Title: crowns and thrones
Disclaimer: Eric Kripke owns, yessir.
Warnings: SPOILERS. (Takes place after Changing Channels.) Speculation, language, violence, blasphemy.
Character(s)/Pairing(s): Dean, Sam, Castiel, Bobby, Lucifer – various others.
Other: ARRGGH. Keyboard mash. This chapter alone took for freaking ever to write. My muse? That bitch took off running. I had to force myself to write. This shit doesn't happen! So, if it sucks? Yea. Idk where the title came from. Part three of the Halo-verse. (It's the long one. Hehe.) I changed my pen name (formerly Vanus Empty) to a name I use for WoW, so don't go "who the fuck are you?" for those who have me author alerted.
"Send a heartbeat to the void that cries through you.
Relive the pictures that have come to pass.
For now we stand alone.
The world is lost and blown.
And we are flesh and blood disintegrate,
With no more to hate."
—"The Beginning Is The End Is The Beginning." Smashing Pumpkins.
"I'm telling you, Sammy," Dean says, putting the Impala into park in front of the motel, a newish looking white building complex with hopefully clean beds. He twists in his seat to stare at his younger brother. "We just need a nice, clean salt and burn, you know what I mean? No crazy, possibly possessed cars, no Gandhi, no Paris Hilton pagan gods, no little Anti-Christs who couldn't, no he-witches, no Trickster's who aren't. You, me, a batshit insane ghost, a gallon of gasoline, a thing of salt and a lighter. Like the good old days." He smirks when Sam's bitch face comes out.
"But, Dean," Sam begins in his 'you may be older, but I'm clearly the brains behind this duo' voice, "it's the Apocalypse. The End of Days. Revelations, Four Horseman, Lucifer, the whole nine yards. Ring a bell? Is a ghost really high up on the list of our priorities?"
Dean exhales. "Yea, Sam, I get that it's the end of the freakin' world and all, but we haven't heard a peep from Lucifer and, yea, sure, I'm as freaked out about that as you, but what can we do? Bobby hasn't found a thing, no other hunter has heard anything, and Cas hasn't found God despite having my necklace – still feeling naked over here, by the way!"
Sam smirks, but it dies quickly. "Yea, but," he cuts himself off, rubbing the bridge of his nose like he is in pain, then he sighs and nods. "Yea, yea. I guess you're right. But Dean," he shifts his weight to look at his brother more clearly, "if anything comes up, we're dropping this case."
Rolling his eyes, Dean exits the car, gently slamming it closed. "Whatever, Sam. It's easy, I'm tellin' ya. I already know who the ghost is, where it's buried, everything."
Sam halts as he got out of the car, half-way to shutting the door. His brow wrinkles. "You did research?"
Dean shifts his weight in a shrug. "I was bored. Couldn't sleep."
Shutting the door, Sam circles around the car to stand beside his brother. He looks at him in concern. "Bad dreams?" He asks.
"Well," Dean huffs, "if you don't count that old recurring dream about the fabric softener bear, actually no."
Sam's face screws up, like he was trying not to get angry. "Dean..."
"No, seriously." Dean faces Sam. "Honestly, ever since Lucifer pulled a Prison Break, I actually haven't had any nightmares. Weird, huh?" It was the truth, actually, save for the fabric softener bear nightmare. He hadn't had the one since before Hell.
"I guess so," Sam says, exhaling softly. It figures Dean's nightmares would transfer to Sam, one brother having reconciled his guilt while the other is unable to.
"Anyway," Dean begins, shrugging his shoulders. "Get our shit. I'll get us a room."
Huffing to himself, Sam nods. "Alright."
Dean grins. "Good," he says as he begins walking towards the office. "Bitch!"
Sam rolls his eyes and shouts to his brother, "Jerk!"
"So, tell me about this ghost," Sam says, leaning back in the chair of their shared hotel room. The room itself is spacious, with clean carpets and beds. He hasn't checked the bathroom yet, but he assumes it is clean. Hopefully.
"Simple. Woman in white," Dean explains, gesturing vaguely with his hands. "Woman's name was Melissa Ballard. Same story, different chick. Husband cheats, woman snaps, kills kids and self. Had three – ages nineteen months to four."
Sam grimaces in horror. No matter how many vengeful spirits they come across, a mother killing her children will always be near the top. "God," he sighs.
Dean's mouth quirks once, then he continues, "Husband is dead now, by the way." His smirk is something dark and new. "Testicular cancer that spread to his other major organs."
Try as he might, Sam cannot not wince, just slightly. Dean grins, a flash of teeth. "Since Melissa died, three women – all who physically resembled the woman her husband cheated on her with – were killed in the house she died in."
"So," Sam cuts in, "just need to salt and burn her?"
"Uh-huh. Buried out in Saint... Joseph's?" Dean checks a piece of paper, then nods. "Yea, Saint Joseph's out on Tenth Street*."
Standing, Sam moves to grab his bag and begins to pull things out of it. "Great. Just wait until dark and burn her?"
"Yep," Dean drawls, falling back onto the bed, spread eagle. Sam observes him for a few moments, squinting. Dean's been strange lately, both a little more confident and insecure, like he isn't familiar with his own skin. The last time Dean had acted so odd is when he crawled out of his own grave.
He inhales and sits back down on the chair, absently turning a .45 over and over in his hands. He's more secretive, too. Is Dean, despite having said they'd give each other fresh starts, still not trusting Sam? Or are thoughts of their possible (probable) deaths by Armageddon hovering in his thoughts more than usual?
As if reading his thoughts, Dean's head lifts, eyes meeting Sam's. Sam shrugs at the unspoken question (you okay?). "Are you?" He returns.
Mouth in a line, Dean shakes his head honestly, leaning back onto the bed. "Our lives suck, man," he says, emphatically. Sam snorts in something other than mirth. Yea, their lives sucked.
"Hey, Dean?" He waits until Dean lifts his head again. "Wanna get something to eat?"
Dean grins, sees the olive branch. "Hell yea," he says.
By the time they get to the restaurant (a nice looking place that reads "Jenny's"), Dean is starving. It feels like he hasn't eaten in days, rather than hours. The waiter is a guy in his thirties with a tag that reads "Jack." They order and the guy departs quickly.
"So," Sam says as they wait.
"So," Dean echoes. The silence is long and awkward, their relationship still too bruised to truly connect any time soon.
In the time it takes for them to even come up with anything to talk about, Jack returns with their food and drinks, slipping away just as quickly as he comes in. Both men dig into their food enthusiastically. Halfway through their meal, Dean's cell phone goes off. He gets a brief dirty look from the old man in the booth near them, but he shrugs it off, opening the phone. "Yea?"
"Michael." The voice is both familiar and still unfamiliar. Raphael.
Dean's eyes widen and he coughs, clearing his throat. He turns away from Sam. "Ah, no. Dean, remember?" He asks into the phone. He can almost picture the look on Raphael's face – almost putting Sam's bitch face to shame.
Laughing wryly, he says into the phone, "Glad to see you figured out how to use a phone. Did you find what I asked you to find?" He asks him. In the corner of his eye, he can see Sam looking curiously at him.
There's a sigh on the other end. "No, I haven't, but I have narrowed the search down to North America – specifically, Kansas, I believe it's called."
There's a terrible feeling that begins to well up inside of Dean. "Kansas," he repeats numbly.
"This is familiar to you?"
Dean nods, then remembers Raphael can't see it. "Yea. Yea, I think I know where it is." He hopes it isn't, though. All roads lead back to Lawrence.
Raphael is silent for a few moments, then there is a rustle like he's nodding. "I see. Is there anything else you require?"
Pinching the bridge of his nose, he mutters, "Unless you can call your younger brother out of hiding, no."
"Yea. The one that went missing after I left," he says. Sees Sam frown at him suspiciously.
There was an enlightened sound from Raphael. "Gabriel. You've seen him."
Dean chews on his lips. "I think he's ready to pull his head out of his ass and head home."
"You speak in riddles. ...You're not alone, are you." It's not a question, but Dean answers anyway.
"Yea, listen. Keep doing what you're doing and tell your brother to stop being a child. Drop my name if you have to. He's not a kid and he needs to stop acting like one." Dean pauses and can almost see Raphael nod. "Anyway, gotta go. Bye." He hangs up before Raphael can respond.
Sam leans forwards, brow and mouth frowning in a single motion. "Who was that?" He asks.
Dean barely manages to not grimace. "A guy I met while we weren't together," he explains, almost hesitant. He should have thought this would have come up. He just didn't expected it so soon. His two lives are beginning to crossover, if only slightly. "I met him on a hunt – with Cas," he adds, because it's the truth.
"You were on a hunt with Castiel?" Sam asks, expression somewhere between guilt and envy.
"Ah, just the one," Dean says, waving his hand in a flippant motion. "Whole waste of time. Not only did nothing pan out, Cas has no idea how to lie. It's a little depressing. Actually told the cops the truth – demons and all."
Sam's mouth pulls into a reluctant grin.
They don't like to talk about those weeks Sam and Dean were separated, only giving out the barest details – Lucifer's talk with Sam, the hunters attacking him, vague mentions of Dean's hunts. Dean had ranted for ten minutes when Sam had told him that he had burned every single one of his ID cards. ("Those things don't grow on trees, Sam!")
When they finish eating, Dean pays and they leave, Dean's thoughts miles away.
At three in the morning (when no one in their right mind is awake), Sam and Dean begin to dig up Melissa Ballard's grave. Sam takes a moment to admire the headstone – elegant in it's simplicity. However, he finds it appropriate that "loving wife, loving mother" is not on the stone.
"Come on, Sam, put your back into it," Dean gripes beside him, tossing a pile of dirt to the side with ease.
Sam rolls his eyes and continues to dig. Dean's the one who is supposed to be glancing around, making sure Melissa's ghost isn't about to bash their skulls in. So far, not a peep from Melissa. The only sound is the wind rustling the trees and insects making little insect noises.
However, Murphy's Law dictates that what can go wrong, will go wrong. This is also called the Winchester Fact of Life.
Sure enough, Sam hears Dean grunt in pain and sees him hit the ground just as their shovels scrape the lid of the coffin. His head snaps up and he sees a woman who is nearly an entire foot shorter than Sam standing beside Dean, glaring at him.
Her voice has an almost echo-like quality when she speaks. "What are you doing?" She demands.
Dean doesn't answer, only cocks the shotgun and shoots her, causing her image to dissipate in a spray of rock salt. "And the guest of honor appears," Dean snarks. Then he says, "Sam, hurry the Hell up. I've got her."
Sam nods, though he knows Dean isn't paying attention to him. He hastily finishes digging and pries the lid of Melissa's coffin open. He barely has time to salt her whithered corpse before he sees Dean go flying through the air, landing on the ground several meters away with a sickening pop, Dean's yell of agony following after.
"Dean!" He yells, searching for Dean's shotgun. He finds it beside the grave bed and lifts it, shooting Melissa with the rock salt again. Sam turns, searching for his brother.
Dean's carefully lifting himself up, shoulder obviously dislocated. His face is pale with pain. "Hurry up, damn it, Sam!" He chokes out.
"Yea," Sam gasps and grabs the gasoline, hauling himself out of the grave. He pours the gasoline onto the salted body and throws down a lit match with it. The fire catches and soon the entire body is in flames. The nearly appeared Melissa, too, bursts into flames, her scream dying before it begins.
There's a moment of stunned silence before Sam releases an explosive breath, stepping away from the fire and moving towards Dean. His brother nods, silent in his request for his shoulder to be popped back into place. Sam places his hand in position and, when Dean grits his teeth, realigns it back into the socket. Dean's moan of pain is stifled, then he breathes a sigh of relief.
"Thanks, Sam," Dean says.
Sam nods and helps Dean stand before moving to grab their things, shovels, gasoline can and salt. Dean is carefully cradling his arm, face still pained. "Come on," Sam says, nodding towards where Dean had parked the Impala. "Let's get out of here."
Dean mumbles something. Sam pauses and glances back at him. "What was that?"
"I said," Dean growls, "I hate ghosts."
Sam tries not to smirk. "You're the one who suggested this."
Dean snarls something else at him, then, "Don't remind me!"
Damage report: one dislocated shoulder, one scraped palm, one bruised forehead. Sam makes Dean wear a sling for a few days and drives the Impala himself. Dean is Unamused.
"So, now what?" Sam asks, twenty minutes out of town. "Head to Bobby's, see how he's doing?"
Dean shrugs with his good shoulder, absently tapping in time to the beat of "Some Kind of Monster." After a moment, he says, "No. Head to Kansas. Lawrence."
Sam freezes in the drivers seat, frowning. He looks at Dean. Dean is pointedly not looking at Sam. "This about what that guy back in the diner said? The one you were on the phone with?"
"Yea." Dean sighs, rubbing a hand down his face. "I asked him to look for something for me. He says it might be in Kansas."
"But why Lawrence?"
"When is it never not Lawrence?" Dean returns.
Sam scrunches his face up for a moment, then nods. "Point."
"Not gonna ask what I asked him to look for?" Dean asks.
"Would you tell me if I asked?"
Dean sighs. "Well. No. I don't... I don't wanna say. Not yet. Not unless it's there. If it's there," his brother moves restlessly, like the thought that it's not there would tear him apart, "I'll explain everything." When Sam shoots his brother a look, his face is tired – resigned. "Everything," he repeats, like there is something significant about it.
"Alright," Sam says slowly. The look his brother sends him is part grateful for not pushing, part suspicious for him not pushing.
The drive to Lawrence is long, conversation sparse – the beat of Metallica thrumming within the car.
Er. ER. Yea. Just needed to get this retarded chapter out of the way. Everything will come easier now that I'm getting the ball rolling. I just needed to get Sam and Dean's entrance out of the way. I have this scene in my head and I want to write it sobad, so I'm gonna hurry the hell up while I still have some inspiration going! The muse has been chained to me – that bitch isn't going anywhere!
Saint Joseph's on Tenth Street*: I think this is actually a parking lot in my city, where I go to school. Joseph is also my older brother's name. The only member of my family I like.