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Saving People

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The bunker was a warren of hidden rooms in plain sight. Besides the dorm rooms and the bathrooms and file rooms and the labs and the dungeon hidden in the back of 7B, there were a couple of other rooms Dean and Sam and Cas had found back in the future that were out of the way and boring-looking, easy to overlook, but which had really heavy duty warding protecting them. Most of what they'd found inside was in curse boxes, except for the books on how to make even nastier things. With a bit of care not to disturb the dust outside and with Cas using his mojo to jam the door every time they left, one was working really well as a vault.

Dean had finally woken up twelve hours after the ten-hour deadline he'd set and was grumbling his way through his second cup of coffee as he made his way down the corridors, stepping up to the door as carefully as he could. "Cas, it's me," he said, not raising his voice. "Lemme in."

The door in front of him squeaked a little as Cas undid whatever he did to jam it. Dean stepped in and shut it behind him. "You turned my alarm off."

"You shouldn't have set it," Cas replied blandly, reading from the laptop.

"Yeah, well, I was pretty sure junior me was going to go do something stupid," Dean said, pulling out his chair and falling into it.

"That does seem likely."

Dean took a swallow of his too-hot coffee and slumped back in his chair. All his bones still felt like lead, and if he were honest about it he'd admit another twelve hours sleep would be a good place to start, but he was never honest like that. It'd been a long week; a long week after another long week after a long few months, but it'd been worth it.

He looked up: The shelves around them were lined with curse boxes and one, sitting quietly between the one with the cursed ballet shoes and the one with the rabbit's foot, was a plain, dull, lead-lined box holding the Book of the Damned.

Sometime between crap going bad and crap going worse Sam must've sat down with Charlie and gotten all the details of the Spanish monastery where she'd dug up the thing; his journal had it described right down to the corner of the room to dig in, and the whole thing took less than an hour. Dean had white-knuckled the flight both ways and sworn he'd do whatever it took to get Cas's wings back (at least that was over quickly), but they'd got the book, and Charlie wouldn't. She'd never come near it, and the Stynes would never come near her. Ever. She'd be safe.

(The Stynes were dead. Cas had argued and pleaded, but Dean had kept that plan to himself till the day after they'd come back from breaking the curse on Oasis Plains, and Cas, fresh out of grace, hadn't been in any shape to stop him. It'd made national news but he'd got away clean, and he'd left the kids alive – eleven-year-old Cyrus Styne, a six-year old girl and a baby cousin. Cas had grudgingly erased the details of their family's practices from their minds, and then bitch/preached the whole drive home.)

The First Blade had been easier to get. That had mostly been detective work, tracking the Blade from the sub that had scooped it up through to the Moroccan pirates who sucked at poker; thank god for Crowley's big mouth. Dean'd only had to put himself in the right place to join the game and now Cuthbert Sinclair would never get hold of the thing. As soon as he'd left the game he'd shoved it in Cas's box and torn himself away to be sick in the grass. It still called to him, even without the Mark.

That'd never happen again either. Not sure how yet, but it wouldn't.

Nadya's codex hadn't been too hard to get hold of; crack the Werther Box and juice Cas up enough to break the curse himself, no blood needed, though Dean had been out of commission for a week. Getting the angel tablet out of Lucifer's crypt was tougher, but once they'd got inside there was enough other stuff that made Cas light up to be worth the effort; Dean wasn't sure what half of them did, but Cas had locked himself in their 'vault' for three days building curse boxes to hold them, and came out looking, for the first time, like he actually believed they might beat the Apocalypse.

The boxes for the tablets sat stacked on top of each other in a corner. The leviathan tablet, in the middle box, was fresh from Iran and still caked in red clay, and the last one was empty. Wherever Crowley had gotten the demon tablet from, probably Hell, it was out of reach for now, and the demons would fight hard to keep it that way, but it didn't matter; they had all of Kevin's notes and translations, and Kevin was home with his mom finishing fourth grade. No one was going to need him to read them. They were done watching friends die.

(He'd killed Gordon Walker too. Made it look like a vamp got the best of him. The bunker would keep Sam was safe, but there were too many of the other special kids out there that Gordon would call evil, and Andy and Ava and all of them could still be saved. The guy was a psychopath. Dean wasn't sorry.)

"I've found the Two Rivers Motel."

Dean looked up. Cas was frowning at the screen. "And?"

Cas eyed him. "I still think I should go with you. If Metatron overpowers you–"

"Cas, we've talked about this. I'll be fine – douchebag won't even know who I am – but if he gets his hands on you he can work that spell to knock all the angels out of Heaven again, and I'm pretty sure that'd make those feathery assholes suspicious."

Cas grimaced. "And if something goes wrong?"

Dean shrugged. "Like what? I talk my way in, cut his throat, bottle his grace for you and put a bullet in him. Boom."

"Things can always go wrong, Dean. Things usually go wrong."

He hesitated. "Not every time." But Cas had that stubborn, pouty look on his face and Dean sighed into his coffee. "Okay, okay, fine. You tag along and watch my back till I get to the hotel. Hang around in the lobby; I'll keep a phone line open so you'll hear everything."

Cas nodded slowly. "Thank you, Dean."

"Hey, whatever man, it's a quiet week. Nothing's going to happen until – what, next Tuesday?" Something like that; he'd checked the journal before passing out. Or the day before. Something like that.

"Thursday." Cas closed the laptop. "Your father and younger self left this morning for a haunting at Bodega Bay."

"The Van Ness house?" Dean paused, thinking back on that case, then shook his head. "Eh, they'll be fine. You gave them the case notes, right?"

"Everything that could possibly be relevant. They insisted. Including how the spirit planted an anchor item on Sam and that Bobby's ghost helped you solve the case."

"Yeah, I bet that motivated them," muttered Dean. He chugged down the rest of his coffee and smacked the cup down. "Right! I'll load up the car." He stood– and wobbled slightly. Cas's eyes narrowed.

"Are you sure–?"

"I'm fine, Cas, let's go! You know how long I've been waiting to kill Metatron?" He grinned. "This is gonna be fun."

 

Sam's head smacked into his pillow, and a second later Jess's hair hit his eyes as she flopped face-first into her own, sweaty and still breathing hard. He grinned stupidly. "See?" he said. "Definitely perks to being left behind."

Jess shook her head, smushing her nose into the pillow, and sighed and pushed herself up on her elbows. "You mean being locked in. Metaphorically," she added before Sam could say anything. He probably looked sceptical because she added, "Or didn't you notice how Dean's always offering to pick up the groceries and the newspapers and my tampons so that we don't have any reason to leave?"

He shrugged and shuffled back to sit up against the headboard. "Yeah, of course, but the demons are still out there. We're safe here."

"I'm bored here," she groaned. "This isn't my life, Sam, this is... waiting for life to start up again. How much longer is it going to take?"

Sam sighed and shook his head. "Dean said they're getting somewhere. He and Castiel were going to take out some kind of key player today."

Frowning, she rolled over and stood up, gloriously naked, and Sam sat back to watch her walk across the room for a minute, leaning over every so often to pick up clothes. She turned back to him, hand on hip. "Well?"

"...Huh?"

She rolled her eyed and stepped into her panties. "I said, do you think they're ever going to tell us everything?"

"Probably not," said Sam. "But I have an idea."

It was really only half an idea, one he hadn't put much serious thought into, but Jess had been pretty down these last few weeks, and he could make this work if it'd cheer her up. Something twinged in his forehead and he flinched, but ignored it. "You know the laptop where they keep that journal of theirs?"

"Yeah." She zipped up her jeans and pulled on a shirt. "You want to break in?"

"Dean's passwords are really easy to crack," Sam said, grinning at her. He squeezed his eyes shut for a second and shook his head. "At least for me. Future Dean's can't be that much harder."

Jess was nodding slowly, smiling for the first time in a while, and she started to say something, but suddenly Sam couldn't hear it. A migraine started shooting up both sides of his head and he winced, rubbed his fingers hard into his forehead, trying to soothe it, then–

PAIN

–doubled over on the bed.

Images flashed across his eyes: People he didn't know, shouting, blood– And then the pain ripped through his head like an axe, blinding him.

Then, faintly, he heard Jess's voice.

He blinked, weak and shaky, and above him Jess sagged with relief. "You okay?"

"I... uh..." He shook his head – bad idea. It sent him spinning and he slumped back into the pillow. He was lying down again, tucked in under blankets, and dressed. Jess had her sweater and shoes back on. He squinted at the clock but couldn't remember when he'd last looked at it. "I think so. What happened?"

"You tell me, Sam. Has that ever happened before?"

With a sinking feeling, Sam realised – yeah, it had.

 

Dean was whistling as he sauntered into the bunker, reliving the look of pants-pissing terror on Metatron's face for the hundredth time since leaving Colorado. Asshole hadn't realised he could be made mortal any more than his future self had, and seeing him flinch at the cock of a pistol almost made up for all the times he'd screwed them over.

Almost. Nothing made up for what had happened to Kevin. God, Kevin.

Plus, Cas was now juiced up as high as he could go without getting his own grace back, and had taken off to use it up before it started to bleed away. He'd insisted on going alone, grumpy and sarcastic the way he got when he was worried, so Dean kept on whistling as jauntily as he could, ready to brush it off as nothing if the others asked. They'd ask. They knew how important Cas was, right?

No one was in the library when he walked through, or the kitchen, or any of the other common areas. Dad and his younger self would still be in California, but Sam and Jess usually spent this part of the day with their law books spread all over the tables, quizzing each other. (Or screwing. They weren't subtle.)

His phone beeped in his pocket, and when he pulled it out he found three texts from Jess, the first two sent while he was singing at the top of his lungs on the drive home.

The first read: Sam fainted. Looked like he was having a migraine. John and Dean aren't picking up.

The second read: He's awake and he had some kind of vision. He's sure it's real. Did anything like this happen to the other Sam?

And the last, sent just now, read: Where are you? Call me.

Dean sprinted down the hall.

The door to Sam's room was open. He was lying in bed, sleeping, and Jess was in a chair gnawing her thumbnail. "What happened?" Dean demanded, rushing to the bed. "Sammy?"

"He's okay–" Jess started.

"Mrrf. Dean?" Sam blinked up at him. After a second, his face closed over, and Dean tried not to think about how that only happened after he realised which of his brothers he was seeing. "What are you doing here?"

"Finished the job. What the hell happened? You had a 'vision'?" He tried to sound sceptical, but in his head thoughts were tripping over each other. Not now, not now, it's too soon, and You weren't supposed to know, fuck it, and, worst: Why's it happening NOW?

He took a breath and looked at Jess. She shook her head.

But Sam was nodding, slowly sitting up. "It wasn't a dream or hallucination or anything," he insisted. "It felt like a premonition. Like... when I dreamed about Jess dying in a fire."

Fuck, he had to go and make that connection. Dean sighed and pulled up the other chair, trying to avoid Jess's eyes. "Okay, what did you see?"

"Did this happen to the other me?"

"I don't know, what'd you see?"

Sam frowned. "It was a living room," he said, glancing at Jess. "A family, with son about my age, kinda short. Pale. The father was yelling. There was a letter opener hovering and spinning above a table. It shot across the room and into the dad's mouth. Stabbed him through the throat, right into a wall." He braced himself and looked at Dean. "I know it was real."

"Yeah, yeah," Dean said absently. Okay, fuck, that did sound like the Millers, and that was definitely a dead-on description of Max, only it hadn't happened that way. And last time the first vision hadn't come for another week; he'd triple checked the journal. He had planned to take a day at home, get some shut-eye, and head for Michigan in the morning so it'd all be over before Sam ever saw a thing, but now...

"Sounds kind of like a haunting we stumbled over last time," he said. "Some crazy old bat died in the house, tried to kick out the new owners and all that. I was gonna go salt and burn her ass soon anyway, so if it'll make you feel better, I'll hit the road tonight instead. This time tomorrow, she'll be toast. No one gets hurt. Okay?"

Sam looked hesitant. "Yeah, but what about–"

"Sammy, come on, it's a milk run. I'll be fine."

"Why did I see it in the first place?"

Dean closed his mouth.

"It makes sense that he'd see something about me," Jess spoke up from across the bed. Her face twisted. "As much as any of this makes sense," she added under her breath. "But why some random haunting?"

Dean shrugged nonchalantly. "We never figured it out," he lied. "Every so often he'd see something before it happened, but a lot of the time it was people or places we didn't know – never found half of them, and the ones we did find, sometimes what he saw didn't happen for years." There, that should be enough to throw him off. "Only thing they all had in common was something supernatural."

Sam was eyeing him. "You're sure?"

"Hey, weirder things have happened." He stood up, slapping Sam on the shoulder. "Get some sleep, okay? I'll text you when I've taken care of it. Won't take long."

 

Three hours later Jess woke with a start, almost knocked out of bed as Sam jerked upright, face contorted in pain and said, "Dean– it's going to kill Dean", and half an hour after that they were in a car, tearing up rubber trying to catch up with Dean before he reached Michigan.

Jess was driving. She figured it was safest.

"We've got to go faster," said Sam, jittering in the passenger seat. "Jess, please."

She pointed to another sign as it shot past. "Speed limit."

"Jess–"

"No, Sam, it's too fast. I'm not going to get us killed. Call him."

"I have called him."

"Call him again. Call John and your Dean; get them to call him."

"Why would he pick up for them and not me?"

If she hadn't had to keep her eyes glued to the road, she would have rolled them. "Don't sound so butthurt. Maybe he thinks you're panicking over nothing."

He scowled. "You didn't see what I saw."

No, he'd just described it a billion times. The same scene as before, only Dean was there, facing the son with his hands up and saying, "Max, you don't want to do this" right before the letter opener stabbed him in the teeth. It was horrifying and she couldn't imagine what it was like to actually see it happen, real as life, but after the fourth emphatic retelling, complete with "no way that's a haunting, that guy has some sort of telekinesis; Dean lied", she'd kind of lost most of her sympathy.

Most, not all. Every time Sam had another flash, or hunched his shoulders trying to hide how much the last one still hurt, her irritation blew away. Like now; he was wincing and grinding his fingers into his eyes. "Sam, you okay?"

She couldn't keep looking at him; just a glance as she checked the wing mirror. "Sam!"

"Yeah. Yeah, sorry." He unwound slightly and braced himself, staring down the road. "Can we go any faster?"

She grit her teeth.

 

Dean's car was parked outside a nondescript house in Saginaw, and Jess pulled up right by a mailbox labelled Miller. Sam had been on the phone on and off since they left Lebanon, lying to the police and using bits of details from his visions to stalk the family and track Dean down in time.

If they were in time. As they hurried out of the car, Jess saw that the front door was ajar, and her insides went cold. Please, Lord, don't let him be dead, please, I swear I'll speed next time, I'll break every road rule–

Sam rammed the door with his shoulder and Jess sprinted in after him. Her eyes took a second to adjust to the light.

Dean was standing by the window, hands held up loosely with one elbow in front of Mr Miller, trying to shield him and facing off with the younger guy Sam had described, Max. Mrs Miller was nearer to them, on Dean's other side and out of the line of fire – for now. Hovering between them all was the letter opener, and as they burst in it swung around. Heads turned. Dean suddenly went as tense as a coiled spring. "Sam, leave."

"Max," Sam said breathlessly. "Don't do this."

All the Millers were glancing between them, confused between their fear or fury, but only Max moved. "What do you care?"

"I care," Sam promised. "I know it– it probably makes no sense but I care, Max. You don't want to do this."

Max had tears spilling from his eyes, all anger and terrified rage in fists so tight his arms trembled. Behind him his father staggered, drunk and snorting like a mad bull, just barely more afraid than he was furious, and behind them Mrs Miller trembled, looking between son and her husband. Jess took hold of Sam's wrist, keeping him from going any closer. This wasn't right.

"They deserve it," Max seethed, biting off his words, so quiet and scarier for it. "Do you have any idea what they did to me?"

"I'm sure it was terrible," said Sam, "but you're better than that."

"Sammy, leave," said Dean. He was edging closer, away from Mr Miller, and Sam glanced at him, still angry.

"Max," he said instead, "let us help you."

Max was looking at them like they were a puppet show, something inane and stupid that he was so done with. "Go away. This isn't about you." He turned back at his father with eyes that were narrow slits of hate. "They hurt me, they beat me. For years. I can't let that go."

The letter opener spun menacingly in front of him. Backed against the wall, Mrs Miller cringed, silent tears dripping down her face. Jess met her eyes – pleading, despairing – and she said, "They? Or him?"

Max's glare turned to his mother. "Both," he spat. "They both–"

"Really? 'Cause I don't think she has it in her to hit anyone."

Now Max did look at her, madness spinning behind those eyes, and for a second Jess froze in fear, but she swallowed it. "She's as terrified as you are."

Dean was hovering just on the other side of Mrs Miller, hands still up and eyes flicking between Max and Sam, but when he tried to step in front of her, the letter opener flew up to his nose. "Don't."

He took a step back. "Max, we're not here to hurt you," he said, "just think about this for a–"

Mr Miller made a break for the kitchen door. Everything went very fast.

Max's head whipped around.

The letter opener flew across the room and straight through the back of his head.

Dean's arms dropped.

Jess yanked on Sam's wrist and reached for Mrs Miller, who was staring in shock.

"Max, no!" yelled Sam. "You don't have to do this!"

The letter opener jerked back into the air, dripping blood on the carpet, and pointed squarely at Mrs Miller. "I want to."

Jess lunged, vaguely thinking she could protect the woman if she could just stand in the way, that Max would stop, there'd be time to talk–

Sam 's weight hit her like a freight train, slamming them both into the floor.

Above them there was a squelch and a thud–

BANG.

–and everything went still.

Softly, beyond the protective cage of Sam's torso, something large hit the couch.

"Jesus," murmured Sam, and Jess faintly registered that her jaw and cheekbone were aching, smacked hard against the floor. Sam shifted above her, straightening up, and as he moved away she saw the couch behind him, and Max, messily sprawled on the cushions with a neat red hole in his forehead. "Jesus, Dean! What the hell were you thinking?"

Dean was tucking a gun into his waistband. "We've got to go." He pulled out a cloth and shoved it at Sam. "Prints."

"Dean–"

"Later, Sam!" He pulled his sleeves over his hands and started rubbing down a tabletop and the back of a chair. Sam attacked the doorknob. Right, Jess thought faintly. Fingerprints.

Her hands were on carpet, and she didn't remember touching anything except Sam's arm, and maybe some of Mrs Miller's sleeve... wait...

She looked up. Mrs Miller was still up against the wall, pinned against it by the metal that had rammed through her eye socket. Jess gagged.

Large hands hauled her up. "Hurl outside!" said Dean, stepping them around the mess to the front door. "Walk normally, keep your head down, get straight to the car," he instructed. "If someone heard that shot we can't let them I.D. us; if they didn't, we can't tip them off."

She felt dizzy. "Sam–"

"I've got you." He appeared behind her, a comforting mass by her shoulder. He put an arm around her and tucked her close, hesitating at the threshold. "Are you okay?"

With... what? The three dead bodies bleeding out behind them? The plan to scurry away like criminals? How the first thing they thought of was fingerprints and exit strategies? Hot tears burned in her eyes, anger as much as shock, and she shook her head. Sam hugged her and muttered something comforting, but there were no words for how much she did not want his hugs right now. For the first time ever, it felt disgusting.

Then they were shuffling her outside, strolling casually towards the cars, heads bent towards each other in such a way that they blocked each others' faces from view. The garden path seemed to go on forever and then her hip bumped the car; Sam was opening the passenger door for her and ducking across to the driver's seat. Ahead, Dean's brake lights came on.

And then they were moving, gliding away, keeping to the speed limit for three blocks and gunning it from there. Before she knew it they were on the highway sailing out of Saginaw and Sam was yelling down the phone. She didn't listen, barely noticed, watching the lamp posts swish by and wondering how they could be so normal when somewhere back there, in a normal house on a normal street, three bodies were going cold.

She wasn't a lawyer yet, but she'd picked her field for a reason. The law was about proof, evidence and reasoning, not arbitrary sentencing, and in the back of her mind, disconnecting itself from the emotional train wreck, Jess was putting together fragments of the day – of how Dean's gun was in his belt, already loaded, how he'd been facing Max from the start, shielding the parents, how he'd told Sam he'd "take care of it". The more she turned it over, the more she wondered if Dean had always meant to shoot him.

How was that 'saving everyone'?