sylvia_locust (sylvia_locust) wrote,

No Hell Below Us : Part 1

Part 1

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Sam was 10 the first and only time he ever sees his father raise a hand to Dean.

They were walking down a crowded street in Phoenix when Dean whistled at a pretty girl a little bit older than him who was walking in the other direction. She’d paid them no attention, eyes fixed straight ahead, though the man with her winked at Dean, a look that curdled the chocolate milk in Sam’s stomach. Sam’s eyes were transfixed on the vivid purple collar around the girl's neck; when he looked forward again his father was cuffing Dean’s ear and Dean’s face was burning.

That night his dad gave Sam a handful of quarters and sent him to the arcade in the main lobby so he and Dean could “have a talk,” but Sam doubled back and sat down outside their room, trying to listen through the flimsy door. He could just make out the comforting rumble of his dad's voice, and he leaned back against the door, listening with his head tilted.

"I think you're old enough to know some things, Dean," his dad began, and at first Sam thought it was going to be some embarrassing sex talk. He was already thinking up ways to tease Dean about this later, but then the tone of the conversation shifted. It wasn’t one of those ‘your changing body’ talks; they were talking about the charge system.

It sounded like a history lesson, and Sam had to resist the urge to jump to his feet and burst into the room, demanding he be allowed to listen. Sam used to enjoy history class, but most of the schools he attended these days had dropped the subject. Especially the shiny new schools with computers at every desk and names like First Bank P.S. 103 or RRE Central. Schools where addition was taught with M&M's®, and the cafeteria was run by Biggersons, and there was no more music or art or library time.

Sam missed library time.

Sam had never really noticed, not until he eavesdropped on his father's conversation with Dean, that it was the Corporate-run schools that no longer bothered with history or social studies. Unless it was the very recent history—every Corporate school had a unit on the great Manufacturing Exodus, and how the "New Corporate Structure stopped Criminals and the Criminal-Debtors from crippling this once-great blah blah blah."

Sam had been to 20 different schools by the time he was in 5th grade, and the Manufacturing Exodus was always described in the exact same words.

When Sam's butt was numb from sitting on the concrete for more than an hour, he finally stood and knocked on the door. It was a chastened Dean who let him in, and Sam hated seeing that look on his brother’s face, the look that he got when he felt like he'd let John down. He knew Dean hadn't meant any harm to the girl on the street. Sam rummaged around in his duffle until he came up with a half-melted candy bar he'd been saving for a couple of weeks, and he offered it to Dean with a lopsided grin.

"Loser," Dean had said, but he took the chocolate and let Sam talk him into a game of Rummy with their battered deck of cards until dad got back with a pizza. Usually any day that Dean would play with him got moved to the Good Day column in Sam's head, but the encounter on the street, and the somber discussion that followed, made it a day Sam didn't really like to remember, and a day he couldn't forget.

John taught his boys that killing was the absolute last resort. "Most of the stuff we do, the raids and blowing up the empty slave centers, that can be spun lots of ways. Some folks will call us terrorists, but some will see what we're doing for what it is."

"Yes sir," Dean said.

"But once you start dealing death, it's a lot harder to get people to see our side of things. People don't like it when just anybody starts deciding whose time it is."

"But, what about—" Sam said.

"Boys, I'm not telling you some people don't deserve to die. But once we make that decision for others, we're not much different than Corporate. We're just not holding any cards."

"Yes sir," both boys said dutifully.

That didn't mean they didn't practice target shooting every week. John knew he was training his boys for a war, same as he'd been trained. He didn't like to think too much about the fact that he was training Sam and Dean to fight the same entity that he'd once sworn to protect with his life.

John knew he’d been drawing too much attention, tried to keep away from the boys in case everything went to hell, but of course the first time they met in months the net started to drop down around them.

He was pretty much out of cards to play when he set up a meeting with Lucifer’s second in charge, that craggy-faced fuck with the weird gold eyes.

“We don’t have much on Sam, yet” Golden-eyes had said. “But your older boy? He’ll be hanging on national TV a week from Sunday.”

John pulled out his Colt and aimed dead between the eyes.

“Why, John, I’m surprised. Surely you know I didn’t come here alone.”

“I can make a deal,” John said. “You bring me in now and let the boys go. I won’t fight you.”

“Or I could bring you all in at once, wouldn’t that be more fun? You can have some quality family time before I gut you.”

“The boys don’t know anything about operations, not the stuff I do.”

“And, what, I’m supposed to believe you’ll talk?”

“It’s worth a shot. You’ve got a lot of interrogation techniques in your arsenal.”

“That I do, John.” His golden eyes glittered with cruel amusement.

It was big news for Corporate when John Winchester turned himself in, with politicians promising that many more arrests would be imminent since they’d snagged a key member of the resistance.

All they had to do was get him to talk.

The hunting community and other rebels held their collective breath, but John never broke, never turned another soul in. When he was finally executed after months of torture, Sam and Dean sought refuge at Bobby Singer’s salvage yard.

Sam missed his father terribly, but in the wake of John’s death Sam felt like he’d lost his brother too. Grief and anger overtook Dean to the point where Sam barely recognized him sometimes. They both knew that without John’s interference Dean would have hung months ago, and Dean could not make peace with that knowledge.

But it got better, slowly, and they soldiered on.

It was the only thing they knew how to do.

For years after their father’s death they kept up his fight, throwing wrenches in the Corporate works and helping people evade the Corporate traps that led inexorably to indentured servitude. It was never enough, but they probably would have kept chiseling away where they could indefinitely if Dick Roman hadn’t decided to turn the tables and come after them. Cornered, Sam and Dean decided if they were going down, they were going to take a chunk of Roman’s empire with them.

They just needed a plan.

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Jody Mills stops by the store after her shift to pick up a bottle of wine and something to microwave, trying to make quick work of it. She hates shopping, hates buying sad frozen dinners when she used to have sit-down meals with her husband and son. Most of the time she has a handle on her loneliness but sometimes the longing to sweep her little boy up into her arms and hear him laugh again is overwhelming, and these feelings always seem a little more raw, a little closer to the surface, when she shops for her dinner.

All of this flashes through her mind in a blink, as it does every goddamned time she enters the Corporate Grocery Store, so she almost mistakes the stab in her gut for sorrow.

Then she feels it again, a sharp pain so unlike the dull ache of grief that she curses, turns to try to make it back to her car before someone calls an ambulance.

“Sheriff Mills, do you need help?” asks a voice next to her and she shakes her head grimly. She has to get home, figure out who’s safe to call from there. C’mon, Jody, you can drive the five miles home, she tells herself, just before collapsing halfway across the parking lot. She lies on the dirty pavement, clenching her stomach and cursing her shitty goddamned luck.

Just before the ambulance pulls up, she finally succeeds in thumbing through her phone to call Singer. She’s heard whispers this is the kind of thing he can help out with and she’s turned a blind eye enough times to think he might be willing to help. She’ll be damned if a burst appendix is going to cost her freedom.

Bobby hangs up the phone and eyes Sam warily. “I gotta run up to the hospital, Sam. Are you okay here by yourself?”

“Yeah, sure, Bobby,” Sam says, though his eyes keep shifting to some spot just past Bobby’s left shoulder.

Bobby’s seen some pretty fucked-up cases of PTSD in his day, but Sam’s might just take the cake. Keeps acting like his interrogators are still in the room with him, and it’s creepy as fuck. Still, it can’t be fixed right now, and he doesn’t need one of his Official allies disappearing into the work camps or the factories because she got sick at the wrong time.

“Yeah, all right,” Bobby says, removing his cap and running a hand through his hair, still uneasy about leaving Sam alone. “You cover the phones, okay?” Bobby hands over one of his encrypted journals. “And see if you can find somebody willing to make house calls. I don’t exactly need the Sheriff of Sioux Falls coding on my front lawn.”

“Yeah, okay,” Sam says, picking up the book and rifling through it. “I’ll be here.”

Jody wakes up several hours later, minus one appendix, with an IV full of morphine and enough antibiotics to treat a whorehouse. She’s laying on some kind of makeshift cot and based on the room's décor—a poster showing the feline digestive system—she’s pretty sure she just got operated on by a veterinarian.

The door opens then and Jody smiles, the kind of smile she hasn't flashed since she sucked up a bong full of smoke at a party her senior year of high school.

“Bobby Singer, my hero,” she says.

He winces. “Pretty sure that’s the roofies talking.”

She glances around as though looking for something, someone, and Bobby takes her meaning.

“The doc’s outside," Bobby explains. "He’s a little skittish about doing unauthorized surgery on an Official, you know.”

She closes her eyes.

“He saved my life,” she says as her head starts to float away again like a barely tethered balloon. She reaches out her hand, smiling as Bobby takes it.

“My son was sick,” she says, and even in her drug-induced haze there’s a part of her that’s shocked. She never talks about Owen, not ever.

“He was sick for a long time and we did everything we could, you know, everything. But it didn't matter. He still died.”

Bobby squeezes her hand and remains silent, remembering against his will how disease had taken his own wife, how the unpaid hospital bills piling up had made him a target, led to his life as an outlaw.

“We did everything we could, y'know? Everything. And when he...when he was gone we were left with all these bills. All these fucking goddamn hospital bills and, somehow, I’m supposed to care about them." Jody laughs, an unhappy barking sound that makes Bobby feel even worse. "I'm supposed to care about bills while my baby is dead?"

Bobby closes his eyes and sighs heavily.

"And then my husband died," Jody continues, and Bobby feels like an ass, the worst ass, because he knows Sheriff Mills would never confess to all this if she weren't convinced she was about to die and whacked out on horse tranquilizers.

“I’ve always paid my debts, y’know?” she mumbles as she starts to slip under again. “Don’t wanna end up in one of the factories surrounded by nets.”

"I won't let that happen, Sheriff Mills," he says, and she giggles, points an unsteady finger at him.

"We're both criminals," she tells him, watching her finger trace sparks through the air. “I think you can call me Jody.”

“Yeah. Well. You get some rest, Jody. I’ll be back to check on you soon.”

When he returns home Sam is nowhere to be found. Bobby calls for him a couple of times and then sighs. Poor crazy kid, he thinks. Needs more help than Dean or I have to spare.

He heads to the kitchen to grab a beer and has just enough time to register the explosive wired to the fridge door, just enough time to be grateful that the boys are out.

His life doesn’t exactly flash before his eyes, but he does remember…

Bobby kept a stash of movies on video cassette and an old fashioned VCR to play them in.

"Never saw the need to upgrade," he'd say with a grunt if asked. "Nothing worth watching anymore anyway."

Dean and Sam agreed, since the studios are all owned by Morningstar or Crowley and there's no money for independent films anymore, and nobody foolish enough to make them. These days it's lots of movies about the bad old days and how great things are now.

Dean still goes to the theatre once in a while if there's an actress he likes onscreen, but he tells Sam he's doing research on the enemy.

"Right," Sam snorts.

But Bobby still had some kick ass films from before, martial arts and good old fashioned vigilante justice flicks and on the rare occasions when Sam and Dean aren't out there in the trenches, they'll hole up for a few days and eat junk food and drink beer and fight over which movie to watch next.

It's hardly an endless supply, Bobby thought with a fond smile. They've seen each film at least 30 times.

These days just owning movies and books from before could get you jailed but a few ratty videos are the least of his problems, as far as the Officials are concerned.

It's a good day, good as an old outlaw with creaky joints can hope for, with the boys safe and close. Soon enough they'll be out on the road again, fighting the good fight, but today's a good day.

Those two never did listen for shit, Bobby thinks just before the world turns white.

Krissy Chambers is hiding in the closet of her dad’s office, a stolen phone in her trembling hands.

This was not supposed to happen. Her dad was a hero.

She dials 6 numbers and presses End. Eight numbers and then End. Finally she dials the whole string. Her dad wouldn't steer her wrong, wouldn't deliver her to the bad guys.


He's younger than she imagined, but she tries anyway.

"Is Bobby Singer there?"

There's a long pause and then, "Uh, no. He's, uh, I’m a friend of his."

"My dad asked me to call Bobby Singer specifically."

The guy stammers something out but she’s already hanging up.

She is so screwed.

When her phone rings again and Bobby's number flashes on the screen, she jams it down the garbage disposal. Not like she'll be using it anymore.

The cop that had been sent to pick her up asks her if she was aware her father had been branded a terrorist by the Corporate-State.

"Uh, what?" she asks, but the lie is obvious to her ears and his.

"Look kid," the cop says, eyes sweeping the room nervously. "Between me and you, they're gonna make an example of you. Lee Chambers did a lot to embarrass the higher-ups, cost them a lot of money with sabotage and stuff. They're gonna take it out on your ass."

He doesn't add the 'literally,' but she hears it. He has the good grace to blush. Krissy glares at him and crosses her arms.

The cop runs a hand through his unkempt black hair, sighs heavily. "I got a daughter your age, okay? So I'm gonna go back to the precinct and say you weren't here. So when we come back? Don't be here."

She's in the park across the street, watching, when an ancient Buick pulls up in front of her building. A guy roughly the size of a house steps out, looks at the number on the apartment building, and heads inside.

He doesn't look like he was sent by Corporate, though she supposes they could be getting a little bit trickier, trying to cover up their fancy suits in everyday clothes. But this guy doesn't look like that, looks like her dad, like the other hunters she's come across who her dad always introduces as old friends, like she doesn’t know what they really do.

But he definitely isn’t Bobby Singer, so she waits and she watches. Maybe he can help, maybe he'll turn her in. Maybe he'll keep her for himself. She can't tell yet, doesn't plan on taking any chances.

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Kevin is flushed with excitement, music still thrumming from his fingertips to his toes like a mild electrical current. He bows politely, still cognizant that he's not really who the applauding crowd came to see, but still.

He had won the Best Young Musician Award for his region, and his prize was performing a solo at Symphony Center. The only thing that would make this moment any better was if that assy violinist Trent from Regionals could see him now.

He grins at his mom and Channing, clapping wildly in the eighth row, takes a final bow, and heads back stage.

What a night. He would feel like pumping his fist in the air, but that would probably be undignified in his rented tux.

The stagehand nods at him in acknowledgement as he hurries around backstage switching out instruments.

This is the best night of his life.

This is the worst night of Kevin’s life. Sure, he’s only sixteen, but nothing else even comes close. While he was still backstage mentally high-fiving himself, a small dark-haired woman named Susan came to see him, telling him that her boss had a proposition for him.

“He was very taken with your playing,” Susan says. “He’d like to keep you on retainer.”

Her lack of facial expression gives Kevin the creeps. She looks like she’s wearing a mask with a permanent smirk.

“Um, that’s nice but I’m still in school, you know, and I have SATs in a couple of weeks…”

“He doesn’t take no for an answer.”

“Right. Well, I’ll be going now.” He tries to push past the crazy lady and walks right into Dick Roman.

“Mr. Roman?” he squeaks, amazed to find himself in front of the most powerful man in the country.

“Kevin Tran,” Dick says. “Nice job out there. You’ve got spark. I like spark.”


He grips Kevin by the shoulder and steers him through the backstage hallways until they find an unoccupied practice room. There he proceeds to make it very clear how easy it would be to have Mrs. Tran charged with a crime and put away.

“My mom hasn’t done anything wrong!” Kevin protests.

“Not that you know of. But I can have her arrested for just about, oh, any little thing. My team is very creative that way when we put our minds to it, right Susan?”

“You can’t do that!”

“Kevin, do you want your mother to spend the rest of her life working in a coal mine?”

“My mother’s a tax attorney,” Kevin says, feeling numb. Roman just laughs.

When Susan comes to his house the next morning with a contract to become a voluntary charge for the next 5 years or until Roman no longer wants a teenaged cellist underfoot, he signs. And initials. And initials. And signs.

He climbs into the back of the limo Susan had arrived in, wanting to get away before he has to explain to his mom what he’s done. She’ll be furious, he knows, so furious that she’ll try to take on Roman and lose.

Better if she thinks he went crazy from some kind of overachiever burnout and ran away from home. He can send her postcards telling her he’s working in a Taco Hut and has decided to devote his life to carving driftwood.

She will no doubt want him to be a world-class driftwood carver, if that's what he wants. Kevin’s mom is great like that.

“So, who’s gonna be the slave?” Frank asks, as he continues to study the surveillance footage on his various screens and monitors.

“The what?” Sam and Dean say at once.

“The slave, you boneheads. Are you deaf as well as dumb?”

Sam looks at Dean. Dean looks at Sam.

“We were thinking that maybe wouldn't be necessary,” Sam says carefully.

“Ha! That’s what you get for thinking.”

Sam sighs, thinking back to a simpler time, only a few short months ago, when Bobby was the crankiest old fart he knew. But Bobby is gone, everyone’s gone, and they’re stuck with Frank Devereux, one of Bobby’s crazier contacts, who had very reluctantly agreed to help them. Just don’t go crying my name when they catch you, Frank had grumbled. I’ll be on a beach in Tahiti.

“Dammit, Frank, just get us as close to Roman as you can," Dean snaps, bringing Sam back to the present. "We can take care of the rest.”

Frank finally tears himself away from his footage. “The closer you get to Roman, the fewer guys like you and me you’ll see. He’s surrounded by two types of people—the people who run everything, and their slaves. There’s no middle class in that part of the country anymore, lollipop."

There's an extended silence as they think about Frank's words.

“Me,” both brothers say at the same time.

“Fall on your swords much, boys?” Frank asks, annoyed.

He shoos them out so he can get to work forging their documents, visibly irritated each time one of the Winchesters sneaks back into his office to explain exactly why his brother should not be allowed to enter Roman’s stronghold with a collar around his neck. Frank ignores them both, head bent to his task, and emerges hours later with papers for one Sam Smith, indentured factory worker being transported to the RRE Foundry plant in Chicago, in the custody of one Dean Jones, Currier of Charges (COC).

Dean is apoplectic. His left eye is twitching spasmodically and when he shouts at Frank, spit actually flies from his mouth. Sam thinks it would be funny if the situation weren’t so grave.

Well. It's still a little funny.

"This is the best way to get close Dean," Sam tries to rationalize with Dean through his anger. "This will get us near Roman without attracting too much attention, and worse comes to worse, I have to make shell casings for a couple of weeks till you bust me out..."

Dean's face turns white at the mere mention of their plan going sideways, and Sam thinks Dean might be ready to deck him until Frank intercedes. with his usual deft conversational skills.

"Look here, pretty boy," Frank growls, and Dean bristles at the hated phrase. "You do not want to be in greater Chicago with a collar around your neck. At least Jumbo here looks like a damned stevedore. You end up wearing a purple collar? You ain’t never getting it off.”

Dean closes his eyes and clenches his fists, before turning and punching the wall so hard Sam thinks he might have broken a finger. He stalks from the room, slamming the front door so it rattles on its hinges.

"Well, that went well," Frank says as he turns back to his monitors.

Sam turns to go after his brother.

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"I hate this plan," Dean says for the 20th time as they head east towards Chicago.

"It was your plan."

Dean taps his thumbs on the steering wheel and doesn’t answer.

Roman Enterprises, headquartered in a sprawling city-block of buildings in Chicago, employed thousands of people, and 'employed' hundreds of thousands of charges. It was well-planned, well-guarded, and might as well have been an impenetrable fortress.

"It's practically impenetrable," Dean says as they drove through the cloudy, moonless night.

"Wait for it," Sam mutters as he watched the fields roll by.

"Well. I mean, nothing's impenetrable," Dean says. "I can penetrate anything."

Sam snorts, but Dean thinks he maybe catches a wisp of a smile on Sam’s pursed lips. He hopes so. Sam hasn't done a whole lot of smiling since Cas got him out of the re-ed camp.

"Look," Dean says. "Frank’s IDs will get us close. From there, our natural Winchester charm will get us through the front door."

"Would that be the same Winchester charm that got us run out of Lake Manitoc?” Sam asks. “Arrested in Baltimore? Arrested in Little Rock? Arrested in Monument?"

"Little Rock totally doesn’t count. We were trying to get arrested there."

"Yes, and didn't that work out well."

"We busted Deacon out," Dean snaps. "Just because everything didn't go exactly like it was supposed to."

Several miles tick by before Sam asks, "Are you trying to talk me into this plan? Or out of it?"

Dean can’t say, doesn’t even know. Feels like every roll he throws these days comes up snake eyes.

They don't talk about it, but they both feel like they're on their final mission. Even if they manage to get the help they need to bring down Roman’s empire, they’ll never make it out alive.

Sam knows Dean will do his best to keep Sam safe while he takes all the risks and suffers the consequences, but Sam doesn’t want Dean to take any more bullets for him. He’s lost everything but Dean. If cutting off the head of the Corporate State works like Sam hopes it will, it would be worth dying for.

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They stop at a Biggersons just south of Champagne. They usually stick to restaurants they know to be ‘friendly’—small, independent diners that are barely hanging on—but Dean is starving and they don’t have a lot of contacts in this part of the country.

They slide into a booth like they'd done at least once a day for most of their lives, and immediately the manager comes over to tell them Sam has to leave.

"Are you kidding me?" Dean asks. "It's freaking cold outside."

"I'm very sorry sir, but those are the rules. Charges are not allowed to eat with other customers, by Corporate law."

“Why the fuck not?”

“Because I don’t have any money,” Sam says quietly, studying his knuckles. “Everything I ‘earn’ is supposed to go back to the Corporation.”

“But I’m buying his lunch!” Dean said, fighting to keep his voice level.

“I’m sorry sir,” the manager says again, starting to lose patience. “Your charge needs to turn his travel vouchers in at the Corporate pantry if he wishes to eat in this town.”

“But...” Dean said, casting about the diner. “There's a slave right there!”

“Last time I checked, slavery was still illegal,” the manager snaps. "That young gentleman is a personal charge, and they abide by a different set of rules.”

Dean takes a second look at the slave—Mr. Manager might not want to call a spade a spade, but Dean sure as fuck will—and realizes the 'young gentleman' is about 16 years old.

His taste for hot fries and a burger disintegrates.

“It's okay Dean—Mr. Jones,” Sam says. “I’ll wait in the car.”

Dean wants to punch the window, the manager, the dirty old man sitting next to the fucking child in the purple collar, and all the people who just keep averting their eyes. He has to settle for slamming the door as he follows his brother out into the dark.

As they get closer to Chicago the tension winds around them like a poisonous fog. Something Sam can almost taste at the back of his tongue, like ash, like sulfur.

"Maybe we should just—" Dean tries one last time.

"Dean. C'mon. We need to get to that hacker before Dic k knows every last detail about us. Who knows, maybe she can even help. I bet she could finish tweaking the program Frank started."

"Right, some IT nerd on Dick's payroll is going to want to help a couple of rebels."

Sam shrugs. "Never know. Everybody who does what we do starts somewhere."

"You don't really believe that."

Sam doesn't, not really, but if there's one thing he and Dean are good at, it's lying to each other. Every so often it even makes them feel better instead of worse.

"Why not?" Sam asks. "Anyway, even if she's ready to turn us in we can stash her somewhere safe and get back the hard drive."

Dean grinds his teeth together with every word, and Sam wonders not for the first time how come he's the one who’s been stuck with crippling migraines most of his life.

They pass the next 50 miles in silence before Dean speaks again.

"Y'know, Dad said Chicago used to be one of the coolest places on earth," Dean says.

Dean never brings up Dad without prodding or good reason, and Sam takes that as another cue that Dean is an eyebrow hair away from losing it.

"Must have been a long time ago," Sam says finally.

“When he was a marine,” Dean says. When he still believed in dying for his country, he thinks.

The last time Dean was in the city he had a pretty much chronic case of the willies. Every billboard, every skyscraper, screens in almost every room in the city projected Dick's smiling mug as he gave his platitudes for the day, encouraging citizens and charges alike to keep up the good work.

"Freedom is hard earned, but isn't anything worth having hard to achieve?" Dick would smile benevolently upon the crowds below. This would usually be followed by an incredibly phony newscast about how terrible the conditions were in the areas of the country controlled by Lucifer and Crowley, and how their bad resource management had led to families faced with either eating their beloved pets or starving. Dean couldn’t figure out if the people passing him on the street believed all that bullshit or if they were just pretending.

They spend the next couple of weeks in Chicago hiding out in an abandoned loft and calling in favors from some of their few remaining contacts. Roman’s employee, a slight and skittish redhead named Charlie, seems willing if not exactly thrilled to help them out. Sam thinks she’s dealt with Corporate, if the shadow that crosses her face when they begin talking is any indication, though how she ended up working at RRE if that was the case is a mystery. But she’d taken one look at the software virus Frank had been working on and her eyes lit up, and she immediately started working to hammer out the last few kinks.

They have one more stop to make so Dean can meet up with a hunter they haven’t seen in a few years, and then they’re going to hole up until Charlie’s ready for them. If all goes according to plan, everything should be ready to go just in time for Roman’s Shareholder’s Gala.

They’re so damn close to achieving what Dad and Bobby and Jim and all the others had set out to do so many years ago, and Sam finds himself experiencing an emotion he hasn’t felt in years: hope.

So of course, that’s when everything goes to hell.

Part 2          Masterpost



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