Category: Angst, Drama, Humor
Spoilers: Spoilers through On the Head of a Pin
Summary: When a hunt to protect one of the seals goes wrong, Sam awakens to find he's a hot-shot lawyer and Dean is a mechanic. Now, as the end of days nears, he must navigate a foreign life to figure out what went wrong, and get back to who he should be even if it means sacrificing the ones he loves.
Word Count: Approx. 33,000
Disclaimer: See previous posts
[Chapter 1][Chapter 2] [Chapter 3] [Chapter 4] [Chapter 5] [Chapter 6]
Getting out of the city proved to be a quiet affair. Dean remained focused on finding the right streets to hit the highway, while Sam clicked on the overhead light to go over his notes and the map that Dean kept stashed in the dashboard. Sam blocked out the noise of the city around them, trying his best to make connections based on the scribbles and snatches of information he'd gathered over the past few days.
He needed to figure out what the connection was between the angels and the demon sent to break the seal. The demon seemed to have known this would happen. How would changing his life history help break the seals? Were the demons desperate enough to try to rewrite his life so he wouldn't come after Lilith?
The idea was ridiculous. Sam had retained all of his memories.
There was the chance that the demon had targeted Dean, needing his memories erased, and plopped them both into a different kind of history.
He looked to Dean. His brother was hunched over the wheel, muttering some curses in the general direction of the cars blocking his way.
That notion seemed even more ridiculous to Sam. Dean might be a great fighter, but Hell had changed him, and Sam couldn't see what worth he would be to any demon at this point, if ever. There had to be something else he was missing. He just wished Ruby had been more forthcoming.
Sam hadn't ruled out he was trapped in some kind of fantasy or extensive hallucination. He tried not to dwell on this possibility so much, maybe out of fear of what could be happening to those outside of the fantasy. For all he knew, he was lying in a coma somewhere with Dean dead and the seals popping open one by one.
Castiel's role in this nightmare made the least sense. Sam was sure he had seen a glimpse of the angel. Was Castiel trying to teach him a lesson like he had done to Dean? Why would he choose to intercede at the most inopportune time?
None of that linked to the seals.
Sam sighed. If only he had somewhere to turn, someone to shed some light on his situation.
Once they hit the highway, Sam noticed that Dean had started to fidget in his seat. He kept glancing over to Sam, to the papers in his lap, and back to the road. If Sam were to guess, he figured that Dean was more than curious as to what Sam's plans were. The look of concern and guilt was one that Sam knew all too well. He'd watched his brother carry it for years. Still, he gave Dean credit. He was holding back with considerable restraint.
But that restraint wouldn't last forever.
Sam shuffled his notes. "So?"
Dean opened his mouth to talk, closed it, opened it again, and then closed it. He kept his gaze focused on the highway and through the light rain that had started to fall.
"What?" Sam asked. "What do you want to say?"
Dean shook his head. "This is nuts."
"Look, Dean. I'm as spooked about this as you are. I awoke to a life I never had. I was in the middle of a job when everything changed."
"A job." Dean let out a nervous chuckle. "Right."
"I know it's hard for you to understand. I don't understand it myself. But I'm a hunter, Dean, and so are you."
"No," Dean said firmly. "No, you went to Stanford. You graduated and went to law school and now do lawyerly things."
"You can try to convince yourself all you want, but you said it yourself. You know I'm different."
The word different used to sting, but Sam didn't feel isolated by it anymore. He had learned to use it as an asset, to empower himself with that word.
His response troubled Sam. "What? Do you know something?"
Dean shook his head. "Nothing."
"I said nothing." And that was it. His voice was firm and he said no more.
Sam threw himself against the back of the bucket seat and scowled. This was getting him nowhere. He knew that if he were to comprehend what happened to him, he needed to have a better understanding of what this life entailed. He needed to know what went wrong, what branched onto a different course. He needed concrete clues. Dean could provide that link for him.
"What…" Sam stopped, trying to find a way to word his question without sounding completely insane. He knew there wasn't. He sighed. "Was there ever a fire in my nursery?"
He saw Dean's face twist, the lines deepening as he shot Sam a quick, troubled look before he centered back on the wet highway.
"What kind of question is that?" Dean asked, clearly exasperated.
"I'm guessing no. Mom and Dad are alive."
The concern in Dean's face flirted with a flash of fear. "You make it sound like they're dead."
"In my world they are," he said quietly.
Dean stared at him, eyes wide. "So, what? You're fantasizing about Mom and Dad biting the bullet?"
"It's not a fantasy. I'm not sick, Dean."
"Oh no? This whole thing is sick." He shook his head as he stared ahead. "They got shrinks for this kinda thing. You're loaded. I bet you could get Lindsay Lohan's head doctor."
"I'm not crazy," Sam said, his voice even. "And I'm not high, so don't go there. You're the one that thinks my memories are warped. Why don't you tell me what happened to see if it jogs something loose?"
"What? You want me play This Is Your Life? Come on, Sam."
"Do you have a better idea?"
"Hell, yeah. We turn around and get you some help the right way instead of chasing down magic mirrors."
"You wouldn't be with me right now if you didn't think there was some truth to what I'm saying."
Dean sighed. "What've gone and done to yourself, Sammy?"
The heartache in his voice was so acute that Sam lost track of his whereabouts and thought he was staring into the disappointed face of his brother. The pain snuffed out quickly as he grounded himself. He didn't understand why it was so hard to separate himself from whatever reality he was experiencing.
Dean knew that Sam wasn't his brother, but for some reason he couldn't accept it. Sam needed him to accept it so they could figure out how to fix everything.
"What happened?" Sam asked. "You said you used to be a hunter? When was that? How long ago?"
Dean didn't respond right away. He flipped the power on the windshield wipers up a notch to match the steady rain. They had completely cleared the city and were traveling south. Sam knew that they had a good hour before they reached their destination. Now was as good as any time to talk.
"I started hunting a couple years out of high school," Dean finally said. "After I'd been working at the shop for a bit." He glanced at Sam. "You know, the family business."
Sam said nothing.
"Mom thought it was a waste," Dean continued. "Dad didn't think so. Hell, it was all Mom's idea to have us trained in the first place."
Sam frowned. "Really?"
"Yeah. She was always afraid somethin' was gonna happen, somethin' was gonna break in. She taught us some lore and some moves, and had Dad break out some of his training from the Marines."
The reasoning made sense. Sam figured if his mom had stayed alive parts of her past would eventually catch up to her. She'd want her sons to be prepared. Unless she knew something was going to happen. She could have learned about Azazel. There were so many possibilities.
"I went to college."
Sam had been dreading asking this question since he'd first seen her picture on his desk. Now was the time to ask it; he knew he wouldn't have another chance.
"What happened my senior year?"
Dean fell silent. That told Sam all he needed to know.
"How?" But Sam already knew the answer.
"Uh…fire," Dean said quietly.
Sam looked away and clenched his jaw. The rain was coming down hard and fast; he saw the lightning fork the sky in the distance.
He had been a coward. He'd never even tried to avenge her death.
"Yellow Eyes," Sam muttered.
From the corner of his eye, he saw Dean stiffen. His brother's recognition at the name drew him from his rumination. Sam turned and frowned.
"You know Yellow Eyes?" Then it dawned on Sam. "You fought him."
"I don't wanna talk about it."
Sam couldn't imagine Dean facing Azazel. Dean looked like he could barely work a gun.
"Did you kill him?"
"I said I didn't want to talk about it."
"But this could be important."
"How?" Dean shot him an aggravated look. "How is that gonna fix your head?"
"I'm not a head case, Dean. In my memories, Mom died in a fire. Jessica died the same way. Dad taught us everything he knew. We're hunters. This is what we do."
"You've really gone off the reserva--"
"Don't," Sam warned.
Dean muttered something under his breath that Sam couldn't hear. Sam thought maybe Dean was just going to drop the conversation, but when he glanced to his left, he could see the frustration building in his face as his temple started to throb.
"All right, so what does anything of this prove, huh? That you'd want to make our lives a living hell? 'Cause that's sure what it sounds like."
"Our lives are hell."
Dean shook his head. "Right. You're just freakin' Alice jumping through the Looking Glass."
Sam sat straighter. "What did you say?"
Dean blinked. "What?"
"Looking Glass." Sam mulled over the words. He had already considered the idea of an alternate world, one made from divergent points in his past. Different choices, different outcomes. He had never taken the idea too seriously; it seemed too simple, too easy. Yet, even he couldn't ignore all the lore on mirrors. Maybe he'd been approaching this all wrong.
What if the mirror wasn't used for divination? What if people had been using the Mirror of Solomon to look at different realities to assist in their own decision-making?
Sam had a sudden sinking feeling in his stomach.
"I think I traveled to another reality."
He saw Dean stealing worried glances between his focus on the road. "Alternate realties? Come on, dude."
"I don't get how that works as a seal. That doesn't make any sense."
Unless they were trying to get rid of him. The demons wanted him gone. He must be getting close to Lilith.
"You're serious?" Dean asked.
"I don't know," Sam admitted. "I don't know what's happening, but it's as good a theory as any."
"So, if you're some other…" Dean blew through his lips and rolled his eyes, "Sam, then where the hell's my brother?"
The rush of anxiety was upon Sam again. If he'd switched places with his doppelganger, Dean and his other self could be in serious trouble. This world's Sam wouldn't be prepared to take on a demon, and if he survived his encounter with it, he'd have to help Dean immediately. His heart sank. What mess had he left in his own world?
Sam turned to Dean. "Would I be able to take on a demon?"
Sam nodded. "In all the training Mom and Dad gave us, would I have been able to fight a demon?"
"What the hell is there to fight? You get away from those things as fast as you can, unless you got the--"
"The Colt," Sam finished for him. So, Dean did know about the Colt.
Dean averted his gaze and muttered to himself again. "You're so damn secretive how am I supposed to know? I only see you at holidays."
It bothered him that in this place, he and Dean had drifted, but he supposed if they had no one single goal, if they had lived different lives, distance was bound to happen. Even now, in his own life, he and Dean had drifted, and he didn't know to bring them back. He sometimes thought it had been just a passing fancy. Maybe this was who they really were -- strangers.
Perhaps Dean was thinking the same thing, but that wasn't what made the fear spark in his eyes.
"Wait. You were fighting a demon when this poofy switch happened?" He swallowed hard. "But I'm a hunter, right? In…wherever?"
Images of Dean on the cold antique floor dead in a pool of his own blood assaulted him. He couldn't tell this Dean. He just couldn't.
"If I'm not hallucinating or stuck in some crazy dream, then there's a good chance your brother is stuck in a situation way over his head. We need to find that mirror. The sooner we do, the sooner you can get your real brother back."
Dean's face was puckered with thought, filled with anxiety, concern, and fear. Sam could tell he was considering Sam's theory more seriously than he had done before. Slowly, he nodded, and Sam caught a noticeable shift in his eyes, in his tone. Sam wasn't sure what it was, but it seemed like a giant weight had been lifted off Dean's shoulders.
He turned to Sam. "What do I got to do?"