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FIC: The Only Cure for Grief

Title: The Only Cure for Grief
Fandom: Supernatural
Characters: Jimmy Novak, Dean, Sam
Rating / Word Count: PG-13 / 5500 words
Warnings: Character deaths major, minor, and implied (but all prior to the beginning of the fic)
Summary: The apocalypse is over, and Jimmy Novak has cobbled together a life now, kind of. The last thing he needs is for Winchesters to come walking back into it. Yet here they are, Sam recovering from demon blood and Dean only recently angel-free, looking for refuge and other things Jimmy doesn’t know how to give.

A/N: This is my spn_summergen fic, written for sistabro to the prompt Dean said yes. Sam didn't. I... took a fair bit of liberty with that. Originally posted here.

~~~~

Jimmy’s given up on normal, on safe, and still the shock when Winchesters turn up on his doorstep again is like a blow to the chest. The doorstep is metaphorical, of course. Jimmy’s cot is one of dozens lining the walls of the shelter, and his doorstep is simply the invisible boundary that separates the office – a closet with a desk – from the pitiful masses beyond.

Jimmy’s there one evening, shuffling papers – even in crisis, there are papers – when a footstep squeaks against the floor. He looks up, and there they are. Standing in his doorway are Sam, whom he hasn’t seen in months, and Dean, whose face he’s seen almost every day on the few remaining news programs; the archangel Michael is difficult to ignore. Their noses are red with cold. Crusted snow from their boots is melting onto the floor.

Jimmy draws his water pistol from his drawer and squirts holy water into their faces. Sam hisses. Dean, ragged and slumping fast, does nothing.

“That stuff’s no good against angels, you know,” Sam says. “Or humans.”

“It’s doing something to you,” Jimmy says. The water dripping down Sam’s face doesn’t sizzle and burn the way it does on every demon Jimmy’s doused before, but vicious red welts are rising beneath it. Jimmy has no idea what that means.

“Figures,” Sam says. His half-smile is bitter. “Look, I hear you take people in. Is there a place for us?”

People,” Jimmy emphasizes.

“Dean’s people. I will be, too. Just give me a few days.”

The man Jimmy knows as Dean looks like he’d fall down if it weren’t for Sam, and to get here Sam had to cross the salt line laid under the linoleum at all the shelter’s thresholds. So. Sam is probably not a demon, and Dean is probably not an angel – anymore - and that’s just going to have to be good enough.

“This way,” Jimmy says.

--


Dean was the one Jimmy figured in need of medical attention; his eyes were still open when Sam and Jimmy laid him down in a quiet corner, and he was barely conscious even then. When Marcy shakes Jimmy awake in his cot, though, it’s Sam she leads him to.

The other three men who were sleeping in this room have already taking their bedding and gone, no doubt spooked by the obviously sick man on the floor with them. Now there’s only Dean, lying still and silent, and Sam.

Sam’s hair and clothes are dripping with sweat. He twitches like he’s seizing, and though his eyes are wide open he clearly sees some other reality than the dingy one Jimmy works in every day.

“He woke people up all the way down the hall,” Marcy says. “Should I get Kawamata?”

Jimmy leans down and moves to push Sam’s hair away from his forehead. Instantly, Sam has Jimmy’s wrist gripped in a vise. “Don’t touch me, man.” Sam’s tone is harsh, but his eyes are pleading. Jimmy might mistake the light in them for lucidity. Sam drops his wrist, closes his eyes, and shudders again.

Jimmy shudders, too. Memory has been jogged loose; he knows what this is. He didn’t see it last time, but Bobby mentioned it once or twice.

“It’s fine,” Jimmy tells Marcy. It’s true in the sense she’ll take it, if not in any other. “I’ll stay with him. Just grab me some aspirin and a thermometer?”

Marcy brings them, and a glass of water, too, which Jimmy didn’t think to ask for. He sets it aside for now. He’s not sure he has much chance of getting Sam to swallow anything, much less pills, without choking. He doesn’t even know it’ll do any good, but it seems stupid not to try. For now, though, he manages to wedge the thermometer in Sam’s mouth and keep it there long enough to get a reading. A hundred and three.

“Poor bastard,” Jimmy says, and sets it aside. He thinks about finding a towel to try to keep some of the sweat out of Sam’s eyes, but Sam has started to moan. The seizing is getting worse, and Jimmy isn’t willing to risk any more bodily contact just now.

Instead, he goes to check on Dean. Dean’s eyes don’t twitch with dreams behind his eyelids. He makes no sound. He is very pale. Jimmy holds his hand in front of Dean’s nose and feels the faint heat of his exhale. He’s still alive, then.

When Jimmy first woke up again on a musty, lumpy couch in Bobby Singer’s house, he was in worse shape than Dean is now. Extracting an angel so far fallen that he’s practically merged with his vessel is a messy and imperfect business, and what gets left behind is more casualty than man. Jimmy lay on that couch for weeks.

Then again, Castiel was barely more than a grunt in heaven’s hierarchy, as Jimmy understands it; being ridden by an archangel in full fury probably exacts its own price.

Sam yells again. It’s a deep, guttural yell, as much anger as pain. Sam’s eyes are still closed, though, and he hasn’t moved. Jimmy goes and closes the door, laying a blanket across the bottom for what little soundproofing that will provide. Then he sits down with his back to the cinderblock wall, and he waits.

--


By noon the next day, Jimmy has gotten used to Sam’s yelling and is mostly able to tune it out now, but Dean’s low moan instantly alerts him. He rubs the sleep from his eyes and goes to Dean, who’s trying feebly to push himself upright. Jimmy puts an arm around him and pulls him up.

“Wha?” Dean asks, blinking. “Cas?”

That is not a conversation Jimmy’s prepared to have yet. “It’s Jimmy.”

“Oh.” Dean stares dumbly at him. Sam gives another yell. Dean flinches and turns, blinking some more in Sam’s direction. “Sammy?”

“It’s just demon blood,” Jimmy says, as though ‘just’ could ever be an appropriate word in this context. “He’s sweating it out.”

“Demon blood? Why?”

That’s not a conversation Dean is up to yet, Jimmy suspects. “Are you hungry? I think there’s casserole today.”

Dean thinks about that. The first time Jimmy woke up, he was ravenous; the second time, he was too busy wishing he were dead. Dean seems to be falling somewhere in between. Finally he says, “Yeah, okay.”

“I’ll be back in a jiffy,” Jimmy promises.

“I’ll come,” Dean says. He looks at the floor around him, as though trying to decide which would be the steadiest place to plant his feet.

“I can get it. It’s fine.” Dean looks ready to argue, and Jimmy has an inspiration, a gift from those long months spent with Bobby and occasionally Sam, learning the fraught contours of their conversation. “Stay with your brother,” Jimmy says.

Dean gives that a moment’s thought, and then he nods.

It only takes Jimmy a few minutes to make his way to the cafeteria and fetch back two plates. He hands one to Dean.

Dean eyes the plate cautiously and takes a sniff. “Tuna surprise?”

“Don’t knock it. It’s easy, it’s made mostly of nonperishable items, and it has protein.”

“Huh.” Dean picks up his fork and tries a bite. As he begins to chew, his eyes glaze over.

This, Jimmy remembers. After months of being bombarded by sensation too exalted for human language, Jimmy’s first taste of a hamburger cooked medium well, bun lightly toasted, mustard, no mayo, was all-consuming. The crunch of lettuce between his teeth grounded him inside his own skin. It’s the most present he’s ever felt in his life.

Eventually Dean breaks through the daze long enough to swallow and take another bite, and soon he’s digging in earnest. For a while there is only semi-companionable silence broken occasionally by another moan from Sam. Dean’s eyes flick over to Sam at every sound, and then to Jimmy, for reassurance. Each time Jimmy nods, Dean goes back to eating.

By the time Dean slows down, his plate is mostly clean, and he looks more alert, like he’s actually seeing most of the things his eyes land on.

“How long’s Sam been like this?” he asks.

“Just since you guys came in last night.”

“Why’d he do it?” He asks it wide-eyed, childlike, as though Jimmy has all the answers.

It so happens Jimmy mostly does, in this case. “What’s the last thing you remember before today?”

Dean gives that some careful thought. Jimmy sees the moment he remembers. His shoulders stiffen. His gaze drops to his plate. “Zachariah,” Dean mutters. “All those guys. I said... I told them yes.”

“You let Michael in. Demon blood is what it took to get him out.” There has to have been more to it than that; Bobby said Sam could barely muster the juice to kick Castiel out of Jimmy, and Castiel had been willing to go. Evicting a resistant archangel would surely require an order of magnitude more power, and Jimmy has no idea how Sam went about getting it.

But that’s Sam story to tell, anyway, not Jimmy’s.

“God damn it,” Dean says quietly. He was never sitting particularly straight; now his shoulders bow under an intangible weight that Jimmy doesn’t envy him one bit.

Jimmy is ready to ask if Dean wants to get some more rest somewhere quieter when Dean speaks again. “So what’s the damage?” He lifts his eyes to Jimmy’s. “What did I... What did Michael do?”

Jimmy looks away. He can’t face that kind of hopeless need, not tonight, not with Dean. “Do you really want to know?”

Dean clears his throat. It’s a conscious act of courage, Jimmy suspects. “World’s still here, though, right?”

“Some of it.” Jimmy hopes that will be enough to make Dean let it go.

But no. “Was there any upside to this? Me saying yes?”

“Detroit is gone,” Jimmy says. “Dallas. Los Angeles. Calcutta, Mexico City, Oaxaca, Cape Town, how many more do you want me to list?” He’s shaking, he realizes. All that calm and sympathy he habitually clings to has slipped from his grasp.

Dean is very pale. “No, that’s good. I get it.”

“Do you, Dean? Do you understand how many lives were lost, how many people’s family’s were destroyed by what you did?”

Dean’s expression hardens into something emotionless and brittle. “Wouldn’t be the first time.”

Jimmy takes a deep breath. His jaw aches. Deliberately he unclenches his teeth. “Do you want somewhere else to sleep? I’ll doubt you’ll get much here.”

“No,” Dean says. “No, I’ll stay.” With my brother, he means, the words as clear as if he spoke them.

“Fine,” Jimmy says, and leaves. He closes the door behind him and goes to the kitchen. He needs something to scrub. Lunch is almost over; there will be plenty of cooking pans.

--


For two days, Sam yells and writhes, and Dean watches over him. Jimmy checks in to make sure Dean has food and to keep them both hydrated. Getting Gatorade into Sam is a wet and bruising enterprise, but Dean insists on doing it himself. To Jimmy, it looks like penance. Sometimes he keeps watch while Dean naps, but otherwise he mostly leaves them alone.

He’s over his fit of fury with Dean. He tries not to think about it. He doesn’t know where it came from; he’s usually very even-tempered. People comment on it, even.

The second day, Lauren sits Jimmy down for a talk. She manages the shelter. She took Jimmy in months ago, and she gave him work to do: papers to shuffle, when he can focus on them – he was management once; he knows how to fill out a form. Pots to scrub when he needs to think, or when he can’t bear to.

Sam and Dean worry her.

They’re his friends, Jimmy tells her. Privately, he finds a bitter amusement in this reasoning. Sam and Dean aren’t his friends; they’ve become like family he hates simply for being his family, for being inescapable.

In fairness, however, very few of his personal tribulations are their fault, and anyway he owes Sam as much as he owes Lauren, or more. So he tells Lauren that Sam will get better, and soon. He promises that all Dean needs is time and solid food. She doesn’t entirely believe Jimmy, but she trusts him, and that’s enough.

--


On the third day, while Jimmy is spelling Dean, Sam sits up and opens his eyes.

He looks worse now than he did when he was unconscious. The alertness in his eyes contrasts badly with the dark circles beneath them. The holy water rash has healed, though. He blinks a couple times, brow furrowing when his gaze lands on Jimmy.

“Cas?”

“Jimmy.” He hopes he won’t have answer that question very many more times. “You knew it was me when you came in a couple of days ago.”

Sam nods. “Right. Right. We found you.”

It confirms what Jimmy already guessed. Better, he supposes, that Sam inexplicably came looking for Jimmy than that they just stumbled in here by accident. He trusts the purposes of Sam a whole lot more than he trusts the purposes of God. Or of the universe. Whichever. Personal or impersonal indifference: he’s never been able to decide which he’d prefer to believe in.

“You’re looking better,” he says. It’s true in the most important sense.

Sam nods. “I feel sort of human, almost.”

Jimmy chuckles politely.

“Is Dean...?”

“Right here,” says a voice from the door.

Sam rises to his feet, hardly steadier on them than Dean was two days ago, and Dean strides up and wraps his arms around the sour reek that is Sam. Not that Dean is smelling too fresh either; he refused to leave Sam alone long enough to take a shower.

“You stupid, stupid son of a bitch,” Dean mumbles into Sam’s shoulder.

Jimmy quietly slips out the door and closes it behind him.

--


Now that both Winchesters are conscious and upright, Jimmy expects them to find urgent business elsewhere. They never seemed lacking in it before, and surely the apocalypse has left plenty in its wake. Neither of them mentions leaving, though, at least not to Jimmy. Instead Dean paces the little room, muttering to himself or to Sam. Sam sits quietly and cleans guns. Sometimes he writes in a leather bound journal or reads books that seem mostly composed of Latin. Often when Jimmy stops by, one of them is asleep, but never both.

Fortunately, the steady tide of refugees is at an ebb, and Lauren can afford to let two men occupy a space big enough to sleep eight.

She’d let them have it to themselves anyway, Jimmy suspects. Sam was off taking his first shower when Lauren stopped in to say hello. She knocked and came in while Dean was still half-protesting. She covered her reaction quickly, smiling and offering Dean her hand to shake, but Jimmy saw the moment when her mouth dropped in shock. He knows Dean did, too.

Lauren caught Jimmy later. “That man Dean...” she began, and stopped.

She watched the same broadcasts as Jimmy; she knew Dean’s face almost as well. “He’s not who you think,” Jimmy said. “Not anymore.”

She nodded, biting her lip. “You said you knew them. Before.”

“Yes.”

She paused a while longer, and then she nodded again. “All right, then.”

Since then, a couple of days of decent food and natural sleep have done wonders for Sam and Dean both, although they’re still a little shaky on their pins. Jimmy drops by to check in on them just before lunch, and Sam snags him. “Hey, you got anything around here we could do? Like, chores?”

“Sam...”

Whatever protest Dean is making – a familiar one, Jimmy guesses from the tone – Sam shrugs it off. “I don’t think we’re going to be up to taking off for a little while. So I want to, you know, earn my keep.”

Jimmy laughs. Sam looks surprised; maybe laughter sounds unnatural, coming from Jimmy. He hasn’t had much practice lately. Or maybe Sam just doesn’t see anything funny. “Sam, you’re the only reason I’m even here. You’ve got a place on our floor as long as you want it.”

Sam’s gaze drifts towards Dean, maybe without Sam even realizing it. “That’s ‘you’ plural,” Jimmy clarifies. “You and Dean both.” Obviously.

“Thanks,” Sam says. Dean grumbles in the background.

Dean stays behind, and Jimmy ends up giving Sam a tour of the place. They walk down the linoleum-floored corridors and Jimmy points through open doors. Some are filled with rows of cots. Others, like Sam and Dean’s, contain only blankets and mattresses on floors. “It was an elementary school,” Jimmy explains.

“Before the apocalypse?”

“No, just before.” Sam’s shoulders settle in relief. “It hasn’t been used as a school in years, but the city never managed to sell it, so they lease it to the shelter. We’ve been maxed out, though, taking in refugees from outside Chicago.”

Sam nods soberly. He looks as though he has something to say. Jimmy waits while he finds it. Finally, “Maybe it wasn’t so great an idea, coming here. I mean, no one has any idea I’m the one who started it all, but Dean—”

“Might have a hard time,” Jimmy finishes.

“They’ll lynch him,” Sam says.

Jimmy sighs. “Look, I meant what I said. Dean doesn’t ever have to come out of there, if he doesn’t want to. The woman who runs this place trusts me. If I say you guys need a place, it’s yours.”

“We’re imposing on you. I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have...”

They’ve reached the double doors at the end of the hallway. Jimmy pushes one open, and Sam follows him outside. The March afternoon light is thin, and an icy wind sluices through Jimmy’s inadequate clothing. Sam, though, stands a minute with his arms wide, his face to the overcast sun, his eyes closed.

Jimmy can’t help but chuckle. “Looking for a tan?”

Sam turns to him, grinning. “This is it, man. It’s all over, and the sun’s shining, and we’re still here.”

Jimmy is abruptly furious with too many different angers to name. “Some of us are,” he says. He turns on his heel and strides back into the building. He ignores Sam’s calls behind him.

--


Sam doesn’t help out with serving lunch that day, as Jimmy meant to ask him to do. He comes to get plates for him and Dean, nods at Jimmy with something that might be an apology, and go away again. All his promises of refuge aside, Jimmy hopes they leave soon.

No such luck. That evening, when it’s just Jimmy and Marcy and Napat putting away the last of the dinner dishes, Sam finds him. He looms there in the doorway like an sorrowful redwood until Jimmy finishes. Jimmy can’t exactly brush past him. “Something you guys need?”

“Look, man, I’m sorry to bother you, but there’s something I need to talk to you about.”

Jimmy closes his eyes. He’s never been very good at anger; once or twice in his life, it’s risen up in him like a tide, and now it simmers in the back of his throat, all the time, a gently bubbling rage. But he can’t hold onto it, and it doesn’t fuel him the way it does the action heroes on TV. It just leaves him exhausted and weakly nauseous.

He opens his eyes again. “Fine,” he says. He strides past Sam towards Sam and Dean’s room.

“No,” Sam says. “Somewhere else.”

Jimmy shrugs, resolutely incurious. He leads Sam to the office where Sam found him a few nights back. He hoists a hip up on the desk and gestures Sam towards the only chair.

“I’m sorry,” Sam begins. “I never... I didn’t even ask about Claire, or your wife.”

“Amelia,” Jimmy says.

Sam waits. Fucker, he just sits there, waiting for Jimmy to spill out this latest wellspring of tragedy.

“Amelia’s dead,” Jimmy says, harsh and low, viciously pleased when Sam’s eyes widen at the words. Or maybe it’s the tone he’s reacting to. Maybe this is how Castiel spoke from Jimmy’s throat. “I went back to the house, and, and it was empty. Furniture still there, clothes, everything. There was a soup bowl on the kitchen table. I don’t know what kind of soup was in it. The box of white crackers was out, so tomato, maybe. By the time I got there, it was just this solid organic mass.”

Sam is silent, brow furrowed in sympathy. Jimmy could yell at him, cuss him out, he could probably start throwing punches and Sam wouldn’t even fight back. He’d just take it.

Jimmy pauses for a while and lets the air flow in and out of him. Calm, peaceful. In prehistoric times, corporate sent the whole ad division to a meditation seminar. It comes in useful these days.

“I asked the neighbors. They said there was an accident. I couldn’t get a straight answer. Whatever it was, I guess it explained all the blood stains in the carpet. There was an accident and Amelia was dead and Claire was gone.”

“Did anyone see anything? What direction she might have gone?”

“Police tracked a car straight up 55. Last seen in Chicago.”

“Aw, man.”

“I stumbled around for a few days” – drunk as a skunk – “and ended up here. You know, like I said before, I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for you.” Jimmy chuckles. It’s not a pleasant sound. “Sometimes it feels like the final insult, you know? You think, it wouldn’t be so bad if you just didn’t know. If the angel who fucked your life were still riding you around the stratosphere, at least you wouldn’t know about the hell down here.”

Carefully, Sam asks, “Have you heard from Castiel at all?”

“No.” It’s a single word, disinterested, final.

Jimmy sees the regret in Sam’s face, the grief for a friend lost. Sam told Jimmy Castiel knew that it might happen, that he might not survive being ripped out his vessel. It was Castiel who told them about the banishment ritual in the first place and volunteered as a practice subject, so that Sam could save the world from Michael. So that Sam could save Dean.

Jimmy doesn’t care.

The silence stretches out. Jimmy refuses to break it. Finally, Sam says, “So, we didn’t just turn up here by accident.”

“I guessed.”

Sam chuckles sheepishly. “Yeah. Um, last we heard from Bobby, he said you were out this way.”

“When I got here, I sent him a note. Thank you, that kind of thing.” That was after Jimmy turned up at the shelter so many days drunk he couldn’t have counted. Lauren locked him up and dried him out. It took him a few weeks after that to write Bobby a single-page letter, telling him where he landed. It’s a wonder to Jimmy now that he managed to send it at all. “Uh, how is he?”

“He’s dead.”

Jimmy is struck numb. Probably this is what Sam felt a few moments ago. “Damn it.”

“Yeah.”

They sit in silence for a few minutes. Sam doesn’t share any details, and Jimmy is grateful. “I liked him, you know. He was a good guy.”

“Yeah, he was.”

“Awful nurse, though.”

Sam laughs. “Yeah, he was pretty bad. But he liked you, too. Said you were good people.”

The banal sentiment shouldn’t warm Jimmy the way it does. He clears his throat to cover it. “Right, okay. So you kicked an archangel out of your brother, and you came... here. To me.”

“I may have been pumped up on demon blood at the time,” Sam says sheepishly.

“And now that you’re clean?”

“I still think it was a good idea.”

“This idea being...”

“Dean’s been a vessel for Michael for almost a year. He’s not... I can’t imagine what he’s gone through. Is going through. And I thought...” His gaze is pleading.

“You thought I might, what, counsel your brother?”

Sam flinches. “Maybe it was a stupid idea after all.”

“The brother who let in an archangel who flattened fifteen major U.S. cities? Forty-seven worldwide? Who promised paradise would come only after human depravity was wiped from the earth? That brother?”

“No.” Sam stares down at his hands. “No, you’re right, I’m sorry. We’ll, um. We’ll get out of your hair.” He shoots Jimmy a feeble grin. “Dean didn’t want to stay anyway.”

--


Dean finds him after hours that night. Jimmy’s out under the stars, sitting on a wooden bench he cleared of snow. Each inhale is a little frozen shock to his throat, each exhale a visible puff of proof that he’s still alive, conscious, here.

Those are good things. He reminds himself of it daily.

“Damn, it is frigid out here,” Dean says. He crunches across the packed snow to within a few feet of Jimmy. He’s wearing a parka that he no doubt nabbed from the shelter’s clothes closet. The edge of the hood is lined with rabbit fur.

“All prepped for the polar expedition?”

“Damn straight.”

Dean seems to be waiting for an invitation. “You can sit if you want,” Jimmy says.

Dean sits. For a few moments he grumbles under his breath about the cold. Then, for a while, there is only quiet. Dean has his hands tucked inside his coat sleeves, but his arms hang loose in his lap. A stranger seeing him would guess he didn’t have a concern in the world.

That’s not the kind of calm Jimmy has. He wonders if Dean fakes it better, or if he’s got some secret: a switch he flips that Jimmy’s never found. Jimmy doesn’t suppose he’ll ever know. “I hear you’re shipping out tomorrow.”

Dean huffs. “Looks like. Sam’s suddenly got a bug up his ass about it. This morning he was all set to stake a claim here and call the place home.”

Jimmy lets that comment go. It’s his fault they’re leaving. Apologies seem pointless.

“Sam told me,” Dean says quietly. “About your family. I’m sorry, man.”

Jimmy nods. He finds himself blinking at tears. It’s bizarre; he hasn’t cried since he sobered up, two days after he got here. Maybe it’s the cold. “It’s not your fault.”

Dean rolls his eyes. “Yeah, right. I just let the guy in, that’s all.”

“Didn’t Sam tell you?” Did Sam not know? But of course he did; Jimmy remembered conversations in the Singer living room that circled around and around that very question: what happened in Chicago?

“Tell me what?” Dean asks warily.

Maybe it simply hadn’t occurred to Sam to tell Dean. And Dean wouldn’t have asked, the blockhead. He would have assumed. “Chicago wasn’t you.”

“Like I said—”

“It wasn’t Michael, either, we’re pretty sure.” Jimmy notices the ‘we’ and wonders at himself. Well, he did take a pretty active part in some of those conversations, even though he’s mostly blocked them out since. He didn’t let himself consider, then, that they have might anything to do with him. Some part of him still believed Castiel could keep Claire and Amelia safe. “It wasn’t anyone on heaven’s side. When Michael destroyed a city, he’d appear up there above it, outshining the sun, voice like a klaxon. ‘This is your cleansing,’ or whatever dumb thing he’d say. And then he’d level it. It was a nuclear blast without the fallout. Nothing but heaps of powder for miles in any direction.”

Dean’s head is bowed. He nods at the ground.

“Dean, Chicago was nothing like that.”

Dean looks up. There’s something new in his expression. It’s marginally less hopeless than before.

“There was no banner in the sky, no big announcement. It was just weather. Just a storm, not even a tornado. It came up out of nothing in ten minutes. When it was over, there was just eleven thousand square miles of rubble.”

“What do you figure then? Lucifer?”

Jimmy shrugs. “We never figured it out for sure. I mean, Sam and Bobby didn’t. Not while I was there, anyway. A horseman, was our guess. If it was Lucifer, it was his last hurrah. He disappeared pretty soon after.”

“Huh.”

Jimmy waits for a response. Nothing more comes. “We think Michael killed him.” And there was that ‘we’ again.

“Sam said.”

This, at least, was one good thing to come of Michael. Jimmy supposes it’s a big one, although he has trouble appreciating the magnitude of it. Dean doesn’t look too cheered, either.

“And your wife?”

Jimmy swallows. “Demons. Had to be.”

“I’m sorry,” Dean says again.

“Not your fault. Mine.”

“Dude...”

“Mine. I believed Castiel, I let him have me, and it destroyed my family.” Jimmy wipes the half-frozen tears from his cheeks. He can’t seem to stop the flow, though. They just keep trickling down.

He knows what they are. They’re the first rivulets that signal a dam about to burst. Not a dam of tears, necessarily; even in grief, he’s never been much of a crier. Of Jimmy, maybe. The walls will give and all of Jimmy Novak will come pouring out.

“Jimmy?”

Jimmy shakes his head. He struggles for some words that’ll reassure Dean that he’s okay, that it’s all okay. Nothing comes.

“I’d offer you whiskey if I had any.”

“I’m fine,” Jimmy manages to say.

Dean snorts. “Yeah. Me, too.” He catches Jimmy looking his way and smirks.

“How do you do it?” Jimmy blurts.

Dean lifts an eyebrow.

“How do you live with what you’ve done, what you’ve caused?” Two days ago Jimmy would have asked it in anger. Now it is, heaven help him, an honest question. He tucks his gloved hands into his armpits to distract himself from staring Dean down for an answer.

When it finally comes, it comes quietly. “Man, I got no idea.”

Jimmy blinks. “There must be something.” He doesn’t really know what he’s asking for. He’s gone beyond the reach of inspirational quotes from scripture, not that he’d expect Dean to be handing those out anyway. He wants a bit of obscure wisdom, maybe, Mr. Miyagi-style.

Dean Winchester is larger than life, a figure from an epic, a Greek hero in flannel. If anyone knows how to cope with grief the size of Jimmy’s, it must be Dean.

“Sorry,” Dean says.

A bubble of anger rises up in Jimmy. “Don’t be sorry! Just...” The bubble pops, leaving him bereft. “Just tell me what to do. How to fix it.” He knows he sounds childish. These days, he can’t seem to help it. All the grown-up lies have gone hollow.

“That’s what you’re doing here, isn’t it?” Dean asks. It’s only a little bit a question. “Serving casserole and washing dishes and crap. Fixing it.”

Jimmy hesitates. Finally he nods.

“Stick with my brother,” Dean says, staring out across the frosty grounds. “Kill the bad things. Keep on keeping on. That’s all I know to do.”

Jimmy washes dishes. Dean kills demons. It can’t possibly be enough. “Is that what you came out here to tell me?”

Dean glances at him sidelong. “Sam was wondering if you wanted to hitch a ride. You know, if there’s some place we could drop you off. Family.” He rubs at his face with the puffy sleeve of his parka. The furred hood flops over his eyes.

“Here’s fine,” Jimmy says. Here’s safe. No one asks anything of him that he can’t do. “It’s not like I have anywhere else to go.”

“Don’t have to have a destination,” Dean says, peering off in the distance again. “Sometimes it helps, just moving for a while. Put some miles between you and the crap, you know?”

The way Dean’s not looking at him, he thinks Dean’s telling him something important. Jimmy doesn’t know what it is. “I don’t have anywhere to go,” Jimmy repeats.

“Us either. I mean, we go where the evil is. You could tag along, if you wanted. Think you could learn to shoot?”

“Are you serious?” Sam and Dean live in a private universe the size of their Impala. Jimmy would have sworn the population maxed out at two.

Dean still won’t look at Jimmy. “Feel like we owe you. For Cas.”

Jimmy lets that sink in. He doesn’t know whether Dean means for Castiel’s sake or for the damage Castiel caused. He doesn’t want to know.

“Well, think about it.” Dean rises. “Five more minutes of this and I’ll be a freaking Dean-sicle. You going or staying?”

“Staying,” Jimmy says. He needs a little more time with his thoughts before he goes back inside. Then he wonders if he answered the wrong question. “I’ll let you know,” he tells Dean.

“Good enough.” Dean crunches back over the snow, swings the door open, and closes it behind him.

Jimmy sits for a while, just breathing: inhale, exhale.

Then he gets up, and he follows Dean inside.

--end--


Original entry posted at Dreamwidth. Feel free to reply here or there. (comment count unavailable DW replies)

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
shoofus
Sep. 6th, 2012 09:48 pm (UTC)
oh i so want you to continue this, please!
snickfic
Sep. 7th, 2012 04:58 pm (UTC)
I take this as a great compliment! I don't have plans to write any more, though, alas.
auroramama
Sep. 7th, 2012 03:32 am (UTC)
what good is an ice dagger?
The way you write is scary. It's a cool burn with grit underneath. You don't need to put too much stress on anything, and you're able to handle the way people might react to the apocalypse -- to causing the apocalypse -- with a deft touch, but without losing any of the substance.

I teared up more than once, reading this, but I'm pretty easy that way. I'm more impressed by the way emotion wells up from inside, warm, and melts the ice dagger until you'd never know it was there.
snickfic
Sep. 7th, 2012 05:03 pm (UTC)
That's 'scary' as in 'scary good,' I hope. :D What I get from your lovely comment is that the fic dealt with great big emotions without being melodramatic? Which I'm thrilled to hear. And, man, I am tickled pink that you teared up over this fic, because I really wasn't writing this with, um, the usual tear-jerking tricks in mind. Hurrah for stealth ice daggers. :)
pocochina
Sep. 7th, 2012 05:51 am (UTC)
Oh, wow, this is gorgeous. I love what you've done with Jimmy's POV here - how he has this bitterness to which he's totally entitled, and he seems right on the brink of knowing it's a little unfair but not much caring about that. And that you have Michael as a total asshat, because he so is. The idea of how the demon blood would interact with angel stuff is great, too, it's something I always kind of wondered.


Sam turns to him, grinning. “This is it, man. It’s all over, and the sun’s shining, and we’re still here.”


oh. oh. After everything, he still wants so much to live. And still feels guilty about it. oof. He just kills me.
snickfic
Sep. 7th, 2012 05:07 pm (UTC)
I mean to write some extra author commentary to this fic, and one of the things I'm going to mention is that the emotional tone of this fic pretty much just sprouted out of nothing, with no help from me. I didn't start the fic with bitter!Jimmy in mind, yet once I got started, that was clearly exactly what he'd be.

Per the demon blood, I actually got the idea for the angel extraction for 4.16 - there's a point there where Alastair appears to be doing an angel exorcism on Cas. So I figured it was some kind of demon-specific thing, and a pretty high-ranking demon at that. So whatever Sam did to get Dean back, it was serious stuff, man.

Thank you so much for the lovely comment! I am always thrilled to hear from you about my fic. :)
etrix
Sep. 7th, 2012 12:56 pm (UTC)
Wonderfully subtle writing. All these huge feelings are right there but deep, not flung all over the place. I'm glad Jimmy survived, even though he's not sure it was the best option, and Dean and Sam carrying on because it's all they know how to do. Sad, but believable.

I'd read more. =]
snickfic
Sep. 7th, 2012 05:09 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! 'Subtle' is a wonderful compliment, especially re: this fic with, as you say, all these huge feelings. I'm glad you enjoyed. :)
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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