Fic: World Enough and Time = episode 1

Author: Seraphim Grace

Fandom = Supernatural

Pairing = Castiel x Dean (god is love in all it's forms) Sam x Ruby and CFC,

Rating = NC17

spoilers = season 4 ep 9-18

AUish - set in the world of american gods and sandman but also the spn universe, I just stretched it a little

Notes - Sam Centric, title from Andrew Marvell

suggested by [info]keire_ke

betaed by [info]bellajayd who deserves more praise than me for this - she's certainly doing more work

Sequel to Set the Fire to the Third Bar - .

This story starts at the end of chapter 20 from Set the fire to the third bar, and tells Sam's side of the story from here on in.

Previously in the 'angel verse

When Dean finds Sam with Ruby he takes off to clear his head, but the forces of Hell are eager to please Sam, whether he wants to or not, so Castiel hides him among other supernatural creatures. As a hunter Dean earns favours from these creatures which are shown as beads upon a charm bracelet. After Dean is told some hard truths about his return from Hell and his mother he runs from Castiel back to Bobby's, where an angel waits for him. It murders half of him leaving a more powerful version behind.

Episode 1

In which Sam is aware of the seduction of the Darkness within him, and Bobby's books offer little hope.

Soundtrack: Keith Caputo - Razzberry Mockery

The first time Sam manifested a Darkling he emptied both barrels of Dean's favorite shotgun into its face. This just caused two more to appear and laugh at the first's misfortune as it slammed both hands over its mouth and yelled "by dose, by dose". It was also when Sam realized that he wasn't getting rid of them that easily.

It was a spindly little green creature with huge eyes and a larger mouth. It was basically humanoid and wore a little red waistcoat. It took weeks to realise that they were a manifestation of this new thing within him, that it was manifesting to serve him.

They were the first manifestation of the whispering dark. There had been many others since then.

Next came the voice, whispering in the dark places of his neck and hair. It called him Sammy and made him promises of control and order in a voice that sounded like twenty voices all melded into one and slightly out of time with each other.

By the time Dean returned from Hell, Sam had gotten used to sleeping with the lights on.

It didn't like the light, and dwelled in the dark places, in the shadows of his skin, and it hungered, but it had its uses it was quick to show him. It could exorcise a demon faster than his psychic powers. It could throw a body like it was a piece of paper.

Without another name to give it, he calls it the Darkness and it calls him Sammy just like Dean does.

***

Bobby's house is as close to a home as Sam has ever known.

Dean lives and breathes in the Impala, it's his sanctuary, but it has always been someone else's space to Sam: his dad's car and then his brother's. Just like his time with Jess was felt as if it was someone else's life, lived in someone else's apartment. But, Bobby's house is home.

Even if Bobby does make him sleep on the couch in the parlor because the rest of the house is full of books and so much other magic esoterica that not even Bobby knows what half of it is.

The books more than Bobby, more than the place, make it home.

Sam has always been at ease surrounded by knowledge. It reassures him in ways that people, that places can't. There are more pleasures to be found, he knows, between the pages of a grimoire than there is in the flesh.

Disturbingly the Darkness agrees.

He sits at the kitchen table, a large mug of coffee and a copy of the Red Dragon in front of him. It's old and easy to understand, but sometimes even the most pointless books can prove useful in the right light. Sam doesn't care, he reads it and catalogues it in his memory, in the Darkness' memory just in case because it learns what he learns, because you could never know.

Dean has been missing for two months.

It has been two months since Dean just drove off in the middle of the afternoon, leaving Sam in the midst of a hunt, without a word.

He's phoned three times since then. It's not their longest separation, but it feels longer than when he was in Hell where there time apart had no defined end. Sam seethes with the feel of it.

In the shadows the Darkness within him languishes and lashes.

Bobby has gone to town, complaining about the amount of food that Sam eats, but Sam sees the kid on the stoop and wonders how much food Bobby slips her too.

The Darkness doesn't like her, so Sam doesn't either. It's animosity leeches over between them. She just sits there, with Lacey beside her and watches the road.

Dean phoned late yesterday morning, saying that he was on his way back. That whatever he had had to do, he had done. That he had made his decisions.

Part of Sam really doesn't care anymore.

He fills the void left by family with information, with magic, with seals, with law, with crappy Star Trek novels stolen from libraries when he was a kid and read over and over until the binding fell apart and pages would get left in Des Moines, with others in Boise.

Then another library and another book that he thought that no one would miss.

The other part of him loves his brother to distraction and can't think without him there.

The Darkness whispers, assures him that this is natural, that it wants, that it needs, that he should take, but Sam's not sure what that means, not yet.

The Darkness is old.

Books mention it in asides, in footnotes, in references to other references: the Creeping Dark, the Whispering Dark, the Great Dark.

Bobby has one of the greatest supernatural libraries in the world and nothing there mentions this voice, these creatures, these hungers and the spiraling feeling of being out of control.

Sam calls it the Darkness because it's the only name he can give it. Nothing else quite seems to fit.

It tells him that no one will love him as it does.

It tells him that no one will need him as it does.

It promises him everything.

It promises him Lilith's head bloody on a platter.

It promises him the end of the Apocalypse with blood and horror and fire and control .

It promises him the death of the demons.

It promises him Ruby.

It promises him Jess.

It promises him Dean .

And all he has to do is turn off the lights.

What terrifies him is that it can make its promises come true. What little he knows about this thing that has infested within him, the more he knows that that its pledges are true.

***

It found him in Nazareth, North Texas, back when he was still torturing demons for information to get Dean from Hell.

Bobby had given him the info on the hunt. Bodies were turning up torn apart with their hearts missing, which normally suggested werewolves, but there were sightings of great black snakes devouring parts of the corpses and small imp like creatures.

Bobby admitted he didn't know what the fuck it was and Sam was to be prepared for the worst. Bobby warned him it might be one of the lesser Hell Spawn, a creature greater than any demon, that was tearing through the town.

It wasn't.

The kid was twenty one at the most, with half of his head wide open to the elements, his brain pulsing wetly in a pool of street light. His hands pulling at the hair that was left as he screamed "Just make it stop! Just make it stop, just make it stop!"

And it did.

The boy just fell over, like a puppet with its strings severed and just behind him for the first time Sam heard it's voice, "See ya, Billy," and it's voice was a mismatch of discord and rhyme, of women, of men, of children, of death exhalations and birthing screams, and then his name, "Sammy."

He whirled around, shotgun at the ready, but there was nothing there.

The murders stopped that night.

Sam meets Ruby just outside of town and they leave, after all whatever it was is gone.

Sam always thinks, looking back, that it should have been apocalyptic - that the skies should have opened - that the ground should have creaked and moaned.

Nothing happened, and it was days later that the Darklings first manifested and he opened fire on them with both salt laden barrels of Dean's favorite shotgun.

With Bobby in town the primary three Darklings, the ones he privately refers to as the 'usual suspects,' are milling about in the shadows of the house.

One brings him books, and drinks his coffee. Another lies under the table reading a fourteenth-century book of recipes, lusting at the naked ladies in the illuminations, and the third is in the cupboard complaining that there is nothing to eat here, and can't they just eat the kid . . .

Sam thinks that there is cold meatloaf in the fridge, and mustard, and bread, but if the Darkling opens the door it will turn to dust.

If an angel filled this room with light, all three Darklings would turn to ash.

They are deathless, relentless, and cruel, but vanish into nothingness when someone switches on the light.

They are nameless, infinite, and he suspects there may be more of them than he can count.

Normally, it is just these three creatures that appear, calling him Boss, cracking crude jokes and trying, in their own impish way, to make his life easier, to serve him, to please him.

He still can't get them to leave him alone.

The book is boring him, the Darklings are amusing themselves like a pack of movie gremlins, and he's waiting for them to start singing "Hi ho," just because.

Dean is on his way back.

Sam's thoughts turn to the child that calls herself Ezraqueel, an angel's name, but other than general disdain the thing inside her couldn't care less for her, even if it tried.

Her human body interests the Darkness, because it's hungry and she's convenient. "They use corpses," it whispers, "it won't feel a thing, kid's already dead," and at the back of his throat he can taste her blood, hot sweet and metallic, and the slip slide of something large slide down his throat. It's the Darkness remembering what it feels like to gulp down a human heart.

"We're so hungry," it's a whisper and he is caught.

It's an angel, she's not a civilian, not a child, and it's a vessel, and the light is starting to fade, it wouldn't matter if it took a long time, because she's already dead. She's just meat and it's hungry.

So very, very, hungry.

Any action that he might have taken is cut short when a battered white Chevy Nova pulls into the yard with a familiar flourish, looking out of place with the unfamiliar car. Dean has returned, and done so with the usual handbrake turn and a screech of Die Hard the Hunter.

The kid'll never know just how lucky she is and how close she came to being meat for the beast.

Dean gets out of the car and a lumbering dog exits behind him looking like some spider monster from one of Dean's old b-movies, the ones that cram themselves into tiny holes and emerge in a flurry of long spindly legs.

A million and ten words go through Sam's head, but when he stands up all he says is, "I missed you."

And Dean looks good, better than he has in months, better than he did that first time Sam opened the door to him after he returned from Hell - that time that Sam failed to save him from Hell - but he still has that haunted, shadowed look that screams "I have seen, I have seen."

Then Dean speaks, "Man, you look like shit. Did you eat at all when I was gone?" Not an apology, not an explanation for his absence, just that doubled faced worrying that Dean does that makes Sam feel like he's failed. "If I find out you are under another one of those starving to death curses and Bobby didn't deal with it, I'm going to kick his ass."

Within Sam the Darkness lashes, he can feel it like a great serpent inside a backyard pool, thick with slime and ordure, choked with vine, like something from a Lovecraftian nightmare. His entire body tenses to hold it back, to rein it in. "You don't get to judge," he mutters.

Terrified that Dean will feel the thing move under his skin he pushes his brother away and damn near runs inside.

It's been so hard to hide this from Dean since his brother returned from Hell and two months on its stronger, it wants more, and it's so god damn hungry. Perry, the Darkling with no nose, the first one who ever appeared, is sitting in a shadow on the stairs, "You okay, boss, you wants me and the boys to," he gestures obscenely, an intimate violent gesture.

"Don't you touch him," Sam snarls, "he belongs to me."

The Darkling, Perry, shrugs, "If you wadt, boss, do skin off by dose," and in the shadows behind him another one laughs.

*****

The next time he talks to Dean it ends badly.

Dean is trying to explain but what he's saying makes no sense, he talks of oddities and miracles and Frederick Douglass but one of the Darklings is sitting on the bookshelf and it's distracting Dean.

He's not supposed to be able to see it.

He never did before.

It makes things more complicated. It means Sam has to work harder to keep his secret because he knows that if Dean knows about the Darkness he won't hesitate to do whatever it takes to make sure Sam stays dead. Two years ago Sam would have been exactly the same.

Two years ago, Sam would have put his own head on the block.

He can't die now.

He has too much left to do. Maybe once they've averted the Apocalypse and Lilith herself leaves a bad taste in the Darkness' mouth. Maybe then he'll let Dean try out some sort of magic and try and destroy him. But he's just so hungry, no matter how much he eats.

Even as Dean is leaning over the prone body of a Darkling, bright pink blood in the twilight gloom, his face and ugly sweater spattered with it, Sam is just so hungry. The Darkling is called Mal, short for Malodorous, it's not dead, Sam knows, just playing dead long enough to get away, because they don't die.

He wants to eat it, to consume it, to swallow its blood and broken bones and brain matter and consume it because he's just so damn hungry.

He's going to have to go into town soon, a couple of stray dogs should make it manageable, should quiet it long enough that he can think.

The last time it was quiet he stopped a rapist in an alley and it tore him apart like paper, swallowing him down in quivering, twitching lumps.

But Dean is kneeling over the darkling and Bobby is there in the doorway and Sam has to react, and he can't recognize the creature. So he says the first things that pop into his mouth. "Dude, you just killed Dobby the House Elf."

****

Sam is woken by the sound of voices in the next room, the room where Dean has crashed.

He can make out maybe one word in three because the two men are muted. Dean is talking to the angel.

He hears the words "grace" and "suppress," because Castiel is louder when he says his S'es, and Dean murmurs something about "talking to you," and then there is a chuckle which could be either of them, and then Dean says "I know," and he sounds resigned.

They talk low and quiet for a few moments and the darkness whispers, "I can hear them, I can show you how." But before Sam can learn this new trick Dean opens the door to reveal that he is alone in the room.

There is a bright red ring of blood around his neck on his tee but his skin is perfectly clean.

"What? Dean? Your neck."

Dean just pulls out the tee and looks at the stain. "Must'a had a nosebleed."

"Is it the angel? I heard him," Sam can't help but accuse, he can feel the Darkness' hatred.

He hates the angel and only part of that hatred is his own. He can taste Ruby's fear of them, with her half a world away, on the back of his tongue like the lingering of vinegar.

"What?" Dean asks, shocked, playing with the bracelet on his wrist, at the stones that jingle jangle there. It's his new nervous tic. "Nah, must have just rolled over unto the dog funny. Is Bobby out of the shower yet?" And as simple as that it's all done with, Dean changes the subject and Sam seethes.

His brother is hiding things from him.

***

They are maybe an hour from Bobby's, in the comfort of the Impala, when Dean pulls into the parking lot and rearranges himself in his jeans, "You think Dunkin' Donuts sells pie? I have the worst sugar craving."

He comes back in with four boxes of a dozen donuts each, and two cups of coffee. He's gotten Sam a bran muffin. And he sits there, as Sam watches with wide eyes, and demolishes them one after another.

It's like something from a freak show.

When he's done he licks the sugar from his fingers in a display that's just obscene, and then eyes Sam's muffin speculatively.

Sam has lost his appetite and just hands it over.

Dean licks off the icing and then eats it, looking at the door to the Dunkin Donuts . "I don't know what's wrong with me today but I could eat that again."

Sam thinks of the amount of sugar he's already eaten and retches. Even the Darkness thinks it might be disgusting and it has fantasies of breaking into the meat counter at Wal-Mart for an all you can eat buffet.

"I found a job," Sam says, still pulling the face as Dean obviously, seriously, considers putting himself into a sugar coma. "Haunted showers. Woman says the ghost pushed her down the stairs and apologized."

"Haunted showers, point the way, Sammy, we're there already." And Dean's grin is so familiar, so comforting, so homey, that Sam decides to ignore the shining white bead batting against the steering wheel of the impala.