Sam and Dean, having said yes to Lucifer and Michael, begin to come to terms with their choices. Working together, they call Gabriel and command him to gather the host of heaven’s angels. They are going to war.
Man of Sorrows
Looking through a mist of truth
That we believe an elusive cloud
The things we find are hard to say now
That we live through day to day
Find it hard to force the reasons
Why we find it hard to die …
It was too quiet.
For a moment, there was only silence. The Bunker usually had a strange, almost harmonic hum that Cas found very pleasant, but now that was gone and an oppressive weight hung in the air. He saw in an instant that the wards against the Darkness were gone.
And then he heard something, echoing against the hard stone walls; someone weeping. It was more than that. It was the sound of anguish.
Cas ran through the maze of hallways; toward the dungeon.
The tableau before him halted him in his tracks on the threshold. There was blood smeared across the floor. Donna lay in a pool of red with Jody beside her. Alex, the only one conscious, was on her knees, shaking Jody, crying because she didn’t move. Claire lay unmoving outside the protective circle of the sigil and a pang of grief struck Cas at seeing her.
“Help them,” Alex said, her voice full of fear and grief. “Please, you have to help them.”
He almost didn’t hear her, staring at Claire and at the orb she still held clutched in her hand. He understood, through a rising tide of denial, what had happened here. She’d touched something that was beyond her capacity to wield. Heavenly weapons, this one in particular, were too much for most humans to even touch. The orb had scoured through her young body like a fire. He knew before he knelt down beside her that nothing would bring her back form this. Even her soul had been burned away to nothing.
He blinked back uncharacteristic tears and thought to turn to Jody and Donna, who he could help. He could save them. But his mind wouldn’t focus. His angel powers didn’t cooperate, freezing him in place instead.
This he couldn’t abide.
He’d made a promise, so long ago, but remembered as though it was a moment ago, to protect this family; Jimmy, Amelia, but especially Claire. He’d made that promise to her only recently, and had utterly failed of that mission.
His mind churned. He knew, off in the recesses of thought, that he shouldn’t do anything to change this. It was against all the rules. Maybe these deaths were part of the grand plan, a greater scheme he couldn’t understand. But if he’d learned one thing from his association with Sam and Dean, it was that destiny wasn’t a road set in concrete. They had foiled fate and doom time and time again. Why couldn’t he?
It couldn’t be changed. He told himself that even as he stood, still staring down at the lifeless body of someone he thought of as his own child.
He couldn’t do it. He couldn’t let this be.
It had been a long time since he’d time-traveled, and with each moment of it pressing against him, he felt its passage acutely. He turned inward, rolling the motion of space backward. He saw what happened in reverse – watching through a blur as Rowena slipped away from the field of battle, leaving the fallen to lie, the Darkness vanquished … Back further as Donna fell … Alex and Jody fighting for their lives … and Claire about to reach into her pocket.
Cas moved behind her, feeling in his own pocket the vial that held the last drop of Metatron’s grace. That he had saved it formed a rightness in his mind to this choice he was about to make. “Claire,” he said, speaking into her mind. Her hand touched the orb. “You have to say yes to this. Right now.” The orb glowed between her fingers, beams of light flooding the room. The Darkness fled before it. “Say yes, Claire.”
He released the cap on the bottle, praying to his Father that she would listen. But that was the only time he had before it marched onward, throwing him forward and he was back in the silent bunker.
The only light that shone against the inky dark was Lucifer. John Winchester looked up at him with a mixture of awe and terror. Resplendent though he was, arrayed in silver white, seeing him wearing the skin of his youngest son drove a spike of revulsion and fear through his heart.
It was no better seeing Michael, looking and acting exactly like Dean. Together they were fearsome, wholly given over to the Archangels’ power and might. No one, friend or foe, stood before them.
It was a good thing, he told himself, watching with everyone else in stunned disbelief as the two drove the Darkness back away from the Garden entrance. Those left huddled in a barren field, shrank back from the blasts of light energy arcing in a thousand directions across the expanse. Lucifer swung the staff in his hand in great sweeping blows. Michael fought from the ground and then the air, slicing through everything that stood in his path.
A deep rumble moved through the ground beneath John’s feet. Along with everyone else, he looked down. Michael and Lucifer hesitated. A ripple drove across everything, as if someone had dropped a pebble in a lake as smooth as glass. Ever expanding, the ripples enlarged across time and space as it moved; everyone was tossed off their feet. Lucifer fell from the sky, a brilliant arc of light that slammed into the ground hardly a few paces away. Michael landed beside him, only they weren’t the archangels anymore.
John, Rufus, and Bobby all scrambled to their feet, not understanding how or why, only realizing something was wrong. Henry charged after them but John shoved him back. “Stay with Mary!”
They ran forward, all of them; the Harvelles, Charlie, everyone trying to get to Dean, who was closest and attempting to push himself up off the ground. He looked to the darkened sky, for Michael, who was no longer with him.
The Darkness gathered like an arrow, bunched and sprang, moving faster than thought. It struck Dean just as he staggered to his feet and for a paralyzing instant, held him frozen in place. With a raging battle cry, the hunters arrived, stabbing viscously at the black form; the entity Amara, with angel blades, knives, holy oil – anything they had, but nothing stopped her.
John grabbed up Michael’s sword from the ground beside his son. He knew he was watching Dean be killed right in front of him. The sword rang in his hand as it sliced through air. The blade struck the monster – and went right through her. She stumbled back, but instantly recovered, and she was laughing. It was a horrible sound that didn’t have any human equivalent. It made everyone shudder to hear it.
Dean collapsed just as Sam arrived at his side to catch him before he hit the ground. A piercing squall of sound rolled over them all. Blaring light erupted around them. A horn call sounded and it was like music, lifting every soul and every eye turned to gaze at the sky.
The host of heaven had arrived.
“You’re too late,” Amara sneered, even as she and the dark shadows that surrounded her shrank away from thousands of angels come to battle. “Death is coming. Death is coming for you all.”
Cas looked at the bottle clutched in hand, breathing again when he saw that it was empty. The orb rolled free of Claire’s grasp. She pulled in a gasp of air. Her eyes blinked open.
Cas swayed where he stood, a mixture of relief and acute weariness sweeping over him. He looked on her, fearing the consequences of what he’d done. He’d changed the past before one time and for some very not right reasons. The reason he had now was perhaps just as selfish, but it was done, and he wouldn’t change it back, even if commanded to do so. He grimaced at that, well aware that he’d failed on numerous occasions to follow commands before. He also couldn’t help but smile.
He took the orb. A surge of power coursed through every fiber of his being, and made him sway again. Using that renewed strength, he touched Jody, healing her of all her hurts and pulling her soul back into her body. If the Bunker hadn’t been warded against Reapers as well, she would have been taken by now. She sucked in air and sat bolt upright, only to have Alex throw herself into her arms, which almost knocked her over again.
Cas did the same to Donna, who came too a little less abruptly. “I just had the weirdest … dream,” she said as she pushed herself up to sit, but then she looked to Cas. “It wasn’t a dream. I was … watching from up there!”
“I believe you call it an out of body experience,” Cas said. “It happens sometimes when you die.”
“I died? But I’m not dead anymore?”
He helped her to her feet and then turned to face Claire who was staring at her hands and arms as if she didn’t recognize her own body. He didn’t know what he was going to say to her, except that he had no option but the truth.
“What did you do to me?” she asked.
“I made you an angel,” he said matter of factly and as if this was the most normal occurrence in the universe. It wasn’t.
Everyone stared. “You what?” Claire said, blinking at the implications, but then a smile spread across her face. “I’m an angel? Like you?
“Yes. The Orb you used is too powerful for a human,” he said and thought to explain, but she didn’t seem to care.
“I’m an angel.” Another thought came. “Does this mean I can go to heaven and see my parents?”
“It does, and we’re going there now actually – to battle. When we get there, you’ll go to your … parents, and protect them at all costs. Do you understand? Keep them away from the front lines. Will you do that for me?”
“Of course I will,” she said and smiled wider. “I can’t believe I’m an angel! Wait. How did you … I remember taking the orb and it felt like it was burning me up, and then … It told me to say yes.”
“And you did,” Cas said, and thought better of telling her he’d changed the past. That would be for him to face the consequences for. He held out the orb to her. “Take it. It’ll recharge your batteries. Go on. It can’t hurt you.”
While she did that, sucking in a gulp of air as energy flowed through her, Cas turned to Jody, Donna, and Alex.
“We have to leave. You need to call as many hunters as you can and have them ready to meet us in Nebraska.”
“Yes. Where the Darkness was first released, near Superior. Once we’ve defeated the Darkness, we’ll meet it there – for the final battle. We’ll need everyone we can get. The angels will come for them.”
“The boys?” Jody asked.
“They’re fine. Michael and Lucifer are with them.”
Her eyes closed at that. “Why does that sound like the farthest thing from fine to me?”
“The sigil is working,” Cas assured her. “They can take back control any time they want. They’ll be all right.”
He said that last part more for himself, really hoping it turned out to be true. He had doubts, but set them aside, and didn’t share them. He’d also come to learn that people needed hope, even when plain fact often stood to dash it. He turned to Claire and took the orb from her, feeling again the raw power the thing put off in waves.
“Be careful,” he said to the others and then took Claire’s hand. He picked up a spare angel blade and gave it to her. “You’ll need this. Are you ready?”
To his relief, she was completely enamored over the idea of being angelic, though he suspected she’d probably get over the initial euphoria. Probably quickly enough.
She nodded though and with one last smiling wave to the girls, she concentrated and for the first time, took flight.
Time didn’t stop. The angels threw themselves against the Darkness. The sound of it a whirling, constant, ear-shattering noise. Sam hardly noticed as he huddled on the shuddering ground holding onto his brother.
“Hey, hey, hey. Hold on, Dean. Come on. Just hold on.”
Sam knew, like everyone knew even though they didn’t understand the cause, that Dean was in serious trouble, the spark of life waning from his face and from his eyes. He didn’t seem aware of anything, as though struggling to see.
He blinked as Mary stumbled down to his side, heedless of the battle raging all around them. John was there too, helping to hold him up. Sam took it as a good sign that his brother reacted to her voice. His gaze flicked to her and the slightest smile lit his face. His breath grew rapid and he struggled to speak.
It came out in a sigh. His body relaxed, slumping against John and Sam. He knew he was losing him. Right then.
Gabriel appeared inside the narrow circle of vision that centered on Dean. He knelt, quickly summoning the healing power of an archangel. He set his hand firmly on Dean’s chest and he jumped as if struck by a defibrillator.
“Damn it,” Gabriel swore, shaking his head. “Where the hell is Lucifer? And Michael? What happened?”
“I don’t know,” Sam said and didn’t care, except that he knew Michael could keep Dean alive, and maybe heal the damage to his soul.
“Someone pulled a little time dance,” Gabriel spat, clearly furious.
He glanced over his shoulder to the sky where angels fought against the night. A crack appeared behind them and the ground shook more violently. The doorway to the heart of heaven was broken and the Darkness streamed toward it.
“I can’t help him,” Gabriel said. “There’s nothing left to heal.”
“Sam,” John said, putting a hand to his shoulder and clamping down like he always used to do when there was a terrible choice to face. “Maybe we should—”
“No! No, Dean, we’re not finished yet. You’ve got work to do. You can’t…” He bowed his head over his brother, feeling just the barest thrum of a heartbeat through the fingertips he held against his neck. He wasn’t ready. He didn’t think he’d ever be ready to let him go. Reaching deep within, to that place where faith still existed, he started praying. “God, please. Help him.”
The squeal and whoosh of wings announced the arrival of another angel. The familiar sight of a trench coat moved into that tiny circle of awareness.
The angel knelt down, not quite pushing Gabriel out of his way. He held in hand a glowing ball of glass – the Orb of God, Sam remembered, and hope sprang into his heart.
Light from the Orb magnified as Cas put his hand on Dean’s chest. He nodded to Sam. “Put your hand over mine. Mary, John; you too. Gabriel, join me.”
“I’m telling you there’s nothing—”
“Don’t you get it?” Cas snapped at him. “Look around you. We all die without him. As it has always been. Michael and Lucifer will be back. We need him. We need them together.”
Gabriel subsided, leaned and put his hand over everyone else’s. The power quotient shot up to an almost unbearable level, but Sam sucked in a breath and endured it. He was more afraid for the souls of his mother and father than his own, but he couldn’t see to tell if they were all right. It felt different this time. There wasn’t the same gripping, horrific pain. He wasn’t being burned alive from the inside out. Instead it was a strong, steady drain of energy that he gave willingly. He felt someone behind him, helping to hold him up and he heard others around him asking to help.
“Okay Cas. Stop.”
Sam pried his eyes open and discovered Bobby was behind him, with Charlie, Kevin, Henry – basically everyone huddled in a big pile all pressed up around them. But it was only Dean he was aware of.
“You people just don’t ever quit, do you,” he said and already knew the answer.
Cas didn’t let him up though. “Call Michael right now. He’ll hear you. It’s the only way he can get back. Sam, you too.”
“Lucifer,” Sam said and Dean called to Michael.
Gabriel snorted. “Gee, I wonder why.”
“Now is not the time,” Cas said and stood.
“What happened?” Dean asked, leaning back against John and patting Mary’s hand. He still seemed so weak.
“I’ll explain later,” Cas said, but Sam followed his gaze over to where Claire stood, protecting Jimmy and Amelia Novak.
Gabriel looked up sharply and the next instant they all heard it, the familiar squeal of an approaching angel. “Oh they’re going to be pissed.”
“Gabriel,” Cas said, taking a step toward him.
“Right, right. No ‘time’ for it. Moron.”
“Cas, what is it?” Sam asked but he felt Lucifer’s presence. The question was asked. He heard Dean say yes in a dwindling voice. He thought it should be easier the second time around, but it wasn’t. The pressure to concede, to give up control grew. He reminded himself of the sigil. It was still there. It had worked. But everyone was watching him this time, and somehow that made it harder. He pulled in a breath. “Yes.”
Michael surged to his feet and grabbed Cas, yanking him close. “You idiot.”
Lucifer stood in a rush, but to everyone’s surprise, got between them, pushing Michael back a step. “We’ll deal with him later,” he said and retrieving the staff, he held out his hand for the Orb.
The battle went on unrelenting. The crack in the Garden had expanded and despite the ring of angels that stood before it, the Darkness was nearly through. Across the sky, the line of combat undulated with the angels alternately gaining and losing. On the ground, everything the Darkness touched was destroyed until they stood in a small oasis.
Cas handed Lucifer the Orb and he attached it to the top of the staff. He only glanced at Michael before marching away several paces with his brother with him. He looked over his shoulder at them. “You should probably get back.”
That was enough of a warning, but Lucifer didn’t wait to see if the souls were clear, not until he felt Sam pushing him to wait. He rolled his eyes over it, seeing how perilously close to losing they were. He held the staff out to Michael, who grasped it just above where Lucifer held it.
Together, they bowed their heads and lifted up the staff with the Orb blaring light. The next instant, moving in unison and channeling all the power they could muster between them, slammed the staff into the ground.
The blast that erupted was almost enough to knock them down. Lucifer grabbed Michael by the arm to keep him and his weakened vessel from falling. The scouring light moved through them, turning them into conduits. Michael’s sword and the deadly flame of light that came off of it sliced through the Darkness before them just ahead of the ball of death that blossomed like the sun. The souls behind them, not quite far enough away, were tossed off their feet like leaves in a strong wind. They wouldn’t die from it, Lucifer was quick to assure Sam, but he knew it wouldn’t feel good. Not at all.
“Sam, they’ll be fine. Just not right away. Stop fighting me, or we’re going to lose control of this, and you’ll end up – along with all your little friends back there – fried to a crisp. I get that you have trust issues, but you gotta loosen up here.”
It didn’t work though. The worry and fear pouring off his host was too much to stuff down. Lucifer even understood it. He understood Sam, maybe even better than he understood Michael. He couldn’t allow the distraction though and so, was forced to do something he didn’t want to do. Unbeknownst to Sam and Dean, that sigil they had carved in their hearts was long healed, almost the instant they’d allowed the two angels to take control. It wasn’t even something they’d done on purpose. It was just the nature of holding an angel. The control they both so desperately wanted to maintain was, and had been all along, a complete façade. One that Lucifer and Michael had agreed to go along with.
“Damn it.” Lucifer felt his control slipping, all due to Sam’s fear. He didn’t have a choice.
He stuffed Sam off into a room, a chamber tucked safely away in his mind. Sam would likely consider it a prison. The door closed on him, even as realization came too late. Before leaving, Lucifer put a magical lock on the door that only he could break. He supposed he wouldn’t be able to until the time came to leave, since Sam would surely try to expel him. The thought crept in, unbidden but also not surprising. Now he didn’t have to. Ever.
His grip on the staff tightened, concentration returned. He let the power of the Orb take him, use him as its agent, and it fully engulfed him. It was intoxicating, this power of God himself, and he loved it. He didn’t want it to stop, courting it like a lover. But then he felt the pressure of a hand gripping his arm.
“Brother … Let it go.”
Lucifer sucked in a breath of air, a requirement of the vessel he inhabited. For a moment, the thought occurred that he wouldn’t listen to Michael, not to anyone who would take away this power from him. It played through his mind and amplified every malicious thought, every desire, every horrible one.
He heard his brother’s voice and somewhere inside, he heard another part of him, the part that didn’t like what was happening or what he was thinking. He remembered who that was, a long, lost part of him that once existed. That voice, combined with Michael standing with him sought to bring him back from the brink.
“Look at me.”
Lucifer opened his eyes. His breath came in uneven gasps. He still held the staff, though the orb had stopped blaring. The flow of power remained.
“Luci, look at me,” Michael said. He too still held the staff. Maybe he was afraid to let go because Lucifer wouldn’t. He pushed that thought down. No. That wasn’t it. “This isn’t what you want. It’s the Mark, Luci. Look at your arm.”
He saw it glowing through the armor he wore and horrid realization came.
“You can fight this. No one understood before, but we both do now,” Michael said. The understanding in his voice pushed back the last vestiges of the thing that had gripped him, clearing his mind. “I know you can do it.”
Lucifer could only nod, ashamed of his weakness.
“No, look. It isn’t you. It’s that thing on your arm and it’s the Darkness exerting the same influence it did before. The Mark is here, now, because we won. We stopped it. And this time, Lucifer, this time, it’ll be different. You know what to do. You can fight this. You have the strength to fight it.”
“All right. Yes. I’ve got it. I’m all right.”
Michael smirked at him, triggering another hundred memories of so many times he’d had that exact same expression. Maybe they were Sam’s. Like Dean, Michael would forever be the big brother. Only this time, Lucifer didn’t feel inferior to him, or less than him. It was such a different experience, to know he was there, that Michael had his back and would help him. He didn’t feel weak in having to ask.
“There’s something I have to do,” he said and let the staff go, no longer concerned that Michael would turn on him. It was easier than he thought it would be.
Michael took the Orb and waved Castiel over.
“Oh why him? We should squash him like a bug for the crap he just pulled. He nearly killed us all.”
“No, he just set us back a little. It was a calculated risk. Come on. You know as well as I that we’ve both played a little lose with the space/time continuum. Give him a break. His reasons were pure.”
“A minute ago you wanted to kill him.” Lucifer shook his head. This too was very much like Michael.
“That was a minute ago.”
“The question still stands? Why him?”
“Because he handed the Orb over instantly when you asked him for it. He seems impervious to the pull of it.” Michael turned to Cas, who approached with some trepidation. “I need you to hold to this. We’ll need it again, but it isn’t meant for either of us to keep. You understand?”
“Uh. Sure. Except…”
“I’m not going to try to keep it, Castiel, and neither is Lucifer. We need your help with something else.” He glanced to Lucifer and he wasn’t surprised that Michael knew.
“I had to lock Sam up,” he admitted and then smirked at Cas’ alarm. “Oh relax, would you? He was freaking out.”
“How is that possible?” Cas asked.
“How am I supposed to know? He was so bloody worried—”
“He means how were you able to lock him up,” Michael said. “News flash. The sigil stopped working almost instantly. Now, that should tell you a couple of things. Doesn’t it?”
They watched him work it through, and while he came to the conclusion they wanted him to – that they had allowed Sam and Dean to have control when they asked for it – there was still a great deal of suspicion and mistrust in his face.
“So you have what you want now,” Cas said and Lucifer wanted to smack him.
“No,” he said. “You’re missing the point and the reason we need your help. We aren’t taking them over. We said we wouldn’t. I didn’t have a choice at the moment. I need you to talk to him and ask him not to fight me.”
“And what about Dean?” Cas turned on Michael, who hesitated.
“That’s the second problem. Here, take a look.”
Michael opened his mind to them so they could see. Cas recoiled, the stark reality of what had happened – because of what he did – bowled over him and took him to his knees.
Dean Winchester sat huddled in the corner of a softly lit room, created by Michael for his comfort, a pale ghost of who he once was. Even Lucifer was shocked at the change in him; a shriveled, almost skeletal shell of a man. It was if he’d aged a hundred years in a day. The Darkness had taken all but this last speck of his existence away from him. They all knew he wouldn’t survive even a moment without Michael holding him.
“It’s not your fault, Cas,” Dean said, his voice hardly above a whisper. “And fuck you two for standing there staring. You can make all this shit up,” he waved a hand at the room, “and yet the thought of dreaming up a big, fat comfy chair that I can sit in doesn’t occur? Go to hell.”
“I’m sorry,” Michael said with a slight smile and the requested chair appeared – a large, plush leather job straight out of Father’s study. “I was a little preoccupied with a battle.”
“How goes the war?” Dean asked, and allowed Michael to lift him.
“We won the battle, but the war goes on.”
“So the usual. What’s next?” Dean winced as he shifted in the chair, leaning back into its softness with effort.
“We need your help with Sam,” Lucifer said and explained, waiting through the expected over-reaction, and when that didn’t happen, he knew without a doubt that all the fight had left this man. “I need you talk to him, please. I gave you my word that I wouldn’t hurt him and I haven’t. But he isn’t going to believe me. We can’t afford for him to fight me every step of the way from here on out.”
“So your choices are to convince him to go along with you or lock him back up,” Dean said and nodded, but then he shook his head. “I can’t. You can’t let him see me like this. He will come unhinged. Michael, I told you. If you tell Sam what’s coming, he’ll stop at nothing to try and fix it. The rest of the world be damned. He’ll fight you and he’ll win. You know better than to underestimate what he’s capable of.”
“He’s right,” Cas said, pulling himself up off the floor. He couldn’t look at Dean though, and anguish poured off of him in waves that made it hard for Lucifer to not succumb to it. The love his stupid little brother had for this man was still unfathomable to him, but there was something completely pure about it. A marvel, that.
Michael nodded and concentrated. “Then he won’t see you,” he said, and over the reality of what had happened to Dean, Michael created the illusion of what he once was. “I won’t be able to hold this for long. You shouldn’t try to move either. Just tell him you’re recovering. Luci, bring Sam here.”
“You know he may not listen to me,” Dean said, shifting in the chair again. The same grimace crossed his face. “He’s pretty stubborn, and the history there doesn’t help.”
“Because he doesn’t have a choice?” Dean said. “You shouldn’t put it to him that way.”
“But you should,” Michael said and again, without wanting to, Dean nodded.
A door appeared in the room that hadn’t been there before and Lucifer started talking to Sam before he opened it. Cas moved over to stand in front of it while Lucifer switched off the lock.
The door burst open. Sam charged out, raging mad. He went right through Cas, who meant to stop him from reaching Lucifer, but it was a useless gesture and happened because Cas didn’t want to use his abilities against his friend. There wasn’t a choice though. They had to stop him before the words ‘get out’ were spoken.
Cas flung him across the room and into the opposite wall. It wasn’t that big a room though, so it wasn’t far and he’d been gentle. Lucifer rolled his eyes at that too. Cas then raised a fist and Sam found he couldn’t speak.
“You have to listen to me, Sam,” Dean said as loudly as he could. “Let him go Cas.”
“If I let him go—”
“If you don’t, you might as well put him right back in the lock box,” Dean said evenly. It was impressive, the ability to command that he still retained. “Let him go now.”
“I’m sorry,” Lucifer said as Cas released him. He didn’t charge right away, but stood, still shaking from anger. There was power there too that Lucifer both admired and feared. “I’m sorry we lied to you about the sigil not working, but you see we didn’t control you when you didn’t want to be controlled. I didn’t have a choice there, in locking you away. I did that to protect us both.”
“How do I know any of this is real?”
“Because you don’t have a choice,” Dean said, closing his eyes briefly. “Come here. The rest of you get lost,” and he glanced at Michael who nodded and disappeared, only he disappeared just from Sam. “You too, Cas. And especially you. Let me talk to him.”
“I don’t believe this,” Sam said when they were gone – only they weren’t.
“Then don’t. Call it off. Throw him out,” Dean said. Lucifer didn’t think that was the right approach. “But what if you’re wrong. I know you hate this. I hate it too. But it’s working. We won heaven. We saved Mom and Dad, and all our friends too. But it isn’t over, Sam. We still have Hell and then Earth yet to go. If you say no now, what’s going to happen here?”
Sam closed his eyes, shaking his head and turning away for a moment. Lucifer really thought he was about to say no, but Cas shook his head, holding held up a hand that he should wait.
“What happened to you?” Sam asked, turning back to his brother. The seeds of doubt were already planted about Dean’s condition. He knew more than they wanted to give him credit for. That wasn’t surprising either.
“The Darkness nearly sucked all the life out of me is what,” Dean said matter of factly. “You were there. You saw it. It/She/ the bitch got to me. I’m just tired. All that mojo and Michael getting back in is still holding me together. I’ll be all right.”
Sam shook his head at that too. Maybe he didn’t believe that either. “All right. I’m not going to let him lock me up again though and if he tries, he’s out.”
“Make sure you tell him that,” Dean said and forced a smile. Sam turned and the illusion waivered. “Listen, we have to get on with this. So I’m calling them back. Michael.”
Sam pulled in a breath. “Lucifer.”
“Really, I’m sorry,” he said as he materialized. “It won’t happen again. I promise. But you have to listen to me, especially if we’re in the middle of all hell breaking lose. Some of these weapons were using will eat you alive if you don’t give them every ounce of your concentration, Sam. I get that you were worried about your family. They’re all right. If I’d let you stay, they wouldn’t be.”
“All right. Fine. Are we done here?”
“Where’s Cas?” Dean asked.
“I sent him to order the troops with Gabriel. He’s done a thing.”
“Idiot,” Lucifer said.
“What kind of thing?” Dean asked. “And you can just shut up. He’s the reason you’re still around.”
Lucifer rolled his eyes again.
“He created an angel. Claire. He changed time and a tiny fraction of history. It caused a few problems,” Michael said and looked pointedly at Dean.
“He did what he had to. Leave him alone. And go on. We’ve got shit to do here. Sam?”
“Right.” He didn’t want to, but saw the sense of it, and looking at Lucifer, he nodded. The two disappeared.
The illusion immediately dropped the moment they were gone, and once again, Dean turned to Michael. “I’m not kidding. You can’t let him know.”
“You’ll have to be me too, at the same time as being you,” he said and Michael smiled at that.
“I already am. Don’t worry.”
Dean snorted at that, but then that momentary bravado evaporated. “I just…”
“You don’t want to see him in pain. I know. You don’t want your last moments in this life to be filled with grief. You’ve seen enough of it.” He paused, scuffing the floor with a boot. “It won’t be avoidable, there at the end, you know.”
“But it’ll be brief,” Dean said and glanced at him, a little ashamed of the admission. “And then there’ll be nothing. I’m okay with that.”
Michael hummed, not believing that but he let it go. “You’re going to stay here. If Sam wants to talk to you, you’ll be able to hear him and you’ll be able to answer him, but I’ll make him see me.”
“I want to see it.”
“That’s probably a bad idea, but all right. In full Technicolor Dreamcoat, sure.”
Dean smirked. “You got that out of my head, so it’s no joke to me.”
“Some play or other that Sam was in? I swear, the life you two have had. I may never completely understand how you ended up being the savior of the world.”
“More than once even. Go. They’re probably starting to wonder what the hell is taking so long.”
Michael nodded to that, turning back to the outside world and found that everyone was indeed starting to wonder. “Just checking in with the Commander in Chief,” he said and got a few relatives to smile.
“Where too next?” Castiel asked, still looking like he’d been ploughed over. Michael guessed that shocked, almost devastated expression would stay with him, maybe forever.
“Luci’s home turf,” Michael said by way of forewarning. Everyone got it, but he said it anyway. “We’re going to hell.”