Alan knew it was a long shot, going to the Andersons—Tor and Odin of the rock band Old Gods of Asgard—but there was nobody else to turn to. Zane was warring the Dark Presence, and Cynthia Weaver was missing in action. He was wary of Sam and Dean, despite Sarah's clear and seemingly unwavering trust in them. He understood Dean's anger and hostility towards him, but at the same time, he felt he couldn't trust him. Whether or not it was the negative vibe he was getting from him or something else, he wasn't sure. The man had good intentions, as did his brother Sam, he didn't doubt that. There was something definitely sketchy about both of the brothers.
"Who are these guys, anyway?" Sam asked him, interrupting his train of thought. "These Andersons you mentioned earlier?"
"Tor and Odin? They're part of a rock band. Old Gods of Asgard," Alan explained. He paused, and gestured towards Dean, who was engaged in what appeared to be a heated discussion with Barry and Sarah. "What the hell is up with your brother, anyway? I get that he's angry because my double…killed you…" He let his words drift. I don't know who I'm fucking with. Sure, he has good intentions, but I just don't trust him. He shook his head. "Forget I said anything, Sam. Dean, Sarah, Barry, you ready to go?"
"Wait, go where?" Dean demanded. "Do you even know where these Andersons are?"
"I have an idea, yes," he answered. "They have a farm near Cauldron Lake. After the Dark Presence attacked the lodge last year, they escaped. I don't think they have anywhere else to go now, to be honest."
"Hey, dude, it's not like they can go on tour right now," Barry spoke up. "This town has become a warzone. If anything, they're probably still here, hiding out on the farm or something."
"You said they went up against the darkness before?" Sarah asked. He nodded. "I think it's worth a shot."
"Sounds good to me," agreed Sam. "We should get moving before it gets too bad out there." Dean nodded in accord, and the group departed, leaving the haven of the power plant behind them.
Dean stole a glance towards his brother. He knew the war against the Dark Presence was taking its toll on Sam, as well as the after-effects of the trials. The three trials to close Hell's gates for good. Scratch had killed him merely hours ago, but it'd been Zane who'd resuscitated him. It was as if his death had slowed the illness the tests had induced in him. There is no way Zane could have just completely healed him with his light mojo. Bringing him back is one thing, but healing him of whatever the hell it is these trials are doing to him is another matter entirely. The trials had been created by God, and Zane was no god. His power couldn't match that of Him; nothing could. Not even the Dark Presence. Sam had completed the first two of the trials; they just needed to find what the third and final one was, and it would be over. Demons would no longer roam the earth, and the war between Heaven and Hell, angels and demons, would be over. It would all be over. Now, it seemed as if both realms' forces were AWOL now that the Dark Presence was at large. Garth and Charlie, he had absolutely no way of knowing if they were still alive. Kevin was missing in action, and for all he knew, Crowley had gotten to him or he'd been killed by a Taken. Nothing was certain now, and already hope's spark seemed to be extinguished.
"Guys, we're here," Alan said, interrupting Dean's reverie. The farm was dead, deserted. The door hung open, inviting the group inside. There were no signs of life, of civilization, save for the muffled music coming from the inside.
"The place hasn't changed much since we were here last, Al," commented Barry. "You think they're in there?"
"Maybe," responded Alan. "Come on, let's go." The group cautiously stepped inside, guns at the ready.
"Hello?" called Sarah. "Anyone here?" Silence. There was no sound in the house except for the blaringly loud rock music coming from one of the rooms. The windows were covered in smeared blood, leading to a trail that led into another room.
"Oh, shit," Dean muttered, shining his flashlight on the blood trail. "Guys, I think the Dark Presence—or some of the Taken—paid this place a visit." He followed the traces of blood into the living room. The room was a mess; it looked like someone had trashed the place. The couch was overturned, papers scattered about. The framed photos on the wall were smashed, shards of broken glass strewn about the room, and the bookshelf knocked over. There were no signs of the Andersons. On the floor, a record was spinning on its player. The music. The song's lyrics filled the room with a sense of confusion, and then wonder.
Deep within the ocean of darkness, in the mirror of light,
Balance becomes a stranger,
And in your fantasies he rides a storm on your peace,
Then wake up and smell the danger,
Even the light cast a shadow,
Even the night springs from the light,
In the end, it's never just the light you need,
When balance slays the demon, you'll find peace,
In the end, it's never just the dark you seek,
When balance slays the demon, you'll find peace
Dean heard Sam, Alan, Sarah and Barry enter the room, and he turned to them. "No sign of them," he reported.
"We can't search the town for these guys," Sarah said. "There's too much at stake here." Alan knelt down, touching the bloody floor.
"If they are dead," he began, "it had to be the Dark Presence." He rose to his feet. "Balance slays the demon…oh my god."
"What, you think this thing knew they knew how to kill it so it killed them first?" demanded Dean, outraged.
"It's plausible," the writer said. "It'll stop at nothing to stay in power. The Andersons wrote a song—this song, Balance Slays the Demon—probably because they knew the darkness would come again. This song is the key to everything."
"In the dream, Zane said there had to be a balance," Sam said slowly. "Dean, you think this is what he meant?"
"I don't see how it could be anything else except for one huge coincidence," the elder Winchester answered. "Nothing is a coincidence, at least not in our experience." He turned off the record player and switched on the television. The news flashed across the screen, scenes of destruction and chaos panning out. It was a scene out of a Hollywood blockbuster disaster movie, but it was real. Some cities and countries had gone up in flames as the Taken quickly rose in numbers, killing everything and everyone in their path. Others were engulfed in darkness and shadows with no survivors, or had collapsed into the oceans. The world was falling apart, burning. It was only a matter of time before Bright Falls was entirely consumed in the Dark Presence's wrath. Dean stared at the screen in mute horror, swallowing the lump in his throat. Silence filled the room, the reporter's voiceover of what was happening the only thing breaking the stillness. Several minutes passed before Dean flipped the table with a sudden fury, roaring in anger. The table crashed downwards with a loud bang that echoed throughout the house. He grabbed the whiskey bottles one by one, chucking them at the walls. They shattered violently upon impact.
"Dean! DEAN!" Sam yelled.
"What, Sam?" Dean spat, whirling on his little brother. "It's pretty fucking obvious, isn't it? Everyone we care about is dead, not to mention those millions of innocent people out there!"
"Dean…," his brother began. "Dean, please. We still have a chance. We can still fight this! Listen to me! This isn't over!"
"DON'T GIVE ME THAT BULLSHIT ABOUT THE LIGHT AT THE END OF OUR TUNNEL!" shouted Dean. "THERE IS NOTHING FOR US, NOT FOR YOU, NOT FOR ME, NOT FOR ANYBODY!" He grabbed the record player and threw it against the wall. His breaths were becoming ragged, and he knew he was losing his shit. He was tired of keeping face for everyone, for Sam, for Kevin. "KEVIN IS DEAD. CHARLIE IS DEAD. GARTH IS DEAD. EVERYONE WE CARE ABOUT IS DEAD: MOM, JESS, DAD, ASH, PAM, ELLEN, JO, BOBBY, EVEN BOBBY, AND BENNY! EVERYONE IS FUCKING DEAD, SAMMY!" Sam's face fell as he realized why Dean was acting like this.
"Dean," he said softly. "We still have each other." His voice broke on his last word; both brothers were completely oblivious to Alan, Sarah and Barry's presence in the room. All that mattered to them right now was each other. "It's you and me against the world, remember? Saving people, hunting things, the family business."
"I-I never should have dragged you along with me from Stanford that night, Sammy," Dean confessed, hot tears sliding from his eyes. He dragged a hand across his face before continuing. "This…this life, you never wanted it! And now look where it's taken you, taken both of us! You're fucking dying and I can't do anything to stop it! I-I can't do this anymore, Sammy, I can't! I just—" He fell to his knees, sobbing brokenly. Sam knelt down by him and gathered him into his arms as he simply sobbed into his shoulder.
"Shhh, shhh, hey. Dean, it's going to be fine. I promise," he assured him desperately. "Dean, please. Calm down." He repeated that mantra over and over, soothing his brother and begging him to calm down, scarcely aware of his own tears, tears he was shedding for Dean. "I get it, man. I do, I really do. Sometimes, I feel like I'm barely keeping it together." He chuckled humorlessly and shook his head. For several long moments, he held Dean until his shaking subsided. He spared a glance towards the others. Sarah was looking onwards in concern, Barry in shock, and Alan in bewilderment. Dean pulled himself away from Sam, and the brothers rose to their feet.
"You okay, dude?" Barry asked the eldest Winchester. "Jesus Christ, you were scaring me there for a moment."
"Let's never mention this again," Dean said sarcastically, running a hand over his face. He ignored Sam's concerned gaze. There were more important things than his emotional state. All the tears in the world wouldn't bring back anyone, he knew that. Sometimes, the losses were overwhelming. Don't fucking think about it, he told himself.
"We should probably stay here for the night," Sarah suggested. "I'm exhausted, and I'm sure you guys are too."
"Oh yeah, sleep in the spot where the Andersons were potentially murdered. That sounds real smart," Alan remarked dryly. He turned away and headed upstairs, Barry following suit. Dean and Sam rested on the couches, Sarah lying down on the floor by them. The last thing they heard before sleep overcame them was the roar of the Dark Presence and the piercing, bloodcurdling screams of the townspeople.