So it occurs to me I never did the WIP amnesty thing for the 3k-ish words I did end up writing for part 8 of Cruel Angels. So, uh. Have that. I guess?
Mild content warning for general violence and, more specifically, the implication of intimate partner violence. Also script formatting. Because lawlz.
Also, the (second) most metaplot spoilery music that was supposed to go with this chapter…
INT. BEDROOM – NIGHT.
Open with a slow pan across the floor of an unkempt bedroom. Stacks of redlined manuscript pages vie for space with crumpled balls of paper, discarded clothes, and a now-empty pizza box. Folksy rock is playing in the background, just slightly too softly to make out the words. Closest to the bed (zebra-striped sheets, very “classy”), is a pile of clothing obviously belonging to a woman. There’s probably a bra. A nice one, y’know? With the lace and stuff.
End the pan up onto the bed, to see CHUCK and BECKY, obviously post-coital. CHUCK is sitting up, eating the last of the pizza. BECKY is lying on her stomach, half-dozing.
Hey. Can I ask you something?
Do you think God ever gets bored?
Nope. You know I’m an atheist. I don’t think god gets much of anything. On account of not being real.
CHUCK rolls his eyes; they’ve obviously had this conversation before.
Yeah, okay. But, hypothetically speaking.
Do I hypothetically think a hypothetical god gets hypothetically bored?
What kind of hypothetical god are we talking about here, exactly?
Like, God god.
All-seeing, all-knowing, all-powerful. Creator of the universe. Big white beard?
(self-consciously scratching his own scruff)
Uh, yeah. Close enough, I guess.
Total omniscience or inherent omniscience?
Knowing everything or having the ability to know anything?
Does it matter?
Just trying to get some context. Deterministic or indeterministic? Compatibilistic or incompatibilistic? Like, there are a lot of variables. You’re asking me to make speculation on an entity no-one’s ever in the entirety of history ever been able to agree on the exact characteristics of. He’s just like this hole people—and angels, for that matter—project whatever they want into. So are we talking about wrathful Calvinist God, or chill Unitarian God, or alien deist God, or… or Lucifer’s didn’t-love-me-enough daddy God?
You know what, forget I asked.
BECKY levers herself up on her elbows, sheet clutched strategically (or not, if HBO).
No, c’mon. You started it, give me something to work with, here.
Okay, fine. Say… Chill. Compatibilistic. Soft theological determinism.
Ugh. Of course God would be a libertarian.
Whatever. So do I think your hypothetical fedora-wearing, milady-creeping God gets bored? Bored with what?
I don’t know. Everything?
Like the universe?
That he made?
Wow. What an asshole.
CHUCK, having by now finished eating, groans, falling backwards onto the bed, covering his face in a pillow.
You know what. Maybe I can just make this conversation not have happened.
I mean, seriously. The universe is pretty freakin’ big. And awesome. How could anyone get bored of it?
(removing the pillow)
Because God is everything everywhere all the time forever? It’s like…
Okay. Think of it like the difference between writing a book and reading one. God is the ultimate author, right? He’s never gotten to read a book, only tried to write one—
That would actually explain a lot about the universe.
Okay, but… You can’t tell me you’ve never gotten bored with something you’re writing, right? You have a whole folder full of abandoned WIPs!
So it’s like that. Except there’s only one WIP, and you can never abandon it.
Are we still talking about God being bored?
Um. Yeah. I… Yeah.
There’s an awkward pause where CHUCK realizes things have maybe gotten out of hand and BECKY is trying to figure out what she’s missing. Eventually, she sits up.
(no longer teasing)
Well. Okay. When I get bored of a story, I go and try reading something else. Something different, maybe. Like a new AU. Or even, and I know this is out there, a different fandom.
She mock-gasps and nudges CHUCK affectionately. He grins briefly, genuine but still troubled.
There’s no other fandoms for God to read, I get it. So, like. Why can’t he delegate?
Delegate. You know, like. Go all Bruce Almighty, tap someone on the shoulder and say, “Hey. You’re up, go make me a new universe to hang out in.”
God can’t do that.
Because! He just… It doesn’t work like that!
Says who? In this hypothetical scenario about a hypothetical omnipotent god?
Oh, right. Sorry. Hypothetical god answers to you now, does he?
Okay, well. So just tell him he’s now allowed to delegate.
I mean, it’s your hypothetical scenario. So if it’s not working out, change it. That’s the beauty of fiction.
That would… be very disastrous.
BECKY rolls her eyes, but there’s a fondness there. She presses forward to kiss CHUCK’s cheek before settling down herself.
I think maybe hypothetical god needs to get some hypothetical sleep. Maybe the universe will be more interesting for him tomorrow.
She curls up against CHUCK’s side. He puts his arm around her stroking her hair as she falls asleep, and he stares up at the ceiling, thinking.
Things fall apart over breakfast. Dean is flipping the last of the pancakes while Claire helps Rilla add the mascarpone and honeycomb when Becky walks in. She’s still in her PJs—a pair of green-and-silver argyle flannel pants and a black Slytherin tank top—a set of massive mottled bruises running up her left arm.
“What’s that?” Sam focuses on the injury like paparazzi on a bad hair day, chair scraping loud against the floor as he straightens up.
“Hnh?” Becky squints at him, uninsured arm reaching for the coffee pot.
“Your arm,” Sam repeats.
Becky looks at the bruises like she’s forgotten they’re there. “Oh. Nothing. Just an accident.”
For a moment, everyone is very still. Dean’s got the skillet in one hand, flippy spatula thing in the other. Rilla has paused holding the bowl of mascarpone, her face carefully blank.
“‘Accident’?” she tries, at the Sam time as Sam demands, “Did Crowley do that to you?” Which . . . nice, Sammy. Real smooth handling, A-plus.
Becky gives a disgusted huff at Sam, and pointedly addresses Rilla instead. “Yeah, just an accident. We were kind of messing around and, uh. Look, I know how it looks”—a pointed glare at Sam—”but it really, really was just a stupid accident.”
Rilla narrows her eyes. “Honey,” she says. “Don’t make me go all Poison Ivy on you. Because I look amazing in green.”
Becky grins. “Noted. And appreciated. But not required.” She holds Rilla’s eye contact, steady and open, and Dean’s shoulders slowly unwind. So do Rilla’s.
“Okay,” she says. “But remember I have a bottle of holy water Astroglide and I am not afraid to switch it.”
“Oh,” says Dean, wincing from more than one awful, terrible, no good mental image. “Not okay, man. Really, really not—”
The scrape of Sam’s chair shuts everyone up. “You’re joking about this?” he snarls, staring at Dean. “I can’t believe you!”
“I’m going to kill him,” Sam says. “I should never have— I’m going to kill him.” He turns very abruptly, and strides out of the kitchen.
“Shit,” says Dean.
Becky, meanwhile, is already moving. “No! Sam! Sam, don’t you . . . don’t you dare!”
“Stay here,” Dean says. “I’ll— I’ll handle it.”
Rilla nods. Her hands are on Claire’s shoulders, holding the wide-eyed girl close. “Dean,” she says, as Dean turns to go. “Sam, he’s . . . he’s not well. I’ve done what I thought I could but—” She cuts herself off, biting her lip and looking away.
“Yeah,” Dean says, because he gets it. He knew something wasn’t right. Knew it, and ignored it, and . . . shit.
Sam and Becky are out in the library, Sam halfway through grabbing the things he needs for a summoning and Becky desperately trying to stop him.
“—your own good, Becky,” Sam is saying when Dean enters. “So just . . . just get out. You don’t need to see this but you’ll thank me later.”
(Above, on the mezzanine, Dean sees movement. Cas, towel draped around his neck and toothbrush still held in one hand.)
“Fuck you, Sam!” Becky snaps. “You don’t know shit!”
“Because you won’t tell us!” Sam retorts.
“Because it’s none of your goddamn business!”
“You start hanging out with demons and coming home covered in bruises? I’d damn well say it’s our goddamn business! Jesus, Becky. We care about you, okay? We don’t— we don’t want to see you hurt.”
Silence, tense as a goddamn Western. Then Becky relents, shoulders slumping.
“We were in Scotland,” she says. “Me and Leelee. He was, I dunno. Just showing me stuff. We ended up on top of this grassy hill, and I asked him if he’d ever done the thing where you sit in a tyre and roll down. He said he was a bit big to fit in a tyre. I said he could be the tyre. Like a hoop snake, y’know. And, well. Anyway, point being, we had fun, then there were rocks. And, trust me. This?” She gestures to her arm. “Leelee got it much worse, okay?” She exhales. “Look, do you get it now? I didn’t want to tell you because it’s not about me, okay? It’s not . . . It’s personal, and it’s not my story to tell.”
Silence. Two seconds, three. Then:
“That is the biggest load of bullshit I’ve ever heard.”
Becky looks . . . she looks crushed. Then angry. “Sam!”
“You expect me to believe that? You expect me to believe Crowley, Crowley, would . . . would roll down a fucking hill? For fun?”
“What? It’s so unbelievable that a demon would do something stupid because it felt good?”
“When it’s Crowley? Yes!” He goes back to gathering items for the summoning.
Becky lunges towards him, grabbing at him hands. He grabs back, and there’s half a scuffle. “Half” because there’s no way Becky can wrestle anything away from Sam, no matter how determined she is.
“Shit,” mutters Dean. He takes a step forward, ready to intervene. Becky is alternating between cursing at Sam and begging him to stop, and Cas is at the mezzanine railing and looks like he’s contemplating straight-up jumping down.
“Goddamn it, Becky, stop!” Sam snaps. And shoves. And Becky stumbles back. She doesn’t fall, but it’s close, and for a moment her hands come up to clutch at her chest and—
The quick-fire smell of a striking match is the only warning they get before the pillar of demonsmoke swirls out of nothing. It’s behind Sam, and he turns, drawing Ruby’s knife from his belt in the same motion.
“You!” he snarls, at the same time as the smoke solidifies and Crowley hisses:
“You want to chat, Moose? Then let’s chat.”
“How long? How long have you—”
“Been able to get into your little playhouse? Oh, please. Give me some credit.”
He’s lying, Dean thinks, quite suddenly and clearly. He isn’t sure how he knows, he just does. Crowley is lying, making them think he’s more powerful than he is. It’s not out-of-character, exactly, though it is inconsistent with the Crowley they’ve seen since the demon’s resurrection. Crowley 2.0 has done everything to convince them he’s harmless short of rolling over and whimpering. So why . . .
And then Dean remembers Becky’s amulet. Because Becky has a key to the Bunker and Crowley comes when she calls. Jesus, he teleports her right back in front of them, and they don’t notice because, what? Because he doesn’t manifest himself? Except he does, doesn’t he; in every puff of red-black smoke.
Dean does not, as it turns out, get to act on this revelation, however. Not when Sam lets loose an angry roar—there are words there, some accusation, but it’s not articulate enough for Dean to catch—and lunges forward, knife raised.
The next part happens very quickly. Everyone lunges towards Sam and Crowley, all at once. Except Cas is still flightless and Dean is furthest away. Which means it’s Becky who gets their first, throwing herself between Crowley and Sam’s blade.
Sam pulls the blow, but not fast enough. Becky’s arm is up, protective, and the knife slices through it. There’s momentum in the swing, too, and it knocks her off-balance. She stumbles sideways, then goes down. Hard. Head slamming the edge of a table as she does.
Half of a hair of a fraction of a second of stillness.
Then Crowley explodes. Literally; the fireball blows Sam back into a bookshelf, even Dean staggers in the backdraft. Flames burn impossibly in its wake; on the floor, the tables and chairs, the books. Sam.
“Fuck!” Dean tears off his flannel, starts beating desperately at the fires. Can’ descent is announced with a reverberating thud and he runs over to join in with his towel. Sam has already shucked his flaming shirt and is doing the same.
Between the three of them, they get the fires under control. Dean thinks they were never really meant to burn; just distract. Which, well. It worked. Once the smoke clears, both Becky and Crowley are long gone.
“Jesus!” Sam starts. “He took her, we have to—”
He’s cut off when Dean’s fist collides with his face.
“What the fuck was that?” There’s a spray of blood on the floor, a clump of hair clinging to the edge of the table.
“What the—? That was fucking Crowley, in our house! He can get—” A thought seems to occur, Sam pushing his fingers through his hair. “She must’ve let him in. Jesus, Dean. She—”
“Stop,” Dean says. “Stop right there. This isn’t about Crowley, and it’s not about Becky—”
“Like fuck it’s not! It—”
“It’s about you,” Dean snaps. “I don’t know what the fuck is up with you, but we’ve all noticed. You aren’t fooling anyone, Sam. We’ve been through shit, I get that, so I let it go. I let it go, and I let it go, and now you fucking stab Becky—”
“I didn’t! She—”
“You stabbed her, Sam! And now half our goddamn library is on fire because, funnily enough, her boyfriend wasn’t fucking into that!”
“He’s not her—”
“Shut up! Just . . . just shut up! Jesus.” Dean kicks a chair. It clatters across the boards, smearing blood and gouging tracks through the ash. He feels . . . fuck. He feels like his bones are trying to crawl out of his skin. It’s the demon blood all over again, it—
“I see Lucifer.”
Dean’s head snaps up, eyes wide as he stares at his brother.
“I . . . since Michigan.” Sam won’t look at him. “He . . . I see him. I thought . . . This place. It’s supposed to be safe.”
“You see him . . . here?”
Sam nods, arms curled around himself.
A shake of the head.
“Okay,” Dean says. “Okay.” He shoots a glance at Cas, but the angel is just as wide-eyed as Dean feels.
Dean sighs, pinches the bridge of his nose. “I . . . look. Just . . . there’s pancakes. You should . . . you should eat. And put some ice on your face. I’m just gonna . . .” He makes a vague gesture.
“Yeah,” says Sam. “I . . . Okay. Yeah.”
Sam goes, slinking back in the direction of the kitchen. Dean watches him, waiting until he’s sure Sam is out of earshot before exhaling, all in a rush.
“Fuck.” He turns to Cas, who’s gone stock-still, grace seething through the Bunker. Testing the wards. “Cas?”
“The wards are old,” Cas says, voice robot-deadpan with his attention elsewhere. “But they are intact. I don’t know how Crowley—”
“Becky has a key,” Dean reminds him. “He can get in if she lets him in, I guess.” There are Devil’s Traps all through the Bunker but not, Dean thinks, between the door and library, or door and kitchen. He tries to remember if they’ve seen Becky pop in and out anywhere else.
“I see,” Cas says.
Cas isn’t so much scowling as giving the impression of scowling, the air crackling with concentration and displeasure.
“There has been . . . a power here,” Cas admits.
“What do you mean?”
“I don’t know. It’s . . . very well hidden.” A pause, then: “I do not believe it to be Lucifer.”
“You sure?” Lucifer creeping in their house is absolutely the last goddamn thing they need. Of all the things that could be going on with Sam, that is pretty much the worst.
“No,” Cas admits. “The texture is similar, but . . .”
“Perhaps. It may simply be an echo.”
Dean shudders, thinking of the little bottle of angel feathers.
“As I said, the traces are faint.” There’s a change in the texture of the air, an invisible tension snapping and, with that, Cas is back. “I’ll do what I can to find out more,” he says, glancing around as if he can see whatever he’s looking for with his regular eyes. Which, hell. Maybe he can. He has his wings mantled up, the eyes there darting around in a disjointed, slightly nauseating frenzy.
“Yeah,” says Dean. He huffs, slapping Cas on the shoulder. “I, uh. Imma gonna make some calls. See if I can find Becky.”
This, as it turns out, does not prove difficult. No sooner is Dean sitting at the radio table when the device in question is crackling to life, a gruff and familiar voice growling: “This thing on? You idiots out there, copy?”
“Dean! Where’s that hippie-haired idiot brother of yours?”
Dean exhales, closing his eyes as he resists the urge to bang his head against the microphone. “He’s, um. Icing his face.”
“Yeah? Got into a bit of a scrap, did’ya?”
And, Jesus. Three decades and that voice can still reduce Dean to a shamefaced little boy, scraped knees and torn jeans and all.
“Something like that.”
“This don’t got nothing to do with the fact I’m putting half a dozen stitches in girl’s arm, I s’pose? Or that I got one pissed-as-Hell, pun intended, demon seething ash into my carpet and setting fire to all my goddamn furniture.”
Dean exhales, head dropping into his hands. Okay. They went to Bobby’s. That’s . . . that’s good.
“Um,” he says. “Yeah. Yeah, it does.”
“The ever-lovin’ fuck you idiots playing at?” Bobby snaps. Dean suspects he wants to rant more but is trying to control himself while he’s working the needle.
“There was, um. A misunderstanding.”
A low rumbling hiss in the background, inaudible, but almost certainly Crowley. Over the top, Bobby says: “That’s one way of putting it. His Nibs says it was Sam.”
“Sam is . . . we’re working on it.”
A sharp crackle of static, then silence, then:
“Six stitches, Dean. That ain’t countin’ the head-wound or the concussion.”
(“I fell. And hit a table,” Dean hears in the background. “Sam didn’t . . . he didn’t mean it.” Followed by another bitter, demonic hiss.)
“You seen the bruises?” Dean says. “So did Sam. He . . . made some assumptions.”
“No shit. I know what he did, Becky told me the story. The whole story.”
“It’s . . . what was Sam supposed to think?” Dean snaps. Because, fuck. Sammy’s got issues but come on.
“Probably ‘bout what I did,” Bobby says, calm as quicksand. “Least until Becky showed me the video.”
Shit. “There’s a video?” Of the hill incident. Shit.
“On her phone. Left me dizzy. Some things a man can’t unsee.”
A pause, long and awful. Dad had always been the explosive one; passionate rages and tense, simmering silence. Bobby, on the other hand, was the master of the disappointed quiet.
Finally, Dean says. “I need to talk to Sam. There’s . . . I think there’s something else. I shouldn’t . . .” Talk about it on the open line, he doesn’t say.
“You do that, boy.” Bobby hears it anyway.
“Yeah. And, uh. Becky. Is she . . .?”
“She’s safe. And she’ll heal.”
“Yeah. Yeah, okay. Bobby? Um. Thanks.” A pause, then: “And, uh. If . . . if Crowley’s there, tell him thanks, too. For, y’know. Looking after her. It . . . this shouldn’t’ve happened.”
“No shit. No you go make sure we don’t get no more ‘misunderstandings’, you hear me?”
“Yeah. See ya, Bobby. And . . . thanks again.”
The radio goes silent. Dean stares at it for a long time, taking long, slow, deep breaths. Then he stands up, chair scraping harshly against the floor. The cold floor. He hasn’t put on shoes yet. Hell, he isn’t even dressed properly; still in the sweats and shirt he’d slept in.
Sam is in the kitchen, hair hung in front of his face, Rilla sitting close as she holds a bag of frozen peas against his cheek and whispers soft words in his ear. She stops when she sees Dean.
“I’ll give you two some time,” she tells Sam. “Come find me in the garden after, okay?”
Sam makes a noncommittal sound, and Rilla kisses his head. Then she nods at Dean, and leaves the kitchen.
When it’s just the two of them, Dean sits at the chair across from his brother and says:
“All right. Talk to me.”
Sam doesn’t, not for a long time, even though Dean can see he wants to. Sammy’s jaw works and his fingers clench and unclench against the table. Dean just sits, forcing himself into stillness and patience. Be Bobby, he tells himself. Not Dad. It’s hard. Real hard. But he manages, and eventually Sam says: