sketchydean

smalltrolven

The Wanting Comes In Waves

All Sam/Dean, All The Time


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smalltrolven

Fic: Lion's Mane (Sam/Dean, NC-17) - Chapter 2 of 6

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~~~

First thing Dean does when they get back home from the wicked witch’s non-gingerbread house, he prays to Castiel to come see him.  Castiel calls him instead.  With some excuse about visiting Claire, who the hell even knows. He quickly explains his temporary teenager state and what it had made him think of to be able to possibly make a different choice about the Mark.

“You gotta send me back, Cas. To that night at the church where we holding Crowley. For a do-over.”

“I cannot. I am sorry, Dean. The temporary grace I am using isn’t holding up well enough to provide enough power to get you there and back again. I fear that I am not reliable enough.”

“That’s okay. Thanks, buddy,” Dean says, disappointed that he can’t handle this easily like he was hoping to.

“I do question whether that is something you ought to do without consulting Sam first. He would want to know that you are attempting to time travel and change the past.”

Dean rolls his eyes and then scowls at Castiel’s unsolicited advice. “Sam’s working his angles on solving this, I’m working mine.”

“Also, I do not think that traveling to that specific time, you will be able to change anything of much importance. There has been too much chaos since that night when my brothers and sisters fell from Heaven. It would be unlikely that The Fates would allow such a change.”

“So, uh, then I guess I need to find another spot to go to, that doesn’t affect too many other things. This is kinda like that Titanic thing you showed us a while ago, isn’t it?”

“Yes, that is exactly right. Fate will only allow so much leeway, so many alterations, and I no longer have the power to push through and hold such a change.”

“Well, thanks for the help,” Dean says in the most insincere voice he can come up with.

“You are welcome, although I did not truly help you. It was still nice to get to talk with you. Where is Sam?”

“Out running, I think. Hey, uh listen, I gotta hit the books here.”

“Are you asking me to hang up?”

“Yeah. Thanks, Cas,” Dean says, feeling a little bad that he’s rushing his friend off the phone.

“Tell Sam that I said hello,” Castiel says with a little sigh before he hangs up.

Without the go-to time travel help he’d expected from his angel friend being a viable possibility, there still must be another way to do this himself. He’s got the example of his grandfather doing it at least once, coming through that closet door from the past and surprising the hell out of them. The how-to’s have got to be written down in the records somewhere in this freakin’ place, the Men of Letters seem to have pretty much kept every damn piece of paper they ever came across. He wishes he could just ask Sam for help in finding it, he’d probably be able to put his hands on the right book or scroll or whatever. But he can’t; this is on him.

Dean spends a lot of time researching. Sam of course, assumes he’s looking for Mark of Cain stuff, but he’s got it narrowed down now. The goal he’s shooting for now, it’s not just about the Mark, he’s really looking for a spell in all of this Men of Letters lore that will give him the opportunity to go back to a very specific time.   Before he had the Mark on his arm. He even finds the spell that Henry had used, but it turns out it was keyed to going to your offspring and also wouldn’t work with going to a time where he himself already is (or was).  So it takes a lot longer than he’d hoped, but that feeling of freedom, that little taste of not having the constant ache of this thing on his arm keeps him going. That and Sam’s encouraging glances while he powers through file after file of dusty paper.

His working idea is that he’ll take the opportunity to go back to the first time he should have told Sam about Gadreel/Ezekiel being inside of him. Because Cas was probably right that if he goes back before the angels fell it would be too big of a change for the universe to deal with. Cain and Abaddon and Crowley can deal with themselves for all he cares. Things are too screwed up with Sam, and it all goes back to that first day, sitting on the picnic table with his brother at that rest stop, before that first lie comes out of his mouth. Give Sam the chance to object. To change his mind.

The decision Sam made when they were in his mind was based on trusting that Dean had a plan. But Gadreel changed that plan on him when he informed Dean that they couldn’t tell Sam about the possession.  All those months of lying and for what?  Surely if he gave Sam a clue about it somehow he’d be able to forgive him easier. Surely he wouldn’t decide to kick Gadreel out right away, he’d let him stay in there and fix him. Gadreel was just wrong, Sam wanted to live, but he wanted to do it on his own terms, with all the information. It’s a risk, but it’s one he’s willing to take; living with his guilt standing between them is going to break them apart eventually.

Somehow going against the angel, sticking with Sam no matter what, and not falling into Crowley’s machinations about him taking on the Mark of Cain, that’s the new plan. Abaddon vs. Cain would have been a better fight anyway. It all seems like it would be upside. No Mark on his arm, no brother that can never trust him again, no having been a demon and whatever that mess put Sam through. All of it erased if he can go back and do it just a little differently.

The spell he finally finds in one of the last manuscripts left to search through, is called Lion’s Mane and it involves using the hair from the mane of a winged lion. At first he thinks it’s some mythical creature he’s got to go on a quest and hunt down. But it turns out that the winged lion that the spell refers to, is actually just a statue. A specific one, made of bronze, in Venice. As in, not the one in sunny California, because that would be too easy. Nope, the one all the way the hell over in Europe.
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So wait, what? A piece of bronze lion hair? And in Venice, Italy? Sam is not going to understand him all of a sudden wanting to fly to Venice for a trip, by himself. Especially the flying part. And the alone part since Sam’s always wanted to go to Venice with him. And how the hell is he supposed to slice off a piece of a bronze statue? Probably one that’s hard to get to. He looks it up. Yep, of course, it’s set way up on a tall column, right at the edge of one of the main squares in Venice. Luckily he knows someone that will probably help him. Castiel.

The angel arrives in the usual quick flurry of feathers, and tilts his head in that taking-on-information way that’s always so funny to see. “Yes, Dean. I am able to take you to Venice. But I will again advise you that having a conversation with Sam is preferable to all this subterfuge.”

“What, you think I ought to just come clean with Sam, apologize, and it’ll all be okay? Nah, that’s not us, you know that. Listen, I’m willing to take this chance that I can fix things with Sam and also avoid taking on the Mark in the first place. I know that if I tell Sam what I’m up to, he’ll just talk me out of even trying to go back and change things. And there’s no solution out there for the Mark, there just plain isn’t, you know it and I know it that deep down this is not something we can fix.”

“Dean, your brother…he needs some honesty from you. Changing the past will not erase what has happened between the two of you this past year or so. What is it you say? Man up and talk to him.”

“I promise I will, when we get back from Venice and I try this spell,” Dean says, laying a hand over his own heart like he’s making a sacred promise.  It’s unclear whether Castiel believes him or not.

“Where is Sam?”

“Yeah, what time is it? Almost eight. So he’s out runnin’. Again. I swear that kid is gonna be runnin’ marathons pretty soon, the way he’s trainin’,” Dean says, turning his attention back to the manuscript that he’d found the spell written in.

Castiel doesn’t say anything but texts a message to Sam while Dean isn’t paying attention to him:

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Sam arrives back to the Bunker, dripping wet with sweat. He winks at Cas over Dean’s head because Dean hasn’t noticed him coming in, immersed in reading as he is. Sam sneaks up behind him and wraps him in his sweaty arms. Dean doesn’t react well, pushing Sam away and telling him he stinks and to go clean up so they can eat a late dinner.  Sam stalks off to take a shower and is then rather surprised to find himself in the middle of St. Mark’s Square, all wet and soaped up. And, of course, quite naked.

Sam was transported along with Dean because Cas “forgot” to only bring Dean. That’s what he tells Dean anyway, leaving out the part about promising Sam not to go anywhere without him. Unfortunately, Dean had insisted they leave just a few minutes after Sam had left the room, because Dean was shooting for arriving at 3am, Venice time. Which is 8pm Lebanon, Kansas time. Dean had figured to use Sam’s usual evening shower time, because he wouldn’t notice his absence.  Sam had been taking longer and longer showers after all the epic training runs.

Sam is a small distance away from them, naked, dripping wet, shampoo clouding his eyes in the middle of St. Mark’s Square. Needless to say, that took the stealth part of the operation right down to zero. Cas quickly lends Sam his overcoat, Dean swipes at Sam’s eyes with his pocket bandana and tries not to laugh.

“What the hell, Cas?” Sam sputters, wiping the soap suds off of his mouth.

“You said not to go anywhere without you. I am sorry, Sam.”

“You ratted me out, huh, Cas?” Dean asks.

“Ratted you out? He’s just trying to help us. Cut it out, Dean,” Sam says, hitting Dean on the shoulder.  “And how about you tell me what the hell we’re doing in Venice? And why you wanted to come here without me knowing?”

Dean looks up at his brother, angry as a proverbial wet hen, dripping hair flopping into his eyes, wrapped up in their friend’s overcoat. Sam’s got his arms crossed and one eyebrow raised expectantly. Dean sighs. “It’s for a spell. I need something from here.”

“This about the Mark?”

“Yeah.”

“And you didn’t want to tell me in case it what, didn't work or something?”

“Yeah. Didn’t wanna get your hopes up. You’ve been workin’ so hard on this for me,” Dean lies.

Sam sees his brother lie; it’s so clear that he’s leaving something important out. But there’s a reason, there always is, and he’ll get it out of him at some point. Hopefully before he does anything rash or foolhardy. Who’s he kidding? That’s like Dean’s reason for living. “Fine. I know you’re not telling me everything, and you’re going to, when we get home, okay?”

“Yeah, okay, Sammy,” Dean says, standing on tiptoes to kiss the side of Sam’s lips that are held in a stiff, disapproving straight line.  He feels Sam flinch, but doesn’t say anything as he’s too thankful that Sam’s letting this go for now.

Once Sam has calmed down from the shock of being transported when he wasn’t expecting it, and naked at that, he is surprisingly helpful. He boosts Dean onto his shoulders as Cas holds all the onlookers back with an angel-hand-of-doom freezing spell.

Dean clambers up, standing on his tiptoes on Sam’s shoulders, stretching up with the angel sword to easily carve a piece of the lion’s mane off. “Look at that, cuts through it like buttah! These things sure have come in handy, huh, Sammy?” Dean laughs as he’s clambering back down both the statue and Sam.  Sam holds him steady and lowers him almost to the ground, all pressed up against him and the column. Sam gets a funny look on his face as he holds onto all of Dean, before he lets his feet actually touch the paving stones. Dean looks up at him and grins, pressing their lips together quickly. “Thanks for the lift.”

By the time they’re done, the sun is well up and many people are being held back in the angel spell.  The boys arrange themselves far away from the column, and the now-scarred Lion, at the edge of the rows of tables set up in front of the famous Caffè Florian. Cas waves his hand and the people who had been temporarily frozen begin moving again.

“Should we at least get a cappuccino since we’re here?” Castiel asks rather wistfully, pointing at the array of cafes that are open at this early hour. “I’ve heard they’re worth the trip.”

“You guys go do that. I’m gonna…uh… go get myself some clothes someplace. I’ll be right back,” Sam says, beating a hasty retreat to the twinkling lights coming on in some of the nearby shops at the edge of the square.

Dean watches Sam leave, holding the trench coat closed even though it’s already buttoned. He nods at Castiel, and starts walking towards one of the closest tables and folds himself down into one of the teeny cafe chairs.  Castiel joins him at the small table and looks around for a waiter.

The waiter comes and asks them in rapid-fire Italian for their order.  Cas answers in a similar rapid perfect Italian and orders two cappuccinos as well as the local sweet pastry. Dean’s looking a little out of it.

“You speak Italian? Of course you do,” Dean says, feeling a little weary after all the climbing and angel travel.

“I speak all languages,” Castiel answers. “You are tired, Dean.”

“Master of the obvious, of course you do. Yeah, Cas, I’m tired. It’s been a long night, and you know how angel travel always gets to me,” Dean answers, head in his hands.

The waiter brings their cappuccinos on a tray and serves them with an elegant and speedy flourish.

“Do you not like cappuccino, Dean?” Castiel asks, while he adds three or four heaping spoonfuls of sugar to his.

“I usually leave the girly drinks to Sam, just take it black, but when in Rome…or…Venice, I guess,” Dean says, picking up the small cup and ostentatiously sticking his pinky finger out. He drains half of the cup and smacks his lips.  “That’s pretty damn good, actually.”

Castiel doesn’t answer, he seems to have been transported partway back to heaven as he drinks his own cup down slowly.  Dean doesn’t bother him, just sneaks half of his pastry which Castiel won’t really eat, this almond stuff is really tasty and shouldn’t go to waste.

Finally Castiel comes back to himself and blinks a few times. “That was unexpected,” he finally says.

“What, you getting knocked out by Italian coffee?” Dean asks.

“Yes, I did not think human foods could ever affect me,” Castiel says, a little wonder in his voice.

“Maybe it’s from having been human, or not having your own grace or whatever,” Dean says, a little disinterestedly. Castiel’s ongoing angel problems have never been much of his concern while he’s been trying to keep he and his brother alive.  “So, you think this spell thing will work?”

“I do think it has a chance, that is why I decided to use part of my energy to bring you here,” Castiel answers.  “Do you think that Sam will forgive me?”

“For what? Bringing him here out of his shower? Yeah, I’m sure he’s over it already,” Dean answers.

“No, I was referring to deceiving him about what the spell you are undertaking is actually designed to accomplish,” Castiel says, looking at Dean with his serious-angel-business face.

“Is this where you tell me, again, that I need to come clean with him for the millionth time?” Dean asks in pre-emptive disgust.

“No, Dean, this is where I express how disappointed I am that you lied to your brother for…what is your phrase?…the millionth time,” Castiel says in matching disdain.

“Get off my case. I’m putting things right, you know that’s what I’m doing here,” Dean says.

“What you are doing is starting out on a lie, Dean. Again. And that never goes well for you,” Castiel answers.  “I know you can do this differently; you are choosing not to for some reason.”

Dean doesn’t say anything, just finishes his coffee and stares across the square at the top of the Basilica.  He hears Castiel sigh in what sounds like an exact imitation of Sam’s put-upon I’m-dealing-with-Dean’s-shit sigh. Dean closes his eyes and rubs at the Mark on his forearm.

“Is it bothering you? Or do you feel the need to kill something?” Castiel asks.

Dean feels himself wanting to growl, or stab something with the pointy end of the precious little cappuccino spoons on the table, like maybe Castiel’s eyes.  But what would be the use? He’d just fix himself instantly.  “No. Just a habit,” Dean lies.

“I am here if you need to talk about it, Dean,” Castiel offers.

“There’s nothing to talk about. It sucks. I want it gone. End of story,” Dean says in a voice that he hopes ends Castiel’s painful attempts at helpful conversation.

Sam comes back, dressed in gorgeous Italian designer clothes, down to the shiny, leather loafers. “What story?”

“What the hell was open this early and where did you get the money to pay for all that?” Dean asks, eyeing his brother’s finely clothed form appreciatively.

“Gucci was just opening up, so I used the credit card that was in Cas’ coat pocket,” Sam says, a twinkle of a smile he’s holding back in his eyes. He hands Castiel his overcoat back.

“That seems like just payment for my deception, Sam. You look very fine,” Castiel says with a small smile.

“So, uh, if you guys wouldn’t mind. I’d like to look around, while we’re here. Just for a few hours,” Sam asks.

Dean grins up at him, knowing what Sam’s talking about, his long-held obsession and passion for Venice. He’d always promised he’d take Sam here someday, ride on a gondola, do all that touristy stuff. And here they are. “Hey, why the hell not? Given how Cas here just responded to his coffee, I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t mind sitting here drinking them down all day. Might give you enough juice to bring us back, huh big guy?”

Castiel looks over at Dean and frowns. “Big guy? I am the smallest of the three of us. And no, additional caffeine will not increase my power to transport us.”

“Do you want to come with us, Cas, or stay here and try out more of the coffee?” Sam asks with a smile.  Sometimes the food molecules do it for his friend; maybe this is one of those times.

“Yes, Sam, that is what I will do. I will wait for you two to be done right here,” Castiel answers, signaling the waiter.

“That’s our cue, Sammy, let’s go,” Dean says, hopping up from the small chair, almost knocking it over. He misses Sam’s flinch at his nickname in the rush to catch the chair from falling.

They walk off towards the Basilica, with Sam talking rapidly about all the things he wants to do, has always wanted to do, and they’re finally here together and it’s amazing.  Dean grins at his brother’s enthusiasm, because it’s pretty much the most adorable thing about him. And he’s just happy that he didn’t have to endure a plane flight to finally give Sam something he’s always wanted.

“All I know is, when we’re riding in a gondola, we’re making out,” Dean says.

“Got it, no problem. But first, let’s go in the Basilica, okay?” Sam answer distractedly, hurrying Dean up the nearby steps.

~~~

A few days pass after they’re back from Venice, and Sam still hasn’t stopped talking about their visit to the city. It’s starting to get annoying, but Dean’s concentrating on assembling the ingredients to do the spell. That and narrowing down the choice of where in time he wants to go back to. He goes back and forth about when would be best; he tries to remember where all the big decision points seemed to be. Ones that won’t be noticed by Fate or whatever force it was that didn’t let them change anything the other times they went back in time. He’s got hope that it will work, because this whole Mark thing wasn’t some big plan of Heaven’s (as far as he knows). And he remembers that the phoenix ash and Sam’s phone made it back to them in the present from their actions in the past. That’s what he’s counting on, that changes can be made.

He swears to himself that not being honest with Sam about why he’s going back to the past is his only choice. Dean knows that Sam’s suspicious, and tries different tactics to get away with saying he’s just going to go back to when he took on the Mark, and make a different choice over and over again. No matter how many times Sam questions him about it. Finally it comes down to the day he’s going to try the spell. Everything is set, but Sam finds him in his room before he can get started.

“You were going to do this without me?” Sam asks, as he fills Dean’s doorway in a sudden rush, sounding like he’s close to going into a full-on panic.

“I’m only going back to where I decided to take on the Mark, that’s what we’ve been trying to do, right? Get rid of this thing? And we haven’t found anything else, Sam. Not a damn thing. I’ve got to try this, before I get worse.”

“I get what you’re trying to do, Dean, I do. But this seems like something big that can’t just be undone like that. Isn’t that what Cas said?”

“Maybe so. But it’s worth a try. You know I’ve got to at least try. I need to do something about this.”

“But you’re leaving me, Dean. I’ll never see this you again. Some other me, in some other timeline you’re going to create will get the un-Marked you back.”

“No, Sammy. I’ll always come back to you.”

Sam flinches, and Dean doesn’t know why, doesn’t ask because he’s too preoccupied with getting the show on the road. He just squeezes Sam’s shoulder as he passes by on the way to the dungeon where all the stuff for the spell is laid out.

“Can I at least be there when you do it, in case something goes wrong?” Sam asks from the doorway, almost too quietly to be heard.

“Yeah, if you wanna, of course,” Dean says, slowing his steps so Sam can catch up.

“Tell me, the me back then, tell me I said to ‘cut it out and deal’,” Sam says as they walk down the hallway, past the spot Dean had to repair, past the door that doesn’t match all the others. Sam flinches at the memory, and Dean feels it deep down then, the why of his brother’s flinching at his nickname. He hears his demon voice calling it down the echoing hallway, taunting, almost flirtatious. But Sam interrupts his thoughts.

“It’ll make me listen, hopefully that will help you fix things.”

Dean nods in silent thanks as they pass through the moving file shelves into the dungeon.  He picks up the small shard of Lion’s Mane and pricks himself with the sharp tip. “Hey, at least I finally took you to Venice, huh?”

“Yeah, at least. Not quite the way I wanted to arrive, but I got some good clothes out of the trip,” Sam answers with a forced laugh.

“Bye Sam, I’ll be back,” Dean says in his best Arnold Schwarzenegger as Terminator imitation voice.

“I’ll be here,” Sam says in an even better imitation.

“How come your Arnold is so much better than mine?” Dean asks, as he strikes the match that will begin the spell.

“I’ll tell you when you get home,” Sam says, a small smile on his face as he works so hard to hold back his fear.

“It’s gonna be okay, I will come home, I swear,” Dean says, meaning it with every cell in his body.

Sam nods, either because he can’t speak or he’ll cry, or because he’ll tell Dean to stop. Either way, Dean’s going, because he’s got to, there is no other choice.  He focuses on Sam’s face and drops the lit match into the consecrated bowl.

When he adds the Lion’s Mane and his blood to the burning pile of herbs, everything goes white and gold, all sound goes away for a long stretched-out pause, his stomach sinks and rebounds as he lands inside himself, laying on his back on top of a picnic table. He shakes his head and looks up at Sam, sitting beside him, talking like there’s nothing wrong except fallen angels, and the King of Hell in the trunk of the Impala. Sam looks so damn peaceful, unknowing that there’s an angel inside of him. Innocent of the knowledge of what his brother has done to him.

Dean sits up abruptly and interrupts Sam’s question about the fall of the angels. “Sammy, I have to tell you what happened. In the hospital, you almost…” Dean says all in a rush. His heart sinks when he sees the too-familiar flash of blue in Sam’s eyes.  Sam sits up straighter and turns his head a little robotically to face Dean.

“Dean, what are you doing?” GadreelSam asks.

“I’m coming clean with him, like I should have,” Dean says, instantly regretting his choice of word tense.

GadreelSam leans closer to Dean, sniffs and considers. “You are not from this time, you are from the future.”

“Yeah, I am, and I came back to put things right,” Dean says. “Give me back my brother, wouldja? I need to talk to him about a few things.”

“Dean, I informed you of the risk already. Sam’s hold on life is precarious, if he ejects me this soon, he will die, in terrible pain.”

“I got that, yeah, thanks. But he needs to know. I can’t lie to him like this, it’s not right, I knew it wasn’t, but I let you talk me into it last time, and I won’t this time.”

“Dean, go back to your time. Let things unfold as they already have,” GadreelSam says in that ponderous tone.

“No, I went through a lot to get here. And I need to make it right with Sam, right here, right now. You let me talk to him, Gadreel, now.”

“You know my true name?” GadreelSam asks in slow surprise.

“Yeah, I do, I know your whole damn story and how it ends, you blown up in Heaven’s jail, having killed a whole lot of your brothers and sisters, and God’s last prophet too.  Let me fix it, Gadreel, please.”

“If I die in Heaven’s jail, then that is what my Father must want, I will not allow you to change this timeline, Dean, go back to the future where you belong,” GadreelSam answers.

“I’m begging you, Gadreel, please. I end up turning into a goddamn demon with this on my arm,” Dean says in desperation, wrenching up his sleeve and showing the Mark of Cain to the angel in his brother’s body.

GadreelSam’s eyes widen in surprise. “That is the Mark of Cain, is it not?”

“Yeah. And because of where things go from here on out, I convince myself that it’s an awesome idea to take it on from Cain. So could you please just let me talk to Sam?”

“No. I will not. That mark can only pass to one who is worthy. Thus, it was meant to be, Dean. I cannot go against Heaven’s will in this. Go back, Dean,” GadreelSam says with ponderous finality, reaching out with one of Sam’s giant hands and pressing it against Dean’s forehead.

Dean tries to jump back from the angel’s touch, but it’s too late, everything goes white and then gold, and then he’s back in the dungeon with his stomach feeling like it’s still in the past.

~~~~

Chapter 3

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