Title: Voices Saying (They Tell Me Where To Go)
Pairing: Sam/Dean, established relationship
Characters: Kevin Tran as a Ghost, Sam, Dean, Linda Tran, Charlie, Castiel
Author’s Notes: Not my characters, only my words. Written for the 2016 Kevin Big Bang. Thank you to amypond45 for the fabulous beta work on this story. And millygal I feel so lucky that I got to work with you again!
Summary: This is a sequel to my Kevin Big Bang story from last year - My Time Coming Any Day. After Kevin is killed when he completes The Trials, Sam reads everything the Prophet has written. In this Kevin-altered future, Sam holds onto his guilt about not doing the Trials himself.
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Read it over on AO3 here.
It’s after the hunter’s funeral they give Kevin that Sam finally lets himself break down. While he’s letting himself feel all the feelings he’d tried to contain as he’d washed Kevin’s dead body and wrapped him in Men of Letters embroidered sheets all he can think of is how he never thanked Kevin. Maybe it should have been done differently than the usual pyre, to make it special, mark it as a funeral of a prophet. But it was the best he and Dean could manage. Both of them tight-lipped, not saying anything to each other because it was all too raw, too much blame to be thrown around. It would have cut them to pieces even more than they already were.
Kevin had saved them from themselves. When they’d first found him holed up in that church, he’d made them see they needed to work through their shit instead of pretending to dance around it, and it had changed their lives in so many ways. Sam smiled to himself remembering how Dean had fussed and fumed about it at first, but once he’d gotten on board with the sharing and caring that was required to actually have an open, honest relationship, it was pretty much non-stop, but in a good way. Getting all that crap out in the open and picking through it together was priceless. If they hadn’t done it, who knows how things would have gone.
Sam recalled the dreams he’d had during the time, nightmares really, Dean murderous, out of control with a strange glowing red mark on his arm, something about Death’s scythe and God’s sister who was a cloud of darkness, obliterating everything. None of it had made sense, but it left that kind of tingle on the back of his tongue that made him think it was a future that had been averted by Kevin’s actions. A prophet who’d changed the outcome of the story. Which sounded exactly like something Kevin would do. The kid was amazing. Emphasis on was, unfortunately.
Was there anything they could have done to stop Kevin? Maybe if they hadn’t left him alone with Crowley so much it would have helped. But they’d trusted him, that he wouldn’t let his need for revenge get the better of him. They’d forgotten that Kevin was really still just a kid. Sure he was a prophet and everything, but he wasn’t even twenty years old yet. He’d lost his mom, been captured and tortured and then hunted by Crowley for a year. And he’d had to deal with them and all their drama, and write it all down to boot.
All of this thinking helped Sam finally get up enough courage to go into Kevin’s room. He wasn’t sure what had been holding him back. Likely dread of finding something that would put the blame more firmly on his own shoulders, or some reminder of their friend that would make him feel the hurt and loss even more deeply. Instead he found books - Kevin’s books - all lined up on a shelf. Small notebooks, the kind that Kevin had always carried around with him wherever he went.
Sam sat down on Kevin’s neatly-made bed (of course it was neat) and pulled the first one off the shelf that was within reach. The words written down on the first page made him laugh. They’re at it again, fighting with each other, all without saying anything. Sam seems to think that if he doesn’t buy the kind of beer Dean likes then Dean just won’t drink as much. And Dean of course has his own stash somewhere so that’s never a problem. They’re ridiculous! They love each other so much they can’t even see the other properly. Time for me to knock their heads together…again.
Sam closed the book after he finished reading it and wiped a few tears away that had escaped his efforts to control them. There was no one in here to see him, but he was still embarrassed to have cried over his dead friend’s writings. He could almost hear Kevin’s voice in his head then, giving him a hard time for crying, telling him he’s lucky Dean’s not in here to call him a girl. He picked the next book off the shelf and dove into the words. It was a way to connect with Kevin, reading his writing, his wholly unique point of view on their lives.
Sam was crying again, and he had laid down on Kevin’s bed, surrounded by the small black notebooks, he didn’t know how long he’d been in here, but it was all too much. Reading all of that at once, seeing how well Kevin had seen them, seen into them, how he communicated so clearly how he and his brother loved each other so completely. And it wasn’t enough to just have the words, he wanted his friend back. He felt broken wide open. This was a different thing than losing Dean. Losing a friend like Kevin was different. It didn’t seem right or fair that Kevin was gone. He hadn’t even had a chance to make a start his own life.
A soft touch on his shoulder brought him back to himself, and Sam he rubbed the tears away from his eyes and looked up to see Castiel at his side.
“Why are you in here crying, Sam?”
Sam shoved all the books over at him, making a pile of all the black notebooks, then he gestured at them.
Castiel raised his eyebrows and tried to make sense of Sam’s tears and sudden anger. “These are the Prophet’s writings?”
Sam couldn’t speak yet, so he just nodded and wrapped his arms around himself.
“You wish me to read them to find out why you are upset?” Castiel asked with that halting softness to his voice that Sam always found so reassuring.
Sam nodded again and sighed, snuggling down into the bed and curling up with his back against Castiel’s leg. He fell asleep with the weight of Castiel’s hand on his shoulder and the sound of him rapidly flipping through the pages of the notebooks. He didn’t sleep very soundly and woke when he heard Castiel sigh deeply.
Castiel must have been done reading them all, because he said in that quiet commanding voice that impelled one to listen, “Sam, yes it is all true. Kevin meant what he said in his writings, he was a Prophet of the Lord after all. You and Dean, your story, it is meant to be shared with the world. You must know by now that it will change things. People need to know that this kind of love exists, Sam. They need to know it so they don’t give up hope.”
Sam burst into tears again, he didn’t hold back just because Castiel was there. The presence of the angel was soothing, he absorbed the weight of Sam’s emotions, hugging him close like Sam had taught him to do.
“He gave us so much, Cas. He gave his life for us.”
“Yes he did, and I know you will honor that sacrifice, Sam.”
“What sacrifice?” Dean asked in that tight voice that reminded Sam of how he was right after getting out of Purgatory. All animal instinct, no human emotion or hesitation getting in the way of killing whatever was in front of him.
Sam sat up and shrugged out of Castiel’s hold. He wiped both eyes clear of tears and ran one hand under his nose to clean himself up. He looked at Dean then, across the room, bristling with something Sam couldn’t quite identify — anger, irritation, even jealousy? “Cas means Kevin’s sacrifice, the one he made for us.”
“He did the exact thing we told him not to, Sam. He had to mess with Crowley, and this is what happens when you do that.”
“I know, but you or I should have been the ones to do the Trials. Not him!”
“He chose it, Sam. Let him at least have that,” Dean answered, voice short and clipped.
“Do you not think Kevin knew the likely consequences of his actions, Sam? He was the one who translated the tablets,” Castiel asked, rubbing one hand over Sam’s tensed-up shoulders.
“Yeah, of course he did. But he shouldn’t have been the one to do it, that’s all I’m saying,” Sam said, shrugging Castiel’s hand off and moving to get off the bed.
“What? You saying you should have done the Trials yourself, Sam? It had to be one of us, we’ve all lost something to the demons, and he’d lost his mom. A whole lot more recently than we had,” Dean protested.
“I know—I know, okay? I’m just, god, would you just let me be sad about it?” Sam asked sinking back down onto the bed and dropping his chin to his chest, not wanting to meet Dean’s eyes.
Dean huffed at that response and stalked out of the room. Sam could hear their bedroom door slam.
Castiel sat up a little straighter, gone tense with the frustration in Sam’s voice. “Sam, you must not let the loss of Kevin make you lose sight of what he accomplished. The Gates of Hell are now closed forever, no more demons will torment mankind. And he could not have achieved that without your help. It’s all in these books right here.”
“I just miss him, Cas. That’s all,” Sam said, sniffing his last tears away.
“I believe that Dean does too. I heard him breaking things in the garage this morning,” Castiel offered.
Sam chuckled, “Yeah, I heard it too. That’s just an example of how we process in different ways I guess.”
It was a few months later that Kevin found himself wandering in The Between. He didn’t know what else to call it. He’d come back to himself, to the knowledge of himself as something separate from the misty grey nothing he had been floating through. Kevin had no idea how much time had passed or why he wasn’t in Heaven as Sam and Dean had described it to him. After what felt like months of searching he bumped into an entity that felt different from all the other human souls. It was brighter, and so much larger, it had to be angel. From what he could understand from it, he hadn’t been able to go to Heaven because it had been closed due to all the angel fighting. No one had. He hesitantly asked the angel if it was his fault, a result of closing the Gates of Hell, but the angel assured him that he was in no way to blame.
Drifting through the nothingness of The Between, he felt a pull to coalesce for the first time since passing over. The shock of dying had taken a while to get over, especially as it had been so dramatically painful. Completing that final trial down in the bunker’s dungeon, injecting Crowley with that last vial full of purified, sanctified blood, he’d felt himself fall apart at a molecular level. He was aware of every single separation occurring simultaneously, a sharp and cutting unbelievable pain that echoed long after there was a body to contain all of its force.
That must have been how his essence had been formed into the key that locked Hell’s Gate. The Trials had re-made him slowly as he’d gone through each one. But he’d had no idea that the vague translation contained on the tablet had left out the final sacrifice he’d be making. He was glad that it was over, really he was. He just wished he’d been able to apologize to Sam and Dean for letting them down. For lying to them and hiding what he’d been working to accomplish. Kevin knew that they’d likely read the last of his writings by now, or at least Sam would have. He smiled at the thought of Sam and how studious and scholarly he’d become since finding the bunker and the Men of Letters’ resources.
Thinking about Sam and Dean and the world of the living he’d left behind made Kevin feel more solid, more “there.” He began to obsess over what he’d left undone. His writings as a Prophet would be lost to history if they stayed in his room in the bunker. He couldn’t see Sam or Dean ever taking it upon themselves to distribute them or publish them. They’d been so embarrassed about the whole fact of how he saw into them, their lives, their love, all of it written down in his books. He knew it was the greatest love story the world had always needed. And that meant he had to figure out how to get the word out about their story.
Kevin wracked his brains to remember the very few people who’d both known about the books and the Winchester brothers and there was only one person who would be able to do anything. After many hilarious failed attempts, he worked out how to contact Charlie via message board postings that told her where he had left the continued Winchester Gospels in his room in the bunker. The messages encouraged her to post them online to share the Winchester’s story with the world. He didn’t try to explain who he was or that he was basically a ghost in her machine. Even though she’d become a hunter, he didn’t want to freak her out too much.
He watched with glee as Charlie found the notebooks in the bunker when she finally visited them. He looked over her shoulder to see that many of the books were tear-stained in several places. He had warned her that Sam had likely gotten quite emotional about Kevin’s sacrifice but he hadn’t expected to see the evidence of it right there on his own pages. He hovered there in The Between, peering through occasionally as she read her way through all the volumes of the brother’s story. She got emotional too, as she read of how Sam had barely survived what he’d thought was Dean’s death when he’d been in Purgatory.
That reminded him of how he’d taken that huge risk and changed their story at that church where they’d all reunited. He found that now that he was a ghost he could see more of the details of that dark potential future he’d averted for the Winchesters and the world. Looking into that future, watching how the brothers had torn themselves apart, Dean even becoming a demon of all things, made him even prouder that he’d accomplished that much in his short years on the planet.
Being around the bunker and the brothers as he concentrated on Charlie getting to the books made him become more solid and he was able to appear before Sam just once. Sam was in the kitchen alone, drinking most of a pot of coffee one morning,
“You still put so much sugar in your coffee,” Kevin said.
Sam dropped his mug with a clash against the table, most of the coffee spilling out. “Kevin?” Sam asked with a shiver at the sudden cold.
“Yeah, it’s me, just checking in. I’m kinda stuck in The Between since Heaven’s closed.”
“We’re trying to work that out, but it’s an angel-level thing, sorry,” Sam said.
“I wanted to say I was sorry for lying to you guys about the Trials. I knew you’d try to stop me though.”
“It should have been me, Kevin. I just feel it. I even dream about it,” Sam said.
“Do you dream about what would have happened next, Sam?” Kevin asked, holding on as hard as he could to stay solid enough for Sam to focus on him.
“Sometimes, yeah. Dean got some kind of glowing mark on his arm, and there’s something about God’s sister being the Darkness and unmaking existence.”
“Yeah, that’s what was going to happen. I kind of saw a flash of it, back when you guys first found me in the church when Dean got back from Purgatory. That’s why I said what I did back then, to hopefully change how it would all go. I’m glad it worked.”
“Me too, you have no idea. Well maybe you do,” Sam said with a laugh.
“Sam, I can’t stay solid much longer so let me say this, okay? Your story is important to the world, the story of you and Dean and how you never give up on loving each other. It’s the key to something big. I know I said it before, but it’s even more true now.”
“I read it, all of it. Did you know that?” Sam said once he’d composed himself enough to speak.
“Yeah, I know. I’m sorry if it made you sad,” Kevin said as he felt himself fading.
“I’m sad because I miss you, Kevin,” Sam said with a heart-breaking smile.
Kevin smiled back at his friend as he faded into nothingness, his hold on his form disappearing as the emotion of Sam’s confession hit him. Feelings were different when you were a ghost; they had a weight that was more noticeable. Sam’s sadness and guilt were powerful and heavy, and Kevin could feel himself absorb it all and tear apart into too many pieces to hold together.
It was a month or so later that he was finally able to come back to himself enough to peek in on Sam and Dean’s world. The Between was having an effect on him; being stuck in the nothingness of it made it seem pointless to continue the effort of existing of himself. But there was still that tie to the Winchesters and their story, and he felt a pull of responsibility that helped him reassemble himself just enough to tune into TV Winchester.
While Charlie waited for the enormous ancient computer in the bunker to download itself into a format her tablet could access, she used the time getting all of the Prophet’s books scanned and posted online. With the excitement he felt at her efforts, Kevin was able to send her a message that thanked her for her work and told her to watch how the stories would change the world. He was resting, hovering in the room where she and Dean were talking, when the witch showed up. He had just enough strength left to push the spell she shot out of her fingers at Charlie, diverting it to hit the television, which exploded in a shower of sparks and glass. After that he knew nothing more. Using up his energy to make something physically happen was hard to recover from.
Kevin was able to reform himself and come back to help the brothers pursue a lead about his mother still being kept alive by humans who had been serving Crowley’s demons. With the demons all gone, they were inept and unfocused, so it was a pretty easy win. Re-uniting with his mother was harder than he’d thought it would be. All this time he’d imagined her in Heaven, waiting for him to get there and join her. Hopefully she was having fun being proud of her son the Prophet of the Lord and all that. He’d never imagined that she was still alive and being tortured by Crowley.
After the boys managed to find and rescue her, Linda kept in contact with Sam. She gave him updates on how she and her ghostly son were getting along. When Heaven was restored and the souls were taken up, she called Sam to let him know, and this was when she finally broke down and cried because Kevin’s presence was just instantly gone, without any warning or preparation. Sam lied and said he knew Kevin was in a better place, and he wondered what Kevin’s heaven was comprised of. Most likely nothing at all to do with the Winchesters or being a prophet. Maybe Kevin’s Heaven involved playing the cello, and definitely a gaming system.
Sam tried everything to bring Kevin back. He felt so deeply guilty that he didn’t go through with the trials himself. Regardless of what Kevin had told him about the horrible future that would have resulted, no matter how many dreams of it he had himself. He never could quit feeling guilty no matter how many time Dean would tell him to. He never stopped thinking that if he had just done the Trials, Kevin would still be here. The world needed him, needed a prophet more than they needed Sam. No one else could ever understand that it was all his fault the world was without a prophet, so he didn’t tell Dean or Cas about his plans, just Linda. She tried her best to talk him out of it over one long Skype call, but Sam didn’t agree.
He didn’t give up trying until Kevin was finally standing there in front of him, naked, confused, and then angry, so angry you’d think he was still a spirit. “I was in fucking Heaven, Sam! What the fuck would you bring me back here for?”
“Sorry, uh…Couple of reasons. For your mom mostly. No, really, I’ll be honest, it was for a selfish reason. I just wanted to tell you that I’m sorry that I got you killed. I wanted to ask you if you could ever forgive me,” Sam said.
Kevin rolled his eyes as he pulled the nearest article of cloth around him, which happened to be the dead-guy robe that Dean was always leaving in strange places. Why it was in the dungeon, Sam had no idea, but he was glad that it was there for Kevin to wear. He hadn’t realized the spell would bring him back naked. Kevin’s body looked the same, not that Sam had ever seen him completely naked before. But his skin was glowing, like it was not meant to be exposed to the air and had a protective barrier around it. Some residue of Heaven maybe?
“Sam, cut it out, man. It was my choice, and it was stupid to even try, but I had to. I thought he’d killed my mom, and it was the only thing I could do. I’m sorry that you think it’s your fault, because it’s not.”
“But if I’d just gone through with it and finished the third Trial, Crowley wouldn’t have…”
“No. Either that horrible future I saw would be happening now or you’d be dead. And you’re not supposed to be dead. Not yet, anyway. Neither of you were meant to die doing this. Take it from a former Prophet, I know this stuff. Don’t blame yourself, okay? Because I don’t blame you, dude; it was my decision to try and I’m glad it worked.”
“So, do you want to stay here or go back on up?” Sam asked.
“It’s not really a choice, you know that, Sam,” Kevin said, “Tell my mom I was sorry I couldn’t say goodbye to her. Tell Dean I said to have a beer for me. I’ll see you guys once you get up there. No rush though, okay? Oh, and your friend Ash says hi by the way.”
Kevin disappeared in a flash of blue-white soul light, and the robe dropped, now empty to the dungeon floor. Sam bent to pick it up and closed his eyes in quiet thanks that he got to talk to his friend one last time. Dean found him holding the robe and sitting in the chair they’d kept Crowley chained to for so many long months.
“You coming to bed at some point, Sammy?” Dean asked from the doorway. “Oh, there’s my robe. I’ve been looking for that.” He crossed the room to Sam’s side and took the robe from Sam’s hands. Sam gripped it firmly for a moment and then let it go with a sigh as Dean tugged it away.
Sam finally raised his head and squinted up at Dean. “I talked to him, Dean. He was just here, he said to tell you to have a beer for him.”
“Who are you talking about?” Dean asked, looking down at him with his concerned big-brother face.
“Kevin. I…uh…brought him back,” Sam answered, still amazed that the spell had even worked.
“Sam, you promised you’d stop doing this shit! Goddamn it! What if this spell had killed you or something even worse?” Dean exploded at him, wheeling his arms around in a gesture that meant he wanted to punch something or someone.
Sam ducked out of the way and then stood up. He put his hands on Dean’s shoulders to stop his freakout before it got any worse. His brother looked up at him and Sam could tell Dean was on the verge of saying something awful, so he knew he needed to apologize before his brother got the words out.
“I’m sorry, Dean, I am. But I had to. And now I’m okay with everything. I swear I’ll let it go. He said Ash says hi by the way, and that he’ll see us when we get up there with him. But not to rush.”
Dean’s shoulders relaxed underneath the weight of Sam’s hands and his heartfelt apology. “Sounds like him all right. You okay, Sammy?” Dean asked, pulling Sam into one of those comforting hugs that Sam would never stop needing.
“I wish Linda had been here to talk to him,” Sam said into the soft space that enveloped them whenever they connected like this, something else he had to be thankful to Kevin for making sure it was still like this between them.
“I wish I had been too. Would’ve liked to see the squirt one more time.”
“I should have told you, but I thought you’d just try to talk me out of it again.”
“Yeah probably would’ve done just that. God, Sammy, you are the most stubborn piece of work.”
“Of course I am. I’ve been told I take after my big brother.”
“Did he say anything else? Feels like you’re leaving something out.”
“Yeah, he reminded me about how our story was important to the world. He said it was key to something big.”
“I wouldn’t be surprised.”
“Yeah, now that we’ve got it figured out, thanks to him, really, it feels different between you and me. It’s just more somehow. Aww, you know I suck at stuff like this.”
“You really do, but I get what you mean. I’m glad he got us straightened out when we needed it most. The dreams I’ve had about how things would have gone were a real thing. He had a vision of how bad it would go in the future that made him steer us back together.”
“No shit, really?”
“We are living in a Prophet-created world right here, right now.”
“I feel like that should be a pop song or something.”
“It’s definitely time for bed, c’mon,” Sam said, looping his arm over his brother’s shoulder and guiding him out of the dungeon back towards their bedroom. The weight of all he’d learned just a few minutes ago was easier on his shoulders now that Dean knew too, and if he learned anything from Kevin it was that was a good thing.