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][Chapter 7][Chapter 8][Chapter 9]
Sam and Dean jumped out of the car and ran to the trunk. Around them, the wind howled like a dying beast, its agonizing screams piercing the sky, their minds, their very souls, in sharp waves. Sam shivered as he withdrew a shotgun, holy water, and salt. Dean did the same, though considerably slower. Sam frowned when he noticed Dean pull out a small water pistol.
"My kid's," he explained.
He dumped as much holy water as he could inside the little tank. Sam raised his eyebrows, impressed at the action, and wondered why he hadn't thought of it before.
Dean grabbed a shotgun and his side arm, along with some salt. When they were finished, Sam slammed the trunk.
He felt a prickle on his neck.
There was an electric charge to the air. It permeated everything, from the tops of the buildings to the trees, down to the top of his head to the soles of his feet. The static built to a suffocating pressure that squeezed so hard that he could barely breathe. He gasped for air, as did Dean, before it finally burst with a loud bang.
Sam and Dean looked up.
The sky had cracked, much like the road a few towns back, a large crevasse splitting the air in two. Inside, there was a dark glow, blood red, and it throbbed toward the opening.
Sam didn't think they wanted to stick around to see this.
"Go!" he shouted.
The two of them broke into a run. The warehouse loomed ahead. Sam charged down the street towards the final intersection before the docks. He heard Dean huffing and puffing behind him.
The sky exploded.
Sam heard Dean call out as a fireball the size of a car sailed through the air and struck a house somewhere behind them. There were screams to their left and screams to their right. People fled the burning buildings while others, mad with fear, ran into the streets, their faces and arms covered with pulsating sores and blisters.
"Help me!" one screamed. "Have mercy!"
Behind him, he heard Dean's footfalls start to slow. When he glanced back, he saw Dean turning towards the people. They didn't have time. He reached back and grabbed Dean, pulling him forward.
"Later," he told him.
Fire rained all around them. The heat became so intense it melted away some of the blackness, baking the pavement to the point Sam felt the soles of his loafers were melting.
He pressed on despite the pain.
Whispers floated through the air like feathers, dancing and dancing around them until they built into a cacophony of shrill laughter.
Dark murmurs cascaded over them. A shot. A crash.
A man stood before him, his eyes as black as the cloud that covered the city. He heard Dean's breath hitch.
"Ah, Sammy. Bringer of the Apocalypse. What would your friends say now?"
Sam could take him. Sam could destroy this demon right now. Should he risk it with Dean standing right behind him?
"I watched your brother die." He flashed a toothy grin. "I watched him beg for mercy. Then I ripped out his heart and…" His chin was bloody.
Sam reached out his hand to strike him. The demon recoiled with pain, though not from anything Sam had done. He frowned, just for a second, before he realized the demon's skin was smoking.
Dean sent another stream of holy water in his eyes.
Sam took the opportunity to act. He took his salt, and between the claps of thunder-fire around them, he doused the demon with it.
He jerked and convulsed, the holy water and salt burning and boiling his skin.
Sam grabbed Dean's arm and steered him away. The demon would rebound any minute, and they needed to be as far from it as possible.
"Is that the demon you were fighting?" Dean asked breathlessly as they started to run again.
"I think so."
"It followed you?"
If the demon had followed him into this mirror world, he wondered if it had come alone. He knew that was unlikely, and started to fear just how many of its friends it had brought along for the ride.
Sam broke through the intersection. The wind sheared the warehouse ahead, and he darted to the right to avoid a chunk of falling rock.
The water on the edge of the dock, red and hot, ate away at the wood frame.
Then it started to rain again. A hot, searing rain.
"God, is that blood?" he heard Dean's frightened voice call behind him.
Sam didn't answer. The blood-rain pelted his skin. Each drop was like acid. He tried not to concentrate on the pinpricks of pain that dotted his body. He needed to make it to the mirror.
The wind surged, the rain came down like knives. Sam heard a new battlement of screams, cars flying, buildings crumbling, and then nothing but bitter silence of death. The howling wind started anew.
The door. He saw the door. Sam sprinted head, slamming onto the surface of the metal door. He fumbled for the handle and jerked it open. He hammered down a set of steps, blocking out the roar of the hurricane-force winds behind him.
Dean, breathless and heaving, stumbled into the building. He reached back to close the door and nearly fell as the door was ripped from its hinges.
"Never mind!" Sam called.
Sam broke into a run through the warehouse's main floor. Packed boxes, stories high, towered over him, while other, smaller ones dotted the floor. He stopped in the middle and searched the huge inventory. There was no way he could find a packaged mirror in all of this.
Dean skidded to a halt behind him. When Sam glanced back at him, he noticed Dean was as soaked with blood as he was. His hair was plastered to his face from the hot sticky rain. He was still panting, but looked strong enough to keep going.
"Where is it?" he asked between inhaling gasps of air.
"I don't know."
"You don't know?" Dean gulped and wiped his forehead. "Damn it, Sam."
He scanned the boxes again. The mirror could be anywhere.
Sam breathed out. Think. Where would be the best place to store an antique mirror?
As he thought, Sam noticed a distinct rattle echo through the warehouse. It wasn't a rattle caused by the billowing wind that ravaged the non-existent doorway into the warehouse. This was an inner rumble, an angry power that surged within the warehouse itself.
Sam stiffened. The boxes started to shake.
Suddenly, one of the large boxes launched itself at the two of them. Sam pushed Dean behind one of the other boxes and held on tight, cringing as the machinery inside crushed a nearby wooden table.
Before Sam had a chance to gather himself, boxes were flying like bullets across the room. He and Dean needed to get out of here before they were flattened.
Sam's eyes brightened as he noticed a small door across the room. In front of the open stairwell stood Castiel. His intense gaze found Sam and never wavered.
Dean leaned over Sam's shoulder. "Who's the dude in the trench coat?"
Sam sighed with relief. "It's Castiel."
As Castiel's form disappeared down the stairs, Sam darted across the room, through the sailing boxes, making sure Dean was in tow. They broke into a jog after Castiel. When they hit the stairs, Sam led Dean down to the next floor of the warehouse.
Down in the basement, it was much darker. There was a heavy, musty smell to the air, and the boxes here were smaller and more compact. Carefully, Sam started to navigate through the boxes, looking for one that might be the right shape for transporting a mirror.
"Cas?" he asked. He could sure use the angel's help right now. If he could just give them more than a sign and actually engage them. "Castiel?"
Sam started tearing through the boxes with his pocketknife. He needed to find it. The world rumbled and groaned outside. They were running out of time.
Somewhere in the distance he heard Dean. "Mirror, mirror on the wall…"
His frustration growing, Sam ripped through more and more boxes not caring as the packaging tore and mangled his hands. Nothing. Just more furniture.
He let out a frustrated sigh. The demon would be upon them at any time, if he wasn't here already. They couldn't delay anymore. He needed to find this damn mirror.
There was a flicker of light. Sam turned his head and saw Castiel standing down a long corridor.
He started down the path until he reached the end. When he reached out to touch Castiel, he fluttered into nothing.
His outrage at the angel didn't have a chance to surface. Behind him stood a long, slender package.
Sam felt his heart skip a beat. Without another thought, he ripped the box open.
The mirror. The very same mirror that had started this mess.
Within seconds, Dean was by his side. The two of them stared at the mirror. Sam heard Dean mutter in disappointment.
"I thought it would be…bigger or something," Dean mumbled.
Sam traced his fingers over the ancient words carved into the mirror's edge. He looked to the curved glass and his eyes widened.
It was him. But not him. His movements seemed more fluid, easier, as if he walked with a different kind of purpose, one Sam never had. His other self had a smoother face, fuller and bright, not saddled with the burdens that Sam carried every day. He looked out of place in the clothes he wore -- Sam's clothes -- as he searched the room. When he glanced up at the mirror, he jerked.
Their eyes met.
Immediately, the other Sam called out, though no sound came, shouting to something out of the mirror's view.
Sam turned to Dean. "Do you see it?"
Dean peered into the mirror. "I see your ugly mug."
Sam ignored him and smiled. "No, I see him. I see your brother."
That mention of his brother caused Dean to push Sam out of the way. He searched the inside of the mirror, his eyes flickering with desperation. After a moment, the disappointment took over and he slumped his shoulders.
"I don't see him."
"Maybe because I'm the one who traveled, I'm the only one that can see through the portal." Sam felt his excitement rise. "This means I was right. This means that when we reactivate the mirror, we can both go home."
Dean's face brightened with newfound hope. "Will that make all this go away?"
Sam didn't know what to say, though he knew it was unlikely. He didn't want to leave them this way. Maybe he and Dean could find something to help. Maybe Ruby knew something he didn't. Maybe at least the demons would follow him back through the mirror. He wished he knew.
Dean must have sensed his doubts.
"Hurry up, then," he muttered. "Get my brother back so we can get back to our family." Dean ran a nervous hand through his hair "God, I hope Mom and Dad are all right."
Sam didn't want to think about them. He couldn't stand for them to die all over again.
"I'll need just a small sample of blood," Sam said, hoping that his definition of small sufficed.
Dean nodded and rolled his sleeve higher. "Let's get it--"
Dean flew backwards. Sam barely had time to react as he watched his brother cruise through the air and hit the opposite wall with a hard thud.
The demon flung out his hand toward Sam, but nothing but a whoosh of air hit him. Sam smiled. "You didn't think that would actually work on me, did you?"
The demon chuckled. "It was worth a try. Besides, I'm more interested in keeping bro's bloody hands off that mirror, thanks."
Dean squirmed against the wall, struggling against the pressure that kept him in place. Sam knew that no matter how hard he tried, he wasn't going anywhere.
But he was out of the way which would make this all the easier.
Sam raised his hand and smiled at the demon. "You followed me through the mirror, but now you won't be following anyone else again."
"Too late," the demon said with a gleam in his black eyes. "The end is here. Thanks to you, I bypassed the seals quite nicely."
A quiver of doubt rippled through Sam. "Bypassed the seals?"
"Oh come, come. You didn't think all of this was the real Armageddon, did you?"
Sam kept his hand poised for the attack, but his doubts were throwing him off center. There was a new uneasiness growing inside of him, one that he knew signaled something far, far worse than what he'd been expecting.
The demon laughed. "You did! Oh, Sammy, Sammy. And here I thought Dean was the stupid one."
"Shut up!" Dean yelled from the back. "Get away from him!" He grunted as he struggled, but the demon paid him no mind.
"Opening the seals releases Lucifer," the demon told him. "You didn't think we didn't have a backup in case that didn't happen, did you?"
Sam's frown deepened. "But Lucifer."
"Missing this party. Ever stop to think not all of us want the boss man back? We like it as it is. We like our free reign. This isn't about seals, boy. This is all about fast-forwarding to the good stuff. Call it the Cliff Notes version, if you will."
Sam set his jaw. "What good does it do you to destroy another world?"
The demon laughed again. "Another world? These places…these spaces. They are connected. This is just the preview for the show about to happen back home." His eyes glistened. "Too bad you won't get to see it. Looks like you and your demon bitch Ruby messed up this time."
Ruby had known this was going to happen. She had sent him to stop it. She just hadn't told him why.
"I'm going to--"
"What? Use your powers and kill me? You're not going home without Tweedle Dumb's blood."
Dean's face buckled. "Powers?"
Sam shifted uncomfortably. He didn't want Dean to see this. He didn't want Dean to know this. The demon took a threatening step closer to Sam.
Dean pounded his head against the wall. "Get away from him, you sonovabitch!"
Sam jerked his hand forward and saw the demon choke. Smoke sputtered from the corners of its mouth as the host body shook in fits.
Through the corner of eye, Sam saw Dean's face turn ghostly white, the disgust, fear, and disappointment.
Sam would make it up to him. He promised he would.
The demon let out a howl as he struggled against Sam's command. Then, he did something Sam didn't expect.
He snapped his fingers.
Dean's head snapped to the side with an audible pop and his body went limp.
Sam felt his heart stop and he lowered his hand. "NO!"
With of a burst of rage, Sam curled his fingers and squeezed. The demon sputtered and cried for mercy, but it was over. He lit up in a fiery explosion. The host body, long dead, collapsed into a heap on the floor.
Sam was already at Dean's side. He scooped up his body propping him up from underneath his arms. Dean's back sunk into Sam's chest, his broken neck unable to hold the weight of his head. It flopped to the side. Sam squeezed his eyes shut unable to stare into his vacant gaze.
Sam didn't stir. The look of betrayal and loathing was still etched into Dean's face. The last thing he ever thought was that Sam was a freak, a monster.
The very last thing.
He opened his eyes to find Castiel standing over them.
Sam could barely contain his anger. He had done nothing to help Dean, just like he had been useless in their battle against Alastair.
"You coward," Sam muttered, his voice close to a snarl. "You were here, and you didn't help. You didn't help!"
An unreadable emotion flickered over Castiel's face. If he was hurt by the accusation or not, Sam could never tell.
"I had difficulty passing over the bridge between this place and your world," Castiel told him. "I am stretched as it is. We have little time."
"Fix it," Sam ordered. "Fix it now."
"You need to cut his body and use the blood to touch the mirror."
Sam stared at him. "You want me to mutilate my dead brother's body?"
"He is not your brother."
Sam couldn't believe what he was hearing. He wasn't about to accept this. He'd promised Dean he would see his brother again. He promised him he'd be reunited with his family.
"It doesn't matter."
"It does. This world is ending. Your world is feeling the pull from this one's destruction. You must go back."
"Bring him back," Sam said, ignoring Castiel's commands. "Bring him back to life. I know you can."
Castiel looked away.
A new kind of terror gripped Sam. "What aren't you telling me?"
"You wouldn't understand."
"Make me understand."
"Your mind can't comprehend the majesty of God's wonder."
Sam gritted his teeth. "Try me."
Castiel let out a heavy sigh. "Occasionally, there are pockets that form in the universe. These pockets, alternate dimensions or realities, act like bubbles that expand from the main thread of space and time." He gave Sam a pointed look. "They aren't meant to be."
Sam clutched Dean's dead body to his chest. "I created one of these pockets."
He inclined his head. "A mix of your power and an innocent man's blood."
"Dean's not innocent."
Castiel's gaze remained intense. "You know what I mean."
Sam felt his cheeks flush with anger and shame. Outside, he heard the renewed yells and screams of people as they ran from the horrors on the streets. The boiling waters pounded the sides of the warehouse.
"There isn't much time," Castiel told him. "This pocket has become unstable. You must go back."
"Bring Dean back to life. Let him live with his family. Give these people a chance to fight."
"You don't understand."
Sam gripped Dean's body harder.
"The universe cannot sustain more than one thread of time and space. It is not the Lord's way. This pocket of time was doomed the moment you created it."
"So, you're telling me as soon as I go back, this place won't exist anymore."
Castiel gave a solemn nod. "Yes."
Die. They were all going to die. Dean's wife, his kids, his parents, his other self. They would all snap out of existence.
"These pockets act like a cancer. They inevitably collapse, but if they remain linked to the whole for too long, the universe cannot take the strain. Your world will die just as this one." Castiel stepped forward, his eyes lucid and pained. "Many pockets have formed before, but none with this intensity. They die quietly, but this one is diseased." Castiel's gaze bore into Sam, and he felt a crawling feeling in his blood. His voice had lingered on that last word in a way that made Sam sick. "You must sever the link," he said.
Sam considered Castiel's words. He was asking him to destroy a whole world to save his own. Years ago, he would have fought with all his might against something like this. He would have fought to find another way. Now, he was older and wiser. He knew much more than his ignorant self had just two years ago. But knowing didn't make it any easier.
"What about their souls?" Sam asked. "They must have souls. What happens to these people?"
"These are siphoned souls. They broke from their main souls when you created this pocket. As they die and as this world collapses, they shall return to where they belong." He cocked his head and looked at Dean's limp body. "As for those that never lived, their energy will return to Heaven."
"What about those that have died?"
"Their splintered souls will return to wherever they were before."
Sam didn't want to think he could have just damned half of a population to Hell. Suddenly, images of multiple Heavens and Hells, and other dark places populated his mind.
It was as if Castiel could see into his thoughts. "Only the earthly domain is affected." He stole a troubled glance back to the mirror before turning back to Sam. "There is only one Heaven, one Hell, and its supreme beings are unaffected. Your demon blood made it much easier for higher order demons to slip across the bridge and more difficult for my kind."
There was an apology somewhere in there. Sam knew it. But he didn't care.
"What about Dean?" he asked, uneasy that Castiel kept sneaking glances back to the mirror and down to Dean's body.
"Your brother's blood is serving as the link between worlds, powered by your demon abilities." Castiel's face grew dark. "His soul has been siphoned more than is natural for the time pockets. You must go back now."
Sam understood what Castiel meant. Swallowing down his grief, he took out his knife and sliced Dean's arm.
The blood poured onto his hands. As he scooped up the pooling blood, he silently apologized to Dean. He wouldn't be reunited with his family, and he would never have a proper burial. He eased Dean's body onto the ground with his free hand and crossed Dean's arms over his chest. He could at least give him some dignity in death.
Sam stood and straightened his back. Without another word, he marched down the corridor to the mirror opposite him.
His other self's horror stricken face glared back at him. He pounded against the mirror, his face contorted in rage. The dark countenance gave Sam a shiver. He vaguely wondered if this was the man that Dean, Bobby, and everyone else saw every day.
He kept walking, managing to keep himself both calm and collected. He stopped in front of the mirror. His other self continued to bang on the mirror, his eyes hard from his anger and grief. He had seen it all happen. The look in his eyes told Sam everything.
Sam peered beyond his other self. To his relief, he found Dean seated on one of the boxes behind him. But that relief was short-lived. He looked deathly pale, his head bowled over, as he grabbed the edges of the box for support.
It was time for this to be over.
Sam took his blood-filled hand and wiped it across the edges of the mirror, covering each angel's name. He felt a prickle underneath his touch, yet the images on the other side didn't sway, vanish, or seem affected by his moves.
He turned his head over his shoulder to seek Castiel's advice, but the angel was already gone. Sam afforded one last look at the dead body of his brother.
He had seen his brother die too many times over the past few years. He had seen enough suffering in the eyes of the people they saved every day. He would not allow this to go on.
With his outstretched hand, he focused on the mirror and allowed the chilling power to surge through him. After a moment of nothing, of emptiness, he felt suction, and he careened forward.
He fell into snowy whiteness.
It was over in an instant.
Sam was hurdled through the mirror and rolled into a set of dusty half-opened boxes on the other side of the room. He winced as an antique shotgun whacked him in the leg. He pushed the boxes off and jumped to his feet, his gaze immediately locking onto the Mirror of Solomon.
Only now, it was only his own reflection staring back.
Turning his back on the mirror, he went to Dean. Some color had returned to his white face, but he still seemed dazed, as if he would pass out at any moment.
Then Sam saw the blood soaking through his jeans where the demon had cut him. Sam ripped off a piece of his dress shirt and pressed it down on the blood soaked area.
"Stay still," Sam told him. He made a face. "You shouldn't even be on your feet."
For the first time since he came back, Dean's head bobbed up. "Sam?"
"Yeah, I'm here."
Dean eyed him suspiciously. There was a biting coldness in Dean's eyes, one more acute than when he'd left.
Sam pushed away the resulting ache at seeing the distance in Dean's eyes. "I'm back."
Dean didn't reply. The cold still chilled his face, and for a moment Sam thought he saw resentment linger in his gaze. Whatever hurt Dean felt quickly buried itself from view, leaving just physical pain and confusion. He winced. "Where's Cas?"
Sam frowned upon hearing Castiel's name. "He was here?"
"He kept bopping in and out." Dean muttered. "Talking like Rod Sterling."
Castiel claimed he'd been stretched. Sam started to wonder just how stretched he had been.
"Come on," Sam said, slinging one of Dean's arms over his shoulders. He heaved his brother's weighted body off the box. "We have to get out of here."
Dean made a non-committal grunt, but allowed Sam to guide him toward the steps. One by one, they worked up to the top floor. Dean's limp slowed them down; Sam had to keep dragging him up the stairs.
When they reached the top, Sam was surprised to find Castiel waiting for them. "I have held off the law enforcement to allow for you to leave." He glanced at the staircase. "I will take care of the mirror."
"Thanks, Cas," Dean said as they passed by him.
Castiel nodded to Dean, but lingered long enough to give Sam a significant look. Sam turned away.
"What happened while I was gone?" he asked, helping Dean toward the exit.
"Long story, man. Let's just say you're not exactly a barrel of laughs."
Sam contemplated what the last few days must have been like for Dean, stuck with a very different version of himself. He couldn't even come up with a suitable scenario. He had branched so far from that life over the years that he couldn't even fathom what it must have been like to be another person, a lawyer, even if had experienced a taste of it for the past few days.
Dean's consciousness seemed to be slipping again. Sam hoisted him up and gave him a shake, willing Dean to stay focused enough to get back to the Impala. He wasn't sure how long Dean had been out on his injured leg, or how much treatment he had received in his absence. All he knew was that they both needed some rest if they were to renew their pursuit of Lilith and stop the seals from being broken.
He and Dean had a lot to talk about. But somehow, he didn't think that when they did come to talk face to face, they would accomplish much at all. That seemed the standard these days.
With a grunt, Sam pushed open the door. Ahead, the Impala was parked by the side of the road in a different spot than he remembered. He crossed the street and helped ease Dean into the passenger side seat. Once he was secure, Sam jumped into the driver's seat and took off toward the motel, content to leave the antique shop far, far behind.