caranfindel (caranfindel) wrote,
caranfindel
caranfindel

Fic: We are merely players, performers and portrayers (3/3)



Continued from part 2

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2010

They can smell it before they're even inside the Norway pavilion grounds. Deep, musty, the odor of putrid flesh in a stagnant swamp, mildew and rot and death.

"Jesus. That stench must be our draug," Sam mutters.

"Yahtzee. Guess we're in luck that he showed up tonight. We can get this wrapped up quick." Dean stops to unzip his bag and retrieve the two stakes, handing one to Sam.

The odor intensifies as they get closer to the Maelstrom. There's no other sign of the thing, so it has to be inside the ride. They stop at the service entrance, with the fake Norwegian village looming overhead, and Sam picks the lock. He yanks the door open to reveal yards and yards of roped-off corridor, designed to herd park visitors into a neatly stacked queue. Finally they get to the entrance to the ride itself. To their right is the onboarding area, where the boats disappear into a low tunnel. On the left is the wider area where riders disembark. If the draug is hidden within the bowels of the ride, either path will eventually lead them to it.

Dean heads to the left and motions for Sam to follow, but Sam shakes his head. "We don't want to accidentally chase it out into the park," he says. "We need to keep it confined to the ride. We should separate and take both ends. You start at one end, I'll start at the other, and we'll catch it in the middle somewhere."

"Yeah, sounds good." The thing is, RoboSam is a pretty decent hunter, as long as you can deal with the rest of it. Dean points at the onboarding area on the right. "You take the entrance. I'll take the exit. Make some noise if you see it."

Sam rolls his eyes when he sees Dean has assigned him the smaller entrance. But he heaves his bag onto his shoulder, grasps his stake, and begins creeping along the narrow catwalk next to the tracks, ducking under the low ceiling of the tunnel entrance. That's another good thing about RoboSam; he generally follows directions now. Should have thought to tell him don't let me get turned into a goddamn vampire. And also don't bang the witness and have some empathy, for God's sake and just be Sam, okay? Just please, please be Sam.

Dean goes left, toward the spacious deboarding area. After carefully traversing the catwalk for a few yards, he has second thoughts about the logistics of attacking a huge creature with a wooden stake at close range on such a narrow trail, and trades it for a sawed-off shotgun loaded with iron rounds. He can take the thing down with iron first, then finish it with the stake. It'll work. He shoves the blunt end of the stake into his back pocket, practices a quick draw, and decides he's okay with a foot and a half of sharpened wood against his back.

A few yards down the track, the tunnel widens into a model of a Norwegian village. The stench is so intense, there should be wavy cartoon stink lines floating above the quaint fake businesses. The damn thing's got to be close. He reaches back to check the stake, shotgun poised for action in his right hand.

Then he sees it. It's massive. Humanoid, but swollen to half again the size of a large man. Its skin has a blue-grey tinge, and damp dark hair hangs lank over its bloated face. It's something that was once human, with people who loved it. But now it's a monster, a soulless shambling corpse leaving a trail of destruction in its wake, and you can't let things like that go unchecked. You just can't.

Dean aims his shotgun at its chest and fires. The draug stumbles backward, and Bobby was right. Iron definitely doesn't kill it. Doesn't even seem to slow it down much. It catches itself, opens the toothless cavern of its mouth in an angry howl, and continues shuffling toward him. But that's okay; the shotgun blast will have alerted Sam. He'll be here any minute, and they'll team up on this big son of a bitch.

The draug moves faster now, maybe because it's angry or scared, but either way it's faster than he anticipated, and he's trying to decide whether to go for the head or the knees and shit, maybe they shouldn't have split up after all, because things are moving way too fast here and he could really use some backup. Before he can get another shot off, the draug is practically on top of him. It sweeps out with one huge arm, knocking him off balance. Dean stumbles over something, God knows what, and ends up on his back. The shotgun clatters off somewhere out of reach, but he manages to roll to his side long enough to grab the stake.

Before he can get up, the awful stench of the draug fills his nostrils, making his eyes water, and he realizes it's right at his feet. It leans over him, its spongy greyish face split with a smile like a bloody gash. Dean lies flat on his back and clutches the stake in both hands. But he's got no leverage in this position; he can't stab the thing from here. Instead, he extends his arms and holds the stake in front of him like a shield. If the draug attacks, it will at least have to run itself onto the point before it can do much damage to him.

But the draug doesn't attack. It gazes at him with an appraising tilt of its swollen head and speaks, low and deep and gurgly, as if it's speaking around a mouthful of water.

I know who you are, hunter. I know what you seek.

"All I seek is your death, you stinky freak."

He just has to keep it occupied. Keep it busy until Sam shows up. (Don't think about Sam standing by, watching him get turned by a vamp. Don't don't don't think about that.)

It laughs wetly. Not my death. My death is immaterial to you. You seek his life.

Oh, Christ. His life. It's an oracle. Bobby said the draugar can see into the future but he didn't think, it never even occurred to him, but here it is and it's a fucking oracle, it knows things, and if he asks, it might answer. And the part of him that warns don't trust the monster, Winchester is pretty much drowned out by the part screaming ask the oracle, ask the oracle, you idiot.

(Where the hell is Sam?)

It's now or never. There's nothing left to lose. He lowers the stake slightly and swallows hard. "The one I seek." His voice sounds impossibly small. "Will I find him? Will I ever get him back? How do I get to him?"

It laughs again, a horrible, wet sound. There is but one path.

Suddenly the draug shrieks in pain as a point of wood erupts from its chest. It staggers to its knees and there's Sam, behind it, plunging a stake through its body. It collapses before Dean can roll completely out of the way. Half of it lands on him and God, it's heavy, it's so heavy, he can't breathe, and the stench is unbelievable, and its breath is cold and damp as it shudders and gasps its last words next to his ear.

Dode og doden… dode og doden.

Then it goes limp, and Dean clamps down a surge of panic as its bulk presses him into the ground. Finally Sam manages to heave the beast partway off of him and Dean half rolls, half crawls out from under it.

"Jesus," Sam pants, as he releases the draug back onto the ground. "This thing weighs a ton."

Dean lies on the ground for a minute, gulping air. Then, ew, no, taking shallow breaths instead, because its wet stink still clings to his nostrils.

Sam kneels next to him. "You hurt anywhere?" he asks, gently probing Dean's ribs, and he sounds concerned enough that Dean almost feels guilty for remembering the vampire incident.

"I'm fine," he says, pushing Sam's hands away. "I need a Silkwood shower, though."

"Yeah, you do. You reek." Sam wrinkles his nose and stands, taking a couple of steps back.

Dean climbs to his feet and nudges the corpse with a foot, begrudgingly impressed that Sam stabbed the bastard in the back and managed to skewer it through the heart. "Good work. Now we gotta figure out how to get this thing out of here."

"I saw something in the Cast Services building. I'll be right back." Sam trots off, away from the darkened buildings of the Norway pavilion. "You should find a hose or something," he calls over his shoulder.

Yeah, he really should. Dean prowls the area, finally discovering a garden hose, and as he rinses off as well as he can, he repeats the monster's last words in his head, committing them to memory. Dode og doden. Dode og doden.

When Sam returns, he's pushing some kind of giant utility cart topped with a few folded tarps. "Cut its head off now?" he asks. "It'll be easier to move if it's in smaller pieces."

Dean shakes his head. "Nah. If we cut it up here, it's gonna leave a huge, bloody mess."

"What part of that is our problem?"

"All of it, Sam. All of it is our problem. You think we aren't on security cameras right now? You think they aren't gonna pull those tapes if they find a pile of draug goo when they come unlock the doors?"

"Fine." Sam shrugs. He's still mostly pliant, mostly agreeable. Mostly acceptable.

(What if this is what Dean ends up with? Is mostly acceptable enough?)

They haul the huge, heavy body onto the cart and tuck the tarps around it. And then it's time for another trip to the garden hose because damn. The stink. Sam rinses the small amount of draug goo away, then holds the hose as Dean scrubs at his hands. Out of nowhere he says, "So, there at the end. It sounded like you were… talking to it?"

Well, crap. There's no telling how much Sam heard, and Dean absolutely doesn't want to have the I haven't quite given up on putting your soul back, even if it might kill you or turn you into a vegetable conversation.

"It just started talking, so I figured I'd try to keep keep it distracted. Waiting for you to finally show up." He shakes the excess water from his hands and takes the hose from Sam, holding it out for him.

Sam rubs his hands under the cold water. "What did it say?" he asks casually, without looking at Dean.

Dean shrugs. "I don't speak Norwegian." Technically, it's not a lie, just kind of a misdirection. Sam calmly rinses his own hands without responding. So maybe he thinks Dean's being completely honest with him here. Or maybe not. RoboSam's tells might not be anywhere close to Real Sam's tells, so who the fuck knows what he's really thinking.

Dean needs to change the subject.

"All right. We gotta behead this thing and burn it. Where are we gonna do that?"

"Yeah, I was thinking about that. St. George Island is just a few hours from here. Remember, where we released that Black Madonna? It's pretty remote. Seems like a decent place for a good old-fashioned pit barbecue."

Dean didn't think he'd ever see that island again, at least not with Sam at his side. His brother's simmering hatred of the place is still fresh in his memory. But, well. It wouldn't be the first time he was wrong about never seeing something again.


~~~

They swing by their hotel to pick up the Impala and the rest of their stuff before the drive to St. George Island. "I'll lead," Dean says, as he tosses their gear into the car.

Sam frowns. "Actually, I was thinking I should lead. If you're right behind me, you can see if the tarps get loose or anything."

He's right, but Dean can't help grimacing at the thought of spending hours on the road trailing a truck full of dead draug.

"I mean, if you want to take the lead, you can drive the truck," Sam says. "I can follow in the Impala."

"No, that's not happening," Dean sighs. "Let's just get the hell out of Dodge. You first."

Sam drives the old pickup carefully, staying just under the speed limit. Dean stays close on his tail. It turns out St. George Island is actually about a six hour drive from Orlando, which is a lot of time to think. To think about living with this version of Sam, and whether it would be possible to train him, raise him (again) into a good hunter and a better man. To think about what could happen (could happen) if Sam's damaged soul were put back into his body. To think about leaving his brother's soul in Hell, giving up on him for good. To think about what's happening to him down there.

The last time Dean drove to St. George Island, there was a sunset in his rear-view mirror and a thunderstorm in front of him. He was fresh out of Hell and his brother was at his side and their world had turned upside-down, but he thought he'd managed to save Sam from the worst thing that could happen to him. This time, there's a sunrise behind him and a revenant or two in front of him and an empty passenger seat beside him.

Yeah, it's a lot of time to think.

~~~

It's early in the afternoon when they get to the little town of Eastpoint. They hide the truck in a wooded area just north of the bridge to St. George Island and drive the Impala back into town to eat more drive-through burgers and pick up supplies. Dean stops at a hardware store for a sharper hatchet than the one stashed in the trunk, more lighter fluid, and some heavy-duty trash bags. "You ought to go check out that grocery store down the street," he tells Sam, flipping him the keys. "They're probably not gonna have road salt at a hardware store in Florida." And yes, that's true. But it's even more true that if your shopping list makes you look like Jeffrey Dahmer, you've got to have a certain personality, a certain amount of charm, to become just another normal customer in the clerk's eyes, as opposed to someone who sticks in the memory as suspicious murderous psycho type. RoboSam doesn't have that personality. Real Sam, on the other hand? Real Sam could buy duct tape and handcuffs and a meat cleaver, and then bring out the puppy dog eyes and ask you where he could get his hands on some chloroform, and you'd draw a map for him and wish him good luck. But Real Sam isn't here. And Dean suddenly misses Real Sam so hard that he has to stop and catch his breath.

Dean takes his time in the hardware store, flirting with the clerk though his heart isn't in it. By the time he leaves the store, the Impala is sitting in the parking lot again, her gleam hidden by a light coating of road dust. She's definitely owed some tender loving care as soon as they get to a better place. Which is basically any place that's not Florida.

Dean loads his bags into the back seat and finds that Sam bought not only salt, but also bug spray, cold beer, and several bags of ice. Because apparently they're going to have a goddamn picnic. He opens the driver side door and Sam looks up, a little surprised, before scooting over to the passenger seat.

"You planning a party?" Dean asks, motioning with his head toward the back seat.

Sam shrugs. "When I asked if they had big bags of salt, the cashier asked if I needed it to make ice cream. Guy was a talkative son of a bitch, and kinda nosy, so I figured I'd go along with it. I told him we're having a family cookout. Grandma's bringing the rest of the ice cream supplies, and the cousins are bringing hot dogs."

Dean should be pleased that RoboSam figured out how to look like a real boy all on his own, and that he even cared enough to try, but now all he can think about is their shitty pack of long-lost cousins. Gwen, Mark, Johnny, fucking demon-possessed Christian. Sam hunted with them, trusted them for some reason (or didn't trust them and hunted with them anyway, which is possibly worse). Hunted under Samuel's leadership. Under Crowley's direction, for fuck's sake. None of them gave one shit about him; none of them would have risked anything to protect him. To be fair, Sam certainly felt the same way about them. Anyone from that cutthroat crew is lucky to still be alive. Christ.

"Sounds like a good party," Dean mutters. "If we're lucky, Grandpa will show up, so I can finally shoot him in the face."

Sam chuckles. "Yeah, I wouldn't mind plugging the old bastard myself. Sounds like the perfect Campbell family reunion."

I don't even know what Sam is, Samuel had said, his lip curling with revulsion. What the fuck did Sam do when they were hunting together? Was Samuel's willingness to throw Sam to the wolves evidence of how awful Samuel was, or how awful Sam was?

Dean's hands go white-knuckled tense on the steering wheel as he adds another entry to the list of things he needs to not think about.

~~~

They dump one bag of ice into the cooler and empty the rest over the draug's corpse, covering the whole mess with the tarps again.

"You know, Dean, this works," Sam says.

"Huh? Yeah, sure. Wait until dark, chop it up and burn it on the island, dump it in the gulf. It's a good plan."

"No, not the draug. This." Sam motions to the two of them. "You and me. Hunting together. We make a good team."

"Oh. Yeah." But it's not the hunting part that's the problem.

Sam nods enthusiastically, as if Dean had said that out loud. "I know still need some help in the empathy department. You're gonna have to be my Jiminy Cricket for a while. But we still make a good team. We can still do this. Just like this."

"I know, Sam, it's just…" Dean runs a hand down his face and finishes his beer and tries to think of a way out of this conversation. "It's complicated," he finally says, and almost winces at how lame that argument is.

"It's not really all that complicated. Yeah, I know, you want your Winchester family reunion. But you gotta believe what Heaven and Hell are telling you about putting my soul back. I mean, you understand why I wouldn't be on board with that decision, right?"

But it's not this Sam's decision. The decision belongs to the brother who asked Dean to kill him if that was the way to stop him from turning into a monster. That's still the choice Sam would make. Isn't it? Wouldn't Sam want Dean to try to put him back together rather than letting RoboSam run free, damn the consequences?

And yet, this guy beside him is Sam too, more or less. Maybe this is his Winchester family reunion, sitting right here, looking at him with something that's almost (but not quite) his brother's puppy dog eyes. Maybe Bobby's right, and this is as good as it gets. Maybe Dean has to let go of his Sam, and let the best part of him go to Heaven, where he belongs. Maybe he has to give up on his best case scenario.

(Maybe Dean wouldn't even be in this situation if he hadn't already given up on Sam, if he hadn't stood by, helpless and impotent, and let him jump into the pit.)

"You know will happen if that fucked-up soul you're so crazy about gets stuffed back inside me," Sam says. "Are you that sure it's the right thing to do?"

Goddammit. Dean's not sure about anything at all.

"Sam, you know I'm never gonna do anything to hurt you."

Sam holds his eyes for a heartbeat, then nods once and looks away. "Yeah. Right. I know you wouldn't deliberately take me out or anything. But I also know that when it comes right down to it, if you think you have a chance to get him back, you're willing to let me be… collateral damage."

He turns back to Dean and stares at him like he's daring him to deny that. But Dean can't say a word.

~~~

After sundown, Dean unceremoniously chops through the draug's neck and shoves its head into a heavy plastic trash bag. He feels the ghost of its cold, fetid breath on his cheek as it whispers its last words. There is but one path… dode og doden… dode og doden. Whatever the hell that means.

(But it means something.)

He lets Sam chop off the arms and legs, because he may as well put those new muscles of his to good use, and they load the remains into more trash bags. Not surprisingly, draug pieces don't smell any better than a whole draug. They heave the bags into the back of the truck and cover them with the tarps. Sam takes the lead again, with Dean following him as close as common sense allows, over the long bridge to St. George Island, and then down to the channel that cuts the island in two. There are more big, expensive houses now, and fewer old cabins, but there's still enough construction equipment to provide a decent place to hide both the truck and the Impala.

Sam "borrows" a boat again, just like last time. They carefully distribute the bags and equipment (and yes, the beer) around the boat and row across the narrow channel to the uninhabited half of the island. There are fewer trees on this side of the channel, and they have to row a lot farther than they'd like, but eventually they find enough coverage to make Dean comfortable. They drag the offal-laden rowboat onto the shore and up into the shadow of a small patch of scrubby trees. Normally they'd just build a pyre right on the surface, but they don't want the glow of the fire to be visible from a distance, so they have to dig a pit first. "Like digging a goddamn grave," Dean mutters, because he doesn't want to think about other types of holes in the ground. Other pits.

They're only four or five feet down before Dean declares it good enough and climbs out to start pitching the contents of the trash bags into the hole. Sam shrugs compliantly and joins in, grimacing at the smell. Dean dumps a canister of salt and a couple of quarts of lighter fluid onto the pile of draug parts, then lights a book of matches and tosses it in. "Wonder how long it's gonna take for this mess to burn down," he mutters. But when he turns around, Sam's not there to hear him; he has wandered down to the shoreline. Dean's not inclined to join him, so he chugs a beer, checks to see which way the smoke from his fire is drifting, and plops down into the sand on the other side of the pyre.

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Sam wades out into the Gulf until the water is up to his chest, then bends over and dunks his head, scrubbing at his scalp with his fingers. And Dean should probably do that too, should wash off the sweat and the last of the draug goo, but right now he doesn't want to get up. This side of the island is calm and peaceful. As long as you stay upwind of the godawful smelly waterlogged monster burning down to ash, it's a nice place to lay on the beach and savor that slight separation from reality that comes from a good beer buzz. It's the closest thing to a vacation he's likely to get. Sam seems to agree, coming out of the water to stretch out on the sand next Dean.

"We should have come to this side of the island the first time we came over here," Dean says.

"We did," Sam says. Then he laughs. "But I guess you wouldn't remember. You were dead."

Something cold tiptoes down Dean's spine. "What?"

"The first time you and I came here, you were dead. It was after that whole thing with Gabriel, when he was pretending to be the Trickster," Sam says, casual as anything.

"So you brought me here. After I died."

"Yeah. After you died the last time, and I realized I wasn't going to wake up on a Tuesday again." Sam sits up and brushes the sand out of his damp hair. "I put you in the car and headed north on 75 and, I don't know, just drove for a while. Then I realized I had to bury your body somewhere. But the whole east coast of Florida is too populated. And I didn't want to dig a grave in a gator-infested swamp, so central Florida was out. So I turned west, and eventually I saw a sign for a national park, and I thought that'd be good."

Sam describes his actions as though they happened to someone else, as though he was't sitting here, on a beach where Real Sam brought Dean's body, casually recounting a day so horrible that Real Sam couldn't even talk about it.

Dean shouldn't know this.

"So this is where you buried me?" he says, quietly.

"Just up the beach." Sam points, as if it means nothing. "There's a tree standing all by itself. You might even be able to see it from here." Dean doesn't turn to look. He doesn't want to see it. "It seemed nice and private. Quiet. Safe." Sam shrugs. "I don't know, man. I'm not even sure what I was thinking. Honestly, I was pretty fucked up."

"Well, I mean." Dean tries to clear a lump in his throat but it won't budge. "I died, so, yeah. You were fucked up." Because Dean being dead is supposed to fuck Sam right up. That's the rules of the game. You die, your brother is inconsolable.

"Extremely fucked up," Sam laughs softly. "Jesus. Looking back on that? Shit like that? That's what makes me think that maybe it's better like this. The way I am now."

"Without a soul."

"Without the nonsense that comes with a soul. Without all the sadness, and the guilt, and the fear. And part of me knows that's wrong. I mean, you're supposed to have a soul, so it must have been better when I had one. But I'm a better hunter without it. And it just seems like life is easier. You know what I'm talking about. Remember when you were fresh out of Hell, and you wished you couldn't feel anything? You recognized it."

Yes, but that was about Hell. That was about not feeling Hell. It wasn't about feeling so little about anything that you could sit here and laugh about that time your brother died.

We keep each other human, he told Sam once. After they accidentally cracked Hell open. After Zachariah showed him what he was capable of without Sam at his side, showed him what Sam could do without him. We keep each other human. And Jesus, he shouldn't have needed that. He shouldn't have needed Zachariah to convince him to look out for his little brother. When Sam called him and told him he was Lucifer's chosen vessel, he should have jumped in the car right then and there, should have driven non-stop until he was at Sam's door. He shouldn't have had any priority other than saving Sam from the literal Devil.

And in the end, Dean utterly failed at both of those jobs. He didn't save Sam from the Devil and he didn't keep him human.

Sam turns back toward the tree marking Dean's grave. "I marked the spot so I could find it when I came back, in case the tree disappeared somehow. I put the coordinates on my phone, I took pictures from every angle to make sure I could find the exact spot again. I was terrified I wouldn't find it. I was seriously fucked up." He laughs again. Because it's funny now, apparently.

"I'm sorry, Sam."

"Nothing to be sorry about," Sam replies easily. "It wasn't real. None of it really happened."

"Yeah, you're right. Doesn't mean anything."

"Nope." RoboSam smiles like he doesn't have a care in the world. Because, well, he doesn't. The experience Sam never would talk about, couldn't talk about, is literally just another hunt to this guy. A funny story.

It was only a few weeks ago that Sam sat at that picnic table with Dean and said I'm not your brother; I'm not Sam and I don't even really care about you and I've killed innocent people in the line of duty. Dean had shoved all that aside at the time because it didn't matter. Because Sam was going to get his soul reinstalled, and it wasn't going to matter that RoboSam was literally the opposite of Sam in every way that counted. There wasn't any reason to even consider hanging onto RoboSam.

"I need some shut-eye," Dean says. "You can take watch, Mr. I-Don't-Sleep." Sam tilts his head at Dean like a goddam angel, or something else that isn't human, and, well. If the shoe fits. Dean closes his eyes and pretends to doze, though he's not sure he'll actually ever be comfortable sleeping in RoboSam's presence again.

It might kill the little bit of Sam you got left, Bobby had said, but that's not true. If someone gets killed, it won't be Dean's brother. He's already gone.

~~~

The draug is burned down to greasy bones and bits of charred flesh by the time the sun comes up. When the remains are cool enough, they use the shovel to scoop the mess onto a tarp and load it into the little rowboat. This time Dean rows as Sam scatters the remains over the water, making sure to spread them out over a large area. Neither speaks much. Maybe Sam (not Sam) thinks he won the argument. Or maybe he realizes Dean has nothing left to say to him.

~~~

They get back to the Impala, reeking of of smoke and sweat and seaweed (and draug, still the lingering odor of draug, Christ) and don't stop driving until they're in Georgia. Dean's choice. He doesn't think of the loose end they left behind until he pulls up at the first motel across the state line.

"Hey, what about Marta? You need to say bye or anything?"

"No. She wouldn't be expecting that. I mean, we both knew what this was." He turns to Dean, his face suddenly earnest. "Unless you think I should." Because of course Dean is his own personal Jiminy Cricket, and he's trying to hard to be a real boy. Isn't he? But this doesn't feel like Sam wanting to do the right thing. It feels like Sam (not Sam) wanting to look like he wants to do the right thing. It feels like RoboSam saying, See, I'm him, I can be him. Except he's not him. He's the guy who laughed about how fucked up Sam was when Dean died. And this stranger who's trying so hard to save his own life is a poor substitute for the brother who would, who did, freely give his own life in order to save everyone else's.

"Nah." Dean's voice scrapes its way out of his dry throat. "I'm sure it's fine."

RoboSam nods, satisfied.

(The thing is, the draug didn't say you'll never get him back. It said there is but one way. That doesn't mean it can't happen. It means exactly the opposite. It means there is a way, and Dean just has to figure out what it is. And finally, maybe, he has a lead.)

RoboSam doesn't dispute Dean's claim to the first shower, because he follows Sam's habits and patterns, except in every single way that actually matters. When Dean has scrubbed as much as he can stand to scrub, leaving his skin pink and tender, he relinquishes the bathroom. He doesn't make a move until he hears the water running again. Sam will have to wash his hair twice, at the very least, to get the stench off of him. It will take time.

Sam's suit jacket is packed neatly in his bag. Agent Plant's card, with Marta's number scribbled on the back, is still in the pocket. Dean punches the number into his phone, then slips the card back into Sam's pocket and steps outside. He's relieved and a little surprised when she answers. She's not using the accent, so she must not be at work. Which means she can probably speak freely.

"Marta, it's Agent Page from the FBI. Listen, I wanted to let you know that we've closed the case. It's, ah, it's not going to be made public, and I can't really give you any of the details. But you can tell your uncles… tell them it's over. Tell them they were smart to take the precautions they did, but they don't have to worry any more. Okay?"

"Precautions?" She sounds skeptical.

"Yes. I think they'll understand. And keep this number. If anything happens again, anything similar, even if it's just that the smell comes back, give me a call. Or give my number to your uncles, and tell them I can help with this kind of thing."

"Okay, well, thank you. So much. For whatever you did." She doesn't point out that she's already got Sam's number. Doesn't mention him at all. So either he was right that goodbyes were unnecessary by mutual accord, or whatever happened between them was messed up enough that she's not interested in further contact. Dean really hopes it was the first one.

He's almost afraid to bring up what he really needs to talk about.

"Hey, Marta? Your name tag said you speak Norwegian. Is that true?"

"Oh, sure I do. I'm not an expert, but I'm conversational. Why?"

"Just curious about something I heard. I thought it might be Norwegian. It sounded like dode og doden. Mean anything to you?"

"That's, ah, død og Døden. It means death and Death. But død means dying. When you die. And Døden is a singular noun. It means the Death. You know. The Grim Reaper. Skeleton in a black cloak with a scythe. That Death."

"Okay. Yeah. Thanks."

"No problem. Thank you again, Agent Page."

"Yeah. Take care, Marta. Remember to call me if anything like this happens again."

Dean ends the call and stares at his phone. Okay… death and Death. Okay.

It's a start.


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Epilogue


Dean lets his plan marinate for a couple of days, hoping something better will come to mind, but as he expected, nothing does. He takes advantage of another of Sam's showers to make the call.

"Hey, Bobby, I need to find someone who'd be willing to kill me."

Bobby snorts. "Lucky for you, I got a long list. Including myself sometimes."

"Very funny. What about someone who could kill me temporarily and then bring me back to life?"

"That's a shorter list. What the hell are you up to, boy?"

"Do you know someone or not?"

"I might know a guy… old friend of your dad. Assuming he's still in the business. But you've got a shitload of explaining to do before I give you his number."

"I just. I need to talk to somebody."

"Somebody you gotta be dead to talk to?"

"Pretty much."

"Dean, I don't know what you think you're gonna—"

"Look, Bobby," Dean interrupts. "My brother is in Hell. I might have a way to get him out. What do you think you can say that's gonna stop me?"

Bobby sighs. "You Winchesters are gonna be the death of me. Get your ass up here, pronto. I ain't doin' this over the phone."


~~~

(Dean's life is still a joke, but it might be getting better.)

Knock knock.

Who's there?

Dean.

Dean who?

Dean Winchester, and I'm coming for my brother, you son of a bitch.


~~~

Endnotes

Camping, hiking, etc. are allowed the on sanctuary of Little St. George Island. But the more protected island worked better for my story, and as I am the lord and supreme ruler of this little imaginary world, so it shall be.

Despite any opinions voiced by characters in this story, I really do adore Disneyworld. And they really do forbid adults from wearing costumes in the parks, though I doubt Men in Black is something they'd have a problem with. (Once again, my world, my rules.) The Maelstrom ride is no longer there (it closed in 2014 and an attraction based on the move Frozen took its place), but as far as I know, the wine and beer kiosk in France still exists. I've never had the Grey Goose Citron Slush, but I'm sure it's wonderful. The Grand Marnier Slush is to die for and I highly recommend it.

Thank you to iheartmyfandoms on Tumblr, who provided the Norwegian translation years ago, and probably doesn't even remember doing it!

The song Dean sings in Disneyworld is "Living in the Limelight" by Rush.
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