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Happy Birthday, Gem!

June 10th, 2010 (10:01 pm)

Title:  Flights of Grace and Future Falls

Rating:  PG-13

A/N:  This is a woefully meager offering for geminigrl11  on her birthday.  She deserves more, no doubt, but I hope this does something to commemorate the awesomeness of all she is to all who know her.  It’s hard to believe that it’s been over five years since I first met her--especially when it seems like I’ve known her all my life. 

A/N 2:  Quick beta provided by sendintheklowns .  Any mistakes are my own sloppiness.  The total lack of original plot is my own fault as well.  Accompanying artwork carries lyrics from “Oh My God” by Jars of Clay, which has been an inspirational backdrop for a lot of my post S5 stuff so far.

Summary:  This story doesn’t have a happy ending.


Oh my God, look around this place
Your fingers reach around the bone
You set the break and set the tone
Flights of grace, and future falls
In present pain
All fools say, "Oh my God"

-from “Oh My God” by Jars of Caly


This story doesn’t have a happy ending, not like most people like to think of them.  It has a good ending, though.  The kind that seems right, seem fitting.  The kind that ties up all the loose ends, that brings closure.  Feeling complete is better than feeling happy, after all.

Because this story comes full circle.  It starts with a deal, a long string of deals actually, one selfish turn after the next parading in the name of self sacrifice.

But it ends with the real thing.  Not desperate posturing.  Not last minutes deals with the devil.  Just real sacrifice.  Real love.

That’s what matters, even when a hole opens up in the earth, even when someone is beaten bloody and senseless, even when someone falls down that hole never to be seen again.

Closure.  Because that ground heals up like it was never there, perfect and pristine in a cemetery in Kansas.

Not happy.  Complete.

And life goes on, on earth as it is in heaven, even as it is in hell, which is coincidentally where this story begins.


It begins a long, long time ago, even before most of us like to think about it.  It’s an interesting part of the story, an angel falling from Heaven, so full of pride, anger, self-righteousness, but not one that always seems as real.  This is a story about family, though.  About the limits and measure of love and how it can change us completely.  Love doesn’t always conquer everything, though, not even in stories.

That’s how this one begins, with the angel falling from Heaven, not just by choice, but by rejection.  He can’t go back, not even if he wants to, not that he’d ever admit that he did.  He made a mistake, you see, only he never learned from it.  Never changed.  A sin never warrants condemnation, never repenting does.

That’s when it starts, in a dark hole of anger and fire.  It burns and it flames as Lucifer thinks of why he’s here.  He doesn’t think about his own mistakes, he doesn’t think about his own weaknesses.  He thinks about his father’s rash judgment, his brother’s unfair rejection, and stews and stews and creates an entire world to serve him and his whim, to help him find a way out of this, if it’s the last thing it does.


It’s not, though.  The last thing he does.  But that’s later, after the story is over.  Because Lucifer doesn’t die.  Sometimes death is an easy out, you see. 

Just because he doesn’t die doesn’t mean he’s idle.  To the contrary, he’s got his people working overtime throughout this thing.  Moving pieces on the chessboard, wrangling the players and tipping the scales in their favor.  Azazel is particularly good at it, finding special children and making special deals.

Michael helps him out in this, which gives Lucifer something to hope for.  It’s a crap shoot, trying to find the right kids to make all this work, but Michael’s arranged for Mary Campbell and John Winchester to fall in love, to be together.  They might have gotten there on their own, but Lucifer’s never been one to believe in luck, not with how his life’s gone.

But they’re together now, bonded in a way they can’t fight, and their two children, their two beautiful children, one tainted, one not, are exactly what they’ve all been waiting for.


That’s when a lot of people think this story began.  On a dark, cold night, with a death and a kiss.  Mary Campbell was in love, you see, and she was this close to all her dreams with nothing left to fall back on.  Being alone like that makes you do funny things.  It makes you compromise on morals you didn’t think you’d ever let go of. 

But everyone she loves is dead.  Her mother and probably her father and the man she loves more than she knows how to explain.

So she makes a deal that seems to make so much sense, even when it tastes bitter in her mouth, the faint smell of her father’s lips on her own as she cradles John close to her in the aftermath.


There are other moments in this story that matter, maybe the day she was pregnant with Dean and two strangers show up on her door that she almost recognizes.  It’s not a good memory, and it’s not a good experience, but somehow they all survive (even when they don’t) and when it’s over, Mary doesn’t remember anything except that she’s going to be a mother and is married to the man she loves.

There’s the day Sam was born, ten years to the day, and John’s holding the baby with nothing but love, and all Mary can see is the yellow eyes of the demon and a promise she made even when she knew better.

When six months pass, Mary thinks maybe it’ll be okay.  Maybe, but she really knows the truth.  Because Mary knows the end of this story, even when she doesn’t want to believe it.  She goes to the nursery without thinking because to her, there’s no other way for this to go.


A mother dies.  A father grieves.  Two boys grow up in a world of hunting they never should have known about.  That’s the way life is, irony and coincidence and all the painful realities that never should be.  They’re a family, though, broken as they may be.  A father and his sons, just trying to get by, trying to do the best they can.

That’s all anyone can ever do.  For some people, it’s enough.  For others, it never is.


The story starts again when a girl gets burned alive on the ceiling.  It’s a horrible thing, such loss, such pain, and Sam and Dean think it can’t get any worse, not even when they’re on the trail of their father, a trail that doesn’t take them anywhere, not even when it’s a hunt after a hunt after a hunt.

They’re wrong, of course.  It gets worse when the demon takes their father, possesses him and then tries to kill them all.  It gets worse when John dies, makes another selfish deal, and leaves them with questions and orders they can’t answer, they can’t obey.  It just gets worse.

It’s not their fault, though.  They never knew the end of this story.  If they had, maybe they would have chosen differently, but that’s just not how it goes, not even if we want it to.


Death is often an end, but in this it’s just another part of the process.  Sam dies, Dean pulls him back.  Dean dies, he comes back anyway.  This is the cycle they’re in, one sacrifice greater, more selfish than the next.  Dean sells his soul.  Sam forfeits his.  They both play their part, great and terrible, and they won’t know it’s wrong until long after it’s all over.  Because blood is blood and deals are deals.  Sell your soul to a demon at a crossroads, give it up to one in your bed, it’s all the same, it’s all the same.  For as much as those two fought about their differences, it’s their similarities that make this story what it is.

For better, and for worse.

But especially for better.


When it’s over, there’s something important about it.  Because a lot of people thought they knew how it would end.  With Michael or Lucifer, standing in the end.  Casualties on earth, lives forfeited and lost in the wager.  Some thought Dean would live up to his destiny, play the hero Michael wanted him to be.  Others were sure that Sam would cave, give in to his weakness and base desires, and let Lucifer ride him until the end.

Dean doesn’t, but Sam does, but not for the reasons everyone thinks.  It’s not that Dean’s too good to be a meatsuit or that Sam’s too weak to resist, it’s that they believe in each other to do the right thing, and that’s what matters.

Neither one is sure about it, that much is true.  Sam’s terrified of failing, Dean’s horrified of success.  Because in the back of their minds, they both know this is a no-win situation. 

Maybe that’s why it matters.

Because for once, they’re not doing this for what they get out of it.  Sam’s reward for success is nothing except an eternity in Hell.  Dean’s pittance is a lifetime without his brother.  The things they’ve railed against.  The things they’ve killed to avoid.  And in the end, they accept them with open arms.

Lucifer tries to stop it.  He does.  He fights against Sam for all that he has, with all the hatred and rage he’s bottled up for eternity.  But what he has isn’t enough, isn’t even close to enough to fight the love that Sam knows, that he feels inside of him with every beat of his heart.

Michael tries to stop it, too, but sometimes obeying orders isn’t the right thing, after all, and there is no one there to save him as Sam pulls him into the pit right along with him.

Dean watches it happen, just watches, not because he’s too hurt to try, but because this is the greatest thing he can do.

They’re the heroes of this story, if you haven’t guessed.  Sam and Dean Winchester saved the world this way, just like they were meant to, but maybe not the way everyone expected.  They’re also the victims of this story, broken and abused and always used, but mostly they’re the heroes, even if they don’t know it yet.


That’s how this story ends, right where it began, in a dark hole of anger and fire.  But this time it burns not because of selfishness and pride, but sacrifice and love, victory at the greatest personal cost.  It makes things right, somehow.  Because this is still a story about family.  About the limits and measures of love and how it can change us completely.  Love doesn’t always conquer everything, but sometimes--sometimes it does, and those are the stories worth telling.  Those are the stories worth hearing.

Sam grows up, becomes the man he’s fought for so long.  He’s made it right, the things he’s done.  He’s lived up to his brother’s expectations and done the right thing when it counted most.  Sam’s made a lot of mistakes in his life, and for a long time, that controlled him.  But in the end, he doesn’t let it win, because he’s better than that.

Dean grows up, too.  He learns he doesn’t have to save everyone, except that he really does.  It’s just that he doesn’t have to save them by throwing himself into the fire.  No, he can save them by just being who he is, by being strong enough to let them go even when he desperately wants to hold on.

Lucifer is locked in Hell, Michael right there with them.  It seems right, after what they’ve done, after the choices they’ve made.  Free will is something that exists even when we believe in destiny, and no one knows it better than them.

What happens next might be hard to say, because the funny thing about endings is that they’re never really over.  Endings are beginnings in their own way, picking up where another left off.  Sam may be in Hell, he may not.  Dean may live a long and miserable life, or maybe he won’t.  Sometimes heroes don’t get happy endings, but most of the time, they do get pretty good beginnings.

What happens from there, well, that’s really up to them.


Posted by: sendintheclowns (sendintheklowns)
Posted at: June 11th, 2010 12:02 pm (UTC)

The banner is absolutely gorgeous. And the story reads like a fairy tale, albeit without the happily ever after.

Happy Birthday Gem!

Posted by: i want to cause a ruckus (geminigrl11)
Posted at: June 11th, 2010 02:51 pm (UTC)

Thank you so much!! And thank you for betaing this fic (and encouraging Faye's awesome writing habits...SO appreciated!). *huge hugs*

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: June 13th, 2010 01:38 pm (UTC)
skin limp lights

It's the closest that the boys may get, I fear. Thanks for your help on it all!

Posted by: i want to cause a ruckus (geminigrl11)
Posted at: June 11th, 2010 02:42 pm (UTC)

ME. This is gorgeous. Just...it's everything. I can't sum it up better. I don't know how you keep doing this...writing these beautiful, heartfelt, TRUE pieces that just touch on everything that matters for BOTH boys. And really, everything the show is. But you do.

I think everyone in SN fandom should have to read this before S6 airrs: it will be the only primer they need. You made me cry, in the best possible way. And I will be savoring this one for a long time. Thank you so much.

But even more, thank you for being my friend. You've been this amazing force in my life since my beginnings in fandom and now it's so much MORE than fandom. You are a beautiful soul and beyond talented and I can't imagine my life without you. I've been very, very lucky--more than I deserve. Thank you for sharing these last five years with me, in every way.

(Also? The banner is absolutely perfect. That was Sam's moment. And Jars of Clay! Yay!!).

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: June 13th, 2010 01:40 pm (UTC)

Aw, I'm just so glad you like it! I wanted to have something for your birthday but my bunnies were not so cooperative (or, you know, they wanted to turn everything into a 50,000 word epic, and I simply didn't have time!).

And being your friend has been the thing that has made all the difference in this fandom. I do not doubt that if not for you, I never would have gotten this far into it. And despite all my angsts and issues with the fandom as of late, I will never regret how much it has cemented our friendship--and better yet, how we have grown beyond it in all the ways that matter.

So I hope you had a WONDERFUL birthday and that the wedding was gorgeous. And here's looking ahead to the next five years--and beyond!

(I almost made the banner more like a header for an LJ, but I didn't know if you were ever interested in something like that. If you ever are, just let me know, and I can happily oblige.)

Posted by: MacByrne (macbyrne)
Posted at: June 11th, 2010 10:51 pm (UTC)

I love this whole thing. The tone of it, and the importance of love and true sacrifice, and how even though the boys were cursed before they were even born, they still loved each other enough to let go. Gorgeous. Sad, but gorgeous.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: June 13th, 2010 01:42 pm (UTC)
monster limp

The entire story is a tragedy in so many ways, but yet there's something something hopeful not in the ending but in how the boys grew and changed over the course of it all. I fell in love with both boys all over again at the end of S5.


Posted by: carocali (carocali)
Posted at: June 12th, 2010 02:21 pm (UTC)

I tried to respond the other day but couldn't find the comment button. Have I mentioned that I'm LJ illiterate?

Anyway, I just loved everything about this - from the dedication to Gem, to the banner to the whole story. Just beautifully written and wonderful! Especially loved this:

"Sam grows up, becomes the man he’s fought for so long. He’s made it right, the things he’s done. He’s lived up to his brother’s expectations and done the right thing when it counted most. Sam’s made a lot of mistakes in his life, and for a long time, that controlled him. But in the end, he doesn’t let it win, because he’s better than that."

Thank you!

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: June 13th, 2010 01:42 pm (UTC)
after school limp

LOL! Not finding the comment button is pretty extreme--but my layout style uses the icon buttons instead of straight up word links, so I can see how it might be harder :)

And Gem is so worth it!


Posted by: Dani (pinkphoenix1985)
Posted at: June 13th, 2010 10:07 am (UTC)

Happy Bday Gem!

Faye--this is just brilliant!

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: June 13th, 2010 01:43 pm (UTC)
brothers malleus

Thank you!

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