it," he whispered.
"You can fix it," Dean said again, louder this time, approaching the angel on the bed. "You can change me back."
"Only your memories were altered."
"I was happy. For three straight weeks, as opposed to the usual five seconds. Now change me back."
Castiel stared at him.
"We need you."
"And I told you to find someone else. It's not like I'm asking you to commit a crime here, man. Just help me out."
"But it is a crime, Dean. If you forget, you can't stop it."
"And what the hell am I trying to stop, Cas?"
"Hell," the angel answered simply.
Dean shook his head. "I told you, I can't do it. It's not me. You'd all be better off if you just changed me back. Please. I had a family and friends. My boss loved me. As weird as it probably sounds, I was happy. I want to go back."
"To rearrange your memories now would guarantee destruction."
"They'll find someone. Cas, please." He was more or less on his knees now, looking up at the angel and praying - probably for the first time in his life - that he could just have something he wanted.
"I can't do it. It is a disobedience."
Dean sighed, felt his shoulders slump. Of course. Of course he couldn't have it. Of course his prayers wouldn't be answered. He was a monster. He'd started this whole damn thing. He looked back down at the carpet.
"Maybe if I do it?" he whispered, scared to actually voice his plea allowed, knowing as he did that he would be turned down. "If I save the world, can I have a family? Can I not be afraid anymore?"
He looked back up at the angel and saw something stirring behind those freakishly blue eyes. Something like pity. Sympathy, maybe.
"I just don't wanna be scared anymore, Cas."
The angel stared down at him and let out a sigh of his own. Slowly, he brought his hand up, extended two fingers, and touched the tips to Dean's forehead. Warmth rushed through the hunter's system as the whole world brightened around him, memories of fires and ghosts and demons and pain melting away to be replaced by birthday parties and family picnics.
He closed his eyes, and when he opened them again, he found himself in a strange room with a strange man in a strange suit.
"Who are you?" he asked, voice shaking slightly.
"No one, Dean," the man answered simply. "Now sleep."