Peace When You Are Done Pt. 1
Seven Years Ago
Chuck is a little lost. He has piles of notes. He's got nearly all of the "Righteous Man Raised from Hell" arc written into drafts, and four books written, polished and ready to be sent out. He's even still got the Scandinavian investors willing to publish.
He's just out of visions. He hasn't had a vision in months.
It should be good. No more headaches, way less drinking. He's got books outlined all the way out to Sam's swan dive into the cage, which is a pretty awesome ending, though Chuck is considering tweaking it. He's thinking he might go "off prophesy" a little bit. Have Dean push Adam/Michael into Hell after Sam jumps and then have Adam/Michael pull Dean in after him. He hates the idea of the brothers separated at the end of the series, and he's seen Dean since he lost Sam. He doesn't want to just leave that end flapping in the wind.
The point is, he's sitting on forty more books with a hungry (if small) fan base waiting for them and he has a way to continue to publish. He doesn't need visions anymore.
But he was a two-bit hack working at a video rental place and drowning in student loans before Supernatural, and now he's a real writer–it makes a little nervous to plow on without knowing that an occasional jolt from Heaven will keep him going.
He thumbs through the neatly bound manuscript for "Lazarus Rising".
It's done. It's good. It's a great way to revitalize a series that's been out of print for a couple years and bring in new readers with an updated mythology.
Chuck finishes his whiskey and calls the investors.
Dean used to hate it when Cas called him beautiful. They'd be in bed, or occasionally on couch, and Dean would be naked and feeling vulnerable, already trying so hard to convince himself that he deserved to enjoy Cas's skin against his, deserved to enjoy the way that Cas marveled at him, and Cas would throw out a compliment that made him feel… girly.
He'd asked Cas to stop a couple times. And he would, for weeks, until it would pop out of him like he couldn't stop it.
Dean can take it as a compliment these days. He loves the way Cas looked at him when he said it. How soft Cas's fingertips were against his skin as Cas slips him out of his clothes. The way Cas whispers it in his ear as they press together.
"I love you, Dean."
Dean tugs Cas's tee-shirt over his head and throws it into the Impala's front seat. Cas isn't a fan of sex in the Impala, but their bedroom back in the cabin is not a workable solution right now and this lake is buzzing with too many tourists to just throw a blanket out in the field and strip down.
Cas shuffles off Dean and they both chuckle at the utterly unromantic pause as they sit next to each other in the back seat and shuffle out of their pants before Cas throws a leg over Dean and pulls himself onto Dean's lap again.
"Mmm, love you too, Cas. Bought that ring months ago."
"I bought yours months ago as well. I wasn't sure of an appropriate way to ask."
"You could have just handed it to me when I got off work," Dean says. "Given it to me before bed." He rolls his hips up against Cas's as Cas pushes closer. "At dinner. Thrown it at my head while I was walking out the door. Anything. I would have said yes."
Cas sets his forehead to Dean's pulling back from the kiss like he's going to say something. He set sets his palms to Dean's neck and slides his fingers up into Dean's hair, before he seems to give up, just diving forward into the kiss. Dean works them down onto the seat, grinding and grabbing at each other until the windows are fogged up ad they are completely covered in each other, sticky and gross, Cas sprawled over Dean, face tucked into Dean's neck.
Dean had his left hand twined with Cas's. He could hear the tiny click noise their rings made with they touched together.
"In a metaphorical sense," Cas sighs, breath hot against Dean's neck. "I think I could stay here forever."
Dean chuckles, wraps his arms around Cas's waist and silently agrees.
His brief experiences with Supernatural fans have made Chuck a little shy about fame, and unlike other authors, he has been violently threatened by his heavily armed main characters several times.
But fame and fortune still has its perks. He's been on TV. He put a hot tub in at his house. He bought a laptop so he can work while he's jet setting around. It's pretty great.
And now, after the release of "Heaven and Hell" he's in New York to meet with a Big Six editor who can launch him word wide, and freaking out a little bit that one of the next books he has written and ready to go is still tentatively titled "Criss Angel is a Douchebag" and that in one of the next few book he himself turns up. As a prophet. The idea of trying to explain that is giving him a stress headache.
Now that he knows that the visions are of real events and not just things he's randomly making up, he feels less free to mess with them. He's put in all the stuff about Sam drinking demon blood back into the books. He's calling the prophet book "The Monster at the End of This Book", which has been the title ever since the day Dean and Sam burst into his house, but he's rewriting the character of Chuck to be more of a parody of himself instead of actually himself, so that he doesn't feel like a complete and utter douche about it.
He's choosing a tie, worried that the green one that his mother sent him for his birthday makes him look like a pushover, when it happens: the splitting headache, searing through his brain.
He stumbles to his bed and lies there in agony for a few minutes before the image moves into his mind. Sam in the Cage, on fire and screaming. Sam in Heaven, running. Sam nowhere, really, and then finally, back on Earth. Back in Cas and Dean's living room, which he recognizes from the time an Archangel abducted him for a poker game and sleeping on their couch.
He lets the worst of the pain subside, calls Dean, gets yelled at by Dean because they've already found Sam, and then books it to the meeting because he already has the beginnings of another headache but if the old pattern holds he should have a few hours before the next utterly debilitating and now totally unnecessary vision hits.
He pushes himself through the meeting, buys a 5th of whiskey before calling a cab and is starting to buzz by the time he gets back to the hotel. By the time the next vision hits, he's drunk enough that the pain's not that bad.
He sees Dean kneeling in a field, beaten bloody by Lucifer, then sees him pile himself into the Impala. He sees him toss Bobby's hat into a river and go back to the house in Sioux Falls. He sees Dean wallow and drink. He feels his despair, feels him decide to go upstairs and end it all, then sees the card fall through the mail slot. Feels Dean's confusion and just the edge of hope at the words "Wait and See". Sees him work in the yard and feels the spark of pure joy when Castiel returns.
It takes a couple hours for the headache to stop. When it does he makes himself some coffee to try to sober up a little and pulls out his laptop. He stops, hands hovering over his keyboard at the large wooden hotel desk, when he realizes.
Castiel's been back for months. Dean's been living in that house with him for months. He's already heard all about the whole "Wait and See" thing.
He started his day with a vision of something that happened hours before hand, and now he's got a vision of something that happened months ago?
Chuck's freaked out, so he pours himself another shot, and writes it all down.
Sam is trying to coax Sophie down for a nap, but in all honesty, he's not trying that hard. It's sunny and beautiful out. The bees in the field of wildflowers behind the cabin are humming. Libby and Tanya and their mother went into town. Cas and Dean are asleep on the porch, poured into an oversized lawn and wrapped up in each other in a way that would be nauseatingly mushy if Sam weren't so happy for them. His game plan for Sophie's nap has been to bring a book out to his own lawn chair and to read to her with the hope that she'll fall asleep, since her uncles are doing it, so it must be the cool thing to do.
The sisters keep shooting Cas and Dean fond smiles. Chelsea, who knows that they stumbled home at 3:00 am reeking of sex and sweat, is giving them a slightly more mocking smile. Martha's husband Clyde, who has never really been chill about Cas and Dean, looks uncomfortable when he sees them in a way that pisses Sam off. Especially today. They're engaged and everyone's happy for them. Even Chelsea's father Arthur patted Cas's shoulder affectionately when he walked past them. Sam has privately thought for years that Clyde is just an asshole, and this trip is certainly confirming that. There's something about the way that Clyde looks at Martha when she hands the baby to someone that has Sam's alarm bells going off. There is trouble in paradise.
"Daddy? Do you have scary scars?" Sophie asks, yawning just a little as she traces her finger along a long knife wound on Sam's shoulder that he'd gotten from Samhain rising and up to the nick from when Bela shot him.
He tucks his hand more securely around his daughter.
"Why are you asking, sweetheart?" That was usually a safe second question. Sophie was bright, and there was usually more to the first thing she asked then what she said.
"Everyone thinks you have scary scars."
"Well. I guess they're probably a little scary," Sam concedes. "What do you think?"
"I don't know. This one is scary. This one is from a monster, but this one is from a pretty girl."
Sam instantly clamps down the worry that runs through his body at that declaration. Sophie is hard to scare, considering the things she must have seen, but she gets very upset if she thinks she has caused fear.
She keeps tracing. "Monster, ghost, monster, monster, monster, ghost." She shrugs and leans back against Sam's body. "All the monsters got you," she declares.
Sam tightens his grip on her. "Not anymore," he tells her. She nods somberly just as Sam becomes aware that Arthur has been standing behind him. Close enough to hear if he has his hearing aids in.
"I'm happy you don't fight monsters," Sophie yawns. Arthur settles down into the chair next to them.
"Cause your monsters are scary. One of 'em," –she yawns again, setting her head to his chest–"He was melting. And he made everything ice. And he made Uncle Dean cry!"
Sam tries not to think the name and tries not to look upset in front of Arthur. He combs his fingers through Sophie's sun-blonde hair. "Well. He's gone now. Far away."
"Locked up," Sophie agrees.
"Locked up tight," Sam confirms.
Arthur settles down in the empty lawn chair next to them, looking out over the lake and drinking a beer. He hands an open one to Sam. Sophie is quiet. It's about another ten minutes before Sam feels the puff of her breath go steady against his chest and feels her get heavier in his arms.
"She sleeping?" Arthur asks quietly.
"Yeah, I got her."
Arthur nods. "So, monsters, huh?"
Sam clears his throat. "Yeah. Guess the Disney channel isn't what it used to be," he replies
"I bet," Arthur replies, patiently unbelieving.
Sam doesn't reply, just shoots a look toward Dean and Cas, still asleep on each other like teenagers. Or kittens. He'll have to make that comparison in front of Dean later, just to piss him off.
"I ever tell you that I served Sam?" Arthur asks.
"Yes, sir. Korea."
"Yep. Lucky that I didn't see much action. Not compared to others. But I saw enough."
"Got a couple scars. Shrapnel whipped past my arm and dropped a cooking knife on my foot. Nothing too heroic. And I got a tattoo. Cindy was mad when I came back."
Sam chuckled. "What of?"
"A knife through a heart. Thought I was pretty cool back then. Things were different. Racked up a couple of wounds on the force too. Knife cut here and there. Never anything too serious."
Sam nods, thumbing over Sophie's arm.
"Lotta differences between Korea and Afghanistan," Arthur continues. "And I gotta ask: how does a man get so few explosion burns and no automatic weapon wounds, but rack up so many knife cuts and pistol wounds in a modern war?"
It's not an accusation, but it's a gentle challenge. And Sam doesn't have an answer.
Arthur waits, and when it's clear Sam doesn't have anything to say, keeps going, "Look, Sam. You're a good man. Your brother's a good man. His boyfriend's a good man. You're good to my daughter. You're good to my granddaughter, but you're not as good a liar as you think you are. You've got the haunted look, but anyone who ever wore green can tell you were never a soldier. Dean may have been, Cas sure as hell wasn't. So you're not a solider. My next thought was gangbanger, that would explain the knife wounds, but you don't have that smirk and swagger. And everything about you says you've never been in the clink. So. I gotta ask. No war. No jail. No gang. How are you walking around looking like you've been riding around the Old West?"
Sam looks up at him. Arthur's got a very kind face and while it's sternly set, the kindness is still there.
"Was it that bad?" Arthur asks.
"No, sir," Sam replies. "I did a lot of good. I saved a lot of people and I'm proud. But it's hard to explain and harder to believe."
"Try me. Cause my best theory so far is that you did burst out of the Old West, but your teeth are too good and you're too good with the computers," Arthur chuckles.
"I heard you thought we were all juvenile felons."
"Like I said. You've never been in jail. Cas either. Dean… hard to tell with that boy, but I'm assuming not. After a few stories, it's clear he's been around your whole life, but," – he shrugs– "doing what?"
Sam busies himself fiddling with Sophie's hair and checking that she's still asleep.
"You're not going to believe me," Sam repeats.
"I might. Known you for five years. And Bobby mentioned that you boys might have quite a tale to tell. I think I'd believe a lot of crazy stories from Bobby Singer. And I'll bet that what you won't tell me you've told Chelsea, and I'd believe her too."
"Yeah… Bobby's got a lot of crazy stories… and, uh, so do I."
"I'm an old man with a beer and a long afternoon, son. I have time."
Sam takes a deep breath. "Alright. Dean and I grew up on the road because our father was a Hunter."
"And you don't mean deer do you?"
"No. Most of our lives we were hunting one particular Demon, but picked up cases along the way. Ghosts usually, but a couple of vampires here and there. Shape-shifters. Djinn. Wendigos. Kitsunes. We hunted a werewolf one summer when I was thirteen." Sam watched Arthur carefully. His father-in-law was just nodding along. Eyes hardly widened.
"What's a wendigo?"
"It's a man who stayed out in a wilderness winter too long, turned to cannabilism and became a super human man eater. You actually get a lot of them in Minnesota, but not this urban."
"They look human, but when you get them angry or startled, their eyes go gold they grow claws. They kill people and eat pituitary glands."
"Aren't Djinn like genies?"
"Not really. They don't grant wishes. They have a venom, works as a hallucinogenic, makes you live in a dream world while the Djinn spends a couple days drinking you dry. Dean got caught by one a few years ago. Thing had a warehouse full of bodies strung up like beef sides in a meat locker. But we saved a girl. Got her before it did, dropped her off at the ER. Last we heard she was going to make a full recovery."
"Alright… that explains the scars and the look. What about the tattoo that you and Cas and I'll assume Dean have?"
"It's a protection sigil. Makes it so demons can't possess your body."
"Ever been possessed by a Demon?"
"Yeah. Once. For a week. Not exactly a vacation."
"Okay?" Sam huffs. "Just like that? You don't think I'm crazy? Or in a cult, or need to be rubber roomed here and now?"
"Sam- have you ever even worn fatigues?"
"Ever been to Afghanistan?"
"Could you tell me anything about boot camp that you didn't see in a movie?"
"But you got all this detail about monsters. And I'll bet it matches with everything that Dean, Cas, Chelsea and Bobby would tell me if I asked them."
"And you'd protect Chelsea and Sophie from all those things?"
Sam tucks Sophie's hair back. "With my life."
"And that I believe." Arthur holds his beer out. Sam toasts him. "As long as I got you in a truthful mood for the first time, I'll ask this too. What's the real story with Cas?"
"That really will strain your already generous credibility. Maybe give it a little time."
"Not a monster is he?"
"No. He's really, really not," Sam replies.
"He is now."
Arthur chuckles. "Not something I ever expected to hear, but that makes a lot of sense."
"Arthur… there is something else, a little out there, that Chelsea and I wanted to make sure you and Cindy know."
"Sophie's a psychic," Sam tells him. He'd expected saying it like that to feel more like ripping a band aid off, getting it over with as quick as possible and having a sting left behind, but now he feels like he can just keep going. Give his father in law the necessary information and get on with their lives. "She can pick up the mood around her, see images in people's minds, and if she's touching you she can read your thoughts. Kind of. She's four, so it's still just developing, but we're expecting her to be capable of reading thoughts when she's older and we're trying to teach her 'privacy'. I've met a lot of psychics in my time, it's not something I'm worried about, it's just… something we think it would be best for everyone to know about and accept."
That seems to finally blow Arthur's cool a little bit. He pinches the bridge of his nose for a few moments, takes a deeper sip of his beer and sighs. "Well. Okay then."
Sam nods. Sophie snuffles and burrows down against him. On the porch he sees Cas sit up, stretch, look at Dean and lay back down.
It's not a normal life, Sam thinks, but he'll take it.
Chuck keeps getting visions and wondering a little bit what the point of them is. The chronicles of Dean and Cas at Bobby's house is hardly paperback material, and it falls short as far as prophesy as well. He debates on whether or not to tell Dean that he's having visions again but ultimately decides against it. If he starts seeing the future again, he'll re-evaluate, but there's not value in telling Dean that he knows what he did last summer. He writes it all down, hoping that it turns out to be useable exposition for something that is actually interesting.
It's odd trying to write Chelsea. She's the only character that he's ever met before he had visions about her. He doesn't feel like he has her fleshed out very well in the notes, and based on their interactions at the poker game that Gabriel had hijacked him to, Chuck is already working on writing her in as Dean's love interest, which he knows is going to piss off fans. Writing women into Supernatural is insanely hard. He can never tell who the fans are going to like. They loved Bela, who he'd hoped would be uniformly reviled as a villain because she was supposed to be a dark side reflection of Dean's "going to Hell" arc. He's still waiting on the reaction to Anna but he's not hopeful.
And then there's Becky. She's important to the plot, she works well with the way he's written himself into the story and she's a nice spot of humor as the books get darker and darker. But she's going to find out about this and Chuck's pretty sure that she still has his number. It could get really awkward.
Oh well. At least Chelsea isn't Sam's love interest. That's more Becky-crazy than anyone needs.
Chuck tugs at the clothes that wardrobe had picked out for him. He's in tighter jeans than a man really needs to wear when he spends all day at his computer, a Henley and a leather jacket. He looks like a complete tool. And just a little bit like he had described himself in the drafts for "The End". He's also had a headache all day and can't tell if it's actually a stress headache or another prophecy coming on. He's got a migraine prescription for them this day, which actually helps a lot.
"Mr. Edlund?" the mousy young girl they've assigned to him pops her head into the room. "I'm so sorry, our photographer is having a small technical issue. It's going to be at least another 15 minutes. Would you like me to send Sarah up with another coffee?"
"Oh, yeah, no problem," Chuck sighs, rubbing his temple.
She nods, adjusts her clipboard and leaves. Chuck's headache gets steadily worse while he waits for coffee and he's struggling to remain polite when the assistant comes back to tell him it'll be another fifteen minutes, but she'll give an earful to Sarah about coming up with the coffee.
Sarah takes another ten minutes, and by the time she finally shows up with his coffee is having a vision. He tries to manage the pain, a normal conversation, and visions of Gabriel in Heaven and Crowley in Hell planning to go to war over Purgatory. He sighs in relief at something interesting finally happening and drops into a chair to manically take notes. He picks up that Ellen and Jo are still alive, and a couple flashes of a dinner party that he doesn't want to figure out how to work into the good part.
The assistant comes back They've just swapped the interview and the photo shoot because apparently their photographer is having some sort of breakdown. Chuck's relieved, it gives him more time to arrange his vision notes.
The interviewer comes in and sits down just as Chuck sees Dean and Cas standing together at their kitchen sink talking seriously, standing close together like they always do, in that much too intimate way that Chuck thinks he's managed to make moderately amusing without really mocking either of them.
Chuck excuses himself to take another dose of his migraine meds. As his hand touches his own mouth, the visions kick in harder and he sees Dean kiss Cas. Feels the press of Cas's full and chapped lips and the drilling thrum of Dean's heart as their lips touch.
"Son of a bitch."
How in the Hell is he going to work this in?