Spoilers: Season 3
Disclaimer: Kripke created this universe; I just enjoy warping it and borrowing his boys for my own twisted amusement. None of it is mine, sadly.
Warnings and Notes: Slash, wincest, language, eventual light non-con and violence. AU, possible OOC, and General Weirdness.
Summary: Is it possible to fall from grace, and find the one thing left that can keep you from caring?
Dean looked down at the board he was holding, realizing that his knuckles had turned white from gripping the edge so tightly. "I don't even remember you taking this," he murmured, shaking his head slowly. With a sigh he got up and set it back on the shelf, frowning when a drop of moisture landed on the back of his hand. Bringing his hand up to his face, Dean was surprised to find a trail running down his cheek. He wiped it away slowly, honestly surprised that he was still even capable of tears. He'd thought that time had long since passed, after the long, fruitless battle to save his soul, while trying to defeat Lilith and prevent her from unleashing her version of Hell on Earth.
"Guess we pretty much ended up batting zero on all counts, didn't we?" Dean asked softly, though there was nobody to answer. He gazed into the mirror again, staring into the fathomless black depths of his own eyes with a heavy sigh. "Only thing is, it wasn't Lilith that created Hell on Earth…" He closed his eyes; unable to stomach the sight of his own reflection anymore as his thoughts wandered once again, delving into another part of the past he wished he could forget.
When the true war had started the timing was perfect, for their enemies at least. The demon holding Dean's contract had of course joined Lilith's side, and she'd been smart enough to hide him well, making sure Sam would have no hope of finding him in an attempt to save his brother.
Lilith had sent a large group of demons after them on the very night Dean's deal came due, but Sam had expected that much, and so had their friends. Bobby, Ellen and Jo had shown up at the small, abandoned cabin the brothers were holed up in, intent on warding off the demons so Sam could try and destroy the one that would come to collect Dean's soul. Even Ruby had shown up to help, but in the end, they were overwhelmed. There were simply too many demons, and when you threw witches and hellhounds into the mix, the odds against them were astronomical.
"Sam, this isn't working," Bobby said, watching as once again, the sigils and protective symbols he'd placed around Dean were negated, this time by a crack appearing in the floor. "They're too powerful!"
"Keep trying!" Sam ordered, his own eyes flashing in the gloom, for a moment more yellow than green as he jerked his head around, pinning the demon that had been about to attack with a glare. The demon was flung against the wall, black eyes widened a moment before it fled the now burning body of its host in the form of a large cloud of black smoke.
Bobby and Ellen said nothing, merely watched this display of power warily. There was no time for questions; those would be dealt with later, hopefully after they'd managed to send these demons packing, without Dean's soul in their possession.
Jo swung her arm, spraying another demon with holy water as she sought to keep them away from Dean. She gasped as howling was heard outside, then the sound of something clawing and lunging against the door. "Right on time," she said softly, then reached for a piece of wood and used it to bridge the crack in the floor. Then she took the bag of gopher dust and completed the circle once again.
Ruby lashed out with her knife and slit the throat of a demon that had attempted to attack, watching with cold eyes as it fell dead at her feet. "There's too many of them," she said angrily, glaring at Sam. "And it's not just demons, they've got witches and hellhounds after us as well. We can't fight them all."
"We have to," Sam said, turning his head and meeting Dean's eyes. "We can't just-"
"Sam, she's right," Dean said, green eyes dull as he met his brother's gaze. "There's too many of 'em. You can't fight them all. You're all gonna end up dead if you don't get out of here."
"Dean, I'm not leaving you," Sam said, voice hoarse as he stepped over into the protective circle, moving so close their bodies were nearly touching. "I'm going to save you, no matter what."
"No, Sam," Dean shook his head, then cupped his brother's cheek when Sam started to shake his head wildly. "Listen to me. You need to take the others and get out of here, regroup, and figure out how you're gonna beat Lilith."
"He's right, if we don't leave now, we're not going to get the chance. Lilith won't be far away, now that she knows she's got us pinned down," Ruby warned, watching as Ellen put down new salt lines in front of the door and window. "She's coming for us, these things are just a distraction, something to keep us busy until she can arrive to finish the job."
"Get out of here while you still can," Dean pleaded, then sighed and closed his eyes as Sam pulled him into a crushing hug. "Go, Sammy. I don't want to watch you die, not again…please?"
"Dean," Sam murmured, cheek pressed to Dean's hair, tears in his eyes as the older man's arms wound around his waist. "I can't…"
"Yes, you can," Dean said firmly, pulling back and looking up at him. "You're no good to anybody dead. I can face this, as long as I know you're okay, you're still out there fighting. I know you're gonna take this little bitch down, for you, and for me. Now go, Sammy, please, just go."
Sam looked down at his brother, tears falling freely as he pulled him close for one more hug, then stepped back out of the circle, giving the older man a slight nod. "I'll find a way to set you free," he whispered, then gasped as the small building seemed to rock on it's foundations, more cracks appearing in the floor, once again breaking the circle protecting Dean.
"Sam, we have to go!" Ruby grabbed his arm and tried to pull him toward the door.
"We're not going anywhere," Ellen said, staring at the front door with wide eyes, realizing the building's harsh shift had disturbed the salt lines.
The door was flung open, and claw marks appeared on the floor, heading straight for Dean. Several more demons flooded into the small space, Sam and Ruby stepping forward, Colt in his hand, knife in hers as they tried to kill them all as fast as they came in.
Dean watched with wide eyes as the claw marks drew closer, but didn't cry out. Instead he smiled faintly, looking up and watching his younger brother killing off the demons with a ferocious sense of purpose. You're gonna win this, Sammy, I know it, he thought, then he grunted in pain as something sharp dug into his leg, pulling him off his feet and out of the circle. He arched off the floor, a scream torn from his lips as agony ripped through his body.
The last things Dean was aware of were Sam's panicked voice shouting his name, large hands gripping him, trying to hold onto him while wide, fearful green eyes stared down at him as he began to choke on his own blood.
Dean snapped himself out of that particular memory, then walked over and sat down on the bed heavily, fingers brushing over the blanket in slow circles. He'd never realized until after he'd come back from Hell the meaning of the phrase 'far-reaching consequences'. If I'd known then that it would bring about all this, I never would have made that damn deal… Dean thought bitterly, then shook his head, hand brushing over his chest, closing around the familiar gold amulet he always wore. Who the hell am I kidding? When Jake killed him, I didn't care about anything, including the end of the world. The only thing that mattered was how I'd let Sammy down, and I had to fix it. I knew it was selfish, because I'd be leaving Sam behind when the deal was up. Not to mention it went against everything we knew, especially the whole 'what's dead should stay dead' thing, but I just couldn't let him die while I lived on. Too many people had died so I could live. I thought…I was setting things to rights finally. I thought Sammy deserved to live more than me, because out of all of us, he was the only one that still had a shot at a normal life once that yellow-eyed son of a bitch was dead. Dean snorted and leaned back against the headboard, stretching his legs out in front of him and crossing them at the ankles, his arms folded over his chest. "Yeah, goes to show what I know. He's got a real normal life now, doesn't he?"
Dean moved down on the bed until he was lying on his back, staring up at the ceiling. With a soft sigh he thought back to the very first time he'd woken up in this room, it was the first thing he'd been aware of after the night the demons had come to take his soul.
Darkness, that's all he knew, cold, silent darkness. But hey, he figured right now that was better than the last thing he remembered, which had been soul-searing agony as the hellhounds had gotten to him.
Eventually things began to filter in, a faint smell of incense, soft light that filtered through his closed eyelids, cushions or perhaps a bed underneath him, and quiet voices that came from both sides of him, his stirring mind not yet able to make out the words.
He soon realized that one of those voices was familiar, and Dean forced himself to concentrate, trying to identify it. His head jerked to one side, toward the voice as at last he recognized it. "Sam?" he rasped, trying to move, open his eyes, anything to shake off the leaden feeling in his limbs, the way his face felt like it was being covered by a mask or film, held immobile.
"Dean," Sam's voice was soft and warm as his fingers glided over the other man's cheek in a gentle caress. Lips pressed gently against Dean's forehead, the sound of Sam's breath loud in the quiet room as he leaned down and nuzzled the older man's hair. "I told you I'd set you free," he whispered, sitting up and running a hand gently down the side of Dean's face.
"Sammy," Dean grimaced and managed to shift his legs a bit, fingers digging into the blankets as he tried again to force his eyes open. "What happened? Where are we?" He hissed as at last his eyelids opened, the dim light sending stabbing pains through his head, which soon turned to a throbbing headache directly behind his eyes.
Sam gazed down at him, looking relieved until he met Dean's eyes. Then his face twisted into a mask of rage, his eyes changing from green to a horribly familiar mottled yellow. He quickly rose to his feet, looking over Dean to pin the other occupant of the room with an accusing glare. "I thought you said that if I took them away-"
"I said it would help, Sam," Ruby's voice caused Dean to force his head around to stare at her. "Not that it would reverse everything. Think about it," she sighed and leaned against the bedpost, arms folded over her chest. "The things they did to him? Damaged his soul in ways even I can't begin to imagine, and I've been there. You can't just wipe that clean."
"What's she talkin' about, Sam?" Dean asked hoarsely as he tried to force his limbs into motion once again, wincing when painful spasms made his legs tremble. It felt like he hadn't moved in days, maybe even weeks.
Sam ignored Dean's questions and continued to glare at Ruby, as the temperature of the room seemed to drop. Suddenly, items lifted off the table and shelves, flying around the room and smashing off the stone walls. "It wasn't supposed to be like this, I was supposed to get my brother back!"
"You can rage all you want," Ruby said calmly, tilting her head as a cup went flying by, narrowly missing her cheek. "But the fact is, you should be grateful he's got enough of his old self left to remember your name. You wiped the memories of it, but the taint in his soul will be there forever." She moved to sit down in the chair near the bed, one eyebrow raised as she continued to watch Sam. "He's still your brother, Sam. But you have to accept there's going to be some differences there, just like you're a little different because of what's happened…while he's been gone."
Sam stared down at Dean, tears forming in his eyes as his hands clenched into fists at his sides, the knuckles going white.
"Sam, Sammy!" Dean stared up at his brother, voice becoming stronger as he managed to bend his arms, finally sitting up enough to rest some of his weight on his elbows. "What the hell is she talkin' about? Answer me!" He growled and tried to get up as Sam merely turned and stalked away, opening, then slamming the heavy wooden door behind him as he left the room. Dean whipped his head around and growled at Ruby, narrowing his eyes at her.
"Hell is exactly what I'm talking about, Dean," she smirked at him, hands folded in front of her as she leaned forward in the chair. "Particularly your trip down there. I would ask how you enjoyed it, but then, you don't remember. Don't worry, your brother's already seen to it that no amount of poking and prodding around at all the shadowy corners of your mind will ever set the memories loose. You can't free something when it hasn't been buried, instead it's completely erased."
Dean raised one hand to his head, closing his eyes as he took a few deep, calming breaths, trying to make sense of things. "The last thing I remember is being in the cabin, everybody was trying to keep the demon from getting my soul. Then there was some talk about Lilith showing up…" He glanced over at Ruby with a frown. "She did, didn't she? That was the big show of power when the whole damn place felt like it was being torn off its foundations."
"Yeah, that was her, she was getting close. The demon that had your contract took advantage of the situation, and got to you before she arrived. Sam couldn't do anything but hold you while you died. After that, Sam pretty much lost it. His grief made him crazy and dangerous, to demons at least. He used his powers to get everyone out of that cabin safely, and insisted on taking your body with him. He carried you out of there, and wouldn't let your body out of his sight. He nearly killed Bobby when the old guy tried to take you out and burn your corpse."
Dean dragged a hand down his face and sighed, remembering his own grief, rage and denial when Sam had died. "Then what happened? Did you guys beat Lilith? And how long was I gone? I still don't get how I'm back…or am I? Is this some warped version of the afterlife or something? It's got to be my personal hell, because for one thing, you're here," he sent a snarky smirk her way, which Ruby immediately returned. "And second, Sam's… Why does he have those eyes?"
"Oh, you're definitely back, like it or not. I guess you could say we beat Lilith, jury's still out on whether or not it's such a good thing though, considering how it happened." Ruby got to her feet and walked around to the foot of the bed, leaning up against a bedpost and regarding him with a somber expression. "You were gone for almost a month, that's probably why you're a little stiff and sore. Sam…forcefully enlisted a little magical help to keep your body as close to intact as possible. As for why you're back? Because Sam demanded it, and whatever Sam wants, Sam gets."
Dean forced himself to sit up completely then, swinging his legs over the edge of the bed. He looked down, a bit startled to realize the only thing that was covering him was a blanket now pooled around his waist. He'd been so distracted by what was happening around him, it hadn't occurred to him that he was naked. With a scowl he grabbed the blanket, bunching it around him and covering his legs as well before he glared up at Ruby. "What are you talkin' about? What do you mean 'whatever Sam wants, Sam gets'?" he demanded, narrowing his eyes. "Just what happened after I died, tell me the whole damn story this time!"
"Fine, you really wanna know how it all went down?" Ruby tilted her chin up defiantly at him, then moved back and sat down in the chair again, forearms resting on her knees, hands clasped before her. "After you died, Sam changed. The humans all just chalked it up to grief over losing you, but I knew better. Sam was quietly going insane. He was devastated that he'd failed to save you, and he was falling apart. But it wasn't until Bobby tried to burn your remains that everyone else realized how bad it had gotten. After Sam relented and let Bobby live, he said that he realized something."
"Oh yeah, and what was that?" Dean asked, trying to push down the cold feeling of dread building in the pit of his stomach.
"He said he'd come to the conclusion that he was tired of playing by the good guy rules. They'd never gotten him, you, or any of your family anywhere. The bad guys played by their own rules, and one way or another, they always won. He'd lost a mother he never knew, a father that he never really understood, the woman he'd loved, and now the one person he'd looked up to and cared about all his life had been stolen from him as well. There was only one way to stop Lilith and get you back, and that was to do what he'd always been meant to do, live up to his full potential."
Dean shook his head, eyes widening. "No…"
"Oh yeah," Ruby nodded, a bitter smile on her lips. "He decided that it was time he gave Azazel's plan a try, just with his own spin put on it. Once he let go of the little things, you know, his goodness and humanity? His powers went up by an insane level. All those demons that had pledged their support to Azazel's plan before flocked to him, sensing he was finally ready to step up, to take his place as leader, and with his newfound power he might actually be the stronger one."
Dean closed his eyes, raising his hands and dragging them down his face with a soft groan. "Why didn't anybody try to stop him?"
"Because your friends were powerless to stop him at that point. Sam had the Colt, he had more power than I think even Azazel had imagined he would develop, and he was on a mission. Kill Lilith, then save you or destroy Hell itself in the attempt." Ruby sat back in the chair, her expression thoughtful. "You should have seen it, Dean, it was pretty amazing. He gathered his forces and then marched on Lilith and her army, bold as brass, slaughtered them all in one night. Of course, he took a little time killing off Lilith… He wanted to savor her death."
Dean snorted and crossed his arms over his chest, staring up at the ceiling, his expression was sour as he continued. "Well that's great, he won the war, but I'm still not quite getting the whole demon!Sam deal, or how I ended up being brought back. Not to mention I'd like to know what happened to that army of demons he gathered up, he send them back to Hell, or what?"
"Oh, they're still around, serving him. See Dean, it as never about winning the war, not after you died. It wasn't even about stopping it at that point. It was about surviving and holding onto the things you cared about most." Ruby smirked at the shocked expression on Dean's face.
Dean opened his eyes and looked over at her incredulously. "So that's how he survives? Becoming some demonic boy king?"
"Apparently. You Winchesters have a real flair for dramatic endings, you know?" Ruby snorted, shaking her head.
"So what about me? How did he get me back? The yellow-eyed…" He paused, shuddering as he remembered Sam's eyes. "Azazel said that a person couldn't be brought back unless a deal was made."
"Yeah that's probably true, if you're anyone else but Sam," Ruby laughed, shaking her head and slanting a look at Dean. "He rounded up every demon that was willing to follow him, used the Colt to open the Devil's Gate, and marched his army right into Hell. They destroyed anything and everything that crossed their path until Sam finally found you. He was hoping that he'd gotten there soon enough to bring you back as something close to human, but when he got a good look at your eyes," Ruby paused and blinked, showing her own pitch-black orbs. "He knew he was too late."
"Wh…what do you mean?" Dean asked, his voice dropping to a harsh whisper.
"Look for yourself," Ruby said, raising her arm and pointing to a large, ornate mirror that sat atop the dresser on the opposite wall.
Dean steeled himself, hunched his shoulders and sat forward on the bed, looking to the mirror. He cried out and jerked back when instead of his usual green eyes, black eyes stared back at him. It took several moments, and a few unsuccessful tries before Dean found his voice again. "I thought you said it would take centuries for me to become a demon."
Ruby shook her head. "I figured you'd be strong, but..." she sighed. "It took less than a month for Sam to become the new King, and in that time, the ones tormenting you were able to break and corrupt your soul."
Dean shook his head, black eyes widening as a thought occurred to him. "No, that's impossible! Dad was taken down there; he was there for almost a year, and he was fine when he escaped!"
Ruby shook her head again with a sad smile. "He was, but only because Azazel had a special hell set aside for him, he wanted to savor tearing your father's soul apart all by himself. But when you went down there, well, there were hundreds of demons that wanted a piece of you. Some that hated your father, others that had run-ins with you, and some that wanted to torment you just because of your brother. You didn't have anyone keeping them at bay like your father did. Not to mention some demons can even affect the passage of time itself down there, making a day seem like a century..." She gave an involuntary shudder. "Sam destroyed each and every one that played a part in it, then he brought you back. He was hoping that by getting rid of the memories of it, he'd reverse what had happened and you wouldn't be changed, too much. But once you opened your eyes, and they were still just like mine..." she pinned him with an intense stare from those cold, black orbs. "I guess that's why he stormed out of here the way he did. He probably feels like he failed you again."
Dean took a few moments to digest all of this, feeling grateful that he didn't have the memories of whatever went on down there. That was one experience he was sure he could do without. "So…he took over a demon army, killed Lilith and saved the world, brought me back and probably destroyed more demons than you and I could count. I guess…becoming leader, the powers, that explains the eyes," Dean sighed, shoulders slumping in defeat. "He ended up, in one way at least, becoming what that son of a bitch intended all along." He raised his head and looked at Ruby. "So the army of demons, why the hell are they still around? Why didn't he send them back to Hell once he did what he needed to do?"
"Well, that's where things get a little tricky," Ruby smirked, getting up and walking over toward the door. "See, he didn't intend it? But Sam initiated and led a demon revolution that changed things, forever. He's a hero." Ruby's smile was positively evil as she watched Dean's eyes widen slightly. " Sam Winchester, Demon King, who single-handedly destroyed countless demons, led a demon army to victory, brought his beloved brother back from the pit and then left the gate open, giving his entire army free rein to wreak havoc on the world."
What? Dean cried, struggling to get up, staring at her in horror.
"Yeah, nice, huh? It's hell on earth now, and your brother? He rules it all."
To Be Continued…
Well holy crap >> there's an interesting explanation… Not sure I like it, but there it is nonetheless. I wonder what kinds of things await us in the last glimpse into Dean's past and present.
Feedback is love.