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Title: ...but the sun is getting low
Characters: Dean Winchester, Sam Winchester, and Bobby Singer
Rating: PG-13
Length: 4,700 words
Spoilers/Warnings: Set in late season 3. Dark - highlight to reveal specific warnings Major character death, angst, violence, dark themes and disturbing imagery
Fandom/Genre: SPN, gen, drama, angst, and horror
Thanks to: My betas, honeylocusttree and riyku.
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW.
Challenge: Inspired by honeylocusttree's chilling drawing as part of the spn_reversebang challenge. Please leave her feedback at the Art Masterpost.
Summary: When Dean made his Deal, he hadn’t expected to spend the last weeks of his year this way.


...but the sun is getting low


Dean’d had plenty of fun during the past eleven months. Good hunts and great fucks. He ate baked Alaska, beignets, pickle chips, pig’s feet, and sushi. Texans really would deep fry anything, including candy bars and sticks of butter, and Dean got the county-fair heart-burn to prove it. They’d visited every single roadside attraction they passed. Obviously a man needs to see the ‘World’s Largest Elvis Made From Hangers’ before he dies.

Over the past few months Dean had watched Sam go from worried, to frantic, to obsessed. He wasn’t eating right, was barely sleeping. So this last month had been about what Sammy needed. And what he needed, more than anything, was hope. They ransacked every occult library that would let them in the door and spent days driving from one side of the country to visit any shaman, holy man, mambo, or psychic that Sam thought might be able to help. Turned out there was a sure-fire way to tell if they were the real deal. Any of them with a lick of power treated Dean like a freaking leper.

Then Sam got a phone call. He made Dean pull over to the side of the road while he got out and spent forty-five minutes pacing back and forth on the verge, waving his free hand around and arguing with whoever it was. He hung up, turned to stare at Dean in the car, and then made two more calls, one after the other. When Sam got back in the car, his eyes were brighter than they had been in months.

“Turn around,” he ordered. “We need to see a man in Chandler, Arizona.”

They drove 700 miles to visit a Catholic priest who knew enough about what went bump in the night not to assume they were nuts so that Dean could go to confession. It was kind of pointless, with Dean already ringing the dinner bell for the hell hounds, but Sam asked him to do it, so he did.

Even when Dean only counted the sins he was actually sorry for, he had a laundry list to confess. He spent almost four hours in the hotbox with Father Jimenez. He started with the most recent, lying to get those two twins into bed, ‘cause he’d really wanted to cross that one off his bucket list. They were nice girls, though, and he’d felt kind of crappy about it when they kept trying to call him afterwards. He’d worked his way through his sins in reverse, all the way back to sleeping with Sam’s prom date, stealing that nice Mrs. Moretti’s car to get Sammy to the ER when he was ten, and the way he spent almost a year, back when he was a kid, hating Dad for letting Mom burn. Afterwards, maybe it was his empty belly, but Dean felt a little lighter.

“Go forth, my son, and sin no more,” Father said to him when they finished. Yeah, right. But it turned out that Sam was on this whole ‘purity of mind, body, and spirit’ kick. No sex, no booze, and …

“No meat! Seriously, dude, what’m I supposed to eat?”

According to Sam, all of the sacred texts were in agreement that both Big Dean and Little Dean weren’t allowed any fun while they rolled back the clock on his soul’s odometer. He even tried to teach Dean to meditate, but gave up when Dean kept falling asleep.

The only upside was that Sam wouldn’t let Dean out of his sight when he went out, so Dean managed to drag Sam along for a few games of pool. Sam had always been crazy competitive. Throwing a game so subtly even Sam couldn’t tell was a real challenge, and seeing his little brother forget himself enough for a little fist-pump of victory was totally worth the effort.

It was a relief when they finally ended up at Bobby’s. Dean spent some quality time with his baby while Sam researched with Bobby, doing serious preventative maintenance work and getting her engine to that perfect grumbling purr he hadn’t heard since she got broadsided by a semi.

Inside, things were tense. Dean walked in on Bobby with both hands clenched in Sam’s shirt, yelling at him.

“Oh, it’s guaranteed to work. There’s just that one little –” Bobby caught sight of Dean, snapped his mouth shut, and walked away.

Sam was standing tall, the lines of his back stubborn and unyielding.

Dean followed Bobby outside and helped him fix the transmission on an old Ford. He didn’t ask; didn’t want to know what was going on. He couldn’t risk doing anything that might count as trying to weasel out of his deal. Dean just ran through the list of things that Sam was absolutely not allowed to do.

“Yeah, there’s none of that involved.” Bobby snorted. “Idjits.”

________________________________________


Dean hocked some of the less-dangerous stuff Dad had squirrelled away over the years on the Internet. It made for a decent nest egg. He got some top quality papers for Sam, under the name Samson Robert Winchester, with a clean social security number. He paid an Ash wannabe to break into Stanford’s computers and change Sam’s old records to match the new ID, but the baby hacker said there was no way he could get Sam registered.

Dean thought about trying to bribe or blackmail whoever was in charge over there, but in his experience, the higher-up the food chain you went, the more likely that’d bite you in the ass. Still, there was more than one way to skin a fat cat. Dean poked around the Stanford website until he found his mark. He waited until Sam went out on one of his mysterious supply runs, and then made a call.

Dr. Abbott wasn’t an easy man to get ahold of. Dean had to talk his way past two secretaries to get through to the man himself.

“Yes,” said a clipped, impatient voice.

Dean could picture him from that one word. A man in a conservative grey suit and red tie, seated behind a massive mahogany desk. Dean adjusted his pitch for that particular flavor of douchebag. “Sir, my name is Dean Winchester. I’m calling on behalf of my brother, Sam Winchester.”

“I don’t know why Gladys put you through,” Abbott interrupted, “but I’m very busy, and I don’t deal with individual cases.”

“No sir, I know that. But could you please just pull up my brother’s records. He’s a returning student.”

An exasperated sigh. “Student number?”

Dean had it ready. “2047792.”

The sound of tapping keys. “Samson Winchester, withdrawn as of November 4, 2004. Granted a semester of compassionate leave, but missed the deadline,” Abbott recited. “He’ll need to re-apply from scratch. We do sometimes admit older, returning students, particularly if they’ve been enriched by travel, work experience, that sort of thing.”

Yeah, that’d be an awesome application essay. ‘How My Brother and I Took Out the Demon That Killed Our Mother, by Sammy Winchester, Age 25.’ “Look. Sam missed the deadline because he’s been taking care of me. I was diagnosed with terminal cancer back in 2005.” Actually, he pretty much died back in ’05, but, whatever.

There was a pause. When Dr. Abbott spoke again he sounded more real, like Dean had gotten through to the human being inside the suit. “I’m very sorry to hear that. We do sometimes consider re-admissions, based on special circumstances. Your brother can find the proper forms on-line.”

“Yeah, I’ve got the forms,” Dean said. “It’s just …” He was tearing up, but that was fine. That was good. That’s what would sell this. Dean cleared his throat. “I’ve, uh, got maybe a week left. And Sam, he won’t even talk about what he’ll do after. Keeps saying that I’m gonna to make it. But I’m not. So I need to know, when I’m gone, that if he wants to go back to school, that you’re gonna let him in.” Dean’s voice was so hoarse, he could barely get the words out. “Can you do that for me?”

Dr. Abbott didn’t say anything for a bit. Dean couldn’t hear anything over his own harsh breaths.

“Mr. Winchester, if you have your brother forward the forms directly to me, I’ll see what I can do.”

“That’s – good. That’s good, sir, thank you very much.” Dean hung up the phone. He wiped tears from his cheeks. A sign of his freaking professionalism, that’s all they were. No way you could get that much emotion in your voice without it being a full-body gig. And that’s what sold the con to that asshole at Stanford.

After a couple minutes to cool off, Dean poked around a little on Sam’s laptop. He found email addresses for Sam’s old college friend, Zach, and that art chick, Sarah. It looked like Sam hadn’t gotten in touch with either of them since that bank thing last year landed them on the FBI’s radar. Dean set-up an anonymous email account and passed on Sam’s new number to both of them. He suggested they should reach out to Sam sometime this summer, invite the kid to a barbeque or something.

Sometimes Sam got lost in his own head when he was upset over something. Dean wouldn’t be there to snap him out of it, but phone calls from some old friends should do the trick.

________________________________________


Dean was sitting outside on the front step, trying to decide if cleaning Bobby’s gutters and tacking up some fresh shingles was worth risking the last two days of his life to the rickety metal ladder he’d found out back. Either way, it’d get him away from World War Three that had been raging inside between Bobby and Sam ever since lunch. Dean had put a candle on a stack of blueberry pancakes for his brother’s birthday and Sam had flipped out.

The door opened behind him with a creak. Dean could fix that up easy enough with some WD-40, but it might be a part of Bobby’s alarm system. Bobby dropped his duffel on the porch with a thud and settled down on the step next to him. For a few minutes, Dean sat listening to the distant howling of what might just be the wind.

“I’m gonna head out, take care of a vengeful spirit ripping through a VA Hospital in Hibbing,” Bobby said eventually.

Dean nodded.

“I’d planned to stick until the end, but the forces Sam’s playing around with … I won’t ask the two of you to leave, but I can’t be a part of it.”

“Understood,” Dean said quietly. “I need you to do something for me, though.”

Bobby took a deep breath and huffed it out. “Say the word.”

“Look, I know you’re pissed at Sam right now,” Dean started. Bobby started to speak, but Dean talked over him. “No, I get it. That kid’s the only person I ever met who could out-stubborn Dad. But he’s …” Dean broke off and cleared his throat. “In a few days, Bobby, you’ll be the only family he’s got left. So I need you to make sure he doesn’t do anything crazy.”

Bobby shoved himself to his feet and strode a few angry steps away. When he turned around, his face was flushed. “Anything crazy,” he said flatly. “Like selling his fool soul to a crossroads demon?”

Dean met his eyes. “Yeah, anything crazy like that.”

Bobby looked away and spat into the dirt. “Winchesters,” he muttered, like it was a curse, and maybe it was.

Dean shrugged at him. “Sam’s tough. He’ll be okay. Just get him through the rough patch, Bobby.”

Bobby turned back and stared at him. “Boy, you got any idea …” he trailed off into a sigh and knuckled his eye like he had a headache. “Fine,” he said abruptly. “I’ll be back Saturday, and you know I’ll do what I can to glue your brother back together.”

Dean stood up. “I know you will. You always –” Dean choked on it; too much to put into words even if he had another year to get it right.

Bobby’s eyes were glistening and his voice was rough when he replied. “Yeah. Anything special you want done, or said, when the time comes?”

Dean knew Bobby held the Last Will and Testaments of over twenty hunters. There was a filing cabinet of them in his office, alphabetized by first names since that’s all that some of them would admit to. He shook his head. “No. Won’t make any difference to me, where I’m going. Whatever Sam needs is fine.”

“Story of your whole damned life,” Bobby said gruffly. Then he was moving forwards, grabbing Dean and pulling him into a rough hug. Dean let him. Stood there with his arms around Bobby’s back, breathing in the funk of sweat and Old Spice and motor oil from Bobby’s hat. He was lucky, really. How many hunters ever got a chance to say goodbye?

Finally Bobby stepped away. He held Dean by the shoulders and looked him over. Fixed the collar of Dean’s flannel where it had gotten flipped inside-out. “Right,” Bobby said. “I’ll be going then.”

Dean nodded. ‘See you later,’ would be a lie, and ‘Goodbye’ was too true to say out loud, so he just watched as Bobby tossed his duffel into the back of a beat-up old van and drove away.

Inside, Sam’s nose was buried in a book. Dean headed into the kitchen and cooked up some mac ‘n cheese with real cheddar cheese. Sam used to love that when he was a kid, especially when Dean got the top nice and crispy. He yelled to Sam when dinner was ready. Sam yelled back that he’d be there in a minute. Dean put Sam’s plate of food in the fridge. He polished off his dinner with a glass of the apple juice that was starting to go hard in the back of the fridge and a big bowl of chocolate ice cream. When Dean went upstairs to try and sleep Sam was still sitting at Bobby’s desk, frantically scribbling notes in some language Dean didn’t recognize.

________________________________________


Dean’s last day dawned clear and warm, the sky edging from black into a deep, endless blue as he watched. He hadn’t really slept. The hellhounds were howling pretty much non-stop now. But the other sounds he heard in the dark – those were worse. The gnawing of bones and the splatter-thud of fresh corpses being ripped apart. Sizzling flesh and tongueless whimpers. Soft giggles and the clicking of nails across Bobby’s floor. Screams. Too many screams, and Dean knew none of them were real, not this side of Hell, but he couldn’t ignore them any more than he could Sammy’s crying when he was a baby. Dean was supposed to help. That was his job. But maybe he’d helped all he could, now. Maybe that part of him was done.

That afternoon Dean finished detailing the Impala. Things gibbered and danced in the long shadows of the junkyard, but his baby gleamed black and chrome and perfect in the sunlight. Good as new, like the last few years never happened. Dean brushed the chamois along her side, over and over, his shoulders clenching tighter as the howls closed in behind him.

“Hey,” Sam called from the porch. “Mind some company?”

Dean breathed through the surge of relief, same as he would through a spike of pain. “Sure,” he said casually.

Sam was shrouded in his own personal darkness. It clung tight to him, thrumming as he stepped into the sunlight. Sam handed him a long neck, already glistening and wet in the spring heat. Dean reached out for the beer, pulling away quickly when Sam’s shadow flowed down the bottle towards his fingers. Dean popped the beer cap off with his ring. It came off too easy. Sam must have finally given up on his abstinence kick and raided Bobby’s holy water-spiked stash.

They both settled back against the side of the car and drank. Something snarled, vicious and blood-curdling behind them. Dean flinched, but when Sam didn’t react he calmly took another sip. It slid down his throat with a bitter after-taste. Still, this’d probably be his last beer, and he was gonna enjoy it. Too bad it wasn’t a Shiner Bock. Now that was a beer.

“She’s looking good,” Sam offered.

“Damn straight,” Dean said. “You remember what I said about changing her oil, right?”

“Every three thousand miles, and if I go to one of those Jiffy Lube places you’ll haunt my ass,” Sam repeated dutifully, peeling at the label on his beer.

That sat there for a minute, Dean breathing in deep, slow breaths, ignoring the hint of sulfur in the air.

“Dean – you believe in God, right?” Sam asked.

Dean considered, checking his watch. Eight hours and twenty-three minutes until midnight. Sure, hellhounds were breathing down his neck, but he’d always thought death-bed conversions were for pussies. “Nah,” he decided.

Sam straightened up, setting his beer on the hood. “Really?”

Dean shrugged, feeling a little woozy. A few weeks of clean living had turned him into a light-weight. “Not convinced there’s anybody up there, and if there is, he’s a dick. There’s plenty of evil in this world, and nobody fighting it but us.”

“But you’ve got to believe in God!” Sam protested. There was a hellhound growl hidden under his voice. “I mean … holy water works on demons, right? And they flinch before the name of God.”

Dean nodded unsteadily.

“And angels!” Sam continued. “There’s tons of lore on angels. Come on, Dean,” Sam pleaded.

Dean polished off his beer and set it down on the trunk. It toppled off into the dirt. Huh. Dean stared down at the bottle, thinking. Mom always said there were angels watching over him. He remembered that angel statue of hers. Cute little thing. Sweet. What kinda God would have angels like that, when demons were running around slaughtering people? It was like … Dean chuckled under his breath. Like some guy raising Chihuahuas when what he needed was a big, tough Rottweiler.

Like Rumsfeld. That was a good dog. Damn shame Meg killed him. Last couple weeks would’ve been more fun if Rumsfeld was here to hang out with him.

“Dean!” Sam said urgently.

“Yeah?” Dean slurred, sitting down heavily on the trunk. What was wrong with him?

“There’s got to be some kind of God you can believe in. You do, right? Tell me. You’d go to Heaven to be with God, if you could, right?” Sam shook him. The darkness was slithering down his arms and spilling over Dean’s shirt, slick and oily.

Dean tried to shove Sam off, but his hands weren’t working right. “I guess …” he muttered. A kind of God he could believe in. Some nice old guy with a white beard and a white suit wandering around a garden, maybe, tending his roses and waiting for the nice humans to show up for his tea party. “Sure,” he mumbled. “Me and Rumsfeld can be the bouncers at God’s party.”

“Okay,” Sam said, relief clear in his voice. “That’s close enough, Dean.”

“Whatthahell, Sammy,” Dean mumbled as the darkness crawled up over his face and slipped into his mouth with a nasty metallic tang.

“I had to. But don’t worry, I’ve got you. You’ll be fine,” Sam said from far, far away. “You’ll be fine.”

________________________________________


Dean was lying on a hard surface and he felt like crap. The pounding headache and nausea could have been from a hang-over, but Dean recognized his cold sweats and pounding, frantic heartbeat as symptoms of blood loss. The air was heavy with the coppery scent of blood, and his ears rang with the piercing howls of hell hounds. He tried to move, and his fingers barely twitched. Fuck. Maybe he’d blacked out, missed his big exit, and was already in Hell? Dean used the hot shock of adrenaline from that thought to push himself up onto his knees.

Judging by the concrete floor and unpainted wooden staircase, he was in someone’s basement. Dean was kneeling in the center of a complex ritual circle, painted in blood. Probably his own, he noted, given the slashes aching down the length of each forearm, still sluggishly bleeding. They’d need stitches. Or, well, they would if he didn’t have bigger problems right now. Dean and the circle were bathed in golden sunlight from a single window high on the wall. When Dean squinted to see past the sunlight, the shadows seemed thicker than they should, a writhing mass of darkness. There was a huge yellow-eyed beast crouched in the deepest shadow, chanting low and slow. The chant wasn’t in Latin, or Greek, or any other language Dean wanted anything to do with. The syllables slid around the edge of the sunlight, trying to find a pathway through to Dean. The hairs at the back of his neck stood up.

The thing in the shadow coughed. Dean knew that cough.

“Sam?”

“Dean?” The figure, Sam, answered in a voice that cracked half-way through the word, so full of surprise and guilt that Dean was reminded of the time he caught Sammy skipping class and smoking weed behind the library.

Dean relaxed. He wasn’t dead. Not yet. He still had a few hours. “Dude. You roofied me?”

“I, uh … yeah?” Sam answered. He sounded funny; hoarse and out of breath. Dean could barely hear him over the hellhounds.

“C’mon, man, I taught you better than that. If you gotta get a girl drunk to get her in to bed, you’re better off with your own right hand,” Dean joked uneasily, fighting off the grogginess from whatever Sam had slipped him. He had to settle Sam down and figure out what the fuck the kid was doing, in case it was something he needed to put a stop to.

Dean’s eyes were adjusting to the light. He could see his brother sitting with his back against the wall, long arms wrapped around his knees. Sam shrugged awkwardly.

“Blood magic, huh?” Dean asked cautiously.

“Just our own,” Sam said, rolling up the cuff of his shirt to flash a white bandage.

That wasn’t bad. Using your own blood to power a spell – Bobby might not approve, but it wasn’t black magic. Not really. “Hey, could you toss me some bandages, maybe a couple butterflies if you got ‘em?” Dean asked, showing Sam his forearm, tacky with drying blood while more trickled steadily from the wound. “Think I’m running a few pints low.”

Sam blinked at him.

Dean reached towards the edge of the ritual circle to give Sam a better look. Something fluttered eagerly in the darkness between them. Dean froze and pulled back into the center of the circle.

Sam shifted uncomfortably. “I can’t,” he blurted out. “This ritual, Ruby said for it to work, you need to be …”

“Bleeding like a stuck pig?” Dean suggested. Sam got this ritual from Ruby? He wouldn’t put it past her to come up with something bogus just to screw with them. At least if the ritual was fake, it’d be harmless.

“It’s legit, though,” Sam said earnestly, like he could see what Dean was thinking. “The original scrolls were all burned, but Bobby found an ancient Hebrew text condemning it as heresy, and the few details in there, they matched up.”

“Well, that’s a relief,” Dean said drily. “Wouldn’t want to waste all this blood on something that wasn’t really heresy.”

It wasn’t like he could apply pressure to both wounds, anyway. But hypovolemic shock was a bitch. Probably a better way to go than being ripped apart, but he’d rather face the hell hounds on his feet. Dean fell back on Dad’s basic first aid lessons – get the wound above the heart to slow blood loss. Dean tried raising his arms over his head, but they felt too heavy, and started trembling right away. Dean laced his fingers together behind his neck, and let his arms rest in that position. The cuts burned, but it wasn’t too bad.

He suddenly realized what he must look like, on his knees with his fingers locked together behind his head. Assuming the position. Henricksen would’ve thought it was hilarious. Henricksen. Fuck. Maybe he was patrolling with Rumsfeld up in Heaven.

The sun was getting low. Blood slid slowly down his arm to his elbow and then dripped to the floor, like a clock counting down the seconds.

“So, anyway, Sam,” Dean said awkwardly. He’d hoped he’d find some natural way of bringing this up, but he was running out of time here. “Once this is all over, you should go back to school.”

“You want me to go back to college?” Sam asked incredulously.

“To Stanford,” Dean clarified. With Azazel gone, and Dean out of the picture, Sam could get a chance at that normal life he’d always wanted. Slip under the demon radar. Be safe.

Sam slowly straightened his legs. Dean bit his lip, holding back a warning as things scampered out of the way. “Dean, I’m wanted by the FBI. And legally dead, which might cancel out the problem with the feds, but even if that wasn’t an issue, I doubt Stanford would want me back.”

“Nah, you’re awesome. They’ll snap you up,” Dean said. “I printed out the forms you need to fill out, left them in the glove box for you. Just try. For me. Okay?” Dean asked.

“Sure, Dean. I’ll apply,” Sam said in the kind voice he used on witnesses. Dean would call bull-shit, but all Sam had to do was send in the forms, and Abbott would make sure he got in. And if Sam got into Stanford, he’d go, sure as ghouls go for carrion. Everything would be back the way it should be.

“Cool,” Dean said, stretching his shoulders. The ache in his forearms flared to a stabbing pain. Dean hissed. The howls got louder, hungrier, as if the hell hounds had heard him in pain, and wanted a taste. “Do you need me to do any, uh, chanting, or anything?” Dean yelled over the howls.

“No.” Sam’s voice was distant as he pulled his knees back up to his chest. “Nothing to do now but wait.” He nodded up towards the window.

Wait for sundown. Dean shivered. It wouldn’t be much longer now. The shaft of sunlight was retreating away from the ritual circle, leaving Dean in the dark. The shadows lengthened. Thickened. Curled around Sam like that’s where they belonged. Azazel’s words echoed in Dean’s head. ‘Are you sure what you brought back is one hundred percent pure Sam?’ Dean was sure. He was.

Sam stood abruptly and started pacing around the edge of the circle. Dean let his arms slump down as he turned to keep an eye on his brother. Hell echoed in Sam’s footsteps, hot-sharp-screams.

Dean’s heart was a panicked thing, trapped in his chest. “Sam?” Dean croaked, choking on the stench of blood and sulfur coming off of his brother.

“Won’t let her have you. Won’t,” Sam muttered, eyes gleaming in the dark. It wasn’t an answer. More like an arterial spray of crazy, and Dean found himself sliding away from Sam, the dark around him full of wrong.

The howls were deafening now. Something slammed into the door at the top of the stairs.

“Back off,” Sam snarled at it. There was a yelp upstairs, like a kicked dog, and the howls stopped. Everything stopped.

In the sudden, shattering silence Sam stepped into the circle. “Can you forgive me, Dean?” he asked.

“Yeah, Sam. Of course. I never expected you to save me,” Dean said, words stumbling out of his mouth.

Sam smiled sweetly. “Can you forgive me for saving you?”

He stepped behind Dean. Pulled him backwards, off balance, like Bobby going for that hug, but Dean saw the flash of a blade out the corner of his eye and it hurt, hurt so fucking bad. Sam held him tight as soft darkness eased the pain away.

Sam let Dean slide to the floor, circle wiped clean in a wash of fresh blood. “Abel went straight to Heaven,” Sam whispered.

Dean thought that light everyone talks about looked an awful lot like fireworks.

Comments

( 34 comments — Leave a comment )
arliss
Nov. 15th, 2011 10:04 am (UTC)
Just gutting. You have the interior of Dean's head in that last month exactly as I would expect it to be. And Sam--whoa, poor Sam, doing what he thinks is right. Startling and shocking and still, so them.
keerawa
Nov. 15th, 2011 03:55 pm (UTC)
Thank you, arliss. I tried to show Dean dealing with his impending death by not dealing with it at all, except in the ways that it will impact Sam. I'm glad that felt in character to you.
amberdreams
Nov. 15th, 2011 03:37 pm (UTC)
Ah ye gods, Sammy.
And you, I think you just broke me. The last thing Dean would expect and yet in some ways, he should have known. Sticking to Dean's view point works so well as we can read the signs of Sam working up to something terrible but see exactly how Dean doesn't - because he doesn't want to, I suppose.
Of course, it does beg the question - did it work? And what happened to Sam...
keerawa
Nov. 15th, 2011 04:01 pm (UTC)
Sammy. *clings* Dean's willfully blind here, absolutely.

Of course it worked! Fireworks, right? As for Sam ... let's just say he's not going to Stanford.

Thanks for the comment, amber!
amberdreams
Nov. 15th, 2011 04:09 pm (UTC)
Damned for all eternity then, eh. Or I suppose, given Lucifer's down there just waiting for his meatsuit... oh Sammy, what have you done!
tahirire
Nov. 15th, 2011 04:18 pm (UTC)
OMG, YES.

Dude, I knew the second I saw both your names attached to this and that it was set in s3 it was going to blow my mind. *cackles* Oh, SAM. *clings*
keerawa
Nov. 17th, 2011 03:52 pm (UTC)
*grins evilly* Thanks, tahire!
monicawoe
Nov. 15th, 2011 05:10 pm (UTC)
Holy crap! That was awesome! What a great ending!
keerawa
Nov. 17th, 2011 03:54 pm (UTC)
Thank you, monicawoe!
tifaching
Nov. 15th, 2011 06:36 pm (UTC)
Oh, I so didn't see that coming. I should have, I know, but nope.

So much love for Dean's phone call to Stanford, his confession, and his last moments with Bobby. Kind of surprised that Ruby gave Sam the ritual, though. This....well, what have I said a bunch of times? Your brain goes where no one else's does. Amazing reimagining of it. Just amazing.

keerawa
Nov. 17th, 2011 04:00 pm (UTC)
I'm glad there was some shock value attached. I'm glad the bits with Dean trying to put his affairs in order worked for you.

I think that Ruby, at least this Ruby, was not completely in the loop. TPTB in Hell told her to bring Sam dark-side and get him to master his powers, and that is exactly what she's doing here. It's hard to know how much of what Dean perceived in the final scene was real, but Sam definitely ordered off a hellhound. In my head, getting Dean into Heaven is an 'off-label' use of the ritual. It's designed as a human sacrifice of one's own brother in order to gain power. The first line of this fic I ever wrote, the one that didn't make it into the final draft, was, "Suicides don't get into Heaven, Dean. But martyrs do."

Thanks for the feedback, Ti!
galwithglasses
Nov. 15th, 2011 07:00 pm (UTC)
Oh, wow, I totally didn't see that coming. What an awesome story. Great work and it goes so well with the art.
keerawa
Nov. 17th, 2011 04:01 pm (UTC)
I'm glad - Dean certainly didn't see it coming, either!
honeylocusttree
Nov. 15th, 2011 09:51 pm (UTC)
What I like best about this is how original the idea is. While old familiar tropes are fun, there's nothing quite like something fresh to really wake up the brain and shed new light on a beloved series and cast of characters. This does that so well! Kudos on taking familiar elements and reorienting them into something wholly unpredictable.

Really like this final version a lot, way to make the whole Stanford thing at least grounded in reality, which is more than a lot of people manage. *grumble grumble* Sam's humoring Dean is an especially nice touch. The fact that the ritual came from Ruby makes me wonder what the final fallout of Sam's actions would really be (especially because Dean being in heaven puts him at the mercy of the angels, wholly unaware and unprepared, eep! Also Sam's sort of Mr. Good Intentions, and we all know how well that works out.). Lots of cool elements here and great execution. You didn't falter on the creepy, and left just enough to the imagination to create a sense of horror, without bludgeoning people over the head with it. Overall, very nice work and totally worth waiting for!
keerawa
Nov. 18th, 2011 09:23 am (UTC)
Thank you, honeylocusttree! You're artwork was unique, so I wanted to write something special to go with it. I'm glad the way I treated Stanford in the final draft didn't bug you too much.

Ruby convinced Sam to use the ritual off-label as a way to back-door Dean into Heaven. Ritual sacrifice of one's brother in exchhange for power? Ruby was assigned to get Sam to accept and master his powers, and she is certainly delivering here.
quickreaver
Nov. 16th, 2011 02:49 am (UTC)
Oh my stars THIS WAS AWESOME. So many lovely phrases turned and I'm a total sucker for not-quite-happily-ever-afters. Love the art, the words, ladies this is the Total Package. I could read this again and again. And I prolly will. You. Kicked. Ass.

keerawa
Nov. 18th, 2011 09:24 am (UTC)
Yay! Thanks so much, quickreaver! I'm glad you enjoyed it!
spn_j2fan
Nov. 16th, 2011 06:22 am (UTC)
After seeing the visually moving artwork, I was really looking forward to this, and you did not disappoint! I was captivated from beginning to end, and the fluidity just kind of carried me along.

Dean speaking to the Dean on Sam's behalf, and then discussing his own impending demise, really got me. And you did it in such a minimal number of words. It was perfect. It was Dean perfect. And it really kind of hurt (in the way a good story hurts, I promise).

I sat on the edge of my seat waiting to read what Sam had done. I went over every "best-case," and every "worst-case" scenario I could conjure up, and I wasn't anywhere close to that. Well, I was at least thinking Biblical, so I'm all kinds of proud of myself for that! ;)

And how strange is it that I wasn't mad at Sam the second I finished reading this. Shouldn't I have been mad? Maybe I have faith! ♥

This was absolutely wonderful, and a delight to read. Thank you! :)

keerawa
Nov. 18th, 2011 09:27 am (UTC)
I'm delighted to hear that this story engaged you to that extent, spn_j2fan! Dean using his impending death as a tool, almost a weapon, to get Abbott and even Bobby to help out Sam, seems like something he'd do, you know? It's hard to be mad at Sam when he is so despereately trying to save his brother at any cost.

Thsnk so much for the detailed and enthusiastic feedback!
dragonlit
Nov. 16th, 2011 06:48 am (UTC)
Such a wonderful read and I did not see the end coming. Loved it though, the sacrifice that Sam made for Dean. Oh, boys! Always break my heart.
keerawa
Nov. 18th, 2011 09:27 am (UTC)
Sacrifice indeed. Of Dean. For Dean. Poor boys.

I'm glad to hear that the end was a surprise - I always wonder. Thanks, dragonlit!
kalliel
Nov. 17th, 2011 03:42 am (UTC)
Sometimes I forget how horrifying the prospects in S3 were; this fic brought me right back to those feelings and then some. Absolutely dazzling; great job. Thank you for sharing this!
keerawa
Nov. 18th, 2011 09:28 am (UTC)
Season 3 involved a far more personal drama than the epic, apocalypic story-line of later seasons, but that doesn't make it any less powerful or important, to my mind. Thank you, kalliel!
claudiapriscus
Nov. 17th, 2011 06:03 am (UTC)
Awesome :)

I mean, I suppose I should be all very sad or horrified, but I'm feeling kind of perverse and it's all so very delicious.

There's also the fact that I have the image of a certain group of angels standing around and going, "Well, fuck."

ETA: there's also the fact that given the show's love of always trying to find new ways to twist the knife, there's a part of me that thinks of this as a happy ending in comparison.

Edited at 2011-11-17 06:05 am (UTC)
keerawa
Nov. 18th, 2011 09:32 am (UTC)
a certain group of angels standing around and going, "Well, fuck."
*laughs* So true!

You know canon must be well and truly dark for people to see THIS as a happy ending - and yet a fair number of people do!

Thanks, claudia!
road_rhythm
Dec. 13th, 2011 08:58 am (UTC)
He was lucky, really. How many hunters ever got a chance to say goodbye?

Damn you, that is just so Dean, and so S3!Dean, AU or not.

More like an arterial spray of crazy

“Abel went straight to Heaven,” Sam whispered.

Dean thought that light everyone talks about looked an awful lot like fireworks.


DAMN YOU. Oh, that is good.

Added to memories.
keerawa
Dec. 14th, 2011 09:10 am (UTC)
*beams* I've never been so pleased to be cussed out. Thanks so much for pulling out that line about Dean thinking he's lucky. It hits ME hard every time I re-read it.

Fireworks, you know?
withdiamonds
Dec. 20th, 2011 02:15 am (UTC)
Oh, man, this Dean hurts my heart. So much denial of how badly Sam is going to do without him, which translates here to what Sam's willing to do in order to save Dean.

And, oh, wow, Sammy. This is so dark and awesome.
keerawa
Dec. 20th, 2011 04:40 am (UTC)
Yeah, Dean completely fails to comprehend that he's the center of Sam's world. Thanks for reading, withdiamonds!
maerhys
Feb. 12th, 2012 07:14 pm (UTC)
FB
Oh wow! This is so visceral and intense— I love your characterizations and how they drive the story, which really makes it pop for me. Fabulous work, I really love your dark fic; it feels authentic and true.
keerawa
Feb. 12th, 2012 08:04 pm (UTC)
Re: FB
Thanks so much, maerhys! Dean facing down eternal damnation, and spending his last few days trying to make sure Sam will be okay, gets me every time.
inheritedjeans
Feb. 14th, 2012 04:23 am (UTC)
That ending hit me straight like a punch in the gut. A sucker punch. But throughout the fic, you've sown all the hints of something not quite right with Sam, that he's working himself up to something just awful and desperate in every way, and it works brilliantly.

Fireworks! And Sam: "Abel went straight to Heaven." :( :( :( All that makes me think is, where's Cain going to go?

I'm choosing to believe that Dean is AT REST in Heaven, with John and Mary. I'm choosing to believe that the angels can't grab him away to wear Michael in the coming End. If I don't believe that, then this is just too sad.
keerawa
Feb. 14th, 2012 05:24 am (UTC)
Say, did this fic get rec'sd somewhere? Two comments in two days, months after posting, that unusual.

I'm really pleased to hear that the build-up to the end worked, and yet still hit you hard.

All that makes me think is, where's Cain going to go?
*whimpers and clings with you* At this point, I don't think Sam even cares.

I'm choosing to believe that the angels can't grab him away to wear Michael in the coming End.
Well, the angels seem to require consent, and Dean is supremely stubborn. Without the guilt and self-hatred that came from breaking in Hell, even more so. So I think the angels and their Plan are seriously screwed here. Not saying there's not some all new flavor of apocalypse in the works, with Ruby leading Sam down this path. But it'd be different!

Thanks so much, inheritedjeans!
inheritedjeans
Feb. 14th, 2012 04:18 pm (UTC)
I didn't see it rec'd. This is actually one of the fics I had bookmarked to read later, under the tag "dark." Don't remember where I first saw it, though. Maybe trawling through the reversebang list?

You're welcome! You deserve ALL THE PRAISE.
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