Despite learning he was alive and granted permission see him, Allison scowled darkly up at him in silence. She was mad. As if all she went through didn't matter and he wanted to joke it off. Dean may have felt enough to give in so easily in allowing her to pop over, not making her wait until later but giving excuses to his stupid brother in the same breath as telling her she could come over. And here he was, joking how terrible it was that his brother kept buying the heading-out-for-a-good-time-with-a-woman excuse.
Allison took the perfume bottle she brought this time out of her pocket. For the first time, she was glad about the mix up her brother had that left her stuck with it. Two words: hellish awful. Even she never brought this one to spritz on Dean. Apparently, she was right to be suspicious about popping him to their house so many times last year. He deserved this. And being called a selfish pig. Maybe not for the same reason his stupid brother did, but a selfish pig for not owning up to what he did. What he did for his stupid brother, the stupid brother who actually was being a selfish pig when Dean was dead. From what she saw.
Unscrewing the top behind her back, she motioned with her finger and cupped her hand to her mouth as if to whisper. Dean went for it, leaning close. His eyes went wide, but remained motionless as she dumped the entire thing over his head. Allison glared, silently daring him to joke again, to disregard her feelings. His lips quirked up, like he was amused but it didn't reach his eyes. Then Dean apologized and said she better feel better because that destroyed his brand new nose. Allison nodded, squeezing him tightly. She and Darcy had much practice with wand work to get rid of smells thanks to Angus. Dean did not. Because although she felt better, she hoped he had to live with the smell and cracks from his stupid brother for days. Days.
Seeing things from the 1973 perspective was already surreal and Dean had only gotten a cup of coffee. Coffee from, how old was John Winchester in 1973? Then Dean spotted a young baby, his girl, the Impala. The car dealer walked off and his father rubbed the headlights of the beige VW van.
No one leaves baby in a corner. Especially not John, peeking looks, or Dean's admiring gaze. She was so young and beautiful.
There wasn't no army men or legos yet. Nor the initials of the two boys she would house. And when he lifted the hood to show her off to his father, no extra bit of magic to aid in her longevity and great condition to last her more than 10 years after his father said it was time for a new vehicle. And despite her surprise at not seeing the promised van, she still smiled, checking the Impala out. Mom.
Castiel knew he wasn't to question orders. As captain of his garrison he preferred that from those under him as well. Orders were followed. It made life simpler. Most certainly much simpler than when he pondered his life and orders and beliefs. He actually enjoyed it, the time to observe all of nature and pondering it all. As long as he followed orders given, he figured he could put guilt of indulging aside and not worry if he was somehow...unfit.
Due to the order to pull Dean Winchester out of hell and follow the human's orders, Castiel had been spending lots of time observing and thinking about him. About humankind. He'd watched humans before, found a solace in it, but never for such an extended period of time. The Winchester was...intriguing. He was a series of contradictions, odd remarks, but filled with something solid. A man to count on, very grounded Castiel thought humans would call him.
However, humans, Dean Winchester especially, confused Castiel. He couldn't quite figure out the man he followed the orders of currently. Questioning orders from a superior didn't feel wrong when Castiel thought about Dean Winchester. It seemed so insignificant, the order to never mention he'd read another prophet's books. But Dean Winchester commanded Castiel with such a panic, to never mention words like apparate and portkey to the younger Winchester. Complaints on his flying being worse than a natural magic's way was insulting enough to Castiel. He followed it, not understanding why. Sam Winchester seemed aware enough to complain about the newest movie based off the Potter gospel. Humans were an odd bunch.
'Hey little sis. Did Pitcher get rid of that piece from baby killer?' His hopes weren't high considering his luck, but Dean sent the text anyway. Sam would hedge and haw petulantly, but he trusted Hermione to rush on all emotional and scholarly cylinders. Dean had belief for the better things even if his hopes weren't high. So he'd never asked about the similarities between Sam and Pitcher, didn't want to believe Sam could have a piece of the demon in him. Until now. Sam never told Dean he'd known it when Dean brought it up, which pissed him off. All this time Dean could have known the cause and Sam pulled a freaking Sam over it.
'Oh, I'm so sorry Dean. On May 2nd he did. It's all theories, nothing guaranteed and as you say, magical and supernatural are two different things. Besides, you'd never let anyone you cared about test it if you have anything to say about it. I'm so sorry I can't help with your brother from how Harry managed it. Sam has a bit of that demon in him?' And true to Hermione, she knew what he meant in asking and researched it. Well, been researching for years, Dean corrected as he cursed his luck several times over.
'Unless you know a better way to convince my moronic brother demonic anything can be used for good, don't worry about it. Worst come to worst, I'll knock some sense into Sammy. I got Sam, don't you worry Hermione. Talk later. Say hi to Rosie and Huey.'
It was rich hearing Dean give him crap for his brief magician phrase at thirteen. Dean played wizard for Sam past that age. It was memory of those stories that Sam thought of being a stage magician. He'd taken issue with slight of hand for picking pockets Dad and Dean taught him, so he thought to make honest money with the skill rather than stealing it.
Sam lifted the hood of the Impala before they left Iowa, giving crap right back. Suddenly wide eyed, his brother snarled and slammed it shut. Surprised? Did Dean really think Sam had forgotten those stories? That Sam didn't know what that broken bit of wood hidden under the hood meant? From how he reacted when Sam said, apparently.
His brother turned shifty, saying he'd made it up. That Sam looked at him with big puppy eyes before he left for late night training with Dad. It was obvious Dean was lying. Avoiding as he did when it came to talking about feelings. But, more somehow. Sam tucked his childhood stories from Dean for later, not sure how to pry further with no other hints around the topic. What was behind it? Had these sorts of stories been told to Dean from their mom?
Questioned, not fully trusted. Not trusted for doing what he was ordered, which was following Dean Winchester's orders. Castiel hadn't done anything against orders, maybe pause for the Winchester to have more time in situations, but his superiors felt he felt sympathy for the human. He had. The pressures of living up to ending what was started, Castiel was glad it wasn't him in that position. So, sympathy, yes. But he'd still done as ordered from all superiors.
When he found Uriel leading the garrison to choose a new superior, Lucifer, or kill them, he was...upset. Not surprised. But upset at the killings. Upset at none of their actual superiors questioning or acting against Uriel's disobedience. Like an approval. Leading the world to the apocalypse. Aiming to destroy and have Dean Winchester, the key to all this, killed. His fist clenched. This wasn't right!
After, he had the most open conversation with the man since their first meeting. No pushing leverage, displays of angelic power. Just...speaking. Not angel to human, but one person to another, both wanting right, both confused over the how. Against us. He said Uriel was working against us. Not until hours later, going back over his thoughts and actions, did Cas realize he meant us with the man he had been speaking with, with Dean. Uriel had been working against him and Dean, not him and his fellow angels, but him and Dean. He realized he doubted. Doubted what was going on in heaven and choose Dean over them all. He was with Dean, stumbling along, but filled with certainty in their aim of stopping the apocalypse. For the first time, in a very long time, Cas felt like he fit.
When Dean said he needed to call her instead of explain over a text, Hermione knew it was going to be up there. Sure, there were various calls between them. Not all were serious. In fact, Dean managed a feat both impressive and not difficult to manage in having the most normal conversations. Probably due to him calling just because he could pester his 'little sister'. Ron always rolled his eyes, claiming both she and Dean's faces lit up the same way when spotting or hearing each other.
She talked about Rose reading, Hugo tying his shoes. How Ron talked her into a trip to a record store for more classic rock. Went off on her current research and theories of his pendant. Told him how the British Ministry still disclaimed his books and EMF meters. Her search results on if Dean's grandmother had been a witch or squib, after he'd spotted Ancient Runes Made Easy by Laurenzoo and Cooking the Muggle Way by Mordicus Egg on Deanna Winchester's bookshelf when he time traveled. There was probably an explanation in an American attending Hogwarts with his yet unsolved family history. Muggle was the British term after all, not the American term.
Dean waited. That was the scary bit as she trailed off. He finally spoke. Hermione stuttered. Well, she knew it was going to be up there. But to find out both Harry and Dean had their lives written by prophets, well, there were new levels of crazy attempting to fit into her life. Okay, Hermione was biased. Phone calls from Dean could level up there with Harry and Ron and all her brother-in-laws. They just typically...didn't. Unlike the rest of the boys in her life, always calling her in a panic and begging for her help. Archangel. Well...that explained the unusual protection the wizards who tried to reach the author complained about.
With her brother distracted with paperwork and Angus clinging onto Darcy, Allison took it upon herself to text out the news. First person first, Dean. Followed shortly with Hermione. At some point, Hermione had become a strict aunt for her. Allison wasn't sure when, but it made both Dean and Hermione happy when she started calling Hermione an aunt, so she just shrugged any explanation for it off.
Speaking of aunts, Allison was an aunt herself all over again. Hopefully this new little nephew wouldn't have as tight a grip as Angus did.
Darcy named this little guy with Anthony's approval this time. It was an all right name, but pretty typical. At least Angus stood apart from the plainer Rickett names of Anthony and Allison or her dad's Andrew. It was funny, this new nephew being born early, as if it knew it should be in a month starting with the letter too, just like its big brother had been born in August. She grinned a little when Dean texted her back. It seemed like he agreed with her on the name of Adam. No awesome or comment on it, just 'Oh' and that was it.
Dean couldn't stress how much he hated flying. After all the crap of Sam doing what he did, doing what he thought would end it all, to do right, walking out on Dean and believing the bitch demon Ruby. Putting that knife in her was a long time coming. The worst, the worst that could have happened after this year of trying to stop seals from breaking and Sam's broken face at realizing what had just happened. Just happened. And now they were mysteriously away from the exploding results, stuck on a plane right above and shaking from the aftermath.
Fuck flying. He was kissing the ground the minute they got out of the airport terminal. And in a sure sign of the apocalypse, Sam didn't say anything or give him any crap about it. A group of men in security uniforms jogged right for them and Dean's queasy stomach lurched as he leapt up.
Sam tensed, freezing when sandy hair's hand halted the group. Dean stared, surprised he could feel surprised. Quickly, he reassured Sam he had it covered and strode over. Anthony went straight to the point. What did you do? It reminded Dean of school, Anthony chasing him down and chiding him over his creature obsession. For a second, he felt that insulted teenager surge up. With a glance back toward Sam, Dean huffed and said any demand for information would have to wait, he'd call later out of his brother's earshot. Anthony confused him with changing routine. No demanding or no excuses taken attitude, but snorted, saying a delayed report wouldn't be an issue. Anthony jerked a thumb back. They looked. And both rolled their eyes at the younger Aurors excitedly nudging and pointing at Dean.
Breathless, Hermione poured over the books. She finally got approval to the archives for Christianity. Religious studies were marked differently in the wizarding world, which made some of her previous searches hit and miss. There wasn't much to what witches and wizards had over this subject, but what there was jived with what Dean had told her. The guy claiming to be an angel, one on Dean's side rather than the angelic side, was even in the archives. Real, with a tie to the Norse god Loki, which had Hermione reeling. Could Loki be just as real as Castiel? And there was Michael the Archangel mentioned right along with Lucifer, Raphael, and Gabriel.
With the tidbits Dean had spoken of and with what she could research, things were taking shape. However, she felt the given answer for his pendant was far too easy. God? She would have an easier time believing it with someone a little less big, she'd even take Michael. Which, not really. Warrior and protector, sure. Leader against Lucifer's forces of hell? Weighing souls, laying final judgement to those deceased? Even with angels correct by the books in needing vessels to function on Earth, Hermione didn't agree Dean fit with Michael. Or, better phrased, Michael didn't match up to Dean.
As Archangels, Michael and Lucifer were close, brothers. Like Dean and Sam. Dean would never fight against those close to him. Perhaps to knock some sense into them, but he'd always fight for them. Surefire way to make positive Michael and Lucifer never had their fight to destroy the world right there. Put the entire world, Dean's loved ones in danger? To top it off, they said Sam was the vessel for Lucifer. Why were the angels so surprised and pissed Dean refused? Michael was a protector himself, except apparently, he cared more for his other titles and leading as judgmental arsehole warrior. If it meant angels digging heels in, thinking Dean was their chosen one, Hermione knew they'd lose. She closed the books resolutely, then sighed with annoyance as she left her office to pester Harry. He was just as lost on the subject, but she couldn't not cover all her research bases and ask if he could see if it were possible Death recognized an artefact of God.
Cas listened carefully as Dean spoke of the future he visited, thinking over what he knew. He was able, with certainty, to tell Dean it would never happen. Dean's face lifted up, eyes flicking with hope. It was a good ploy in showing people near Dean losing their lives to pressure him to say yes. But sacrificing people in a move like that was not a move Cas saw Dean making, although, he had to give it to Zachariah, Michael had and would make that move. Zachariah did not know Dean well enough to see key differences. He only saw a future version of Michael. Dean's face puffed, jaw ticking in anger and snarled.
Curious, Cas asked what he meant by Zachariah creating a fake future just to fuck with Dean. The rush of pride in causing Dean to laugh outdid his confusion. Dean didn't clarify on what he said, so Cas turned his gaze out the Impala's window, starting to see why Dean preferred driving to flying. It gave time to study the world and think. And the vehicle gave the cozy family feeling. Cas was glad the man finally reached out to his brother.
He was warming up to Dean's brother, seeing how Sam's deplorable actions didn't define who Sam was. After all, Cas acted against his fellow angels for similar reasons to Sam drinking demon blood. Trying to do right. Curious, Cas brought up all Dean asked of him in regards to Sam. All the little things Dean insisted on. One waved off after another as being the big brother, it was Dean's job to worry, not Sam. Dean's job to protect or that Sam always came first. Then quiet. Guilt flashed across Dean's face, a face unable to look over to Cas . Alarmed, Cas asked about the Potter gospel concerning Sam again. Dean grinned and laughed at how gullible Cas was. Peeved, Cas stared, unamused, then sat up in interest when Dean finally gave clarity on his earlier phrase. A more profane way to say someone is messing or tricking you. That made so much more sense.
He reached up to touch his amulet, then remembered he'd thrown out the so-called God trinket. After all this time of thinking it could be more, it shot up his belief for better things. Probably should inform Hermione it'd been worthless. Dean groaned at the thought of telling her that, but took out his phone and saw he had a message. It took Dean a moment as he listened to the voice mail from the unknown number, then he sat up straighter. The kid apparently took the FBI business card he'd left for the parents last fall. Jesse Turner's voice informed Dean he was still safe, going from place to place in foster care and helping orphans if they were being hurt. Dean grinned. Looked like the kid took his X-Men comment to heart, using his powers to be a hero for underdogs. Jesse paused, then said something about a nice pair looking to adapt him, concerned about staying in the same spot for too long and how much he liked the nice pair visiting him. He liked how they already looked out for him. They'd noticed he needed a new toothbrush and got him one.
The kid was hard to forget. Jesse turned Cas into an action figure. Dean snickered. He'd taken a picture and saved it of course. Then sent it to see if anyone bought the lie of him actually managing a major transfiguration. Hermione's husband was the only one idiotic enough to buy it. Dean was so terribly out of practice and even as a kid, preforming the spells were difficult and when 'perfected' took about five times to actually take. He'd told Anthony to shut it when Anthony was being cute reminiscing about it last barbeque.
Actually, there was an idea. With Jesse's powers working off of what the kid believed, he could do it. Lay claim as a natural born wizard. Every wizarding society was kept separate from the rest of the world, which was one of Bobby and Hermione's theories behind the differences on shared creatures. A magical/supernatural Darwinism. Demons were not a shared feature. It might actually help Jesse stay off the map from demons while being off the map. Dean frowned. Stay off the map while being off the map? Whatever. Dean dialed the number back. A legit thing to have and claim what Jesse's powers were to people. Including parents. Kids should have stability, rather than drifting around from place to place with no connections. Said no personal experience whatsoever, none. And he scowled when his hand moved to touch the amulet again. At least he could help Jesse to what he apparently could not have. Because who the hell was he kidding? Believing in better things were for others.
It hadn't taken long to hear how Dean Winchester stood up to big bro Mikey and took out little snot Zachie. Gabriel was both upset and impressed with Dean. So when he got wind of the pagan meeting, he took Kali up on the invite. He'd do what he could to keep them safe from his older brothers and hope it didn't come to a fight. Because he was pretty sure he'd get drawn into family drama this time. He'd never forget standing under the sprinklers, alone, lit holy oil long gone, burning hot rage and shocked at Dean's words. Afraid to stand up to his family? Afraid?
He'd been startled to see Mikey's gift to God no longer resting against Dean's chest. No matter. Willingly sacrificing himself while wearing the item and dying while wearing the item, well, that technically made him a master of Death. A connection to Death, an opening. Deano had an advantage to get a hold of Death's ring. Lucy had to have realized, because Gabriel was sure he bound Death, disrupting the connection. The idiot.
They were no master of Death and thus, unable to cart favor, unlike Deano or itty Harrikins. Lucy was not completely stupid, just ruthlessly pissed. Gabriel set up the fake him and gripped his blade tight as he snuck up, wary, judging Lucifer not as his elder brother but as the certifiable just deserts deserving douche. Dean Winchester was all Gabriel wished his big brother Michael could have been, what Gabriel wished he could have done in his own family but too much a coward to even try. And that...was a powerful magic all on its own. Gabriel thrust his blade down.
'Death just...GAVE me his ring. Handed it over. Isn't the dude supposed to...I don't know...HATE me for not actually dying? And he gives me a ring like I'm some blushing bride to be. Even though I'm pretty sure I'm more Maggie Carpenter staring in some real shitty sequel.'
'Maybe there was something to your amulet?' Hermione went right back to what caused them to meet, the answer to which Dean didn't know. He was still freaking out over the event, but all he got from Anthony was 'Should I be shocked? Creatures you chase and hell saving angels. He gave you a ring, not liberty or death. A ring. Allison wants to know if it's pretty.'
He snorted, cracking up into laughter. If anything, Allie being the first to joke back relieved his freak out. And worried Dean, because her next reaction usually was come over and glare at him and he'd let her do it with that adorable face. It's how wound up smelling like crappy perfume for nearly three weeks after all. The next text from Swinely led Dean to explaining the movie Runaway Bride. And then somewhere along the line, he got picture messages from Pitcher of his kids creating Dean-the-blushing-bride drawings beside a skeletal man with a scythe. Little shits. Dean nearly burst a gut. These were freaking hilarious.
From the corner of his eye, Sam noticed the brightly colored thing buried in the dash and took it out. It looked like a lucha libre. Ash had been dressed up like one when he and Dean had been shot right up to heaven. Sam peered closer and realized it was a flash drive. Curious, he pocketed it with the old lighter and amulet in his pocket.
After settling in the strawberry themed motel, apparently the town held the world's biggest strawberry, Sam tugged out his laptap to see what was on the flash drive. The Mexican wrestler was a sign. Everything Ash. And Dean? There were samples of hacks and Ash's notes to Dean on how to improve. A housing assistance set up? The code to have certain websites pop up on the next log in didn't surprise Sam though. There was that ridiculous Bikini Inspector badge Dean had expected Sam to use. And Sam's college grades and scholarships. Figured. For a moment Sam filtered between annoyance and warmth.
Then he clicked on the video and went blank with shock. It was all about Ash yammering on MIT, finding hunting through Dean's computer activity there, praising him for keeping an eye out on his little brother and introducing a certain website, telling him off for not telling Sam about MIT and probably all the scholarships and housing assistance he'd done, asking where the money to pay off college came from as he couldn't find any trail for it, then saluting farewell with a strong demand to talk tech next time Dean was at the Roadhouse.
"You took my advice for MIT normal and this is what—of course this is what you do," Sam huffed. Dean didn't respond, sprawled across the mattress sleeping. "Dean, you're always doing this crap. No wonder I never got mailed about anything. Big brother stepped in."
Sam stilled, voice serious. "Dean, you can't do that this time. It's up to me. I have to do this. You believe in me enough to support me in school growing up."
Dean grinned, proud of how well his little brother blew the other second graders out of the water.
Sam preferred knowing to not knowing and freaking out, so Dean would tell him about different supernatural creatures in a sort of big kid bedtime story.
Dean's voice rose hysterically. "He's a smart kid and no one else takes the time or gets the time to see that!"
"You made sure I had support..."
Dean and Dad and Uncle Bobby all here. All his family, gathered together for his important soccer match, cheering him on with the other families of his teammates. Just like Dean promised him he would do for the division game.
"...Even when Dad didn't give it, like a parent should..."
Dean promised he'd never leave Sam defenseless nor with weapons he couldn't use. His brother dug out a manual for gun basics and said he'd teach Sam. It set Sam's nerves at ease more than Dad's offhand giveaway and he gave another hug, a tight hug, so Dean knew.
Dean smirked across the table at him, winking, and Sam hurried to hide the evidence back into his pocket, grasping Dean's favorite lighter tightly as he smiled. Perfect. That Independence Day had been and always would be perfect.
He put Dean's old favorite lighter back into his pocket and wished this wasn't how his family was and his brother had taken the chance to get out. But it seemed unlikely.
"How can I not stick around and make sure you're safe? Keep an eye on your annoying ass. You think joking around and stupid quips covers up any issue."
Dean whooped loudly as the tape hit 'Back in Black'. Sam, amused, teased and ribbed him.
"Yeah. You get them geek boy."
"Jerk. Of course I will."
Dean grinned and annoyingly messed up Sam's hair again. Complete jerk.
"You're totally smart Dean! But…you deserve better too...because, because you do everything for me and Dad."
Dean fell silent, then ruffled his little brother's hair.
"I got better. I got you Sammy."
"But you." Sam stared at Dean sleeping still as he talked. "Yeah, I'm not as strong as you, but you believe in me growing up, that's where I found strength to tell Dad to shove off and go to Stanford. You freaking idiot. You do everything for me, give and sacrifice everything. I don't want to disappoint your belief and sacrifices for me. But damn it Dean, Gabriel had a point."
Without Dad, without a little brother, Dean could have a life. But Sam wasn't smart enough to realize his demand destroyed Dean's life until after Dean absolutely refused. The tears came faster at seeing how Dean preferred to die at his hands. And how quickly his big brother accepted it.
Dean peacefully resting on the bed blurred. Sam swiped at his face, trying to keep his shaky breaths quiet.
His fists clenched as Dean went on about him not handling his new schoolyard bully. He hated when Dean got like this, like Dean didn't trust him to deal or not deal with it, stepping in and making it even worse.
"We can't let go. And you're going to have to about this. You're not going to like it, but Dean, you have to see reason and trust me when I tell you. You can't try to get me out of that cage. You've saved my life over and over. You're my big brother." Sam choked out a laugh. "My big brother. I never really grew out of that pride on you. There's nothing I wouldn't do for you. I don't care what it takes, but I will do this. But you... You raised me, made me believe more out of myself, took care of things I never worried about at the time. There's nothing left for you to do for me, hell, you even erased all my loans. I want you to have a life Dean. Please. Let me do this. Let me go and live."
For the longest time, Sam sat there, silently pleading and soaking in the sight of his big brother. He wanted to keep that image in his mind. Of Dean. Dean with no worries. Go to Lucifer filled with grins and smirks and proud green eyes. Feeling hugs and tussles in the dirt and ruffled hair. Hearing whoops of joy and gears rumbling and classic rock and late night stories and gun shots and cursing. Sam gathered up his items and headed out to the Impala. Taking in the sight, his fingers drifting across it in a way Dean was more likely to do. He felt a wave of safe protective warmth rising up from the hood. Home. For the last time, Sam stretched out inside the Impala, planning to sleep before everything.
But first, and for the first time, he talked to the vehicle. "Hey baby."