Art link: Role Reversal
Fandom/Genre: SPN, Drama, AU Season Five
Word Count: 3,342
Disclaimer: I do not own Supernatural. Fic title taken from an Alice in Chains song of the same name.
Author's Note: I'd like to thank the mods of spn_reversebang for putting together this challenge. I had a blast. I'd also like to thank rince1wind for betaing this story. I really appreciate it. Now don't forget to check out mangacrack's awesome artwork. It was a joy working with you! :)
Summary: Dean's world ended when Sam said yes to Michael. Now he's left trying to pick up the pieces.
Dean’s world began with four words: “Look after your brother.”
And his world ended with one: “Yes”. Tonight’s dream was just like every other dream he’d had since Sam left. Dean knelt, his head bowed and, the concrete digging into his knees. Debris littered the ground. Zachariah’s body lay behind him and the memory of Sam, Michael’s grace flowing into his body, was frozen, a monument to everything Dean had screwed up.
A flutter of wings brought a change to the dreamscape. The old warehouse became a seedy motel room-- the one they’d been staying in when Sam left.
“Dean, Dean, Dean.” Lucifer’s soft voice drifted to his ears and Dean raised his gaze. The Devil stood before him, arms crossed and a sympathetic expression on his face.
“All your life,” Lucifer said, crouching down next to him, “you’ve been, following Daddy’s orders, putting the hunt first, putting Sam before everything else.” He placed one hand on Dean’s knee. It looked frail, red blotches and cracked skin marring the surface.
“And what did they ever do for you? Huh? Constantly hand out orders, constantly demand you give them just a little bit more. They left you.” Lucifer leaned in close, his breath ghosting over Dean’s cheek. “You always needed them more than they ever needed you, the good son who was never quite good enough.”
Dean took a deep breath, letting it out slowly. He climbed to his feet, straightening his rumpled jeans. Lucifer copied his movements before setting his hand on Dean’s shoulder.
“What do ya say, Dean?” Lucifer said. “How about you and I show everyone what you’re really made of?”
The word echoed in the old motel room. Dean took a step back, straightened his shoulders, and looked Lucifer eye to eye. “The answer will always be no, you dickless freak.”
Lucifer shook his head. “You disappoint me, Dean. After everything that’s happened, you still hold onto this ideal of family when they do nothing—nothing-- but constantly turn their backs on you.” He stepped forward closing the gap. “Don’t you want to show them how strong you are? That you’re not expendable? They don’t deserve your loyalty, Dean. Why can’t you see that?”
“Oh, Dean,” Lucifer said with a sigh. “Why do you keep doing this to yourself? Let me help you.”
Eyes snapping open, Dean sat up with a gasp, feeling the bile crawling up his throat. He surged to his feet, running from the room and just making it to the toilet before whisky and stomach acid flowed passed his lips. The harsh stinging of his raw throat caused tears to fill his eyes. He rested his head against the toilet seat, and took slow steady breaths hoping to quell his rioting stomach.
“Dean.” Castiel came into the bathroom. “I bought you some tea.”
Dean’s shoulders tensed and he kept his head lowered. He wasn’t in the mood for comfort. The voice was wrong, the hand holding the cup too small.
“Leave it, Cas,” Dean snapped. He squeezed his eyes shut, wanting to block the world out. He heard the cup settle on the counter before Castiel’s retreating steps faded down the hall.
He turned on the sink and washed away the sweat his nightmares had produced. Toothpaste and mouth wash took care of the grimy feeling in his mouth. Feeling a bit more human, Dean turned off the lights and headed towards the living room.
Bobby and Castiel watched him, concern in their gaze. Dean didn’t want to hear what they had to say, the looks he received upon entering saying more than their words ever could.
“I’m gonna work on the Impala,” Dean said stalking out the door before anyone could respond.
Sunlight hit his sensitive eyes, briefly whiting out his vision. The sun heated his clothes and gravel crunched under his boots. The Impala sat, regal, like a queen visiting her subjects, black paint gleaming. Dean ran a hand over the hood, along the side, and across the trunk. He stood behind her, eyeing the license plate. It was for Nevada, and Sam had put it on a few months ago. Right before he’d … left.
It was dirt-stained and bug-covered. There was a long scratch going through the picture of mountains on it, leaving a white scar through pale blue. Sam had lost traction on one of the screws and had sent the screwdriver scraping along the surface. Dean let his finger trail along the mark. He’d thought they were on the same page then, both wanting to stop the apocalypse, not give into it.
Dean shook his head and pulled out his tool box. He reached to close the trunk, but stopped. Sam’s bag was right where he’d left it, along with that damn letter Dean couldn’t bring himself to burn.
The lid of the trunk slammed down, cutting off the memories. Dean hefted his toolbox and walked around to the front. Lifting the hood, Dean stood surveying the machinery before him. He checked the fluids first, then moved on to the more complicated procedures. His hands were covered in scrapes and grease by the time he heard hesitant steps approaching. He kept his head down; making sure the bolt he was tightening had his full attention.
“I brought you something to eat,” Castiel said. He moved forward, plate in hand, acting as if Dean were an angry dog in need of placating.
“I’m not hungry,” Dean said, voice holding tight to neutral.
Castiel edged a bit closer. “Bobby said it is important for humans not to skip meals.” The plate settled on a nearby junker.
“I don’t care,” Dean said. He straightened up and slammed the hood down. He tossed the wrench into the tool box and picked up a rag to clean his hands. . Most of the grease wiped off easily, though some stubborn bits remained around his knuckles and fingernails. Finally, he turned to face Castiel. He looked smaller than usual in Dean’s eyes, as if the loss of his grace had caused him to shrink.
“But you skipped breakfast.”
“I don’t care.” He stalked forward, picking up the plate and shoved it back into Castiel’s hands.
“Maybe you should.” Castiel shoved back, the edge of the plate digging into Dean’s chest. “You’re no help to us if you keep on like this.”
Dean laughed low and bitter. He hurled the plate, the sandwich makings scattering in the dirt, the plate shattering against one of the junk cars.
“So what?” Dean asked. “It’s not like there’s anything left to fight for.”
“Don’t say that.”
“Seriously?” Dean said. “That’s all you’ve got? And here I was expecting something a bit more longwinded. Must be my lucky day.” He turned his back on Castiel not wanting to hear his awkward attempts at a pep talk. It wasn’t Sam giving the speech. It wasn’t Sam’s words. All the speeches accomplished were to stress how wrong everything was. How big a hole Sam had left in his life.
The hard shove took him by surprise, and he stumbled a bit before turning. A solid fist to his jaw greeted him, and he fell back a few more steps, his back hitting an old junk car. Castiel struck him again, and before Dean had a chance to get his bearings, yet another fist hit his side. A hard shove had Dean bent backwards over a rusted hood. Castiel clutched a hand full of Dean’s shirt, hands clenched tight.
“Don’t say that,” Castiel growled out.
Dean shoved back, making Castiel take a few steps back.
“And why not?” Dean snarled. He shoved Castiel again. “Everyone else has. Heaven’s getting their grudge match whether I say yes, or not.”
“Just because Sam gave up doesn’t mean you get to.”
“You son of a bitch!”
Dean surged forward, his own fist connecting with Castiel’s cheek -- and stopped. Pain lanced up his arm, and his shoulder jerked back. The pain was excruciating and Dean cradled his hand against his chest. Castiel might have lost most of his grace, but he still retained enough for it to be a very bad idea to punch him. It still reminded Dean of punching a brick wall. He’d need to pack it in ice. Later.
“I thought you wished to save the world?” Castiel snapped. “You told me humanity was worth dying for.”
“Well, I was wrong.”
“Then I would prefer it if you made it quick.”
Dean’s angry retort died in his throat. Castiel was holding out his sword. It shone in the afternoon light, the angelic metal clean and sharp with no effort.
“Take it, Dean,” Castiel said, taking a few steps forward.
Dean edged back, eyeing the sword the same way he would a rabid hellhound.
“Because if you give up,” Castiel said. “We are all as good as dead. If you give in to Lucifer, he will kill us regardless of what he promises you.”
“I’m not gonna say, yes,” Dean choked out. Lucifer’s voice from his dream came to him, sudden and unwanted, and he had to swallow down more bile.
“Then fight,” Castile said, finally putting his sword away. “And if you cannot fight for humanity, then fight for Sam.”
Dean was quiet for a few minutes, his heart pounding against his ribs.
“Why are you doing this?”
Castiel smiled and gripped Dean’s shoulder.
“Because you asked me to.”
Dean ran his fingers through his hair and took slow breaths to try and calm his racing heart. He looked up into Castiel’s eyes-- Jimmy’s eyes -- the eyes of a man who would never see his family again, the eyes of a man who gave it all up to save his daughter.
“Screw destiny. Let’s get Sam back,” Dean said. His expression hardened. “Then I’m gonna kick your brothers’ asses.”
“You really think this plan is gonna work?” Lucifer said, walking around the living room, picking up books and pieces of paper. “It’s a bit pathetic isn’t it?”
Dean didn’t look up from his work. The edge of the whet-stone made a comforting snick, snick as Dean ran the dagger’s edge along it. The weather outside turned from sunny to hurricane gale force between one slide on the stone and the next.
“Don’t you get tired of parading around my noggin?” Dean asked casually. “Seems you’d have better things to do while us mere mortals sleep.”
“But, Dean,” Lucifer said jumping up to sit on top of the desk, knocking papers and books to the floor. “You won’t talk to me any other way.”
Another slide along the stone and the mess was gone. Outside a full moon now shone through the window.
“You used to have such entertaining dreams.” Lucifer sighed.
Dean shrugged. “Go haunt someone else’s then.”
“I won’t go back into that cage, Dean.”
Dean glanced up then, taking in the flaking, graying skin, the red wounds. Lucifer’s vessel was decaying. It looked like a half rotten corpse. Dean tested the edge of the dagger and set the wet stone down.
“I won’t let you bastards kill my brother.” Dean put the whet-stone and knife down. “Now get out of my head.”
“And what makes you think I want to kill mine?”
Dean laughed, sharp and hollow. “Right. And you expect me to believe this whole apocalypse business was you wanting a family reunion?”
Lucifer ignored him. “We’re a lot alike, you and I.” He picked up a paper weight and tossed it into the air. He caught it on the way down, then tossed it again. “I loved my father. I love my brother. I just wanted things to go back to the way they were.”
Dean snorted and shook his head. “You and Mikey deserve each other. He wants things back the way they were too. Too bad no one asked us lowly humans what we wanted.”
“No,” Dean snapped. “This is our home, our world, and I’m not about to let you arrogant winged freaks take it from us.”
Lucifer stood, all pretence of civility gone. Snow blew past the window now, the wind howling and rattling the windows.
“You will say, yes.”
“I said it once before,” Dean said, then stood. He took a few steps forward, meeting Lucifer in the middle of the room. “I picked up Alistair’s blade, followed his lead, and look what happened. So, what makes you think I’d say it again?”
Lucifer smiled, kind, gentle, like an old friend.
“I really do like you, Dean,” Lucifer said. “And when your plan fails, I won’t even say I told you so.”
Dean jerked awake, sputtering as water dripped into his eyes and clogged his nose.
“Get up,” Bobby said. “Cas is back, and you’ve got to shag ass if you want to get everything set up in time.”
Dean glared and used his over shirt to dry his face.
“You know you could have just yelled my name,” Dean grumbled, climbing to his feet.
Bobby set the glass down on the coffee table and pushed his wheelchair back towards the kitchen.
“Now where would the fun be in that?” Bobby said. “Now get to packing.”
Dean shot one last black look Bobby’s way. One more muttered curse and he got started on sorting through their gear. Castiel joined soon after, another duffle bag in hand. Within an hour the Impala was packed and Dean had her charging down the highway, Castiel sitting in the passenger seat.
Traffic was light and they made it to the old barn in good time. Once Dean and Castiel unpacked the gear, Castiel drifted indoors to set up the sigils. Dean followed, taking his place at a rickety old table. He began sorting through the stack of papers and ingredience, following Bobby’s instructions and putting everything in order.
“Are you sure about this?” Castiel asked as he came to stand by Dean’s side. Thanks to what mojo
Castiel still had, most of the sigils were already done.
Dean shrugged. “What other choice have we got?”
“I’m not giving up on Sam.”
“I wasn’t asking you to.” Castiel looked down. “I just want to make sure you come out of this alive too.”
They went back to work in silence.
Dean felt a sense of déjà vu. He’d come here two years ago, looking for answers to how he’d come back. Now he was here, ready to summon another angel, hoping to save his brother.
“I’m finished,” Castiel said. He gathered up the supplies he’d brought with him. Giving Dean one last look, he went to his hiding place, leaving Dean to start the ritual.
Dean counted to thirty before lighting the candles. Papers in hand, he read the spell, voice steady. On the last word, he dropped the match into the bowl and sat back to wait. This time, he didn’t have to wait long.
Michael appeared before Dean, his expression impassive, his stance casual. He still wore Sam’s clothes, and as far as Dean could tell, nothing had changed.
“Why have you called me?” Michael asked tilted his head to the right.
A shudder crawled up his spine, and Dean’s heart shattered at his feet. He still looked like Sam, and the voice was the same, but he wasn’t Sam. The cadence was wrong, the warmth in his gaze long gone. He just stood there, examining Dean as if he were a bug pinned to Styrofoam.
“I wanna make a deal,” Dean said, trying to keep the revulsion from his voice. He was doing this for Sam.
“You told Sam once you didn’t want to kill your brother,” Dean said. “What if there was a way to end this without anyone dying?”
“Dean,” Michael said, his timbre smoother than Sam’s, lighter. “It has been written—”
“Screw destiny!” Dean said. “Stop trying to be the good son for just once in your life and think for yourself.”
Michael lifted his head, his stance straightened making Sam’s massive build seem impossibly tall.
“You think you know better than my Father?” Michael asked. “You who are so like my brother?”
“Actually, Mikey,” Dean said. “It’s you and I who are alike.” Dean took a few steps closer. “See, I spent my whole life following my Dad’s orders. I spent my whole life being the good son, and taking care of my brother. All I wanted was for my Dad to be proud of me. Then, right before he died, he told me I might have to kill my brother.” Dean brought his gaze to lock with Michael’s. “Sound familiar?”
“This is just more proof you are meant for Lucifer,” Michael said, sneering. “Your lies are as convincing as his.”
“Damn it, Michael,” Dean said. He turned swiftly, kicking out at a loose board. It shattered, sending small pieces of wood scattering across the floor. “God’s left the building, and he ain’t coming back.”
Michael narrowed his eyes, raised his hand, and snapped his fingers. The force of the impact against the wall left Dean’s lungs starving for air and his vision blurred. He had to force himself to take shallow breaths before he could pick himself up from the ground.
“Well,” Dean said, coughing. “You and Lucifer definitely have the same temper. Did you know he nearly busted my neck when I shot him?”
“I am nothing like my brother,” Michael said. A casual flick of his wrist, Dean hit the ground hard. He could taste blood in his mouth.
“Keep telling yourself that, big guy,” Dean said. “You’re trying to end the world, same as he is.”
Before Dean could push himself up, Michael appeared and placed one of Sam’s well-worn boots on his chest. He pushed down, pinning Dean in place. A slight smirk graced Michael’s lips as he added more pressure. Dean felt, as much as heard, a cracking sound. He squeezed his eyes shut and his breathing became shallow and his chest tight. Anymore pressure Dean knew would crush his ribs.
“I am following my Father’s will,” Michael said. He lifted his foot from Dean’s chest and delivered a powerful kick to his side sending, Dean rolling a few feet. “I will fight my brother, and I will win. It is His plan.”
“Figured you’d say that,” Dean said, voice strained. He rolled to his stomach and pushed himself up onto his hands and knees. A thin dribble of red tinged saliva dripped from his chin and onto his hand. “Now, Cas!”
Glass shattered, spilling alcohol along the floor. Flames flew across the ground, forming a circle around Michael. Dean slowly gained his feet. Castiel came to stand at his side and offered a steadying hand. Dean hated to do it, but he leant into that hand, grateful to take some of the pressure off his battered body.
When he finally looked at Michael, he let out all the anger, the fear, and the determination he felt.
“I’m not saying yes,” Dean said. “I’m not gonna let you heartless douchebags wipe this planet clean. So you can just sit your ass down and stay the fuck out of our fight. Neither of us is killing our brothers.”
“I will get out,” Michael said.
Dean leaned a little more on Castiel.
“Yeah, yeah,” he said. “Let’s blow this joint, Cas.”
“The fight will happen, Dean,” Michael said. “You are foolish to think otherwise.”
Dean swallowed the lump in his throat and let his gaze take in the sight before him. Michael stared back, head held high. The flames burned bright around him, casting his shadow along the back wall.
“I’m gonna bring you home, Sammy,” he said. “Just hold on a bit longer.”
Turning, he finally allowed Castiel to help him from the barn. He knew they didn’t have long before Michael got free, but with some help, they just might pull off their crazy plan. Then Dean was going to have a long talk with Sam over the importance of keeping his mouth shut.