The Passenger (6/6)Author: hansbekhartArtist: prettifyRating:
NC-17 (Dean/Victor, Dean/Castiel)Summary:
Victor Henriksen survives Lilith’s attack only to be a plunged into a world beyond his experience and understanding, full of demons, angels and trickster gods. War is coming. He turns to the Winchesters for help, but Dean’s year is running out and Sam is desperate to find a way to save his brother. An outsider in their war, Victor finds himself caught up between good, evil and sheer chaos. He and the Winchester’s newfound allies must scramble to save a world that has already been destroyed by Armageddon. Slash. (Character death, horrific imagery, violence)
Ruby’s wrong. In the end, they make it three hundred miles.
The Chevy’s as much of a beast to drive as he thought she’d be, the engine a dull roar that takes muscle to bring to life, the wheel stiff and uncooperative in his hands like she knows Victor’s got no business driving her. She smells like Dean, like old leather and gasoline, and it’s for a while it’s hard to breathe past the ache in his chest. He looks over at Sam, boneless in the passenger seat. It’s on the tip of his tongue to ask about the things Sam can do, why the demon wanted him. Whether Sam really could have saved Dean somehow.
He turns back to the road. The world around them looks like the surface of the moon, covered in minerals and ash. There’s a light rain of it drifting down on them like snow, bright in the Chevy’s headlights. The quiet is oppressive, unnatural. His fingers itch towards the radio. AC/DC would be a fitting soundtrack to the end of the world, but he can’t make himself push the tape in.
The road is open in front of them, the headlights penetrating only a little better than the days when the whole world went black. It gets to him, digging gnawing teeth into the back of his neck as the adrenaline fades, as his brain tries to slot things together enough that they make sense again. He looks over at Sam. Wants to reassure him. Wants to be reassured.
The sky’s creaking closer to dawn and his eyes feel gritty and red. He can see clouds at the edge of the horizon and he squints at them, his eyes flickering back and forth between the road. They’re moving quickly.
Something hits the windshield with a dull crack and both of them flinch, Sam jerking upright like he’d fallen asleep. “What the fuck what was that?” he asks.
There’s a smear of red on the windshield and for a bright, painful second Victor’s eyes cut helplessly away from it. He makes himself look; one long wing survives, impossibly delicate. It twitches in the wind and slides upwards on the glass. A second one hits and this time Victor sees what it is before it explodes across the windshield. A third locust snags on the wipers and breaks clean in half on the blade. The sun’s risen high enough now that he can’t fool himself about the clouds. It’s not the weather that’s on their tail.
The locusts get thicker in the air. Sam and Victor draw closer together instinctively. The sound of them is loud enough that Victor thinks they’re already in the car, crawling through the pipes, tickling down the back of his neck. There are noises under the hood; the locusts are being sucked through the fan. The rancid smell of them cooking on the hot engine fills the car and memory hits Victor like an assault: stepping on grasshoppers in the field behind the house, Anthony egging him on, jumping through the tall grass.
The left headlight breaks and then the right, one right after another like they planned it, and Victor hits the breaks hard enough to throw them both forward. As soon as the car slows they’re on it, clustering around the windows, the sides, scrambling under the belly of the car, looking for ways in. The cab gets dark as they slowly block the light out.
“Jesus,” Sam whispers. He’s got a knife in his hand like that’ll do something.
Victor goes for the door handle and Sam grabs his shoulder. “What are we supposed to do?” he hisses. “They’re gonna get in sooner or later.”
“Something’s coming,” Sam says, and Victor’s hand clenches around Sam’s collar.
“What is it?” he asks, and Sam shakes his head, his eyes wide.
When he feels air blow cool against the back of his neck all he can think about is the locusts, they’ve slid their way inside the car somehow and they’ll be peeling it apart, but suddenly it’s quiet, so fucking quiet that he shakes his head. Hits it with the butt of his palm before he realizes that there’s nothing wrong with his ears. He can see the locusts all around them through what little light they have left, long legs shivering over the glass, but he can’t hear them anymore.
Sam turns first. The knife still in his hand, like it’ll do anything. The angel is in the back seat, his head bowed over folded hands. “You don’t understand,” he says. “There’s nothing I can do. They’d hunt us all down - every one of us. They’d burn that house down with Dean’s body inside of it.” He turns his hands over, staring at the palms. “It would be just as easy to raise him from the ashes as from a stinking, rotted piece of meat.” The light flickers over his lowered face.
“Castiel,” Sam says, and the angel looks up. His eyes would be wild if there was any recognizable emotion in them, any sign or expression that a human being was looking out of them.
“The righteous man who begins it,” he says, his voice grating over every word, “is the only one who can finish it. I have watched over your brother for a very long time, Sam. You know as well as I do the courage that Dean possesses. His sacrifice is meant to be, and his reward will be greater than you can imagine. God is not cruel. He’s chosen Dean because He knows what each of us are capable of. It’s fate
. There’s nothing that I can do.”
Something’s coming, oppressive like summer heat. Victor can feel it in the uneasy slide of horror down his spine. He can’t breathe. He can almost imagine the locusts forming, swarming around some sort of grotesque shape, the outline of fingers rubbing against the glass. Begging to be let in. Castiel glances up at the locusts like he hadn’t noticed they were there. The look on his face is something like recognition. It’s on the tip of Victor’s tongue to tell him that none of that fucking matters, if he can’t help them than he’s not any more welcome here than in Bobby’s yard, they’ve got more important shit to deal with right now. But what he says is, “I don’t believe you.”
They both stare at him. Castiel looks like Victor’s slapped something precious right out of him. His mouth is slack. “You wanna tell yourself that you don’t have a choice,” Victor says, “You go right on ahead. But it’s not true and it’s still not right and you know that Dean would never want this, no matter how good it turned for him or anyone else in the end.”
Castiel flinches and Sam leans forward, moving into the angel’s space. “Why did you come here?” he asks, voice low. “Why’d you come back?”
Castiel shakes his head. His mouth shapes the words like he’s still getting the hang of using it, of breathing and talking and wearing a body. He shakes his head again, harder this time, his eyes sweeping down and away from them. He reaches two fingers towards the window almost absently and locusts fall away from it. Victor can hear them hit the ground.
“Because,” Castiel says. “Because I don’t believe that this is the will of Heaven, and I don’t know what else to do.”
“Save Dean,” Sam says.
“Help us stop this before it gets any worse,” Victor says.
Castiel is silent for a long time. Victor’s hand clenches around the door handle. They won’t get very far on their own but he’ll be damned if he’ll die like this.
“I have been away from home,” Castiel says, “for a very, very long time.” He glances up at them and nods once, almost imperceptibly. And then he’s gone, and there’s sunlight streaming in through the car windows. Sam and Victor look at each other, saying nothing.
The Chevy leaves black marks on the highway when Victor flips the car back around and points her towards home.**
Bobby’s house is quiet when they peel into the front yard, the brakes shrieking in protest. The car doors slam closed and the sound fades away. They can hear voices coming from the other side of the house. They don’t speak; they haven’t spoken since the angel disappeared, haven’t said anything past that long glance in the front seat, hardly daring to hope. The sun beats down on the backs of their necks and the thought of saying anything now is terrifying. Like looking over your shoulder when you’re almost out of the underworld.
They circle the house. There are refugees in the back field and Bobby Singer sitting on the porch, a glass held loosely in his hand. He looks at them for a long second and then holds a hand up to shield his eyes from the sun, like he’s not quite sure what he’s seeing.
Victor sees Bobby open his mouth, breathe their names. Then Sam catches him up with those long arms and holds him tight, his voice urgent, loud enough for Victor to hear, “Where’s Dean? Has anything happened?”
Bobby pulls back from Sam and shakes his head, clearly bewildered. He reaches a hand to Sam’s shoulder, places the other on Victor’s. “You,” he says, “I didn’t think I’d see you boys again.”
“Where’s Dean?” Sam asks, and moves towards the house, but Bobby’s grip only tightens, pulling the material of Sam’s shirt tight.
“He ain’t there,” Bobby says. He looks Sam full in the face when he says it and some distant part of Victor’s brain admires that even as he knows what’s coming, what Bobby’s going to say next. He saw it in Bobby’s face – fuck, it was only last night, feels like years have passed – when he said they were leaving. That they were going to take Lilith down. “I buried him this morning. Didn’t – didn’t think you’d be coming back.”
Sam’s hands shake where they’re resting on Bobby’s shoulders. “Bobby,” he says, and Bobby cuts him off. “I said not – ”
“You said a lot of things, Sam Winchester, and you don’t want to ask me how many made sense and how many were plain nonsense. If you’ve come back for Dean, you’ll find him over yonder. Buried him next to my wife. I didn’t burn him, but that’s all I –”
That’s as far as he gets before Sam takes off running. Bobby stares at Victor, agape. “But I don’t –”
“Grab some shovels,” Victor says, and follows Sam.
The graveyard is through the copse of trees, down the creek that runs opposite the Salvage Yard, bracketing Bobby Singer’s property. He can see the tan of Sam’s jacket through the trees. Sam runs heavy and loud, crashing through the woods, not caring. He runs like he knows where he’s going. It’s far enough to run to, far enough that when he bursts onto the high ground and see what happened to the trees, he barely even thinks about why no one heard them fall.
Castiel is kneeling next to a fresh grave, his hands folded and his head bowed. He doesn’t look like he’s praying Dean back to life; he looks like all the air got sucked out of that body he’s wearing, his face so bleak that for a moment, all Victor can think is, he couldn’t do it. He couldn’t get Dean back.
Then Sam hits the ground so hard he skids a little, screaming over his shoulder for Victor to help him, can’t you feel it
. And as Victor takes a faltering step forward, he does. Something cracking wide open underneath his feet. He stumbles trying to get to Sam’s side quick enough. They push their hands up to the elbows into the soft dirt, still loose from the burial, still wet from the morning fog, Castiel a statue across from them, for all he helps or all they even see him because there, warm, gritty with dirt, swimming slowly towards them, they grab Dean’s hands.
Sam lets out a sobbing breath and pulls so hard Victor’s sure he’ll dislocate Dean’s shoulder. Victor’s belly down in the dirt to get down deep enough to slide one arm under Dean’s, his other hand fisted in Dean’s t-shirt. His fingers stretch towards air. His face is smeared and dirty and Sam lets go of his brother long enough to swipe shaking hands across his eyes and mouth. It takes both of them to pull him out, bent sharp at the waist, Victor’s hand up under Dean’s knees. He kicks himself free and for a long moment they just lie there, Dean half on top of Sam, Victor half on top of him, his face pressed into the dusty skin on the back of Dean’s neck. He can’t make himself let go.**
Dean is quiet and skittish as they bring him back to the house. He stumbles twice and eventually Sam gets under one arm and Bobby gets the other. Bobby’s still weeping quietly; Victor can barely see it on his face but he swipes at his face with his free hand as they walk, and he’s barely let go of Dean since he hauled them all upright off the ground and pulled Dean into a hug as fierce as the one Sam gave him.
The angel follows at what Victor suspects is a polite distance. Sam ignores him completely. Bobby shot a questioning glance at Victor, but otherwise hasn’t asked.
Victor wants to say thank you. He thinks Castiel might already know, might feel just as scraped open and raw as the rest of them, if angels feel the same sort of things that humans feel. Victor’s starting to think that maybe they do; Castiel’s eyes haven’t left Dean yet.
The house is blessedly quiet when they struggle up the back porch and up the stairs. Sam detaches from the group and takes Dean into the bathroom by himself. Victor lingers in the hallway. The door is still halfway open and he can see Sam’s careful motions. Settling Dean carefully on the toilet. Turning on the water, checking the temperature on the palm of his hand. Kneeling in front of his brother, voice pitched too low to hear, Dean staring down at him like a man dying of thirst. Victor can’t look away. Can barely make himself breathe.
When he finally, finally tears himself away, Bobby’s eyes are full of tears, and the angel is gone. Victor reaches out, takes Bobby gently by the elbow. “Come on,” he says softly. “I know I need a drink.”
Bobby shakes his head, unblinking, even as he turns towards where Victor’s guiding him. “He’ll be there when you come back,” Victor says, and hopes it’s true.**
A long time later. The sun lingers on the horizon. There’s a garden out back and Victor lingers on the dry beds, hope a physical thing in his chest. He imagines tomatoes, big summer vegetables, something living and still warm from the sun. It feels possible even though a few weeks ago there was frost on the ground and he’s sure that Bobby hasn’t been out here for a while. Bigger things to worry about than a few plants.
All he finds are withered leaves and one enormous zucchini plant, thriving beyond all reason. He stays outside anyway, squinting in the last bit of sunlight. He’s not sure what he’s waiting for, angels or gods or Winchesters. Either way, it gets cold and someone hollers that dinner is served, and the house is warm and welcoming enough that he bites the bullet and goes upstairs.
Sam is asleep, his legs halfway off the bed, his whole body curled towards his brother. Bobby’s in the rocking chair, his chin dipping into his chest, the glass still half full at his elbow. Didn’t need the drink after all, Victor thinks. Dean is sitting cross-legged on the bed, scrubbed clean and dressed in a pair of old sweatpants. His hair stands up like he stuck his finger in a light socket, and he’s got one hand wrapped around the back of Sam’s head. Just holding on. The other hand held loose in his lap. He smiles when he sees Victor.
Victor sits at the head of the bed, shifting the pillow back to make room for himself. Dean watches Victor settle, something indefinable in his eyes. He looks different. Which only makes sense. Victor wants to pull the hem of his shirt up, see what kind of marks Hell left on Dean. “You, you, uh,” Victor says hesitantly, and Dean’s eyes crinkle at the corners.
“Sam told me about,” Dean says, leaving the sentence hanging between them, all those miles of dark road and blood. “I’m sorry. I didn’t want to, like that.”
“Yeah,” Victor says. “Would’ve appreciated a warning.” He doesn’t even know why he says it. It doesn’t matter now, never did. Dean grins, but it doesn’t stay on his face very long. He looks down at Sam. Sam’s fingers are wrapped around Dean’s bare ankle. Tightly, even though his face is relaxed in sleep, all that worry smoothed out and gone. The look on Dean’s face is peaceful. It’s uncomfortable to see it, like Victor shouldn’t be seeing something so intimate.
“I didn't ask for it,” Dean says softly. “I just didn't have anything else, besides Sam. I never regretted it. Not even once. It was - I was -"
"I know," Victor says and Dean shakes his head.
"You can't know," he says, his voice scraped raw. He pushes the hair back from Sam's face, the look on his face sheepish. "I mean -"
"It's okay," Victor offers. "Are you, um. Are you hurt?”
“Nah,” Dean says, and clears his throat. It sounds like it hurts him to talk. “Not a mark on me. Just this.”
Victor sucks in a breath when Dean pulls up his sleeve. The mark is raised, peeling flesh, shiny and red against the paler skin of Dean’s bicep. Victor’s hand hovers uncertainly over it, not even all that close. He’s afraid to touch Dean, some part of his brain remembering cold flesh that he never even went near. He makes himself reach those last few inches and Dean’s unmarked skin is as warm as he ever was, as warm as driving in the Chevy, Victor’s knuckles brushing Dean’s arm as he reaches for the radio, never on accident.
The handprint on Dean’s arm is cool against Victor’s palm. He’s not expecting the temperature difference and he flinches a little. “Yeah,” Dean says. “I know.”
He stays still as Victor traces two fingers across the surface of the scar. “I,” Dean says, after a long time. “I remember him too. He came for me. It was like, um. It was like staring at a comet up close. At that point I could hardly remember anything except for Alastair, the demon who – who was there too. Just him and all of the stink around us. Then …” Dean trails off. He looks down at his own hand, turning it over, palm upwards.
“He saved you,” Victor finishes softly.
“Yeah. I think he did." Dean looks up at Victor, and then glances down towards his brother. "But what if he was wrong?" he asks rapidly, like he's afraid of the words coming out. "What if I could've saved everyone? What if I could've won the war for them?"
Victor is silent for a long time, holding Dean's gaze. "If you'd stayed, you mean? You think that would've been a good trade? They never even noticed us dying, Dean. They just wanted to win."
He wants to tell Dean that there are a lot of good reasons to die. A lot of good reasons to suffer. He wishes he could know for sure, whether the angels would have turned the world into a paradise or if they would have scorched it clean. He'd ask Coyote if he could, but he's done getting on his knees and praying to something he doesn't really think will answer. It's down to them now. An old man, an angel and a pair of brothers worn thin as an old pair of jeans. And him. Victor can't help but grin, staring down at his own hands. It really is kinda funny.
“I, I think I –," Dean says, hesitantly. "Where is he? Did he – ?”
“No idea,” Victor says. “I turned around and he was gone. Seems prone to it. Bet he’d come if you called, though,” and Dean smiles, the motion of it flickering over his face. Something grateful in his eyes.
Silence stretches between them, and Victor says, “Go. I’ll watch over them.” Dean nods. He reaches towards Victor, and some traitorous part of Victor’s brain expects Dean to kiss him. Instead his hand slips around Victor’s bicep, holding on, and he leans forward until his forehead rests against Victor’s shoulder. Victor turns his face towards Dean, breathes in the smell of Bobby’s cheap shampoo, the warmth of Dean’s skin. His heart feels full enough to burst.
Dean doesn’t close the door behind himself, but it’s still at least a little bit like the last time he left Victor.
Victor’s been in Wonderland for a long time now, what feels like years and years of the world not making sense. He remembers poring over pathology reports, cold case files, autopsy notes, a thousand gleaming nonsenses that only ever added up right when he put in his own formula of logic, switched a few of the numbers around, ignored a few more. It still doesn’t make sense, how a man can sell his soul and rise five days later (a small part of Victor’s brain that makes him think he might just be getting used to this says, well, the Beatles never beat out Jesus either), pulled out of the Pit by an honest to something angel. And here, next to him, more proof he never needed of what else was out there. Without Dean, Sam curls further in on himself, his hands pressing together under his chin. Victor still has no idea what they want Sam for. If it’s as bad as what Heaven had in mind for Dean.The End.
Chapter Five * Author's Notes