Rating: PG - Gen - hurt!Dean
Spoilers: General (for all aired episodes)
Disclaimers: SPN & characters are owned by their various creators.
Summary: Dean POV. Castiel arranges a meeting at a crossroads. (early S4)
Dean didn’t have to look at his watch to know that the angel was late.
Waiting in the middle of nowhere while the rain slowly changed to sleet made every minute feel like an hour. And of all the places in all the hundreds of square miles of farmland around, the angel had selected a crossroad. Dean had parked well off on the shoulder, trying like hell to shake his dread at the sight of it and failing miserably. However, the angel had headed straight for the dead center and paused when he reached the midpoint. Dean watched as the thing looked around like he’d just stumbled upon some unexpected and beautiful view in the dull glare of the Impala‘s headlights.
The still figure appeared and vanished over and over again with the sluggish passage of the fog.
“You’re here,” Castiel sounded more relieved than pleased. “I wasn’t sure you’d come.”
“Why wouldn’t I?“ Dean shrugged. “Nice night for a drive.”
“I enjoy driving.”
Dean wasn’t sure how to respond to that so he didn’t. As far as he knew after he’d scoped out the place there weren’t any other cars parked nearby. But looking at the bloodied trench coat the man wore, Dean pictured a four door sedan of the same color. Some practical import that was almost paid off somewhere in a comfortable suburb. Of course the car was parked next to a real pretty house too. And it all came complete with a perfect green lawn that the hijacked meat suit would never have the pleasure of mowing again.
“So what the hell do you want?” Dean asked. “I liked it better when you were just violating me in my dreams. Ya see the way this works is that I summon you pal, not the other way around.”
“But it did work,” he said. “You’re here.“
“And I shouldn’t have done it. Sam isn’t stupid.”
“No, he isn’t,” Castiel agreed. “But he trusts you.”
For some reason the reassurance didn’t make Dean feel much better about ditching his brother a few towns over on the pretense of finding a beer and a girl to drink it with.
“Thanks, but I’m fine right here.”
Dean remained awkwardly leaning against the drivers side door as if it was the most natural thing to do in the world. He watched uneasily as the angel sniffed at the air like an animal, testing the wind in every direction before kneeling down on the ground and placing both hands in the mud.
“This is where you did it,” Castiel said softly. “This is where you saved Evan Hudson’s life. This is where Sam destroyed the Deal Maker. This is where you sold your soul.”
It had never occurred to Dean that every crossroad might be connected in some literal kind of way. Like a revolving door that could swing open to any point on the planet as long as there were two roads that converged with cosmic perfection. With a shake of his head, he figured that would explain how the demon that made her pacts came and went like she had a transporter beam.
“I said come closer, Dean.”
“And I said no.”
Castiel absently wiped his muddy hands on the thighs of his trousers and regarded Dean impassively. “I promise nothing will happen to you,” he said. “I simply wish to show you something.”
“I can see just fine from here.”
“I mean you no harm,“ The angel held out his arms in a simple gesture of request. “All I require of you is… trust.”
“And some faith?”
“You never know,“ The smile was strange on his stolen face. “Miracles do happen.”
For a moment Dean could see oblong shadows stretching out behind the open arms, the suggestion of black wings flickering in the dim light before they were gone again. Without thinking he took a hesitant step away from the car, the frigid air rushing up behind him like a hand at his back urging him forward.
“That’s it,” Castiel nodded. “Come stand next to me.”
Dean found to his own shock that he was doing exactly as he’d been told. He stopped within a few feet of the center of the crossroads, searching the ground and expecting to see a freshly dug hole. But there was nothing but the gravel raked aside by the angel’s fingertips. Dean didn’t move when he felt those fingertips slide into the collar of his coat, a firm pull to bring him the rest of the way.
“A crossroad isn’t just for making deals,” he whispered into Dean’s ear. “It’s a door. It’s a junction to everywhere and nowhere.”
“What the hell are you talking about-”
Dean froze when all of a sudden his vision blurred. In a panic, he reached out to grab the man holding him in place. He gasped at a gush of wind so strong it nearly made him lose his footing, forcing him take the shelter of the angel’s arms as the ground under their feet began to shake.
“S-Stop! Stop it-”
As soon as the words left his mouth, the wind died and everything went still. Dean squinted in confusion at the abrupt presence of sunlight fluttering down through green leaves from what had been previously bare trees. The fog was gone. The muddy roads were dry and dusty. And instead of flat farmland as far as the eye could see, there was a towering wall of jagged mountains on the horizon and the roar of a river nearby. But despite the snow capped peaks and a sky so blue it grew purple where it met the apex of the sun, the warm air was not sweet. The ripe smell of decay was so thick that inhaling felt like taking a swallow of putrefying meat. It burned Dean’s eyes and brought him coughing to his knees, the buzzing sound of the swarms of flies so loud he could barely hear Castiel speak.
“You’ve never seen war have you, Dean?” Castiel asked. “Not really.”
There were bodies.
Pushing himself away from Castiel, he staggered to his feet, blinking in horror at the brutal slaughter that surrounded them on every side. He knew enough to know a battle had been waged here. The countless piles of stacked corpses still held weapons in their hands. Pieces of shattered armor lay amongst the scatter of bones, shocks of pale hair still attached to scalps, and eye sockets empty on half decomposed faces.
“W-Where are we?” Dean asked. “What is this place?”
“We are when. Not where,” the angel answered with a sigh. “This crusade was lost thousands and thousands of years ago.”
It was then that Dean saw something strange about the bodies that lay twisted in the blackened dirt. The fallen soldiers were… deformed. Withered and rotting like their arms and legs, there were broken arcs of bone protruding from their shoulders where there shouldn’t have been anything at all. Covering his mouth with his hand, Dean felt bile rise to the back of his throat as he realized what he was looking at.
Then everything went blissfully dark.
Dean blinked in shock as he slowly comprehended the freezing rain was dripping into his eyes again. Swinging around, he saw his car parked a few yards away, the headlights gleaming through the fall of the sleet and casting a harsh light over the empty road and the churning fog.
“Where… when did we go?” Dean stammered. “What happened?”
“That is what happened the last time Lucifer decided to start a fight,” Castiel’s voice wavered. “And the next time it will not just be the warriors of God that will be annihilated in the quest to rule both Heaven and Earth.”
Stumbling backwards, Dean dragged his sleeve over his eyes, his throat still burning with the scent of the long gone battle field. “Why me?” he demanded. “Why are you showin’ this to me?”
“Please, Dean,” The hands that reached out to cradle his face and hold the back of his neck were gentle. Like a giant all too aware of how easily its strength could crush the fragile skin and bone held delicately in its powerful grip. “You need to know what’s at stake.”
Dean surprised himself by laughing. “You think I don’t know where we’re all headed?” he struggled in Castiel’s hands. “This is an old story man, and there’s nothing divine about it. It‘s about human beings fucking each other over until the end of time! Nothing is ever gonna change that, not even-”
“Not even Sam?”
Dean went cold.
“Your father, ” Castiel said carefully. “Was a weak man.”
Panting for air, Dean clutched at Castiel’s shoulders and realized the angel was the only thing preventing him from falling to his knees again.
“You‘ve read the bible, right Dean?” Castiel asked. “Or did you miss the part about how a father is sometimes required to sacrifice his own son?”
“S-Shut the hell up,” Dean breathed. “You hear me! You shut up before I-ah!”
Castiel let him drop and Dean sprawled forward, the rocks cutting into the palms of his hands and through the knees of his denims. He bit back another groan when Castiel’s foot came down on his neck and forced his forehead to press hard into the dirt. It took a few seconds for Dean to realize he’d been inelegantly arranged into a position of supplication. Of compliance. Of prayer…
“Love is how we’ll win,” Castiel told him. “But it is also the reason we might fail.”
Wheezing in a breath, Dean clenched his jaw and couldn’t answer. All he could do was push back against the crushing pressure on his neck and wait for the sound of bone to start cracking.
“Go back, Dean,” Castiel said. “And watch over him while you still can.”
The weight on his neck was suddenly gone and Dean rolled quickly onto his back, choking on muddy water and raising his hands to stop the angel’s foot from coming down again and finishing the job. But nothing happened. Dean looked up through his trembling hands and saw he was alone. He sat up slowly to see he was sitting in the center of the crossroads with the angel no where in sight. The sleet was eating away the fog, but he still couldn’t see much farther than past the headlights.
Looked like the little get together was over.
His hand came away from his mouth bloody, and with a wince his thoughts were forced to the fields of death that Castiel wanted him so badly to see. Staggering towards the car, he hurried his pace just in case the man might be waiting nearby to observe his departure. Sliding into the driver’s seat, Dean slammed it into gear and put the pedal to the floor going in reverse.
He was going to take the angel’s advice and watch out all right.
Because if there really was a God, he was one sadistic son of a bitch.