Title: Keep Me Hangin' On
Summary: Six months after "Swan Song" Dean has tried to settle into an Average Joe life as best as he can. But thanks to an unwelcome Archangel with a request for him, Dean is finding himself being thrown back into the supernatural fold again against his will.
Rating: What is Supernatural rating, show-wise? Teen? M? PG-13. Well, whatever it is, that's it.
Word Count: 3198
Disclaimer: Nope, I am not Kripke. Nope, these guys aren't mine.
Domestic life had not been that difficult to adjust to as Dean had thought it would be. Or at least had feared it would be.
Six months ago, he had moved into Lisa’s guestroom. Despite the flowery wallpaper and the little bowls of potpourri, Dean found staying in a room whose bedsheets did not light up like a Christmas tree when hit with a UV lamp a pleasant change of pace. Though he still missed the Magic Fingers feature of his past motel beds.
Soon after with the help of Lisa’s connections, Dean secured a construction job building houses on the undeveloped edges of the town. Lisa thought it was odd that Dean listed his name as “Dean Moriarty” on his W2 forms. He told her that his real name carried too much legal baggage. Secretly, he simply liked the irony of being Dean Moriarty.
Sam isn’t the only reader in the family, he had smirked to himself. He frowned a moment later when he realized that he was still using present tense whenever he thought about his brother. The last time he saw Sam, the younger brother had trapped the Fallen Angel, Lucifer, in his human shell and was taking a swan dive with the Archangel, Michael, back into the Pit through a hell hole. Then the earth sealed itself up back to normalcy. Back to ant hills, weeds and trampled grass. Dean knew that if he tried to dig through the dirt all he would find would be more dirt. No secret tunnel to his brother. No massive world of demons. Just worms, rocks and mud.
Dean did not want to think about his brother in Hell. He did not want to wonder if Sammy was still in control of his own body. Or if Lucifer had retaken over and was forcing his brother to ride shotgun. And if Lucifer had taken over, was the Fallen Angel still fighting his own brother?
No, he did not want to think about any of that.
But sometimes he did.
Late at night when Lisa’s house became too quiet because she did not have the same tommy gun rattling air conditioners that the motels had, which Dean called his “on the road lullaby”, he would lie in bed with eyes wide open. He thought of his promise to Sam. To never try to bring him back from hell. To live a normal nine to five life full of apple pies and baseball. To be happy in this new routine. And for the most part Dean had fulfilled his promise. He was happy to a point. He liked getting up and knowing exactly what he was going to do that day. Putting up some roofing. Laying some tiling. Hammer. Hammer. Hammer. It was a switch from his past constant mental march of wondering if this was going to be day that something with claws that catch and teeth that bite would gank him. He liked being around Lisa and Ben. Especially Ben. The kid was like a little version of himself only without the monster of the week horror show. Ben loved old cars, pretty girls and cheese burgers. He was still a little behind on classic rock. But when Dean had introduced him to Led Zeppelin IV, the kid took to the music like it was air. Lisa on the other hand was not a classic rock fan.
“Except for that one song by CCR.”
Dean winced. “Let me guess, Bad Moon Rising?”
“Yeah. How did you know?”
“Just my luck.”
Being around Ben was as if Dean was getting a second chance on his own childhood. Only he was not going to make the same jacked up mistakes his father did. Ben knew there were things that went bump in the night out there. But Dean made sure that the boy also knew that with a little salt, sigils and the right gris gris bag, he would not have to worry about them taking him away again. Dean was going to make sure of that. No shoving a gun into Ben’s hands and saying, “Sorry, kid, you ain’ sleepin’ tonigh’. We be monster huntin’!” Dean swore this to Lisa but, again, above all else, he swore to himself. And he kept it.
Still, he was not completely happy. An itch in the back of his skull was always there, scraping away. Dean wanted his brother back.
He had Lisa. He had Ben. He had a solid roof over his head and three actually healthy squares for his belly.
Why could he not have his brother too?
Why was his life always missing something? That whole ying/yang bull that Sam was yammering on years ago, why did it always plague him? Dean could have his brother around but not a normal life. He could have a normal life but not his brother around. That garbage was always tailing him. He could have his life or his father. He could have his father or his life. Everything was either or.
It was as if Dean were ever completely and utterly happy and had everything he wanted, the universe would implode.
“That’s some Douglas Adams crap, right there,” he muttered to himself once.
For a moment he thought about breaking his promise to Sam. To try to make a deal with a Demon to bring him back but Dean realized it was an impossible dream. If Sam was by himself in Hell, then perhaps a demon could yank him out. But with Lucifer trapped in jail and Michael and his winged cronies making sure that he did not get out again, no Demon was powerful enough to separate his brother from the Fallen Angel. Sam was stuck. Dean could offer his soul and all the souls in New York City and still no Demon would be able to strike that bargain.
The only being that could do it was God and, frankly, Dean was still a little pissed at Him for bringing Bobby and Castiel back but not his brother. As much as he cared for those two why did they get the one up life and not Sam as well? What sort of cosmic crack up was that? Dean knew that he would never get an answer from a being who liked to keep tight lipped and did most of his talking through a burning bush. He was going to have to live with it. And live with it he did.
Lisa had taken Ben to Kentucky for her Aunt’s wedding leaving Dean with the house to himself for the weekend. He had offered to drive the two there but Lisa declined. The wiring in the basement had broken down and someone needed to be home for when the electrician showed up bright and early Monday morning. Dean was volunteered.
“Besides you hate weddings.”
“True. But I love wedding cake.”
“Is this your way of telling me to bring back a slice?”
“Can you keep it fresh?”
“I’ve got some Tupperware.”
“Then, yes, this is my way of telling you to bring back some cake...and pie, if they’ve got any.”
Saturday rolled around and after working his nine hour shift Dean returned to an empty house. He stood on the thresh hold and gazed into the vacant living room. Usually, the sound of Ben playing his video games would greet him about now. Instead, a big fat nothing was there.
Dean hated it.
He dropped his tool box and jacket on the floor in a pile. He kicked off his work boots and shoved them on the mess with his foot. Since Lisa was not around to give him the stink eye when it came to cleaning up after himself, Dean was not going to bother. The act with his own private middle finger to fate. He closed the door behind himself and wandered into the kitchen. Lisa had a small radio that was made to look 50’s retro except for the slot to slip an mp3 player in sitting on the counter. Dean flipped the switch. A poppette, whose fifteen minutes were ten seconds shy of ending, belted out a song about sex in a club’s bathroom. Fantastic. Lisa’s music. Dean felt twice his age as he grumbled about how lousy modern music was. He turned the dial until he hit the only Oldies station in the city. The station played both Classic rock and Motown. Dean did not mind Motown. The songs reminded him of his mother and how she used to play her 45’s when she was cleaning the house when he was only a tot.
The Animals finished “The House of the Rising Sun” as Dean pulled a beer from the fridge. He uncapped the top as The Supremes began to sing, “You keep me hangin’ on.” Dean always had a thing for a young Diana Ross but at that moment, the song’s lyrics were grating his nerves;
Why do ya keep a’comin’ around playin’ my heart
Why doncha get out of my life and let me make a new start
Let me get over you the way you got over me
“Shut up,” he said as he took a swig from his beer. But he did not turn the knob. Some part of him wanted to think about the people in life who had come and gone. For years this thought pattern was a daily exercise. He would be eating in a backwoods diner thinking about how his mother was gone. He would be driving in the car with Sam next to him asleep, thinking about how his father was gone. And even now he still thought about Sam.
A headache was starting to pound against his temple. He ran the cold bottle across his forehead. He had to stop this nonsense for once and for good.
“You have Lisa and Ben,” he bellowed out in the empty kitchen, screwing up his eyes to fight off the headache, “You can’t bring them down with your personal baggage. They took your stray ass in and you want to do that to them? And for what? Because you can’t deal with the truth, you stupid moron. Mom isn’t coming back. Dad isn’t coming back. And most of all, Sammy is not coming back!”
“You should really get yourself a yellow cat.”
Dean opened his eyes to see a woman sitting at the dining room table.
She smiled. “I hear they always come back the very next day.”
Spinning around, Dean tossed the beer bottle in the sink and yanked a knife out from the butcher block. He swung back with the knife out in front of him. His body tensed up in a fighting stance. The woman did not look one ounce of impressed. She leaned back in her chair and crossed her legs giving Dean a moment to look her over. She was wearing an Eagles of Death Metal shirt, cut offs and white cowboy boots that were scuffed brown on the toes. Her bleached hair was tied up in a messy bun. Everything about her telegraphed truck stop waitress.
“Who the hell are you?”
“Wrong end of the egg there, buddy.” She started to mess with the fake sunflower centerpiece. “My vacation home is a little ways to the North.”
Dean frowned. “Angel.”
“Archangel, really,” She rose from her chair, “I like to pull rank.” She pointed at the knife in the man’s hand, “Are you going to keep waving that thing around? You could take someone’s eye out with that. Most likely your own.”
Dean looked at his knife. He realized that it was useless against an Angel let alone an Archangel. He might have as well been holding a salami for all the good it could do. Without letting his gaze off of the woman, he slipped the knife behind him and back into the butcher block.
“There,” said the Archangel with another smile that reminded Dean of a condescending grade school teacher, “Now we can talk.” She pushed the dining table chair back in its place. “You know, Mr. Winchester, you are a very hard man to find seeing how you still have those little carvings all about your rib cage.”
Dean felt his chest. He had forgotten about the Enochian markings. He had figured that when Castiel had healed him, the Angel had reversed everything including the carvings. How dumb of him to even think that Castiel would take away that protection from him.
The Archangel shook her head amused at the young man’s thick headed nature. She leaned against the back of the chair as if she was gossiping with an old friend. Rolling her eyes she continued, “Anyway, I found myself having to visit one, Mr. Singer.”
“If you’ve hurt Bobby so help me-”
“Oh, please, knock it off.” The Archangel shook her head again only this time in disgust. “I did jack to him, okay. In fact, I erased his memory of us ever had talked. Give him a ring right now. Ask him what he was doing earlier this afternoon. He’ll say he was napping. Sleeping off old Johnny Walker. Go on, I can wait.”
“Lady,” Dean interrupted, feeling a bit braver before. He knew that in a hand to hand fight an Angel would wipe the floor with him. But there was something about this Archangel that made him drop his guard and think that he could talk her out of his house. Perhaps it was the almost white trash vessel that the Archangel wore but Dean could not help but feel that she was not as cruel or at least as violent as her brothers. “I don’t know what you want but you can stop the yammering because you must not have gotten the memo. I am out of the Demons and Angels business. I survived my two weeks until retirement and I am done.” He swiped his hand against each other, cleaning them free of the imaginary troubles. “So, if you would ever be so kind as to get the hell out of my home.”
The Archangel winced. “Again with the “hell.” I am the furthest thing from a Demon.”
“I’m sorry but you must have mistaken me for someone who actually gives a crap.”
The light from the woman’s eyes vanished as if someone had blown out a candle. Her smile straightened out to a tight lip slit. She stood like a statue staring down the man in silence. Dean felt his heart sink to his feet. He knew he was wrong about this Archangel. With the look she was giving him, she seemed like she could be every bit as violent as her Brothers. Perhaps even more so.
The radio shorted out in an explosion of sparks. The fridge began to shake like it was alive and angry. The blender turned itself on and roared. The toaster began to smoke. Everything that was connected to electricity was revolting.
Dean stepped away from the counter. He jerked his head up at the overhead light as it blinked a Morse code message that he could not make out. He looked back at the Archangel who was still glaring at him.
“I like you, Dean Winchester. I know all about your story. And, honestly, it’s a hoot. But make no mistake-”
Every light and appliance died drowning the room in silence.
“-I don’t like you that much.”
Dean’s heart punched against his rib cage. The hairs on his arms and his neck were standing at attention. Beads of sweat formed on his brow. He had pissed her off and he was completely weaponless.
“That is enough, sister.”
Dean jerked to his right and away from Castiel who was standing next to him. Despite having been upgraded to management level in Heaven, the Angel was still wearing his crumpled trench and slacked suit and tie. Dean did not care. He was simply happy to have the Angel around at this moment.
“This man is protected under Heaven’s watch. He is not to be harmed by any Celestial host.”
“I am?” Dean asked trying to figure out what was going on.
“Butt out, bro,” said the Archangel as she crossed her arms with a newly formed scowl on her face. “Mr. Winchester and I need to have a little talk.”
That was it. Dean threw his arms in the air, “Enough already!” He pointed at the woman, “You, shut your pretty little pie hole. No one is having an International Coffee moment here.”
The Archangel did not say anything.
Dean then pointed at Castiel. “Have you been spying on me this whole time?”
Castiel looked at Dean without expression. “No, not the whole time. There were moments where I allowed you to have privacy with yourself. Such as last Friday when you were watching Casa Erotica 4 and-”
“Alright, I got it!” A hot flush burned red in Dean’s cheeks. Images of himself on the toilet and in shower with Castiel floating over him with a pair of binoculars and a clip board flooded his mind. He cringed. No amount of bleach was going to scrub that idea clean from his brain. He knew that the Angel meant no ill will but the opposite. However, for a quick moment he wanted to sock Castiel in the jaw for violating his personal space. He pinched the bridge of his nose. Thoughts like that did not matter at the moment. Just more clutter to get in the way of what was in important. “Cas, who’s the chick?”
“You know, you can ask me face to face,” said the woman, “I have a working mouth.”
“No, really?” snapped Dean before he could stop himself. He held up his hands in a note of truce. The last thing he needed was for the Archangel to become mad again and break even more electronics.
“She is Sariel,” said Castiel not even realizing that the Archangel and Dean were in a mini feud. “She is one of the seven Archangels of Earth. Meant to walk the lands in guardianship.”
“She is this planet’s security guard?”
Sariel palmed her hand against her face. “Oh, thank you for belittling me even more.”
Castiel’s brow scrunched up. He did not understand. “A security guard? No. She is one of its protectors.”
Dean was not buying it. “Then,” he said to Sariel, “where were you when your brothers decided to turn Earth into their personal fight club?”
“Trying to keep the tsunamis and earthquakes at bay,” the Archangel snapped back through clenched teeth. She was starting to become very sick of the man’s tone. “It could have been and should have been much worse than it was, kid. You thought this place was bad. You should have seen Heaven the first time around when Lucifer and Michael had a tift. There’s still over turned furniture up stairs.”
Dean waved off Sariel’s answer, “Fine, whatever.” Again, it was more needless nonsense. “So, why are you here? Why do you want to talk to me?”
“Because I need your help finding someone.”
“Me finding someone? Who?”
“I need you to help me find Gabriel.”
GO TO CHAPTER TWO