Two Months Later
Sam and Dean were driving down one of the side country roads towards the site of a case that looked to be werewolf in origin. Dean had been quiet for a while; in fact he’d been quiet the whole time they’d been in the car. He shut the stereo off and turned his head just slightly to look at Sam, “Sam, I know I haven’t talked to you about all the stuff that’s been going on with me.”
“Dean, I understand you don’t want to talk about what happened to you in Hell, but what you’re doing? I don’t understand that.”
Dean suddenly pulled the car over to the side of the road, turned off the engine and looked at his brother long and hard, “I wasn’t in Hell for 4 months Sammy,” Dean said with an angry edge to his voice, “Time works, I don’t know differently down there,” He looked away, out the window trying to hold on to the sanity he had felt slipping from him for a long while, “It was 40 years.”
“Oh my God Dean, why didn’t you tell me?” Sam was trying to understand the implications of that statement and waited for Dean to continue.
“I couldn’t Sammy”, Dean took a deep breath and looked straight ahead, “Everyday my soul would be torn apart in ways you can’t even begin to imagine. Then suddenly I’d be put back together to go through it all again the next day.” Dean had to stop for a minute as his emotions ran high, the pain of the memories of Hell were ever present in his mind. “Then this demon, Alastair, he would come to me at the end of every day and tell me it could stop, that all I had to do was agree to put someone else on the rack. Some other lost soul would suffer, but I’d be free.” Tears silently fell and Dean went through it all again, “I held out Sammy. I held out for 30 years, but I couldn’t. I just couldn’t take it anymore and one day I broke. I broke and I accepted Alastair’s offer.” Dean’s voice broke, his breath hitched with the pain from his memories, “I put souls on that rack and I did terrible things Sam. Things I can never forgive myself for”.
“God, Dean, I can’t even pretend to understand what you went through.” He laid a hand on Dean’s shoulder, “You held on for 30 years man, most people wouldn’t, couldn’t”.
Dean suddenly got out of the car, hurriedly walked a short distance down the dirt road and stopped. He closed his eyes threw back his head and yelled at the top of his lungs. He fell to his knees, still yelling, over and over, he looked at the ground in front of him and pounded. He poured all of his anger and his rage into the ground.
Sam got out of the car and went to his brother took him in his arms and held him. Dean leaned slightly into his Sam and let the tears fall and let Sam comfort him.
After a few minutes Dean broke the contact got up and made his way to the Impala, sat on the trunk, head down he felt spent and hollow. He looked up at Sam who had a worried look on his face.
“Dean, man…..” Knitted brow Sam tried to understand. He walked up and sat by his brother and laid a hand on his shoulder.
Dean didn’t turn to his brother, but he appreciated the fact that Sam was there. “Sammy, I…….I’m broken. I’m broken and I can’t seem to fit all the pieces back together. This thing with Giles, I know you don’t understand. I don’t expect you too. I’m going to tell you this once and once only then don’t ask me again Sammy. I need it. When I’m down there with him letting him do those things to me, these confessions and feelings in me break loose, I can let go and I can feel again. Some piece of me slides back in place and in a strange perverse way I’m being put back a little at a time. So, please just give me this and don’t ask me about it.” Dean looked at the brother he has given everything to protect and saw that same fierce protection staring back at him and it broke something in him, but also gave him something back.
“Alright Dean, I’ll back off. You do what you need to, but just remember I love you man and I’m here for you.” That’s all that needed to be said. Dean felt a little lighter for finally telling Sam what was going on with him. His shame was still deep and he didn’t know if there was anything in this world that could fix that, but being there with Sam finally telling him made bearing the burden a little easier. So the brothers got back in the car knowing nothing else needed to be said. Dean turned the radio up loud signaling he didn’t want to talk anymore.
They got to their destination; found that their instincts were right and ganked the werewolf with a small amount of effort. The brothers were glad for once that they had an actual home to go back to. Each of them was still silent as they made their way back to their own rooms. Sam immediately fell onto his bed without cleaning up and went right to sleep. Dean however was too wired to sleep. He went to his dresser and started to get ready for a shower but saw the collar sitting there. He stood there looking at it for what seemed like forever. He picked it up, holding it for a minute and for the first time since it was given it to him he put it on. He went downstairs and hoped to find Giles still awake. He lucked out and saw the older man in the den reading a book on Angel lore, sipping whiskey. Giles looked up, took off his glasses and saw Dean standing there in the shadows, legs apart, hands in his jean pockets staring back at him.
“Dean.” The young man stepped forward into the light of the den and Giles saw he was wearing the collar. “Well, okay.” That’s all that needed to be said between them. They stared at each other for a minute when Giles got up and went down the stairs and waited for Dean to follow. Dean knew it was going to be a bad night, but he was compelled to go down there anyway. He walked into the dungeon closed the door behind him and it shut with a soft click.
“Cas, are you sure Bobby is okay? We left him there vulnerable”.
“Haven, Bobby is tough and knows what he is doing. If we aren’t there, they won’t hurt him”.
“Cas, I’m not feeling so good,” And before she could say more, she heaved to the side of the road. She didn’t really have anything in her stomach because she hadn’t really eaten. Ever since she had gotten her grace back she didn’t need to eat, but her stomach kept growling and she kept getting nauseous.
“Cas, I think…..I think I’m hungry”. She looked at him incredulous
Castiel looked at Buffy with a strange expression on his face, “Buffy Angels don’t get hungry”.
“Well Cas, this one is and if I don’t get some food, I’m going to get really cranky.” Which was an understatement because she was also having mood swings; Angels also didn’t get mood swings.
“Do you think it’s safe to go to a diner, maybe something to go?” He knew she had money; Giles kept putting some in her account, just in case. Castiel conceded knowing that if they didn’t do something, this, whatever it was, would only get worse.
“Okay, but we have to be very careful”.
“Cas, I’ve been slaying Demons, Vamps and who knows what else since I was 15. I can handle Angels, as you’ve seen. We’ll be fine. We’ll be fast. Man, I could go for a cheeseburger and French fries. Ohh and pie, I really want pie”. Cas shook his head and remembered a certain young man who has an unhealthy obsession with pie.
“Okay, I know a place.” They ended up at a small out of the way diner that Sam and Dean often stopped at on their travels.
“Be quick we need to be on the move as soon as we can”. They entered the diner, sat down and ordered, to what Cas thought was a lot of food.
“Oh My God, this cheeseburger is AMAZING Cas, try it.” Cas did as she asked even though he knew it was useless. He did not understand how she could taste it. “Seriously I don’t know how I’m able to taste this, but this is like…..like…..” All of a sudden they felt a dark presence walk up to them, pull up a chair and sit down. Buffy stopped in mid-chew and swallowed hard.
“Who...Who are you? You’re not an Angel, I know the presence of an Angel, and you’re not a black eyed freaky demon”. She looked around and saw the diner had been emptied of people and they were the only ones still there.
“No, Ms Summers, I am neither of those. I am Death”. He stared at her looked deep into her soul and teased a memory to come forward.
“Yes, yes I remember you now, I saw you when I jumped in the portal. You said,” It took her a minute to remember their encounter. “You said that you wanted to come for me personally, that all warriors should be respected with Death himself.”
“So I did Ms. Summers, or should I call you Buffy? And how are you Castiel?”
“Fine, But I don’t understand what you want, or why you are here”.
“You are going to be doing something very important in the next few months. I can’t give away the ending, but you need protection. I may be Death but I don’t want utter destruction that is not in my nature. You see I have a twin sister and her name is Spring. She wanted me to seek you out and give you these”. It was a pair of rings with a beautiful unusual stone in the center and large wings that wrapped around the sides. They stared apprehensively at them till Death beckoned them to put them on. They started to put them on their right hands when Death interrupted, “Un huh, wrong hands”. He gently took them and placed each ring on their ring fingers of their left hands.
“Yes, Ms. Summers. My sister tells me you two are true soul mates. You have played out this scenario through several lifetimes, but it always ends up wrong. You Buffy were given grace, to help you finally achieve the goal you both have been striving for. Though she can often be quite dramatic, I have seen what you two must accomplish. The Key will be instrumental in achieving this goal, as well as the Winchester boys”.
“But why? Why are you helping us? You’re Death”.
“Ms. Summers, Death is just a part of nature. Spring and I are true forces of nature. We will always go on no matter what happens in Heaven or Hell because we are outside of them. But, Heaven and Hell will try, once again to take what is rightfully yours”.
“Well, that’s not cryptic at all”. Castiel said as he looked Death right in the face.
A young waitress came up and handed Death a bag of food, but where she came from neither one wanted to think about. He said, “These rings will help to hide you from the other Angels until its time. When you return again to the Hennessey mansion, they will disappear and you will be on your own. But, your goal will be achieved”. And with that he disappeared and left the couple staring after the spot he just occupied, dumbfounded.