Chuck’s in the bunker, suddenly and without warning. Sam and Dean had been expecting him, but when he appears in the library as Sam’s researching ways to kill him, they jump.
“What are you talking about?” Dean decides to stall, desperate to ignore the panic rising in his chest.
“Yeah, all your friends are dead,” Chuck smirks. “Guess that’s the breaks if you’re the Winchesters. Always getting their friends and family killed.”
Dean blinks. “I don’t believe you.”
He feels Sam’s warning head-tilt next to him, but it’s too late. Chuck snaps his fingers and the library is suddenly filled with dead bodies. Dean recognizes some of the hunters they’ve worked with over the years as well as some of the hunters they brought over from Apocalypse World.
AU!Bobby lies in a corner, neck twisted at an awkward angle. AU!Charlie lies beside him, also obviously dead. Dean glimpses the bodies of Jodi, Donna and the girls.
Sam gasps as he recognizes Eileen’s body. He grabs Dean’s arm like he needs to steady himself as he turns away. Then he stiffens as his gaze falls on something to Dean’s right.
Dean follows his gaze, cold shock searing through his veins.
Castiel and Jack lie next to each other, hands almost touching, eye sockets smoking and empty. Shadows of their blasted wings spread wide under them on the stone floor.
“You bastard!” Dean hisses, turning back to Chuck. “Stop this!”
“Oh, I’m not done, Dean,” Chuck says, snapping his fingers.
Sam’s neck snaps and he crumples to the floor.
“No!” Dean screams. He grabs onto his brother’s body to break his fall, easing him to the floor. He cradles Sam’s dead body in his arms as he checks for the pulse he knows he won’t find.
“You bring him back, you hear me? You bring him back now!”
He glares fiercely at Chuck, who shakes his head sadly, almost sympathetically.
But Dean knows better. There’s not a sympathetic bone in Chuck’s body.
“No,” Chuck says with a sigh. “I don’t think so. Not this time.”
“Then you kill me, too!” Dean roars, clutching Sam’s body, shaking it. “You kill me now!”
Chuck shakes his head. “No, not gonna do that, either. I think I’m done here. I think you can live out your life alone, Dean. That’s your ending. And don’t think you can get Billie to help you. She and I have a deal. So don’t waste your time thinking you can get her to help you bring your brother back. And she’s not going to let you die, either, so don’t think that’s happening, Romeo.”
Chuck paces in front of Dean, one arm crossing his chest, tapping his cheek with his index finger thoughtfully.
“No, this time the Winchester cycle of life and death and resurrection is really and truly over.”
Dean rocks his brother’s body in his arms, hot tears spilling down his cheeks. “You stop this, Chuck, you hear me? Stop this, damn you! Bring him back!”
Chuck halts his pacing and sighs. “Oh, this is such a just ending,” he says with a little satisfied smile. “I don’t know why I didn’t think of it sooner. Everybody left you, Dean. You’ve been really and truly abandoned. So tragic.”
“Fuck you, Chuck! This isn’t an ending!”
“Oh, yes it is,” Chuck nods, and Dean can see the mania in his eyes. He’s insane. “Everybody dies, but the hero survives. No need to destroy this world after all. It’s perfect!”
“It’s not perfect, you sick son of a bitch!”
Chuck claps his hands, gives Dean a smile that’s half-rueful, half-delighted.
Chuck disappears, and Dean roars. “Chuck!”
When there’s no answer, he shakes Sam’s body, buries his face in Sam’s neck. “Sammy.”
For several moments, Dean kneels on the floor of the bunker, in too much shock to think clearly. Sam’s body begins to cool, but Dean doesn’t move. He can’t. The silence is deafening, broken only by Dean’s sobs, his ragged breaths.
When a rift opens in the air beside him, at first Dean barely registers it. Then a bright light flashes out of the rift, splitting the air with a deafening sound of ripping, filling the bunker with the noxious smell of ozone.
Dean looks up as the light engulfs him. He holds Sam’s body tight as something moves around him, crackling like electricity, making his ears ring and throb with pain, and for a moment it occurs to him that Chuck was wrong. He can die. Despite what Chuck said, Dean’s going to die right now, right here, after all.
He buries his face in Sam’s neck and holds on tight.
But he doesn’t die. Instead, the sound and the light are sucked back into the rift and it closes with a final sound of something being zipped closed. Then, silence.
The sudden quiet is almost too much for Dean to process. He keeps his face buried in Sam’s neck, wondering if he’s lost his hearing.
When he hears the voice he thought he’d never hear again, he starts.
Dean looks up, too deeply programmed to respond to that voice to resist. He can barely see through the blur of tears, but he’d recognize the tall man standing in front of him anywhere.
Sam sinks to his knees, a look of wonder and joy on his handsome face. “Dean.”
Dean looks down at the body in his arms, then up at Sam again. “Is this Heaven?”
“What?” Sam glances at the body and frowns. “No. It’s Kansas.”
Then Dean notices the differences. The bunker library has updated light fixtures. There’s a comfortable easy chair in one corner, a little table with a desk lamp next to it. The bookcases hold newer volumes in addition to the old Men of Letters tomes. There’s a large Persian rug on the floor and a picture of John Winchester on the wall, another one of John with his boys on the top of the bookcase.
It’s still the bunker, but it’s homier. Cozier.
Dean’s gaze returns to Sam. He looks different, too. His hair is shorter, although just as scruffy and unclean. His eyes are sunken deep in his sockets, the way they get when he hasn’t been sleeping.
He’s wearing glasses.
“Where are we?” Dean asks as realization dawns. The rift. They went through a rift.
“You’re home, Dean,” Sam says. His voice sounds choked, like he’s been crying. “You’ve been gone for over a week, man. I tried so hard to get you back...I was about ready to go through the rift myself, just to see if I could find you...”
Grief clenches Dean’s heart like a vise. He looks down at the body in his arms, still and cool.
“You’re not him,” he says, fighting to hold back the grief swelling in his chest.
Sam’s mouth falls open as he gets it. Smart boy, in any universe.
“Oh my God,” Sam breathes.
Dean’s jaw tightens. “Yeah, pretty much,” he mutters, then raises his voice to the ceiling. “Chuck, you dick! Fix this!” He shakes Sam’s body for emphasis.
Sam flinches. “Who’s Chuck?”
Dean turns wild eyes on Sam, ignoring his question.
“Crossroads,” he snaps. “I gotta make a deal.”
Sam frowns, confused. “What?”
“A crossroads demon,” Dean clarifies. “I need to summon one. Get him to bring Sam back.”
Sam’s eyebrows go up. “A demon?” he repeats doubtfully. “You’ve seen a demon?”
Dean stares. “You’ve got to be kidding me,” he growls. “Don’t tell me this universe doesn’t have demons.”
Sam looks puzzled. “Not that I know of,” he admits. “I mean, I’ve heard of them, sure. Just never seen one. Nor heard tell of one during my lifetime. Unless you want to count the ones on TV or in the movies...”
“Angels?” Dean suggests, but he knows the answer just by the blank look Sam gives him. “Chuck Shurley, Former Prophet of the Lord, now revealed to be the Lord God Almighty himself?”
“Wow,” Sam says, hesitating before answering, wary. “Those things are real in your world? God is real?”
Dean glances around. “Pretty much, yeah,” he nods. “He’s destroying everything as we speak. Pretty sure we don’t have much time till he gets here.”
Sam’s eyes widen. “What do we do?”
His question sounds so familiar, so much like Dean’s little brother needing his big brother to take charge, that Dean falls into that role on instinct.
“Without demons or archangels or nephila or even Death herself on our side? The odds aren’t good, little brother.”
Sam flinches again, and Dean blinks. This isn’t his brother.
Then Sam rallies. He gives a little nod, blinking away any tears that may have formed in his eyes.
“So it’s just us,” he says softly. “You and me against the world.”
Dean huffs out a breath, frowning. He’s got a plan, he just needs to find a crossroads.
“Here.” Dean hauls his brother’s body up. “Help me carry him into the infirmary.”
Sam obeys without hesitation, helps Dean half-carry, half-drag the literal dead weight into the other room. When they’ve got Sam’s body laid out on the bed, Dean stands back, looks down at him as he catches his breath.
“What are you going to do?” Sam asks.
Dean starts. Remember the plan, he tells himself. Focus on the plan.
Reaching into the front pocket of his jeans, he pulls out the keys to the Impala.
“My baby’s here in this world, right?” He tears his eyes away from the body on the bed, glances up at Sam. “Tell me your brother drives a ‘67 Impala.”
Sam’s eyebrows go up. “That’s Dean’s car,” he breathes. “Nobody else gets to drive her.”
Dean nods grimly. “At least some things haven’t changed.”
“Where are you going?” Sam asks as he follows Dean towards the garage.
“Gonna find a crossroads,” Dean says. “Gonna try to summon a demon.”