Title: links of fate
Character(s)/Parings: Dean, Sam, Bobby, Castiel. Mention of Dean/Jo.
Rating: PG-13 for dark themes
Warnings: Spoilers through fifth season. Set after "Abandon All Hope."
Disclaimer: If I owned "Supernatural," would I be writing fanfiction?
Summary: Sometimes, you have to choose your own destiny. //The fallout of "Abandon All Hope."//
Other: Not going to spoil anything here, but just so you all know, as much as I love Supernatural, sometimes, I feel we just need to take a break from all the testosterone. I mean, seriously, couldn't we have one recurring female character who isn't a manipulative demon? Hence the end of this fic.
Sam is in a bad way long before they get to Bobby's. It starts out as nothing but grows and grows until the tears are uncontrollable, and Dean has to pull over the car in order to play big brother.
If he's honest with himself, though, the tears in his eyes are clouding his vision so much, it's impossible to drive.
They sit there for a while, each man (boy) crying, each one drowning slowly in all the grief neither can imagine ever overcoming.
Nothing is said because, really, what is there left to say?
When all his tears are cried, Dean starts the car and continues the long drive back to Bobby's. He doesn't bother to turn on the radio as he would usually; the music of their misery is already flooding their ears.
They tell the story to Bobby as plainly as they can. Or rather, Sam tells the story, because having wept all his sorrows out, he quickly realizes that, for once, he has to be the strong one.
Dean, for his part, is grateful, even if he'll never say it.
(He wonders if this means the rift between them has finally mended.)
Bobby is silent for a moment before wheeling himself to the kitchen. He returns with three beers in his hand. They drink without words, separate in their thoughts but whole in their grief.
They burn that photo, but the tears still come anyway. There are no words of comfort or healing embraces. Watching Sam sit alone in the corner, beer next to him practically untouched, Dean wishes not for the first time that his mother was still around. That they were still young boys, easily mended by a father's unconditional if somewhat distant love.
Mostly, though, Dean simply wishes he knew how to save his brother from his suddenly very inevitable fate.
"You okay, boy?" Bobby asks him quietly. Dean looks over, admittedly startled, and laughs bitterly in response.
"Okay?" he asks. "Why, gee, yeah, Bobby, I'm just dandy. Thanks." He slams his beer down on the table and turns on his heel, stalking toward the door.
"Now, hold on, Dean," Bobby calls. Dean stops, glaring at his mentor. "I didn't mean…"
Dean sighs, letting go of the anger. "Yeah," he says, rebuilding the bridge. "Yeah, I know."
Sharing a significant look with Bobby, he turns once more and heads out front, a handing passing over his eyes.
Castiel is there, gazing up at the sun. Dean joins him, looking not at the sun, but at the angel next to him. They say nothing for a long while. Neither is a man of many words, and Castiel is not even a man. A fact that Dean often forgets in all the chaos.
Eventually, the human says, "So what now?"
The angel does not move. If Dean didn't know better, he would have thought Castiel a statue, even as he spoke, "So now I'm expected to know all the answers?"
This irritates Dean. "Hey, what happened to Mr. I'm-an-angel-trust-me-you'll-know-in-time?"
Now Cas looks at him with that look on his face that Dean's pretty sure only angels can give. "That was before," he says. "I'm no longer that…person."
"Yeah, but you're still an angel."
"Things have changed," Castiel reminds him.
"Well, change them back!" Dean spits ludicrously, pushing Castiel, whose back hits the wooden column holding up the porch. They both ignore the creek it makes.
"I'm an angel, Dean," Castiel says calmly, "not a god." When he looks up, there is defeat in his eyes. "I don't have that kind of power."
"Then why are you here?" Dean demands, still angry, still wanting to hit something. Because they're losing, or they've already lost, and no one's on their side. Who would want to be? Anyone who believes in their cause either ends up dead or paralyzed. Some life.
Castiel catches Dean's eye, looking the most like a human he's ever been, and says quietly, "I don't know."
Then he's gone.
Dean regrets his words immediately because he's angry—furious, mad as hell—but it's not Cas's fault. They need Cas, even if they never say it, and besides, Dean came to terms with this ambiguous sense of love and brotherhood he feels for Castiel a long time ago.
The thought makes Dean chuckle maniacally because he's finally learned to love someone beside his brother, and that someone isn't even human.
Then again, he's not sure that entirely matters.
(He's also starting to come to terms with the idea that not all demons are bad, not all angels are good, and humans lie somewhere in the middle.)
Dean stands in defeat for a moment, all sense of hope and adrenaline abandoned, until the front door opens and Sam joins him on the porch, his hands in his pockets, his shoulders hunched over.
"We failed," he says simply.
"Story of out lives," Dean returns, his mind drifting to dead fathers and demon blood.
Sam opens his mouth to say more, but is interrupted by Bobby, who comes onto the porch to suggest that the boys stay the night.
"No point in you two wasting any more energy," the older man explains. All Dean hears is 'No point.' He feels that phrase coursing through his veins. It makes up his entire being. He thinks it might be in his DNA.
His dreams are nightmares filled with demons and monsters and Colts that don't work. Lucifer appears as he always does—out of nowhere, without warning—and kills Sam over and over and over. The more Dean tries to stop it, the gorier the deaths become.
(Eventually, he learns to stop trying.)
Then, suddenly, Dean finds himself in something of a graveyard. It spreads for miles and miles, with a deep gray fog hovering over the tombstones. Dean glances around urgently, searching for any sign of life. He doesn't know why he expects there to be any; after all, he's in a graveyard, and this is a nightmare.
"Hello, Dean," a light voice says, and he looks to his right to find a girl staring at him, her eyes searching and intense. Her dark hair falls in waves, and all around her is an obscene amount of blinding white light.
He knows her. He's seen her before.
She's an angel. Or, at least, he presumes she is. She's never spoken to him before, let alone specified exactly what she is. She monopolizes his dreams sporadically, often spending the entirety of them watching him, waiting for something he can't give her because he doesn't know what it is.
But this time, she speaks.
"What are you doing here?" he questions quickly. She smiles sadly as he strides toward her. "What do you want?"
"Dean," is her only response. "Oh, Dean."
"What?" he demands, his irritation growing. "What is it?"
"Don't, Dean," the angel says in warning.
"Don't what?" Dean asks wildly. When she doesn't reply, she cries, "Damn it! Can't anybody tell me what the hell I'm suppose to do!"
The angel disappears. All is quiet. Until…
"Dean…" an eerie voice calls. He twists around, searching for the source, but finds himself still quite alone.
"Who's there?" he calls. "Who is that?"
"Dean…" It's the same voice, and still Dean is alone.
"Dean." Another voice, different, lighter. And closer. Dean shudders, moving toward a tombstone until he is backed up against it. Before his eyes, spirits begin to appear everywhere, of people he knows and people he never will.
"What do you want?" Dean repeats, admittedly frightened.
They float about him, their eyes desperate as they call out his name.
Ruby appears to his left, her eyes red and her mouth set in a snarl. "Dean Winchester, you murdered me! I'm dead because of you! I'll tear your eyes out!"
Jess, Sam's almost-fiancée who he never knew but might have liked if he had, is on his other side, sobbing as she cries, "Dean! You took Sam away! He could have saved me! Why, Dean, why!"
Meg is there, too, in human form, bemoaning her untimely death. She cries and cries about dying so young, and all Dean can feel is sympathy.
Bella appears behind him, muttering to herself about angry sex and dead mothers and fathers. He feels next to nothing for her.
His father is next, but he does not speak, only stands there and stares at his son. The disappointment in his eyes is almost worse than any screams he could articulate.
Suddenly, Ellen is there, and Jo, saying simultaneously, "You had the chance to kill him but you couldn't. You failed, you failed. You failed, Dean Winchester, you failed."
They, and many others, stand there, crying out to him, begging that he save them somehow, and suddenly to his right, a white light appears, and in it, his mother, standing there with open arms, begging him to join her. Breaking through the crowd of spirits, he races toward her, crying out, but at the last moment, she vanishes, and he finds himself in the arms of that other, unnamed angel.
She holds him as he shakes and cries, but it isn't a mother's touch, and it's not what he needs.
Finally, he pulls roughly away from her, and is surprised to find they are no longer in a graveyard, but surrounded by that wild light. It envelopes Dean in a caress that makes him feel almost safe for the first time in twenty-five years.
"Who are you?" he asks roughly, pulling farther away from the supposed-angel.
In response, she simply tilts her head and vanishes. In her place, a large screen appears, upon which play the important and not-so-important events of his life. He watches as he and Sam try and fail over and over to find some sort of solace in a world that refuses to be saved, with people too stupid or broken to try to save it.
He is watching his Uriel-induced trip to the future, with the camp and Lucifer-Sam and stoned Castiel, when she appears behind him. Her breath is hot on his neck.
"It doesn't have to be that way, you know," the angel says. "You. That camp. Sam. You can change things."
He doubts it because, after all, he's only human. Who is he to mess with fate?
"What if I don't want to?"
The angel appears suddenly before him, her face mere centimeters from his. "I don't believe you," she informs him matter-of-factly.
Dean shakes his head. "There's nothing left to do! The Colt doesn't work! We're drowning here, and none of you damn angels wanna help us. Tell me what we're supposed to do."
Fury splashes across the angel's features and into her eyes. Her hands grasp at his arms, and he is thrown back against a tree he didn't recall being there. In his face once again, she shouts, "Eat, breathe, hunt, live, fight! Do anything but give up!"
Dean studies her, his eyes hard. "Why do you care?" he asks.
The angel falters for a moment, her fury evaporating, and for a moment, the vulnerability in her eyes makes her appear almost…human. She looks at him sadly. "It's my job to care," she informs him, but as she looks away, Dean thinks that might not be the whole truth.
Resolved, she looks back up at him, their noses nearly touching. "You must do it, Dean. You must stop Lucifer."
The tears in his eyes threaten to boil over, but he will not cry. No matter how much the ache in his chest hurts, he will not cry. "I can't," he admits. "I don't think I'm strong enough."
It's something he would never admit while awake.
"Yes, you are." She sounds so certain that Dean almost believes her. "You are because," she adds in a whisper, "you have to be."
Without another word, her lips find his, and even though his head is still filled with Jo-Jo-Jo, he lets her kiss him because the sensation feels like healing. Or at least like being alive, and that's something Dean knows how to hold on to. He's not sure how long he kisses her, but as he does, his head is filled with the endless possibilities: of triumph and tragedy, of death and life, of Lucifer and Michael, of Cas, Sam, and Bobby. He's not sure if these thoughts come from his brain or from the angel.
When she pulls back and steps away, there is something indescribably human in her eyes. Dean grabs her arm, making sure she won't disappear as he asks, "Gabriel talked about destiny. What's mine?"
"I do not know."
"Why not?" he demands, his grip tightening, because he is angry and because he can see her figure becoming fainter. Soon she will be gone.
She looks into his eyes, the waiting and watching ever-present.
"Sometimes," she says slowly, "you have to choose your own destiny."
She disappears then, and once again, Dean is left on his own, her words ringing in his ears like bells.
He wakes with a start, sweating and breathing heavily. He sits up quickly when he realizes he is not alone.
"Cas, you son of a bitch!" he cries, as he recognizes the figure in the corner. The angel steps forward. "Don't scare me like that again. Ever."
Castiel does not address this. "Were you having a nightmare?" he asks, frowning.
Dean swallows. "You could say that."
Castiel nods, as though he understands, even though Dean knows he doesn't, because angels don't sleep, let alone dream.
"Hey, Cas?" Dean says. "I, uh, I'm sorry, man, about…about earlier. I just…don't know what to do anymore. Maybe Sam and I do have to become the vessels. Maybe that's all there is left to do."
Castiel gazes at him. "Maybe," he says. "But then again, maybe not." He sits down on the couch next to Dean, studying his hands. Dean studies him, trying to think of what to say next.
"Do you think God is really dead, Cas?" he finally asks.
Castiel looks up, frowning, and if Dean didn't know any better, he would have said that Cas was crying. "Sometimes," the angel answers with despair lacing his voice, "it's the only thing that makes any sense."
"Yeah," Dean responds. They spend the rest of the night silently immersed in immeasurable amounts of sorrow.
The next day, Dean, Castiel, and Sam pack up to go on a search for monsters and God in a completely literally sense.
They stop in a bar that night, and Dean meets a girl with dark hair that falls in waves and searching eyes that wait for something he can't quite figure out.
She says her name is Hope, and when she smiles, Dean finds his again.