Summary: Sam is gone to hell, Cas is gone to heaven and Dean finds he has a hard time moving on, but at least he finds that he's not as alone as he thought he was
A/N:This is unbeated as it is a comment_fic. It's spell-checked though, so I hope it won't be too bad.
He leaves Lisa and Ben the next day. He knows he’s breaking his promise to Sam but he can’t stay. Lisa...she tries but she doesn’t understand, doesn’t understand any of it.
He drives all the way back to Chicago and the house where he lost Sam. The man that sits on the steps is someone Dean recognises immediately. His first instinct is to shoot him but then he reminds himself that this man is not Lucifer anymore.
“I thought you were dead.” He blurts when he’s close enough.
“And now you’ve finally come to kill me.” The man says with a sad smile. It’s not even a question, it’s a statement.
“I wouldn’t blame you.” He sounds like it would be a mercy, too.
“No.” Dean sits down on the steps next to him, feeling very exhausted suddenly.
“Then why are you here?”
My brother is in Hell and my best friend in Heaven sounds ridiculous when he says it out loud but the man accepts it in a way that Lisa never could. Not that it’s her fault. Accepting things like that speaks of more exposure to their world than is healthy for anyone.
They sit like this for a long time until Dean asks the question he had wanted to ask for a long time.
The man shrugs and looks even sadder than before.
“He was impossibly sad. I could relate to that.”
Dean stands up again and brushes the sand from his jeans.
“Can I offer you a ride?” He asks because why not? Even Lucifer’s vessel is probably better company than the constant silence since Sam and Cas left him.
“No, thanks, I have nowhere to go.”
Dean takes Nick with him anyway because he, too, has nowhere else to go. There have to be roads and places where he hasn’t been with Sam.
“Where are we going?” Nick asks after a while.
“Where do you want to go?” Dean asks back. Every road looks the same as the ones he already knows and every town they pass reminds him of one place or another he has been with Sam.
“Somewhere warm.” Nick answers after a while. They’re currently driving north so Dean turns the car around. South works just as well for him as anywhere else.
They sleep in a cramped motel room that night, indistinguishable from every other motel room Dean has ever stayed in. Through the door he hears Nick’s pained gasps coming from the shower. All those sores have to hurt. Dean gave Nick one of his shirts earlier since Nick still wore the blood soaked clothes he had worn when Lucifer had taken him as a vessel. They’re the same size which makes the whole clothing issue a bit easier.
Dean gets up, takes Nick’s old clothes that he left on a chair and dumps them into the trash outside before getting the first aid kit from the trunk of the Impala.
Dean is barely back in the room when Nick comes out of the bathroom, a towel wrapped around his waist and now Dean can see that those sores cover a great deal of Nick’s torso and legs. It would probably be easier to empty a whole bottle of disinfectant over Nick’s head than to apply it to each single one.
“Sit down.” Dean orders, waving with the kit.
“Thanks.” Nick says, else he’s quiet except from the occasional hiss of pain. Dean patches him up as well as he can.
Neither of them sleep that night although they both pretend they did in the morning.
“You should go home.” Dean says over coffee and pie. Nick gives him a sharp look and his voice is heavy with sarcasm when he replies: “Yeah, I’ll just go back to the house where my family was murdered and pretend that there aren’t monsters crawling in every corner.”
“Never said it was easy.” Dean snaps but Nick looks unimpressed.
“What are you going to do?”
“Then I’ll come with you.”
“No, no you don’t.” Dean shakes his head to make his point: “You have no idea what it’s like.”
Nick laughs at him, hollow and sharp.
“I have no idea what it’s like?” And it irritates Dean because Nick sounds genuinely amused.
“Take me, Dean. Leave me if you think I cannot pull my weight.” That sounds better even though Dean doesn’t want someone else. He lost Dad and Sam and Cas and he doesn’t even know this Nick. He was fucking Lucifer’s vessel and yet Dean can’t just leave him.
Maybe he simply can’t be alone and Lucifer’s ex-vessel is still better than no one at all.
Their first hunt is a changeling. Nick isn’t a good shot but he’s cold and not just in a literal sense (they’re in Arizona, in June but Nick shivers all the time). The changeling tries to plead for its life in the form of a little girl but Nick chains her up without batting a lash and watches impassively when Dean empties petrol over its head and sets it on fire.
After that they don’t discuss again whether Nick is capable of hunting or not.
Dean never calls Bobby. Sam is dead and Dean knows that Bobby finds peace in the idea that Dean isn’t hunting anymore. One of them at least should have that peace.
And Nick as it turns out has retained Lucifer’s memory and is exceptionally good at identifying what they’re hunting at the moment. They avoid other hunters like the plague though. Whenever they find that there’s someone else after the same thing as them, they drop it and leave.
Weeks pass, then months and Nick heals, physically at least but there will always be scars. And as much as he uses Lucifer’s memory for their hunts, he never speaks about anything else that happened during that year. Something Dean is just fine with.
Still, every road reminds him of Sam, hell the Impala herself reminds him of Sam and sometimes when Nick reads a roadsign his face darkens and Dean wonders whether Lucifer went to that particular town and what he did there.
He never asks.
They don’t talk about Lucifer, they don’t talk about Sam. They don’t talk about angels and about demons only when they hunt one.
Monsters are easier. Sure, they leave a trail of dead people and broken homes but monsters don’t have some agenda.
“I almost feel bad for them.” They found a nest of wraiths in this town and Nick sits at the table, sharpening his knives.
“What?” Dean asks incredulously. He prefers guns, Nick knives: “Did you just say you felt sorry for a bunch of man-eating monsters?”
“They’re just trying to live.” Nick shrugs: “If they didn’t prey on humans we wouldn’t even bother with them.”
“Sure and next thing you’ll say is that ghosts are just spirits with issues and all demons are misunderstood.”
“Demons are filth, the filth of humanity.” Nick sounds like Lucifer when he talks about demons, full of contempt and disgust.
“Glad we agree on something.” Dean quips.
Dean tried calling Cas once. Just to see if the angel would answer, really but if Cas even hears him then he never bothers to answer.
Mexico is Dean’s idea, well, he would have preferred Canada but he knows that Nick couldn’t endure the cold. He’s barely keeping it together sometimes as southern as they are.
When they finally do cross the border Dean throws his cell away and with it his last tangible connection to Bobby and Cas and Nick buries his wedding ring in the red earth.
Mexico doesn’t have less demons or ghosts or monsters than America and while Dean’s Spanish is barely enough to buy groceries Nick speaks it well enough to get them by. Nick isn’t Sam and he isn’t Cas but he understands what Dean is going through.
Nick is here and Dean is here and that is enough.
It’s a bit of a new start for both of them.
They keep travelling south and Nick, though he gets badly sunburned all the time, seems to thrive under the warm weather. He’s more sociable and laughs more, his humour loses some of its bite and the tenseness he had while they were still in the US is gone.
Nick’s less broken than his scars would lead one to believe.
Dean on the other hand...he’s learning. When Cas brought him back from Hell all of Dean’s nightmares were him torturing people he knew and cared about while Alastair stood next to him, praising his work.
Now his nightmares have him back on the rack and it’s Sam who tortures him and alternatively it’s either Alastair or Lucifer at Sam’s side, sometimes both. And Lucifer always looks like Nick.
Dean hates himself for that a little bit.
They find a whole nest of water wraith like creatures in a small town south of Monterrey. The attacks on the town have them both puzzled for a while: people drowning themselves in their baths with no connection to each other or any kind of vengeful spirit that’s connected to water. Until Dean and Nick figure out that it’s wraith and that they use the water pipes to get to their victims, four more people are dead.
They end up in a waterworks armed to the teeth with silver because that’s where the water wraith work when they’re not drowning people in their bathrooms. Their powers work more like Sirens too, which means that as soon as Nick and Dean confront them with the truth, they open their mouths and suddenly it seems like a brilliant idea to jump into the reservoir and keep his head under water until he dies.
Dean kisses him for the first time in Monterrey. They lost sight of each other during the fight and for a few, terrifying moments Dean thought that he lost Nick, too.
It’s a desperate kiss and when Nick kisses him back he can taste the desperation, too.
They don’t speak about it until in Tampico Nick pulls Dean away from a Chupacabra in the last moment and gives him a short kiss. It leaves Dean feeling thrown-off and strange for a couple days, something tingling inside of him every time he looks at Nick, but they still don’t talk about it.
They reach Acapulco in May at the same time a record heat wave and a record murder wave are taking place in the city. Turns out the heat wave woke up a lot of resentful ghosts from colonial times that thought the fires of hell were burning down on them (both Dean and Nick respectively find at least one ghost they can tell how wrong they are in their misconception of hell and fire) and wanted to take revenge on the living.
It’s damn near impossible to salt and burn every single grave of every single ghost that’s currently haunting the city. And it’s too damn warm for any menial work anyway, at least in Dean’s opinion. Nick on the other hand gets the worst sunburn Dean has ever seen on him but revels in that insane heat.
“Don’t you want to come inside?” Dean asks from the bed. He finds it barely viable inside with a working air conditioner while Nick bathes in midday sunlight on their balcony.
“I’m fine.” Nick calls back.
“Of course you are,” Dean mutters, rolling his eyes. Out loud he says, “Maybe we should make it rain.” That makes Nick come inside and mercifully he closes the door behind him.
“Make it rain?”
“These ghosts think they’re in the fires of hell. It rains, it gets cooler, they get back to sleep.”
“That’s a good plan. Can you make rain?” Nick hasn’t so much as blinked at the were-jaguar they encountered two weeks ago but magic makes him uneasy.
“No.” This is one of the moments where Dean wishes he could still call Bobby, but he chose this life with Nick here in Mexico, so he’ll have to make do. “But I know someone who knows someone.”
Getting in touch with Kali proves difficult and it’s unfortunate in hindsight that Dean forgot that she only saw Lucifer as Nick but she owes him one, even if she sees that differently.
Turns out Kali knows Lakshmi who knows Tlaloc who has a shaman in the area who makes it rain the next night, driving several meteorologists insane.
This time it’s Dean who stands on their balcony, face upwards while Nick is inside, wearing long trousers and a jumper.
“Where do you want to go next?” Dean asks, cool rain spraying his face.
“I like it here.” Nick shrugs.
“Mexico.”Dean does, too, more than he thought he would. And getting them over the border would be difficult either way north or south.
“Yeah, me too.” He calls but Nick is outside, next him and the rain clings to his blonde hair like little crystals. Dean can’t look away.
“Dean...”Nick begins but trails off. He shivers. Dean moves forward to put his hands on Nick’s arms. He hasn’t felt like this in a long time and doesn’t really know how to handle it. He didn’t handle it well last time either.
“It’s okay.” He says and kisses Nick in the rain.
It doesn’t taste like desperation at all.