Sam, Dean, and Cas enter Hell and make their way to the seventh level. Sam hears Lucifer.
In this one of many possible worlds,
All for the best or some bizarre test?
It is what it is and whatever,
Time is still the infinite jest …
“It is expressly forbidden for human souls to enter the garden,” the angel said for the third time.
“Elijah, maybe they’re right and Cas said—”
“We didn’t hear Castiel say anything. It’s forbidden. The punishment is banishment.”
“Are you kidding me?” John finally burst out, unable to restrain himself even though everyone said he should. “This Darkness crap has taken over heaven, and you’re worried about being banished? You’re going to end up non-existent if you don’t start listening and thinking for yourselves. Start with this – what if you’re wrong and this Castiel guy is right and the Darkness gets in there instead? What then?”
Kevin, the prophet kid held up a hand to John, his expression asking him to chill out. It seemed everyone else here thought the angels had to be treated with kid gloves. John was ready to start throwing punches.
“We understand it’s a risk, to go against the rules like this, but do you really think whoever is inside the Garden right now, once they hear what’s happening, will think you did the wrong thing? We’re all on the same side here.”
“And we need to make a decision,” Bobby said, nodding to John. “He’s right and we don’t have any reason to lie to you about any of this. The goal is to survive. All of us.”
“And besides that,” Ash said, tapping on his computer keyboard. “I don’t mean to step on your toes or anything, but uh, I know how to get us in. In fact, I’ve been there before.”
“Great,” John said. “Let’s go with that. If you want to stay here,” he said to the angels, “that’s your deal. The rest of us are going. Ash, what do we have to do?”
Everyone gathered around, some glancing nervously at the angels. He noticed Henry – calling him Dad wasn’t yet something that came with ease – went over and tried to talk to them.
“That’s the rub,” Ash said. “We have to get back into heaven. The doorway won’t work from here, and it can’t be just anyone’s heaven either.”
“Whose then?” Charlie asked.
“Dean’s,” Ash said to everyone’s surprise. “Well, Sam and Dean’s. They share, and well, it moves around – a lot. So it ain’t gonna be easy.”
“That’s so them,” Charlie said with a smirk.
“Wait,” John said.
“How do they have a heaven if they’re alive?” Mary said, finishing his thought.
“Mary’s got a point,” Bobby said. “They’re not dead.”
“Not yet anyway,” Kevin said.
“They’ve been here before,” Pamela and Ash said at the same time, and Ash went on. “Once you die, your heaven is created. It doesn’t go away. And they’re kind of a special case. The problem too is that all their heavens are probably taken over by the Darkness already. But let’s take a look.”
Ash turned to his computer, tapping on keys and occasionally the screen. It went blank for an instant and then small dots, two paired together, appeared all over. There were a lot of them. Beside each dot set, a designation of what it was came up. There was the obvious ‘home’, but also ones less clear like ‘the road’, the ‘Grand Canyon’, the ‘field’ and it went on like that.
“The Grand Canyon?” John muttered.
Bobby laughed. “Don’t you remember? That quarry out in Arizona? Sam kept badgering you, and hell, bugging me to take him to the Grand Canyon. And you were so close, but there was a case.”
“That’s right. And I found a quarry nearby.”
“And you stole a pack of mules,” Bobby said. “Dean knew I think, but he went along with it, and so you told Sam he was at the Grand Canyon.”
“That’s terrible,” Mary said, frowning at John and Bobby.
“Yeah,” John said, nodding. “It was, but it worked. It was the same rock. A big hole in the ground. They were just little kids, Mary.”
She shook her head over it, but Ash was pointing to the dots on his screen. “Guys. Where do we go?”
“What’s ‘the field?’” Bobby asked.
“Could be anywhere,” John said.
“It’ll have some significance,” Ash said. “Like the Grand Canyon. Something they remember. Something they loved, maybe.”
John glanced to Bobby but he shrugged and for a while he couldn’t think what the significance of a field would be. Thinking about it required him to go back through too many memories, most of which were painful. He hadn’t done a lot of that since dying.
“It’s possible you weren’t there, John,” Bobby said. “Maybe it was a later time, after you died.”
He pulled in a sudden breath. It clicked. “I wasn’t there, but I do remember it. They damn near burned down an old abandoned farmhouse and a barn. Fourth of July. They got their hands on a box of fireworks, the illegal kind. I knew about it, but I didn’t let on. I figured they’d have the sense to not set them off in a field of grass. I get back and the back field is fully engulfed, and there’s a wall of flame coming toward the house. And they weren’t there. I’m in a panic, thinking the worst, you know, but I finally check my phone and there’s this message from Dean. Dad, we’re not going to be at the farmhouse when you get in. We’ll meet you in town at the Motel 6. I’ve got all our stuff.” He laughed at the memory.
“Why didn’t they call the fire department?” Mary asked.
“Because the fire department meant the police would come,” John said and that was explanation enough. They lived outside the law most of the time and avoided any entanglements with the local LEOs whenever possible. “I called the fire department and then got out of there. I caught up to the boys on the road into town. Dean’s carrying like six things and Sam’s struggling along with the rest. Pretty much everything we owned at the time. They never said a word about it, got in the car like nothing had happened and I don’t know if I’m supposed to yell at them for being stupid or laugh over it.”
“That is a very strange thing to have as a heaven,” Henry said, rejoining them from his conversation with the angels.
“They’d never seen fireworks before,” John said and felt bad again for how completely screwed up his sons’ childhood ended up being because of him. “But it’s as good a place as any to do this. How do we know if it’s been taken?”
Ash pushed some more keys and shook his head. “Near as I can tell, it hasn’t, but – I don’t know how long it’ll be before it is. This Darkness chick definitely has it out for you Winchesters.”
“We better get moving then,” John said and turned to the angels. “You coming or not?”
Elijah and the other angels exchanged glances and John was prepared to hear them say no, but then they nodded. “We are.”
John looked to Henry, who must have convinced them and found himself a little impressed by that. Henry acknowledged the glance with a slight smile and John nodded to that. The might need the angels, after all, and pissing them off was something he knew they needed to avoid.
“Pack it up people,” John commanded and then added somewhat sarcastically, “please.”
Everyone laughed at that.
They were underway just a few minutes later, entering the long hallway with Ash in the lead, using his computer as a map to get them to the right heaven where this field was. John wondered if it’d be burnt to a crisp.
There were a thousand corridors that branched off and went who knows where, but Ash led them through countless twists and turns without hesitation. Still, it seemed to be taking too long and the hairs on the back on John’s neck stood up.
“Hey, hey!” Kevin called out from the end of the line. “I think I hear something coming.”
“Keep them going Ash,” John said and headed back. Mary, who was also bringing up the rear while she talked to Charlie, nodded that Kevin was right.
He couldn’t hear it at first, but then it came, a low, almost subsonic rumble. The air around them seemed suddenly chill. John didn’t have to think long about what it might be.
“Ash! We gotta move! Everybody – run!”
And they did, racing down a long corridor to the left, taking an abrupt right turn down another, all the while Ash kept consulting his computer to make sure they were on the right path. The rumbling grew louder. They weren’t going fast enough to outrun the Darkness that had somehow found a way in.
“Oh hey, we gotta problem here,” Ash said at another juncture of hallways. The lights started phasing and dimming. So did the computer. It went off and came back on. Ash stared hard at the screen, trying to memorize the way ahead. Charlie, who had moved up beside him, did the same thing, realizing what was happening and that they were about to lose their map.
“The rest of you go on,” Elijah said. “My brothers and sisters and I will remain here.”
“Save the heroics for later,” John said. “We can make it. All of us.”
“I am afraid the time for ‘heroics’ is now, John Winchester,” Elijah said with a slight smile. He turned to Ash. “I believe you’ll need this,” he said and produced a vial filled with red liquid. Ash nodded and took it.
“What the hell is that?” John asked.
“Angel blood,” Ash said.
“Who gave it to you before,” Elijah asked, looking back over his shoulder.
“Jonah,” Ash said. “Cool dude.”
Elijah smiled at that. “I hope you meet him again. Good luck to you. Now go.”
John didn’t want to. No one wanted to leave the angels to face the fight alone, but they all saw the sense in it. On impulse, Mary went to Elijah and hugged him, greatly surprising the angel, and then again when she kissed his cheek. “Good luck to you. Run if you have to. We really can’t afford to lose any more of you.”
John took her hand and nodded to the angels. They all turned and made a break for it. The lights failed and the computer went off. “Ash?”
“I’ve got it,” he said.
“I’ve got it too,” Charlie echoed, pulling out a flashlight as she ran. “We turn up here. The next corridor.”
They made the turn. Behind them they heard a deep rumble and a sound like stone cracking against stone. They ran and kept running, making another turn, hardly a step ahead, it seemed, of the entire place getting destroyed all around them. A wind threw big chunks of wall into a growing vortex. They ran, ducking under flying debris.
“This is it!” Charlie called back when they reached a dead end. Everyone started searching for the entrance into this heaven having only flashlights to see by.
John pushed Mary ahead and pulled out an angel blade, fearing that the Darkness would catch them all up. Bobby joined him, shotgun at the ready. Rufus was beside him. Bill Harvelle came along side of him on his right, glancing at him in growing understanding.
They found the door and a black cloud careened around the corner.
“Go on, Mary!”
She and Ellen saw what was happening and meant to help, but Henry grabbed Mary by the arms and shoved her up the descending stairs. Jo took her mother and dragged and then pushed her until she scrambled up the steps on her own. Everyone clambered after. John glanced to Bobby as the Darkness took form.
“What are you waiting for?” he said quietly.
Bobby nodded as the Darkness coalesced before them. “Her.”
He raised the sawed-off and shot at their queen. Amara hissed, wincing away from the rock salt, but it didn’t do much more than slow her down by a step or two. Bill stabbed at the monster immediately in front of him. John helped him finish it off, using the angel blade. An eruption of black ash exploded all around them. Bobby retreated. Rufus stepped in, flinging a jug-full of holy oil to the floor in front of them and lighting it the next moment.
Several of the shapes went up in flames, eaten away to nothing. They had a respite and used it to rush the stairs. Everyone else was up, but the Darkness was right there. John knew if they didn’t delay it, stop it from getting into this heaven, then no one would reach the garden, or worse, they’d end up leading the Darkness right to it.
Someone would have to stay behind.
John glanced at Bobby, and saw that he was thinking the same thing. Bobby nodded him to the stairs. “We don’t have time to argue, John.”
“Rufus and I got this. You and Bill go on. Go on! John, you’ve got Mary and one day, both those boys. Now go.”
Bobby took another shot and Rufus threw another slick of oil at the same time as shoving Bill up the stairs. Reluctantly, John turned to follow.
Just as Bill disappeared into heaven, Mary and Ellen charged back down, each carrying a pair of cross bows, the darts flaming with holy oil.
“Move it Winchester!” Ellen commanded and he obeyed the order, ducking under her as she aimed and pulled the trigger.
Rufus threw down the last of his holy oil and a wall of flame rose between them and the Darkness. John could see Amara through the blaze, thwarted from charging through. She couldn’t reach them. Mary and Ellen kept up a steady barrage, each lighting the other’s weapon. John grabbed Bobby and Rufus, hauling them back and up to safety. Ellen and Mary followed and the doorway snapped closed behind them.
For a second, they were safe.