genre: post SPN season 14 finale, crossover with MCU (post Endgame)
characters: Sam Winchester, Dean Winchester, Castiel, Steve Rogers
rating: gen, PG
warnings: show typical violence;
story summary: Just when Sam Winchester needs it most, Mjölnir returns to him. But is he really worthy?
Sam stood, back to back with Dean and Castiel as the crowd of angry, reanimated monsters grew and grew. Too many to take in all at once, but Sam knew them. He knew all of them. Everything they’d killed, every ghost, every ghoul, werewolf, shifter, vampire—all of them intent on revenge.
It was chaos, so many coming at them all at once. Sam swung his iron bar at a ghoul, sent it stumbling back a step and then whipped it back around just in time to pierce a werewolf’s heart, injuring it, but not killing it. Dean’s grunts of effort beside him made it clear he was faring just as poorly. Another strong strike from the bar to the werewolf’s head took it down, but Sam barely had time to pull the rod free before a vampire lunged at him. The monsters kept coming. Hordes of them. They needed a better weapon, a much better one. Sam knew the kind of weapon he needed, he’d held it once, years ago—one of the few things mighty enough to take out whole swathes at a time. He thought of the feel of it in his hand, its weight and then, by instinct, raised his arm to the sky just as it flew into his grip. Mjölnir.
The moment he took hold of it, a jolt ran through him—the power of nature itself, coursing through his veins, filling him with boundless energy. He felt it gather in his limbs, grabbed the hammer with both hands and swung it around, knocking everything around them away: monsters and ghouls went flying, ghosts dispersed and didn’t even have a chance to reform fully before Sam brought the hammer straight down to the ground and unleashed a flood of lightning, in ever-expanding circles, taking out wave after wave of their attackers.
But there were still more. Within seconds, the cemetery was again packed full of furious reanimated beings, and they just kept coming. Sam thrust another ring of lightning at them and another, and after the third, Dean grabbed his arm and said, “There’s too many. We gotta run.”
So they did. They ran as quickly as they could, and didn’t stop until they got to the Impala. Sam whipped the hammer around him in an arc one last time, frying the three vampires that had tailed them and then leapt into the passenger seat.
Dean started the car and tore out of the cemetery, jerking to the right to throw off a werewolf that had jumped onto the hood. They drove in panicked, shocked silence for nearly three whole minutes before Dean turned his head and asked. “Okay, Sam, what the hell was that?”
Sam looked at him, fingers flexing protectively around the grip of the hammer. “It’s Mjölnir. Thor’s hammer.”
“Yeah, I know what it is. Why’d it just show up out of nowhere?”
“I—I don’t know, I just, I felt like we really needed it and then it came to me. Like it heard me.”
“You summoned it,” Castiel said, from the back seat. “A mystical weapon doesn’t just appear for anyone. It must have recognized you.”
“I’ve used it before,” Sam said, nodding. “Maybe it knew we were in a tight spot.”
“Understatement,” Dean said with a snort.
“We would not have made it out alive if you hadn’t summoned it,” Castiel said, thoughtfully.
Given the events of the day, none of them were terribly surprised when they found the bunker completely destroyed. There was nothing left but a crater, like a house-sized meteor had struck it.
“That’s a pretty clear message,” Sam said.
“Yeah, looks like Chuck is tired of our standing set,” Dean said, practically spitting the last word. He sounded shaken. He’d lost his home. They both had.
“I’m going to…” Castiel paused, brow creasing, “ask around. See how extensive God’s wrath was, this time.” Cas wandered off, presumably to commune with his remaining brethren, leaving Dean and Sam alone, staring at the smoldering crater.
“What the hell do we do now?” Dean said, finally.
“What we always do.” Sam shrugged. “Find a place to rest and keep fighting tomorrow.” He turned Mjölnir in his grip, only then realizing he hadn’t let go of it since calling it. He didn’t want to.
Dean drove for two hours, in silence: no music, shoulders tensed, mouth set in a grim, tight line.
Sam for his part, couldn’t find a thing to say. They’d dealt with the end of the world before, but this time felt a whole lot more personal, because it was. Worse, it undid nearly all that they’d done. That was the core of it, the part that gnawed at him and most certainly the same thing that was digging into Dean’s every thought as well: they’d sacrificed so much, lost friends, family and allies, and now everything they’d killed was back, making all those battles, all those sacrifices seem so goddamned pointless. It hurt, nearly beyond Sam’s capacity to feel.
Hours later, Dean pulled off the highway and into the first motel parking lot they came across. As soon as they got to their room, he shucked off his boots and jacket and settled back onto the bed, barely getting out a “Good night,” before he fell asleep.
Sam, on the other hand, felt wired, like the lightning from Mjölnir was still churning inside of him. He’d set the hammer down, next to his bed, but grabbed it, unwilling to leave it behind, and left the room, closing the door quietly behind him, to let Dean sleep.
There was a small diner right across the road from their motel. Traffic was so sparse, this time of night, that Sam walked to the other side without seeing a single car go by. The light mist of rain was just heavy enough that when Sam ran his hand through his hair before entering the diner, his hand came away damp.
Sam sat at the otherwise empty bar, and asked the waitress, a kindly looking older woman, with silver hair and cherry lipstick, for a coffee. He set the hammer on the counter beside him, which got him a curious raised brow from the waitress, and glanced up at the television. There was a news segment playing: ongoing coverage of the recent return of the “vanished,” that had disappeared when the Avengers battled Thanos years ago. They’d won the rematch.
Sam watched the footage of teary-eyed, relieved people hugging their lovers, friends, siblings, parents—who they thought they’d lost for good. It was a stark contrast to what God had done out of—from what Sam could tell—sheer pettiness. Bringing back every monster they’d ever killed seemed like a cruel parody of the miracle the Avengers had brought about.
But then that was how life went for the Winchesters, Sam thought bitterly, particularly for him. Every time he thought he was saving the world, he made it infinitely worse.
An old man took a seat on the stool immediately to Sam’s right, and greeted the waitress by name, “Cindy,” he called her. Cindy brought him a slice of pie and a coffee without prompting, like she’d done it a dozen times before. There was something familiar about him, Sam thought. He’d seen him before, though he couldn’t place the context. The man watched the news as he ate his pie, and when the story changed to reports of an increase in “monster-sightings,” his brow furrowed.
Sam couldn’t bear to look. But he also couldn’t afford to look away; this was on him. Again. He had to know how big the scope was. How much damage he’d done this time. It was extensive. The news stories rattled off states one after the other: New York, Pennsylvania, Kansas, Missouri, Arizona, California, a massive outbreak in Wyoming. They’d spend the rest of their lives cleaning up this mess. Assuming God even gave them that long. But of course he would, Sam realized, they were his favorite show.
“It never stops” the old man said, quietly, looking at Sam, like he’d heard his thoughts. “There’s always more evil to fight.”
Sam smiled at him, hesitantly, still trying to place him. “Yes, there is.”
The man pointed at Mjölnir. “May I?”
“Sure,” Sam said, didn’t mention that only those the hammer chose could lift it. Sam himself hadn’t understood why he qualified, but it wasn’t like he could ask the weapon.
But the old man lifted it easily—surprising, giving his aged frame. He turned it in his grip and a smile spread across his face, eyes crinkling. “This helped me through a battle that seemed impossible to win at the time.”
And that’s when it clicked. Sam’s throat went dry. “You’re—you’re Steve Rogers. Captain America!”
“Just Steve now, he said,” his smile settling into something softer.
“Sam Winchester,” Sam, said, holding his hand out to Steve, who shook it firmly. Sam’s mind was racing—full of all the stories he’d heard and read, growing up, about Cap and the Avengers. He could barely believe that he was really here, talking to him. “You look—“
“Older?” Steve chuckled, eyebrow cocked. “Yeah it’s a long story. There was time travel involved.”
Sam’s eyes landed back on Mjölnir, and suddenly he understood. “Of course. You’re here to take it back.”
“Pardon?” Cap—Steve asked.
“Mjölnir. Thor’s hammer. That’s why you’re here, isn’t it? You’re going to give it back to him.”
Steve looked genuinely confused. “To Thor?” He laughed. “No, he—he’s in space, and, he prefers an axe these days anyway.”
“Oh. So then you’re bringing it to the other Avengers. Somebody worthy.”
Shaking his head, Steve turned the hammer, holding the end of the grip out to Sam. “It already has somebody worthy.”
Sam couldn’t move, couldn’t even answer for a moment, his self-doubt and shame clotting in his throat as a painful lump. All his failures, all his mis-steps swimming through his mind. “I’m not. I’ve done awful things. Made so many mistakes.” He forced himself to look Steve in the eyes. “People died because of me.”
Steve set Mjölnir down next to Sam. “We’re human. We make mistakes.” He sighed, heavily, for a moment, looking his age and then some. “When you fight the kinds of monsters that we do, no matter what you do, no matter how hard you try, you can’t save everyone.”
Spoken like a hunter, Sam thought, but Steve Rogers was so much more than that. He was a hero. The first Avenger. The stuff of legends. “That doesn’t make it okay.”
“No, it doesn’t,” Steve agreed. “That’s why we do whatever it takes to set things right.” He fell silent for a moment, lost in thought, and Sam could see the pain, banked within his eyes. Decades of fighting the good fight, and untold loss along the way. “Sam,” Steve looked at him steadily. “We are more than our failures. Don’t think for a second that you’re defined only by your lowest moments.”
“My lowest moments were pretty low,” Sam said, voice rough with shame, cheeks to ears flushed and hot. “I started the apocalypse.”
“Did you help stop it?” Steve asked, without missing a beat.
“Yes. At least...until the next one.”
Steve let out a dry laugh. “There’s always a next one. All we can do is keep on fighting.” He nodded at Mjölnir. “That’s why you’re worthy.”
Sam swallowed, wanted to protest further because he wasn’t. He wasn’t anywhere in the same class as the Avengers.
“The hammer will be yours as long as you need it,” Steve said as he stood, and set a twenty on the counter. “It’s on me.”
“Thanks,” Sam said, though he wanted to say so much more.
“Don’t mention it,” Steve turned back and lowered his voice as he added, “Oh, and Sam? You do know you can fly with it, right?”
“Fly?” Sam stared at him. No, he did not know that.
Steve gave him a wink and headed out the door.
After shaking himself out of his momentary stupor, Sam grabbed Mjölnir and headed outside. Steve was already gone.
The hammer felt light in Sam’s grip, and pulsed in his hand, warm with the promise of a storm at his beck and call. He closed his eyes, felt the wind around him move faster and faster, swirling around him in a tight hug until his feet began to lift off the ground. Then he thrust his arm up into the air, opened his eyes and looked skyward.