Title: Static Cling [11/11]
Warnings: Cursing, violence, standard SPN stuff, really.
Characters: Dean, Sam, Adam, Bobby, Castiel… and a surprise guest. ;)
Word Count: 4137
Summary: In the end, it is neither of them. Neither of them has what it takes to send Adam home. And yet…
Disclaimer: I own nothing. I barely own the ideas I use, randomly cobbled together from bits and pieces of things I've watched or read. Eric Kripke and the CW are the REAL geniuses here.
Author's Notes: It's the end of the line, people. This is the grand finale, and I thank you all for sticking with me through it. This is the longest story I've written to date. It's a little lighter on the lulz than Shiny Happy People, but I love it nonetheless.
You guys played a large part in ensuring I kept with it until the end, so I hope the ending is payment enough for your investment in this story. There is one more song in this chapter, but it needs no introduction. I am sure you will recognize it. :) Once again, all feedback is welcomed. Enjoy!
Something was bound to go right sometime today
All these broken pieces fit together to form a perfect picture of us.
- Snow Patrol, The Lightning Strike (iii) Daybreak
Adam goes off.
The speakers explode with one of the most earsplitting, god-awful noises Dean has ever heard, shrieking and humming and thrumming like some kind of demented, possessed pipe organ. The pitch modulates like crazy and changes at random, along with the volume itself, which grows louder and softer as it damn well pleases. The lights flicker on and off at random when they don't just explode outright, several of them burning about a dozen times brighter than they're supposed to. The freezers start to go psycho crazy, humming louder and louder, even the goddamn cash registers start to beep constantly, a loud complaint, like someone stepped on their foot and just will not move.
And as for the ghost himself…
You know those little lightning ball thingies that were really popular in the 80s? Like, with the glowy purple electrical insides that had those little energy tentacles that would follow your finger when you touched the glass? Plasma Globes, that's what they were called.
Well, it's kind of like that.
Adam stands with his arms outstretched, back arched as ginormous, bright blue arcs of electricity tear from his body at random. They move around unpredictably, or at least Dean isn't willing to stand out in the open long enough to predict them—he and Sam both dive into an aisle the second they get the chance.
"What did you do, Dean?" Sam asks (in a shout. They pretty much have to shout to be heard in this racket).
He kind of wishes he had a better answer. "I cut his anchor strings… or he did himself, with my help," Dean says.
Sam looks surprised. "Really?"
"Yeah!" Dean says. "Except apparently he didn't know. And now he's mega-pissed."
Sam takes the information in relative stride. "Holy shit! How is he still here?"
A stream of electricity annihilates a few ceiling tiles above them. They cover their faces to dodge the plaster.
"That's what I'd like to know!" Dean says. "Holy FUCK, he is ticked."
"He's unstable!" Sam shouts. "He's gonna destroy himself!"
"He's gonna destroy us!" Dean shouts back. "Shit! He was so freaking close to going on his own…"
Sam takes a second to peak out at Adam, just barely managing to duck his head back before he gets fried. "He's not mad," Sam says. "He's scared."
Huh. That makes sense. Fear is the father of anger, arguably even worse than his bratty child.
The end of the aisle explodes into a flaming mess. Toilet paper is highly combustible, apparently.
Suddenly, Sam gets that look. Oh, how Dean has missed that look. "I've got an idea," he says. "Go out and keep him distracted. Don't let him destroy the store, and keep him out of the back, okay?"
"Oh, yeah, piece of freakin' cake," Dean shouts. "Fine, okay, go!"
And Sam goes, taking off across the store in a dead sprint.
Which leaves Dean to deal with Adam.
Sam's cell phone is out of his pocket and in his hand before he is even halfway through the back room doors. "Call Bobby," he says to the phone, having invested in one of the newer models, hoping that the additional features would come in handy in situations like this, where he needs to make a call without fumbling with the touch screen or number pad or fuck him, the stupid phone is dead. Son of a bitch. And not 'dead' as in 'the battery needs to be charged,' but 'dead' as in 'my electric brother discombobulated it into a $400 plastic paperweight.'
Sam tosses the phone into a trashcan as he darts from the hallway into an office. Guess he'll have to do this the old fashioned way.
Inching over as much as he can, he picks up one of the few bags of salt that's still intact. Sam headed into the back room, and Dean needs to cover his tracks as quickly as possible.
Not that Adam seems like he intends to chase down the middle Winchester. Kid's a little… distracted.
"They'll find me, they'll find me, I can't hide, I can never hide, not from them, not up there…"
Adam's voice seems to come from everywhere. All of a sudden, he is in the middle of the same aisle as Dean, energy bursts ripping through the air and demolishing the ceiling in a shower of sparks. Dean just barely manages to turn around in time to duck behind his salt bag, which makes a surprisingly effective shock absorber. Hiding beneath his sodium shield, he scrambles backwards just as a snack bar's worth of pretzels explodes in his general direction. A few slices on his face, but he's dealt with much worse.
"ADAM," Dean shouts. "CALM DOWN, MAN! IT'S OKAY, I PROMISE!"
Adam is so far beyond listening, it's not even funny. "GET AWAY," he shouts, and several more objects near Dean detonate—a case of Bud, several bottles of cheap wine, and, oh yeah, an entire freezer's worth of Coke products. See, this is why he dresses in layers. You never know when you're going to get showered in high-velocity glass from all directions, and in situations like that, you really need all the protection you can wear.
"Whatever you're doing, Sammy, you better do it quick," Dean grunts as he reaches the stock room door, emptying his salt bag in a straight line at the base, and wondering if this place happens to carry haz-mat suits. Or a scuba-diving outfits…
"Bobby, it's me, Sam," he says quickly. It took him three tries to get Bobby on the line. The first time, he forgot to dial 9 to get a line out. The second time, his stupid giant fingers hit about six buttons too many. "I need your help."
"I'll be there quicker than you can spit—"
"No, no!" Sam says, shuffling through the massive mess of papers and random clutter on the desk. Whoever's office this is, they're a total slob. It's amazing how someone this messy can run their own life, let alone a business. "Where are you now?"
"I'm at the hotel room—"
"Perfect," Sam says. "I need you to do something for me…"
"They're dead, they're all dead, and none of them are dead, and none of them are alive, and they hate me, they hate me and I deserve it, I hurt them, I hurt them by being alive…" The kid is rambling like crazy. He's popping in and out of existence at random, his voice is coming from the speakers right alongside the Sound of Electric Hell, and every time he looks at the kid… he's disappearing. The cracks in his form are wider than ever, the thunderbolts literally seeming to tear out of him, and tearing him apart as they go. Where he once had cracks, he now has holes, growing more and more numerous as time passes. Jesus fucking Christ. Please don't let this kid go out like this, Dean thinks.
He runs down the produce aisle as fast as he can. Behind him, a stream of electricity tears through kumquat, watermelon, squash and pumpkin alike, blasting sticky, gooey fruity fragments into the stratosphere… or at least to the ceiling. The store is on fire in several places, the flames spreading like an outbreak of head lice, and why aren't the fucking sprinklers working? What the Hell kind of store is this?
Oh, there's the sprinklers.
He really shouldn't have said anything. Water plus electricity is fantasmagorically bad news for him. Fortunately, it seems Adam's fearsplosion has caused enough damage to the water system so that it's not raining on the other side of the store. All he has to do is get from here to there.
"…he'll find me, he said he would, I'm his, I belong to him, his forever, I said so, I said yes, no taking it back, no taking it back, he'll find me…"
Yeah. Piece. Of. Freaking. Cake.
"Come on, come on," Sam grunts, searching through the room. He's checked the top of the desk, the drawers, inside the cabinet, for God's sake, he even combed through the filing cabinet. There has to be one somewhere—
Unbelievable. It's on top of the cabinet. On top of the cabinet. Why would anyone put—you know what? Forget it.
He runs back over to the phone. "Bobby, you there?"
"I'm here," he says. "I've got it ready, just like you asked."
"Great!" Sam says, putting the result of his search on the desk where he can use it. "On my cue…"
"I hope to God this works, cause if it don't…"
"Yeah, I know," Sam says. "Fingers crossed…"
He is just about cornered here. Dean's plasma bomb of a little brother is teleporting erratically now, but each time he does it, he seems to land a little closer to Dean, and it's getting really hard to dodge at this rate. He's already gotten singed several times, had some hair that was just starting to grow back once again scorched from his head, and he's getting seriously worn out here.
"…can't go back, don't make me go, don't make me, don't make me go, my brothers, you're my brothers, don't leave me, PLEASE…"
And then he is right fucking next to Dean, the force of his appearance knocking the hunter off of his feet. He can hear the sound of the electricity blasting the floor around him as he covers his face. All that's left to do at this point is brace for the inevitable. He feels the tingle start as the lightning draws near…
"Adam," says somebody from somewhere.
And suddenly, the shocking stops. The noise stops. The lights stop. And Adam… just stands there, looking like hesaw a ghost. "What… what was…?"
"Adam," somebody says again, same tone as before. Dean swears he remembers that voice…
Adam's eyes go wide, and he takes a shuddering breath. "…M-mom?" he breathes, flickering out from in front of him. Ah, so that's who it is. …holy shit. Is that who it is?
The hunter gets back to his feet, looking around the store for any signs of spiritual activity. There is only one part of the place left where anything is working. A corner with two functioning light fixtures, where Adam currently stands, looking lost and alone.
"Mom, where…" he starts, but the voice interrupts him.
"Awww, sweetie, are you tired?" the voice asks.
Adam looks around for just a second, before his eyes mist up, and he nods. "…uh-huh."
Dean's jaw drops. Holy shit. Holy shit. He holds his breath as he carefully walks over, not wanting to disturb the scene, but needing to see what happens here. Sammy, if this works, you are the smartest goddamn…
"Is it time to go to sleep?" asks the voice of Kate Milligan in a gentle, motherly tone that to this day, Dean remembers from his own mom.
Adam blanches at this, shaking his head and looking pained. "…no, I can't…" His eyes don't stare at anything in particular, and it's not hard to imagine why. He's not here anymore, not really.
"But you need to, sweetie. If you don't, you'll just always be tired. Do you want to always be tired?"
"…no," Adam reluctantly admits, shaking his head.
"Well, I'm glad. You're cranky when you're tired," Kate's voice gently teases.
The Adam from before vehemently denied it… but this one just huffs out a shaky, wobbly laugh, smiling in honest-to-god happiness for the first time Dean has ever seen him. He is swaying on his feet again, eyes half-lidded and delirious.
"Okay, so let's try this again. Is it time to go to sleep?" Kate's voice gently prods.
Adam's ghostly legs can no longer support him. He falls to his knees, and lets out a breath that sounds so much like a sob that Dean's own chest clenches in sympathy. Actual tears spill out of his eyes, but he manages to pull it together long enough for a slow nod, and an "Uh-huh." His eyes are nearly closed now.
"That's my good boy," says Kate, and Dean can hear her smile, practically feel her warmth across time and space, as she coos the words that finally put her baby boy to rest. "Come to mama."
Adam leans unsteadily back and smiles at the sky he can't even see. With one final, shuddering breath, he lets out his last word. "…'kay."
With that, his eyes slide closed, and he falls. Even as he goes down, a brilliant, sky-blue light seems to engulf him from within, so bright that Dean has to shield his eyes with his sleeve for a few seconds. And when it's gone… so is Adam. All the lights in the building are out, and the tingling in Dean's skin is gone.
The kid is finally, finally at rest.
He stands there for just a few seconds longer, eyes anchored to the spot where his baby brother laid down to sleep. All he has left to offer is a shaky smile of his own.
"Sleep tight, kid."
Sam takes his finger off the 'talk' button on the PA microphone.
"Did it work?" Bobby asks from the other end.
"Yeah," Sam says, with a slight hitch in his voice. "Yeah, I think it did. Good call, by the way, on the rewind at the beginning."
"Good call yourself, keeping the tape," Bobby says. "So, I take it I'll see you two knuckleheads soon?"
"See you soon," Sam smiles, hanging up as Dean knocks on the door and calls him from outside.
"Hey, Sam, we better get a move-on. The roof is on fire, and we ain't got no water, so we gotta scram before the motherfucker burns."
Yikes. They're pretty much already arsonists in the eyes of the local authorities. The last thing they need is to be caught at the site of another burning building. Their next escape probably won't be quite so easy…
So with a quick look around to make sure he isn't forgetting anything, Sam heads out to join his brother. There was something funny about Dean's voice a few seconds ago, and it bears investigation. The way Sam sees it, he owes his big brother a few ovary-related jibes, and there's no time to collect like the present…
"…and finally, the local family-owned grocery store 'Connor's Market' also fell victim to last night's record-breaking storm. Firefighters arrived on the scene early this morning to find the building engulfed in flames. Although they were able to douse the blaze, the damage to the store was extensive. Authorities say that a lightning strike was the most likely culprit, though Store Owner Albert Connor has surveyed the damage himself and insists that some kind of bomb went off…"
Dean reaches up and flicks the radio off. "Ouch," he says. "I hope that guy's insurance covers acts of God."
"I'd say that's a lot more likely than 'acts of Ghost,'" Bobby grunts, pulling the brim of his cap down to hide his eyes from the early-morning light. It's daybreak by the time the three of them reconvene and start to head out of town. Sunrise. A new day. Dean can't help but cringe at the cheesiness of it all. Fucking symbolism. "So," Bobby continues. "One more time—it was Sam the kid was stuck to?"
Dean nods. "Damn straight it was."
"And you figured this out all by yourself?" Bobby asks.
Dean scoffs. "Hell yes, I did." He turns his shit-eating grin towards Bobby, half-hoping to blind him with the sunlight reflecting off his teeth. "I think I deserve a treat. Milk and fresh-baked cookies. You know I love your chocolate chip and macadamia nut."
Bobby snorts. "Oh, of course. And on top of that, if you're real quiet the whole drive home, I'll let you stay up an hour past your bedtime. What do you say to that?"
Dean thinks for a second. "…yeah, not likely."
"Should've known better than to hope for quiet from you," Bobby sighs.
Dean just keeps on grinning. "Speaking of quiet… you alright over there, Sasquatch?"
The three of them are crammed into the cab of Bobby's truck. Dean's driving, Bobby is leaning against the window, trying in vain to catch up on his lost shut-eye. Sam is sitting forlorn in the middle, staring longingly at the sunrise like the emo kid Dean knows he is. "Yeah," Sam says in a thick, hoarse voice. "Yeah, I'm fine."
"Uh-oh," Dean mock-sighs, shaking his head. "Sassy's getting all emotional on us."
Now, Sam is positively brimming with outrage. "Dean, tell me you did not just go there."
Dean shrugs. "Hey, if the shoe fits—"
"I was nice to you!" he shouts. "There were actual tears on your face when we left the store. I was all geared up to ream you for it, but you looked so bad, I actually felt sorry for you. That'll teach me to show mercy to someone. Next time you're down, I'm not just going to kick you, I'm going to riverdance on your ass—"
"Don't make me turn this car around," Bobby grumbles from the passenger's seat, in a tone that tells Dean in no uncertain terms that he is willing and able to do exactly that.
"Sammy, dude. Cool your jets. I'm just messing with you, man. I'm actually glad to have you getting all weepy on me. I missed my giant, cuddly little buddy," Dean grins.
That puts a lid on Sam's steaming teapot, and he smiles in spite of himself. "Yeah? Well, that makes two of us. I missed me, too."
"I wish I could miss the both of you. For the love of Nyx, will you girls put a tampon in it and let me sleep?" Bobby grouses.
"Sorry, Bobby," Sam winces.
"Rest in peace, old man," Dean smiles, ducking the air freshener hurled like a knife at his temple, and decides that maybe this time he should be quiet. Bobby without sleep is like Hilary Clinton without clothes—not a pretty sight.
They ride the rest of the way in silence, at least until Bobby starts snoring. The only other sound is the hum of the engine, the roar of the road, and the occasional slap of a hand on a shoulder, as Dean reaches over and puts an arm around Sam, squeezing him for a second. Sam looks a little confused, but the smile fights its way to victory once again, and Dean's own smile brightens in return. He's starting to think that maybe being kind-of-sort-of affectionate every now and again isn't be such a bad thing. Next visit to the physician, he'll ask his doctor if this emotion stuff is right for him…
Bobby nearly shoots them when he sees the wreck the inside of his house has turned into. His dog is happily sleeping on the couch, and a small family of raccoons is making short work of his pantry when they arrive. He and Sam spend a few hours cleaning up the disastrophe in the kitchen and washing the smell of wet mutt out of Bobby's couch cushions.
"You know," Sam says, on his hands and knees, scrubbing the floor. "Sometimes… sometimes, he wasn't so bad. If he wasn't crazy… or, you know, dead… he probably would've fit right in."
Dean smiles. "I wouldn't have wanted him to fit in, but… if he had to, I think he could have. I think we would've liked him. You know… eventually." He pauses for a second. "He was a good kid. Bad ghost… but good kid."
Later, as they bid Bobby farewell (or rather, as Bobby kicks them out of the house so he can get some fuckin' shut-eye and not worry about them playing with lead paint or drinking the stuff under the sink), and head out to the Impala, Sam has one of his Sam moments. Dean feels it long before it actually hits, so when it comes, he's braced and ready for impact.
"So, Dean," Sam says as they climb into his beloved beauty once again. "That stuff you said… in the store…"
"What about it?" Dean asks as he reaches into the backseat. Now that Adam is no longer haunting them, Dean kind of wants his radio back. He has been seriously missing his tunes.
"Since I was… you know… the anchor, or whatever," Sam stammers. "You… uhhh… I guess you pretty much had to say all that—"
"I meant it," Dean says simply, shoving the radio back into its rightful place.
"Dean, you don't have to…"
"I meant it, Sam," Dean says. "Still do. So... believe it."
Sam looks at him with his stupid lost puppy eyes, something Dean hasn't seen in freaking forever. God, he's missed this. "…okay," Sam says, finally, smiling. "I do."
"Good," Dean says. "'cause I'm not saying it again."
Sam snorts. "Jerk."
"Bitch," Dean replies.
And for a second, all is right in the world.
Dean cranks the car…
Once, I rose above the noise and confusion
Just to get a glimpse beyond this illusion
I was soaring ever higher,
But I flew too high…
Sam's eyes cloud over, his face in slight shock. "That's…"
"I know," Dean says. He's a little freaked himself.
Though my eyes could see, I still was a blind man
Though my mind could think, I still was a mad man
I hear the voices when I'm dreaming,
I can hear them say…
"Dad's favorite song," Sam says.
Dean looks around the car, does a little sweep with one of the spare cells they keep in the dash, but there's no sign of Adam. "You think it's him?" Dean asks. "You think he knew?"
Sam shakes his head. "I don't know… maybe it's an apology. Or a goodbye."
"Or a coincidence," Dean offers as he puts the car into gear…
Whatever it is, they decide, it's appropriate. The tie that bound the three of them together offers a final benediction they can all appreciate.
Carry on, my wayward son
There'll be peace when you are done
Lay your weary head to rest
Don't you cry no more.
He can barely move, and he hurts everywhere. He feels like he's been shredded into confetti, getting ready to be thrown out over someone else's parade. Someone is carrying him in their arms, and he knows he should care. He should care who it is, where they are going, what they are going to do with him, but he's just so tired… he can't even summon the strength to open his eyes. It's so bright here…
Still… what if... what if they have him? What if they're taking him to—no, no, not again…
"Calm yourself, Adam," a stern, gravelly voice gently commands. He recognizes it, and the realization just makes him struggle more. "Adam, please. Your spirit is badly damaged. Do not injure yourself further. I am Castiel, a friend of your brothers', and I will not harm you."
Adam doesn't believe him. He can't, not after everything.
And yet… he stops squirming, just the same. There's no point in fighting, anyway. He can't get away…
"Don't be afraid, Adam. You will not have to see me for much longer. I am taking you to a safe place, and to someone who will take very good care of you."
Adam doesn't believe him. He can't… and yet, somehow, he feels calmer.
"Oh, God," another voice says, and Adam freezes. He can't breathe, he can't move, he can't think. But it isn't from fear… he just… he can't let himself believe… "What did you do to my baby?" the voice says.
It's instinct. Pure, primal urge. He reaches his arms out towards her, squirming against the hold of his captor, trying to reach her. She reaches him first, taking him in her arms and wrapping herself all around him. He feels warm for the first time in ages—melting after lifetimes of frostbite.
"He is hurt," Castiel's voice says. "But he can recover. With you, in time, he will be made whole again."
"Why? Why would you do this to him…?" she asks, and she sounds so sad. Adam just clenches to her tighter, because he doesn't want her to be sad. She always hugged him when he was sad…
"I wish I could give you an answer that would satisfy you," Castiel says. "But I don't have one. All I can say is that in time, he will heal, and you have time. You have forever."
She squeezes him gently, and he feels her carrying him away. "Oh, my baby. My sweet little boy… it's okay. Mama's got you."
And that, he believes.