for the prompt: When I think of Heaven (deliver me in a black-winged bird)
originally posted here
characters: Chuck, mentions of Dean, Risa, Castiel, Sam and Lucifer
"Seventy-eight, eighty, eighty-two, eighty-four…" Chuck cursed under his breath. Eighty-four rolls. That would hold them over another two weeks. Maybe even three weeks if he really started enforcing the two sheet rule. People just wouldn't abide by the two sheet rule. If his calculations were right most people averaged eight sheets. They also frequently tried to bribe him for extra rolls or bottles of liquor or shampoo or hand lotion or soap. The last four were all luxury items when it came right down to it. Well, maybe not the soap. But the rest of them, those little comforts, were the things people refused to give up. Those were the things that made them feel a sense of normalcy in a world that had quite literally gone to Hell.
Out of the corner of his eye, Chuck saw movement outside. He turned just in time to see Jameson pass by the window, making his rounds for the sixth time that afternoon. Jameson had stayed behind with Chuck, on Dean's orders. Two people always had to stay behind at the Camp because if everyone left, there was a good chance they'd lose their home within a matter of hours. Either Croats would run into their territory when they weren't looking, or other survivors that had banded together would come in, find one of their weapons caches and take over.
Most days, Chuck didn't mind staying behind. He wasn't made for war. He was the opposite — he'd always avoided real conflict, preferring what he thought were just the imagined battles he saw in his head to anything outside. Nowadays he'd wished he'd lived a little more. The others told stories sometimes…of things they'd done and seen before. Sky-diving, snorkeling, hikes through the Himalayas, motorcross racing. All he had to share with them was the stories he'd written, the ones that weren't even his own creation. Of course he could only talk about them when Dean was out of earshot, and even then it always got back to him. Always.
Eventually, he'd found a way to make himself useful. Sure he didn't get a lot of thanks, but he got gratitude. Sort of. Risa had made him a cup of tea last week. It was weak, and tasted kind of like grass, but she'd put it in an unchipped mug and everything.
Chuck moved over to the cabinet of dry goods and started counting the cans of beans for the third time. He'd counted Ninety-eight last time through but that had to be wrong, because the last haul had been two-hundred and forty cans and there was no way they were down to under a hundred already.
In the back of his brain, his inner voice, which was always on the verge of panic lately, reminded him that it had been nearly seven hours since the Camp Chitaqua troops had gone out to hunt the Devil. They should have checked in by now. Risa, at the very least, should have called to let him know they were still alive…that most of them were still alive. He wiped a shaky hand against his brow and restarted his count of the vacuum-sealed bags of rice.
Somewhere through the second row, a lance of pain shot through his head, bringing him to his knees. A vision then — prophetic only not really, not anymore. Nowadays when he saw things they weren't a forewarning at all — just a flash of whatever was happening at that moment. Whatever link he'd had to the divine had stopped working right when Lucifer had killed his archangel. 'What good are you then?' Dean had asked gruffly, when Chuck confessed as much. Of course Dean was meaner to everybody these days, and it didn't take a genius to figure out why. No matter how relatively well their day went — even if it was a day without a single Croat attack— it was still just another day without Sam, as far as Dean was concerned.
As fate would have it, Chuck did still see bits and pieces of the Winchesters' lives, he was just seeing them as they happened, not before, and most of the time the transmissions were being blocked. It had taken him a while to figure out that that's what the blindingly painful white-noise he got every few weeks was. At first he'd thought it was just his brain finally breaking down after years of abuse, but the last time it happened, he'd heard Sam's voice — just for a second, but it was him. All he'd said was, 'Stop' — a broken plea.
That was when Chuck had figured it out. The light and sound overload was Lucifer. Either he was sending Chuck pain just for shits and giggles, or he was overriding whatever Chuck was supposed to be seeing.
Today though, he saw. Crystal clear like he hadn't in years: Sam dressed head to toe in white — far too clean in a filth-covered world. It would have looked ridiculous on anyone other than the Devil. He was in the back of an old abandoned sanitarium — in a rose garden, of all things. Dean lay on the grass with his neck under Sam's foot. One quick twist, and he was dead. The Colt lay uselessly in the grass.
Chuck heard himself gasp as he came back to the present. "Oh God, no," he said to himself as he replayed what he'd seen with a growing sense of horror.
Dean had failed. They'd failed. Lucifer wasn't dead, Dean was. And if Dean was dead, there was a good chance the rest of the group was, too.
"Please, no, please, please," Chuck stuttered as he scrambled for the short-wave radio set on the table in the back corner. He pushed the button, clenching his eyes shut like somehow that'd make it all better.
"HQ to Merryweather, come in," he said, right into the speaker and waited. "Come in, come in," he repeated, after a minute of nothing but empty air. "For fuck's sake, Risa, answer me! Tell me one of you is still out there." The static changed, crackling sharply in his ear and then finally sparking to the point where he smelled burning hair. He pulled the shorted-out set away from his ear and stared at it, his heart pounding in his chest.
"Risa sends her regards," said a voice from the door. Sam's voice.
A cold shudder ran up Chuck's spine as he turned around.
Sam Winchester was standing in the doorframe, his tall, broad-shouldered silhouette nearly blocking out the waning, burnt umber light of dusk outside. Lucifer looked out through his eyes and smiled, as he stepped inside the house and threw something small and rectangular at Chuck's feet.
Chuck reflexively took a few steps further back, until his heel touched the bottom shelf of the supply shelving. The grey rectangle Lucifer had tossed across the floor was another radio — Risa's radio. Chuck turned his eyes away from it before he could count all the bloody fingerprints along its side.
Years ago, when Chuck had first met Sam and Dean Winchester he'd found them both intimidating as…well, Hell. They were big and strong and angry and totally unstable — just like he'd written them. Even back then, Sam had been the scarier one — not just because of his size, but because of that sense of other hiding underneath his skin; his power, his curse, his birthright.
Back then, Sam had still been rationalizing what he was doing. In his defense, he'd been duped. Chuck had seen exactly how. It was something he'd never understood about his visions. He knew they were connected to Heaven, but more often than not, he ended up privy to information the angels couldn't possibly want him to know. He saw them pushing Sam and Dean further away from each other and right into the traps set for each of them. He'd even tried to help them stop it all, even gotten Dean to exactly where he needed to be, but it was too late. Sam set Lucifer free, just like the angels wanted.
And now Lucifer had his perfect vessel. Chuck had seen the exact moment Sam gave in, too. It was one of the last clear visions he'd had. Weeks beforehand he'd seen little hints of what Sam was planning. Long sessions of heavy drinking, calls to Bobby and abortive attempts to call Dean. Sam spent one night writing out exactly what he'd say to his brother, over and over again only to throw all the crumpled-up pages into the trash. At the time, Chuck had gone to Dean, warning him about what he'd seen — telling him to do something, to pick up the damn phone and call his brother. All he'd gotten in response was an empty whiskey bottle thrown towards his head.
Less than a day after Sam said 'yes,', Lucifer had killed all three of the other archangels. Michael first, Gabriel second, and Raphael third. Chuck had seen each of them die — beings whose true forms were the size of planets reduced to nothing but ashen wings in the span of seconds. Camp Chitaqua was mostly quiet that day, but the moment Michael died, Chuck heard Castiel screaming. He made his way to the angel's cabin on legs shaky from the vision's headache and collapsed somewhere on his floor. It wasn't until after Raphael too had been killed that Castiel stirred from where he'd been slumped against the wall. He walked over to Chuck, sat down next to him and started to weep.
"What do you want?" Chuck asked Lucifer, his voice quiet but as steady as he could make it. He felt like a mouse facing off a ravenous lion. There wasn't much he could do except try not to squeak.
"I have everything I want," Lucifer said, stepping closer.
"Then...why are you here?" Chuck asked, frayed nerves making his tongue loose. "You want to kill me in person? Little old me?"
"No," Lucifer shook his head, strands of Sam's long hair coming untucked from behind his ear. He looked far too young to be so ancient.
The part of Chuck's brain that always ached when a vision was coming started to tickle. He brought his hand to the back of his skull, rubbed his fingertips against his scalp, pleading mentally that he already had enough on his plate, thank you very much.
"The humans have been killing each other. All I have to do is wait." Sam's face smiled the Devil's smile, ice-cold and merciless.
"Pretty proud of yourself, huh?" Chuck asked before he could keep himself from talking. When he realized what he'd said, realized that he was goading the only remaining archangel in existence, he expected to panic. His body should have been screaming at him to run, to hide, even though there was nowhere to hide.
Lucifer tilted his head to the side and looked at Chuck with alien, unblinking eyes. "Why aren't you running?"
Chuck laughed nervously. "What good would that do?"
"Well, then what's the point?"
Lucifer looked taken aback. He straightened and moved closer still to Chuck.
Who somehow, incredibly, stood his ground without pissing himself.
Sam's full six and a half feet towered over Chuck and grew even larger as Lucifer rolled his shoulders back, unfolding a pair of massive wings that pressed against the ceiling of the small cabin, splintering the wooden paneling with nothing more than a casual brush of power. "Aren't you going to beg for mercy? Or for a quick, painless death?"
Chuck swallowed and started to panic about the fact that he wasn't panicking. He was going to die, within seconds, probably, but for some reason his body and mind were refusing to react the way they should be. He felt nothing but an odd disconnect, like he was watching everything around him unfold from behind impenetrable safety glass. The back of his head wasn't aching anymore, it was humming with a low warmth. "Why did you kill your brothers?" he heard himself say, even though he'd never thought the words.
"What?" Lucifer asked, narrowing his eyes.
"Gabriel, Raphael...Michael. You loved them." Chuck wasn't in control of his body anymore, and as disturbing as that should have been, it wasn't. He felt safe. Unquestionably safe. The cabin around him started to dissolve — pixelating weirdly into a wavering light that pulled him apart at the seams. He felt himself leave his body, growing thinner as the air itself pulled him up.
The sky above Chuck thrummed with energy and he thought he heard a crack as it broke wide open. He saw without eyes, in every direction.
Above him was a shining light made of billions of human souls and memories.
Below him, Lucifer fell to his knees, saying, "Father..."