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let me hear your voice tonight ([personal profile] alexseanchai) wrote2010-05-30 04:19 pm

(no subject)

Remix reveal day!

Title: Some Feathers In My Hand (the All Your Sins Remix): the DVD Commentary, remix of The Apotheosis of Wile E. Coyote by [personal profile] nwhepcat
Rating: PG
Summary: In March 1985, a meteor was sighted over Union, Kentucky. In February 2008, Sam Winchester met angels. In September 2008, an angel rescued Dean Winchester from hell.
Pairings: None.
Warnings: Violence, death.
Word Count: 5625

Some Feathers In My Hand (the All Your Sins Remix)
I took the title from "Angels of the Silences" by the Counting Crows. Well I guess you left me with some feathers in my hand. Did it make it any easier to leave me where I stand? I guess there might not be too many who would stand beside you now. Where'd you come from? Where'm I going? Why'd you leave me till I'm only good for waiting for you? All my sins, I said that I would pay for them if I could come back to you.

My draft files all say "All My Sins". I don't know what happened when I went to post but I kind of like it, because Sam spends much more time thinking about how the angels have wronged him than about how what he's doing is wrong.
The probably-a-wampus-cat hanging around Union, Kentucky is not a profitable line of inquiry. The twenty-year-old tree that looks two hundred years old is definitely not a profitable line of inquiry. It's February twenty-first. Seventy days, several hours, and a steadily decreasing number of minutes left.
Setting the stage. Location, same as most of the action of Apotheosis, same as where "Heaven and Hell" says Anna's grace fell. Time, shortly after "Mystery Spot".
Sam would be more precise except that he hasn't figured out yet whether time runs out at local midnight at the crossroads—Cold Oak is in the western half of South Dakota, so Mountain Daylight Time—or local midnight where the hellhounds come, wherever they'll be come May second. Or for that matter the definition of 'midnight'; midnight by the clock is almost never midnight by the sky, and midnight by the sky is very rarely midnight by the sun. The difference can be as much as fifteen minutes. But if the last few hours are relevant, never mind the last quarter hour, they're probably fucked anyway, so this is also not a profitable line of inquiry and is distracting Sam from the Very Important Matter of figuring out what is up with the meteor tree.
Most of Indiana is Eastern Time. South Dakota is half Central, half Mountain. Cold Oak is a fictional location, so it could be anywhere in the state (I put it in the western half because canon put Bobby's near Sioux Falls which is about as east as it's possible to get and still be in South Dakota; it still makes more sense to me for Bobby's to be in Deadwood, which is far less populous, and if I'd gone AU on that point I'd have put Cold Oak in the eastern half of the state), but either way midnight in Cold Oak is not midnight in New Harmony. That always struck me as a plot hole, and as something Sam would definitely have given some thought to. I ended up killing Dean at midnight local in Oregon, so the plot hole didn't exactly get resolved, and New Harmony is actually in the part of Indiana that's Central Time so it's entirely possible it's the same time zone as Cold Oak, but time zones are still arbitrary lines on the map that haven't anything to do with the solar or sidereal day. Anyway, I talked through the problem so I'm happy. (That paragraph used to be a lot longer, because when I was just starting to write this fic I had no idea how many words it'd be and I didn't want to fall short.)
Sam goes around the tree. There's nothing to indicate that it might be hollow, no obvious holes around the roots, but there's a shadow that might—Sam bends down to examine the area under the root, puts a hand on the trunk for balance, and—
Anyone who's read Apotheosis now knows what the point of differentiation is: in that fic, Dean was the first one to touch the tree.



"This isn't working!"

Sam doesn't look at Corbett; of course it isn't working the way Sam said, but Corbett doesn't really need to know he's just a distraction. "Keep trying!" The makeshift lockpick jams, again. "Shit!"

The door slams into Sam. Dean calls his name. Sam dives out of the way, knocking Corbett down. A shotgun blast above him, and when Sam turns to look, Dean's offering him a hand up and Daggett is nowhere in sight. Sam checks Corbett over; other than splinters from swinging the broken chair about and a bump from hitting the floor, he's fine.
Skipping everything that parallels Apotheosis, because it's more fun to do the slow reveal.

Next point of intersection with canon, since I set "Jus in Bello" before "Mystery Spot" (Sam isn't nearly neurotic enough in "Jus in Bello" for that to follow as closely after "Mystery Spot" as it must if we're going by airing order, and the only reason "Mystery Spot" aired first is with the writer's strike they were afraid episode twelve would be the season finale and "Jus in Bello" would have been a much better season finale than "Mystery Spot"), is "Ghostfacers". Events proceed pretty much as in canon, except that Sam's power goes asplode after he gets yanked down to the bomb shelter. Sam really doesn't want to see anyone die, so he—entirely unintentionally—busts out of the chair he was tied to, which distracts Daggett right before killing Corbett, and then Sam throws things at Daggett to keep him distracted while he cuts Corbett loose, and then hands Corbett more things to distract Daggett with while Sam busts out of the bomb shelter.

This is less than a week after the last of the events parallelling Apotheosis. So this is probably the first time Sam's powers get out of control.



Sam hangs up with Dean. His phone is barely back in his pocket when it rings again. The caller ID says SHA33. The same number that called Ben Waters, Sam realizes; it only takes two seconds to decide that the intel he might get trumps the risk he'd be taking.

The connection is staticky, but the voice is perfectly clear. "Sam? Sam, where are you?"

Even after two and a half years, and even knowing it was coming, it's like a punch to the heart. The rental's passenger mirror shatters. "Jessica?"
The crocotta has been denied the deal as leverage over Dean, and Jess's phone records are easier to track down than John's. Again, it's Sam's emotions triggering the powers. It's sometime in March, not too terribly long after the Morton House, and Sam isn't distracted by the idiot needing saving or the ghost trying to kill them, so this is probably the first time Sam realizes it is his powers in action.



"Wait. Wait, wait, wait. Back up." Sam comes over and reads the news story Dean's found. "Mark Charles, found in a motel bathroom with his...kidney missing."

"Yeah, that's what I said."

"A guy named Charlie," Sam repeats, "and somebody stole his kidney."

Dean looks at him strangely. "You maybe need your hearing checked?"

Sam fights to keep a straight face. "Did this maybe involve a magical leopleuridon?"

Dean says something about a psychiatric evaluation. The TV, playing the History Channel, statics out and comes back tuned to Discovery Health. Sam doesn't hear any of it properly, being too busy laughing.
Charlie the Unicorn! I couldn't resist. And this is almost certainly the first time Dean sees Sam's powers in action. It's probably not the incident that instigates the discussion about Sam's powers that brings Sam and Dean to the conclusion that Sam's going haywire due to aftereffects of Anael's grace, and it's certainly not the incident that tells them that they can't just ignore Sam's power like they were for three seasons and hope it leaves them be.



Bela's a little behind on the news. They don't bother to enlighten her. She does have one useful bit of information, though; if Sam ever crosses paths with Lilith, he'll empty a clip into her, just on principle.

That's what happens to people who fuck with the Winchesters.
Had to make sure the readers knew Sam knew Lilith held Dean's contract. That's pretty much the entire purpose of this section.



They're in the middle of Nowhere, Eastern Oregon. It's about as far west as they can get and still be in the lower forty-eight. Sam suggested driving to Alaska or flying to Hawaii, or just going the rest of the way to the Pacific coast, but Dean wouldn't hear it. Dean spends the afternoon asleep in the back seat. Sam tries to do the same in the front—he's been trying to get some sleep for weeks; it's worse than right after Jessica—and ends up watching Dean till he wakes up.
Goes back to the bit about midnight earlier. If it's midnight by the crossroads, it doesn't matter where they are; if it's midnight local, the further west they are, the more time Dean has. And it's not like they have anywhere in particular to be that'll make it more likely that Dean will survive, unlike in canon. Not that Sam's worried; after all, an angel promised to save Dean. It's just. You know?

In Apotheosis, the whole deal-breaking angel thing is Dean's idea entirely to convince Sam to stop worrying about the deal. Here, Dean was as convinced as Sam that he wouldn't go to hell after all, until he started hearing hellhounds. Now he's going along with Sam because he knows if angels couldn't break the deal no one could and there's no point worrying Sam until the last minute.

I picked Oregon partly because it's not California, partly because one of my favorite things to pick on back when I was in Harry Potter fandom and we got on the topic of magic in America was why does everyone assume the Salem Witches' Institute is in Massachusetts? Salem, Oregon has much lower population density, so it'd be much easier to hide a large campus there. Salem, Oregon doesn't have quite low enough population density for my purposes here, though, so I picked Enterprise, Oregon because Dean is a Trekkie.
A meteor flashes by at quarter to eleven. "Make a wish," Dean says, the first word either has heard since before sunset. Sam throws a stick at him.
I wrote this post-"Swan Song", can you tell?
At five till, Sam discovers that being a jittery psychic with fried neuro-circuits is a good way to set things on fire. Dean laughs himself right off the Impala's hood. Sam hits the dirt, and when the fire's out he empties a water bottle over the burned spot on his jeans, grabs another bottle, and glares at Dean. It takes three tries, but it results in a very satisfactory yelp when Dean's sock finally catches alight.
Sam doesn't have anything resembling control over his powers yet, but there've been enough spontaneous outbreaks for Dean to be used to the idea and Sam's gotten enough control that Dean doesn't flip out every time one happens. I think he isn't actually as amused as he looks, though, he's just playing it up for Sam's benefit.
Sam splashes Dean till it goes out, lets Dean win the wrestling match, and realizes while he's catching his breath that in western South Dakota it's ten past midnight.

It's been a full year since the deal was struck.

Sam spends a while alternately watching Dean and watching the stars, trying to keep a lid on both the panic and the hope.
Sam wants to believe he's just gotten confirmation that Dean's free and clear, since midnight at the crossroads was always likelier, but there's still that chance...
He doesn't know what time it is—five till local midnight, probably—when Dean jolts upright and dashes to the back of the car. Sam, his heart pounding, follows.
That's about as far as Dean could let things go before his panic got the better of him.
Dean goes for the bag of goofer dust they've had for six months and dumps it in a circle around himself and Sam, then starts loading a shotgun with salt rounds. On the principle that hellhounds are a variety of demon, Sam assumes, and on the same principle he grabs the sack of rock salt and makes another circle inside the goofer dust, then goes for the iron knives and prays his mojo will do what he fucking tells it to for a change.
Judging by "Abandon All Hope", hellhounds can be killed by salt and/or iron with enough kinetic energy. Certainly they can be repelled by salt with enough kinetic energy. Which invites the question: why in hell didn't they do that in "No Rest"? And why didn't anyone even mention goofer dust in "Abandon All Hope"?
It doesn't matter.
Which is basically my answer to the above two questions.
Sam ends up pinning Dean to the ground, a human shield. All that means is that when the hellhounds blow the salt and dust away, when Dean runs out of ammo and Sam loses the knives, Sam can feel it when the hellhounds tear Dean's soul out of his body. He can feel their claws in his own soul, too, but they don't hit anything important.
I just like these images.
"You said you'd save him," Sam sobs. "You said you saved him!"

The angels aren't listening.
And Sam's faith gets torn into shreds.

The same happened in canon, of course, but not as violently: in canon, the first time Sam knew an angel was getting involved with the Winchesters, it was when Dean told him what had pulled Dean out of hell. Castiel was the answer to prayer. Here, the same thing, really: Sam did meet an angel who did promise to save Dean. Castiel either knew he'd be sent to retrieve Dean or was told to make that promise by someone who knew Castiel would be sent to save Dean, but when Sam said 'save Dean from hell' he meant 'keep Dean from going', not 'pull him out'. So Sam sees Dean's death as God's betraying them much more here than he did in canon, and Dean's resurrection isn't enough to restore Sam's faith here the way it was in canon.



Two weeks later, Sam has failed to bleed to death, cleaned and stitched his wounds and Dean's, discovered his soul is worth jack shit on the black market, discovered God doesn't answer prayers any more than demons do, built the flimsiest coffin ever made and buried it as shallowly as he dared, yanked his stitches back out, and failed to drink himself to death.
So pretty much as canon.
Ruby finds him in his motel room. He's probably eight shots under, he's not sure how much he drank or how long it's been since he started drinking, but he's thinking clearly enough to know exactly what it means that Ruby knew Lilith held Dean's contract and didn't tell him.

Dean's gone, Dean's gone, and Ruby didn't try to save him, can't save him now.

Ruby dies.

Sam stares at the corpse, pinned to the wall several inches above the floor.
Sam's powers are still out of control. He got emotional; he lashed out. Whether he'd have killed Ruby on purpose, I don't know, but I don't think so.
She's blonde and young and her blood stains the stomach of her white shirt.

What the hell are you doing to me?

Better than mother's milk.
Parallels to Mary and Jess and callback to "All Hell Breaks Loose".
For the first time since the meteor tree (ten thousand salt grains when all you need is the right fucking knife), he feels human.
Alanis Morissette, "Ironic": ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife. With a hunter's twist.



(Dean once took Sam to the county fair. Sam loved the tilt-a-whirl; rode it four times in a row. Dean made it through one round.

The whirligig's kind of like the tilt-a-whirl, except it's single occupancy and won't stop until Alastair's bored with it. And, oh yeah, no Sam.

He just has to hang on another few decades. Long enough to be sure Sam's safely home with Mom and Dad.)
Looking up torture devices was...entertaining. I didn't originally intend to go into Dean's time in hell, but then I realized I had to have Dean PoV right at the end, so I had to have Dean PoV earlier as well. And Sam is, of course, pretty much Dean's only thought while in hell.

I've always figured one of the reasons Dean let himself break thirty years in was he figured there was no way Sam would live to be older than John, and, since Dean had no way of knowing time in hell wasn't passing at the same rate as time on earth, thirty years after Dean died Sam would be fifty-five and John died at fifty-two.



Sam sobers enough to drive a straight line and makes for Wyoming. He doesn't have the key to the crypt, but he doesn't give a damn. Most problems are solvable with enough high explosives, and he's acquired enough C4 to take out a football stadium.
Sam said in "Lazarus Rising" he'd tried to get Dean out via the Devil's Gate.
When he gets there, the crypt's already open, its floor glowing dull red and stinking of sulfur. Sam's heart leaps—maybe Dean's already out—and falls, because how long has it been open? How many demons got out?
I cannot imagine that the Colt was in the demons' hands for a year and a half without anyone thinking to find someone living near the Gate, shove the Colt into her hands, and possess one of her family and threaten another with violent painful death unless she goes to that cemetery and sticks the gun in the hole in the design on the crypt. In fact the only reason I think Azazel didn't do that himself is he wanted his winner to be on hand to take command of the army. (Azazel, I'm positive, was fairly certain Sam would win but not a hundred percent certain.)

Besides, we've seen and heard of entirely too many demons in seasons three through five for the estimate of 'a couple hundred' getting out in "All Hell Breaks Loose" to be accurate. Either a lot more demons got out then than anybody thought, or that Gate or another one has been opened at some point.
Sam spraypaints the generic demon-summoning sigil between the gravestones, clutches Dean's amulet while he chants the Latin, lights a match and drops it in the bowl. The magic flares up, but ten minutes later, nothing else has happened. Sam tries again with the ghost-summoning ritual that worked at Cape Cod, realizes halfway through exactly what he's saying, and has to stop to throw things. He gets himself under control and finishes the ritual; again, nothing.
Pay careful attention to "Red Sky at Morning". Sam's ritual invokes Castiel.
Sam throws himself forward into the hellfire. He hears himself scream—he hears Dean scream—and when he can think again he's on the far side of the Impala, fifty feet from the crypt. He stands, carefully, his scorched skin protesting—a taste of what Dean's feeling—and apparently he closed the gate while he wasn't looking.
If Dean hasn't gotten out, Sam will go in. Except he can't. I think that's part of his reasoning for the demon blood: it'll damn him to hell.
Sam cuts his jeans off, wraps his shins and palms in shirts of Dean's soaked in holy water, and drives back to Oregon. There's no sign that anyone has been within a mile of Dean's grave since Sam left.
Just double-checking that Dean hadn't crawled out at any point.



(There are reasons Dean never did any kinky shit involving pointy things with anybody he ever fucked. Take all those reasons and amp them up considerably and you get the Judas cradle.

He just has to hang on another decade or two.)
You don't really want to know what a Judas cradle is. Trust me.



Sam gets arrested in July. The sheriff's department in Tuscaloosa is so utterly incompetent at everything after they get the cuffs on him that it almost makes Sam miss Henriksen.
This is mostly here to make it obvious, in case the note that "Jus in Bello" precedes "Mystery Spot" didn't, that Henriksen's dead. Also to separate the last scene of Dean before breaking from the scene of Dean after breaking.



(Dean injects a few mils of vinegar into this sorry bastard's left greater saphenous vein. A few mils of sodium bicarbonate dissolved in water goes in the same vein on the right leg. All the fun of decompression sickness with much less prep work.

Sam had this science project once. Volcanoes.

Dean wonders how Sam's getting along with Mom.)
I kind of hate that I thought of this.



Judging from the weather patterns, demons, maybe three to five of them, are gathering in Enterprise, Oregon, not far from where Dean's buried. Sam goes there first—undisturbed—and heads for Enterprise to scout the area. He checks in Wednesday evening and spends Thursday and Friday chasing demons, Saturday and Sunday taking advantage of the high to get a grip on applied telekinesis where the objects to be moved already have considerable momentum. Making bullets go where he wants regardless of where they were aimed, in other words. If he ever gets hold of the Colt it'll be worth it, if the Colt still has bullets which isn't guaranteed. Meanwhile it's just a fucking pain in the ass.
I spent so much time on Google Maps counting up driving time from Enterprise to Sioux Falls and back...

This is pretty much the same scenario as in "Lazarus Rising", Sam following demons who're investigating the ripples in the ether surrounding Dean's resurrection. It belatedly occurs to me that Sam shouldn't have picked up on this until after the demons had and the demons shouldn't have until after Thursday when Dean came back, but I explain this by saying Castiel (and the angels who we hear in "Are You There, God?" died that week, though how that fits with the later revelation that only an angel's blade, or an archangel snapping his fingers, can kill an angel, I don't know) had quite the fight with Alastair and Dean, enough to get the attention of demons topside, and somebody told them exactly who the angels were trying to rescue and where his body was buried.
It's two Monday morning and Sam's more than ready to keel over dead, or at least dead asleep, when the Impala rolls back in to the motel parking lot. There's a car parked nearby that looks like Bobby's, but Sam doesn't process the implication until he opens the door to his room and Dean's sitting on the nearer bed.

Dean.

"Heya, Sammy," Dean says.

Bobby's there too, which Sam notes and promptly forgets because Dean. Whole and perfect and alive.

Alive.

Sam slams not-Dean up against the wall, Bobby too because there's an excellent chance Bobby's possessed, and sends Ruby's knife flying across the room, aiming for not-Dean's throat.
Why have psychic powers if you're not going to use them, right?
"Sammy!" not-Dean shouts, and it sounds so much like Dean that the knife veers left just far enough to draw blood instead of spilling it.

Whatever that knife is, it always gets a reaction when it breaks a demon's skin. Always.

Nothing happens.

Sam can feel his power surging and bites his lip, focusing on the copper taste and the insignificant pain until he calms. The Impala's in the blast radius and Dean would be pissed.
Sam figured out months ago that his power's much easier to keep controlled when his emotions are controlled.
"Who are you?" Sam asks.

"Like you didn't do this?" not-Dean retorts.

"Do what?" Sam demands.

"It's him, it's him, Sam!" Bobby says, "I've been through this already, it's really him!"

But Dean's been dead more than four months and Sam had nothing to do with bringing him back. This can't be Dean. It can't be.

"I know," Dean says, smirking. "I look fantastic, huh?"

Sam glances out the door and pops the Impala's trunk. He calls a silver knife in and slices Dean's arm, then yanks the hole in the shirt open to take a good look at the damage. "Careful with the merchandise, it's brand new," Dean says, and Sam ignores him. No bubbling, no blackness, no loose skin. Not a shapeshifter or revenant. Sam tries iron, salt, holy water, and still nothing.
After two consecutive summers with absolutely no one but himself, Sam can't take anyone's word on anything without evidence, no matter how much he wants to. In canon, he had Ruby so he didn't completely bury his ability to trust, so he was much more willing to take Bobby's word for it. And Ruby's reaction told him a lot, too—if he was a demon or ghost, she'd have known and she'd have fought or yelled for Sam.
Sam drops the telekinesis holding Dean and Bobby in place and lets himself fall. Dean catches him.

Dean's home.
"Mystery Spot" redux. Sam can't entirely shake the effects of (either) summer of 2008, same as Dean, but with the two of them back together it's a lot easier to do it.



Bobby knows a trustworthy psychic in Nashville, Illinois. It's thirty-odd hours by interstate. It's just about as far to Lawrence, but when Sam asks Bobby about the merits of Pamela Barnes compared to Missouri Moseley, Bobby's evasive.
Truth is that Pamela's talents and Missouri's are in different areas and Missouri wouldn't be suited for the kind of inquiry Sam and Dean need, but Bobby also knows Pamela's an attractive sex-positive woman who will probably end up fucking one or both of the boys, and he's fine with the impression that that's why he picked her.
He calls Pamela to give her forewarning that Sam and Dean are coming, then starts on the twenty-odd-hours back to his place. Sam and Dean spend some time in the first Walmart they pass—Dean won't wear what Sam buried him in and can't wear Sam's clothes forever, and what he had all went to Goodwill when Sam accepted that Dean wasn't coming back—and set off cross-country.



Sam's getting his first decent night's sleep in months, riding shotgun with the Black Album playing on low, when his dream of Dean with his skin smoldering turns into a dream of Dean lost in an arctic hell. Sam wakes.

Apparently telekinesis doesn't work on ghosts.

Sam grabs a salt packet out of the cupholder and turns it into a grenade of sorts. Henriksen's ghost dissipates. Sam looks around—Dean's gone, Dean's gone again, just like before—and three of the gas station lights explode and Dean comes running and Sam shoves the door open and topples into Dean. He's here, Dean's here, everything's all right.
Lots of time with Google Maps. And with the timeline by [livejournal.com profile] hells_half_acre.



They get to Pamela's late on Tuesday; one of the things Sam missed most, all those months, and will pretend not to have missed at all, is the ability to wake up eight hours away from where he fell asleep. Sam takes one look at Pamela and decides Bobby was setting Dean up, but Dean's in too good a mood for Sam to be upset.

Pamela doesn't know anything, of course, but she does have a couple more ideas, starting with a séance. Sam gawks at the scar Dean shows her, but it's much better—much better—than claw marks.

Sam doesn't really expect the séance to work, but then Pamela says "Castiel?"

"Castiel?" Sam and Dean chorus.

Sam slams out of the room before he breaks anything.
Because of course Sam and Dean know exactly who Castiel is, and Sam knows Castiel broke his promise.



They head straight back to Bobby's after that. Sam suggests Dean take Pamela's hints about Dean spending the night, but Bobby isn't answering his phone. They get there just in time for Sam to save Bobby from the ghosts of twin girls and Dean to get jumped by the ghost of Meg Masters.



Once is coincidence. Twice is happenstance. Thrice is enemy action. And in this case apparently it's the apocalypse.

In which the angels want Dean to play an important role. So important that Castiel yanked him out of hell to do it.
"Are You There, God?" infodump. Whee.
Seven months after Castiel promised Sam that he would save Dean from hell. Four and a half after he broke that promise.

Yeah, fuck that.
Sam is not happy with the angels.



A motel in Minnesota is home for several days while they catch up on sleep and Dean remembers what it's like to be alive and Sam remembers what it's like to be whole. Then Pennsylvania for Oktoberfest and a vampire that turns out to be a shapeshifter. Dean's happy. Sam's in paradise.



Dean shakes Sam out of an uneasy sleep and tells a story that, were it anyone else, Sam would call complete bullshit. But it's Dean, and it makes a horrible sort of sense.
"In the Beginning" has no particular relevance to this story, but it's important enough to the boys that I had to mention it. "Monster Movie" has pretty much zero relevance, but the boys needed a break. I don't think Dean said anything about being on a mission from God, though.
Then there's a call from someone Dad hunted with once or twice ten years ago. Sam really kind of wishes Bobby wouldn't give out their number to anyone who asks, whether they know the caller or not, but Travis did save Dad's life last time Sam saw him. En route to meet Travis, Dean drops the other bombshell.
Which is of course the "stop it or we will".
"Assuming for a minute that we care what the angels want—" and oh that hurts Sam to say—was it really only a few months ago that he couldn't go an hour without a desperate prayer for Dean's salvation? "What am I supposed to do, Dean? I can't go back to pretending I'm Joe Normal. We tried that and it didn't work, remember? And in case you forgot, it was the angels who—" and Sam cuts himself off, bangs his forehead into his palm. "No. No. If I have to be high explosives, I'm going to be C4. Not nitro. I don't give a fuck what the angels want."
Nitro is volatile. C4, not so much.



Sam hears Travis out and researches herbal abortifacients. Dean kills Jack quickly and efficiently. Sam spikes the half gallon of milk in the Montgomerys' refrigerator; he doesn't even need to break in. If she's not pregnant, no harm done.
Sam hasn't spent the summer exorcising demons. He's been killing every demon he comes across. (I wish I had a good enough handle on the Criminal Minds characters to write them chasing Sam across the country, either here or in canon S4.) And he knows his powers are demonic in origin and he knows hoping they'll go away doesn't work so well. So the idea of giving Jack a heads-up and hoping he can resist temptation doesn't even cross Sam's mind, and he doesn't want to come back in thirty years because Jack's wife was secretly pregnant.



Dean's been back for a solid month. Sam's getting jittery in the way he was right before Dean's number came up, and Sam has no idea why.
Demon blood's addictive. Sam hasn't seen any demons since Dean came back, and before that it was something like once a week.



Sam locks his emotions in the same box as his powers. Where he went wrong saving Dean from the Trickster, from the hellhounds, was he let himself be emotionally involved. If he's going to save Dean from this forty-eight-hour bug, he cannot afford to let how he feels about the matter affect what he does about the matter except in a carefully controlled fashion.

But then Dean has a fit about Sam being a yellow-eyed evil son of a bitch, about Sam not being his brother.
I really want to know how much canon Sam heard of that particular hallucination. Enough, I'm sure.
At least Sam manages to keep the powers in the box. That would really not improve matters.

Later, Dean deflects when Sam asks what he saw. Of course he does. "Liar," Sam says.
I honestly don't know why Sam calls him on it here and not in canon. Probably goes back to Sam's powers, but I don't know why he does, I just know he does.



Castiel turns up in Sam and Dean's motel room, and he brings a friend. Sam takes a shot at killing them both, but he's shaky and his power level's shit, which doesn't make sense considering it's just as hard as ever to keep controlled. Though it's also possible angels are just that much more powerful than he is.

Dean talks Castiel and Uriel out of killing Sam, then out of killing the town, on the grounds that either scenario will end with dead Dean and God obviously doesn't want that. Why they buy this when Castiel definitely and Uriel probably have the ability to raise the dead, Sam doesn't know and doesn't really care.
Show does love its plotholes.
They find the witch and they kill the witch and then the other witch finishes the job. (She has a vague resemblance to Jessica; Sam almost says, Jess, this is why I don't do Halloween.) Sam sends the demon-killing knife to kill them both, and the cheerleader witch falls no trouble. The possessed teacher witch, though—Sam stabs him several times, and the pyrotechnics are there, the difference between the demon and the cheerleader is obvious, but the demon doesn't die.
Sam hasn't been exorcising demons, he's been killing them. And we know the knife doesn't work on Alastair and we really didn't get the impression during S4 that it might work on Lilith, and those two and this demon—who is not named Samhain, I don't care what canon says—are the only ones we know of with white eyes.
There is plenty of blood flying, though. Sam directs some of the arterial spray his way and it's like summer again, everything clicking right into place, and he can feel the power humming in the air and the way it crackles when the knife slams into the demon and Sam grabs hold of what's crackling and yanks.
Anyone who tells this Sam that demon blood is a placebo will be laughed out of the room. And possibly killed.
The teacher coughs out some demon smoke. Not nearly enough to be the whole demon, not that it matters because the teacher just swallows it again. Sam gives it another yank and hears Dean begin an exorcism before all of Sam's attention must go to the tug of war with the demon.



When Sam wakes up, it's November third.
Part of why Sam had such trouble with his powers in canon, I'm sure, was subconscious resistance to the idea of using demonic powers. Sam might still have that problem here—depends whether he had the thought that angel grace wiped out the demon taint, but I don't think he did—but all the other brakes came off his powers so it's a moot point. The rest of the problem, I'm positive, was Sam was trying to exorcise demons and demonic power really isn't meant for that.



Sam hasn't sought out demons in two months. Dean doesn't argue with the suggestion, because his antipathy to Sam's mojo might not have lessened in the slightest but he does know a tactical advantage when he sees one. Sam picks up on demonic omens in Ohio almost as soon as he starts looking, and he and Dean go in to the church where they're centered expecting three or four demons. You know, something manageable.

It's six, one of whom has the same white eyes as the demon from Halloween.

The white-eyed one says he knows Dean from hell.
I really didn't want to get into "Wishful Thinking", and this was a convenient reason to get Anna in the picture in absence of Ruby to tip the boys off. Sam tries to exorcise Alastair, of course, can't not, but he isn't recovered from exorcising not-Samhain and he hasn't had a chance to practice on easier targets, so of course he fails.



Sam wakes up in Iowa, in the back seat of the Impala. The front seat's occupied by a young woman with red hair and Sam knows her. He has never laid eyes on her in his life, except for a glimpse of her leaning out of the kitchen where she'd barricaded herself behind salt lines, and he knows her.
There's enough residue of Anael's grace in Anna for the residue of Anael's grace in Sam to recognize her.
And she knows him. Of him, at least. And of Dean. She has since September eighteenth. She knew Dean was out of hell before Sam did.

Her name's Anna, and she's wanted dead or alive. The angels want her dead and the demons want her alive.



"I disobeyed," Anna explains. "Which, for us, is about the worst thing you can do. I fell."

"You fell," Sam repeats.

"I became human," Anna explains. "It kind of hurts. Try cutting your kidney out with a butter knife. That kind of hurt."

"You ripped out your grace," Sam says, realizing. "And you dropped it somewhere." Sam can feel his anger rising, his power with it, and stomps on it; there's plenty of cars outside that no one will care too much if he mangles them, later. "Let me guess, you turned twenty-three in March. Or you will in December. And you were born not too far from Union, Kentucky, and your middle name's Ellen or Elizabeth or something that starts with El."

Dean's attention snaps from Anna to Sam.

"December fourteenth," Anna says. "Elizabeth. Defiance, Ohio."

Off by a whole state, which makes sense if a literal fall from heaven starts higher than geosynchronous orbit. But the rest fits together. "Anna Elizabeth Milton," Sam says. Milton, Paradise Lost. Ha fucking ha. Three syllables, the 'a' sounds like in Hanukkah: "Anael."

Anna turns to face Sam square on. "How do you know that?"

"In March 1985, a meteor was sighted over Union, Kentucky," Sam says. "At the time there was an empty field outside town. The next time someone visited the field, there was an oak tree in the middle. By September, it looked like it'd been there two hundred years." Anna nods. Sam keeps going. "Last February, Dean and I were looking into reports of people going nuts in the area. I touched the tree, and the next thing I knew I had an amnesiac angel riding shotgun. Then Castiel turned up and my angel friend panicked and ran. I scared the shit out of Jessica's parents," not that Anna or Pamela knows who Jessica is, "turning up like that." Sam snaps his fingers. "They'd heard I died, you see. Castiel finally stopped trying to kill us when he figured out neither of us was you. But by then she'd spent long enough in my head to burn right through everything I had keeping me from being a psycho psychic." Sam glances at Pamela, hoping she'll read the apology in his face, or at least be able to divine that demon-produced or demon-enhanced psychics such as himself are a different category entirely from natural-born psychics such as Pamela, but enough fury has bubbled up that that's probably all she sees. "Angels have a lot of power, I'm sure you know, and I'd figured out how to tap into what she had, and I didn't want to let Castiel take her back to sweetly singing o'er the plains. So I cut a deal. I'd let her go if Castiel would save Dean. That was in February. I spent the next few months chasing things grade-schoolers could deal with instead of finding a way to break Dean's deal myself, because an angel promised me he'd be all right! My prayers were answered!"

"Sam," Dean says warningly.

"Dean was in hell for four months," Sam barrels on. Wind is whipping through the room, disturbing Bobby's books, and Sam turns his power back on itself to hold the books still even while less important things rattle or fly. "Four months. I don't know what happened, he won't tell me, but he never got nightmares before and now he can't go a night without them."

"Sam!"

Sam ignores him. "That's part on me, but it's part on the angels, including Castiel and including you. So I'll do everything I can to keep you alive, Anael, because it'll piss off the angels and demons both. But that doesn't mean I don't want to kill you myself." Sam pauses for a breath, and in the best sympathetic voice he can muster, finishes, "You understand, don't you?"

Sam storms out, slamming the door behind him with a flick of his power. He shoves a totaled late-nineties sedan into a rusted late-eighties coupe, the screech and crunch of metal summoning the memory of the semi in Missouri, and the guilt and rage of that feed the guilt and rage of Dean's loss and the mangled mess of both cars smash into the early-nineties pickup next to them and all three go up in a fireball that Sam compresses as much as he can, keeping it away from the surrounding cars. Behind Sam's eyes, exploding pain, then black.
Wheee infodump. Also, Pamela never got blinded, because Sam and Dean's reaction to Castiel's name told her she didn't need to look any closer at him.



Castiel and Uriel do find them. Castiel kills Anna. Sam can't honestly say he's sorry.
There wasn't any way Anna was living through this without regaining her grace, and that's long gone.



After that, they go back to perfecting Sam's exorcism. Sam has only just gotten the hang of exorcising without his head exploding when Bobby calls about a potential crossroads demon on the loose. Which turns out to have nothing to do with crossroads or with Bobby and quite a lot to do with the fucking angels' fucking apocalypse. And with that white-eyed son of a bitch Alastair. Whom Sam still cannot exorcise without his head exploding.

This does not bode well for when they finally catch up to Lilith.
I didn't want to deal with anything between "Heaven and Hell" and "Death Takes a Holiday". And Sam's really mad at Alastair.



They find a nest of demons. Dean's trapped them all and Sam's exorcised three of the seven when an angel shows up. She takes one look at Sam and Dean and presses two fingers to Sam's forehead. It can't be more than five minutes later when Sam wakes up to find all the demons dead and Dean gone.
After the way Sam reacted at Halloween and with Anna, Uriel wasn't going to fetch Dean himself or send Castiel.

Wish I knew what happened to the angels Uriel's supposed to have recruited. And what happened to the idea that there'd be a mass angelic revolt if they found out the higher-ups in heaven wanted Lucifer free.
Sam tastes the nearest demon's blood and focuses. He used to get visions. He did, so he can, so he will
Without Ruby, he had to find Dean somehow.
I'm sorry. This is a very serious, very emotional situation for you. I shouldn't laugh, it's just that—I mean, are they serious? They sent you to torture me?

You got one chance. One. Tell me who's killing the angels. I want a name.

That's Dean, that's Alastair, that's...a metric fuckton of the things Dean pretends he's never used. That's bad. Where is he?

And it is written that the first seal shall be broken when a righteous man sheds blood in hell. As he breaks, so shall it break.

Dean spent months—years—in hell after an angel promised to save him, before an angel rescued him.

Oh. Oh fuck.
If there was anything left of Sam's faith in benevolent higher beings? Boom. Gone.
Where is he?

So I'll see you back in class bright and early Monday morning.

Oh no you won't okay okay they're in a room in a building what's outside the building? Night, road. Road. Follow the road. Intersection, no sign. Follow the road. Street sign. Cross street. And out of the vision and hit up Google Maps and Dean's only three hours away thank fuck and please don't let that last vision be less than three hours from now.
Sam's not exactly thinking straight, but it works. Which is pretty much his motto for the past year, actually.



(Alastair cut holes in Dean's intestines once. Put hungry rats in the holes and sewed them back up. Holy water doesn't do any damage to demons, nothing that doesn't repair itself in moments, but it's the nearest Dean can think of to the rats.)
I really should've had more Dean PoV, but I didn't want to duplicate too much of what hadn't changed from canon and Dean's been trying to repress the lot of this.



Sam doesn't quite get there in time.

Sam goes back once to have a look at the devil's traps—he'd noticed they weren't the ones he knew, but studying the artwork wasn't exactly high priority at the time—and finds Castiel's vessel sprawled in the devil's trap, the image of wings scorched into the floor. There's a short sword next to him, clean and bright, and a hole in his throat that looks like it was made by the same sort of blade. Sam keeps it.
Anna died, so she couldn't keep Uriel from killing Castiel.

I think Castiel took longer to realize what happened than in canon, since he didn't go find Anna. So it's coincidental that Sam arrived practically on his heels, but the timing kept Uriel from removing Jimmy's corpse or taking Castiel's blade.
Dean spends two months in the hospital. The whole time, and for a month afterward, it's like it's not even Dean anymore. If this is what Dean would have been in September if he hadn't buried the memories, Sam wishes he could dunk Dean in the River Lethe.
Cue the answer to his prayer.



(Sam sorts through everything in his shit apartment, 'sell' and 'donate' and 'keep'. The keep pile has to all fit in the rattling old Chevy Dad left him because he can't afford to trade her for something that gets actual gas mileage. How he'll afford to feed her, or for that matter to feed him, he has no fucking clue.

Sam carries a bag of clothes and his laptop down to his space in the apartment's parking garage. Mr. Adler's there, which Sam decides shouldn't surprise him because he probably wants to sue Sam over the phone incident. But Adler no longer signs his paychecks and Sam won't be hanging around long enough to care about a lawsuit, so Sam walks right past.

Adler follows him to the car and, when Sam turns to tell him to fuck off, touches his forehead.)

Sam looks back at the Impala and pops the trunk and sends Castiel's blade flashing past him to bury itself in Adler's throat. Light blazes and Sam closes his eyes. When he can open them again, Adler's on the ground, wings seared into the concrete.

So the knife works exactly like Sam thought. Good to know.

Fucking angels.
I do not like Zachariah. At all.



The entire Sandover episode seems, in retrospect, like a freaky dream on the same order as the one where he's late for an exam, not even time to get dressed, and Ronald McDonald is chasing him across campus. Dean's acting like himself afterwards, even bitching about how poorly Sam treated the Impala (as though it was Sam's fault he didn't remember anything Dean had taught him about car TLC), which is good, but this new pain-in-the-ass angel had no right to do that.

Sam adds it to the list of grievances.



Sam puts some more effort into seeing what he wants when he wants. His control's apparently slipping, though, because now that the vision switch is on he's getting them spontaneously again. It saves the lives of a mother and son in Minnesota—and what the fucking fuck, Dad?—and a mother and daughter in Illinois, so Sam doesn't complain. Too much.
I really didn't want to deal with Chuck. Neither the Milligans nor the Novaks have any significance, but I couldn't not mention them. And Sam isn't depending on Ruby for demon blood, he's getting his own while Dean isn't looking, so Dean never finds out, so no detox.



But I'm here for Mass. And so are you.

Sam snaps out of the vision and looks at Dean. "Found her."
This is the first time Lilith let Sam see her.



It's just past local midnight.
Couldn't justify keeping the bit about midnight at the beginning without referencing it near the end.
Lilith's blood flows across the chapel floor. Sam looks over his shoulder at Dean. That isn't supposed to happen when demons die. That isn't supposed to happen at all.

Oh no. Oh no no no. They figured this was a seal of the fucking apocalypse. They figured Lilith was planning on opening it. It never once crossed Sam's mind, and apparently never occurred to Dean, that Lilith would make Sam do it for her—
Yes, boys, you've been being played by both sides.
—the stone is cold under his hands and the light blazes blinding white and a sound like thunder, like a voice like thunder—

—the bark is rough under his hand and the light blazes red through his eyelids and a sound like thunder, like a voice like thunder—

trapped, let me out

so alone for so long

you want the power to save your brother

you want the power to destroy demons and angels alike for what they did to your brother

fall on us and hide us from the face of him that sits on the throne, for the great day of his wrath has come

who is worthy to open the book and to loose the seals thereof?
This is part current events, part flashback to the omitted scenes at the very beginning, with a hint that Anael had to ask for consent. Apotheosis never dealt with that.
Dean

"Dean," Sam forces out, "Dean," and Dean's there, arms tight around him, and Sam reaches out to the Impala, pops the trunk, calls Castiel's knife, and it clatters to the stone next to Dean's knee, and "Lucifer, like Anael, you promised, in Connecticut, you promised," and Sam grabs hold of the power like he did at the meteor tree, but it's too much, it burns, it burns white



(Dean knows exactly what Sam's asking. He won't do it. He can't.

The light burns against his skin like hellfire used to.

Not 'like'. Dean knows the difference in feel between hydrochloric and sulfuric acid. It's not 'like' hellfire. It's exactly the same.

Anna cut out her grace, like cutting out her kidney. Literally. More or less.

This isn't Sam. It's one of the spirits Alastair made to look like Sam. It's not Sam it's not Sam.

Dean is as efficient with a blade as with a kia quen.)
There's an interview from Comic-Con in which Ben Edlund says Lucifer's hell's battery. So it makes sense that hellfire is Lucifer's grace. And I really like the idea of Dean torturing Sam (I'm sick and twisted; sue me), especially when Sam's asking for it (okay, maybe just kinky), and in combination with what Anna said about ripping out her grace. Dean does have to convince himself it's not actually his brother he's cutting into, though.



"The autumn moon lights my way, for now I smell the rain, and with it, pain—"

"Turn off the Zeppelin," Sam mumbles.

"Hey," Dean says, "hey, hey, don't move, you got fucked over pretty good."

Now Dean mentions it, Sam hurts, lines of fire down his torso; he looks and there are stitches, like he's a corpse cut open for autopsy. "Wh'happened?"
Dean wasn't sure what part needed to come out in order to get Lucifer's grace out of Sam, so he pretty much went for everything. Then he grabbed hold of enough of Lucifer's grace to keep Sam's soul close by while he watched Lucifer-in-Sam die and to fix Sam's body and put Sam's soul back in afterwards—which had fascinating effects on Dean not dissimilar to what Anael's grace had on Sam, which could be fun to explore but I don't know what I'd do with the idea—and locked up the rest like Uriel did with Anna's grace in canon.
"Later." Dean's hand is cool on Sam's face. "Later, okay? You're alive, I'm alive, Lucifer's as good as dead, and let's not worry about anything else for a while, okay?"

"'Kay."

Dean's here. Everything's all right.
And the moment Sam's back on his feet, they're gonna figure out how to safely dispose of an archangel's grace. Toss it in the Chesapeake, is probably Dean's thought, but Sam wouldn't say no to having more power to play with. He'd probably want to share with Dean, though.
darklingdawns: (Default)

[personal profile] darklingdawns 2010-06-30 01:52 am (UTC)(link)
Wow. I loved this, both the story and the commentary here. Your comment about the Criminal Minds team set me first giggling and then thinking, and can I say how much I love that idea? Enough so that I'd be willing to attempt to team up with you for a story like that if you'd like... :)

Wonderful stuff

(Anonymous) 2010-11-19 06:11 pm (UTC)(link)
I'm pretty sure I've read this series, from Apotheosis through Feathers and the DVD extras, at least 5 times in the last few months. I love it. I woke up yesterday morning thinking about Sam redirecting demon blood towards his mouth, and had to read it again.
The story is excellent. You have taken canon and fanon, twisted them and set them on their heads, and come up with a plot that is new and exciting and different. I love the characterizations, the twists, the interaction between Dean and Sam, and the ending.
Feathers, Apotheosis, and extras are all in my favorites file.
Thank you.