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16 December 2009 @ 08:52 pm
[fanfic] World Without End, Amen - Chapter 1  
Title: World Without End, Amen
Chapter: One
Author: tiptoe39
Fandom/Pairing: Supernatural, some understated Dean/Castiel
Summary: Dean makes a discovery. Bobby has a plan to trap Death.
Spoilers: Up through 5x10.



World Without End, Amen

Chapter 1

The photo crumbled into the fire. The smoke gave off the acrid stench of burning ink and charring paper, and the memories burned clear and bright even as their proof faded to ashes. Behind them, the TV buzzed harsh reminders of the wages of folly.

Dean slipped outside the minute he could. If Sam and Bobby heard him go, they showed no sign of it; they were too deep in mourning themselves, or they understood that his way of grieving was different. Either way, they allowed him to go, and Dean was grateful for that. He couldn't stand there and weep like the others. It wasn't his way.

Didn't stop the cold from biting him, or his hands from freezing up as he stomped across the land into a small grove of grizzled oaks that gathered like a huddle of old men against the back end of the property. It was a refuge, a quiet hiding spot where he could gnash his teeth and slam his fist against bitter bark without having to explain himself into maudlin melodrama. He wasn't that type. Bobby understood that, but Sam might not. No, Sam might have understood it as well. But in front of Sam, he might break down. And he didn't want to break down. He wanted to do something. He wanted action.

It was all wrong. The whole way they'd been going about this was all wrong. The two of them, trying to take on the greatest enemy the human race had ever had. As if that wasn't foolish enough, they'd pulled in people they knew weren't part of this, they'd taken chances with lives that weren't theirs and they'd squandered those lives. They never should have allowed Ellen and Jo in. They should have shut them out even if that meant taking off in the middle of the night. There should have been another way.

Behind him was the flicker of a flapping coat against the breeze, the crunch of leaves underfoot. Dean ignored it, continued to rage silently until his companion chose to speak. It was okay to be watched by Castiel. Castiel had always watched him. That truth had long since turned from worrisome to comforting.

"You did everything you could."

If the words weren't spoken in that dull, earnest monotone, Dean might have wheeled and roared. But Castiel didn't even pretend his words meant anything. He wasn't under any illusion he could offer Dean comfort. And that was the greatest comfort of all.

"I know," he muttered. "There was no other way out."

"It was the right thing to do."

"Was it?" He turned to face him; in the darkness the gaunt slant of Castiel's cheeks and the sunken dark knots of his eyes were even more macabre. "I don't know, Cas. I'm beginning to think there wasn't a right thing to do. I don't think we have any good choices anymore."

The grizzled chin lifted. "Perhaps not." Castiel turned back to gaze briefly at the house. Across the yard, lights in the window still burned orange and bright, like eyes on the horizon. From the chimney wafted the curling remains of a photograph of happier times.

His face turned back to Dean's, and in the bland expression Dean saw minute clues of Castiel's thoughts -- the slight furrow of a brow, the twitch and quirk of the side of his mouth. Finally, he spoke. "You were close to her."

"To both of them," Dean said, almost defensively. Then his expression softened. "I thought Jo was such a kid, you know? But she-- she really was something." He rubbed his hand along the back of his hair, feeling the grain ruffle against his fingertips. "I feel like, if we'd had time..." He shook his head.

"Time for what?" A squint and purse of lips meant Castiel genuinely didn't know.

"Jo and I. You know. We could have had something. And I don't mean something, like every other girl I pick up," he added hastily. "I mean something special. Something real." He gazed at Castiel, unsure how he'd react.

He didn't react, not much at all. Just nodded and didn't deny it. Castiel didn't get it, couldn't understand what it was to feel that way. And that made it easier. Everyone wanted to add their own experience to this one, singular pain he was feeling, even though nobody could possibly know just how deeply it ached. But Castiel didn't pretend to know. That was freeing. It meant Dean could just feel it.

Inside was warmth, was family and familiarity and comfort. But all Dean wanted was to be out here with someone who'd never understand. Absent understanding, there was only action left. And action is what he wanted.

"There has to be another way to do this," he said. "There has to be some way to resolve this that doesn't involve people dying, and Sam and I getting our asses ridden by angels, and the whole frigging world going insane before it's done. There has to be some secret weapon, some hidden reversal spell or something that can make all of this go away." His feet were starting to itch him, and he kicked them against the ground. "Cas, tell me there's something we haven't tried yet. Something we can do to stop this."

"I'm sorry, Dean." And for the first time, real emotion registered in Castiel's eyes. "I don't have any answers."

"No, there are answers. We just have to think harder." The wind was blowing right through his clothes now, it felt like-- his skin was prickling and his fingers were going numb. He paced. "We're trying to kill Lucifer, right? So Lucifer's an angel. We've seen angels killed before. You've killed angels, Cas. There has to be some way to trap him and kill him."

"He's very powerful," Castiel said. "More powerful than any other angel except for Michael. I couldn't get close to him unless he wanted me to--"

Castiel stopped.

"What?"

"He wanted me to," Castiel said. "He wanted me trapped, under his control, while he raised Death. That means I could have stopped him if I were free."

All of the frustration, the mourning and loneliness and bitterness that had pounded on Dean since this awful day began resolved and shaped itself into the force with which he moved forward to seize Castiel's shoulders. His eyes blazed. "How?"

Castiel shook his head. "I don't know," he said. "I must know something. Something that could have stopped him. He wasn't afraid of you, he let you be there and witness it, but me he wanted out of the way. Why?"

"Cas." Dean's scowl was darker than the night that sealed them in. "You have to teach me everything you know."

"What?"

"All of your magic. Your spells, those sigils that keep angels out, everything you know about how angels work, how they can be killed. Teach it to me. That way, when Lucifer gets close, I'll be able to work your mojo on him. I can kill him."

"That's--" The word on his lips was probably impossible, but Castiel didn't say it. Instead, he stopped, frowned, looked up at Dean and over his shoulder. "That would take months."

"But you can do it." Dean stepped forward. "You can teach me."

Eyes flickered with a bit of hope. "I suppose if we had the time, I could sit you and Sam down and teach you some basics--"

"Not Sam." Dean's voice was hard. "Not Sam. Just me." He coughed. Bitter, cold air scraped his fist. "Sam can't know about this."

"Why not?"

"Do I have to list all the reasons?" His tone was exasperated, but Dean bore the beginnings of a smile. This would be a satisfying litany of justifications. "Sam's Lucifer's vessel. If Lucifer finds out whatever it is you know that he's scared of, he'll figure out a way to beat it. And Sam is still power-hungry. He talks about it all the time. This could be a gateway drug for him. We don't want him drinking angel blood now."

Castiel visibly shivered. "No, we don't."

"Plus." A flash of satisfaction in Dean's eyes. "Sam's not the only one who can take off and train in secret. It's my goddamn turn."

For a moment, Castiel regarded him, unblinking, his mouth pressed together. Dean met his gaze, and something in it frightened him. He stepped closer again. "Please, Cas," he said, and his plea hovered in the scant space between their profiles.

"Very well." The softness in Castiel's voice betrayed tenderness, or fear -- or a mixture of both. "I'll be in touch."

"We can start now--" But then Castiel was gone, and an instant later Dean saw why. Sam was crossing the yard in long strides. Dean shouldered the burden of his new secret and walked up to meet him halfway.

**

"Bobby says he wants to plan strategy," Sam said as they reached the porch steps. "He says he's done simpering and mourning and it's time for action."

Dean half-laughed. Good old Bobby. He understood. "What kind of strategy is he thinking?"

"He says he wants to find Death."

"We can't stop Death."

I know, but War had a ring, right? Something that was the focus of his powers. If Death has something similar, we can neuter him. Prevent him from spreading any further than Missouri. Or what's left of it."

"You two yahoos want to come in here or are you too busy necking on the porch after your first date?" Bobby hollered from inside.

Sam and Dean looked at each other. They were, indeed, face to face, shadowed at the top of the porch stairs just outside the doorway. Another beat and they burst into stupid laughter. It was the first time the tension had broken all day, and it felt damned good.

**

"What is your plan, then?" Dean said, walking across the slats of the floor with measured steps. "How are we going to find Death?"

"We're not," Bobby said. He was in the kitchen, nursing a mug of soup. It was just the microwave for him since the stove became too high to reach. He grumbled about modern appliances all the time, said it didn't taste the same as when you were standing at the stove feeling the steam come up and stirring the broth with a wooden spoon. Dean, who'd lived all his life out of convenience store food, didn't have a clue what he was talking about.

"Death shows up where there's great carnage," Bobby went on. "So that's what we give him, a chance for a hell of a body count. We wait for him to come to us. And we trap him."

"What are you saying?" Dean said. "That we go out and kill a bunch of people?"

"Of course not, dumbass. I said a chance for a body count. We're going to make him an offer he can't refuse."

"I'm not following."

Bobby set down his mug with a great clatter. "Boys," he said, "we need to build an army."

"What?" Sam choked on his own breath.

Rage and disbelief coiled inside Dean, churning hard against his ribs. He slammed his fist on the wall. "I am not," he said, "not letting one more person die because we thought we could protect them."

"Think about it, Dean," Bobby said, meeting his gaze without a shred of fear. "We've had to get hunters together before. To fight demon infestations, swarms, but that was nothing compared to this. This is the end of the freaking world. Lucifer's going to pull out all the stops, and we need to do the same if we want any chance of stopping him. I'm going to call every hunter from here to the left and right coasts, and tell them to call every hunter they know. We're going to take the fight to them."

"You're going to use them as bait."

"Well, it's not as if I'm happy about it." Bobby wheeled around to look up at him. "But, yeah, you're right. We give Death an engraved invitation and take him down, and how many more lives will we have saved? At least hunters know what they're up against."

"Even if we do," Sam said from his perch against the bookcase on the other side of the room, "it's not like neutering War stopped the apocalypse. Lucifer hasn't stopped."

"Sam's right. That son of a bitch has kept on keepin' on," Dean agreed. "If anything, I'd say we encouraged him."

"Well I'm sorry, boys," Bobby said, tilting his head at them. The venom in his tone was undisguised. "I didn't realize you'd rather Missouri become a disaster zone then see a few of your friends kick the bucket to stop the damn apocalypse."

"There just has to be a better way," Dean said.

"If you've got an idea, I'm all ears, genius."

"As a matter of fact--" The words dried up. He didn't know enough yet, didn't have a clue what Castiel was going to teach him. And Sam was right there. Dean had to be careful. he had to bide his time until he knew. Until he had his weapons assembled. He hung his head. "No. No, never mind. I don't know. Maybe you're right. Maybe this is all we can do. But we have to take our time. Get everyone assembled, train them. Make sure they're ready before we move." And buy enough time for Dean to learn whatever lessons he needed in order to nip this whole thing in the bud.

Bobby watched him for a moment. Finally, seeming satisfied, he turned away. "I'll get on the horn first thing tomorrow," he said. "You boys get some sleep."

**

Death was, quite literally, having a field day.

This was the fifth field he'd torn up. Fields were more than lives; they were livelihoods. They were money in the bank for poor mortal saps who poured blood, sweat and tears into them every day in the hope that someday the world would come around and give them their just deserts-- the twilight of their years, in peace and serenity, surrounded by family, well rewarded for work painstakingly done.

With one tornado, Death laid all that to waste. And were there any humans left alive to hear his triumphant cackle, it would sound like an angry world rising up in a vengeful declaration: You will never be done. You will never have peace.

He didn't observe the careful borders that humans drew across their lands, so the sign that read Welcome to Kansas went flying along with everything else, landing in a heap atop one of the overturned cars along the roadway. Death only knew he was heading southwest, toward the place where his master had holed up. A farmhouse where, Lucifer said, everything had begun.

to be continued


 
 
 
Kevin Jonesmulder200 on December 18th, 2009 04:53 am (UTC)
Oh my! You certainly set the ball rolling here. Dean training in secret and now Sam being left in the dark. Not to mention Bobby's crazy Death plan.

This should be interesting.
Tiptoe39tiptoe39 on December 18th, 2009 02:17 pm (UTC)
Thank you. The action picks up considerably in the next chapter. I hope you'll stick around.
rockstarpeachrockstarpeach on December 18th, 2009 05:31 am (UTC)
Ooo, I'm liking this! Love the idea of Dean sneaking around to train. But I kind of gotta wonder how well that's gonna go...

Can't wait for more :)
Tiptoe39tiptoe39 on December 18th, 2009 02:18 pm (UTC)
Will post more tonight. Things get much more interesting from here on out. I hope you will stick around and read.
sr_71asr_71a on December 19th, 2009 11:42 am (UTC)
wow interesting i hope you continue this. im wow :D
Tiptoe39tiptoe39 on December 19th, 2009 02:36 pm (UTC)
thank you so much! The second chapter is up now if you're interested. I'm glad you enjoyed it!
reading_is_in: pic#96558827reading_is_in on January 13th, 2010 11:33 am (UTC)
Feedback
First, sorry if this comes out as a 'reply', I couldn't find the button for 'post comment'. :)
Reading this is a bit of a departure for me, because in my perspective, the hero of SPN was always Sam rather than Dean (like in Paradise Lost it was Lucifer rather than Michael or Adam). So I tend to read S5 fics that explore his perspective/justifcation and I'm rather apprehensive about a Dean-Good Sam-Evil showdown canon conclusion. But, this is very well written and I'm enjoying it a lot. I particularly liked this clause:
"Everyone wanted to add their own experience to this one, singular pain he was feeling". Very astute and succinct = powerful. I was less sure about the second clause in the sentence: "even though nobody could possibly know just how deeply it ached". I'd cut 'possibly' and 'just' myself and make it shorter. First I wondered if 'deeply' was the right word - I mean, there's no quantitative scale for grief, it's more to do with the unique quality of the individual's feelings, but then I thought, this is Dean's POV and it's a very usual thing to think no-one has suffered as much as you when you're grieving. So 'deeply' works if that's what you're going for.
Also, the voices are in character and the imagery under the trees was strong. I look forward to continuing when I have time.
Tiptoe39: creativetiptoe39 on January 13th, 2010 02:16 pm (UTC)
Re: Feedback
Hey there,

Thanks very much. Some fics I ache over the words. This one I just posted because it demanded to be written. So I will warn you that if you are going to be really disturbed by careless word choice, you might be disappointed by this. But I appreciate your feedback and am very much glad you enjoyed.

On the plus side, if you think Sam isn't going to be heroic in this fic, you might be pleasantly surprised. :3 IMHO this fic is more or less about everyone finding their inner hero. Well, it's about a lot of things. :D Thanks for giving it a shot!