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And what there is to conquer

>>And what there is to conquer

TITLE: And what there is to conquer
SPOILER: for 4.01
GENRE: can be considered slash, even though technically it isn’t, but I can’t elaborate on that point because of the spoiler factor
CHARACTERS: John Winchester/spoiler character
SUMMARY: Would be a spoiler. I know, I know, bear with me.
RATING: R. Just to err on the safe side.
FEEDBACK: Dude…duh.
DISCLAIMER: Man, do I wish I owned those two. Do I ever.
NOTE: spawned by chats with e313 and pdragon76. The embodiment of awesome, both of them are. For smilla02 as a very, very, very belated birthday present (not exactly what you asked for, BUT. Can’t mess with the plot donkeys.)
BETA: magic beta skills by pdragon76

He has a shape. No, he is a shape. Shape of himself. Same hands, same legs. He imagines that’s how ghosts must be feeling. Whole, but not exactly solid. Solid, but not exactly real.

Afterlife seems peaceful. He imagines this could be Heaven, though he’s pretty sure Heaven would include more fluffy clouds and Mary. Not just non-descript country roads winding on through permanent summer, leading nowhere. Nowhere at all.

Soon, the wind tells him. Be patient.

John doesn’t think it’s the voice of God; if he believed that, there would already have been Words. There’s an assload of Words John has in store for God and his mouth is itching to share.

Let go, the leaves rustle. Let go.

Yeah, right. Letting go is not part of the John Winchester manual, not even in the afterlife.

What now? he murmurs back. There is no time. There is no hunger or thirst. No need to sleep. No chance to dream. There is no now.

He tries to hold on to himself, to what life had been after the Fire. Tries to hold on to memories of his wife and his boys, and it’s killing him, killing him how he’s not with either of them. Knows this isn’t Hell. Wonders if this is Purgatory, because Heaven surely can’t be about missing those you love, drifting endlessly in a perfect landscape. Alone. All alone. Forever.

Heaven is not perfect.

It’s not the wind, it’s not the leaves, it’s not even the brook streaming past. Somehow it’s all of it together. The sense of light and water wrapped into one and just there, just there the whiff of something different, like scorched earth.

Heaven is not perfect, John Winchester.

The grass streams outward and the trees bend, slaves to a force larger than them.

“Are you God?” John asks, preparing himself for Words.


“Is this Heaven?”

Not yet.

“Figures.” He passes his hand through his hair, looks around him. “Can you get me to Mary? Can you get me to my boys?”

I cannot get you to your boys.

And now the voice is careful, like tracing steps.

“Then what good are you to me?”

I can show them to you.


John watches. Watches his boys struggle through a deadline. Watches his elder mauled by a hellhound. Hears his screaming. And somehow, time seems longer now. Endless.

Have you seen enough?

“Yes,” he rasps. He can feel tears in his eyes. “I need to get back.”

You can’t .

“This is not Heaven.”

It is just a step away. You can cross over. There will be peace.

“I don’t want peace. I want my son out of that hellhole!”

There is no reply.

He can feel the growl forming in the back of his throat. Watches the landscape move from summer to fall, a withering, brown fall that seems to dry out everything.

“Show yourself,” he says. “I don’t care who or what you are, show yourself.”

As you wish.

The landscape moves, and settles again. John stands still.

What is standing in front of him has a shape. No, is a shape, translated negatively. John can see it standing merely by the absence of what should be there. Like shards of glass reflecting light, the being seems to give a sense of crystal, glass, wings. Dark wings.

“Not very impressed,” he says, sucking his cheeks in. Pain is still raw and he’s seen too much already. Too much of Dean burned in his retinas, tugging at his insides. No, this isn’t Heaven. Could never be Heaven.

What is it about the Winchester blood that always makes demands and always sacrifices?

“You tell me,” John says. His fists are clenched. “And if you can’t tell me, then go and ask your god how he can let this happen to my family, over and over again. Or take me to him and I’ll ask him myself.”

What is it about your blood, John Winchester? What is it that draws demons close? Your bloodline…

“What about it?”

It is not for me to say.

“Never is, is it? Heaven never offers any good answers.”

Silence. The shape hurts John’s eyes. He shields them with his palm.

I can make it easier.

The landscape sparkles. Glitters. Shadows. Tones down. A young man is standing in front of him. Perfect black wings folded on his back. John lowers his arm.

“What are you supposed to be? My guardian angel?”

The voice hasn’t changed. This is no man.

I am not your angel. I am an angel. I am Castiel.

“And what good are you to me?”

I can get Dean out of Hell.


“I am so going to Hell,” John whispers. “Then again, been there, done that. I ain’t bowing to you, son. ’Sides, you’re the one with the good solid knees from praying, aren’t you?”

Castiel looks almost exasperated.

Do we have a deal? Dean for… this?

“Do I have a choice?” John sighs. “Let’s get it over with.”

It’s not any less weird as he grabs Castiel by the nape of the neck pulling him closer. Not any less weird when his lips touch warm lips and his tongue slides in what at first feels like a soft, sweet mouth.

And then Castiel moves, expands, unwinds. Wings and fire and shadow and light and breeze all in one. John finds himself enveloped in it, wrapped up in darkness and sweetness, in light and fear, scorched earth and thunder and water; he watches his own shape catch flame along with the landscape and just before waves of ecstasy ride them both, he has the presence of mind to ask:

“Why do you want to fall? Why do you need to fall, Castiel?”

Heaven is not perfect.

-The End.

SIDENOTE: Dark wings and cocked head? Excuse me, I’m not buying the nice fluffy angel type here. Especially not when the said angel is a. so hot and b. totally hitting on Dean (and I can absolutely elaborate on that, and I am pretty much convinced about it, even though I don’t do slash. But I’m pretty sure Castiel had the hots for Dean. Because vampires and angels? Totally different category. Anything goes as far as I’m concerned.) Fallen angels are always more interesting. Because, I’m thinking, wouldn’t it be ironic if Dean works for a fallen angel, whereas Sam for an ‘elevated’ demon? Oh show, I love your mirroring. Pure speculation by the way, so that doesn’t count as spoiler, methinks. Which reminds me, guys. Don’t spoil me. Alright?

Title taken from T.S Eliot’s East Coker (Four Quartets):

And what there is to conquer
By strength and submission, has already been discovered
Once or twice, or several times, by men whom one cannot hope
To emulate—but there is no competition—
There is only the fight to recover what has been lost
And found and lost again and again: and now, under conditions
That seem unpropitious. But perhaps neither gain nor loss.
For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.


( 65 have shined — Play nice and shine on )
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Sep. 21st, 2008 09:07 am (UTC)
I love you. Is that inappropriate? I was just thinking about how on earth I could slash these two and you did it. Ahh, I love it!
Sep. 21st, 2008 04:46 pm (UTC)
Heh. *glee* Thank you. I wanted to say something relevant, but am too absorbed by your icon. *drool*
Sep. 21st, 2008 10:04 am (UTC)
This is beautiful and surreal and wow. I love your brain. I love that Castiel's dialog is italics. It reminds me of Death in Discworld, but only now that I'm looking back over the story... I was so sucked in reading it I didn't consciously notice the italics, but it definitively leant to the air of whispering, like Castiel is holding back for John. And the pacing is fantastic as well.

My one complaint, and this is probably totally just me coming off the heels of an over-thought over-geeked speculative discussion about angels in the Bible (oh, my time as a theology student, I found a use for you) in relation to the possibilities Castiel represents, my one complaint is the capitalization of Words. I'm a fan of Meaningful Capitalization, however for me, when I see Word/s in a spiritual setting my brain keeps wanting to read it as something more divine (ie: In the beggining was the Word...). Thankfully I can brain today and corrected it in my head to Having Words, because I really did know what you meant... ::sheepish::

There is no hunger or thirst. No need to sleep. No chance to dream. There is no now.
I love your phraseology here, how it feels dreamy despite the brevity of your sentences.

“I don’t want peace. I want my son out of that hellhole!”
Oh John...

Watches the landscape move from summer to fall, a withering, brown fall that seems to dry out everything.
This is intriguing in so many ways. Is it a reflection of John's mental state, that despite the need to Have Words earlier he was more or less ready, but now that he's seen his boys, seen Dean go to hell, any peace he had is shattered? Is it the moment Castiel definitively chooses and enacts his plan to fall? Or a herald of something else entirely?

What is it about the Winchester blood that always makes demands and always sacrifices?
This strikes me as definitively Castiel, something about the cadence that reminds me of the way he spoke to Dean.

Major Kudos XD I loved it!
Sep. 21st, 2008 04:51 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! Pratchett fans unite! \o/

The Words thing is a tribute to him, actually. I think he used it like that in a Tiffany Aching story. *frowns* Not sure, but anyway, I loved the capitalization he used there. It's like, The Talk. It implies not just any talk. But The Talk. *giggle*

Yei! on noticing the landscape changing. I thought his anger/wrath/whatever would change the scape around him. Makes sense that since he's there, a part of him is reflected in the scape. (Plus. DRAMA.)

I tend to use either italics or brackets when i want to add.... something different. Since it's an angel speaking, i thought quotation marks wouldn't do the trick. Plus, i thought Castiel's voice would be a mix of real voice and the 'voice' you hear straight in your head.

(no subject) - havenward - Sep. 21st, 2008 06:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 21st, 2008 10:30 am (UTC)

That was brilliant. I love the possibilities you're exploring (and let's not forget the fact that John was in it because having both John and Castiel in a fic means you win at everything... ever)

Given the show's habit of symmetry, I can't help but think that the fallen angel, rising demon thing is possible. And it would be a huge plot twist if Sammy wasn't the anti-christ after all. We're all so worried that Ruby's leading him down the path to evil...

Anyway, I'm supposed to be reviewing the fic, not speculating.

Loved it. I loved John not quite being in heaven, and not wanting to move on because of his boys. I loved your manipulative Castiel who's doing everything because he wants to fall.

Thank you!
Sep. 21st, 2008 04:53 pm (UTC)
I miss. John. so.freaking.much. And when i was flailing over 4.01 i kept saying how it couldn't get any better unless there'd be naked John. Or john with wings. Or naked john with wings, and at that point i got it in my head that i had to write a john/castiel thing. *shrug*

And YES. on your speculation.

Thank you so much for reading!
Sep. 21st, 2008 10:56 am (UTC)
Cool. The last phrase is brilliant, concept is quite intriquing.
But if an angel thinks the heaven's not perfect - wouldn't he fall just because of arrogance?:)

p.s. sorry for terrible english:)
Sep. 21st, 2008 04:56 pm (UTC)
But if an angel thinks the heaven's not perfect - wouldn't he fall just because of arrogance?:) I'm thinking it would make God arrogant if he couldn't accept one of his own not finding something perfect. :) But seriously, in my head it's not the thoughts that bring the Fall. It's an actual deed.

Your English is perfectly fine. :)

Thanks so much for reading!
Sep. 21st, 2008 11:07 am (UTC)
This is mine? Oh, man. All mine and it's so beautiful I have tears in my eyes.

I love: The sense of light and water wrapped into one and just there, just there the whiff of something different, like scorched earth. Beautiful imagery you have there to give light and atmosphere to John's first meeting with Castiel. Before, an endless walk.

The kiss is pretty much perfect - the wave of extasy after it that envelops them both. The reason behind it is brilliant.

Oh, dear. Thank you SO much for this.
Sep. 21st, 2008 04:57 pm (UTC)
It's all yours.:) Very belated, though. Ahem.

And yeeeei! YOU LIKED IT! (even though it's john and not dean.)

Sep. 21st, 2008 11:26 am (UTC)
OMG, that's one hell of a rare pairing! *loves* I'm mesmerized with your style, this oddness incarnate, quirky imagery & random philosophical musings.
Sep. 21st, 2008 04:58 pm (UTC)
Rare pairings and weird crossovers are my guilty pleasure. Yes.:)

Thank you so much! So happy you liked it!
Sep. 21st, 2008 12:18 pm (UTC)
“I don’t want peace. I want my son out of that hellhole!”

Bless you *g*! This is just so perfectly John.

So well done and wonderfully atmospheric. I'm so very intrigued by Castiel but, unlike so many of us, am trying my damnedest not to speculate about the upcoming storyline. Ever since HotH, I've been waiting for a Dean/angel reveal. Though, admittedly, I was actually expecting him -back then, at least- to be revealed as one himself at some point. I *want* him to be on the side of good; to be God's chosen one. I mean, if John's actions can't convince Dean he's worthy of sacrifice, whose can? I don't want the boys to be working on opposing sides (despite the terrific drama that would ensue). I want Dean to be as close to happy as Show ever could allow...


So, I'm trying not to speculate, even though most of us are having loads of fun in doing so ;)

The premiere was amazing. I actually feel damn proud of Kripke, Kim and our boys. Hell, it was extraordinary (if not entirely perfect). But damn, the possibilities are both enticing and worrisome and, though I wholeheartedly believe know John's not interested in peace for himself, I'm so ready to see this family given some. Finally. They deserve it, don't they?
Sep. 21st, 2008 04:59 pm (UTC)
They deserve to spend the rest of their lives in a nice sandy beach, drinking drinks with little umbrellas and watching babes go by. *huggles them*

The premiere is so amazing that it's nearly impossible not to speculate. I mean, one tries and fails. *points at self*

Thank you so much for reading!
(no subject) - may7fic - Sep. 21st, 2008 07:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 21st, 2008 12:57 pm (UTC)
“I don’t want peace. I want my son out of that hellhole!” perfect John, whatever it takes to save his boy. Beautifully written.

Totally works for me, cause if heaven did get Dean out, John had a hand in it. So glad there are other people who aren't buying the fluffy angle idea...there's gotta be something darker behind it.
Sep. 21st, 2008 05:01 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! John is John. He's badass, but above all a father.

And YES. I would totally love if Kripke could somehow show John having something to do with the angel saving Dean. That'd be like... awesome.
Sep. 21st, 2008 01:41 pm (UTC)
I so want John to somehow be behind getting Dean out of hell. I'm not sure we have much hope of that actually being played out, but I would freakin love it.

I gotta say though, this is one way I had not considered. And I kinda like it.

Beautiful writing. Kinda dreamlike in the descriptions of heaven, but John's agitation shines through so brilliantly.

Thanks so much for sharing.
Sep. 21st, 2008 05:02 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much for reading! As a mostlyjohngirl it would hit so many spots if that could get canonized: that John somehow had something to do with Dean's saviour; it'd be sweet, how love can conquer pretty much everything.
Sep. 21st, 2008 02:19 pm (UTC)
Nicely done. I like the surreality of it and love the possibilities in the ending. Thanks for sharing.
Sep. 21st, 2008 05:03 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! I'm glad you liked it.
Sep. 21st, 2008 02:45 pm (UTC)
This is gorgeous and I love your ideas about Castiel. Heaven isn't perfect. I got an actual shiver on that line. It's like the demons, like Meg, fearing and hating being in hell they'll do anything to get out. Neither demons or angels want to be where they came from. Maybe they covet being on earth, and so they're going to fight over it? (that's my theory for the season, demon vs. angelic war, with Sam and Dean being *used* until they both go, screw you all).

Wonderful inner John voice, too.
Sep. 21st, 2008 05:04 pm (UTC)
Thank you! *glee*

YES. On the mirroring yet again. Yes, on both angels and demons being opposite side of spectrum. And YES on your theory for the season.

Sep. 21st, 2008 02:47 pm (UTC)
I was thinking that Castiel is a fallen angel too, but if Dean was brought back to take care of Sam, wouldn't a fallen angel be working for the otherside? Like I said I am full of theory....

Wonderful story btw, as always :)
Sep. 21st, 2008 05:05 pm (UTC)
Oh yes, and if the fallen angel is working for the otherside, just like ruby is working for the good side(or so she says), woo hoo. I can see stars exploding. :)

Thanks so much for reading!
Sep. 21st, 2008 03:58 pm (UTC)
Lovely and intriguing. Your use of imagery is awesome, of course. And I could really feel what John was feeling here--he wants to see Mary, but he has an inherent NEED to look after his boys. And oh, I can just imagine his anguish at seeing Dean, who he DIED FOR, dragged to hell in chains and screams and blood, see him trembling with rage, with NEED to get Dean out of there and willingness to do anything to make that happen.

And Castiel! Mysterious, motivations obscured, more an absence than a presence. Awesome.

Really enjoyed this fic. Keep it up!
Sep. 21st, 2008 05:07 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much!

And yeah. When you're not sure what to describe, use absence. Works like a charm because it has more impact. (like watching a thriller where the monster is behind the door and you never get to see it. Much more effective than actually watching it, because the imagination fills in the blanks so much more). :)

Sep. 21st, 2008 04:18 pm (UTC)
Please elaborate on Castiel hitting on Dean? (I agree, but I see slash everywhere. What makes you think so?)

Also! Awesome fic.
Sep. 21st, 2008 05:11 pm (UTC)
Heh! Thank you.

Hm. Let me see. Out of all vessels Castiel could have picked (and i assume angels are sexless, right? They lack gender.), and i'm sure there were many older devout men, or older devout women, or unattractive devout people, he chose the omg so hot guy as a vessel. And he really wanted Dean to see the real him, he tried so many times. And he was disappointed when Dean wasn't 'special'. And he DID think Dean was special. (And more subjectively, the way Castiel was looking at him. The way he was talking to him.)

Also, let me point out that i didn't see slash on Dean's side. Solely on Castiel's. For the above reasons. And i'm not even a slasher.

(unless vampires and angels are concerned. Hm.)
Sep. 21st, 2008 04:19 pm (UTC)
Oh, wow, what a cool idea! Very lyrical use of words describing John's surroundings.... (And I agree, Castiel is definitely hitting on Dean.)
Sep. 21st, 2008 05:12 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! I'm glad it appealed to you. (also, yes. Castiel did give off those vibes. The way i viewed it.)
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( 65 have shined — Play nice and shine on )


(I am a rainwalker)


Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colours. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.

-A Hat Full of Sky

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