Chuck slams the door in their faces as soon as he sees who’s on the other side.
Bobby gives Dean a wry smile. “Well, you certainly know how to make an impression.”
Dean glares, pounding on the door with his fist. “Chuck, come on!”
“No!” Chuck shouts from behind the door. “Last time you showed up here, an archangel caved in my roof.”
“Looks okay to me,” Dean growls. “Like you didn’t know we were coming anyway.” When Chuck doesn’t answer right away, Dean exchanges a loaded glance with Bobby and asks, “You did know we were coming, right?”
The locks click, and Dean loses his balance, almost falling flat on his face as Chuck throws the door open. He glances at Dean and Bobby, then behind them, as if he expects someone else to be following. He tugs on Dean’s arm and drags him inside, slamming the door and twisting the multiple locks back into place as soon as Bobby follows.
“Like what you’ve done with the place,” Dean says dryly, because the state of the house reflects its owner. The coffee table and kitchen counter are strewn with empty candy wrappers, congealing cups of coffee, and crumpled sheets of paper. Chuck’s hair stands on end, as if he spent the past two days tugging at the strands incessantly. He’s still wearing the same clothes he had on when Dean dropped in with Castiel, only a little more dirty and a lot more rumpled.
Chuck’s computer, however, is suspiciously absent. Dean finds the monitor under the table it usually sits on with the screen facing the wall. The tower lays on it’s side in the middle of the floor with the power cord pulled out.
He raises his eyebrow, and Chuck starts babbling before he has a chance to voice his questions.
“When you and Cas disappeared, I couldn’t get my brain to turn off. I thought maybe if I ignored the visions, they would go away, but that just gave me a migraine, so I wrote everything down by hand.” Chuck scowls, rubbing at his temples. “You try coming up with alternate endings when you feel like your brain has been shredded by a garbage disposal.”
“There’s an image,” Bobby mutters. Dean picks up a yellow legal pad from the table. The front sheet has been torn off hastily, and Chuck’s scrawl is barely legible, but Dean makes out a few key words - Lucifer and Zachariah among them - that tell Dean two things: one, that the prophet hasn’t lost his touch. And two, that he knows more than he’s letting on.
Dean tosses the pad at Chuck, who juggles it between his hands before catching it between his palms.
“You knew?” Dean says, and Chuck bites his lips, eyes widening guiltily. He backs into the wall as Dean stalks forward. “You knew that Lucifer would possess Sam?”
“I knew it was an option -” Chuck squeaks as Dean shoves him against the wall by his shirt collar.
“What else did you fail to mention?”
“Nothing! I - I swear!”
“Don’t feed me that bullshit.” He tightens his fist dangerously close to Chuck’s windpipe. “Come on, Chuck. What do you know?”
“You really want to threaten the guy with the archangel on his shoulder?” Bobby warns, sounding like he wants nothing more than to throttle Chuck himself. Dean releases Chuck hard enough that his head cracks back against the wall with a low thud.
Chuck closes his eyes and groans. “Once Castiel beamed you out of here, he tried fighting off Raphael on his own. He, uh - he didn’t make it.”
“Cas is alive.”
Chuck gasps, “What - that’s not possible! I was pulling his molars out of my hair!”
“He says that God put him back together. Now he’s on a mission to find the big guy.”
Chuck frowns, still struggling to catch his breath. “Good for him, I guess.”
“So, what, Castiel is alive and everything is back on track?” Dean flicks the pad Chuck continues to twist between his hands.
Chuck winces and mutters, “Sort of.”
“Sort of?” Dean scoffs, “Meaning what, instead of Apocalypse Now, we get Armageddon?”
Chuck tugs at his hair in frustration. “I don’t know!” He shoves Dean roughly with his shoulder, walking to the center of the room where there’s no chance of being cornered a second time. “Look, you’re not the only one who’s had a stressful couple of days, okay? My visions aren’t clear. They used to be like really vivid dreams, and now they’re kind of like the morning after being really drunk. I remember blurry images, spots of color, vague impressions of conversations, but that’s all. Nothing concrete. You changed things, Dean, the moment Castiel decided to help you.” He shakes his head. “I don’t know how much help I’m actually going to be.”
“Why don’t you start with translating your chicken scratch,” Bobby says, gesturing to the pad now rolled up and clutched between Chuck’s fists.
Chuck sighs and all of the energy seems to leech out of him. He tosses the pad to the table, mutters, “We’re gonna need coffee for this,” and wanders into the kitchen.
Chuck offers them a half empty bottle of whiskey to go with their coffee; Dean takes it gladly, adding a liberal amount to his cup, while Chuck begins to tell them everything he’s seen since the moment Castiel sent Dean to the convent.
He saw Sam kill Lilith, and explains with incredible detail what Dean could only guess at while standing behind the convent doors: Ruby and Lilith egging Sam on, the final burst of power that caused his pulse to ratchet through the roof and his eyes to turn black, the latter being information that Dean could have gone the rest of his life without knowing. He takes a long drink from his coffee mug, fingers clenching around the chipped handle.
Chuck saw Lucifer possess Sam, but he didn’t see Sam say yes, the most encouraging piece of information Dean has heard in days. He very purposely does not glance at Bobby and the lingering disapproval lurking behind his eyes.
After Lucifer left the convent, Chuck tells them, things started to go blurry. “I saw bits and pieces of Zachariah dropping in on you, then everything sort of went dark. Then you showed up here.”
“And Lucifer?” And Sam being the underlying question Dean doesn’t dare ask.
Chuck shakes his head. “Nothing of any real importance. A glimpse of him alone in a cemetery. He looked like he was waiting for someone.”
When he offers up no further information, Bobby prompts, “Anything else?”
Chuck shrugs, giving them a sheepish and slightly nervous smile. “Like I said - it’s all a blur.”
Dean slumps down in his seat, rubbing a hand over his eyes. All things considered, it’s more than they knew before, but still not a lot to go on. Still nothing that gives them any clue as to how to save Sam and stop the devil.
“So, what the hell do we do now?” he asks.
“I vote get drunk,” Chuck says, and Dean lifts his mug in salute, pours the last bit of whiskey, and downs it in a single, burning gulp.
“Or we could do more research,” Bobby suggests.
There isn’t any ground they haven’t already covered, no ritual or spell that could bail them out this time, and Dean glares, ready to unleash all of his frustration.
Bobby arches an eyebrow, and the anger leeches out of Dean in one quick breath. He sighs, even more exhausted than before. “Where do we start this time?” he grumbles.
Leave it to Bobby to keep spare copies of his books in the trunk of his car. Dean ends up with a thick, leather-covered volume in his lap and a Latin to English dictionary in his hands. Pastor Jim drilled them in basic Latin when they were young, just enough so they could perform an exorcism if necessary without completely massacring the words. Dean hated every second of the lessons. Sam took to them like a fish to water, of course.
Dean slams the dictionary closed, wincing at the loud thump of the pages knocking against each other. Bobby passed out on the couch an hour ago with a book still open in his lap. His cap has fallen off of his head and he lists awkwardly to the left. Chuck is curled up in his easy chair, head tipped back, mouth open on a snore.
Dean chuckles and shakes his head. His body screams with the need to sleep, but he doesn’t want to close his eyes and see Lucifer behind his eyelids. Instead, he pours another cup of coffee and settles back in his seat.
He shoves the giant book to the side and pulls John’s journal out of his bag - like he hasn’t flipped through it a million times since this whole thing began when Castiel yanked him out of hell, like he doesn’t already know there’s barely any mention of God at all, and no mention of angels beyond a single conversation John shared with Pastor Jim.
A little faith is never a bad thing, Jim said, and like his father, Dean couldn’t help but disagree. A little faith could be dangerous.
Dean sighs and flips the journal open to the first page. I went to Missouri and I learned the truth, it reads, and he stares as the words take on a whole new level of meaning.
How many times has he read that sentence since they realized Missouri was a person rather than a place? Hundreds, probably thousands, always wondering what Missouri spoke about with his father during that first fateful meeting. Dean always assumed it was a simple conversation, or as simple as any conversation that started with some variation of monsters are real could be.
But Dean remembers John’s insistence that he watch out for Sammy, save his brother or kill him. Maybe his father knew even more than he was letting on.
Dean leans over and elbows Bobby, ducking out of the way as he automatically swings his fist out, practically clipping Dean in the face.
“Watch where you’re swinging that thing,” Dean snaps, and Bobby scowls, tugging his cap back onto his head.
“Maybe you should learn how to wake people up a little quieter. Less pokin’ at my ribs.”
“You’ll get over it,” Dean grumbles, shoving the journal under his nose before he has a chance to comment further. “Read this.”
“I went to Missouri and I learned the truth.” Bobby shrugs. “So?”
“So, what if Missouri gave Dad more information than Monsters are real and they killed your wife? What if she knew something was coming?”
Bobby taps his fingers against his thigh. “If she did, he never mentioned it.” Dean doesn’t bother pointing out that John could keep secrets locked up more tightly than anyone. His father probably took a number of them to the grave.
Bobby frowns down at the open pages of the journal. “She gave me your amulet. Saw her a few weeks before I gave it to Sam. She said it would be a good present for one of you boys.”
“The same amulet that Cas is using to find God.” Dean shakes his head. “That can’t be a coincidence.”
“Hell, you know I don’t believe in coincidence any more than you but...” He glances up, and Dean clenches his teeth, waiting for the rebuttals to come flying out of Bobby’s mouth. Instead, he sighs, scrubbing a hand through his hair under his hat. “It’s a long shot.”
“Better a long shot than none at all.”
“You’re grasping at straws, kid.”
Dean raises his eyebrows. “You have a better idea? Because I’m open to suggestions.”
Chuck snorts awake then, eyes wide as he glances around the room. His gaze darts to Dean, but he doesn’t relax. “Oh, you’re still here,” he mutters, and he flexes his fingers against the arm of the chair.
“Not for long,” Dean says, “We think we might have a lead.”
“Great, hope that goes well for you.” Chuck curls back up and closes his eyes, yelping as Dean grabs hold of the back of his robe and tugs him to his feet.
“Don’t even think about it,” he says and shoves Chuck towards the stairs. “Get dressed and pack a bag. You’re coming, too.”
The number of excuses Chuck throws at them are limitless - he has to clean the house, fix his computer, and what if they need somewhere safe to run again?
Eventually, Dean silently clenches his hands into fists and Chuck shuts his mouth. He scuttles towards the Impala, muttering under his breath. Dean watches him climb into the passenger seat, and something clenches deep in his chest like Lucifer’s hands clutching his ribs. He closes his eyes and takes a steadying breath; when he opens them, he finds Bobby staring at him.
“I’m fine,” Dean mutters, far too quickly to be anything near convincing.
Bobby huffs, crossing his arms. “Yeah. You’re fine.”
Dean rolls his eyes and rounds the Impala without another word. He’ll be damned if he’s talking about this. This isn’t something Bobby can fix.
The only person that can reach the bit of Sam smothered inside of the devil is Dean.
He slams the car door, startling Chuck, who was just beginning to doze off. Chuck teeters on the edge of a complaint, lips thinned, tightness pulling at the edges of his jaw. His features smooth out slowly, forehead crinkling as he stares at Dean.
“You okay?” he asks, and Dean violently twists the keys in the ignition.
“I am fine,” he growls lowly, gunning the engine without waiting to see if Bobby follows. His foot slams down on the pedal so the car peels out onto the road with a deafening screech of tires skidding against asphalt. Chuck slams himself back in his seat, hands fumbling to fasten his seatbelt.
Dean eases off of the gas, and while Chuck slowly unwinds, sighing with relief, Dean tightly clasps a hand in his hair.
He’s okay. He’s fine. He’s so fine he could scream.
Chuck crashes almost as soon as they get onto the highway.
Dean doesn’t take it personally - if he closes his eyes, he could probably sleep for a week, as long as the engine kept purring with the steady, soothing rumble of the road beneath the tires.
The Impala was the only place Sam could sleep after Jess died, and Dean started driving at night, eating up miles on the highway towards nowhere in particular just so Sam could get some desperately needed shut-eye.
Dean clenches his hands on the steering wheel and glances in the rear-view, where Bobby’s truck pulls up directly behind the Impala, easily keeping pace. He swears he can feel Bobby’s eyes boring a hole into the back of his skull.
Chuck lets out a loud snore, and Dean sighs, reaching for the knob of the radio. He’s halfway tempted to turn the volume all the way up, just to watch Chuck startle awake. Instead, he keeps the music at a level just barely audible and settles in for a long drive.
About an hour outside of Kansas, he passes the first sign - LAWRENCE, 100 MILES.
His skin crawls, stomach twisting into knots, stuck vibrating somewhere between skidding into town, guns blazing, and spinning the car around, flooring it in the opposite direction.
Chuck wakes up with a groan, clutching his head. He rocks back and forth, cursing under his breath.
Dean welcomes the distraction, however small. “What’d you see?”
“Missouri,” Chuck grunts, and that was definitely no coincidence. “She’s in her kitchen with someone sitting at her counter.”
“Don’t know. I think it’s Castiel, but I couldn’t really see his face. It’s definitely an angel.”
At Dean’s questioning stare, he clarifies, “Angels and demons just... look different. Kind of shimmery and blurry around the edges.” He shakes his head, then winces, pressing his fingers to his temples. “Even I know that doesn’t make sense. I’m not explaining it right.”
“Angel, Missouri, kitchen - not much else to explain.” He presses his foot to the gas pedal, willing his baby to go faster.
The first thing Bobby says, as soon as they pull up in Missouri’s driveway and Dean gets out of the car, is, “It’s quiet.”
“Too quiet,” Dean adds, and the words would be cliché if they weren’t true. Missouri’s street is completely silent and eerily empty. There isn’t a cloud in the clear, blue sky; even the air is perfectly still.
The hair on the back of Dean’s neck stands on end, nerves jangling while he checks the gun at his hip, then moves to pick the lock on the front door. It opens as soon as Dean puts his hand on the knob. He glances back at Bobby, who shrugs.
“Maybe she isn’t home,” Chuck whispers, and Dean straightens up with a glare. He gestures to the doorway with his gun and Chuck shakes his head wildly. Dean rolls his eyes, moving into the house, confident that Bobby will drag Chuck inside if necessary.
Dean glances from one side of the hall to the other, eyes peeled for any sign of struggle, but nothing seems out of place - no pictures knocked off of the walls or furniture shoved out of the way. The floorboards creak just slightly under his feet, a breeze blows the curtains against the windows.
Everything seems... normal. Strange and creepy, but normal.
“I told you she wasn't home.” Chuck’s whisper might as well be a scream for all that he actually keeps his voice down. Dean clenches his teeth, pushing open the door to the kitchen -
Where Castiel sits at the counter, drinking something from a small, porcelain cup.
This sight, more than anything else, brings Dean up short. “Cas, what are you... Is that tea?”
“Darjeeling,” Missouri says, walking over to the stove, where a kettle has noisily begun to boil. “It’s good for the soul.”
Castiel squints into the bottom of his cup, staring at the tea leaves as if they hold all of the secrets of the universe. “I do not possess a soul to aid.”
Missouri rolls her eyes. “Honestly, honey, it’s a figure of speech.” She turns to Dean and Bobby, who still stand in the doorway, too stunned at this unexpected sight to move into the room. Chuck cowers behind them, as if waiting for lightning to strike.
She gestures them forwards. “Well come on, there’s plenty here for everybody. Dean Winchester, you scuff up my floors and you’ll be on your knees cleaning them.”
Dean glances down at his feet, where a single black line has appeared on the shiny, white tile. He rubs the toe of his boot against the floor until it disappears, then moves towards the counter where three extra cups have already been set out. Chuck chokes on a scalding gulp.
Dean doesn’t offer his tea a glance. He turns to Castiel and crosses his arms. "I thought you said you were using my amulet to find God."
"I was,” he says solemnly. He glances from his cup to Missouri, cutting his eyes away so quickly, Dean almost misses the exchange entirely.
Dean arches an eyebrow. “Was?”
Castiel brings the cup to his lips, then mulls over his sip for a moment before placing the cup back on the counter. “I still do not understand how tea can help the soul, but it is quite delicious.”
It’s pure hysteria, the stress of the past few days finally catching up to Dean so he can’t help himself - he bursts out laughing, gripping the edge of the counter to keep from falling over. Chuck stares at him as if he’s lost his mind. He probably has.
The corners of Castiel’s lips turn down in disapproval. “I do not see how this is funny, Dean.”
“No, you wouldn’t.” Dean wipes his eyes, still chuckling.
Missouri leans back against the counter with a hand on her hip. “You through?” she asks, and Dean’s laughter slowly dies. “This isn’t a social call, so let’s not bother with niceties. You want to know how much I told your daddy about what’s coming.”
Dean swallows past the instinctive curt response, settling for silence and a firm nod of his head.
“When John came to see me the first time, he had you and Sam in his arms, juggling the two of you in one hand and his quest for answers in the other.”
“I don’t remember that,” he says quietly, and Missouri answers with a fond smile.
“You were just a child, Dean. A scared, tired child who missed his momma. You spent the entire night wrapped around Sam on the floor right there. Keeping him safe.” Dean follows her pointed finger to a corner in the living room, and he stares at the carpet, willing the memories of that night to come back to him. He remembers holding Sam in his arms, the heat from the flames of the fire burning their home, smoke thick enough to choke him even from the front lawn. He can still feel the weight of Sam’s head against the crook of his elbow, remembers the fear rolling through him, pushed down by the need to protect his little brother at all costs.
He only realizes he’s shaking when Missouri places a steadying hand on his shoulder. He stares up into her face, completely incapable of continuing to shove back the terror that’s been zipping through his veins since that night at the convent.
“We’re going to get your brother back,” she says quietly, and Dean takes a deep breath, letting Missouri’s words settle across his mind. They’re the same words he’s been saying to himself over and over again for days, but this is the first time he fully believes them.
“I couldn’t give your father any specifics,” Missouri says, once they’re settled in around the coffee table in her living room. Castiel hovers in the doorway, while Bobby lounges against the wall with his arms crossed. Dean cups a beer in his palms, and the condensation drips down the bottle onto his fingers before he takes a sip. “He came to me for answers, and I had few to offer.”
“What did you tell him then?”
“That Mary dying wasn’t an accident.” Her eyes meet Dean’s across the table, but he can't hold her gaze. He stares down at his hands instead. “Events were set into motion that night I hoped would never come to pass. Azazel finding your brother, Jessica dying, Sam leaving his normal life to return to hunting... everything is connected.”
Bobby breaks the uneasy silence. “What I want to know is why Sam is at the center of all of this. Why hasn’t Michael popped down for a visit if Dean is supposed to be his receptacle?”
“Vessel,” Chuck corrects him. Bobby glares, and Missouri bites back a smirk. Chuck sinks down in his seat, muttering into his tea cup.
Dean rolls his eyes. “Whatever,” he mutters. “Either way, it ain’t happening. Even if Sam did say yes -”
“Sam didn’t say yes, Dean,” Castiel says quietly, and all of the air leeches out of the room, so quietly Dean could hear the proverbial pin drop.
“What the hell are you on about?” Dean’s glad Bobby asks the question, because he couldn’t find the breath to if he tried.
“Lucifer has no reason to ask permission,” Castiel answers, and Dean barely bites back the urge to pump his fist in triumph.
“What did I tell you?” he crows, turning to Bobby, who rolls his eyes. “So I was right?”
“Don’t let it go to your already inflated head,” Bobby mutters.
“In theory,” Missouri says. Dean’s smile immediately drops. His eyes narrow when she doesn't elaborate. He places his bottle on the table carefully, overly so, when she doesn't elaborate.
“Why do I get the feeling you aren’t telling me everything?”
Missouri exchanges a loaded glance with Castiel. She nods, and he turns to face Dean.
"Say yes or do not say yes. The time will come when it will not matter."
Dean stills at the familiar words and swallows hard, knowing that this moment will somehow change the very foundation of his world. His heart races, blood pumping with a rush of adrenaline he can no longer keep at bay. "What are you saying, Cas?"
Castiel takes a step forward, then stops. This pause, however slight, worries Dean the most, because Castiel will not speak with his usual candor. He mulls over his words, deciding what to say, how best to cushion the inevitable blow.
"Your brother was not possessed by Lucifer,” Castiel says roughly, “He is Lucifer. You are not going to be Michael's vessel - you are Michael."
The world stops. Dean’s entire universe shifts on it’s axis, leaving him scrambling to hang on. He’s been walking a tightrope without a net since the convent, and his stomach swoops like his feet have been kicked from under him. He can’t breathe, can’t even think.
Dean glances up - at Castiel and the look of absolute contrition on his face, at Chuck, wide-eyed and staring at Dean with something like awe, and he lashes out. Anger is safe, and the only thing he’ll let himself feel.
“You knew,” he says, standing and stalking across the room towards Chuck. “All this time you knew this would happen, and you never said a damn thing.”
Chuck jumps up, holding his hands in front of him, warding off the attack. “Dude, this is something even I could never have seen coming,” he says. He leans around Dean, expression still shell-shocked as he asks Castiel, “Seriously? He’s seriously Michael?”
“Yes,” Castiel says, repentant, and Dean automatically shifts his attention.
“How long have you known?” he asks quietly.
Castiel twirls the amulet around his fingers in the pocket of his trenchcoat; the gesture is almost… anxious. “Since I brought you back from hell. The moment I touched your soul, I knew.”
Something inside of Dean snaps, something dangerous and intense and absolutely lethal. He pins Castiel to the wall with a hand around the angel’s throat, slamming him back hard enough that a shower of plaster dust rains down. That isn’t the surprising part - no, that would be the fact that he has Castiel, angel of the fucking Lord, pinned against the wall with a hand at his throat, and Castiel doesn’t even lift a single finger to stop him.
His voice is strained, and Dean barely hears him over Bobby’s protests. “Dean, if I could have-”
“You could have!” Dean shouts, not allowing him to finish. “At any time, you could have told us the truth! Instead, you led us right into the goddamned apocalypse with open arms.”
The shift in Castiel’s demeanor is subtle enough that Dean wouldn’t have noticed if he wasn’t standing so close. He still isn’t fast enough to stop Castiel from flipping their positions, forearm resting against Dean’s throat, threatening to choke. “I turned my back on the garrison for you,” Castiel hisses with barely restrained rage. “I gave up everything to help fix my mistakes. You are not without guilt, either.”
“Stand down, Castiel,” Missouri says quietly, not a request but a clear order. Castiel immediately takes a step back, anger still simmering beneath the surface.
She turns to Dean and says, “You too,” but Dean doesn’t; every fiber of his being screams at him to obey, but he has no idea why, and it’s the last thing he wants to do.
“Dean,” Bobby murmurs, and Dean looks at him, then shoves away from the wall with a growl, folding back into his seat.
“Of course. Him you listen to.” Missouri sighs, but there’s no heat to the words, just a bitter sense of resignation.
“He hasn’t lied to me,” Dean points out petulantly.
“Now you sound like your brother.” An odd inflection seeps into her voice, something that sounds a lot like regret.
“Leave Sam out of this. I don’t care who we were or how well you knew my father, but you don’t know a damn thing about me and my brother.” Dean rises from his seat, pent up energy still jangling across his nerves as he paces back and forth. “So, say I buy this little theory of yours. Was this always the plan? Jump start the apocalypse by letting Lucifer out of the pit?”
“It is a fact, not a theory,” Castiel says, but at a withering stare from Missouri, he takes another step backwards, pressing his lips together.
“Lucifer was never in hell,”Missouri explains, quiet but firm. “Michael hid his brother's grace behind the seals, but sent Lucifer to earth, to be reborn over and over. It was the ultimate punishment - to live among those he believed were inferior, to never know his true Father, to never return to heaven.”
“Let the punishment fit the crime,” Bobby mutters, and Missouri nods.
“Exactly. Now, how Azazel managed to track him down after thousands of years is anyone’s guess, but Michael’s plan was supposed to be fool-proof.”
“Not so much,” Chuck grumbles, and he ducks down when all eyes turn to him.
“Not so much,” Missouri agrees. “Bleeding into Sam’s mouth was just step one of many.”
"What about all of the other psychic kids? His army?" Dean grasps desperately at straws and watches them slip easily through his fingers.
"His army was subterfuge. A diversion." Castiel's face melts into something that looks horrifically like pity. "Sam was always supposed to die, Dean. You were always supposed to give up your soul."
"And it is written that the first seal shall be broken when a righteous man sheds blood in hell. As he breaks, so shall it break," Dean whispers as Alastair's words come back to him in a flood. The undercurrent of true understanding is terrifying.
"Who else did you think could break the first seal?" Castiel whispers reverently. "Who else did you think could break the last? Only you. Only Sam."
“You’re the only one who can stop him now, Dean,” Missouri says quietly. She says the words like they cause her pain, and Dean wants to blame her, but this isn’t her fault; she doesn’t want this any more than he does. “You’re the only one he’ll listen to.”
Dean scoffs because Lucifer would no more listen to him than Dean would God if the big man walked through the door right now. “And if he doesn't?” he asks.
“He will,” Missouri insists.
But Dean is nothing if not persistent. “And if he doesn't?”
Missouri chuckles, shaking her head. “Do you want to know how I knew Sam would give you that amulet?”
“Because you’re psychic?” Dean bites out.
"Because that boy hasn't changed - he can hold a grudge over his father's head for thousands of years, but forgive his brother his trespasses in under a microsecond." Dean blinks because hell if that doesn't sound like Sam to a T. She smiles warmly. "Your names may have changed, Dean, but your story remains the same."
Dean shakes his head, because that couldn’t be further from the truth. He is not Michael and Sam is not Lucifer. He is Dean and Sam is Sam, brothers, not angels.
Michael and Lucifer were brothers, once, a traitorous voice at the back of his mind whispers, and he tamps it back down, swiping a hand over his eyes.
“I need to get some air,” he mutters. He grabs his beer off of the table, walking through the kitchen and out the back door.
In the harsh light of day, reality sets in like a swift kick to the stomach with steel-toed boots, and Dean's breath catches in his throat, chest tightening so roughly, his head spins. Despite Missouri's assurances, there’s only one way this can end. Sam isn’t present in his body, not anymore, just a vengeful angel bent on destroying the world.
Save Sam or kill him. This time, Dean hasn't even been granted the choice.
He’s going to kill his brother. He’s going to kill his brother.
Dean retches, doubling over with his hands on his knees until there’s nothing left in his stomach but acid. He holds onto the railing as he stands, swiping a shaking hand over his mouth, surprised to find the bottle of beer still clutched in his fist. He washes out the bitter taste in his mouth with the slightly less bitter taste of alcohol, relishing the burn in his throat.
Dean sits on the steps, staring blankly out at the horizon long after his beer warms and the sky turns dark. When the door opens at his back, somehow, he knows it’s Castiel.
Castiel's footsteps are almost silent as he approaches. He stands against the railing just out of Dean’s field of vision, and Dean lets the silence carry on until the words fall from his mouth of their own accord.
“I always wanted to believe it was just a coincidence,” he whispers. “You know - me and Sam being the chosen vessels. No matter how many times the angels said that this was our destiny, I really thought things could be different.” He huffs a laugh and shakes his head. “It was all leading up to this. The entire time.”
“It was never a coincidence, Dean,” Castiel says quietly. “You and Sam were born for this.”
Dean’s head snaps up, and he cranes his neck to meet Castiel’s gaze. He isn’t comfortable with the sensation of being looked down on, but he stays seated, unsure he has the strength required to rise to his feet. “For what? To fight in your war? To fight each other? What was the point of us growing up human if in the end, we were going to kill each other anyway?”
The door opens a second time, and as Bobby steps out, Castiel sighs, turning away from Dean.
“Talk to him,” he murmurs, placing something in Bobby’s palm. Bobby glances down at his hand, then closes his fingers into a fist. He waits for Castiel to disappear inside before walking towards Dean.
“If you’re done with your pity party, allow an old man his perspective.” Bobby sits down beside Dean with a grunt, one hand resting on the leg he stretches out in front of him. “I don’t know nothin’ about destiny. What I do know are you and Sam... you’re brothers. Family. Regardless of who you might have been, this is who you are now. And apocalypse or no, that isn’t going to change.”
Dean bites his lip and drops his bottle to the stair below him. Beer spills into the dry dust as it topples over. “I can’t kill him, Bobby,” he whispers.
Bobby squeezes his shoulder and Dean glances up, finally meeting his eye. “Then don’t. You and Sam have been defying the odds for years, Dean. Why stop now?”
Dean arches an eyebrow. “Because Lucifer will destroy the world if I don’t?”
“Maybe. Or maybe there’s just enough of Sam left inside of the devil that his older brother can knock some sense into his thick skull. But that’s just my opinion.” Dean blinks and Bobby reaches for his hand, placing the amulet in his open palm.
Dean stares down at the amulet and Bobby stands, wincing and muttering about his knees. He pats Dean on the shoulder and ambles back into the house.
Dean sits on the porch until the sun rises. He watches the sky change from black to midnight blue, until shades of red and orange blaze across the horizon. He twists the amulet around in his palms, pressing the cool metal between his fingertips.
He takes a deep breath.
He doesn’t have to destroy the amulet. This isn't like Anna and the vial containing her stolen grace. He simply closes his eyes and takes back what’s his.
Memories flow through his mind, like a flood of water over the top of a dam, images and voices spanning hundreds of lifetimes - God, the garrison, and Lucifer, always, always Lucifer - until only a single memory remains.
After the battle, after The Fall, God gives Michael one last order: banish Lucifer to earth and destroy his grace so he may never return to Heaven, a prodigal child left to wander forever on his own, reborn again and again amongst those he despises.
Michael does the unthinkable - he disobeys.
He banishes Lucifer to Earth, yes, but he hides his brother's grace within hell’s depths, what’s really imprisoned behind the seals - something too bright, too sacred, and should never have been touched.
Michael is convinced that is the real reason why hell always burns.
When Michael returns to His ranks, God does not punish his transgressions. He simply turns the other cheek to his fit of rebellion, and this might be the biggest betrayal of all.