Title: Their Darkest Hour
Rating: R (dark thoughts, some strong language)
Genre: Angst - serious, heavy-duty angst
Pairing: Dean/Cas slash, Sam/Gabe pre-slash
Spoilers: Season 5 through to Hammer of the Gods.
Warnings: Character Death, dark themes, some slightly suicidal thoughts
Word Count: 2880
Author's Note: This is the sequel to 'Last Night'. A small section of dialogue has been almost totally stolen from Hammer of the Gods and adapted for my purposes - because it's central to Gabriel's character in the show, I think, and so needed to be said. Also, large chunks of italics between SPNSPN markers are flashbacks/memories.
Disclaimer: I own nothing, I'm only borrowing the boys to play, I'll put them back more or less in one piece, I promise!
Dean knelt on the cold, hard ground, his arms wrapped tightly around his brother.
This isn't what was supposed to happen.
They'd been ready, sure, confident...over-confident.
And now...now they were dead.
Sam. Cas. Gabe.
Around him the warehouse is littered with bodies, blood spreading across the cold hard concrete.
They'd been people, with lives and homes and families, and yet Dean couldn't bring himself to care.
He didn't care that they'd been tricked by something they should have been able to trust – not anymore. Because they didn't matter – only three of the bodies in the building meant anything to Dean now.
Gabriel. Still and quiet in a way he's never been before. Led flat on the cold white surface, blood pooling around him from the wound on his chest. Huge black wings of ash spreading out twenty feet either side of him.
Castiel. Sprawled awkwardly where he fell, his neck a mess of blood and flesh where the blade intended for Sam's heart had torn through him.
Bearing no wounds more serious than scrapes and cuts, but cold and lifeless in his arms.
Dean had screamed. He'd shouted and cried and sobbed, and now he was empty. He had nothing left, and so he knelt, and he held his brother, and he prayed to a God he hated for death.
The foot-steps echoed harshly in the silence.
It didn't matter.
If it was a friend, they would see, and they would understand that Dean was already dead – his body just hadn't caught up yet.
If it was an enemy...
If it was an enemy his prayers had finally been answered. God would finally show him some mercy.
"Oh, how the mighty have fallen..."
The words wash over him.
He knows the voice. Knows he should feel anger, hate, fear, fury...
But he's empty.
"I can give him back to you, Dean..."
A spark of something. He thinks it might be dread.
"It doesn't have to end this way for Sammy. You can still save him. Isn't that what you want...?"
Revulsion and fear battle their way up past the cold, empty nothing to coil around his chest. His breath freezes and his blood turns to ice.
It is what he wants.
But even through the fear, the pain, the hope that fight their way into his soul he knows there will be a price.
A price that he can't pay.
That he shouldn't pay.
That he's paid before.
And that thought sparks something else within him. Something that distracts him from temptation.
This is his mess.
All the deaths, all the pain, all because he needed to save his brother.
Anger came next.
At himself, at God, at the angels and the demons.
He hid the fear. Ignored the pain. Squashed the hope. Shouldered the guilt.
But the anger...
The anger he could use.
The anger is a weapon, it can make him strong again...it can bring him peace.
It can force Lucifer's hand, make him finish it.
He embraces the anger, feels it flow through him, and raises his head to face the Devil.
"Go. To. Hell."
Not original, but sincere, heartfelt, words edged with desperation.
"Oh, I'd much rather bring Hell here Dean."
His arms tighten around Sam as he forces himself not to look away. He watches as Lucifer lets his gaze drift across the warehouse, sees his eyes linger over the areas where Gabriel and Cas lie.
"I should thank you, really. Every one of my brothers you kill is one less to fight me. Your assistance is...appreciated, if unnecessary."
"Yeah? Well fuck you!"
"Dean, Dean, Dean...there really is no need for such vulgarity. I have to wonder though – which of you killed my brother? Defeating an Archangel is quite the accomplishment..."
Anger turns to confusion, which quickly turns to horror as he realises who Lucifer means.
Lucifer thinks they killed Gabriel.
His stomach clenches in horror at the thought, and Lucifer must notice something because he doesn't wait for a reply.
"Why do you weep for my brother, Dean?"
As though the words have made them real, Dean notices the cold damp trails on his cheeks where fresh tears are falling.
"Because he was better than you, and Michael, and Ra... and Raphael all put together, you asshole!"
He stumbles over the name of the archangel Gabriel once brought back to life. The Archangel who ended Gabriel's life.
"Gabriel fought alongside you?"
The genuine shock on Lucifer's face, in his voice, makes Dean's heart clench with anger.
"He did what was right."
He remembers Gabriel's reaction when Raphael arrived, a small army of angels at his back.
"Raphael...you're my brother, and I love you, but you...are a great big bag of dicks."
Gabriel moved to stand in front of Cas and Sam, his raised sword leaving no doubt of his intentions. Next to him Dean moved to help shield their brothers.
"Oh I'm loyal...to them. To people, brother."
"So you're willing to die for a pile of cockroaches...why?"
"Because Dad was right. They are better than us..."
"They are broken, flawed abortions!"
"Damn right they're flawed... But a lot of them try. To do better. To forgive... And you should see the Spearmint Rhino!" Gabriel forced a grin for a second, then let it fall. "I've been riding the pine a long time, but I'm in the game now. And I'm not on your side, or Lucifer's. I'm on theirs."
"Brother, don't make me do this..."
"No-one makes us do anything."
"I know you think you're doing the right thing Gabriel, but you're wrong. You don't want to stand against me."
"No, I don't. But I will if I have to."
"You have a knack for creating traitors, Dean – it's no wonder you fit in so well when you were in Hell."
He braces himself for the pain, the memories, that always pour forth at the mention of his time in the pit.
Of course it doesn't. He doesn't need it anymore.
He has a new hell now, he realises, tightening his grip on Sammy as he drops his gaze to his brother for a second.
"I meant what I said before, you know – I can give Sammy back to you."
"At what cost?"
The words were thick with bitterness and scorn, but the tiniest shred of interest, of curiosity, slipped out before Dean could stop it.
"Selling my soul for Sam is what caused all this – I've...I've learnt from my mistakes," Dean's voice cracked, but he forced the rest of the sentence out.
"Oh I don't want your soul – what good would that do me now? No, Dean...I want you. You're my brother's true vessel, and until he's got you, he's not going to risk coming after me."
"So I've just gotta keep saying no to Michael? And you'll bring Sam back?"
Hope swelled up. Terror griped him.
It was so simple, so easy.
Nothing was ever so simple. Nothing was ever that easy.
"I'm afraid I'd need a little bit more of a guarantee than just your say-so Dean. When your own family betrays you it can cause...trust issues...don't you agree?"
"What do you want?"
He is still broken, the wounds on his soul made raw with newly destroyed hope.
There is no easy fix.
"A vessel all my own...a vessel that won't rot around me. You give me that, and I give you Sam."
Confusion floods his mind again.
"But I'm not..."
"Dean, it's all really quite simple. You know about the bloodlines, right? Brothers as vessels for brothers. True, Sam would have been a better fit for me, but your time in Hell made you a close enough second. You say yes to me, Sam wakes up tomorrow none the wiser, living the life he always wanted, the life he could've had without hunting, without angels and demons..."
"And what's to stop Michael going after Sam?"
He's not considering this.
Horror burns through him as he tries to convince himself that he's not considering this.
Fear grips him as he realises that he already has considered it. That he hasn't just dismissed it as he should.
"Your brother still carries a taint – Michael would not inhabit a tainted vessel. I give you my word he would be safe."
He has nothing left, nothing to lose, but he could gain this.
He could finally make Sammy safe.
He's wavering. He knows he is. He knows it's wrong, but it's an intellectual knowledge.
Sammy alive and safe is right. Feels right.
He remembers how alive Sam had been the night before – how full of life he'd been. Other memories swarm in it's wake.
Sam's eyes shone with laughter as they shared a glance, before facing the audience and launching back into the song.
"They ask what it is I want written
On the gravestone where I'll lie
Tell them it's just my bones that died there
So save the tears they'll cry.
My spirit is still riding somewhere's in this night
And it's these three words that come to me
As I kiss this world goodbye:
Never say die, never say no
You got to look 'em in the eye and don't let go.
When it's your own blood you'll bleed
And your own tears you'll cry,
When you're brought up to believe
That it's the strong who survive
Never say die, never say die..."
Dean smirked as Sam blushed at the catcalls and applause, and silently thanked the Archangel for putting the smile on Sam's face.
Dean watched Cas laugh, and had to agree that at first it was slightly (okay, more than slightly) hysterical, but after a minute Cas straightened up a bit, and his laughter quieted and took on an almost relieved sound.
And then Cas looked at him, and Dean couldn't breathe.
Cas looked...he actually looked truly happy! His eyes danced, and his grin was so wide it threatened to split his face in half.
Dean found himself grinning back.
He watched as Cas turned back to Gabriel.
"Is the only one who can initiate the connection necessary for what happened. You were right, bro – all this time looking and you were right – he is still around, and apparently he does still care."
Dean thought he'd never heard Gabriel sound so full of hope or faith.
"You...you gave up everything, you even freaking died, to help us, and I should have told you a long time ago how much that meant to me, and I'm sorry I didn't, okay?"
Dean looked down at the floor, rubbing his hand across the back of his neck absently as he waited for Cas to reply. There was a reason he hated chick-flick moments, after all – they were freaking awkward!
"I did what I felt was the right thing Dean, there is no need to thank me for this."
"You cannot know what will happen tomorrow Dean, anymore than I or Sam or Gabriel can. I do not wish to die, but I will if it is necessary – to stop Lucifer, or to save you or your brother."
"Dean, you should know I am in love with you. I have been for quite some time now."
"This ain't about our livin' in a fantasy,
This ain't about givin' up or givin' in!
Yeah, yeah, yeah...
They were going to win, Dean thought. It was freeing, the level of certainty he felt. They were a team, a family, and they weren't going to give up, they weren't going to give in, they were going to fight to an end that suddenly looked like it might not be bitter.
We weren't born to follow!
Come on and get up off your knees.
When life is a bitter pill to swallow
You gotta hold on to what you believe!"
Sam safe and alive feels right.
But Lucifer walking free is wrong.
Cas, Gabe. Sam. They died to stop it.
He can't insult their memories by giving in now.
They were all prepared to do this when they thought it was suicide. Hope let them find joy in their last hours, and he's grateful for that.
And now he's not scared, because that hope, that joy, has given him the strength to do what he must.
"I feel like a stuck record, but Lucifer? Go to Hell."
He's torn away from Sam before he even finishes registering Lucifer's expression as blind fury.
His vision clears in time for him to see Lucifer leaning over Sam. He's pinned to a support strut, close enough to see but too far to do anything even if he could move.
He can still speak though, so he does.
He shouts, he yells, he screams himself hoarse – it doesn't stop Lucifer from placing his hand on Sam's head.
He sees a faint glow, and it feels like his heart stops.
He hopes and he fears in equal measure, because there's only one thing he can think that Lucifer might be doing.
It's the most wonderful and horrible thing possible, and Dean holds his breath.
"Sam could have been happy. You could have done that for him. Now...now Sam will be mine."
Lucifer's eyes remain on Sam as he speaks, and his words fill Dean with dread.
The hope is gone now.
Lucifer wasn't bringing Sam back so that they could leave, and he could keep asking patiently for permission.
He wasn't letting them go.
He was going to make Sam say yes, and even death wasn't going to protect him.
Hopelessness and despair fills Dean.
There's nothing left now, except pain and suffering.
No-one's coming to save them.
No-one's left to save them.
No-one's left to save Sam.
Lucifer won't stop until Sam breaks. Because Sam will break. Everyone breaks eventually, Hell taught Dean that.
The gasp of breath makes Dean's head shoot up, his eyes locking on Sam's form.
Sam's moving form.
Sam is alive.
Dean's heart leaps. He cries out, unable to help himself.
He sees Sam turn to him, sees him assess the situation.
He sees when Sam notices Cas and Gabe.
He watches his little brother's heart shatter, and then he meets his gaze and sees the second Sammy realises exactly how screwed they are.
Sam turns away from him to watch the fallen Archangel.
He wants to say something, anything, to Sam. Anything to try and help.
He can't trust himself to talk.
Because more than reassuring Sam, he wants to tell Lucifer he's changed his mind.
So he bites his tongue until he tastes blood, and watches.
"Let Dean go."
"I'm afraid I can't do that just yet Sam. I need something from you first."
Part of Dean thinks maybe Sam should just give in.
And then he could call Michael, and give in too.
And that would be it.
No more pain, no more fighting, no more suffering.
It would be over.
The rest of Dean drowns in guilt and anger for allowing that part to exist.
"I just need one tiny little word, Sam, and Dean can leave. I'll even wipe his memory, set him up safe and happy somewhere. He'll never know what happened. He won't even remember Hell."
At this he can't stay silent.
He opens his mouth to tell Sam it's not worth it, but nothing comes out.
He sees Lucifer glance knowingly at him, and realises that he's not going to be allowed to interfere.
He feels tears of frustration run down his face, and wants to scream.
He almost misses Sam's answer.
Pride fills him at Sam's resolute reply.
His brother is strong.
He won't give in.
Horror follows swiftly.
Lucifer won't accept no.
His baby brother's going to be tortured.
Sammy's going to be tortured in front of him.
He's praying now, to a God he hates, not for death, but for his brother.
He's praying and begging and pleading, because he can't watch this happen.
He can't stand here and do nothing while this happens.
He can't breathe.
At first he thinks it's panic, but then he realises that he actually can't breathe.
A vice is closing around his chest, and Sam is staring at him in horror.
Over the rushing of blood in his ears, he realises that Lucifer is speaking.
"...him again and again Sam, until you say yes. Can you watch him die over and over? All because you're too selfish to give one single right answer?"
Dean knows now that he won't have to watch Sam being tortured, and it's a relief.
Sam will break now, because Lucifer has hit on his worst nightmare.
He wonders idly if Lucifer knows about Gabriel and the mystery spot, and then dismisses it.
He doesn't know.
It's just Winchester luck.
He thinks it's almost funny that he's not sure if it's good or bad luck.
His vision starts to blur, and he looks at Sam, meets his eyes, and tries to convey everything he wishes he could say.
I forgive you.
I love you.
Just before he loses consciousness, he hears Sam whisper brokenly.