Disclaimer: Supernatural belongs to Erik Kripke, Warner Brothers and quite possibly others who are not mentioned here. No money will be made from this fan fiction.
Author's note: This is the result of a plot bunny mugging. AU from both before the end of season six (probably) and the end of season two. Darn bunnies. Small amount of Destiel, but hopefully not too much more than what can pop up in the show.
XXXNew Author's note, New Author's noteXXX : October 19th 2012, to clairfy above statement, when I say small amout of Destiel, I'm talking small. Fanservice level. They may never catch a clue (sadly). Additionally, some minor changes were made to this chaper to better explain what was on Ash's map.
Summary: When Dean goes to sell his soul at the crossroads to bring Sam back, someone else steps in to negotiate the deal. Cas did get a sign and it sent him off into the past to change things. AU from The Man Who Would be King and All Hell Breaks Loose.
It's All in the Details
Dean knelt in the dirt, placed the tin box squarely into the hole he had just dug and then covered it over, smoothing the earth and gravel out with a few swipes of his hands. He stood and looked down each lane of the crossroads.
"Come on already." He said quietly, yelling out the next line. "Show your face, you bitch!"
"Easy sugar, you'll wake the neighbours."
Dean turned and took in the form of what would have been a beautiful woman if her eyes hadn't just shifted from a dark brown to blood red and back again. He felt the air turn to mud in his lungs as he fully realized what he was about to do, but it didn't matter. Nothing mattered now, except getting Sam back.
"You'll bring him back?"
The crossroads demon nodded. "I will. And because I'm such a saint I'll give you one year and one year only." God, the mud in his lungs just turned to concrete. He ignored it, breathing past it as he listened to the rest of the deal. "But here's the thing. If you try to welch or weasel your way out, then the deal is off. Sam drops dead and he's back to rotten meat in no time." They stared at each other for a moment. "So, was a better deal than your dad ever got. Waddaya say?"
Dean was just one heartbeat away from sealing the pact with a kiss, when the blast tossed him away from her. He landed on his back, hard. Fighting for air, he pulled himself to his knees and stared in disbelief at the blacken remains of the crossroads demon. A few wheezing attempts to breathe later and he was finally able to take in enough oxygen to taste the far too familiar flavour of ozone in the air. A lightening strike had taken the bitch down, but that didn't make any sense. Being that close to her when it happened should have left him just as dead.
"What the hell?"
A light chuckle came from behind him and he spun around, standing up out of his kneeling position as he did. A man stood there, looking somewhat unemotional despite the laugh from a moment before.
The guy's voice was a growl, as if he started his day by gargling gravel and finished it by smoking three packs of cigarettes. Dean assessed him quickly. About 5'10" or so, with blue eyes and dark, slightly messy hair. He wore a trench coat over a nondescript dark suit. Looking at him, tax accountant was what came to mind. Or maybe, demonic IRS.
"Who the hell are you?" Dean poured all of his frustration into the question. He had just been moments away from saving Sammy.
"My name is… unimportant. Though you may call me Cas, if you have the need."
Dean snorted. "What I have a need for, is you telling my why you just screwed over my deal."
The tax accountant looked down at the greasy fried remains of the crossroads demon. "Let's just say that your contract was somewhat above her pay grade."
"Great…" Dean gave the guy a grimace. "So I guess this means I have to kiss you now?"
Trench coat frowned at him. "Why would you do that?"
Dean gestured with his hands, taking in the area of the crossroad. "To seal the deal? To bring Sam back? Any of this ringing any bells with you?"
"My soul plus one year?"
"For your brother's life." Flat statement.
The guy, Cas, or whatever his name really was, tilted his head and stared at Dean, apparently mulling the deal over. Then he nodded. "Very well, I think that may be the best way."
Dean crossed the few feet that separated them. He hesitated for a moment, and then grabbed onto the guy's trench coat, pulling him in for the kiss. The hunter was relieved when 'Cas' was initially unresponsive, giving a squeak of surprise when the guy gripped him by the back of the head and used the leverage to deepen the kiss. He devoured Dean's mouth as if the taller man were a gourmet meal, with pie for dessert.
Dean's eyes were glassy when he was released and he filed away the deal demon's mutterings about thanking the pizza man under the heading of Not Asking, Ever.
Dean shook his head to clear it. "What?"
"What?" Dean didn't have the chance to ask him anything further. The tax accountant grabbed him by the left shoulder and pain at a level he'd only experienced once or twice before, when he'd been close to death, shot through him. It literally hurt too much to scream.
Then it got worse.
He was on his knees for a third time that night. The pain was everywhere and he would have been begging for it to stop, if he could only have found his voice. It went on and on and on until his whole life felt as if it had been nothing but this torment.
It was such a shock when it ended.
Dean lay in the dirt, shaking, certain that any further motion wasn't an option.
"I'm sorry, but some things had to remain the same."
What the hell? The same as what? That was the question Dean wanted to ask, but he just didn't have the strength.
"I have to go fix Sam; he should be alive and well by the time you get back to him." The guy hesitated for a moment and then he reached out, touching Dean's head with two fingers. Dean jerked as he found himself behind the wheel of the Impala. A quick assessment proved that his body was suddenly steady enough to drive and the tax accountant from Hell had disappeared on him, which meant… Dean wasted no time starting the car and turning it back towards Cold Oak and Sam.
Castiel stared down at Sam's body and heaved out a deep breath. This may very well be the stupidest thing he'd ever done, and that was saying something. Time travel had rarely done them any good, yet here he was, trying to change things. The only reason he had any hope that this could work was because this moment in time was balanced on the end of a pin. He wasn't here to try to tip it one way or the other. He was here to remove the flimsy support. The problem was he now had to replace it with something better.
He reached out and touched his fingers to Sam's head. The boy's eyes snapped open and he sucked in a surprised breath. Scrambling up into a sitting position, he took in the trench-coated figure next to him.
"Who the hell are you?"
Cas tilted his head and looked at the young man that he knew well, who currently didn't know him at all.
"You may call me Cas. I am the being that your brother just sold his soul to, in exchange for your life."
Sam's eyes went wide. "No." That one whispered word was almost a prayer in itself. "No. Take it back!"
Cas shook his head. "I will not." He noticed Sam's clenched hands and recognized that the young man was moments away from violence. "Your brother should be back from the crossroads in a few minutes." Sam relaxed slightly at the mention of his brother, and then tensed again.
"How long did you give him?"
"A year." The angel felt his conscience kick at him at Sam's horrified expression, but he buried it. "I would like you to give him a message from me."
"Tell him, when someone steps in to take over a deal, that he should really make sure that they didn't change any of the details."
Castiel was fairly certain that if he hadn't disappeared right then, that Sam would have punched him.
Sam was checking out his completely healed and pain free back when Dean showed up. He wanted to be angry with his older brother, and he was, but when he found himself caught up in a desperate hug the younger man couldn't deny the relief he felt pouring off of Dean, all because Sam was alive once more.
Still, all good things have to end. Sam shrugged out of his brother's arms. "Damn it Dean, why?"
"He left you a message. Said you should make sure of the details when someone takes over a deal. Want to tell me what that was about?"
"Son of a bitch." He hadn't wanted Sam to know what he'd done. And he had made sure of the details. His soul plus one year equals Sammy alive. What else was there to know?
"Dean, how could you..."
"Damn it Sammy, what was I supposed to do. I couldn't leave you like that, I just couldn't. I had to save you."
Sam shook his head. "Can't you ever think about looking after yourself?"
Dean gave a short painful bark of laughter. "No, not really."
Sam nodded. "Well, looks like I'll have to do it for you. You're not going to go to Hell Dean, I'll find a way to fix this."
The words, 'you can't' were on the tip of the older Winchester's tongue before he swallowed them. If it would help Sam deal, then let him look. He wouldn't find anything and it should be fine as long as Dean himself didn't try to slip the deal.
The brothers ate, both of them starving after two day of death and mourning. Avoiding the elephant in the room, Sam filled Dean in about what had happened to him since he'd disappeared and Dean told him about the Roadhouse burning down with everyone inside. After that, the two of them headed back to Bobby's place to try to figure out what Yellow Eyes was up to, now that he had his chosen one in the form of Jake, the guy who had stabbed and killed Sam.
Sitting in the car as they drove, Sam realized how pissed he still was at his brother. All year Dean had been angry with their father for sacrificing his life for his oldest son. However, the minute it was his younger brother that was dead, Dean had turned around and done the same damn thing. Now Sam was the one who would have to deal with the fallout.
He glanced over at Dean and when he realized how happy his brother was, he had to fight the desire to strangle him. Dean really didn't care that he was now damned. He just cared that Sam was all right. He sighed lightly and gave up some of his anger. It was difficult to stay mad at someone who'd given up their soul to save you. Besides, Sam did not intend to let that deal come due, ever.
When Bobby opened the door to his house, he was expecting to see Dean. He was not expecting Sam to be with him, alive and kicking. The younger Winchester gave him an uncertain half smile and Dean wouldn't look him in the eye. "Hey Bobby."
The older hunter stared at them in shock, before centering his gaze on Dean. Sam decided to end the guessing contest for him.
"Yeah, he did what you think he did."
Dean winced at Sam's statement and Bobby looked furious. "Sam, I'm really, really glad to see you, but right now…" He paused a moment to collect himself. "I've got the latest info on the desk. Look it over while I have a chat with your brother."
Sam nodded and got out of the way as the older man dragged Dean out into the salvage yard. He would do his best to save his brother from Hell, but he was on his own when it came to Bobby.
"Damn it, I could throttle you." Bobby half yelled, grabbing onto Dean's shoulders. He let go as the younger man gasped at the contact and shrank in on himself.
The kid shook his head. "It's okay, just a parting gift from the demon I made the deal with." He straightened up.
"What'd she do?"
Dean shook his head. "He. Aparently I was out of her league. The guy fried her and took over the negotiations."
Bobby frowned. "That's… unusual." He shook his head. "Okay, let's see the damage." Dean hesitated. "It's either that, or I continue to chew on your ass." Bobby told him.
"Okay, okay, sheesh." He shugged his left arm out of his jacket and shirt and gingerly rolled up the sleave of his t-shirt. He sucked a pained breath of air in through his teeth as the material brushed against his arm.
"What in the Hell?" Bobby asked, his expression caught somewhere between horror and wonder.
Dean looked down with some surprise at the hand shaped burn mark on his shoulder. "I don't know, but getting it sure hurt like Hell." He laughed, but it was hollow. "If that was a taste of what's to come, then I have to say that I am well and truly screwed."
"Damn it, Dean." The sound of someone moving through the junk yard stopped Bobby from contining Dean's well deserved chewing out. The two of them dropped their argument and moved to intercept the intruder.
Given what he'd heard about the roadhouse, Ellen was not on Sam's list of people likely to come walking in through Bobby's door. He was damn glad to see her though, and after Bobby ran her through a Holy water test, she provided them with a map Ash had left for them. Bobby earned his researcher status by figuring out what the x's on the map of Wyoming meant. Churches built by Samuel Colt that were connected by a series of railway lines. Bobby traced out the shape of them on the map.
"Tell me that's not what I think it is." Dean asked.
"It's a devil's trap." Sam answered, amazed. "A hundred square miles devil's trap."
"That's brilliant. Iron lines, demons can't cross." Dean added.
Watching them invisibly Castiel had to agree. He had heard of this devil's trap from time to time while in Dean and Sam's company. And he had of course heard about Samual Colt. Was unlikely to forget the man after the time travel, phoenix ash mess that had only worked itself out because of the gun maker.
Cas looked around the room, wondering why he was still shadowing the Winchesters. While his current warding was good, he should be using his time to strengthen the spells and set up a few safe houses. He already knew that the boys had survived to the end of the year and he didn't think he'd altered the time line enough to change that. They didn't need an unwanted angel sitting on their shoulder to make certain of it.
He really ought to leave.
And yet he still found himself sitting in the back of the Impala as they raced towards Wyoming.
It was becoming more and more obvious that he was going to have to step back from the boys. He'd almost interfered a half dozen times or more since they'd stepped into the cemetery. As usual though, the Winchester's had come through in the end, killing Azazel with the help of their dead father's spirit and Colt's gun. They still had an escaped demon army to deal with and Lilith would no doubt become a problem before long, but for now they didn't need him.
However, he couldn't leave, not without clearing up at least one thing.
After they had all gotten back to Bobby's place and patched themselves up, Dean had ended up on the steps to the veranda. Beer in hand, he stared up into the sky and watched the stars fade away into morning's light.
"He was wrong, you know."
Dean swallowed the beer in his mouth, the liquid going down square, but still better than spitting it out would have been.
"It hasn't been a year and I really don't want to have to see you before then." Dean remaind sitting, refusing to look at the thing he'd sold his soul to.
He heard a sigh and the rustle of a coat as it sat down on the stairs beside him. "Fair enough. Though I still think you'd like to know that he was wrong."
Dean turned slightly to look at him. "Who was? About what?"
"Azazel, about Sam. About how certain were you that what came back was 100 per cent Sam." Ah, now he had Dean's full attention. "I would never bring anyone back again without making sure I had all of them. It's one recent lesson that I don't intend to forget or ignore." He gave a small snort of self-deprecating laughter. "At least, not a second time."
Dean put his beer bottle down beside him. "So you're saying…?"
"He's all there Dean, all Sam. Nothing has been added or taken away. Azazel was lying."
"And how do I know that you aren't. And why tell me anyway?"
Trench coated shoulders moved up in a shrug. "I suppose you don't and as for telling you… Consider it a matter of professional pride. I don't like having my work brought into question."
Dean picked up his beer bottle and took a drink of the now lukewarm liquid. He turned back to say something that he was certain would get him into trouble, but was saved by the fact that the deal demon had disappeared. Shaking his head he finished off his beer and headed back inside, hoping to catch a few hours sleep before the next disaster.