Never Use a Rock for a Hammer
Dean, Sam. R. Vague future fic
The characters and situations portrayed here are not mine, they belong to the CW. This is a fan authored work and no profit is being made. Please do not link to this story without appropriate warnings. Please do not archive this story without my permission.
Notes: So. I haven't actually written much since January. Mostly because of real life, a little because of the hiatus...but mostly the new job is sapping a lot of my energy and what I've got left, the rest of my life has first claim to. Nevertheless, I did start something a couple of weeks ago -- a bit of ramble, a lot of pictures in my head, no real idea where I was going but it was interesting.
And then we had the episode last night.
This is all there is for now. As with all else, if it inspires you, run with it.
Dean watches Sam crouch in the field, press his hands to the dry late autumn grass and clutch at it. He's only ten feet away and Dean is leaning against the rear quarter panel of the car, the heat in the metal a nice counterpoint to the chill in the air.
He doesn't like this. Watching Sam do this makes him think of hunting dogs and leashes and he half expects Sam to sniff the air. Sam is more than a tool to be used to hunt down evil, but in the middle of something this ugly, he's the best tool they have.
Dean doesn't like it, but he lets it happen, eyes flicking between Sam and the edge of the field, the treeline beyond.
For long moments it seems like Sam will get nothing from this, no resonance or echo or impression -- and as much as they need the information, Dean's just as glad...
...then Sam drops to his knees, big hands spread wide, clutching at the dirt, chin falling to his chest, and body so tense he doesn't even have to say anything for Dean to know he's got something. He pushes off the car and crosses to Sam, dropping to a crouch beside him and slides his fingers into the sweat-dampened hair at the nape of Sam's neck. The loss of the warmth of the car makes him shiver. It's cold, but beneath his hand Sam feels like he's running a fever.
"There was a house...a farm...they used stones...the foundation. A cairn of stones, something underneath...older. Bound by the rock and the...the..." Sam hisses, like he's in pain and snatches his hands off the earth, and rocks back, almost ending up on his ass, but Dean catches him, holds on, rubs Sam's back. He doesn't press; he waits while Sam pants through whatever it is, until Sam presses the heels of his hands to his eyes only to snatch them back again, like his own skin burns him.
Dean grabs his wrists lightly, shifts so that he's in front of Sam. "What was bound...what got buried and let loose, Sam?" His voice is steady, his grip tight enough for Sam to feel but not hard enough to hurt him. "Are there bones?"
Sam shakes his head and takes a steadying breath. "It's in the rocks. Bound to the rocks...but they bulldozed the field, they moved the rocks...it's...it's everywhere, anywhere..." Sam says finally sounding appalled and overwhelmed, his voice gravel and dust as he fights back against being overcome by whatever it is he's sensing.
Dean eyes the open field -- the marks of bulldozers and heavy equipment already overgrown. There's not a rock in sight. There's no sign of the house, or whatever was here before it, there's nothing at all except what Sam's pulled out of the earth and the dirt and the past.
Six people are dead -- two of them by their own hands. Five more that they know about have gone batshit insane. It had taken three days for Sam to get a better fix on the pervasive sense of wrongness he felt the minute they hit town.
Dean pushes himself up and pulls Sam with him, getting a shoulder under Sam's and heads them back to the car. Sam is shivering now, the heat in his skin dissipating and the sweat still lingering making him feel the cold more sharply.
Rocks. Fucking rocks. You can't burn rocks and even if they found them all and blew them up, chances are they'd just spread whatever evil this is wider.
He tightens his arm around Sam's waist, taking more of his unsteady weight. "Can you find them...the rocks?"
Sam stumbles and then stops and goes terribly still. His fingers clutch the sleeve of Dean's jacket. Dean can feel the heat build under his clothes, can see the flush in Sam's cheeks. Sam's pupils dilate even in the afternoon sun.
"Yeah," he says after a moment, his voice still gravely, but so distant, Dean knows Sam's not really entirely with him any longer. "Yeah...I can find them. Then what?"
"Let's find them then we'll worry about it," Dean says and nudges him forward. Sam goes easily, still concentrating on what he's seeking. Dog on the scent.
Sam is more than a tool, more than a weapon. But right now, he's the best tool Dean's got. A tool he'll use.
He hates this.
It takes them a week before Sam is sure they've gathered enough (most) of the rock together, and built a cairn way out past the edge of town. They had to empty the trunk and use it like a truck -- Dean's pretty sure the shocks on the Impala are shot to hell. The people in the town give them food and gas and a family clears out of their small house for a couple of days to give Sam and Dean a place to rest, to sleep.
They won't meet Dean's eyes, won't look at Sam at all. They're grateful and afraid, terrified and obligated.
Dean sits on the back porch of the small house and watches the rest of this small community work their fields, using draft animals and strong backs to till and plow. The smaller communities are doing better than those that cling to the big cities, although better is relative. The smaller ones will survive. The cities...well, the cities are hollow, empty places, the ones that remain. It's only been a couple of years since the war ended and there's still food in those cities, even power in some of them but it won't last.
There's prophets wandering in the wilderness again. There's full moon rites and gospels being sung in small country churches. Dean got holy water from a Buddhist monk a few weeks ago and it works as well as that blessed by a catholic priest.
He gets up to grab a beer, part of their tribute, their payment for ridding the town of something old and dark that was snatching people underground, their bones rising up in the fields. The beer is home brewed and warm and the taste of yeast is a little too strong.
He checks on Sam and finds him still sleeping. The flush has drained from his skin, the heat dissipating to something less feverish. He's slept for a day and a half -- a long time but not enough for Dean to worry about him. Not yet. He looks worn and thin, and Dean feels the same.
He thought, he thought...once the Yellow Eyed Demon and his armies were defeated it would be different. He thought he wouldn't live through it, wasn't sure Sam would. Wasn't sure Sam cared if he did.
Gordon Walker had been partly right -- there was a war brewing but it wasn't the special kids, the partly human that were the threat. Not really. They could be turned, they could be used but they were no more than weapons, not the cause. Not the real threat.
The ground beneath the house shakes, the glass in the windows rattles and Sam moves restlessly in his sleep. Dean stomps on the floor lightly, deliberately: once. twice. three times.
"Shut the fuck up, you bastards," he mutters and finishes his beer. Sits on the bed and rubs Sam's back through his shirt until he calms, snorts, and then snores, settles.
He can feel the scars even through the Sam's clothes.
They don't stay long. Moving on by dawn on the third day, Sam groggy and clumsy but there's no tension around his mouth and his eyes are clear.
Behind them the whole town breathes a sigh of relief that they are gone, just like they did when they arrived.
They head back to Blue Earth, as much a home base as any place is. Along the way they see more than one gallows tree, bodies hung and crucified, burned. Some are new, some are little more than bones held together by charred and leathery tendons. This is their territory, the bodies their markers.
There are still demons among them, the ones that made it through before the gateway collapsed. The war is over, but the insurrection hasn't stopped. Once the gate was breached no one could have known what would come through, what would be unleashed. Things long sleeping in the earth, in the forests in the mountains, myths and legends, all of them woke up.
Dean's heard say there are dragons, real dragons, in China again. He supposes they're lucky Godzilla was more imagination than myth. Or King Kong for that matter.
"The Stay-Puf marshmallow man," Sam says and blinks sleepily at him. Dean grins.
"I don't know, Sam. I'm thinking that one we'd know how to toast."
"Giant s'mores. Is there water?"
"Yeah, hang on."
He pulls over, then twists to reach the bottles stored in the back. There's few cars on the road, they haven't seen another in weeks.
He pours water from a gallon jug into a cup for Sam; the cup is metal and Sam twists in the seat to take it, the cotton blanket underneath him scrunching and sliding. Dean lets him drink then carefully arranges the blanket to cover the exposed vinyl, checks to make sure the cotton sheet on the dash is secure. Sam's careful usually, but he's tired now.
He'd offered to give up the Impala, but Sam said no. While there's gas, while it ran -- it got them where they need to be faster than horses could. He would be careful.
And where Sam wasn't, Dean would be. Sam's hands are scared from burns that have smoothed to shiny glossy skin. He's missing the first joints of the first two fingers of his left hand, the third finger completely gone. He does okay, though, says it doesn't hurt anymore, but sometimes Dean catches him rubbing at it, staring at the missing bits.
He wears Dean's old silver ring on the middle one. When he rubs it with his thumb Dean can feel it in his own hand. Sam finishes his water and Dean takes some. "Ready?"
"Yeah." Sam twists around, curling up impossibly in the seat so he's facing Dean. Dean rubs a hand through Sam's hair and Sam closes his eyes.
Dean rubs his back against the cracked vinyl of the seat and starts the car again. Sometimes he can feel the scars on Sam's back too.
Pastor Jim's farmhouse is still there. There's a couple of new trailers there, a corral for horses, a half dozen cars in the yard that work, a dozen or so more that don't -- kept for parts. Bobby's dogs meet them when they pull in and Bobby's not far behind, crutches navigating the steps expertly, shriveled leg dragging. Bobby would just as soon cut it off but Doc Whitstone says no. There's blood to it, just no movement -- There's no hospitals really and surgery now is always a last, desperate resort.
Bobby gets Sam's door open so he won't have to chance touching something he shouldn't. In the door of the house, in the shadows Dean can see someone lurking, a flash of a pale cheek. Lenore and her clan, not hampered by daylight but disliking it all the same. The vampires are unlikely but useful allies in this.
Vampires can't be possessed. They can feed on those who are, speed and strength weakening the human host long enough for others to do what needs to be done. But the demons know the weaknesses of the vampires too and more than one has fallen to the taint of dead man's blood flowing in an animate corpse.
It's hardly worth the effort to try and save those the demons have taken, unless they can catch them soon after. The bodies are broken and damaged, exorcisms able to send the demons back to hell but not to save the humans that have been turned and the demons aren't stupid.
The safest towns are those that have springs or wells, water sources that can be blessed and made holy. More than once Dean and Sam have been asked to drink the water before the towns or the farms or the people will let them do anything else.
They've got thirty people living here now, on and off, including the vamps. A few more show up every month or so and they've started work on building another building, like a dormitory. The folks of Blue Earth have done pretty well by them, sharing food, helping with the building. They knew Jim, and now they know Bobby and Dean and Sam. They know the names and the faces -- they know what they do.
Anything else, they don't want to know about.
Sam's waiting for him, rooted to the spot until Dean comes up beside him. He's got that glazed look again and all Dean can think is , "No. Not again. Not so soon." But Sam doesn't say anything and Dean can hope he's only tired still. He moves forward and Sam follows.
They sleep in the big house, in the large room at the top of the stairs. Lenore hangs back, along with Curtis who is a whole lot less belligerent than he was the first time Dean met him.
There's food and Dean's stomach rumbles. Bobby keeps a pot on the stove, usually a stew or soup or chili, something that can bear the low simmer, made from whatever he has on hand at the moment. People -- hunters, psychics -- move through the house and the compound constantly. Sometimes they stay a night or a week, sometimes only for a meal, to exchange information, pick up fresh horses or whatever they need. There are maybe a dozen way stations like this in the midwest, more on the coasts, hardly any in the deep south. They'd lost most of the south except for pockets here and there. Not just to the remaining demons and dark things that roam at will, but whole sections of real estate, blackened ground, tainted, scorched earth and salted fields. You can still hear music in New Orleans, and singing on the back roads and byways but there's no one living there to play it, no human voices lift in song. It's all ghosts and memories.
Even the demons won't go there.
The dead walk, the living keep dying and some days, bad ones, Dean wonders why they even try.
He feels Sam behind him, big hands on his shoulders and Dean leans back for just a moment. Feels Sam warm (normal body heat) and solid behind him. Outside he hears Bobby's grandchildren shrieking with laughter -- feels Sam turn toward that sound like a plant to the sun and remembers why they keep at this.
"You boys have any trouble?"
They both turn and Dean can't stop the smile from breaking across his face. "No, sir. Not much," he says.
John Winchester's voice is gravel and ash, his face scarred and worn. He's thinner than Dean can ever remember, but not as thin as when they first got him back, when he looked to be more skeleton than man. He moves like a man in constant pain and he is, but if Hell couldn't break him, a little pain won't either.
He touches them both like he's a little afraid they might disappear. They both lean into his hands for the same reason. It's more than affection, it's reassurance.
The gates of Hell cracked open and the graves spewed up their dead. It might not have been a second coming but it was a coming.
"You should eat something," John says and makes his way to the kitchen, to the stove, ladling out bowls of stew, tearing off chunks of bread. Lenore, amazingly, makes awesome bread.
After they eat, they'll sit, they'll go over the maps that John and Bobby keep, look at how much territory they've reclaimed. Where to press forward next. Sam will fall asleep with his head on Dean's lap and his feet on his father's like when he was a kid. Too big for it to be comfortable for any of them but it will happen just the same.
After midnight, when the house is quiet and the fires burn low, Dean wanders into the yard, catching sight of the full moon behind the clouds. They keep the grass cut low, keep the boundaries clear. The graveyard is small but not as small as it was when they first got here.
He has no trouble finding what he's looking for. There's no stone, just a wooden placard, faded with time and weather.
There's no bones in the grave; not even the fragments of the charred calcium and ash that was left when Bobby had burned and salted his body. Done him right.
Bobby had nearly died of shock when he and Sam had shown up three years ago, with their father strung between them. He'd damn near peppered all three of them with rock salt.
Beside his own headstone is another, bearing Sam's name. When they'd dug up the graves (because Bobby insisted) they had found nothing, not even any indication that the earth had been turned at all. It had taken some fast talking from Sam to convince Bobby he wasn't going crazy.
Some days, Bobby's still not sure he isn't crazy.
Some days, Dean's not so sure either.
Part II - Never Tell a Joke Without a Punchline
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