Epilogue: Broken Chains
Sam wanted him to go to Lisa.
Dean knew he would, eventually, but before he could face her, or anyone, he needed some time alone. He rented a motel room, bought a crate of beer, three bottles of cheap whiskey, four chilli dogs and a pie, then locked himself in, half hoping it would be enough to kill him.
It wasn’t, of course.
It was enough to make him wish he was dead, when he woke up about noon the next day with the worst hangover of his life. When he finished puking his guts out, he went back to bed and drank what was left of the whiskey. It didn’t matter how much he was hurting. He knew Sam was hurting worse. Sam was in Hell.
As darkness fell once more, Dean felt well enough to crawl out of bed and go in search of more alcohol. He got as far as the Impala and collapsed into the seat, but did not start the engine. He had promised Sam he would go to Lisa, he would try to live. But the whole idea seemed pointless. He climbed back out of the car and walked around to the trunk…and the guns.
Dean didn’t know if he really would have done it. It was certainly in his mind when he opened the trunk to load one of the shotguns, suck on the barrel and pull the trigger. But when he opened the trunk, the first thing he saw was the laptop. Sam’s laptop. He opened it, remembering a hundred arguments over his using the computer to surf for porn. A hundred arguments, all different, all exactly the same. The laptop sprang to life, though Dean hadn’t turned it on. He watched it boot up, indifferent.
A video began to play. At first, Dean didn’t recognise it. The soundtrack seemed like any other porn vid, the woman blonde and busty. It must be one of Sam’s, he thought and started to close the laptop.
That was when he heard the Trickster’s voice and he swore under his breath. This fucking disc was responsible for what happened to Sam. They won. Sure, but Dean didn’t care. He would rather send the whole world to Hell and save his brother.
“You did it, Dean,” Gabriel said through the tinny speakers of the laptop. “I don’t know how, but my brother is back in the cage. I’m leaving this message for you because I know that no matter how you did it, you paid a high price.”
Dean pulled the laptop open. This wasn’t the message he remembered. He stared at the screen.
“There is something I couldn’t tell you before. It’s not going to make this any easier for you but you’ll want to know. Believe me, I wouldn’t dare tell you this if I weren’t already dead.”
Dean found himself smiling. Nice to know even Gabriel was just a little scared of him.
He listened to the rest of the message. When it came to an end, the laptop went blank. Dean stared at it for a moment, while his brain processed the truth. In a fit of rage, Dean picked up the computer, whirled and flung it into the wall. How could Gabriel do this? Why would he do it? The computer broke into several pieces, scattered across the parking lot.
It was raining as John made his way down Haven’s main street toward the Grey Gull. The rain chilled his bones as he walked, leaning heavily on his cane. The cane concealed the sword within the wood while allowing easy access to the weapon should he need it. It was not the only weapon John carried. There was a lot of tension in Haven and soon enough something was going to break it. John was determined to be ready when it did.
But perhaps he wouldn’t even be here. John had done everything he could to track down his sons in the aftermath of whatever happened in Lawrence. He had called every number he could remember. He had searched online, hacked police records and gone through newspapers. No bodies had been found, but John found little hope in that. There was no chain holding him in Haven now. He could go himself and search in person.
Two things held him back. The first, and most important, was the simple fact that he had no idea where to begin searching. If Dean or Sam survived, they would not have stayed in Kansas, but they could have gone anywhere in the continental US. He was not even sure if they still had the Impala; after the FBI started hunting them they should have ditched the car for something less conspicuous, but Dean might not be that practical.
The second thing was Audrey Parker. Gabriel’s chain was broken, But John’s obligation to her was not. John’s sons were more important to him, but he needed more than hope to justify leaving when she was in danger. He had given his word he would protect her.
The rain was so heavy the boats in the harbour were mere shapes in a thick, grey fog. John pulled his hood further over his face and trudged on.
Because of the rain, John wasn’t really looking where he was going. He did not see the car outside the Grey Gull until he was almost there. When he did see it, John stopped dead. He thought his heart actually missed a beat. The old Chevy was so very familiar, he would know her sleek lines anywhere.
Beside the Impala, a man waited. John barely recognised his son. Dean stood stiffly, his shoulders hunched, ignoring the rain that poured over his leather coat and plastered his hair to his skull. He moved a little when John saw him; not approaching, just a change of position, a shifting of his weight.
The moment felt unreal, as if John were seeing a mirage that would vanish any moment. He gripped the cane in his hand, holding on to that reality.
“Dean,” he said when he found his voice. “How…?”
Dean raised a hand, showing him a broken compact disc. “Gabriel,” he said curtly.
Gabe. Thank you for doing one thing right. “Sam?” he asked, though he could see the answer written all over Dean. Sam was gone.
Dean shook his head.
John took a step closer. “Are you…?”
“Ask me if I’m okay! I dare you. I swear to God!” Dean exploded. “I had to let Sam – I had to watch him – And you’ve been here the whole time? We needed you, Dad!”
“You’re right to be angry,” John said, knowing it was true. We needed you. They were the words he had spoken in anger himself, to Sam, furious that the boy left his family. But he knew the boys had needed his help far more than he had ever needed theirs. Dean should hate him for not being there.
“Angry? Jesus fuck, Dad!”
John reached his son’s side. He knew Dean had been through Hell, both literally and figuratively. For the first time, John understood what Gabe was trying to do when he stranded him in Haven. The chain had given John a space to heal, to put Hell behind him, as much as that could ever be done. It was a space Dean had been denied.
“If you hate me now, son, I don’t blame you. But you’re here. You came for a reason, didn’t you? Give me a chance and we’ll find a way.”
“Dad…” Dean began, but he didn’t continue.
“I know. Believe me, I know.” John reached out to clasp Dean’s shoulder. The leather was cold and wet beneath his fingers. “Let’s go inside, son. It’s warm and dry, and we’ve got a lot to talk about.”
Dean nodded and they walked into the Grey Gull together.