"Vega is the brightest star in the constellation Lyre, which represents Orpheus, the great bard who could charm animals, trees, and rocks –"
"Man, that'd come in handy. You could sing a song and make the graves open right up, huh, Sammy?"
"Who says I'd be singing?"
"Well, I'm sure not gonna sit around with a lyre. Now, if it was a Fender Stratocaster…."
The memory came without effort, rising up from the deeps and surfacing to float, lazy, on the sea of Sam's mind. Lying on a borrowed cot in the Campbell compound, feigning sleep, he cocked his head and studied it, turning it over and over like a fisherman would a new, strange sort of fish. Fishing. Fishing for clues, fishing for memories, fishing for…something.
I know something's wrong with me…..
He remembered that night, and nights after. Lounging in fields of autumn grass, tangled and sun-bleached, just like them – just like their second-hand clothes. Stretched across the chilly hood of the car, curled up on ratty Army blankets while whip-poor-wills called across a creek. Reading about Orpheus, who descended into the underworld to fetch his dead wife. Orpheus, who couldn't leave well enough alone, and who couldn't wait until she was standing with him. Solid ground, mundane earth – he condemned her to Hades with his quick impatience. Is that what Adam felt, Sam wondered. Left behind, mouthlessly screaming, blind in the flames. Hell had no heavenly bodies but the Morning Star and God's Sword, each burning with a phosphorus fire no blood or wishing could put out.
Catch a falling star….
The 'Aetos Dios' is translated from Greek into 'Eagle of Zeus'. He was the eagle that carried the thunderbolts of Zeus, and was sent by him to carry the shepherd boy Ganymede, whom he desired, to Mount Olympus….
"So basically they're sayin' that Zeus was gay."
"A lot of the Gods of Old were, um…flexible."
"Oh, man, talk about flexible, there was this cocktail waitress –"
The golden eagle, Zeus' war standard. Bringer of luck – of love. The horn-beaked tormentor of Prometheus, who tore out his liver again and again, only to have it grow back. Altair, Alistair…. The names were too close for comfort and Dean turned away from the sky – the stars – and shut the door. Wondering if anything, ever, would not remind him of those years.
"I'm not leaving you, Sammy…."
Would not remind him of Sam, inevitably, because everything was about Sam, when it came right down to it. Every breath, every beat of his heart. About Sam, for Sam, because of Sam. Even when the day-to-day pressed down on Dean like the heaviest of God's wheels, grinding him smaller and smaller, he didn't regret dying for his brother. But, every single day, he regretted letting his brother die for him.
The stars wheeled above, cold and distant. They weren't stories any more – they weren't static images of gods and victims, virgins and lovers. Brothers. They were dying suns, vast and uncaring, with nothing behind them at all.
Save it for a rainy day….
"They are the seven daughters of Atlas and of Pleione, the daughter of Oceanus. Their names are Electra, Maia, Taygete, Alcyone, Celaeno, Sterope, and Merope. According to some versions of the myth, they committed suicide from grief at the fate of their father, Atlas, or at the death of their sisters, the Hyades…. That's stupid."
"Killing themselves because their dad died. What's the point of everybody being dead?"
"What's the point of being alive if your whole family is dead?"
"It doesn't say that - Would you do that?"
"My family isn't dead, Sam."
"You would, wouldn't you? You're so stupid. Don't…don't ever –"
"I won't ever let anything happen to you, Sammy."
"Not what I mean."
This was so familiar – too damn familiar. Bobby's salvage yard stretching around him, its own star field on Earth. There, the Triad of Ford, Chrysler, GM; over there, the Twin Volkswagens, and sprawled in tortured ranks around them, the twisted shapes of Our Lady of Chevrolet, the God of Death, called Pinto, and the LTD family. Pictures in oxidized steel and crazed glass – a map as familiar as the one overhead.
And here Dean was again, stranded in the middle, caught between the both of them. A fine mist of rain slicked his skin and weighed down his clothes – chill night air curled under his jacket and made his wrists cold. The stars above him, thick as snow in the air, gleaming white or faintly blue or red, impossible in number. Eternal – out of reach – and Dean wondered if there's anyone left to pray to.
"Please," he whispered, because Sam was lying on his back in the panic room, limp and pale and unmoving. Too much like years before, his hair falling across his forehead, his mouth in a thin, slack line. Dean's desire to be away from the still body corpse of his brother, and his desire to be right there, right there, he could wake up any second, he could be awake right now was giving him the mother of all headaches.
What am I supposed to do…?
Seven days. Seven days, seven sisters - seven sacrifices to family and grief, useless acts of violence in the face of uncaring destiny. If Sam wasn't himself anymore, if Sam didn't wake up…. Dean scrubbed dry palms over his face, smearing moisture; sniffed and spat and took a long drink from the bottle he'd carried out with him. If Sam didn't wake up, well…he'd just lie down there beside him and Bobby could take a fucking backhoe and fill the damn room in. Salt 'em and 'burn 'em and put them to some kind of rest.
"Sam is still asleep," Castiel said, and Dean just didn't have it in him to react at all. He felt the junker under him shift a little as Castiel leaned next to him – heard the tiny sigh escape Castiel's lips and felt a sudden surge of weary anger.
"If all you're gonna do is tell me 'I told you so', just…don't, Cas, okay? Just fucking don't."
"I wasn't going to say…exactly that," Castiel said, and Dean huffed an exhausted little laugh.
"Yeah, well, whatever. I don't care. I'd do it again in a heartbeat." Dean turned his head, unsurprised at how close Castiel was. Always so damn close, as if pulled in by some strange gravity only Dean managed to generate. "Okay? I did the right thing. His soul was trapped in hell with freakin' Cain and Abel! I couldn't – there was no way I was just leaving him there."
"I understand," Castiel said, and Dean wanted to break the bottle over his head. But he drank instead, whiskey like hot sand scraping down his throat, making his belly shiver with heat. Pointed with the bottle, east of the Seven Sisters.
"See that? That's Gemini. The brothers. One was immortal and one wasn't. And the mortal one died and the immortal one asked his father to share his immortality with his brother. So you know what he did?" Dean tilted his head at Castiel, same angle the angel would use on him, and Castiel looked right back, his eyes a little shadowed, his shoulders hunched.
"The stars are not people."
"Shut up. Not the point. The point is – instead of bringing the dead one back, the fucker stuck 'em both up there forever. That's God for you."
"My Father did no such thing," Castiel said, and Dean drank the last inch of whiskey and let the bottle slide through his fingers, to thump away into the shadows. "I remember when He created the stars," Castiel continued, and Dean tipped his head back, watching the stars slowly spin. Whiskey, physics, grief – pick one.
"You saw that?"
"Yes. There was – nothing. There was only the Glory of our Father, and the Void, and he spun the stars out of his breath and his blood. He set them alight and cast them into the Void and the Void was full of light – the spheres sang with the sound of their birth and the stars themselves…." Castiel copied Dean, tipping his head back and gazing upward.
"The words that my Father used to create them, they still vibrate with them. If I go very far away, and stay very still, I can still hear those words…."
Dean shut his eyes against the dizzying wheel of the night sky – against too much whiskey on an empty stomach, too much grief on an aching heart. "Must be nice."
"I don't understand how there are people in the sky," Castiel said, and Dean had to laugh. He had to. Because everything was so fucked up, and nothing was like he'd planned, and every time he thought they were done…some new task, some new prophecy, some new fucked up quest jumped up to bite them in the ass.
But the stars were still there, telling their stories, and Sam was going to sit out here and name them for Dean again. Because that's where Sam belonged – where they both belonged. Under the stars, shoulder to shoulder. Come Hell or high water, angels or demons.
"Getting cold," Dean said, pushing away from the damp flank of the junker. "Sam might be waking up." He strode back to the house, the flick and shush of Castiel's wings telling him the angel was gone. Orion the Hunter behind him, shield up, knife ready. It was gonna be okay.
For when your troubles start multiplyin' and they just might
It's easy to forget them without tryin'
With just a pocketful of starlight….