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Title: Rabbit Hole (The Ripples Remix)
Fandom: Supernatural/Quantum Leap cross-over
Pairing: Dean/Castiel, with a dash of Sam/Balthazar
Challenge: Remix Redux 2011
Rating: PG-13
Length: 1,600 words
Thanks to: My betas, riyku and Stevie - without you, this story would be twice as long and half as good.
Spoilers/Warnings: Spoilers through mid season 6 of Supernatural and the canonical end of Quantum Leap. You don't need to be very familiar with Quantum Leap to appreciate this fic. It will allow you to be be confused right along with the narrator!
Original fic: Rabbit Hole by elementalv.
Summary: Dr. Samuel Beckett has jumped into more lives than he can remember. But his actions as Dean Winchester are the ones that will ripple through Eternity.



Ripples

Ever since I stepped away, granting my eldest children the same free will as my youngest, there has been chaos.

War in Heaven, as so often on Earth.


There is suffering. There is greed and pain, rage and fear.

But also there is joy. There is courage. And there is love.


I watch. I watch my favorites as they struggle.

As they try, and as they fail.


I do not interfere.

But sometimes … sometimes I skip a stone and watch the ripples spread across the waters.


*****


Sam Winchester

There’s someone else looking out of my brother’s eyes. I didn’t notice, at first. It took Cas to point out that Dean wasn’t Dean.

It’s nothing evil, this time. Not a shape shifter or a demon or a fucking angel wearing my brother’s body. Just a scientist lost in time; some human with a ripped-up soul, no emotional connections, and big gaping holes where his memory should be. I can relate.

Oh, and one more thing – the scientist’s name is Sam. Which freaks me out a little. After Cas puts the guy to sleep to ‘dream his own dreams’ I ask the angel if it's a coincidence that we have the same name.

Cas gives me a blank look, says, “There are no coincidences,” and disappears, leaving me in the motel room with my brother’s comatose body, stuffed with a creamy soul-damaged scientist filling.

When the guy eventually wakes up from his three-day nap, he claims he jumps into people’s lives to fix some problem for them. He doesn’t know who he is, where Dean is, or how to get him back. But what if he does know, and he wants to stay here, where he’s got an angel to help him recover his memories, his soul. What if he doesn’t want to give Dean back?

Later that night I wake up from a nightmare. For a second I think it’s Dean crouched by my side, about to offer a cool washcloth and a quiet, ‘Bad one, Sammy?’ He’d give me a swig of whiskey and a chance to mock some infomercials with him until I fell back asleep. But, no. It's Sam, looking at me with a queasy smile like I’m nuts for waking up screaming in the middle of the night.

The next day, I check with Sam to make sure that when Dean comes back, he’ll appear wherever his body is. Then we head for Bobby’s. We need to do some research, yeah. But I’m also pretty sure that if I spend another night in a motel room with this guy, I’ll hurt him.

The more time goes by, the more Sam’s behavior diverges from Dean's. Sam. It’s like some big cosmic joke. Like the Universe, or, or fucking God suddenly decided to take seriously every whiny, bratty moment in my life when I wished Dean was normal, more like me. That he’d take school more seriously than girls and hunting, go to college, stop embarrassing me. And it gave me this version of my brother. Every time he finishes chewing before he talks, or speed-reads one of Bobby’s books, or quotes fucking Proust, or pukes over a few roasted zombies that Dean would have loved a chance to take out - I hate him a little more.

So when Cas finally shows up and announces that he can find Dean with a little direct access to Sam’s soul, holding Sam down while he screams isn’t just practical. It’s satisfying.

Yeah, I know, that’s fucked up. All my life, I’ve tried to be a good person. At Stanford, with Jess, I was fine. But ever since then, when Dean’s not around, I lose track. I’d like to blame it on Azazel’s blood, or Lucifer’s influence. But maybe it’s just me. So I need to know Dean’s okay, and I need him back. Without him I’m not … not right.

Sam comes to me the next day. Comes to me, after I told Cas to do it and held him down. Somehow, with the soul touch, or in talking to Cas about it, Sam had figured something out about my brother that I should have seen a long time ago. Dean and Cas … it makes no sense, except for the way it totally does. Before I said, ‘Yes’ to Lucifer, I made Dean promise to go live a normal life with Lisa. The fact that I somehow managed to come between them might top my ‘Reasons to Hate Myself’ List, if it weren’t for that pesky Apocalypse. But if they split up, not because of me, but because she wasn’t the one Dean was in love with …

Sam thinks, if we can make Castiel admit he loves Dean, he’ll jump out, and Dean’ll come back. I can do that. If Cas really loves my brother, I can make him see it, make him admit it. I’ve lied to myself enough over the years that I’m an expert at all the ways a person can hide from the truth. So I’ll make sure of it.

Not because it’ll get me my brother back. I’ll do it because, if anyone deserves a little happiness in this life, it’s Dean.

*****


Balthazar

Castiel was never the most powerful of angels, or the brightest, or the funniest. Castiel was … sweet. I’ve always been fond of him.

When Castiel returned to Heaven after the Fall of Michael, he blazed with glory in a way no angel has since The Four saw the face of God. Many took it as a sign that Castiel was touched by God, and they followed him into battle against Raphael. I thought perhaps it was Castiel’s rebellion, his freedom on Earth, that had given him this. I claimed my vessel and descended to Earth, reveling in its many sensual and carnal delights.

I enjoyed myself tremendously. But I can’t say I ever found what I was looking for. Whenever I crossed paths with Castiel, he would try to recruit me for his war, and I would decline. I would ask him for the source of the exaltation I could sense within him, and he would pretend he had no idea what I was talking about it. Still, I consider him my friend.

So when Castiel disappears abruptly from Heaven, I decide it's worth looking into. There aren't many with the knowledge and the power needed to seize an angel. And of that very short list, who would dare? I wasn’t entirely sure if the Winchesters qualified on the first two criteria, but they certainly have the cojones to attempt it. I transport myself to the Winchesters’ favorite hidey-hole, a wasteland of abandoned cars and dusty old books.

And there Castiel is, summoned and trapped by humans like a lesser demon, being interrogated by Sam Winchester as to his intentions towards his brother, Dean. It’s the most amusing thing I’ve seen in ages. Until Sam asks Castiel if he loves Dean. Castiel stumbles, and fumbles, and loses the ability to form a sentence. And that … that is fascinating.

Castiel goes off on another tedious tangent about Raphael and the weapons, so I demand an answer myself.

‘You rebelled, brother. You defied Heaven, Fate, and Prophecy to avert the Apocalypse. You shattered everything we know of God's Will. Now you lead a war of brother against brother, and they follow you because you burn with something we can only hunger for. If it is all for agape, do we not deserve to know?’

Castiel slumps, eyes closed, and softly, softly, he admits his love for Dean. I feel a strange eddy of power in the room. One human soul flits away, and Dean Winchester appears in its place. Castiel’s proud wings snap out, straining against the boundaries around him.

Dean shakes his head and assesses the room. “Cas? What the Hell are you doing to him?” He steps forward, the toe of his boot intentionally scuffing the blood pattern entrapping Castiel.

Castiel’s grace leaps joyfully towards his beloved. At its touch Dean gasps. The lights in the room flicker.

“Dean – I,” Castiel looks Dean in the eye and takes a deep breath. “We require privacy,” he says, stepping forward to brush his fingers against Dean’s forehead. And they are gone.

Sam Winchester starts. “Where…” he trails off.

I close my eyes and follow the thread of Castiel’s glorious presence. I sigh. “All of Creation to choose from and Castiel’s taken your brother to a motel in Pasadena. Well, at least he’ll have no trouble keeping Dean in the manner to which he’s become accustomed.”

Love. All that power, that exaltation, from an angel’s love for a human. In the past it would have seemed ludicrous to me, like falling in love with a cockroach. But we’ve gone past the End of Days into uncharted territory, where anything is possible. Where angels slaughter each other and a mortal man can defeat the Morning Star.

I eye Sam Winchester speculatively. If I’m going to find a human to love I need to start somewhere, and Sam Winchester has certainly proven himself worthy of respect. I lie back on the ancient couch and put my feet up.

“So, since we’re going to be in-laws, we should probably get to know each other better, gorgeous,” I suggest.

The older human exits the room, grumbling about his need for a beer. Sam looks absolutely appalled. And I? I think I just might enjoy this.

*****


Al Calavicci

Sam’s home. Thank God. He’s finally home.

THE END



Author's Notes: Being assigned elementalv for this year's remix provided me with a new challenge. I know her, adore her work, and overlap with her on at least three fandoms. That gave me a huge body of work to choose from. I picked out five different stories to toy with at first, and made notes for three. I still want to remix 'Soul Surrender' someday, and elementalv has graciously granted me permission to do so, but my vision of that was far too epic for the deadline I was working under.

Besides the high quality and quantity of elementalv's work, the other thing that made her difficult to remix is that she's a very tidy author. She doesn't leave gaping plot holes to fill in, or loose threads to pull, like I've used for other remixes.

So for this remix, I started with two keystones. One was a line of dialog from the epilogue where Joshua tells Sam Beckett that God does not interfere, but He skips stones. The most interesting part of skipping stones for me was never seeing how far the stone would skip, but watching the ripples spread out from each impact. So I decided I would investigate how Beckett's actions in the original fic affected other characters in the story.

The other keystone for my remix was Balthazar. He appears in the last act of elementalv's story, and I couldn't quite figure out what he was doing there. I mean, his character had reasons, and they made sense. But I wasn't sure why elementalv, as an author, wanted him in her story. So I decided to investigate that, and see where it took me.

The first draft of this story was literally twice as long as this one. It was non-chronological and included narration by Bobby and Castiel, as well as Sam Winchester, Sam Beckett, Balthazar, Al, and God. It was confusing and, as my first beta wasn't shy about explaining, just didn't work. I decided that part of the problem was that Bobby and Castiel's POVs didn't balance each other out. I'd lost the symmetry of the 'ripples.' I could have cut Bobby and brought Dean in, but Dean was stuck ... wherever the people Sam Beckett jumps into GO when he jumps into the m. We never found out much about that in Quantum Leap canon, elementalv had side-stepped the question, and I didn't want to touch it with a ten-foot pole. So I pulled out a hacksaw, tore it all apart, and then quilted together only what was essential to the story I was telling. Then I went out and found riyku for a last-minute second-opinion, to see if the thing made a lick of sense, since I had lost all perspective. She gave it the thumbs-up, yay!

This is mostly Sam Winchester and Balthazar's story, now, book-ended by tiny ripples from God and Al. Eventually I ended up with what is essentially a simple POV switch remix, but I certainly came to it the looooong way around.

One thing I like about this story is that it allows me to speculate, from Balthazar's POV, on some questions about Castiel's upgrade in power from the mild-mannered Angel of Thursday to someone who could plausibly go toe-to-toe with an Archangel. It's all throroughly Jossed now, but, hey, that's what happens when you write in open canons. I prefer my idea, anyway! *grins* Also, I got to write some God POV, which is always entertaining!