A/N: A huge thank you for the reviews. They inspire me to keep going even while hopelessly searching for work. Unemployment sucks.
Sometimes, Dean wonders how this became his life.
Actually, no, not sometimes.
Lately- this is all he wonders about. He’s never been a bad guy, he’s never been evil- except for those pesky ten years in hell, after thirty years which he’s spent screaming himself hoarse while Alastair played peek-a-boo with his innards. He spent a year feeling so guilty about that that it made him sick to look at his reflection. He spent a year agonizing about his lifetime in hell and his little brother had hooked up with a demon, became a junkie.
Dean is also very, very aware of the fact that his family started the apocalypse. That it wasn’t even Dean and Sam that did it, really, it was all those Campbell generations of hunters bred into their genes and that Winchester stubbornness and inability to let go
If Mary hadn’t made that deal with a demon- then she probably would have lived. If John had let Mary go, like a normal sane
father would- then none of this shit would have gone down. Dean and Sam would have grown up in a normal, if slightly battered by circumstances family- Sam would have become a hotshot lawyer and Dean would have opened up a garage.
There’s a barrage of ‘what-if’s’ running through Dean’s mind.
None of that though really relates to the current situation going on beside him. Or, to be more precise, behind him.
“Ninety nine bottles of beer on the wall!” Dawn sings out, loud and horrifyingly off-key as she tries swaying sideways from where she’s sandwiched between Faith and Buffy in the back of the Impala. “Ninety nine bottles of beer! You take one down, you pass it around, ninety eight bottles of beer on the wall!” she gives a long, scratchy sounding wail on the last ‘wall’.
Sam’s head is practically sticking out of the window, in his bed to get away from the horrible noises in the car- a mixture of Def Leppard and an ex-angel’s out of tune wailing.
For the last hour and a half, ever since they got into the car, Dean and Dawn have been engaged in this futilely horrible contest- over whose music, and if Dawn’s singing can even be called that, can outlast the other’s.
It all started because he refused to turn down his music while Dawn claimed to have a headache. The louder he turned up his tapes, the louder her shrieking, excuse him- singing, had gotten. Sam had begged him to stop, Buffy had joined in after unsuccessfully appealing to her sister. None of that had worked until Faith leaned forward and gave Dean the most painful charleyhorse of his life, thereby almost making him swerve off the road while he yelped in pain.
Dawn’s started singing again since he popped in the Def Leppard tape and Dean can see that everyone around them is getting more agitated. He can’t help it though. It’s his
car, his music. He hasn’t had someone try and bitch about his music tastes since Sam had gone all dark-side and the only thing between them was the heavy silence full of tense accusations never aired.
Ahem. Never mind about that.
They’re about two hours away from Bobby’s and Dean just has to screw his head on tight and make sure they get there all in one piece. Or relatively so. Even though the three moochers in the back could have conceivably gone with the angels, except Dean is perfectly aware of what would happen if three strangers had shown up with Castiel on Bobby’s front porch without the Winchesters playing buffer.
Bobby has a complicated relationship towards Castiel. On the one hand, Cas had raised Dean from hell. On the other hand, Cas is intrinsically non-human, he was a part of the dickhead brigade. He’s played a huge part in the apocalypse, and seeing how Bobby hadn’t helped raise him- he makes a much better target for Bobby’s dislike than his unofficially adopted sons.
“I’m hungry,” Buffy says from the back.
Dean shoots an annoyed glare at her through the rear-view mirror and almost curses himself. There’s still something about her that pulls
at him. In the light of day, her eyes are brighter- almost emerald like. The sharpness of her features is more defined, more visible.
“We’ll be there soon,” Dean glances away and takes the exit to his left. “You can hold it.”
“I don’t think you understand,” Buffy’s voice turns vaguely threatening, “I haven’t eaten since yesterday. You probably don’t want to see me go hungry.” She pauses “I turn violent
when I’m hungry.”
“Princess,” Dean says with a vicious twist of his lips, “I don’t care.”
There’s an ominous silence in the back.
Dean’s a little freaked out, plus he knows
that shit goes wrong around these women when they quiet down. He’s pretty sure that he was tied up and drugged during a lull in conversation like the one they’re having.
Having remembered that unfortunate experience, it’s entirely understandable that Dean twitches from the sense memory of being manhandled like a rag doll and looks at the rear view mirror. He almost jolts
in his seat when he sees that all three of them have their eyes trained on his gaze. And all three look indescribably smug.
Dawn’s lips curl into a decidedly evil smile, making something cold unfurl in Dean’s stomach. The look on her face worries him.
“Yo, I'll tell you what I want, what I really really want. So tell me what you want, what you really really want,,” Dawn sings progressively louder and exchanges a gleeful look with her sister.
“I'll tell you what I want, what I really really want. So tell me what you want, what you really really want,” Buffy picks up with an unrepentant grin and slings an arm around Dawn.
“I wanna, I wanna, I wanna, I wanna, I wanna really really really wanna zigazig ha,” Faith finishes off with a wicked grin off her own.
Dean feels his temple throb with the hate
he’s feeling now.
Sam, the utter bastard that he is, is actually giggling
, trying to unsuccessfully stifle the snickers in his coat as he keeps his gaze firmly trained away from Dean.
“If you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my friends!” they finish off in a sliding crescendo of horribly over-exaggerated howling.
Buffy stares at him and maybe Dean should keep his eyes on the road, keep his attention in front of him but her eyes are tired and her smile is sharp as she repeats her earlier admission. “I’m hungry, Dean,” she says and grins almost impishly, “feed me.”
Dawn pipes up from beside her, "Yeah Dean." She coughs slyly, "I used to be a big
fan of the Spice Girls. Huge."
There is no choice. Not really.
They end up settling into a Denny’s an hour and a half away from Bobby.
Dean would probably never admit this even under threat, but he’s sort of glad that they stopped. He needed to get out of the car just as much as they did.
Sam orders his usual salad along with some lean turkey- the big girl and settles back to wait.
Dean honestly doesn’t know how his brother ended up at his gigantor size with the way he feeds himself.
Dean orders a Western Burger along with an extra-large order of fries and a coke. He feels pretty manly about himself until he hears the others' orders.
Faith orders the Prime Rib Philly melt, almost salivating as she clutches the menu to her chest and two orders of hash browns with a diet coke. And a salad, she adds, because she needs her vitamins.
Buffy orders a Mushroom Swiss Burger, onion rings, fries and broccoli cheddar soup. She looks up at his choked sound of incredulity at the amount of food she’s requested once she finishes her order. “What?” the tiny five foot four blonde mutters, looking defensive, “I have a fast metabolism.”
Dean just raises his eyebrows and glances over at Faith who he had personally seen demolish two orders of buffalo wings the night they met. At the time, he just thought she must have been really hungry. Seeing her order now, he’s not so sure.
“I just like to eat,” Faith grins brightly at him and shoots a leer over in Sam’s direction, “anything
“Oh, ew!” Dean exclaims and tries to kick at her kneecap. She must have some supernatural instincts or ESP because she kicks him first, somehow avoiding his foot and managing to hit his shin-bone in exactly
the worst place. “Ow, goddamnit!” he grouses and shoots a dark look over at her.
Sam’s blushing at his side though, and Dean resolves to talk to his brother as soon as he gets him alone. Chuck’s words haven’t stopped ringing through his mind, and though Dean may sort of be pissed at his younger sibling, he’d never willingly let him go into danger.
Dawn turns out to have ordered only a soup with extra garlic bread and she gives him a strange look as he stares at her demurely eating her food while her seatmates proceed to demolish their own food.
“What?” Dawn raises an eyebrow.
“Nothing,” Dean shakes his head and grins, “I just thought the three of you might have been sharing a tape-worm.” He nods over at Faith and Buffy who look completely engrossed in their food. “Now I know that it’s just the two of them.”
“Hmm,” Dawn nods sagely, “Buffy and Faith have always been weird about their food.” She beams at him, “But back home, we had a lot
of girls like that.”
“Hmm,” Dean goes back to his own food, putting that information into the little mental box he’s kept full of little tidbits about their new allies. He’s still not too sure about their status and even though Gabriel trusts them, Cas was still skittish around them back in the motel. That has to mean something.
They eat and leave without further incident, save for that minor snafu when a biker tries to grab Dawn’s ass near the door and she had almost dislocates his shoulder.
Dean is very relieved about the idea of seeing Cas and Bobby again. He’s been stuck with the unknown element for too long, and though once upon a time he would have been able to commiserate with Sammy- now he knows better.
Faith falls asleep on Dawn’s shoulder ten minutes after driving off.
The lake is peaceful, calm. The trees surrounding it scent the air lightly, giving it a minty sort of tang. The sun isn’t too bright, warming the ground softly and glancing off the water’s reflection with a gentleness that never could have been found in nature.
Faith is tensed, sitting on the wooden dock with her feet submerged in the water. She’s dreaming. She has to be. She can still feel the earlier meal sitting in her stomach.
And if she’s currently dreaming, that means that brother dearest is probably lurking somewhere around here. Faith wonders vaguely whether Lucifer ever learned to cackle and rub his hands together in fiendish glee. Frankly, she can't really picture him as anything but the beautiful being who used to bare his soul to her on the edge of Heaven while they looked out on their Father's creation.
An emptiness inside her, blunt and howling is sharper than she’s felt it since coming to this dimension. It’s not the loss of her grace. It’s the loss of something else. Someone else.
Faith takes a deep breath and exhales, trying to dispel the feeling with some of the mediation techniques she’s learned over the years. She decides to submerge her feet into the clear blue of the lake as a means of distraction. It doesn’t work.
“How can you miss someone you’ve never known?” Faith wiggles her toes in the water, feeling the cool liquid splash against her skin.
A weight settles beside her, making the dock creak as the wood bends as if for the first time.
She doesn’t turn around. No need to. She knows perfectly well who this is. Even without her grace, she can still feel him, boiling in her blood and thrumming in her bones. He’s her beginning, he will probably be her ending.
“You’ve always known me,” he says, voice soft and comforting as he leans forward and sticks his hand into the water. It drips onto his jeans, faint splatters of darkness blooming abruptly against the light blue background of his casual work jeans.
Faith doesn’t want to look up, look at him, doesn’t want to see the vessel that her brother has chosen. Though if the jeans are of any indication, then the poor shmuck whose body Lucifer is wearing like a prom suit was probably inordinately fond of flannel.
“I don’t remember you being this human,” Lucifer comments as he stares at his hand, holding it against the sun’s rays.
The water runs down to his arm in tiny rivulets. Clear, though they really shouldn't be.
He's probably watching the blood pump through his veins, or whatever it is he does for kicks nowadays between planning all the raging apocalypse action.
“Two thousand years away from home and twenty five as a human will do that for you,” Faith comments lightly, watching the blonde hairs on Lucifer’s forearm.
He’s blonde then. She always kind of thought he would be. Lucifer was the Light Bringer, Heaven’s lightning, their Father’s golden child.
“Why did you leave?” he whispers and his words breathe fire against her skin.
“I couldn’t stay,” Faith shrugs through the lump in her throat, playing that bravado for all it’s worth, “I couldn’t watch you and big brother pull each other apart.”
The fire burns a little hotter setting off sparks of smoke and acrid explosions on her tongue. Lucifer always did
have a temper.
“Why did you leave me
?” the words roll through her mind, making her head hurt and her brain wilt a little under the power behind his voice.
The sun shines brightly on the lake and the trees smell like summer-time and barbecues. Her feet are still under the water of the lake and the deck under her hands is smooth, polished almost.
“Look at me,” Lucifer commands her and Faith does as he asks. She’s never been able to ignore him. Never him.
The man that her brother is occupying is almost ordinary looking, nothing about him would stand out in a bar. Yet Lucifer’s essence, his terrible luminescence and his beauty, undiminished even after millennia in Hell, shines through.
He repeats his question and Faith notices that he’s holding her wrist, gripping it tightly in his hand, tight enough that she shockingly registers the bones creaking together. Groaning under the assault.
How did she not notice this?
“Because I couldn’t watch Michael kill you,” Faith answers as honestly as she can, because she knows this temper of his. Knows the rage that’s blazing in his blue eyes. The taste of smoke intensifies as Lucifer’s lips curl into a smile, bitter and terrible it eats at her and even after all this time- Faith wants to comfort him.
Lucifer is going to burn the world to cinders and Raguel, ever faithful, wants to soothe his hurts.
He gives a sharp pull at her wrist and leans forward, his breath urgent and hot against her ear as he tells her that her sword was hidden by Zachariah. Though the smarmy upstart doesn’t know exactly who it belongs to, only knows that it’s valuable. Lucifer’s words. Not hers.
His lips are dry, chapped as he presses a small kiss on her earlobe, making the blood in her veins sing as she tries to stumble away from him.
Lucifer smiles and he is beauty and lies and ugly revelations as he dives into the lake, executing a beautiful swan dive as he pulls her down with him.
It may be a metaphor for how screwed she is.
Somewhere, hidden in the fall’s grey evening, angry and grieving for having killed two more of his brothers- Castiel leans over a leaf strewn ground.
He frowns as he feels the first breath of life beneath him.
The earth shifts and Castiel backs up a little before lifting Adam Winchester out of his grave.