Heartbreaking sobs echo through the air. There is gravel and it’s all grey. The sun is not shining through the clouds. The floor is wet. It must have rained not long ago.
In the midst of it all cowers Sam. The wet of the ground is seeping through his trousers and the small stones are poking his knees. But it doesn’t look like he cares.
Sam is holding someone. He has embedded him in his lap and is clutching onto him. His face is buried in the woolen fabric of the long old dark coat the guy is wearing. His shoulders are shaking uncontrolled.
Next to him knees Castiel. The angel looks devastated. His hands try to reach out to the person lying on the floor, but shrug back as soon as they come near him. He looks like he tried to say something. His lips quiver, he attempts to form words, but nothing leaves his mouth. Not one word.
Across them, sits the Nephilim Jack. As the others, he doesn’t seem to care about the wetness and the gravel. Cross-legged he rocks back and forth. And as the others, he is in deep sorrow. Tears are running down his injured cheeks. He seems to have been in a fight, they all look like it.
There are other people around them. All in uniform and armed. There has been a fight. A bad one. But, did they win? It is silent. There are no cheers, only the sad whimpers of Jack and the loud sobs of Sam Winchester circulating.
Dean moves closer to his little brother.
“Sam?”, he asks. He does not get an answer.
“Cas? Jack?”, he tries. Nothing. No one can hear him. He feels weird. He doesn’t remember what happened. His body feels light, as if no gravity is attached to him. Walking feels like his feet are numb. There is no gravel gnashing as he goes forward.
He moves closer anyway.
“Sam? What’s up?”, he asks ever so worried. “What’s up big guy?”
Sam’s sobs grow only louder as Dean approaches him. He hears Jack breathing heavily and uneven. Cas mumbles weird words he can’t put into something useful.
“Hey guys, what’s- what’s going on?”
Dean looks around. No one hears him.
He eventually moves around the 3 -well 4- persons on the ground. Who is this guy? He wears old fashioned cloths and one of these Newsboy caps. Dean can’t see his face, Sam is holding him too close.
“Can you hear me Sam? Buddy?” He crouches down and moves to lay a hand on his brothers shoulder. It moves right through it. Dean recoils in shock.
In that moment, Sam shifts and the hat falls off that guys head. Dean gasps. It’s him there. His body lies in Sam’s arms. What is he wearing? What happened?
“No that can’t be”, Dean stammers. He stumbles back up and sees Bobby, the Bobby from the apocalypse world, walk over to Sam.
“Kid? Maybe, it’s time to go home. The fight is over.”
“What? What fight?”, Dean asks.
Sam’s head moves up and red eyes, a wounded face and wet cheeks come to light.
“Yeah. It’s over”, his little brother says bitter. His voice is trembling. “Everything is over.” The younger Winchester’s gaze travels to Dean. The one dead in his arms, not the one standing on the side, wondering what the hell is going on.
Sam’s lips still quiver. “We’re going home alright?”, he says more soft, “We’re going home Dean.”
“No. No I can’t be dead. How am I-“, Dean stammers.
He watches Sam trying to move the body on his own, but failing because he is shaking and therefore hasn’t enough strength. It goes on like this for a while. Sam won’t let anyone help him, till, finally, he accepts Cas’ help.
“I’m here Sam. Don’t you hear me? I’m still here!”
Dean can’t bear watching the scenario in front of him. He tries to make contact. It doesn’t work.
They lay his body on the backseat of the impala. Sam takes ages to adjust it the right way (as he sees it). He makes it look like he is sleeping, covered in a blanket.
Then the younger finally closes the door and gets to the drivers seat.
“Sam, are you sure you are in the condition to drive?”, Castiel asks his brother. The angel has worry and sorrow all written over his face.
“Yeah. I am”, Sam just answers dry. He winds up the window and starts the engine, leaves Jack and Castiel behind without another word.
Dean sits next to Sam and just stares back and forth between his dead body and his brother in disbelieve.
“What happened Sam?”, he asks more out of routine, than for expecting an answer, “What happened here?”
Sam doesn’t react. Of course he doesn’t.
“Where is mom?” He hasn’t seen their mother anywhere.
His brother stays quite.
It’s silent, except for occasional sniffs from Sam, the soft bumps of the body’s head against the window and the engine of the car.
Suddenly, Sam stops and turns over. He turns off the engine and lets out a deep sigh. His hands roam over his face.
Sam starts crying again. Not loud like before, but tears fall down quietly. Often, the younger reaches out to wipe them away. Dean can’t bear it.
“Sam, I’m still here. Hey buddy.”
It doesn’t matter what Dean says, Sam can’t hear him. Sam is alone with all this.
His brother starts the engine again after some time. Then he drives back on the highway, headed to Lebanon.
“I’m sorry Sam”, Dean says. He still has no idea what is going on, but Sam shouldn’t endure this. The pale light illuminates the contours of his brothers figure. His serious eyes, his pained expression. It hurts Dean to look at it.
“But we’ll fix this right?”, he tries, “We always do.”
He swallows. “I won’t leave you alone. I promise”, Dean assures Sam. His brother can’t hear it.
There is a celebration. The apocalypse world guys drink a toast at the defeat of the evil. Dean remembers now. He overheard them talking about Michael. Right, he has been possessed.
Neither Sam, nor Cas, nor Jack are taking part in the celebration. Sam sits in Deans room for a while after they arrived, playing Led Zeppelin and Metallica through a small stereo Dean bought himself awhile ago.
Castiel comes and goes to check on him, on them. He tries to cover up his pain, but Dean notices the looks the angel has when he looks at his body. Dean hears the slight shake in the voice of his best friend. He isn’t sure if he ever saw Cas like this. So destroyed, so out of it.
Dean tries to talk to him whenever he comes, thinks that maybe an angel can sense his presence.
“Cas, come on, make a bit of an effort man. Use some of your mojo!”
But Castiel doesn’t.
It wasn’t until Jack comes into the room, that the atmosphere changes.
“Sam?” The Nephilim looks depressed.
“Hey kid”, Dean smiles, even though he knows Jack can’t hear him.
“What is it?”, Sam replies cold. He has been like that the whole time since they came back. Just sitting here, hearing music and staring down on Dean’s bed where his body lies.
“I couldn’t bear it anymore. This is my fault”, Jack starts, “I did this.”
The kid is on the verge of crying, Dean can see it.
“We’re all responsible for this Jack,” Sam says, “I tried to find another way, but you know there wasn’t one.”
“You could at least look at him when you say that”, Dean whispers directed at Sam.
“But I should’ve tried harder to get Michael out of him,” Jack insists. His eyes skip to Dean and then back to Sam.
“There was barely a chance for him to survive the extraction. Michael wouldn’t come out, so he took Dean with him. Where ever they might be now.” Sam takes a sip of the whiskey standing next to him. His eyes still don’t leave Dean’s dead body.
“Don’t blame yourself Jack. You saved the world.” Sam attempts a smile to make Jack feel better. He even looks up to the Nephilim. “Now go, the others probably wait for you.”
“I can’t think of enjoying myself in this situation”, Jack says, “There is too much... sadness and guilt. I just can’t.”
Sam drinks again. “I know”, he says between sips, “Me neither.”
Jack gets the message. Dean thinks it’s rude of his brother to leave the kid alone with this, but looking at himself, he probably would have dealt with it far more worse.
After Jack leaves the room, Dean needs a moment to process all the information. Jack killed Michael and, in the process, killed him. It explains a lot.
Dean feels sorry for the kid. He shouldn’t be carrying this weight. He shouldn’t feel responsible. Nobody should. He was sure they did what they could.
Dean looks to Sam. He hasn’t moved. The whiskey glass is in his hand and his eyes stare dead onto the bed.
“Sammy, you shouldn’t drink too much”, he says, “I know it feels like it helps, but it doesn’t.”
Dean moves to Sam and kneels down before him.
“You always used to say that too me, so take your own damn advice man.”
Sam doesn’t react. Dean sighs.
“Damn it”, he mutters.
By the time the celebration dies down, Bobby 2.0 comes to Dean’s room. Neither Sam nor Dean have left it since they arrived. Dean doesn’t know how long it was, but it feels like half a day.
“Listen, Sam, don’t you think we should burn him soon?” Bobby is cautious with what he is saying, but not cautious enough. Sam’s gaze moves up. It looks angry. Dean gulps.
“No.” His response is clear.
“Hear me out, lad,” Bobby tries again, “He deserves a proper hunters funeral.”
“Don’t tell me what he deserves,” Sam snaps back. One finger is lifted in the air, the other hand holds a new glass of whiskey. Dean would never admit it, but Sam can be scary sometimes; and right now, he was.
Dean doesn’t know what he wants out of this situation. On the one hand, since his spirit IS around, he would rather be burned than become a vengeful one. On the other hand, not burning would give him time to figure this out, right? There is only the question, if there is anything to fix.
“I won’t burn him”, is his brothers final answer, but, apparently, it wasn’t Bobby’s.
“Yes you will, or do you want him to haunt your butt!”
Good old Bobby, Dean thinks. The two Bobby’s aren’t so different from another after all.
“There is nothing left with what he could haunt. Cas said Michael took his soul with him to where the angels go when they die. That’s something we can’t reach.” A sip from the glass.
“Don’t be so sure! I didn’t know him long, but your brother surely was a stubborn fella. ‘Wouldn’t be surprised if he got out of it somehow.”
Dean nods. “Hello! I’m here! The old guy is right!”
Sam just snorts contemptuously.
“Yeah. I’m still not burning him.”
“Listen kid, you don’t want him to turn into a vengeful spirit.”
“Yeah well maybe I do! Maybe I deserve it! I should’ve looked out for him more and that’s what I get”, Sam argues. Dean wants to throw something at Sam for that. That is a whole lot of crap, Dean thinks, You’ve done more than enough.
“Oh Bullshit Sam!”, Bobby says.
“Thank you!”, Dean exclaims. He is glad Bobby thinks the same.
“What do you want to do with him then? Let him rot?”, Bobby adds, the hands reached in the direction of Dean’s dead body.
“I’ll bury him”, Sam says dry.
“You’ll- you’ll bury him? Have you lost your mind?”
Nothing screams more of a typical hunter life than conversations like this, Dean thinks.
Sam looks up in Bobby’s face, who seems to be questioning the sanity of the younger.
“You can’t bury him now and when you notice his spirit is still there, you dig his grave back up. You don’t wanna see him full of maggots, do you?”, Bobby reasons. Dean shudders at the thought and apparently, so does Sam. He flinches when he hears the words.
Still, he stays stubborn.
“I’m not burning him!”
Bobby sighs unnerved. And pinches the bridge of his nose.
“You’re so full of grief, it blinds you.”
“Then let me be blind”, Sam says, taking another sip. His brothers eyes are on Dean’s body again.
“Come to your senses Sam”, Bobby asks.
“I had this conversation once before, 10 years ago, with the real Bobby Singer,” Sam starts, “I didn’t burn him. And he came back.”
His brother empty’s the glass.
“‘Crawled out of his grave and stood on my door four month later.” Something like a smile slowly makes it’s way on Sam’s left cheek.
“You don’t have faith in him coming back, you said so yourself”, Bobby argues.
“No I don’t have faith. But there is a tiny part of me, that has unreasonable hope. And it won’t let me burn him.”
The whiskey glass is placed on the floor as Sam approaches Bobby.
“I wont burn him. I didn’t burn him then, I won’t burn him now”, he says calm, but somehow scary -so thinks Dean-, “End of the conversation.”
Bobby sees this as his defeat and leaves the room muttering “Damn Winchester’s.”
“He’s got a point, you know?”, Dean says.
His little brother sits down again.
“Sammy, look, I’m not the one to say anything in this situation, ‘cause if i was in your place, I’d probably be punchin’ anybody who even thinks about burning you. Hell, I’m furious just by the thought of it”, Dean begins, “But you gotta do what’s best for you man. And it sure ain’t sitting there, getting drunk and staring down at me.”
Dean sighs for probably the 100th time today.
“I just want to say, it’s okay.”
Sam doesn’t hear him.
“Damn it!”, he exclaims. Why can’t he move stuff, or, at least, write creepy two-word-messages on a foggy bathroom mirror. It would make things a lot easier. Sam would know he is here. Sam wouldn’t have to suffer. Cas wouldn’t have to suffer. Jack wouldn’t have to suffer.
Dean doesn’t understand why it’s not working. In his other outer-body-experiences, he could always move stuff. Now, he can’t. It’s frustrating and it makes him angry.
Somehow, Dean doesn’t feel angry at the fact, that he is dead. Nor does he feel sad because of it. He feels angry and sad to see his loved ones suffer because of it.
A glass flies through the room and shatters to pieces on the door. Dean first thinks it’s him who threw it, but, turning around, he sees Sam standing there. His brother walks over to the drawer next to Dean’s bed and takes out the pictures Dean has stashed in there. Gently Sam’s fingers ghost over the surface of the picture of Dean and their mom.
“I’m sorry mom. I couldn’t save him.”
What does that mean?
“What about her? What is it Sam?”
Dean panics. He hasn’t seen Mary the whole time. Something isn’t right here, he knew it from the start.
“Though, the odds of that are pretty unimaginable, I hope he is with you.” Sam’s lips touch the picture in a honouring gesture. Then he lays it down again.
Dean gasps. No. It can’t be.
“What happened? Why is she dead? Why is she dead Sam?”, Dean demands to know, but of course there is nothing his brother can answer when he can’t hear him.
“Why is she dead?”, he whispers.
“Because I killed her. Or, that is what I want you to believe.”
Everything around Dean freezes, as if someone stopped the time. Abruptly, Dean turns around.
“No,” it escapes him. The scene around Dean fades to black.
Michael has a knowing smile on his face. His hands calmly folded in front of his body. For other persons, he may have looked innocent with this manner.
“No, no you’re dead. I’m dead”, Dean stammers.
“That’s what I wanted you to believe. And as I witness here, it worked.” The smile won’t leave the angels lips. The calm voice and the professional manner make Dean angry.
“Where am I?”, he demands to know.
Michael stays calm and polite.
“Where we are? Well, Dean, we are in your head.” The angel gestures around.
“So you’re still controlling me”, he realises, “That means nothing of this ever happened or is close to happening at all?”
“I’m afraid so”, Michael says in a way, that makes Dean want to punch him. He clenches his jaw.
“Why would you show me your own death huh?”, he argues defiantly, “Makes no sense to me.”
“To make it convincing to you”, the Archangel explains.
“And why would I you show me all that? My death, and everything around it? What do you get out of it?” Dean can’t find a reason for the angels actions.
“To get to know you, Dean”, Michael states. He playfully attempts a honest face, but breaks into a amused grin.
“Also, I needed to keep you occupied for a while. I had business to take care of. You know”, he adds.
Michaels smile grew bigger for a short moment. His dark eyes stare into Dean.
“What do you mean?”
The archangel approaches him and Dean finds himself wanting to step back.
“Your world is so... fresh, so untouched and yet so flawed! There is so much to do!” Michaels eyes widen. The tone of his voice is glorifying his evil intentions. It makes Dean sick
“You humans are the problem. And I will take care of it.”
Dean straightens his position to look less small. The shale in which Michael is now, isn’t as tall as Sam, though taller than Dean himself. Not to mention he is the bastard that destroyed a world. His long coat, his dark skin, the even darker eyes, make him intimidating.
“Yeah ‘cause that worked so well the last time”, Dean counters weaker than he intended.
“I have to admit it did not work out the way I planned. But this is my second chance”, the archangel claims.
“Yeah right. What makes you think you deserve a second chance?” Dean stares up to him.
“Don’t say god gave it to you. He didn’t. I met him. Well, assuming it’s the same one. You can’t be sure, can you?”, he flashes an ironic smile. Michael is clearly irritated by this response.
“You know nothing”, Dean’s opponent warns. The smile has faded from his lips and his expression is now ominous. Dean swallows.
“Now, if you will excuse me, I have to clean this place.”