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The Lamb: The Lamb and the Knife

The Lamb


Chapter 10. The Lamb and the Knife

“Get up, ya idjits! Git!” Bobby flailed, throwing the bedroom door wide open until the knob slammed against the opposite wall. Buffy scrambled out of bed, falling onto the floor gracelessly. Immediately, she thanked whatever had suggested to her that pants in bed were a great idea. Grabbing Dean’s jacket off the floor, she hauled it around her shoulders and stared incredulously at Bobby.
“Damnit, Bobby, what?” Dean groaned, rubbing his eyes and then hissing under his breath when he remembered all the bruising.
“Sam’s gone. Woke up this morning to bring him some breakfast and the damn door was wide open.”
“Remind me to put a low jack on that kid one of these days,” Dean half-smirked and grabbed his tee shirt off the nightstand.
“Get dressed, both of ya. We gotta find him before something else does.”
“Don’t worry, Bobby,” Dean sighed, digging his hand into the pocket of his jeans. He pulled out his cellular and punched numbers into the keypad. “Modern technology comes to the rescue.”

Twenty minutes later, Dean was grabbing his jacket and his car keys. Buffy looked anxiously out the window as the morning sun lingered over the day. There were things she knew that Dean didn’t know. The day was already starting to wane and here they were, wasting time talking about it. The cellular finally finished working and pinged Sam’s location somewhere near Bozeman, Montana. Dean flipped the phone closed and stuck it in his pocket. He tipped a finger to Bobby and walked out to the car.
“Dean,” Buffy frowned, following him. He turned and looked at her, the wan determination on his face fading out as it was replaced with quiet affection.
“We have to do more than find him, Dean. We have to stop him.”
“He’s probably off to kill Lilith. I mean, I know it isn’t the best way to do it, with that weird mojo, but…”
“No, you don’t understand. Dean, if he kills Lilith, the world ends. She’s the last seal. If her blood is shed, we’re all doomed.”
“Wait-what? Where’d you hear that?”
“Cas told me,” Buffy sighed. He told me a lot of things.
“Why the hell didn’t you say something?” Dean growled, jumping into the car and slamming the door shut. “Get in the car!”

In Bozeman, sleet streaked across the sky and coated the road with slush. The wintery weather was unseasonal but hardly unusual. At any time of year, the northern plains were dusted with fiery ashes, sleet, snow, and rain. Great winds blew across the mountains and the sun occasionally beat down upon meadows filled with beef cattle. Sam pulled up in front of the only hospital in a hundred miles. He sat in the parking lot, Bobby’s truck engine still running, spilling heat into the cab. A tap on the driver’s side window startled him. Sam turned and wiped one hand against the glass, clearing away the collecting humidity. Behind the foggy glass, Ruby’s dark brown hair was flecked with bits of frozen rain.
“We need to go inside, Sam.”
“Are you sure we have to do this?” Sam asked wearily. He turned off the engine and got out of the car. Without considering it, he left his jacket on the empty passenger seat.
“Yes Sam, I’m sure.”
“It’s different this time, Ruby,” Sam frowned.
“No different than the girl in Corvallis, the host in Red Bluff. You want to save the world, don’t you Sam? Sometimes we have to make sacrifices. Sometimes, you have to be the one holding the knife.”
“Do you think they understand?”
“Yes, Sam. I know they understand. They’re in Heaven. That’s where we all want to be, eventually.”
“I know you’ll get there. They’ll see what you did. They’ll reward you.”
“Yes,” Ruby agreed. “They will reward me.”

The doors opened as if by magic and allowed Ruby and Sam inside. The halls were mostly empty, and the whole place was quiet. Sam watched a young girl in a skiing outfit hobble down a hallway, her skis grasped tightly in one hand. She had a makeshift splint on her leg. He turned down another hall and followed Ruby through the twisting and turning ward. They stopped at last at the nursery, where a young woman stood over a row of infants. She picked up one and held it tenderly against her breast. The baby cried helplessly and kicked his little red hands and feet. She placed it in a plastic basinet and began pushing it out of the nursery.
“You must drink the living blood of the demon, Sam. It will give you strength to defeat Lilith. This is your last challenge, your last test. I know you can do this. It’s important, Sam. You’re saving the world.”
“Sometimes, you have to break a few eggs,” Sam murmured carefully. He watched the woman walk down the hall, her small heels clicking on the floor. They followed her together, moving silently in her step.

On the highway, Dean and Buffy raced across eastern Montana, heading northwest. There was no speed limit way up here, at least no limit that was particularly enforced. It was the thing he loved most about coming to visit Bobby. Out here on the plains, the speedometer was your only limitation. Buffy reached across the dash and turned down the radio. Dean blinked, looking at her somewhat defensively. She hadn’t told him, at least at first, that Castiel had given her new information. Now she was touching the dials on the carefully adjusted radio console. Love was a funny thing.
“Cas told me something else last night, Dean,” Buffy started.
“Where the hell was I when all this was happening?”
“Sleeping,” Buffy sighed.
“But you were sleeping. I saw you.”
“I stayed up awhile.” She paused. “Dean, Cas told me that I have to kill Sam.”

The car came to such a sudden screeching halt that Buffy felt like she’d choke on the last meal she’d eaten, despite the fact that it was digested long ago. They came to a stop across two lanes of traffic in the blustering wind. Dean stared at her across the seat, his face a mixture of horror and pain.
“Get out.” He reached across her and popped open the door. Buffy unlatched her seat belt and got out of the car. The wind whipped up her hair and threw it across her face and neck, a handful of tiny whips.
“I love you, Buffy,” he admitted over the howl. “But Sam’s my brother. I can’t let you.”
“I understand, Dean,” she nodded. “If it were Dawn, I’d do the same thing.”

The car realigned itself with the road and roared off again, picking up speed as it raced down the highway. Buffy staggered across the lanes and came to stand in the dirt and high grass along the side. She didn’t have long to wait. Whether or not Dean took her to the rendezvous was irrelevant. She’d get there. It was only a matter of time. Castiel appeared as if by magic, his face as tormented and dark as ever it had been. He didn’t speak. There was nothing of import to be said. Without fanfare, he touched Buffy’s forehead, transporting the two of them to a small parking lot at an old church. The outside walls were white-washed but dingy, covered in creeping, crawling vines that had died years ago but never decayed. The bell in the tower was missing. The pavement was cracked and broken. The day had already begun to fade. Buffy looked down at her watch. For whatever reason, hours had passed. The sleet turned to snow and floated easily from Heaven to the dirty ground. Buffy reached behind her and pulled a pistol from the bend in the back of her jeans. She pulled out the clip and admired the bullets, each one shiny and deadly and oddly attractive. Before she’d met the Winchesters, she’d never touched a weapon as automatic and easy as a gun. The lack of weight scared her. She shoved it back into place and pulled her jacket down over it.
“This is where it happens,” Buffy said.
“This is where it started,” Castiel replied.
“Did you do it or did I?”
“I have done nothing, Slayer. You are in control.”
“That’s funny,” she smirked. “What happened to destiny?”
“You still have to make the choices.”
“Yeah,” she said as the pick-up rolled through the battered barricade and found a parking slot etched into the ground. “I guess I do.”

Sam followed Ruby through a hole in the church wall, like a hidden entrance into the Secret Garden. Buffy followed them, taking her time to cross the expanse of the parking lot. All they had now was time. Behind her, the engine gunning all the way, Dean rambled into the lot and parked behind Sam. At the edge of the lot, the edge of God’s influence on this holy place, Castiel looked down at the broken hole in one hidden wall. His thoughts were clear. This is where it happens; where it started and where it ends.

“I’ve been waiting for you,” the child grinned, her face sweet and serene despite hollow eyes and transparent skin. Two platinum pigtails framed either side of her sweet face. Each of her visible teeth was square and perfect. Her tongue was so pink that it looked bloody and strange. She wore a pretty white dress, satin and scallop-trimmed with bits of eyelet lace sewed to the hem. Her legs were bare, covered with fine white down, but the feet were tipped with lacy white socks and cloven with shiny patent leather Mary Janes.
“Lilith,” Sam bristled. He could sense the tiny hairs on the back of his neck rising to sharp points. His hackles were raised and he was ready to fight, to maim, to kill. Ruby came to stand behind him, her face oddly expressionless despite the moment of triumph. Between them stood a void of space, a vacant area that needed to be filled. The seal stood beneath their feet, an insignia upon the stone. Catholic blood had sanctified it. Their screams still echoed through the walls at night.
“Sam, don’t!” Buffy spoke up, coming out of the chapel’s hall and falling into the room across the seal. She pulled the gun from its hiding place and held it squarely in front of her, the elbow slightly bent, the sight trained on Sam. “You can’t kill Lilith! If you spill her blood, it will end the world!”
“Move out of the way, Slayer! You don’t know what you’re talking about. This is Lilith!”
“That’s right, Sam. This is Lilith. She bought your brother’s soul and sold it to Hell. She killed your mother, killed your father. She’s the Reason.”
“Sam, listen to me! Whoever this bitch is, she’s lying to you! If you kill Lilith, we’re all dead! Everyone! Sam!”
“Don’t listen to her, Sam. She released Lilith in the first place. She opened the gates of Hell, killed her own kind. She’s a murderer, Sam. She wants you to fail. If you fail, she wins.”

Buffy squeezed the trigger, pulling back the hammer as she did so. The gun wobbled slightly in her sweating fingers. No one needs to die, she thought, but she didn’t really believe it. This had all happened before. Déjà vu, all over again.
“You released her? You’ve been baiting Dean all this time, trying to work him up against me. This is all her plan, isn’t it? And it’s working! But as soon as she’s dead, it’ll all be over.”

Sam lifted his hand and squeezed his face into a painful mass of creases and wrinkles. His mouth twisted sourly and his eyes squinted to mere slits. Buffy felt her insides squeeze like popped grapes. She groaned, trying to resist the pain. The Chaplin’s ancient stone altar rushed up behind her. Her back bent over the counter and she crashed to the ground, sliding down the front side like a bug smashed on a windshield. Blood and hair stuck to the edge of the altar and dripped, comfortingly warm, down the back of Buffy’s neck.

The pistol changed hands. Sam stooped to retrieve it where Buffy’s hands had let it fall. He lifted the weapon, his features still twisted with ruthless hate. His words dripped with disgust, and he spat in her direction, the phlegm making a sticky puddle on the floor.
“You’re a traitor and a fraud. You think I’m stupid? That I don’t know what you did? You killed your own kind, sacrificed them on the gates of Hell, and conjured up the worst, most evil thing you could comprehend. You brought that thing here!”
“Who’s doing…the sacrificing now, Sam?” Buffy asked, struggling to her feet. Blood oozed from the back of her skull, soaking her hair, staining her skin, wetting the back of her shirt.

The gun fired. The sound rang through the air, spinning through the church. No one saw Dean scramble through the chapel doors just in time. He sailed across the unbroken seal, his hands out to block the shot. It pierced his stomach and kept going, throwing him to the floor like a rag doll. Behind him, the Slayer dropped to her knees, her hands folding up over the reverberating wound. Covered by Dean, she’d still been trying to regain her footing. Instead, she fell right back down again. Blood squirted from her mouth as she choked on a sputtering breath.

Her hands fell forward on the stone, catching her suddenly heavy body. She’d been stabbed, beaten, knocked out of buildings, drowned, and god only knew what else, but the worst feeling of all had to be bullets. There was something about a tiny piece of flying metal that seemed to hurt more than anything else. More blood spouted from her nose and mouth and spilled onto the floor. Dean’s arms slid around her and pulled her close. His own hands were bloody. A dark stain spread through his shirt around his midsection. Buffy’s hands pressed into it, applying pressure to stop the bleeding. Fluid gathered between her digits and collected in the crevices of her skin. In his face, she saw the twisting, turning agony of his own gunshot wound. They stared at each other for a long time, time that seemed to exist outside of that little chapel in Montana.

--

You always hurt the ones you love, Buffy.

Castiel stood with her, his hand covering hers. Sam stooped to pick up the gun, cradling it briefly in his large hand. Dean watched from the sidelines, already prepared to run in after the Slayer, the girl he needed to look after. He already regretted kicking her out of the car. He regretted every step that had led them here. He didn’t know what he planned to do until it was done. The gun fired. Dean ran out in front of it, taking a bullet that was meant for more than just her. He fell in a heap on the cool stone floor and behind him, Buffy’s voice caught in her larynx and pushed out more blood than sound.
“They wanted you to fail. You shouldn’t have been brought back. It wasn’t in the cards. You put a wrinkle in the plan. Dean could not have done this without you. They thought that if they broke you, if they killed you without killing you, that you would not be a threat. The plan could go ahead.
“They wanted this apocalypse, as I have said. They wanted to wipe humans off the Earth and demons too. You are all, what is that phrase? Red-headed step-children. They do not like you. They do not want you.”
“You want us.”
“I have wanted you since the moment I met you, Buffy. It will not come to pass. Still, I want you to be the woman I met in Heaven. I know she is still in you, despite where I have led you. I have been questioning my orders ever since the Sunnydale Massacre. It was not soon enough.”
“They wanted to make me a murderer. They succeeded.”
“They wanted to start the apocalypse, Buffy. But in this room, in this place, we’re going to finish it. You will finally have your peace, your redemption. You will finally be happy.”
“With Dean.” She watched the light fade in his eyes.
“In Heaven, there are people called soul mates. Not everyone has one and it is rare to ever find yours, even if you are assigned one. I do not know how the process works, but there are certain angels responsible for such things. You and Dean? You are one of these pairs. You were never meant to meet, never meant to fight alongside one another. I knew that the only way to give you real peace was to bring you here.”
“And Lilith?”
“I will take care of Lilith.”
“This is the last time I want to be here, Cas.”
“It will be.”

She turned to face him then, to look into the eyes of an angel already falling from grace. He’d given up everything to help them, to save mankind, to make sure they’d be okay. He looked down at her with gentle eyes, eyes she’d once admired in a little fantasy universe constructed around a life that could never be hers. Whatever Heaven had in store for them, it couldn’t be like that again. It couldn’t be a never-ending prom with Castiel dancing her through the night. She’d find a different sort of peace with Dean, but it would be a lasting one. This time, she’d be safe.

Without hesitation, she kissed him. His lips were warm and soft and perfect, the kind of lips you’d expect an angel to have. He brushed her hair over her ear and left a second kiss upon her forehead.
“Don’t be afraid, Slayer. Use your heart in this battle, not your head.”

--

Tears drizzled down her cheeks, smearing her vision. The pain that ripped through her chest was agonizing, but for the first time in a long time, she let herself feel it. Her mouth felt dry and sticky, but the words needed to be said. She lifted a shaking hand, a bloody hand, and cradled Dean’s face. He was so close that she barely had to raise her voice.
“Dean,” she mumbled, feeling more and more exhausted with every breath.
“Sssh, Buffy, its okay.”
“I love you.”
“I love you too,” he smiled, bending down to kiss her damp mouth, each tooth rimmed red. “Just try to relax. You’re going to be okay. Those healing skills of yours…you’ll be up in no time at all.”
“This time…this time it’s easy.”

The bloodstain on his shirt was still soaking through. He held her tight and vomited over her shoulder, spilling blood and gastric juices onto the floor. She didn’t seem to notice the flexing and bending of his shuddering shoulders. She nuzzled into the damp spot of his tee shirt and folded her arms weakly against his deflated abdomen.

Behind them, Lilith giggled like a happy child with a new toy. The chapel floor was red-washed, and the unbroken seal was throbbing with spilled blood. She could barely stand, so racked was her small body by the maniacal cackling. Hooting and gasping for air to help her little meat suit breathe, she finally found the means to speak.
“Silly, silly, silly Sammy!” She wrapped both arms around her middle and howled with more laughter. It took almost a full minute to regain her composure. “Killed my adversaries but missed me! Missed me, missed me! I’m right here, Sammy! How’d you miss me?”
“Dean?” Sam whimpered, dropping the gun as though it were aflame.
“Silly, silly, silly Sammy!!” Lilith repeated the words again like a children’s rhyme. “Tried to kill me, killed your brother. Killed your daddy. Killed your mother!”
“Do something, Sam! Kill her!” Ruby coaxed behind him, pushing him to do the job they’d come to do.
“No,” Castiel said, popping up in the midst of the room. He looked almost happy, as happy as a sourpuss angel like Castiel could be.

The smile dropped off Lilith’s face. She scowled at the angel as though he’d taken away her favorite treat, turned off her favorite television program. His palm pressed firmly against the child’s head. She screamed feverishly, writhing under the angel’s touch. Black smoke plumed from her eyes and nose and mouth. Her skin crackled and popped as though it were attached to an electric fence. The body dropped, useless and empty, to the chapel floor. He turned then, and gazed upon Sam Winchester, standing helpless at the other end of the room. Sam reached into his pocket and removed the long knife Ruby had once given him. They’d set the stage long ago, these angels and demons. It could all end now. Sam turned and plunged the dagger through her chest, ending Ruby’s life with a snap, a crackle, and a scream.


Sam dropped to his knees on the floor of the chapel and crawled from his place to the bloody spot where his brother drooped across the Slayer. They’d intertwined their arms and legs so that even in death, in rigor mortis, they could not be torn apart. Dean had curled himself around her, his lips pressed delicately to her forehead, the last drops of blood wiped cleanly from his mouth with the back of his arm. Neither body rose to gasp for breath. The chapel floor had become their final resting place, the last protected seal their triumphant honor.

Castiel’s hand felt heavy on his shoulder, but Sam didn’t have the heart to brush the angel away. They stared at the bodies, their souls already departed to a land that neither of them might ever see. Castiel found that he had to clear his throat to speak. His eyes were automatically damp, though he’d never before felt the urge to weep.
“This is a gift, Sam. It comes with a price.”

Who is the lamb and who is the knife?

Comments

jebbypal
Jun. 20th, 2011 12:49 am (UTC)
Great reimagining of the season. Loved it.