A/N And this is the end. Thanks a ton for all the great feedback, and I hope you all enjoyed!
Thanks to Sam Winchester, Alex, mudkipz, and Kathrin J Pearl
Disclaimer I don't own Sherlock/Doctor Who/Supernatural/the Avengers/Jekyll, or any associated characters, events, etc.
CHAPTER XV. Dispersal
Hyde's eyes had never been darker. Blackness seemed to fill them from lid to lid, almost liquid, shining eerily in the sharp white light as he wove his head sideways, shoulders rolling and fingers clenching in and out. His nails were sharp enough to dig into his palms at what looked like a painful level of severity, but there was no discomfort in his expression—nothing but icy, chilling fury.
With a wild snarl, he launched himself forwards.
And collided with the thick glass of his prison.
Dean laughed, rapping on it lightly with his knuckles. The ringing seemed to aggravate the creature, who staggered backwards with an animal whimper, scratching obsessively at his wrist as though doing so eased the simmering anger at his defeat. The look he shot towards Dean would have been frightening if he wasn't entirely positive that the being posed no threat at this point—in fact, he'd never felt better about the end of a hunt.
"Aw, are you all trapped in your little cage?" he teased, his fingers dancing over the glass. "Shame. I thought you were tougher than that. But, then again, this is a bit more than you're used to, right? Torchwood might be impressive, but this—this is the real deal."
"Yeah, I know, buddy. Sucks to suck."
"Dean," Castiel sighed from beside him, apparently exasperated with his childish glee. He turned towards the angel with his eyebrows drawn into an expression of mock-hurt, mouth turned down.
"Do not taunt him. He's been through enough already without having to suffer such excessive shaming."
"Yeah, but he's also killed about a billion people."
"If he had been responsible for the death of a billion people, the population of Earth would have greatly—"
"Dude, dude, I know," Dean chuckled, holding a hand up. "Trust me. I'm not completely dumb." His voice had softened, though, staring into Castiel's intent blue eyes, and it was with an almost sweet hint to his tone that he jabbed a thumb towards the door of the darkened room which shared a wall with Hyde's new living space, where they had come to observe just how the demented creature was getting along in imprisonment. "We should probably go see what's up with the others, though. Don't want them to have to deal with Fury's shit alone, right?"
"Right," Cas agreed softly. For a moment, though, he hesitated, his shoulders held oddly stiff, his gaze flickering up and down Dean's face as the hunter's easy smile slowly melted away.
"Hey… you okay?"
"I am fine. It's… it's nice to see you… happy again. Truly happy."
For a moment, Dean considered spitting out some sort of defense, exclaiming how of course he was happy, how there was nothing unusual about that. But he stopped the instinctive lies, pinning them to his tongue and forcing himself to swallow them. This was Cas. He didn't have to pretend for Cas.
"You know what?" He glanced back towards Hyde for a brief second, reveling in the satisfaction that filled his stomach at the sight of the creature's helpless position, and even more so in the warmth that tickled his chest when he turned back to look at Cas's quiet face. "It feels nice, too."
"You have, I must admit, done a… rather stupendous job."
Fury looked at least externally bitter at forcing the words out, but there was a certain softness underlying his tone, something almost fond, that stopped his phrases from biting. This was praise, Rose recognized; grudging, even irritated, but praise nonetheless. He was proud of them. Happy with them. And if he couldn't show that on the surface, well… this was Fury, after all.
"Stupendous, indeed," Tony agreed. He was in his usual spot near the front—they had, it seemed, begun to settle into instinctive positions in the conference room. There were minute differences, however; the group as a whole seemed to be closer together, with fewer empty chairs to separate them. It wasn't really a conscious thing, not even one that many of them noticed, but there were a few—Sherlock, the Doctor, Castiel, Natasha—whom the difference didn't escape. "In fact, I'd say we deserve some sort of reward—"
"Your reward, Stark," Fury sighed, "is peace. Or at least a semblance of it. And it probably won't last more than a couple of days, if the past is any indication, but it is nice while it's there."
"No kidding," Dean agreed with a short laugh.
Rose wasn't going to disagree, because nothing in her thoughts did drastically differ from the opinions that the rest of them were so enthusiastically expressing. And yet… she couldn't say she agreed, either. Not exactly. Of course peace was nice, but the chase was nicer—the planning, the movement, the drama, the excitement. A SHIELD mission was everything and more that any journey with the Doctor had been. More, because there were more of them—not just her constant alien companion, whose side she was sure she would never depart again, but all of them, Sherlock and John, Dean and Cas, Tony and Bruce, Steve and Thor, Clint and Natasha. They were her friends, and that was powerful enough to render her own impending departure bittersweet.
For depart she would. She knew that very well. She and the Doctor—neither of them were meant for this sort of life, for sitting in wait of a summons, leisurely passing the time and anticipating the day that their help would be needed again. Their life was made of seeking out the danger, just like Dean's or Sherlock's, and, as would the two of them and their own partners, she and the Doctor weren't going to stay at SHIELD now that the immediate threat had passed.
Still, she could savor her time there just a bit longer. There was no reason to wait—in fact, a bit of a delay was rather welcome; the Doctor had warned her about the Master and just how irritated he was likely to be by the addition of a new companion, and though she was sure that they'd manage to get along—eventually—she wasn't exactly looking forward to meeting a former insane murderer who had conveniently "switched over" to the good side.
And if that delay was filled with Fury's praise, or the closest thing he could manage to it, then that was just as well.
"Truly, though," the Director went on once the soft titters in accordance with Dean's comment died down, "you have performed far beyond what I expected, and for that I do thank you. Even I have to be proved wrong once in a while, and you couldn't have done so more effectively. It was a remarkable effort, a remarkable success, and you—you are all a remarkable team."
Tony smirked, folding his hands behind his head, Castiel dipped his chin in gratitude, and Sherlock quirked a brow in what could almost be humored agreement. They all knew that his words were true, of course, and no one tried to deny it. They had known all along—which was why, of course, they had struck out in the first place, doing what was unquestionably right even in the face of an insistence otherwise.
It was true.
They were remarkable.
Two days passed before the Doctor decided that they were stretching their luck just a bit too far. It was surprising enough that they'd managed to last this long without some farther disturbance, and he was sure that if they happened to be around by the time SHIELD did end up with another mission, Fury would doubtless rope them into helping out. He wasn't ready for anything big like that again, not yet; so on the third morning of peace, he woke up and knew immediately what had to be done.
"Rose," he trilled brightly, lifting his pillow and tossing it over to her bed. It hit her straight on the shoulder, and she yelped, sitting up instantly with her bed-wrecked blonde hair tangled about her flushed cheeks.
"The hell are you on about?" she demanded, the words slurred.
"Excuse you," he retorted, hopping off and adjusting the bathrobe that he'd managed to procure during their time at SHIELD. She watched him, looking quite sleepy and entirely unimpressed as he strode over to the thin mirror affixed to the wall and considered his reflection.
"Is there a reason that you had to do that?" she questioned, shoving the offending pillow onto the floor, where it landed with a soft thump.
"Right…" He ran his hair critically over his hair. "We're leaving."
"Leaving?" Her tone sharpened quite suddenly, and she stood as well, hurrying to his side. "Now?"
"Before breakfast. They won't miss us—I'll send a note to their computers from the TARDIS telling them not to worry."
"Any reason for the haste?" she questioned, neither agreeing nor protesting with his sudden decision. She was used to impulsivity from him, at least to some extent, but there was no denying that this was particularly unsettling.
He considered fibbing—didn't even realize, for a moment, that it would be a lie to say no. Something about her eyes, though—wide, dark, almost concerned—stopped him, and he swallowed, his eyes moving over their twin reflections, considering. It really was amazing to see her beside him again—to know that they would continue on after his, after Canary Wharf, after everything.
"I suppose," he murmured, ducking away, "that I'm just bad at goodbyes."
"Reasonable enough," she shrugged, her lips moving into a quick grin. She reached out, then, and took his hand—lightly, gently, squeezing it and running her thumb over his wrist. "Right now? You're sure?"
"Definitely sure." It was, admittedly, a relief that she didn't argue—he had told the truth; he was perfectly awful at farewells, especially in this regeneration, it would seem. They carried with them a sort of degree of permanency that he absolutely detested, that always seemed to creep into his subconscious and poison him with doubt, with the lingering thought that perhaps he wouldn't see them again. Leaving suddenly, though, impulsively—well, that was only ever a be right back, and he never did fail to be back, sooner or later.
"Alright, then." She moved just a bit closer, her shoulder brushing against his, and he felt a sudden rush of light tingling all through the veins of his arms, tickling under his skin, burning and itching in a way that was the opposite of painful. He glanced down in amazement to see that he was glowing, streaks of pale gold extending from where her fingers touched his, mirrored by a perfectly symmetrical reaction in her own tissue.
"It's quite something, teleportation," she laughed softly. Her words were oddly resonant, and a faint buzzing had begun to rise up at the back of what were either his ears or his mind, lingering but far from unpleasant. "Takes some getting used to, but it's certainly convenient."
Wonderingly, he turned back to the mirror, watching as the shower of gold crept up to steadily envelop his whole body, small glittering particles weaving themselves through his hair and the threads of his robe, until he was completely covered, could no longer see himself through the soft hazy cloud.
A split second later, he heard the soft groaning of the TARDIS in motion, and his lips curled into a full grin for the first time since he had risen, an excitement entirely apart from the stimulation of the vortex energy stirring in his stomach.
Here he was, after all this time, in the TARDIS with his Koschei and his Rose.
It was perfect.
Dean Winchester hated goodbyes at least as much as the Doctor.
Unlike the Time Lord, though, he couldn't avoid them entirely, and so it was only after a near hour of awkward back-patting and stilted but warm farewells that he finally found himself in the comfortable driver's seat of his Impala again, Castiel at his side, gazing out onto the comfortable dirt track of the road winding away before them. Cas had transported them back to the motel where they'd been at the start of it all, and his baby was waiting there, as dark and sleek as always, as though they hadn't neglected her for several days on end. It was the best feeling in the world, he thought, to feel her purr underneath him after days apart, to settle his hands over the shape of the steering wheel and crank up the stereo and let his music blast through the dry air again, sailing over sandy Texan countryside. His left arm dangled out of the window, fingers tapping against the black metal of the car door in tune to Styx's quick rhythms. Lawman said get 'im dead or alive, now it's for sure he'll see me dead…
"Find anything yet?" he asked Castiel, glancing to where the angel had a newspaper held in his hands, dark eyes carefully running along its fine lines of text.
"No," the angel murmured apologetically, folding the paper and setting it aside for the time being. "There doesn't seem to be anything unusual within a day's radius."
"Fine," Dean agreed with a light shrug that was far from disappointed. "I could use a break every once in a while. It's nice, you know, to just be able to… relax."
"I agree," Castiel said softly, glancing almost shyly over to Dean. He smiled, then—not widely, not toothily; it was barely more than a gentle curling of his lips, tentative, sweet, but it was enough for Dean to give a wide grin in return, to reach over and ruffle his already mussed dark hair in a gesture of utter fondness.
And it was nice—even with Sam gone, even with as much responsibility on his shoulders as ever, with as many monsters in the world—it was nice, for the time, to just be able to drive with Cas, think of nothing but the road ahead and the angel beside him.
The jig is up, the news is out, they finally found me, the renegade who had it made retrieved for a bounty… nevermore to go astray, this'll be the end today for the wanted man…
Sherlock and John, of course, were the last to leave. Natasha brought them home just as she had dropped them off, though SHIELD this time managed to procure a much more comfortable aeroplane than the cramped jet that had first delivered them to America. A taxi carried them from the airport to 221b Baker Street, where they stood now, the two of them up by the door, Natasha on the sidewalk, all three—even the cold-faced detective—filled with a soft sort of nostalgia at the departure, and all sensing it in the others, though none of them spoke a word about it.
"I suppose we'll be back sometime, then," John said, glancing up and down the street. It was wonderful, even despite the bittersweet quality of the departure, to see the cars and pedestrians flashing back and forth again, to know that they were home once more, that there was a whole city of crime awaiting them, ready to satisfy the constant thirst of Sherlock's mind, not to mention his own unsettled ache for adventure.
"You can bet on it," Natasha promised with a smirk. "I'll do what I can to be the one to retrieve you again—I'm growing a bit fond of this doorstep." Her words were joking without being sarcastic, and John laughed—even Sherlock's eyes glinted with what might have been humor.
"I look forward to it," John declared.
"It was an honor to work with you, Dr. Watson, Mr. Holmes." She extended a hand, which each of them shook in turn, then stepped away briskly, her shoulders straight and her step light. "Chances are that it won't be long—SHIELD can always use a spare genius."
And, without another word, she hopped off the curb and into the waiting taxi, shutting the dark door behind her and taking off down the road. Within seconds, the cab had turned a corner and disappeared, as if it had never been there in the first place.