Fanfic: Yes (An End 'verse tale)
Beta: Borgmama1of5, editor extraordinaire. All mistakes are mine.
Summary: Sam thought he could imagine all the ways Lucifer would tempt him. He was wrong.
Spoilers: Set in episode 5x04 The End's universe.
Genre: Gen, Angst
A/N: This story has a sequel, called, Yes, too, which is set in the same End 'verse and deals with Dean's road to saying yes to Michael
The hunt went well like they almost always did. Sam was efficient, neat, deadly. Some might say ruthless, but these were monsters after all. He wasn't sure their opinion should count. Looking himself over he realized he barely had a scratch. But the same couldn't be said for the werewolf with the hole in the center of her chest. Killing female werewolves had actually bothered him at one point.
It was almost funny if you thought about it, which of course, he didn't.
He pulled the body onto the tarp and wrapped it up for disposal. Old habits die hard, even though he didn't need to be quite as careful anymore. The authorities had way more to worry about than a few unexplained bodies, what with the Croatoan virus turning hundreds of thousands of people into raging hell spawn. Sam, of course, was immune. Thank you, demon blood. A monster left to tackle the remaining monsters. Cosmic poetry.
Routine was, in its own way, comforting. His father's gravelly voice instructing how to wrap the body, set the pyre stones first and build it up slowly with twigs and eventually smaller branches as kindling. That deep, soothing voice that had once comforted, made him jump when it turned to anger, cry when it reeked of disappointment, and burn inside when it went against him. The voice that sent him for coffee, right before dropping dead.
Even after all these years it was impossible to watch the werewolf's body burn without remembering standing stone still at his father's funeral pyre, tears falling at the waste of it all. And yet it felt like it had happened to someone else. Emotions were a silent enemy that could get you killed. So Sam didn't allow them any longer.
The sound of the fire was the only noise in the deserted woods. It drowned out the occasional rumble of a lonely car on Interstate 94 as it headed into Detroit. He'd come because of a Dogman sighting. Originally an April Fool's Day prank perpetrated by a local DJ, the legend of a half-man, half-wolf took on a life of its own. Usually it was nothing. Sometimes it was a large rabid dog. And then every once in a while the viciously mutilated bodies started turning up – hearts missing.
Just like the hunters, the werewolves were aware of local lore. It was easier to stick to a place where they were expected, easier to throw the authorities off course. But Sam knew what he was looking for and found it fast. As was par for the course she reverted to human after being shot and looked at Sam with that confused look they sometimes gave him. Another Sam used to hold their hand until their last breath gave out. Now he began pulling the tarp in place even before the body started to cool. Monster hunting monsters. Sympathy need not apply.
The soft, slightly questioning voice surprised him, which was shocking in and of itself as nothing and nobody ever got a drop on him any longer. Gun out, steady and pointed, he spun in the firelight. A tall man stood just beyond the line of light. No matter, even if only a gray blur he'd hit him dead center. Sam Winchester didn't miss. Eyes locked on his target he took a step away from the fire.
"Who are you and what do you want?"
"Easy. I … just want to talk. Castiel sent me."
This gave Sam pause. He hadn't talked with the angel in more than three years. Last time Sam had set eyes on him was a year ago, and Castiel hadn't seen him. He relaxed his stance the barest amount but kept the 9mm up and ready. "I'm listening," he said into the darkness.
"Stay calm, please. This will be hard to understand. I'm going to come closer. I'm not armed. Don't shoot, okay?"
Sam nodded once, while reserving judgment on whether he'd shoot or not. The man came slowly out of the black into the fire's yellow glow. Eyes widening, Sam slowly lowered his weapon as the other man became visible. It wasn't the Colt so it wouldn't work.
"No. I thought you'd think that. I'm not Lucifer. I … I'm you."
Sam stepped back and considered his options. Assuming this wasn't the devil then it was a shapeshifter and he needed silver bullets. He didn't have the right weapon for either possibility, but he could still hurt the son of a bitch.
As if reading his thoughts the other man quickly said, "I'm not a shapeshifter either. I'm you. From the past. From 2009. Castiel sent me." At Sam's obvious disbelieving gaze the other man pulled out a knife and a small silver flask. "Look. It's silver, splashed with holy water … you know this knife … it used to be – Dad's." He ran it against his forearm, slicing a thin red ribbon. "See? Not a shapeshifter. Or a demon."
He handed the knife to Sam who looked it over. It was silver, and damn if it didn't look exactly like the one his father'd had. Because he wasn't born yesterday he poured his own holy water on the stranger's cut. Nothing happened.
"Not a shapeshifter, not a demon," the other man repeated. "I'm not Lucifer either because you're not dreaming. And you haven't said yes."
Weird was nothing new to Sam. Shit, he and Dean had seen enough weird to last … Damn, broke the number one rule. No thinking of … him. Ever.
"Okay. Say I believe you. Say you are me. What's the message? What's Castiel want me to know?"
And why wasn't Castiel delivering the message himself? He'd have heard if anything had happened … hunters talked. As far as he knew they were holed up in that damn summer camp, keeping the Croats and the military at bay. Dean couldn't travel around like he used to. Pureblood wasn't immune like he was. Again. Dammit, the rule existed for a really good reason.
"You're not going to like this. Hell, I don't like it and I'm supposed to … Look, can we get out of here, go somewhere warmer maybe, and talk?"
The wind was blowing through the trees like a witch's snort, noxious and cold. The fire behind him was starting to wane. Silently he made short work of poking through the remaining ash and breaking apart any bone slivers. The other Sam kept his distance and said nothing. There wasn't much chance Castiel had anything to say to him that he'd want to hear. The angels could kiss his ass for all he cared. Still if there were any truth here and this … person … really was some younger version of himself, maybe he could tell him a thing or two. Get him ready. Teach him the rules. It would have been nice if someone had done that for him.
* * *
He didn't hang up right away. He heard the clipped goodbye followed by the click. He could picture his brother's sad yet resolved face, and knew it was over, yet couldn't hang up. Holding the cell to his cheek he drove on mindlessly. The road turned and he twisted the wheel one-handed in response. On and away, driving forward, going nowhere.
This was what alone felt like, he thought. He'd never been alone before. He'd thought he was but he had been wrong about that. This was alone. There wasn't a person on this planet who cared if he took another breath, and that included himself.
Eventually he dropped the phone and it skidded onto the floor. The car was no longer moving. He must have pulled over. The 9mm felt warm and firm in his hand. He knew the weight of it, knew its strength. It had saved his life more times than he could count. He remembered the first time his father had put it in his hands. He wanted to rebel, to say no, but this time it was hard to summon the negative. This gun was sweet with its shiny pearl handle. And in time, it had become an extension of who he was.
Seemed fitting that this would be the instrument to end his life.
* * *
They made their way back to Sam's car. Predictable, not flashy, a Ford Escort, very Sam. The younger Sam adjusted the passenger seat to accommodate his long legs. Sam looked at himself. No wonder he'd been teased all those years. The self-chastisement came quickly. What was this? He'd gotten to the point of only breaking the number one rule maybe once every six months, not every six fucking minutes. He breathed in deeply to clear his head.
"So, when in 2009 are you exactly?"
"Last night Lucifer came to me. Told me his plans. That I … we're his vessel."
Sam's eyes widened looking over the other man. He seemed calm, reserved, in pretty good shape. That was not his condition after Lucifer's revelation. Not by a long shot. His suspicions rose again. Something was wrong.
Again the other man seemed to understand his thoughts before he said them. "I know. I'm not panicking enough, right? Well I was. As freaked out as could be. Especially after calling Dean."
Sam flinched. That name had not been uttered in three years. That was it. He'd have to explain the groundwork right quick to this wannabe Sam.
"We don't talk about that. Say what you came to say … but don't talk about him."
The man nodded, didn't seem surprised by this outburst. Well at least he didn't show it. "Is there somewhere safe we can stop for a drink? I … Castiel told me about the Croatoan virus."
"He did, did he? Right nice of him. Not that it matters that much to us as we're immune. But that doesn't stop us from being kill-able. And those mothers like their killings. They'll rip you till you are filleted, ground into chuck and packaged. It's something to see."
He sensed the other man's eyes on him. Guess that came out rather cold. Too bad. It had been his choice to come here and play messenger. The whole thing didn't make much sense. This was this guy's future. If you wanted to change something didn't you have to go into the past? Nothing he did could possibly make a difference to this Sam. In fact, it was the other way around. He could steer the kid clear of some things he wouldn't mind wiping out of his memory. That is, if he bought into this absurdity.
"I know some places. We're not the only immune human. There's a small resistance movement."
"Dean runs one?"
Sam felt his blood run hot. "I told you we do not talk about him."
"Okay. I'm sorry. But he's my brother, too."
"No. We … I … do not have a brother."
* * *
Lucifer's smooth voice came out of Jessica's lush lips. She soothed, she smiled, she promised salvation and hell in one breath. He'd forgotten how much he'd missed her until she was lying beside him again. Everything came back. Her scent. Her curves. The bounce of her hair and the gorgeous blue of her eyes. Until the abomination took over and he thought he'd hurl on the spot. It hurt, as bad as her death had skewered him all those years ago, when he'd fought his brother to let him burn with the woman who had lit up his soul.
If he'd thought he could be with her again then this would have been easy. Pull the trigger and join the love of his life. A no-brainer, and frankly he would have done it long before now. But he was a monster, and monsters didn't get invited to heaven. There was no question where he was heading. And he was scared. Dean had lasted 30 years before breaking in Hell. Part of him wanted to believe he was stronger, that he'd go longer. But the realist knew that was a ridiculous expectation. Truth was, he was halfway to demon already. Didn't make a difference if he held off ten years or thirty or even fifty … the ending would be the same. Demon blood wins.
He thought about leaving a note. To whom? Dean? He'd said all he could say to Dean. And there was nobody else he wanted to say goodbye to. He was gambling that since Lucifer didn't know where he was physically that he'd be able to die and stay dead long enough that he couldn't be brought back. It seemed like a worthwhile risk. It would give everyone one less thing to worry about. Lucifer had admitted that the body he had now – Nick – couldn't hold him for long. He needed Sam. Take Sam out of the equation and maybe the other hunters would find a way to take Lucifer out or put him back or whatever one did with the devil.
He lifted the gun. A moment of doubt twisted his gut. Was this right? Would it help? Or was it selfish like every other this-is-a-good-idea move he'd made – demon blood … Ruby … running after Lilith? Or was this just a final screw you to his brother? Dean. They were so different. Literally black and white. At one time, disappointing Dean would have been earth-shattering. When had it become commonplace? Dad, now that was different. Disappointing Dad stopped hurting a long time ago. Because he didn't love Dad like he did … He let the tears flow. At least in the last minutes of his life he would be honest.
As the moisture rolled down his cheeks he apologized to his brother one last time. Sorry for choosing a demon over you. Sorry for leaving and breaking your heart. Sorry for causing our mother to die, for being born and destroying your happy, normal family. Sorry for being part demon and not having had the guts to do this sooner so you never had to feel like you'd have to do this one day. Sorry for Hell. Sorry for Lucifer. Eyes closed he pressed the nozzle tight to his chin, teased the trigger and whispered, "Sorry for this."
* * *
The room was smoky, cramped, and dank. Sam wondered where in hell folks were finding cigarettes but they were ubiquitous in all these dives. Booze, too, although that surprised him less. As long as there was one human left he figured there'd be alcohol. And these days it was more necessity than not, after watching your family become dog chow. The proprietor brought over two shot glasses with a pissy brown liquid. No need to ask for anything, if you came in, you wanted a drink, or else you'd have stayed outside. Sam downed his quickly and watched his younger self try to do the same. He fought back a laugh as tears clouded the other man's eyes and his face went red.
"Yeah. 'S got a little bite. You get used to it when it's all there is."
The other Sam put the glass down warily. He took a deep breath and faced the Sam that belonged in this hell on earth. The hell he started. Well, the one they both started. "I am wondering something."
Sam indicated for the other man to get on with it. He signaled the proprietor for another drink. Sam the younger said no. When the craggy old owner put it down he looked at the two of them and gave a broken-toothed grin. "Your brother?"
"I don't have a brother," Sam answered instantly.
Sam glared and the owner walked away mumbling a curse.
"What are you wondering about? Who wins the World Series?"
"No. I was kinda wondering how it was you're alive."
Well that was unexpected. Why would past-boy expect him to be dead? Did he get a tip from a fortune teller? Deserved a refund if that was the case. Or Castiel? Wasn't much of an angel if he got that wrong. "If you thought I was dust why bother making the trip?"
The other Sam looked at him with a look he never thought he'd see again. He never had been that young, had he? "I just tried to kill myself. Figured you did the same, as we're the same person. Castiel came – well … what saved you?"
There was a level of sadness in the other him's eyes that he hadn't recognized. Confused it with puppyness. Guess it ran deeper than that. And if it really was just a day past Lucifer's visit then this wasn't a good time for Sammy boy, after that call … He mentally paused. Maybe he should start a swearing piggy bank. Only instead of putting in a quarter for each cuss he'd put one in for each Dean-inspired thought. Dammit. Another quarter.
"I'm not dead because I didn't shoot," he answered bluntly.
How much did he owe this interloper? He was a ghost after all. A memory. "I didn't have the guts."
The other Sam stared, looked at him in a way that unnerved. Like he goddamn knew. Well maybe he did. Who cared? He'd be damned if he was going to talk about this one more second. This was about whatever message Cas was sending to the future. But he had to ask.
"So, did Cas stop you from pulling the trigger?"
"Not exactly. I … wanted to … but … I hesitated and then he was suddenly there."
Interesting. Not quite what happened to him.
"What did he want?" Sam asked.
"To talk to me. He told me … shared some things that had happened to … well, the person you don't want me to name."
"That's what this is about?! Cas's effort to help him? Well screw him. And screw you. Get out. Tell Cas to go to hell."
"Please. I know how you feel. He hurt me, too."
"Shut the fuck up. This isn't about any hurt feelings. It's about decisions and consequences. Look … " He inhaled deeply and forced the words out. "Dean was right. Told the truth. Sometimes there is no turning back. We were never really brothers. I got it and it's best you get it, too."
"You're wrong. He never … the angels used us. Used us both."
"Tell me something I don't know. Doesn't change the truth."
"You don't know the truth because they changed it."
"What are you talking about?"
The other Sam pulled out a cell phone and laid it slowly on the table. "I know this isn't everything. I know it's just a drop in the bucket of all that happened and one thing can't … but it mattered, man, when I heard this. It fucking mattered."
Running his hand through his hair Sam was getting impatient with this wannabe's doublespeak. "Say what you came here to say already."
"Remember last year, right before I … we … went with Ruby to kill Lilith, Dean left us a voice mail message?"
Branded like a freaking etching in his ear drum but he'd be damned before he admitted that. "I guess. Was a long time ago. What does this have to do with anything?"
"The angels altered the message."
Sam ordered another drink. There was no good place for this to end. He'd put all this crap behind him and now this blast from the past was dredging it all back up from the muck. You're a monster Sam – A vampire …
And later, admitting he'd tried but it was no use. What they had, if it ever existed, was long gone. And that was years ago. Now it felt like it had never existed. And if … well, that's why he had the rule. And yet he couldn't help himself.
"I have Dean's original message to me. To us. Castiel gave it to me last night. It's not what we heard."
Sam fought back a laugh. "Castiel gave it to you? So one angel says the message was altered by, what, another angel. And we should believe him because he's the trustworthy one? God, you really are naive. It's another scam. They like to manipulate, mind fuck, it's what they do. The angels, Lucifer -- once an angel, always an angel. There's no difference. Tell Castiel next time he has something to say to get off his wings and come find me. If he can."
The other Sam looked frustrated. "I told him this would be impossible. I know myself. I didn't believe at first. But then … I thought about it. I remembered. Sure he was mad. But you know Dean. He flares hot and fast. And then calms down. He's always forgiven first. From when we were kids. It's us that holds the grudge, not Dean. Look, just listen. You decide what's real."
He picked up the phone and pushed a few buttons, held it to his ear and then handed it to Sam. "Push 1," he said.
Sam did so. Dean's voice assaulted him – first time in three years. This pretty much shattered the rule to smithereens. "Hey, it's me. Uh ... Look, I'll just get right to it. I'm still pissed ... and I owe you a serious beat-down. But ... I shouldn't have said what I said. You know, I'm not Dad. We're brothers. You know, we're family. And, no matter how bad it gets, that doesn't change. Sammy, I'm sorry."
The younger Sam stared at him, head leaning down slightly in the way he did when he wanted to reach someone. He felt like yelling stop that. Stop being me. Dear God, had Dean really left that message? Could he really have said that on that night? The worst fucking night of his life? Well, second worst … fuck, okay, one of several candidates for the spot, but he wouldn't have done it if he'd heard that. Wouldn't have drained that nurse, wouldn't have killed Lilith, wouldn't have freed Lucifer. Or would he? The power felt so good and he was so sure that he was doing the right thing. That he was helping his brother. It would be nice to fantasize about the path not taken. But all there was, in the end, was the path he took.
"You know this one's real, right? I knew the second I … it's Dean, man. No question about it."
"The other sounded like him as well."
Sam junior stared again. There wasn't much use arguing. They both knew he believed. Still, ancient history … unless … "Sam did the angels screw with us when we called Dean after Lucifer … ?"
"No. That was true. Dean thought we'd be better off apart."
Sam let that travel over him. Really they needed to let this lie then. It was hard enough the first time. Barely survived then. A second time, he wasn't sure.
Mind reading again the younger man asked, "So you never said what saved you that night? It wasn't fear. I know that."
"You know nothing."
"I was going to do it, I'd started to squeeze. This was last night for me, man. Yeah, there was fear, but even so I wanted it so bad I could taste it. Just let it fucking end."
"What did Castiel say that stopped you?"
"He didn't. I'd already stopped. Same reason you did."
"I love him, too."
He was on his feet and shoving the other man hard before he could think. He'd killed men for saying less. Way less. "Shut up. Shut the fuck up. I don't have a brother. He fucking left me on the worst day of my life. Slammed the door and told me to never come back."
The place was pretty empty but with two identical 6' 5" behemoths going at it whoever was left decided to call it a night. The owner came over and told them to take it outside with the Croats, he didn't need the grief.
Sam shuddered, breathing deeply. He indicated that he was alright; just get him another drink and some privacy.
They sat again and pretty much were alone now. This time they both drank. The younger one was getting used to the strong drink. Sam downed his on one long gulp and met his own knowing stare. It was disconcerting.
"Okay, you son of a bitch … I didn't fucking do it because I knew it would kill him. Happy now?"
Younger Sam nodded, but looked far from happy.
"Enough. Tell me what Castiel wants me to know. Can't just be a phone message from four years ago. Hardly seems worth the frequent flier miles."
Junior laughed. "That sounded like …"
He didn't finish. Was learning.
"Okay. This part gets … weird."
Sam laughed. "Now it gets weird?" He looked around. "That's rich. Go on."
"Yesterday. Well, yesterday for me. Right after Dean tells … us … no, Zach sent him on a trip into the future."
Sam spun around as if expecting to see his barely older brother sitting at another table.
"No. Not to this year. Further ahead. To 2014."
"He sees the effect of the virus. It's just starting now. It gets so much worse. There are so few humans left. It's really hell. He meets himself. Kinda like us, now. Cas said that 2014 Dean is hard, changed. He … doesn't care about anything, anyone. He's a resistance leader. But heartless."
"Sounds about right."
"You've seen him? Cas said that future Dean hadn't seen us in five years."
Sam looked down, wondering how much to say. "I … I've seen him, but he hasn't seen me. Jobs take us to the same place once in a while. I've got much more mobility being immune, but sometimes he goes out. Cas tell you what happens to him? To Cas, I mean."
"No? What happens?"
He laughed. "Never mind. You ask him that next you see him."
"There's more. The future Dean tells my Dean that he should say yes to Michael. Says he's tried himself but the angels have disappeared. They've deserted us."
"Boo-hoo," Sam said. "So, where am I in 2014?"
The pause lingered too long. "Ah. I see. Well nobody lives forever. Don't mind knowing it's done for me as long as Dean's still around." Damn he wished that rule was still in place. "That's good," he finished quickly.
"It's not like that. Well, it is, sort of. You … us … Dean meets you but you aren't … you."
It took a moment to sink in and then Sam went pale. "You aren't saying …"
"Yes. Future Dean tells him that you said yes. In Detroit. Pretty much … now."
"Get the fuck out of here. I'm not saying yes. And if … our brother said so then he's a liar. Or it's another angel manipulation."
"Zach wanted to teach Dean a lesson. Wanted him to see what would happen if he keeps saying no to Michael, how screwed up the world gets. How he'd have to kill … me. But he couldn't. Lucifer kills him. Snaps his neck under his shoe. And he promised Dean that they'd met again, right at that spot. That no matter what he does, Lucifer would win."
Sam wanted another drink but knew soon he wouldn't be able to think straight. Although that didn't sound so bad. "He watched me kill him?" God he hated how his voice sounded. Feelings long buried needed to stay buried.
"Then Zach came back and zapped him home. Told him to say yes to Michael. But Dean said no. Cas whisked him away. Dean said he figured out something else from Zach's lesson. That we … that he was wrong to say no to me. That we're family and stick together. That we keep each other human."
"Dean told you this?"
"No. but he will. Castiel told me he would, that he'd say those very words. Only …"
"Only … you … need to say yes in order for all of this to happen."
* * *
"You can't be serious Cas. Do you have any idea what you're asking? I'd rather die than let that evil bastard take me over! Do you know what he'd have me do? It almost destroyed me when Meg … No, it's too much, you can't ask this of me."
"Then all will be lost."
"What do you mean?"
"Zach didn't mean for me to learn what happened during this little experiment. But I did. I spoke with Dean. He wants to call you. He knows that together you stand a chance and I believe him. Dean has a sense about things that … it's hard to explain except maybe I don't need to explain it to you Sam. He's your brother. You know how right his instincts are sometimes."
"So let him call me."
"No. Zach set this up as a 'what if' lesson. In order for these actions to play out, we have to reach you in 2012 and make sure you will say yes. We have to make it real."
"But if I say yes then that destroys the world, doesn't it?"
"That world, yes. This world … you and your brother's world – together – you stand a chance."
"He would never. I would never. Cas. You ask too much."
"Yes. I ask too much. But Sam, would he do it for you?"
* * *
"You ask too much," Sam said.
The younger man could not disagree.
"This is more than suicide. It's genocide."
"But if your actions help Dean realize he was wrong ... If he calls me ... If we stick together ... Work as brothers. Tell me you don't think Dean was wrong. He was. And he's going to admit that."
The bitterness stung. "He had years to admit it to me. Never did. Never called. Not once."
"Because the virus, the apocalypse changed him. My Dean … our brother … he's been changed. Did you try to contact him again?"
Sam hadn't. It had hurt too much. He'd hardened himself and built rules and killed monsters and life just was.
"It could really change? Cas said that if I do this … it can go differently?"
The younger him hesitated. "For me. Not for you. For you … it would mean hell."
Sam knew this. He wasn't stupid. "I don't give a fuck about me or you."
He got a knowing nod in return.
"Or Castiel or the archangels. Or God. I do this, it's not about them."
Junior waited patiently. Dammit, why was he fucking crying? We're brothers. You know, we're family. And, no matter how bad it gets, that doesn't change.
"If I do this he'll never know. You swear to me right now you'll never tell him. Never."
"You got it."
"He's my brother."
"Yes, he is."
"How do I find Lucifer?"
"Go to Detroit. He'll find you."
"Just say yes?"
The man who shared his face and read his mind nodded mutely. He rose to leave.
"Cas meeting you? Taking you back?"
Another nod in reply. "Tell Castiel he's a son of a bitch."
Junior smiled. He looked like he was about to say something else, but then just turned and walked out.
Sam sat and downed another drink. He had a date with the devil. 'S okay. Because if it gave his younger self and his brother a chance to whip Lucifer's ass together, bring it on.
A/N: I know time travel leads to paradoxes that become loops. I can't explain it and won't bother trying. It's just a neat idea and a novel way for Sam to have said yes. And because I can't leave a good paradox alone, this story continues in Yes, too where we follow Dean's path to saying yes to Michael.