I know I literally JUST finished my last fic a couple hours ago, but I started this one a while back and I just finished writing it. You know how you get all excited when you finally finish a fic? Well, I didn't want to wait a few days before posting this one. I really hope you guys enjoy this, because I had a lot of fun writing it!
I started writing this before the season 6 finale, so in this story the finale never happened.
"I heard there's a poltergeist in Michigan." Sam said quietly. They were currently in Wisconsin. It was a warm summer evening and the waves crashed softly against the dock where they sat.
"You heard, huh?"
Dean exhaled sharply through his nose. "And what exactly do you want to do about it, Sam?"
A few seagulls flew by overhead and a soft breeze gently rustled the leaves on the trees. Dean took a deep breath of fresh air and watched as the sky turned yellow, then orange, then red. Somewhere in the distance, a loon cried. When Sam spoke again, Dean had almost forgotten about the conversation.
"I mean, we could go..." Sam's voice trailed off.
"Yeah? And what? Talk to it? Come on, Sam. We don't do that anymore."
Sam sighed heavily and leaned back to rest on his elbows. "Yeah."
Dean grinned playfully and nudged his brother lightly. "What, you don't like watching the sunset with me? Sammy, my feelings are hurt."
Sam smiled back, but Dean could see the longing in his eyes. Dean felt it too, but the simple fact was there was nothing they could do about the poltergeist in Michigan, or the rugaru in Florida that Dean had brought up a few weeks ago, or any other supernatural thing anymore. They lived as hunters, they died as hunters – hell, they even saved the world once or twice – but ultimately, they were nothing more than a couple of lost spirits themselves.
In the end, it was a demon that got them. Some dick named Acham, who had big dreams to become king of Hell after the Winchesters had killed off Crowley once and for all. It was a never ending battle. After Acham there would have been some other big bad up-and-coming. Sometimes Dean wondered, if things had worked out differently and he had survived, would he have sold his soul again to save his brother? He quickly decided that yes, he definitely would have. But that wasn't the way the cards were dealt.
The world as Dean knew it ended in a brilliant blaze of orange flame. An explosion in an old abandoned warehouse - a trap set up by Acham. Dean remembered the heat, and it reminded him in a way of the night their mother had died, but this time Dean didn't carry Sam out. This time there was nobody to save either of them. He remembered hearing Sam screaming his name seconds before the explosion, then the heat, then everything went black.
The next thing Dean remembered was a garden. He was sitting on a white bench in a clearing, surrounded by weeping willows and wildflowers. Cas was there, and for a moment Dean almost forgot the terms they had parted on and the time that had passed since he last saw the angel, and he almost jumped up and went to Cas, maybe intending to hug him, maybe just to apologize for how wrong everything had gone. Instead, he simply said his name.
"I'm sorry, Dean." Was all Castiel said in response.
The war in Heaven hadn't ended like either of them had hoped, and when everything was said and done, the only thing they had accomplished was ruining their friendship and losing another member of their already tiny family. Maybe Dean should have trusted Castiel and his decision to work with Crowley. Maybe Cas should have listened to Dean and left Crowley alone. Maybe if they had just worked together things would have turned out differently, but in the end Raphael won the war and all the angels went back to Heaven. Raphael even allowed Cas back in Heaven. Dean wasn't sure why. He never asked the angel about it. They hadn't even spoken in years, and now here they were. Together in some random garden.
As it turned out, Dean was dead. Died in the explosion. This was Heaven, or at least the reception area. Raphael explained that Dean was allowed a place in Heaven, but that Sam was not. After all these years, Dean always believed that Sam had earned himself a spot in Heaven. In fact, he believed that Sam deserved it more than himself. What had Dean done besides aggravate Zachariah and say no to Michael? It was Sam who jumped into Hell with Lucifer. It was Sam who stopped the apocalypse. I mean, sure, Sam was the one who let Lucifer out in the first place, but Dean was the one who had set everything into motion. And that was Dean's point exactly – they had both done so much. Some good, some bad. It was all too confusing to keep track of who was on the naughty or nice list, so Dean figured they should both be cut some slack and allowed to at least have an easy afterlife. But of course, things neverworked out the way Dean wanted them to.
Dean refused Raphael's offer. There was no way he was going to leave Sam in Hell and enjoy the rest of – well, forever – in Heaven alone. He argued, but arguing with the head angel in Heaven is like trying to move a desert one single grain of sand at a time, and eventually Raphael got tired of it and simply zapped Dean into his own personal afterlife.
Time is different in Heaven, and Dean had no idea how long he'd been there. It seemed like a couple weeks in Heaven time, but it could have been years, months, days, or even just minutes in the real world. Dean's Heaven consisted of beautiful scenery, roads that went on forever, and an endless supply of cheeseburgers, pie and beer. He had the Impala, but the passenger seat next to him was always empty. Dean was lonely. Some days he hoped that Ash would come find him. Some days he was angry that Ash didn't come find him. He has that little Heaven-jumping machine doesn't he? What's he so busy doing that he can't even stop by and say hello? But most days, Dean just drove.
It was sunset one particular day – though it seemed that the majority of every day was a sunset in Heaven– when Castiel showed up suddenly and filled the ever-empty passenger seat.
"Cas?" Dean was surprised, but more than anything he was just glad to have company, and he struggled to keep the excitement out of his voice as he spoke. "What are you doing here?"
"This is Heaven." Cas said simply. "I'm an angel. I belong here."
"Yeah, I mean what are you doing here here. In my Heaven?"
"I've come to make you an offer. I know that you miss Sam. If you'd like, I could reunite you."
"You could?" To hell with trying to control his excitement, Dean was ecstatic. "Cas, I... but how? Would you bring him here?"
Dean's face dropped. "Hell then?" He wasn't exactly partial on the idea of going back to Hell, but if it meant he got to be with Sam he could endure it. Maybe together they could find a way to break out. I mean, if the demons could do it.
"No." Cas said again. "Not Hell."
Dean didn't want to get his hopes up, but not Heaven and not Hell? As far as he knew they had never found Purgatory. That meant... "Earth?" He croaked, barely a whisper.
"Yes." Castiel's face was stoic as he continued to stare straight ahead out the windshield of the Impala.
Dean's mind raced with the possibilities. Cas was going to bring him and Sam back to life, and Dean was going to take Sam and run and never look back. They would stop hunting, maybe even get a place somewhere. Dean could get a job as a mechanic. Sam could go back to school if he wanted – he could meet a girl and have babies. Dean could be an uncle. Or maybe they could keep driving. Traveling. Safe places. They could go to the Grand Canyon and stop at Sea World and see the world's biggest ball of twine. Maybe they could go to some museum – Sam would like that. They could have a life.
But why would Cas bring them back? Would he do it just out of the goodness of his heart? Maybe before – but now?
"What's the catch?"
"I cannot give you back your human bodies." Cas said. "You would be spirits."
Dean blinked. "Spirits? Like, ghosts? As in the things we used to hunt?" Surely he had misunderstood.
Cas finally turned his head to look at Dean. "Yes, Dean, spirits. Ghosts."
Okay, so maybe it wasn't perfect, but it wasn't Hell, and he would get to be with Sam – but spirits? This kind of went against everything Dean knew. Though, ghosts didn't have to be bad. The only ghosts they hunted were the bad ones. If they could just stay out of trouble – not haunt anybody or pull any of that 'angry spirit' nonsense.
"Of course you would be allowed certain privileges." Cas said. "You will not be tied to one place or object – you will be free to roam the earth as you please."
Grand Canyon, Dean thought.
"But Dean, like any spirit, you can also be killed. Since I'm sending you back to Earth, I don't believe that burning your bones would send you back here. It would just be an endless cycle. Perhaps you will go to Purgatory, or you may just cease to exist. I can't be sure. This isn't something I've ever done before."
"Right. No hiding in attics and rattling chains." Dean said, but Cas wasn't in the mood for jokes.
"Things like iron and salt will affect you. With practice you may be able to move things, and eventually manifest, but I strongly advise against it."
"I know the drill, Cas. I used to hunt the things, remember?"
Cas pressed his lips into a thin line and nodded once. "I shouldn't be doing this."
"Why are you doing this?"
"Contrary to what you may believe, everything I ever did was to protect you. I never stopped considering you as a friend, and I'm sorry that I betrayed your trust. I'm doing this, Dean, because you are still my family."
Dean was at a loss for words. "Cas–" He said softly, but the angel cut him off with a soft touch to the forehead, and then he was in another garden. Only this time there were birds and children playing in a nearby park and the sounds of cars as they drove by on the highway. Earth. The realization hit, and Dean was suddenly overwhelmed with emotion. I'm home. And there, just a few feet away by an oak tree – an actual living oak tee – was a familiar figure. Tall and strong, with shaggy brown hair and the most hilarious, bewildered look on his face.
Roaming the earth as a ghost got lonely. Okay, it was better than Hell, but in Hell Sam never felt lonely – there was too much pain to feel anything at all except, well, pain. He wasn't complaining though. Sam would pick loneliness on Earth over pain in Hell any day. At least Dean was here. Dean was really all Sam needed, but he had always been a people person. He missed people. Mostly he just missed being able to occasionally talk to someone other than Dean, because believe it or not, Dean wasn't always the best conversationalist.
"I'm telling ya, Sammy. I mean, Tarzan supposedly lived his entire life with a bunch of monkeys in the friggin jungle, I don't think he ever learned to shave."
They were on a beach in Miami. It was early, but a few bikini clad girls were already out. Dean loved beaches. And sun. Now that they were able to basically teleport anywhere they felt like going, they spent a lot of time on beaches. Of course, Sam knew the only reason was because of the half-naked girls. It was as much as he would let Dean get away with, and Sam thought that if he weren't around, Dean would probably be hanging out at strip clubs and in models' dressing rooms.
They had been to the Grand Canyon and to the top of the Statue of Liberty. The Eiffel Tower, Stonehenge, The Taj Mahal and Mount Everest. They had walked the halls of the White House and watched the sun rise from the top of the pyramids in Egypt. It had been exciting at first, but the novelty had quickly worn off. If we had anything else to do, Sam thought. He couldn't believe it, but sometimes he missed hunting. He had even mentioned to Dean a couple of hunts that he thought maybe they could check out, though he knew they couldn't. Not only because there wasn't really anything they would be able to do, but also because it wasn't a smart idea to be hanging out in a place where there would likely be other hunters on the look out for something supernatural.
Sam sighed. "It's a movie, Dean."
"Yeah but where's the research, huh? They could at least try to make it believable. The man should have a beard!"
Sam was beginning to understand why ghosts got angry.
After Cas had revealed that he was working with Crowley, everything went downhill – and fast. Sam didn't feel that they could trust Cas anymore, and that seemed to be the general consensus with Dean and Bobby as well. They stopped calling Cas for help, and Cas stopped coming to them. They lost touch with the war in Heaven, and always seemed to be a step behind Crowley.
Balthazar informed them of the big final showdown in Heaven. Raphael had won the war and he was ordering all the angels back to Heaven. "Cas is going back, too." Balthazar said. It was all he said about their former angel friend, and then he disappeared. It was the last time they ever saw him.
Sam and Dean waited for something to happen. With Raphael in charge, they expected another apocalypse. Maybe Lucifer and Michael would be set free again to finish what was supposed to happen at Stull Cemetery. Maybe there would be a full-out war with Hell. Angels vs Demons. They waited, but nothing happened, and eventually Sam just figured that there was now a new plan in motion. One that involved a dooms day many lifetimes from now. Angels lived forever – well, mostly – and they had all the time in the universe to perfect the next apocalypse.
Eventually they caught up with Crowley. With Cas out of the picture and the war over, Crowley was beginning to get desperate for Purgatory, and in his desperation he made a few minor but fatal mistakes. This time Sam and Dean made sure they had the right bones.
After Crowley, things were quiet for exactly two months, and then a new demon came knocking on their door – literally. Acham was evil and clever and fearless. He had one goal in mind, to become the new king of Hell, and he was ready and willing to kill anything that got in his way. Acham's first move was to simply introduce himself. He showed up at Bobby's one afternoon, and after they tried killing him, he threw them all up against the wall and explained that he didn't want any trouble and that they should stay away if they knew what was best for them. Of course, they didn't. What made Acham different from just about everything else the Winchesters hunted was that he didn't hide in the shadows and sneak around. He did his business out in the open, and when someone got in the way he dealt with them. In the end, it was what got them. An explosion in a decoy building. A trap. It wasn't Acham's style, and that was exactly why they fell for it.
Sam remembered the fire – the fire that never ended. After the explosion, it was the flames of Hell licking his skin. The screams and the heat and the pain – for decades it was all Sam knew, and most days Sam didn't have the energy to wonder what had happened, or where Dean was. He only prayed that Dean had survived or made it to Heaven. He knew that Dean deserved his place in Heaven, but with Raphael running the show, Sam couldn't be sure of anything. Sometimes he tried to look past the flames, sometimes he called out for Dean, but he never really wanted to hear a reply. The only thing keeping him going was the hope that somewhere, be it Heaven or Earth, Dean wasn't suffering.
Then, one day, the pain stopped. Instead of hell fire, Sam felt nothing. Instead of screams, he heard birds and people. He opened his eyes. A garden. Was this a joke? Sam didn't think that demons were big on giving people a day off from eternal torture. Still, here he was on a summer evening in a park full of living, breathing, happy things. Sam turned to take in the beautiful change of scenery and there he was. Sitting on a park bench with a grin on his face, looking for all the world like he had been there all along, just waiting.
Thanks for reading! I hope it was interesting enough to catch your attention ;). Don't worry, Sam and Dean aren't going to just spend all their time sightseeing!