...


"It's okay, Dean. It's gonna be okay."

Everything was blending into a ringing tin sound in his head, body jolted as he slid down Baby to the eventuality of the ground. The world was a bright smear of colors, mainly red, the pain echoing just outside of full on. Sam was away from him, his brother panting, and it clicked in his haze that Lucifer was fighting. Trying for control, but that whole looming about to fall unconscious thing was swimming in him, making everything blur out of focus again.

"I've got him."

He wanted to tell Lucifer his little mind screw was old when he did it back in Detroit. That was until Sam's face snapped back into view a bit cleaner. Words pushed at his mouth, his brother's name, and he saw the absolute terror on Sam's face, his brother digging the rings out of his pocket.

He wanted to say something, anything, but words had as much staying power as a whiskey dream. A snap, the earth exploding, and he put his less injured arm up out of reflex. That smell, it was all around them. Hell had come to earth, the sensation of its screams, the pain it radiated up, as the ground crumbled away from where the rings had once been.

Sam was staring at him, breathing so hard with fear that he wished he could say yes, and throw himself into the pit instead.

"Sam! Step back!"

Dean felt his head roll to the side like a disconnected bobble as he tried to see. Michael, the bastard who had stolen Adam, and did God knows what to get him to say yes. Castiel had been right, only a few minutes, and it had to be long enough. This was all they had left.

"You're going to have to make me!"

There was movement near him, but he was watching Sam, his world swimming sideways and diagonally, but he couldn't look away. Sam was standing there and everything in him screamed both for Sam to jump and to run. Anything, as long as this fight didn't go down on their watch, the world not burning, and he managed to bring his vision back from almost blackout.

Sam was flung back, falling into the screaming bowels of hell, as the ground reformed itself once again. But he knew Michael was still there, could see the bastard's shadow slanting across the dying grass that he was copiously bleeding onto. Blood choked him as he tried to speak, tried to say anything, as those rings flew through the air towards them.

"Foolish child," Michael was saying, crouching down in front of him. "Did you not think I wouldn't have the owner's manual to something I was commanded to build?"

He tried to force out a sound but it felt like his mouth was swollen closed, the iron taste on his tongue nauseating, as he struggled to move with what felt like a million broken bones. Michael was turning the rings so they caught the light, a thousand little sparks of how he failed again.

"You and I, Dean, are going to spend some quality time together."

He pushed back against Baby, trying to get away from those fingers coming towards his head, as the world blanked out.

...


His face had ceased to feel like a fiery mess of a thousand knives stuck through his cheeks, so that was one thing. Sunlight glared down and he moaned, closing his eyes, feeling the soft give of well-tended grass beneath him. That fresh smell was constant, yet not quite real around him, as he tried to remember how he ended up sprawled out on the ground.

Then his mind caught up with him and he was up on his feet, rubbing the sting of the light away.

"What the holy hell?" he asked precisely no one as his eyes, which were almost functional, took it all in.

Apparently he had been passed out on some lawn like a drunken frat boy in front of a yellow house complete with flower beds full of tulips. Some weird array of colors, everything far too bright and pristine to be true, surrounded him. That wasn't the weird part. No waking up here wasn't the worst that could have happened.

At what, he assumed, was fifty feet out on all sides of this was endless fog. It swirled up against some kind of barrier, a lazy circle around his new property, with a thin frame of sky arching blue above him.

"No, no, no," he muttered. "Not like this, it wasn't supposed to be like this."

There was no answer. No figure appeared to mock him or even provide a reasonable explanation for why the Twilight Zone had collided with Better Homes and Gardens. This could be in his mind, or just somewhere out in the ether. All he knew was that he hadn't said the magic word, hadn't allowed one of those dickheads in, but this wasn't much better. Legs, as steady as wet sand, moved him towards the nearest part that was filled with fog, and somehow he was not surprised to find it solid.

Which should probably say a lot to how fucked up his world was when this was expected.

Carefully, he started feeling as high up as he could go, then as low, and found no give. There was no sign that this was actual mist he could stick his fist into. As he made his way around, he tried to get his mind to quit imaging terrors lurking there, unseen. Things that might be waiting to body slam the wall unless, of course, they could pass through it. That wouldn't surprise him because that's how his luck went. Trapped in Leave it to Beaver land with people eaters sniffing and waiting their turn. Like a polite line where he couldn't see them until the light turned green.

His weapon was still with him and he pulled it free, checking the clip. Fully loaded with one in the chamber, but how much good it would do was far from sure. He didn't even know what he was up against here.

As he made his way around the yard to the back of house, he saw that the porch door was open, and he scuffed the earth in a cross shape to mark the spot. Then, he crept up the stairs, the wood not even giving a creak under his weight. Gun drawn, he entered what looked like a kitchen. Something designed to be modern, complete with extra weapons housed in a butcher's block by the door. He took several, finding a place to hold them on his person, before going back outside. He was not exploring this house.

Yet he realized he might have to when he got back to where he started with the fog. No way out, no holes, just a solid piece underneath his hands like glass that never reflected light. That piece of blue sky still visible above him, almost like an ocean had been painted on the ceiling of his new little home.

"What the hell do you want?"

Nothing answered.

...


The house wasn't any less of a creep fest than outside, but after a nerve racking hour of searching all the nooks, crannies, and under bed areas, along with checking compulsively outside for any changes, he felt he was reasonably safe. At least as safe he could be given the conditions. Dean had zero idealistic notions that stuff wouldn't soon come to eat him, or attack him, or whatever the point of this exercise in strangeness was. Just that, for right now, he thought he could sit on a kitchen chair and not have it grow teeth.

Don't give this place ideas, he thought, not sure how cracked his head was getting. Or if this wasn't just a death dream, and he was really dying in that godforsaken cemetery while an archangel looked coldly on.

There was food present, the fridge had all the things he normally liked, and he couldn't help but think back to that hell hole dear old Zach had kept him in. The one stocked with beers and burgers and unnerving temptations of TV women. At least Michael didn't placate him like that. He went for the unsettlingly 'you are mine' right off the bat.

Dean felt he could maybe appreciate that direction. It at least had a sense of truth to it.

As much as he wanted to get wasted right now, he knew that would help exactly zero people. For all he knew, Michael had already bopped on back and started the grand apocalypse, decimating the world. All for a Dad that wasn't coming back and didn't give a damn.

An animalistic sound ripped clean through him as he kicked the side of the fridge at its nerve to hum, the one present sound in this dead world.

The thought of Sammy in hell with Lucifer gloating over him, Michael holding up the rings, and he was punching the fridge, until he realized there were red streaks. His, as his fingers began the slow ache, finally catching up with his brain. Two of them were misshapen, skin torn slightly open with blood dripping to the floor.

He relished the pain. He could deal with at least this, this was real.

...


The beer was useful for him to hold his splinted fingers against as there seemed to be a supreme lack of a freezer, or anything outside of chilled. Not that he expected an angel to get things like ice cream, or just some damn ice in general. He was probably lucky there was food and that it was passable instead of being some nightmarish concoction.

Not that he was eating anything. There was a growing strain of hysteria in his mind over whether, or not anything was safe to eat, or if it was laced with something terrible. Some thought of him vomiting out his guts in the tulips made him smile a little. Those things were so damn cheerful, they needed to be taken down a notch.

Instead, he sat on the back porch not wanting to be inside where he felt more confined. Having places to run to, well that wasn't a thing, but he didn't want to be immediately stuck in a corner like a little bitch. If the mists monsters were coming, he wanted to see them up close and personal, empty a few rounds, take out some throats.

As he nodded in and out, feeling exhausted and unable to form a plan, he wondered if he would ever see anyone again.

It turned out that it wasn't mist monsters at all that came. Instead it was a pompous archangel and he knew who it was even if he didn't look like Adam right at this moment. The sharp glint, the way Michael looked him over like he was making measurements for a new home, the same way he had when he had taken dad over for a few minutes. Just long enough to fuck with their lives, and he wondered if that's why mom hadn't had put wards up all those years ago. That she hadn't been able to remember her deal at all.

With the angel still staring at him, he realized he had been banking heavily on the mist monsters over this.

"What the hell did you do with Adam?"

"You have injured yourself," Michael said, completely avoiding the question, as he came closer. Dean hissed, drawing his hand to his chest.

"If I want your help I'd ask for, Sunshine. Which means hell will die before those words show up."

"As you wish." The archangel stopped, head tilted, and Dean thought he looked rather like a lost yuppie. All dark hair and eyes, clothes that were soaked in too much money, white shirt looking like it would cost more than Dean had ever had in his life. "Someday, you will stop seeing me as the enemy."

"Yeah because the kidnapping and imprisonment thing just sings all about love."

"Dean," Michael said, voice flat, and he felt dissected. Unable to do a damn thing to stop anything of worth and he hated himself a little more. Their one great plan was gone. "I told you when we met the first time that you and I were destined for this. That we are here together now only reaffirms that."

There was the bitter taste of bile threatening the back of his throat, that somehow this was all some great scheme for them, and soon the torturing, and who knew what else, what would start. Hell all over again, and he deserved it. He deserved every single second of it for breaking down there, for his role in starting this whole mess in the first place.

"Why? Why the hell do this now?"

"You have given me a tactical advantage and time. There is no rush outside of knowing that for every second you spend resisting, Sam is tortured."

Dean swallowed, something heavy caught in him, and he pushed his broken fingers against the wood planks of the porch. Searing pain, things felt grounded again like he could focus, keeping his mind from going off on that.

"And what, then me and Sammy can frolic in our little heaven at an eternal Thanksgiving?"

"There will be no more Sam."

Those words felt like they had gone right through him, ripping open everything that was left to hold onto. Everything twisted and wrong, and what last little bit of hope he had was snuffed out, as he clumsily threw his bottle with his battered hand.

Michael was gone before it hit, the bottle harmlessly littering the ground with amber pieces.