“Sam,” Dean said without hesitation. There was a twinge of guilt, but not nearly as much as he expected. “Sam's soul. But...I hear it's in rough shape. Can you fix it?”
“Can I fix an agonizing era of torture under two of the most powerful archangels? I'm Death, Dean. Healing's not really my thing. And I can't very well just trim away the flayed bits.” Death raised his brows pointedly. “There'd be nothing left.”
“There's got to be something we can do.”
“I could try putting up a wall. Something to keep those dangerous Hell memories locked away, but it wouldn't hold forever. A while, maybe even a lifetime, but not forever. Still, it'll buy you time.” Dean's shoulders relaxed as a huge weight was lifted off of them, but Death wasn't finished. “You'll have to do something for me, though.”
“When you fetch my ring, put it on. I want you to be me for one day.”
Tessa pointed toward a nearby RV, where Dean looked up and saw a couple of guys kicking back some beers and knocking golf balls around. “Let me guess...drunken fall?”
“What, you don't think you can keep this place safe?” one of the men, a big guy with an eye patch, was asking.
“Well, I mean, I try,” the other dude, Mexican from the look of him, was saying. “Hopefully we can be ready for whatever comes at us.” He grabbed another ball and turned around, setting up his shot. “Now that you're here, maybe we can share the crown...”
Even at a distance, Dean could see the mad look in the dude's one good eye. He quietly slid a club from the bag and took a step forward. The other dude swung, and Dean reflexively ducked as the ball came straight at his head. The Mexican's eyes followed it, and he was staring directly at Dean when the club came down on his head.
“Jesus!” Dean cried, whirling on Tessa. “What is this?”
“It's his time,” Tessa said as Eyepatch kicked his buddy off the side of the RV.
The dude jumped down, grabbed his golf buddy, and started dragging him across the grass toward the croat pit. Dean gaped in horror as he realized what the guy was about to do. “No. Dude, that's not right.”
“Man, this is the longest twenty-four hours of my life, and that includes time spent in Hell,” Dean said as he found himself in the midst of yet another camp in the early morning hours. “Oh, come on!” Dean yelled as Eyepatch walked up to knock on the door of the camper next to them. “This guy again? Please tell me I'm here to kill him.”
“Not him,” Tessa said, nodding as the door was opened by a young dude who looked like he hadn't gotten much sleep.
“How many people can this guy kill in one twenty-four hour period?”
“You'd be surprised,” Tessa murmured.
Death's ring was weighing heavy as they followed Eyepatch into the camper. The bastard, coward that he was, knifed the guy right in the kidney. That's two people who apparently trusted him, taken unawares as their backs were turned. Dean shook his head, hurrying to get it over with.
As soon as the pain settled a bit, signaling the healing of his internal wounds, Aidan pounced. He grabbed the razor wire, leapt to his feet, and wrapped it around Bishop's neck in one smooth motion. “I begged you to not to do this!” he cried, tightening the wire. Bishop's hands fought futilely against his arms. “It didn't have to be this way.”
“You're right,” Bishop gurgled. Aidan's hands didn't exactly loosen, but he stopped short. Bishop, arms reaching behind him, squeezed Aidan's shoulders one last time, almost as if with pride. “I'm...sorry.”
So many visions suddenly flashed in Aidan's mind, a myriad of alternate timelines, each one always leading toward him killing Bishop. As if he saw it too, Bishop choked, “S'okay...Aidan. The son...always...kills the father.”
“No.” Aidan pulled the razor wire from his maker's throat, throwing it across the room. “No!” he cried again, pushing Bishop away. Now Bishop was the one lying at Aidan's feet. “You can only make me so much of a monster, Bishop. I won't be like you.”
“We have to go,” Nora said, holding her head as she paced the length of the prison block that they supposedly had to themselves.
Supposedly, Aidan thought, because he knew for a fact that someone stayed just outside the door at all times; he could hear them talking in low tones every now and then. “We can't leave,” he told her. “You said yourself that the last fight took too much out of us. I know one meal wasn't enough to do much of anything for you guys, and I'm still barely feeding.”
Nora held her forehead as if in pain. After a moment, she said with a wince, “You remember what Blake said...”
Aidan's jaw clenched. “I will not feed on a baby, safe or not! I'd drink from you two before I ever did that, and I hope to never have an experience like wolf's blood again.”
“Not just the baby. If some of the kids can see Sally, maybe they're special ones Blake mentioned? They're the right age.”
“There's no way to tell without dying if we're wrong.”
Dean slept later than he meant to, and he couldn't find anyone he needed. He really wanted to question Cas, but Cas was out hunting a cloaking spell to hide them from the deities he feared were on his trail. Gabriel finding them had only made him more paranoid. Bobby wasn't around either, and Dean hunted all over for him. Finally, a little reluctantly, he went looking for Sam.
They needed to come up with a plan to verify whether Gabriel had messed with these kids. After talking to Gabriel – or his hologram representative, whatever – Dean was convinced that he was involved somehow, whether he had copied Azazel's little plan or not.
He found Sam in the boiler room, inspecting the drawer Lizzie had called her 'treasure box'. "Yo, where's Bobby?"
Sam didn't look up from the box. "Helping burn the croat bodies from yesterday." There had been another build-up at the perimeter fence.
"Well, we gotta figure this out," Dean said. "Why did Gabriel say he saved lives? What do you think he's up to?"
Sam tossed the box aside and shrugged. "We have no idea whether angel vessels can get infected. Maybe Gabriel was doing experiments on these children... An angel innoculation kinda thing."
"Yeah, maybe." Dean rubbed his eyes. Trying to come up with insight into Gabriel was like trying to breathe water: impossible and more than a little painful. He was trying to think of some witty remark when an explosion rocked the prison. Dirt and debris rained down upon their heads. "What the hell?"
They raced back upstairs, shocked to find that the prison was under attack. The advancing group had six cars fanned out, with an honest-to-God tank right in the middle of them. The tank had apparently blown the northeast tower. People came pouring out of the prison, and Dean saw Rick pull up short, mouth agape. Rick saw his people spilling out and cried, "Get back!"
A very familiar face rode atop the tank. It was the crazy Eyepatch dude that Dean had seen kill two men during his twenty-four hour stint as Death. That whole experience had been more than enough to let Dean know this guy was bad news. Sam came jogging up beside him, and Dean gave a tight smile. "Hope you got extra rounds. This guy's gonna be trouble."
"You think?" Sam said, eyeballing the smoldering tower.
"Rick!" Eyepatch cried. "Come on down here. Let's have us a little chat."
"It's not up to me!" Rick called down to him. "There's a council now. They're in charge."
Even at this distance, Dean could see Eyepatch smirk. "Is Michonne on the council?" A man pulled Michonne from one of the vehicles. Her hands were tied, and there was a bandage on her head. She had to have been knocked out to be taken, Dean knew, and she looked extremely unhappy about it.
Dean heard Rick curse, then, to his surprise, he heard Jody do the same. He swung around to see a look of fear on the sheriff's face. She was clutching Ben's shoulder, and far too tightly judging by his grimace. Dean followed their gaze back down to the cars, where he finally noticed Bobby being pulled out of another one.
"Hell no!" Dean cried, pulling his gun. He started to run down the yard, and suddenly one of those new guys was there at his arm, pulling him away with surprising strength. Where had he come from? Dean rounded the gun on him. "Let go."
"We have to be careful about this," the guy said. What was his name?, Dean wondered. Aidan, maybe? "If this goes south, a lot of people could die."
Suddenly, another car door flew open, and out stepped a man who looked all too familiar. He had a shoddy blonde dye job, but Dean would recognize those piercing eyes and that asshole smirk anywhere: Lucifer. "It can't be," Dean whispered, then swung around to look back at Sam.
As he feared, Sammy stood in stunned shock. Then he let out a strangled cry and crumpled to the ground, his body convulsing.
"Sammy! Sam!" Dean cried, running back to his brother.
"Why, Aidan, fancy meeting you here," Lucifer said as Dean fell to his knees beside his brother. Dean looked up, confused. He'd come for Aidan?
"Bishop," Aidan spat, and the man opened his arms and smiled.
Bishop? What the hell? The man looked just like Nick, Lucifer's 'backup vessel'. Could Nick have had a twin brother they never knew about? It sure as hell looked like him. Whatever it was, Dean was pretty sure that face had just single-handedly smashed down Sammy's wall.
Bobby cried out, "It ain't him!" Eyepatch pointed threateningly in his direction, then turned to the man Aidan had called 'Bishop', easily giving him the floor.
"I kept my word and stayed out of Boston," the man said. "You're the one who's out of bounds now. Leave this place. The South is mine."
"Not this," Aidan said, a growl in his voice. "Not here."
Dean barely heard the exchange through his worry about his brother, but that last sentence finally pulled him back to himself. "Ben," he hissed, glancing down toward where Eyepatch held the sword on Bobby. "Get Jody out of here. You guys need to go inside and break all the angel wardings. If Bobby says that ain't him, it's safe to break 'em. We need Cas, pronto!"
Ben nodded and turned, pushing Jody off ahead of him. Dean looked around for anyone who could help him with Sammy. The only person nearby was Garth, so, somewhat reluctantly, Dean motioned for the guy to join him. "Now, this may break you, but somehow we gotta lift Sammy and get him to the Impala."
"I'm tougher than I look," Garth said, though he was about the size of Sam's forearm.
He was true to his word. They managed to half-drag, half-carry Sam up the hill to the Impala. Dean was only vaguely aware of the happenings around him as they did. He was more concerned with finding some cure, some charm, some something to pull Sammy back to himself, but nothing he tried worked. Finally, reluctantly, he decided his best bet was in helping fight these assholes off. Then they could worry about Sam.
Bishop stepped forward to the fence line. "Don't you want to invite me in, Aidan? Have a proper conversation? I know I taught you better manners than that."
"No!" Aidan screeched, rounding on everyone. "Do not invite them in the gates! They can't cross without an invite."
Vampires, maybe? Not like any he'd ever seen before, that's for sure.
Eyepatch hopped down to stand beside Bishop, who grinned a grin just as evil as Lucifer ever did. "Have you met my friend?" Bishop taunted. "He'd do anything to be changed."
"No!" This time it was Rick who screamed as he hurried down toward the fence. "That...man..." he choked on the word, pointing at Eyepatch, "cannot be given anymore power. It's death for you as surely as for us."
Bishop raised a brow. "This the one?" Eyepatch nodded, and Bishop waved his hand. "Do what you will."
Dean looked back at the group, and he saw that Daryl was moving around, handing out weapons. They were mostly guns, but he was relieved to see a few machetes handed out as well. Henry had done well in making them.
"Let 'em go," Rick said, "right now. I'll stay down here and talk as long as you want."
“You and your people,” the man said, “have until sundown to get out of here. Or they die.”
“It doesn't have to be this way,” Rick pleaded, and Dean cringed to hear the crack in his voice.
“I've got more people, more firepower, more...” He gestured at Bishop. “Everything. We need this prison. This ain't about the past.”
Dean began to suspect this asshole Eyepatch was the Governor he had heard so much about. He might still be human, but they would not underestimate him.
"There are children here. Some of them are sick. They won't make it out there."
"Leave 'em," Bishop said. "We'll take good care of them. I promise."
"Bishop, even you never messed with children," Aidan said. "Why start now?"
"Kids born after the virus are immune. You can drink without worry," the man explained, and Dean started to get some inkling of how Aidan had crossed to him so quickly and seemed so strong. The douchebag was definitely a vamp! But how on Earth were they out in the sun? They were like no vampires Dean had ever encountered.
"You drink from babies now?" At least Aidan had the good sense to sound horrified.
"Only when we have to. Some of the older kids are...special." Bishop craned his neck toward the prison, but he evidently didn't see what he was looking for. "We'll take the one who controls the rats. And the baby."
"No!" Rick cried, and Dean heard Carl echo his scream. Dean quickly grabbed a couple machetes from the car and hurried down to join Rick.
"I have a tank, and I'm willing to let you walk away from here. There's nothing else to talk about. This is the way it is."
"Bishop," Aidan said, walking forward with his hands up. "Don't do this. The world's plenty big enough for all of us now."
"No it's not, Aidan! Didn't you listen? Their little virus kills us. I'm willing to let you keep Emily. I don't take back my gifts. But my new associate here wants this prison, and we need the kids who can feed us safely. I know you understand."
"Cas," Dean murmured, testing out the angel wardings. Cas did not reappear, and Dean silently cursed Ben and Jody, urging them to hurry up.
"Hey, Gov'na – you're the Governor, right?" Dean asked.
"Is there no other way to work this out?"
"We could all..." Rick choked again, nearly sobbing. "We could all live here. Nobody has to leave. We'll stay in separate cell blocks. We never even need to see each other."
"That won't work, and you know it." The Governor straightened, then pulled his gun and shot a few croats who had come too close. "Noise'll only draw 'em out. Make it harder for you to leave."
"We're not leaving. You try to force us, we'll fight back." Rick shook his head, swallowing back tears. "And you're right. The noise will only draw more in. They'll knock down the fences, and this place is nothing without the fences. Now...we can all live in the prison, or none of us can."
The Governor stalked over to another man (or vamp?) and drew Michonne's sword. He came to stand between Michonne and Bobby, holding the sword at Bobby's throat, and Dean felt the hot taste of pure fury rising up in him. "You don't want to do that," he warned the man.
Rick tried reasoning with the others, those people brought by Bishop and the Governor. A few looked ready to turn sides, and Rick sweetened the deal by offering to let them stay. Dean shook his head in disgust. These people could never live together.
"Now. We can all live together," Rick tried, though Dean thought he knew it too. "I know we've all done some of the worst stuff, just to stay alive. But we don't have to anymore. We took his people in! We all work together now. We're not too far gone. You get to come back. We can change. We can."
For a moment, Dean thought the two chicks might cross over to their side. Maybe they would have helped turn the tide. But the Governor snarled, and then he said, very quietly, "Liar." Before anyone realized what was happening, he drew back the sword. A moment later, it sliced into Bobby's neck. Bobby's face echoed the shock that Dean felt.
"No!" Dean screamed, and he pulled his pistol back out and started shooting. It must have been his grief blinding him, because he missed nearly every shot, though he caught Eyepatch in the arm at least, right as the man finished the job. "I swear, you son of a bitch, I'm going to kill you!"
It was mayhem in the yard. Others were shooting from behind him, and Dean hurried to grab cover behind an abandoned bus lying on its side. Michonne spun away like some ninja on steroids, avoiding every bullet, and Rick's shots followed the Governor, missing by mere inches.
Rick took a shot in the leg, and Dean pulled him behind the bus. A blur sped by them, and Dean whipped his head around just in time to see Aidan jump the fence. He would have easily cleared the whole thing, but Bishop jumped up, meeting him in the air, and they fell together on the far side.
"Let's go," the Governor barked to his people. "Get in your cars, take down the fence. Kill them all!" The tank lurched and came at them, pulling down the fence.
The Governor laughed and followed into the yard. "Why don't you join me, friends?" he called to Bishop and the others, and a second wave – these surely all vamps – followed him in through the gates.
Suddenly, the man was distracted. Dean looked beyond him to see a woman carrying a child, maybe ten years old. The kid was obviously dead. Governor turned to move toward them, and Dean took his shot. It caught him through the back of the head, and Dean smiled in grim satisfaction. He'd been wanting to kill that guy for at least a week. He hurried to him, putting the rest of his clip into the man.
Then, of all people, that crazy-ass Lizzie was out in the yard. She threw out her hands, and Dean saw some strange blue, wavy force shooting from her palms. One of the attackers threw his head back and opened his mouth, and black smoke billowed out. Somehow, the little nutjob had just exorcised a man! Kind of like Sammy used to do. She turned to the next, another vamp who was just close enough for Dean to see two fangs sprout on either side, just like vampires from the movies. Could there be more than one kind? he wondered, and then he quit thinking coherently as he watched Lizzie's force-power begin twisting the vamp's head around, Exorcist-style. Around and around it went until the neck snapped right off. She'd beheaded him with her mind!
Bishop and Aidan were still fighting, but three other vamps circled the girl, managing to take her down. All of the sudden, a shit-you-not werewolf came running into the fray. In the middle of daytime, nowhere near a full moon. "What the hell is all this?" Dean cried, running back to Rick. "What other secrets have you been hiding?"
Rick looked panicked. "I didn't know! I swear!"
The werewolf took down two of the vamps, but one got away with Lizzie. A few bodies were dropping, and Dean figured those were still humans. The rest must be vamps. He stuck his gun back in his waistband and came out with his blade, ready to chop off a few vampire heads. There was no good hit on Bishop without hitting Aidan, and as much as he'd happily rid the world of all vampires, Aidan was at least fighting on their side. Dean didn't want to inadvertently hit him. He went for the others, paying little attention to Rick anymore.
Finally, Cas appeared in the middle of the mayhem. "What the –" Without missing a beat, he threw open the book he held and started reciting some ancient spell. Surely, Dean knew, the one he claimed would cloak them from deities. It didn't particularly matter at the moment, and Dean resolved to have a little chat about priorities when this was all over.
Once he finished, Dean yelled, "Cas! Tank!" The tank was still blowing holes through the prison. Cas disappeared as he beamed himself into the tank. Finally, the thing stopped. Then, to Dean's delight, the gun turned and fired on the remaining cars zooming through the yard. Keeping from turning in Baby's direction, of course. Good angel.
He turned back to find that Aidan was now being overpowered by Bishop. Dean had a hate-on for anything remotely resembling Lucifer, so he was all too happy to come to the rescue. Bishop had fast reflexes, because he dodged easily and backhanded Dean, sending him flying. It was enough to get him to loosen his grip on Aidan, who easily grabbed the advantage. Enraged, the younger vamp simply grabbed Bishop by the head and ripped it straight off his neck.
Dean's eyes widened, worsening when Aidan turned a raging gaze on him. He'd taken several gunshots, Dean saw. He had no time to think before Aidan grabbed him, drinking deeply. Dean tried to fight him off, but the vamp had immobilized his arms, and Dean felt himself weakening. Finally, Aidan pulled away.
"Sorry," he gasped from a bloodied mouth. "I don't think when that happens. It's the only way I can heal."
"I will fuck you up as soon as I'm able," Dean promised.
"Okay. But I did apologize. If it makes you feel any better, your blood will probably kill me."
"Yay," Dean spat, then tried to stand. He headed back up the yard, and then his feet went out from under him.
Baby was gone.
So was nearly everyone from the prison. Now, Dean and Sam had helped the prison residents prepare and set up various rendezvous points just in case of emergency situations like this – but that didn't make Baby any less gone.
He and Aidan stood staring dumbly at the ruins of the prison. All Dean could hear was the panicked sound of "Carl! Carl!" being screamed from somewhere near the cell blocks.
Looking around, they saw only the bodies of the fallen. "Was that werewolf on our side?" Dean asked.
"Yeah." Aidan tried to grin, but it came out more like a grimace. "That's Josh. Please don't kill him. He's a good guy. One of the best."
"Where is he?"
They both looked around. "Where is everyone?" Aidan asked.
"Cas! Where's Ben and Jody?" Dean demanded.
Cas shook his head sadly. "You had me put wardings on them. I won't know where they are unless they pray to me."
Dean groaned. "Let's hope Jody does that soon, but if she saw..." Dean choked up and looked away. "She may not think of it." He swallowed and looked at the two remaining men. "We'll give him a hunter's goodbye. Cas, you clear out the croats while Aidan helps me build a pyre." Aidan started to interject, but Dean cut him off. "Stick with us. We'll find who we can. First Bobby, and then my car – with my brother, I mean – and only then do we start hunting werewolves."
"You mean hunt as in 'find', not as in 'kill', right?"
"I don't know yet," Dean admitted. "I've never seen one like that before. It bears investigating. Look, I need to make sure Ben's not still here at the prison. You start gathering wood. Cas, cover us." He hurried to join his own hoarse "Ben! Ben!"s to the Carl refrain.
Aidan, who was much faster, searched the prison within seconds and reported back, "He's gone. And I think, if I smell correctly, that he may have been the one who took your car."