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Title: Where There's Smoke
Pairing: Flashes of Sam/Dean and Dean/Castiel
Rating: PG-13
Thanks to: My beta, whitereflection
Length: 1,140 words
Spoilers: Up to the end of Season 4.
Written for: fayolin, as part of the sammessiah Antichristmas exchange.
Warnings: Off-screen major character death. Angst. Apocafic.
Summary: Dean didn’t know what he was waking up to. He just knew it was bad.

The frantic whine of cicadas woke him. Dean clung to sleep, to blackness. He didn’t know what he was waking up to. He just knew it was bad.

Splintery wood under his cheek. The floor was warmer than the air and Dean curled up a little tighter. He licked his dry lips, tasted coppery blood. Somewhere, something was burning.

Dean’s eyes opened and he rolled to his feet, categorizing and ignoring his body’s aches and pains. He staggered a little, recognizing the dizziness of a mild concussion. Explained why he had no idea where the fuck he was.

Dean was standing in a little white gazebo on a town commons. The flowers woven through the lattice of the gazebo were wilted and dead, as was the brown grass. The sky overhead was dark, almost green. On the horizon a wall cloud the color of black smoke flowed towards the town.

Dean had spent enough time in Tornado Alley to know that sirens should have been wailing. People should have been scurrying for safety. Instead the town was silent, even the cicada-song fading away to nothing.

Cold wind gusted around him and Dean shoved his hands into his pockets before walking down the gazebo stairs. Dean had seen hundreds of small towns like this one, all white-washed wood and brick. He knew there would be one church, two cemeteries, and a volunteer fire department. He headed towards the church steeple at the far end of the town commons. If there was anyone left in this town, that’s where’d he find them. The grass crunched under his feet. The air was heavy, expectant.

Dean pushed open the church door and stepped inside. The silence rang in his ears. Or maybe that was the concussion. He made his way down to the basement in the faint grey light from a tiny window. There was a kitchen, dozens of folding chairs, a playroom scattered with children’s toys. No people. No one.

Dean wasn’t surprised. He couldn't remember what had happened, what was going on. But Dean had a real bad feeling about it. He hadn’t really expected to find anyone in the church.

A burning pain slammed into Dean’s shoulder, sent him to his knees.

“Gotta keep goin’,” Dean heard himself slur as Castiel pulled him out of the driver’s seat.

“You crashed, Dean. We can’t drive anymore,” Castiel said, half-carrying him away from the wreck and propping him up against a tree. “But I can lead them away.”

Dean tried to shake his head no; closed his eyes against the wracking nausea. When he opened them, Castiel was staring at him intently from just inches away. He never had figured out personal space.

“You said there were things worth dying for, Dean. And … we failed. We couldn’t stop any of it. But you were right,” Castiel said. Dean hadn’t seen him like this, so strong and certain, for a long time. “Even if you are the only part of my Father’s creation left to save, it was still worth it.”

Castiel leaned forward. His lips were cool on Dean’s forehead.

Dean was clutching at the handprint burned into his shoulder, spitting bile against the pain that was already fading away to nothing. “Fuck. Cas.”

He pushed himself to his feet and stood there swaying. There wasn’t really anywhere to go, but a town this size should have at least one bar, and Dean headed out to find it. While he was inside the wind had picked up, howling through the deserted streets. It started to hail, tiny bits of ice melting in his hair and rattling against the neatly parked cars. Not a single one of those cars had been abandoned in the middle of the street. There was no sign that anyone had even tried to run for safety.

Dean popped his collar and hunched his shoulders against the weather, marching numbly through the gloom. He eventually spotted a bright neon Coors sign, and was surprised to see the power was still on. It hadn’t occurred to him to check. The door of the bar was plastered with warnings against loitering and fighting. Dean slipped inside and let the wind slam the door closed behind him.

The bar was warm and dim-lit; pungent with spilled beer, a real dive. No windows. That was good, Dean decided, running a hand through his hair to get rid of the last of the hail and wiping his face dry with the hem of his shirt. After all this, it’d be embarrassing to get taken out by shattered window glass.

Dean grabbed a bottle of Jack from behind the bar and wandered over to the jukebox. Opened the bottle, took a swig, and looked over the selection. Way too much country and whiny pop music, but … yeah, right there. Dean found a few quarters in his jacket pocket, slid them in, and typed in L79.

Bonham’s drum beats settled into his bones, drowned out the dull roar of the wind outside. As the wailing harmonica joined in, Dean felt something coalesce in the space behind him. Something vast and dark and deadly. Every hunter’s instinct was pushing him to grab a weapon, fight, run. But you know what? Screw that.

Dean saluted the freaking huge shadow on the wall in front of him with the bottle. “Absent friends,” he toasted, taking another drink as it stepped closer.

The bottle was plucked from his hand. Dean swung around, automatically leading with an elbow.

Sam blocked the strike with his forearm and stepped back out of range. “To absent friends,” he agreed, tilting back the bottle.

Dean watched Sam’s throat work as he swallowed. He looked exactly the same, down to the clothes he’d worn the last time Dean remembered seeing his brother. And Dean knew, knew there was something wrong with that.

“How’d you find me?” Dean asked.

“Been listening for Zeppelin since the world went quiet,” Sam answered. “Came as soon as I heard it.”

Heaven and Hell had been searching for Dean forever, but Sam knew him too well.

“Sorry about Castiel,” Sam said abruptly. “My demons wouldn’t have touched him. It was the angels.”

Dean nodded. “Yeah. He was, uh-” Dean choked on the words. Couldn’t get them out. Because Cas, he was, this was … Dean had wrecked the fucking car, and there was nowhere left to run, no one left to run with, and he couldn’t stop shaking.

The song’s final guitar riff snarled down into silence, leaving nothing but the distant howl of the wind.

Dean let his eyes close, and Sam was there, impossibly huge and warm, wrapping around him like Dean was a little kid. He smelled like smoke, like kicking back after a hard night’s salt and burn. Dean tilted his head back. Sam’s mouth tasted of whiskey and fire and Sam, and Dean was done running.


( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 30th, 2010 12:41 am (UTC)
I like this a lot, but I feel there is a major peice missing. Like why Dean was running in the first place. Maybe you can write a sequal and elaberate a bit more?
Jun. 30th, 2010 12:49 am (UTC)
Dean doesn't know why he's running. He doesn't know what happened. It's a bit of an amnesia fic that way. But if Sam or Castiel lets me know, I could write a prequel that fills in the blanks. Thanks for the feedback!
Jun. 30th, 2010 01:28 am (UTC)
Yikes, baybee! There's so much packed into this piece. I love the atmosphere, especially the bar.

And in conclusion, k ... awesome sauce.
Jun. 30th, 2010 02:52 am (UTC)
Thank you hurry_sundown! This one's all about the atmosphere. *hugs*
Jun. 30th, 2010 01:53 am (UTC)
Nice--a real apocalyptic, end of the world and no where left to run feeling to this.

“How’d you find me?” Dean asked.

“Been listening for Zeppelin since the world went quiet,” Sam answered. “Came as soon as I heard it.”

Ack! So good! Thank you for sharing this!
Jun. 30th, 2010 02:58 am (UTC)
That's what I was going for- thanks for letting me know you enjoyed it, roxy!
Jun. 30th, 2010 04:08 am (UTC)
OMG! This is so great! Thank you so much! I love it, I love it, I love it!

“My demons wouldn’t have touched him. It was the angels.”

I had a little mental fist pump at that line, it was so awesome. So bleak, so hopeless, yet so fitting, so hopeful. A fantastic story. woo!
Jun. 30th, 2010 05:27 am (UTC)
I'm so glad you liked it, fayolin, I tried to capture the energy of your prompt. Hopeless and hopeful at the same time - I must be doing something right!
Jun. 30th, 2010 12:25 pm (UTC)
This was beautifully evocative and full of atmospheric numbness with its feeling of desolate loss and abandonment.

Love how Sam found and owned his brother at the end.....

Nicely written. xx
Jun. 30th, 2010 02:35 pm (UTC)
Thank you, serendip50, I'm delighted that came across.
Jul. 1st, 2010 02:37 am (UTC)
"Dean had wrecked the fucking car, and there was nowhere left to run, no one left to run with," I love this line so much. The end of the world and only Dean left, no rhyme or reason to it, no answers. But there is Jack and Zeppelin, and finally, Sam. And that's enough for Dean. Love, love, love.
Jul. 1st, 2010 04:55 am (UTC)
Thanks tifaching! I sort of felt like I should warn for double major character death. Castiel AND the Impala? Bloody and sad. Jack and Zeppelin, and finally, Sam. When the world narrows down to that ... well, that's the upside of that whole co-dependency thing, right?
Jul. 8th, 2010 06:48 pm (UTC)
Oh, yeah! This is good! The world can come and go, but in the end, Sam and Dean will always find each other! Well done! Thank you!
Jul. 8th, 2010 11:37 pm (UTC)
Thank you for the comment, muiting, I'm glad you enjoyed it!
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )