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Part 1

Dean wakes up to Sam shaking him. “Oh, thank fuck. Oh God. You’re okay. Good.” Sam seems to be on the verge of hyperventilating, eyes very wide and breathing fast. Above him, the sky looks odd – too clear a blue, almost as if the color had been washed off.

“What happened?” Dean asks, and then he sits up and sees for himself. Whatever it was that Magneto built, it exploded in a tidal wave that destroyed everything on its way. There are corpses all around them, calcinated skeletons that are still smoking, jaws unhinged. They go as far as Dean can see.

“Jesus Christ,” Dean says, and then presses a hand to his mouth to keep himself from throwing up. Sam looks just as shaken, and his hands keep on twitching, as if he doesn’t know what to do with them.

There’s a soft groan nearby, and they both turn around, half alarmed and half thankful of having something to do other than stare at the dead. When they reach the noise, they find Rogue, half buried in rubble, but alive. She’s frowning, on the verge of waking up, and Dean has to pull Sam back when he tries to reach for her. “Don’t touch her skin. Trust me, just—don’t.” Sam nods, and then takes off his jacket and puts it under her head before lifting her up. Dean’s force fields are more unstable at the edges, and she’s bleeding in a couple of places, but she’ll be all right.

Dean needs to believe that, because he was the one that didn’t stop her from coming.

When Rogue wakes up and takes a look around, she can’t stop shaking. “Oh God, oh God, oh God,” she mutters to herself, but then Sam says they have to keep looking for survivors and she’s an X-Men again, composed and ready to help.

Bobby is only a few feet away. Rogue is the one that checks his pulse, eyes wet, and then she sighs with relief and wipes at her eyes with the back of her hand, leaving wet patches on her dirty gloves. Once they pull him out, they realize Bobby had been trying to cover a boy with his body. The boy looks even worse than Bobby. Pyro, Sam says at the same time Rogue says John, and then they both look at each other weirdly until Bobby makes a sound and they forget all about it.

Bobby they find easy to wake up. The other boy – John – they don’t. Once Bobby is over the initial shock, he explains, sounding somewhat ashamed of himself, that he had knocked John out before everything went off. He was running after Magneto, he was going to get himself killed, I--

“You don’t have to explain, Bobby,” Rogue says, lips pursed. “You saved him. You have a knack for it.”

There are two other survivors, a big guy that flees as soon as he digs himself out of the debris, and a sickly-looking boy no older than fourteen who has to be physically removed from the remains of his older sister. He hadn’t been inside Dean’s force field, so Dean guesses it was the sister that kept him safe. He can relate. The boy’s looking a bit green at the edges, though, and he’s bleeding from both ears.

They have to move, and fast. There’s no room for explanations, or fear, or grief.

“We have to get out of here,” Dean says, trying hard to look at the other ones so he won’t have to look at the piles of dead bodies.

“Agreed. Very much so,” says Rogue.

It takes them a while to leave what was once the Brotherhood’s camp; none of them are thinking straight, and they have to carry John, who was still feeling the effects of Bobby’s blow.

“It’s okay,” Dean says, trying to convince himself as much as the others. “We’re bound to find some help sooner or later.”

Three weeks later, they still haven’t seen another living thing.


----


The first few weeks are bad. They’re all scared, and tired, and no matter how far they walk they find no one at all.

Nathan, the youngest in the group, is still in shock, and apart from his name, he says nothing else. He cries softly at night, knees pressed to his chest and face against his knees. Sam wants to comfort him, to tell him everything will be all right, but he knows it won’t, so he lets Dean do the talking and the earnest back patting. He’s always been better with kids than Sam.

It’s not the same case, anyway. Nathan lost everything he had in the explosion – Sam still has Dean.

Pyro is a wild card. He never saw the explosion, only the aftermath, and he keeps wanting to go back, back to Magneto and his insanity. Sam wonders if he’d be the same if he hadn’t seen Magneto cracking the skies open with a smile on his face. Probably.

Dean, who doesn’t really know him, keeps on shrugging and saying they’re probably better off without him, but Sam and the others, they need to cling to a piece of the world before, and Pyro represents that, that dangerous, volatile part of each of them they’re not exactly comfortable with, and yet can’t do without.

The eighth time Pyro tries to leave the group, he and Bobby end up fighting.

“I saved your life again, you fucking ingrate,” Bobby says, and Pyro shakes with fury, kicks Bobby hard enough to send him reeling into the remains of a tree.

Again? Whenever the fuck did you ever save me in the first place, Drake? Because let me tell you something, dragging someone out of a warzone and dumping him in the fucking street does not constitute as saving someone!” he yells at Bobby’s face, and then they’re fighting again, Bobby hitting as hard as Pyro.

They start fighting with powers, which makes for one hell of a showy business, and they end up rolling on the floor, wrestling and kicking and biting, like children, and when Dean pulls them apart he treats them like children as well.

Pyro is finally convinced that the explosion is not a scam the first time they pass through a small town and all they find is bodies and destroyed homes. He’s sick on some shrubbery, and then he steels himself and doesn’t mention the brotherhood again.

Sam gets it, unlike the others, how he can take Magneto’s betrayal to heart, because he does too.

After a while, the click of Pyro’s lighter becomes as familiar as breathing.


----


They have to take cover at nights.

As soon as it grows dark, clouds start gathering in the sky, thick and black, somewhat too ominous. Then the wind starts, and dust and ash and debris fly everywhere, and it looks like those fabled sandstorms of the desert, only now the sand is dark, and it might have been a human being once. Lightening flashes through the clouds for most of the night, illuminating the world far too bright for only seconds at a time. When it finally rains, just before dawn, the rain is acid, and burns through whatever plants remain.

Dean wonders if the earth will ever heal from whatever Magneto did to it.

The storms begin four days after the explosion, and then they have to run into the first shelter they can find, an abandoned barn with unhinged doors. The wind howls outside, almost drowning out any other sound.

“Your side fucking lost it, man,” Dean says, out of breath.

“I’ve kinda already noticed, Dean,” Sam says, and then he smiles, and Dean has to grin in return, because it’d been months since he’d last seen Sam, and he’d become a sort of a phantom limb, always and never there. Sam is safe, and Dean can breathe again. It’s a bit of a relief.

At first, they keep hoping they’ll find someone eventually. Then, as the days go by and they find nothing but more and more deserted towns, they start doubting they ever will. As they move away from ground zero, the destruction lessens, goes from leveled buildings to scorched houses, from calcinated skeletons to burnt bodies to dead people that just seemed to fall dead to the ground, no markings on them. It still doesn’t seem to have spared anyone, though.

Five weeks after the explosion, they hear barking, and they all run towards it, bright-eyed with excitement. It’s a stray dog, its fur at least five different colors and a tail that curls around itself. It’s too thin, ribs pertruding, just like the rest of them, and it wags its tail and jumps around, tongue out. John’s the one that reaches it first, practically hugs it, scratches its ears, all the while talking to it. When he realizes everyone else is staring at him, his eyes narrow.

“What? I like dogs, all right? Fuck off.”

“You’re such an asshole,” Bobby says with a smile, and then they’re all patting the dog, feeding it whatever scraps of food they have.

That night, after the others have gone to sleep and Sam and Dean are drinking stale beer, the dog lying down by their feet, Sam says, rubbing at his chin, “I wonder why it didn’t get the animals as well.”

“Beats me,” Dean says, but Sam has that focused face of his, eyebrows together and mouth set, and Dean knows Sam hates having a mystery in front of him that he can’t crack.

“It doesn’t really matter, Sam. Shit went down, the world died – however can knowing how it happened help?”

“It could. We could reverse it.”

Dean shakes his head. “And what, have six billion zombies walking around? You know it doesn’t work like that. You just can’t give life back to that amount of people.”

Sam closes his eyes, rubs the bridge of his nose. “I know. I wish I didn’t.”

Dean takes a long swig of his beer. This entire situation is easier to face when drunk.

Nathan loves the dog. He calls it Fred, for some strange reason, and keeps on offering it treats and trying to get it to play fetch. Nathan has been sick for most of his life, going from hospital to hospital, or at least the ones that would treat a mutant. His parents are long dead, and it was his sister the one who always took care of him. Magneto convinced Nathan’s sister that his cure was in the hands of mutants, not humans. She trusted him, and died for it, but not before saving her brother’s life. The boy is a bit lost, and ill, and starved for affection. He goes to sleep with the dog curled around his ankles.

The dog follows them around for a couple of weeks, barking ahead of them at everything that interests it, wagging its tail. Then, it leaves one morning, goes after a particularly intriguing trail and doesn’t come back. “It’s the way of strays, kid, it’s not like it’s personal,” Dean says, and notices that both Bobby and Rogue stare at John, intently, like he’s just voiced their own fears, and he wonders whatever happened to mess them up this bad but is too nervous to ask.

Nathan nods, eyes lowered, shoulders hunched. Dean worries about the kid, too frail-looking for this new world, but doesn’t quite know what to do about it. He looks at Sam, and he just shrugs, scratches his head. They walk in silence for the rest of the day.

It’s just another loss in a long string of losses, but Nathan doesn’t really recover from it.


----


“You think it happened everywhere?” Nathan asks as they set up camp for the night, sitting on a rock and looking at the sky. Bobby builds ice shelters whenever they find themseves too far away from towns or even caves to get under a proper roof. He’s been getting more and more creative as of lately, and tonight they’re sleeping inside something that resembles a swiss chalet. Last night, it’d been a pagoda. Pyro mocks him for it, but Bobby shrugs and freezes Pyro’s shoes to the ground and goes on making ice, chuckling.

“What, the whole ‘the world is deaaaaad’ shtick?” Pyro says, shaking his fingers as he elongates the word, and Sam snickers but feels bad about it when he sees Nathan’s grave face.

“Don’t be an asshole, John,” Rogue says, almost absentmindedly, like she’s so used to saying it. When they were in the Brotherhood together, Pyro had told Sam how he used to be in the Charles Xavier’s school, and how it’d sucked, and that was it. Now, he realizes how Pyro says so much in the things he doesn’t say, how the more he cares the more he wants to make it all just go away. And Sam used to think he was messed up.

Dean sits on the rock next to Nathan. “Probably,” he says, ignoring Pyro’s comment. “I mean, if it’d just happen in the States, other countries would be sending planes with food, or help, or something like that, wouldn’t they?”

They all look up, as if on cue, stare into the pale sky and look for something they know isn’t there.

“So we’re alone?” Nathan asks, sounding like a small child, still looking up, and Rogue puts a hand on his shoulder.

“You’re not alone. You have us.”


----


Thanks to Bobby they never go thirsty, and thanks to John they never go cold. They sit around a fire at nights, eat whatever they could salvage from abandoned 7-Elevens they find on the way - the food’s a bit stale, yeah, but it seems to be mostly all right. Bobby, Rogue and John always sit rather too close, shoulders and knees pressed flushed against each other’s, with Bobby in the middle, holding them together.

They tell stories. Sometimes it’s movies, books, random anecdotes that happened to a friend of a friend, sometimes their own lives. Dean tells everyone how Sam used to have nightmares with clowns; Sam shoves him and then tells about the time Dean had hooked up with a guy dressed up as a girl and could never tell the difference.

No one laughs, but they smile, and it’s a start.

It feels a bit ancient, magic, telling stories by the fire. Like thousands of years of human history never happened, and they’re still sitting in caves, shaping tales with just words and flickering light. In a way, it’s fitting, because if they’re really all that’s left, mutant-kind is pretty much screwed, seeing that even if she wanted to, Rogue can’t have children. And if they are all that’s left, human-kind is already over and done with.

It makes a shiver go down Dean’s spine, the thought that all ends with them. It feels like too much of a responsability.


----


They all find it hard to sleep at night. Sam tosses and turns in his stolen sleeping bag, and hears the others do the same. Nathan cries for his sister. Bobby mourns for his family. Rogue for the only home she ever knew, and Pyro for the leader that betrayed him so badly. Dean – Dean mourns for the world. Sam is oddly content; life becomes one giant road trip, with no expectations and no reproachments and no criticisms. He feels somewhat liberated.

He wonders what’s wrong with him.

The kids all tend to sleep close to each other, Bobby and Rogue so much that it must be dangerous, close enough for Bobby to be accidentally killed if he rolls over. Pyro starts the night almost out of sight, and wakes up with his face almost brushing Bobby’s back. Nathan sticks to a distance of five feet from anyone since the first night. They squat in houses almost as much as they sleep outdoors, and then Sam and Dean take the living rooms, by the windows, easier to protect, and the kids fight for the rooms, sometimes share them and it’s not like Sam’s their father to order them around.

The kids. Sam should really stop calling them that – they’ve been fighting for their lives for almost as long as he has for his own, but he can’t stop thinking of them in that way. He thinks of himself at nineteen, twenty, and he remembers feeling ever so grown up.

Nathan usually ends up as the odd one out. It makes Sam a bit guilty, but there’s not much he can do – he closes up on his own, stays silent for long stretches of time and just stares at the world passing by with eyes open too wide and hands clasped together.

They take clothes from wherever they can. If it’s a house, a girl’s wardrobe, Rogue puts her arms around herself, saying, “This is Laura’s. She was a gymnast, there was a picture in her room,” like she wants to keep it in her memory forever, like she wants to have someone at least to remember this dead girl. Sam prefers raiding malls, likes his stuff to be his and not a memento of someone long gone, and maybe that says the world about him. Bobby and Pyro don’t care at all. They sometimes even share, and they end up with either small shirts or too big pants. Nathan clings to the clothes he was wearing the day of the explosion with a fervor that is just unhealthy.

They sometimes take cars, usually the ones parked neatly at homes or at parking lots, because they can only stand to drag the dead owners out so many times. Dean drives fast, and Pyro drives faster. They all laugh and sing stupid songs and roll the windows down, let the wind play with their hair. It never lasts long. The gas ends up running out and then they’re back in the middle of nowhere, stuck to walking.

After the end, there’s a multitude of firsts. The first time they hear birds singing, the first time they manage to get a generator to work and make popcorn while watching Finding Nemo, the only DVD they could find in the house. The first time Pyro says us and not you, the first time any of them milks a cow and the first time Sam can use his powers so openly it almost seems wrong, having this kind of freedom.

Life goes on, after everything else dies, and Sam finds it almost comforting.


----


“So, what was your codename?” Sam asks, somewhat hesitant, sitting beside Dean on the ground. The kids are arguing about something or other not far ahead.

“You really think I would get one of those lame-ass names? Come on. Never in a million years would I call myself, eh, Mr. Protection or, dunno, the Magic Bubble or some other crap like that.”

“Oh,” says Sam, looking a bit uncomfortable. “Okay. What they called you, then?”

“The X-Men called me Dean and the kids Professor Winchester. Makes me sound worldly, doesn’t it?” he says, with a grin, and Sam grins back. “Okay, fess up. What was your codename?” He just knows Sam had one. He’s the type.

Sam mumbles something, face red. Dean makes him repeat it. “Destroyer? For real? That is so unbelievably lame, Sammy.”

“Oh, shut up, you—” Sam starts, and then adds, after a pause, “you Magic Bubble.”

They laugh together, for a long while, for the first time in weeks.


----


They see the first ghosts about a month after the explosion. It’s just a clutter of people, so real looking that they all run towards them, beaming, and then they go through them and the spell is broken.

Pyro had heard Sam’s stories, but never really believed them, and he keeps going “Shit, man, what the fuck, that was – fuck. That was so weird.”

After that, they see ghosts everywhere – some of them just seem lost, scared, and some of them are more violent than Sam or Dean had ever seen. Finding their bodies is near impossible, not with so many corpses around, so they mostly leave it alone, ignore them or run from them and surround themselves with salt they take from grocery stores by nights.

It’s painful, seeing this mirage of people walking down the streets, hearing names yelled. It’s a reminder of all that they’ve lost.

They stumble across small hunts all over the place, solve them on the go and stay clear of the big, dangerous ones. There’s not really any reason anymore to save the world from kelpies and fairies and djinns. They were there long before humans were, and they’ll be there long after every single one of them is gone.

Some demons take to possessing half-rotten bodies. When they exorcize them, the demons laugh, congratulate them on this fine hell on Earth they’ve built.

No one contradicts them.


----


John farts, and everybody laughs.

“Oh God, you are all disgusting,” Rogue says, looking like she’s about to throw something at John. She stabs at her canned beans with her spoon a couple of times, violently, and then she says, “I miss girls,” in a completely different voice, soft and low. “I miss having decent conversations. I miss Jubilee. Fuck, I miss Kitty, and I never thought I’d say that.”

Everyone goes quiet for a while, because truly, none of them can really get how lonely it must be being the odd one out. She’s always alone, Rogue, be it because of her powers or her decision to take the cure or because of fate alone. It makes Dean feel a little guilty, even if he knows he’s not responsible. Feeling guitlty about everything and anything that goes wrong around him has always been the way he lives, he just can’t help it.

John is the one to break the silence, characteristically. “Wait, I thought Kitty’d been with Colossus for like, ages?”

“Well, yeah, but Bobby keeps being all weird around her,” she says, all matter of fact, and Bobby has enough presence of mind to blush. “And then she—wait. How the hell would you know who she’s dating? You haven’t been around home in years.”

“I have my ways,” John says, his spoon inside his mouth, cocky smile and raised eyebrows. “Also, Xavier’s isn’t home, thank you very much. Home is where the heart is, darling, didn’t you know?”

“Ah, then I’m guessing home right now is six feet under with Magneto?”

“Okay, that was low,” John says before launching at her, tackling her to the ground, reckless, not really bothering to take care of not to touch her, like he always does, and she shrieks with laughter instead of alarm, and then Bobby is joining the scuffle and it’s like a bunch of kittens, fighting and playing and being young and stupid.

“Remember being that age?” Dean asks Sam, who has been quiet most of the night.

Sam smiles a bit, plays around with his own beans. “Yeah. You were such a pain in the ass.”

Dean laughs. “Likewise, dude, likewise.”


----


Another deserted town, another road blocked by cars with their dead owners still inside, rotting with no one to remember them, and just as the silence gets heady, claustrophobic, there’s the pitter-patter sound of feet behind them.

“We’re being followed,” Dean says, almost out of habit, and then they all realize what it means. They all stop, looking around them, and the sound of steps pauses as well. When they move, it starts again, and it goes that way for half an hour until Sam gets tired of it, whirls around and yells, “Hello? Anybody there?” in the general direction of the office building behind them. There’s no response, not for a long while, and then there are sounds to their right, and the tell-tale click of Pyro’s lighter before he sends a fire ball towards the noise.

They all turn to look at him, each of them looking like they’re refraining to hit him. “What?” he asks, hands up and fake innocence.

“You are such a moron, Allerdyce,” Bobby says, and Pyro smirks a bit.

“Well, there goes our chance of being approachable if it actually is someone else,” Dean says. He’s right, of course, and Sam could hit Pyro himself.

The steps start again, now fading and no longer cautious, just worried about fleeing. Dean starts running towards the noise, the rest of them following him.

The trail ends in an apartment on a third floor, dirty and trashed, covered in moist earth from upturned plant pots. There’s a woman in the farthest room, all sunken eyes and pupils dilated, her hair unkept and with leaves twisted on it. She’s holding the dead body of what Sam guesses was once her son, rocking it slowly, singing lullabies.

Rogue makes a small gasp behind him, just as he puts a hand to his mouth. The windows are all closed, and it smells like decaying flesh.

The woman starts back when Dean reaches for her. “Ma’am, we can help you. Let go of him, so we can bury him,” he says, speaking softly, just like you would do to a wounded animal, and she shakes her head, eyes very wide.

“Leave us alone,” she says, voice low and rough. Dean moves towards her, and she pulls a knife from somewhere, slashes the air and almost gets Dean, who puts a force field up by sheer instinct. She starts shrieking, curling herself around the body in her lap. “Get out of here! Get out!

They back off, and as soon as they’re out of sight she starts singing lullabies again, as the day ends and darkness shrouds her.

They leave her there, and for the most part, they try hard not to think of her.


----


They walk towards Westchester almost by inertia.

The world dies on July, and they’re outside Xavier’s school by early November, the air crisp and cool and cleaner than Dean ever imagined it to be.

Dean doesn’t really know what he expected by heading out here, but there’s a small part of him that always thought that maybe, just maybe, the explosion left the mansion alone, and that he’d find recently cut grass and his annoying students looking out through intact windows and a warm place to come home to.

They stand in front of the mansion’s ruins for a long while, watching the burnt wood and blackened plaster, the way there are vines growing along the walls, breaking windows and creeping inside.

If it makes Dean feel this fucking depressed, he can only imagine what Bobby and Rogue are feeling.

John is hanging a bit back, hands in his pockets, fidgeting. “It was your home too,” Bobby says, and John curls his lip.

“No it fucking wasn’t,” he says.

Bobby shrugs. “Suit yourself, man. You try convincing yourself.”

The garage Dean left the Imapala in doesn’t have a roof anymore. The explosion, storms and time combined left the car useless, rusted orange. It feels wrong, wanting to cry over her just as much as for the children Dean taught in here, but he does anyway. Fixing her is no longer a possibility, not without the right equipment. He pats the hood, gets behind the wheel and runs a hand through the ruined upholstery. He doesn’t say I’ll miss you, like he wants to, because it makes it too final.

They’re about to leave when Rogue yells, “Wait!” and starts running towards the mansion. They all follow, and when they reach her she’s trying to access the underground levels.

“Attagirl,” says Dean, smiling broadly at her, and curses himself a bit for not having though of it earlier. Once they go down, Sam gapes.

“What kind of school was this?” he asks, somewhat awed.

“Home of the X-Freaks, man, what did you expect?” says John before anyone else can say anything, and Rogue scowls.

They find a neat stack of papers in a room furnished with boxes and matresses and folded blankets. It smells lived in. Dean listens as Rogue reads, his heart beating too fast. Some of the kids had been in Danger Room practice when the explosion hit. Piotr turned into metal at the nick of time. Logan survived. He always survives, it’s just what he does. Dean recognizes Kitty’s precise, bold handwritting, the clipped prose from her Folklore essays saying how they’d stayed in this same room for a while, just riding it out, and then they’d decided to move, find a better place to stay. The last sentence reads I hope this will be found someday, and that whoever finds it will know they’re not alone.

“They’re alive,” Rogue says after she’s done reading, soft and broken. “They’re alive,” she repeats, and then she cries like she hasn’t since the world went to hell. Bobby puts his face on her shoulder, John resting against her other side, and Nathan takes her hand. Sam doesn’t know any of the people she mentioned, so he smiles.

Dean doesn’t cry. Really, he doesn’t. That’s just some dust in his eyes.

They stay for almost a week, and then Nathan asks if they can just stay there, at least for a while.

Sam shakes his head. “Winter is coming. We won’t survive it if we stay – the snow will bury us, and we wouldn’t be able to dig ourselves out until spring. No, we have to go south.”

“Like birds,” Nathan says, sounding all of five instead of fourteen, and Dean grins.

“Exactly like birds.”


----


The first snow of the year is pure white. It’s all bright, big snowflakes, the perfect shape to catch with one’s tongue, and Sam had never thought they could exist outside of the movies.

They have a massive snow fight, with forts and artillery and Bobby cheating, creating his own snowballs, and Pyro cheating too just out of principle, melting the other team’s warfare. Soon, everybody’s playing dirty, using powers, and Sam hasn’t had so much fun in years.

They have a white Christmas, singing carols through chattering teeth and seeping somewhat stale instant hot chocolate. They decorate a tree with ice ornaments, and Pyro lights it up later, for kicks, and it looks beautiful for a moment, pure dancing fire, until they force Pyro to put it out and they have to find a new tree.

It’s been six months since the explosion and sometimes, Sam thinks it’s the best thing that ever happened to him.


----


Nathan dies on February.

His illness acts up again, and no matter how much they all fuss over him, none of them are healers. Bobby can vaguely remember Professor McCoy talking about medicinal plants, calling them by their long, unpronounceable scientific names, but he doesn’t remember enough to recognize them in the wild.

Winter hasn’t been good on them – they’re all too thin and haggard and hungry, and everyone but Bobby keeps on shivering all day long. It only takes a week of illness, and then Nathan’s gone and Dean feels like he’s failed him.

“You didn’t, you know,” Sam says while they’re digging Nathan’s grave. “Fail him, that is. You did everything you could.” Dean’s always wondered if Sam’s mutation isn’t actually telepathy.

“Yeah, well, fat load of good it was to him.”

There’s no salt and burn because they’re pretty sure Nathan isn’t coming back. They bury him by the road, and plant a tree on top of it instead of a gravestone, so he’ll have company. They all say a few words, even John, who likes to act like he hates everything and everyone. Millions have died, but this one, this one feels personal.

It’s hard to tear themselves away, so they camp around the grave that night, and if it’s morbid no one comments on it. They leave the next morning, eyes wet and weary minds.

“We’ve been thinking,” Rogue says some weeks later, the boys fidgeting behind her. “That it’s time we go our own way.”

In the end, it’s the quiet, introverted boy that was holding them all together. It’s oddly fitting. Once he’s gone there’s no real reason to find security in numbers. They’ve all been hardened by life, and they’re all survivors.

They say their goodbyes, and go on opposite ways in a crossroad. Say it like that, it sounds like a song, like cheap poetry, and all it’s missing is the sunset and the sad music but it still makes Dean feel somewhat empty inside.

“I guess it’s just you and me again, Sammy,” he says after a while, once he can no longer see the three dark shapes walking away if he turns around.

Sam snorts. “It’s not like it ever wasn’t,” he says, and Dean grins and punches him in the shoulder and it’s okay, he’s okay.

The sky is getting bluer every day over their heads.


----


Almost a year after the explosion, and only the two of them once again, they run across Jo. She’s running a small colony of survivors near Arkansas. She’s aiming a shotgun at them the first time they see her, frown in place and lips thin and her body tense, ready for everything. She doesn’t put the gun down when they come out of hiding. Sam feels oddly proud of her, like he’s now seeing her all grown up.

They’re standing in the underground parking lot of a suburban mall, all gray walls and concrete and almost no light at all now that the electricity’s gone. It makes Jo look paler than she is, in contrast with the dark bags under her eyes. It’s almost incongruous, the pretty little blonde leading the burly men behind her, but if anyone is fit to fill the role, it must be Jo.

“If it’s really you you’ll have to convince me,” she says, and Sam can see Dean practically beam at her beside him.

“Then listen up, sweetheart, because I’m not admiting to actually liking REO Speedwagon twice.”

Sam doesn’t really get it, but Jo raises her eyebrow, moves her head just so and then smiles slowly, putting her gun down. “Can’t blame a girl from being too careful these days.”

The farm the colony is using as home base is large and lighted, homey, all fluttering curtains and children playing on the lawn outside. When he looks closer, Sam realizes there’s a thick salt line covered by ductape on every single windowsill and doorway.

Jo explains she was hunting something in the sewers when the explosion hit. She’d found survivors pretty soon, mere days after the big bang, and from then on they’d been moving like a group, adding new people as they went. They’d only found the farm some three months ago, and then decided to stay after realizing they had to become self-suficient with so many people around, instead of surviving off of convenience store scraps, like Sam and Dean and their own little group had done for so long.

There’s actual cornbread for dinner, and Sam could just about die of how good it is. Dean actually kisses the cook, a middle aged woman that used to own a gourmet bakery in New York.

That night, as Jo is giving them a tour around the house, Sam sees a girl around twelve putting her hands around her mouth, blowing at them, and then there’s bubbles coming out of her mouth, large and rainbow-slicked and all of the children are laughing, urging her to make more.

“She’s a mutant,” Sam says before he can stop himself, sounding half-awed, and Jo steps in front of him, looking violent.

“And you got a problem with that? Because the door is that way.” Jo’s never really trusted him, not since he almost killed her while being posessed, anyway, but he’s never heard that tone of hers, steely and determined and almost vicious.

He shakes his head. “I don’t. But after all that’s happened I just didn’t expect humans and mutants to be on speaking terms with each other.” Dean walks over to the children, encases a bubble inside one of his force fields and dares the kids to break it. Jo stares, for a moment, and then she bites her lip.

“We stand apart, we all die,” she says, looking her age for the first time since Sam saw her in that parking lot. “Our only chance is sticking together.” The kids are laughing, the younger ones tugging at Dean’s pants and asking him to do it again.

“I didn’t know,” Jo says, and Sam shrugs. They stare at Dean playing with the kids, and Sam talks about how nice the house is just to keep himself from asking what happened to Ellen, and what they did with the bodies of the farm’s original owners.

There are four more mutants in the commune. It’s twenty-one people all together, ranging from ages five to fourty-three. They live, play and work together, for the most part in harmony, and Sam can barely believe it.

It’s idyllic, unreal, this peaceful insular life within chaos. Sam wonders if this was what Magneto wanted, peaceful coexistance, and when he tells Dean he shakes his head, tells him that that was more Xavier’s shtick, and that Magneto was just insane. You do know he was insane, right, Sam? Sam nods, and keeps his doubts to himself. In a way, it still hurts that he bet all he had on the losing side.

They stay for two months, make themselves a place within the community. Sam learns how to bake and how to sow, and Dean tinkers with every piece of machinery on the place during the mornings and tells stories to the kids on the afternoons.

Then they leave, because it’s time and because after so long, they ache for being on the road again. Twenty-one people wave them goodbye.

It’s been eleven months and fourteen days since the explosion, and the world is pulling itself together, piece by piece.


----


They find a ’64 dark blue Impala in a parking lot, covered in dust and with chipped paint, but she’s still a beauty. Dean finds himself out of practice with a lock pick, after months of Sam just wrenching everything open, but such a car demands respect.

The leather seats are smooth, obviously taken care of, and it even has a casette player. “Awesome,” Sam says, and then he starts digging around his duffel. “I found this a couple of towns over, and totally forgot about it,” he says, and hands Dean a tape.

It’s Led Zeppelin III. Dean’s favorite is Led Zeppelin II, but he still lights up, says, “Sammy, you outdid yourself this time,” ruffling his hair, and he’s happier than he’s been in months.

They take the car out for a spin, music as high as it goes and windows down, and it feels like the old times, like they’re just on their way to another hunt, another diner, another waitress. Dean misses apple pie. Sam misses steak.

They keep the car for three days, and then they have to admit that it’s just not the same. The wheel doesn’t have grooves in the soft leather for Dean’s fingers and the car doesn’t smell like motor grease and junk food and sweat and blood and Winchester. It’s not the same car they slept in so many times during their childhood, the car Sam used to draw in pre-school when teachers asked him to draw his home.

Dean takes the car inside an office building, covers it with a sheet, and then they leave. They find a Mustang, instead, ’62 and supposedly red, and Dean figures that it’s probably for the best, getting a brand new start.

“So, what, we just ride into the sunset?” Sam ask from the passenger seat. Dean hits the gas and hums Metallica and everything is perfect, for a moment, blue sky and the road stretching as far as he can see.

“Well why the hell not?” he says with a grin.

Maybe not everything is lost after all.


THE END.

There are 43 comments on this entry. (Reply.)
eisoj5: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] eisoj5 at 11:41pm on 01/09/2008
Okay, I don't know Supernatural really at all, but I loves me some X-Men, and this is just phenomenal. I almost fricking cried when Nathan died, and I was at work! Great job.
 
posted by [identity profile] nekare.livejournal.com at 12:04am on 17/09/2008
Thank you!
 
posted by [identity profile] dolimir-k.livejournal.com at 11:46pm on 01/09/2008
Now this is an awesome crossover! Love that both boys have powers and that even though they were on different sides of the war, they came back together.

A keeper!
 
posted by [identity profile] nekare.livejournal.com at 12:05am on 17/09/2008
Thank you!
 
posted by [identity profile] girl-wonder.livejournal.com at 02:23am on 02/09/2008
Really brilliant fic. I love that even with powers, they're still the same people and I was surprised at the choices, but I could see Sam going with Magneto and Dean with Xavier. Good job!
 
posted by [identity profile] nekare.livejournal.com at 01:01am on 17/09/2008
Aw, thank you!
(deleted comment)
 
posted by [identity profile] nekare.livejournal.com at 01:54am on 17/09/2008
Thank you!
 
posted by [identity profile] roxymissrose.livejournal.com at 01:25pm on 02/09/2008
That was a *brilliant* cross-over. It worked incredibly well, and Sam joining Magneto's side was genius. I have to say, I *loved* the idea of Professor Winchester. I can definitely see Dean fitting in there.

This was so well written, I love that you really captured the flavor of the X-Men without losing any of the feel of SpN.It wa aa *very* enjoyable read.
 
posted by [identity profile] spastic-visions.livejournal.com at 03:20pm on 02/09/2008
I know next to nothing about X-men but I really kind of love this. Well done.
 
posted by [identity profile] ulkis.livejournal.com at 03:44pm on 02/09/2008
This was fantastic.
 
posted by [identity profile] norwich36.livejournal.com at 04:42pm on 02/09/2008
Wow, I really loved this.
 
posted by [identity profile] sweptawaybayou.livejournal.com at 10:27pm on 02/09/2008
What an excellent read. I truly enjoyed this!

Thank you so much for sharing.

:D
 
posted by [identity profile] tabaqui.livejournal.com at 10:54pm on 02/09/2008
Oooooh, oh oh. That's just so amazingly wonderful, and gorgeous, and sad and hurty and *perfect*.

I love it. I hope the three Musketeers find Logan and Piotr and Kitty. The Metallicar!
*whimpers* And Jo and the commune and...things starting again, slow but steady...
*sniffles quietly*

Lovely stuff. Really excellent.
 
posted by [identity profile] sloane-m.livejournal.com at 11:05am on 03/09/2008
This was such a great story. I liked the way you blended them both together and made them work. Thanks for such a wonderful read.
 
posted by [identity profile] archerstar.livejournal.com at 11:13am on 03/09/2008
Oh my frilly beautiful Lord, I loved this. So hard. It was brilliant, and flawless and I want more, but at the same time, I'm perfectly content with where it ended. So beautiful.
 
posted by [identity profile] venilia.livejournal.com at 04:26am on 04/09/2008
Oh, love! I just love it! I do wish there was more of Wolverine, but still... this is a fantastic crossover!
 
posted by [identity profile] lomer.livejournal.com at 07:36am on 04/09/2008
Wonderful story!
 
posted by [identity profile] gottalovev.livejournal.com at 04:26pm on 04/09/2008
that was so awesome, i loved! it hurt to see the boys apart, and the destruction of the world is of course incredibly sad, but it's a hopeful fic with a great ending. =D
ext_1310: (wherever i may roam)
posted by [identity profile] musesfool.livejournal.com at 06:09pm on 04/09/2008
Oh, lovely. It makes sense that Sam would want to change the world violently, and that Dean would be the pacifist. And I can just see Dean and Logan kicking back and getting drunk together, too.
 
posted by [identity profile] gypsy-atavari.livejournal.com at 04:41pm on 05/09/2008
I'm a fan of both Supernatural and the Xmen and I loved it.

It doesn't surprise me at all the Dean came to the Mansion and taught the kids... and got along with Logan to boot!

Sam so brash and impatient at first but needing to go through everything in order to grow.

And the best part of course, that in the end they ended up together because the world can go to hell all around them but as long they have each other they'll be all right. Oh boys. :-)

liliaeth: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] liliaeth at 02:51am on 06/09/2008
This was one great crossover, I love your description of the brothers and their meetings with the X-men's world. Very well done.
ext_34969: Chloe - SV (Cyclops)
posted by [identity profile] flareonfury.livejournal.com at 07:27pm on 06/09/2008
You should post this over at [livejournal.com profile] spn_xm! :)

Anyway, this was REALLY good, and I'm really glad that Jo survived! Very well written, I have to say! ;)
 
posted by [identity profile] nekare.livejournal.com at 02:07am on 07/09/2008
Oh, I didn't even know there was a crossover comm! I'll go and post.

Thank you! Haha, I like Jo a lot, I just couldn't kill her off, lol. XD
 
posted by [identity profile] dev-earl.livejournal.com at 09:12am on 07/09/2008
This was phenomenal. Such an awesome piece and it's somehow VERY fitting that Dean's power is a force field. :D
 
posted by [identity profile] wizefics.livejournal.com at 11:17pm on 07/09/2008
Wow. I am blown away by this fic. The end of the world doesn't get better than this. This is truly a phenomenal story and it is unbelievably well told.

Bravo.
 
posted by [identity profile] lostacanthus.livejournal.com at 02:49am on 08/09/2008
OMG This was so fantastic! ♥♥
 
posted by [identity profile] kellifer-fic.livejournal.com at 10:06pm on 13/09/2008
Eeeeee! Sorry this took me so long to read. This is wonderful, thank you so much!
 
posted by [identity profile] naanima.livejournal.com at 07:44am on 02/10/2008
This is awesome. Just so damn awesome. Love how after everything it is still Sam and Dean driving into the sunset.

Also, Magic Bubble!!! EHEHEHEHEHE!
 
posted by [identity profile] flyingcarpet.livejournal.com at 03:23pm on 02/10/2008
Oooh, a very nice combination of the two universes. I love Sam the idealist joining the Brotherhood.
 
posted by [identity profile] redrikki.livejournal.com at 10:05pm on 02/10/2008
Awesome crossover. I thought the decisions the boys made were surprisingly right on and I liked the surreal, depressing yet hopeful feel of the post-apocalyptic world.
 
posted by [identity profile] softgraysky.livejournal.com at 11:10am on 25/01/2009
Oh my god, wow. Oh. Just...wow. I can't begin to describe the number of levels on which this thing worked.

This is one of the best crossovers I've ever read. One of the best spn stories I've read in awhile. Gorgeous. Painful. Stunning.
 
posted by [identity profile] nekare.livejournal.com at 04:24pm on 25/01/2009
Aw, thank you so much! That was really flattering. :)
 
posted by [identity profile] http://users.livejournal.com/_hwin_/ at 02:23am on 27/01/2009
I can not describe how much I love this. You managed to bring together both worlds while keeping all the characters true to their portrayals onscreen. It’s heartbreaking, thoughtful (Dean’s power as a force-field is so in-character it hurt) and I am almost lost for words. Everyone’s so broken, Dean & Sam before the apocalypse and then everyone else after it.

Oh and My heart broke when each Winchester found their brothers equivalent in Bobby and John. Like… ouch
ext_21612: (oh snap)
posted by [identity profile] britomart-is.livejournal.com at 04:39pm on 11/04/2009
WHY HAVE I NOT READ THIS BEFORE. Holy crap this is awesome.
ext_4073: (Default)
posted by [identity profile] cormallen.livejournal.com at 07:59pm on 11/04/2009
I don't know how I missed this before, but I love it so, so much!
 
posted by [identity profile] tiffosis.livejournal.com at 05:59am on 01/05/2009
i am so glad i stumbled upon this! it was beautiful and melancholy, and merged two of my favorite worlds together.
 
I love it. I've recently developed a taste for apocafic, and this one is a marvel.
 
posted by [identity profile] alcimines.livejournal.com at 12:36am on 02/03/2010
I'm obviously extremely late to the party, but just let me say that this is a dynamite fic!

As a guy who's read too much post-apocalypse fiction, I could quibble with some of the things in your fic, but you know something? That's not the point. The point is how you nailed the characters. All of them. That's a pretty remarkable feat. Congratulations.
 
posted by [identity profile] madeitupasiwent.livejournal.com at 05:40am on 29/09/2010
well done... not how i like my steak but it is how i like my stories.
 
posted by [identity profile] dhark-charlotte.livejournal.com at 01:33am on 12/10/2010
Brilliant
 
posted by [identity profile] payperv-iew.livejournal.com at 08:24pm on 13/10/2010
Wonderful! I'm totally in love with this universe you've created, characterization to story line. Thanks so much for sharing.
 
posted by [identity profile] darkestnight12.livejournal.com at 09:20am on 21/10/2010
Geez, that certainly was something. I totally didn't expect for you to almost kill off the entire world, but that you did makes it just so much...more. I wonder what happened to the destruction thing that Magneto created though, and if Magneto survived the disaster of his own making. That Sam actually chose Magneto over Dean was a little surprising, but actually surprisingly not. I love how it ended up as still just the two of them trying to find their way, because with the Winchesters, it's always them against (for?) the world.
 
posted by [identity profile] baylorsr.livejournal.com at 11:29am on 08/12/2010
I listened to the podfic of this and really enjoyed it. Crossing these two fandoms is difficult but you made it work.

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