Small slants of light hit the inside of Baby's interior as he drove along the road to nowhere, looking at the land, as the day woke up around him. Michael still hadn't returned, and he wondered how bad things actually were in heaven. If they were running out of time for Dean to trust something that had, up to not long ago, not given a whole flying fuck about whether or not the earth still stood.
And then there was Sammy, and damn was he stupid for hoping for some last clutch miracle. Some last little sign of hope that his brother would be freed, but it wasn't looking likely. And Sam was suffering, not existing was probably better than eternal torment. Sam just wouldn't be aware and the earth would spin.
Even if it granted Sam peace he didn't know if he could ever do that.
He pulled off, the ground flat for a ways here before it opened up into a small little canyon. Walking to the edge, feet scuffing the arid dirt, he marveled at how the angel had pulled all of this out of nothing. Sounds of water, and when he was able to look over the steep sides, he could see a waterfall. On earth, it would be fed by some underground source. Here it was simly something that the archangel liked, replicated, and tuned to run forever.
He blinked at that thought, that all of this in some ways was a definition of Michael.
The small valley couldn't be more than thirty feet down and it looked lush down there. While lacking in the tree department, the plants looked huge, thriving in the long periods of shade cast from the canyon walls. It looked climbable and he was debating on where to start down when he heard wing beats.
"Would you like to see it?" Michael asked beside him, and Dean nodded expecting a flight. Instead the angel raised a hand and guided a slopping path from his feet to the little hidden spot.
There was only another nod, that face looking more worn, and he again wondered about the politics of heaven. Not that he wanted in on it, but just that it had to suck. Herding rabid cats at a free for all rodeo.
The path wasn't steep, and Michael walked in silence beside him. There was a smell here, some freshness, but it was cleaner than he had ever known. It made him think of dawn, as absurd as that sounded. Plants that resembled ferns but not quite, small flowers crawling along moss saturated ground, and some part of him didn't want to disturb it.
Dean glanced over, the angel watching. Taking a breath, he walked towards the falls, the only real sound here outside of the soft mutterings of the water in its small stream, as it navigated the rocks. The air felt as though it was pure vibration as he reached out and let the water run over his fingers, cold, with a distinct feeling that it was calling him.
"What is this place?"
"A replica of a valley that no longer exists, one which was blessed," Michael replied beside him, still watching as Dean turned his hand over.
So many questions over that one, like where each little piece of this place had come from. Some part of him felt guilty for never having asked, that every molecule here had to have a story of why Michael picked it.
"There is a way to know me, if you would like."
Well, that was news. Dean turned his attention to the very still angel, who despite his blank face seemed to radiate apprehension and it wasn't good. This couldn't be good if Michael had misgivings about it because Dean was fairly certain this creature never second guessed anything. Lived with some wild, reckless knowledge that he was right when he dove into battle, commanded his armies, and Dean wished he could have had that at any point.
A hand was on his arm and he felt a pressure around them. Without thinking he reached out, and damn he shouldn't feel so safe right now, he shouldn't know what this was. Fingers in the air beside the angel, an electric feeling through him, as images of fires and suns sped through his mind.
"Is this some kind of weird angel sex? It's weird angel sex isn't it?" he got out, and saw that mouth curve up.
"It is a union. It will allow me to show you at least some things." Michael paused, looking at him. "Parts may be muddled or unclear because you have a soul and not grace. Just know that you are safe no matter what."
"I feel safe," Dean muttered as the angel's apprehension seemed to grow.
"It's not that."
He was about to ask what, but realized that no, it wasn't. It was an entirely different issue. One he knew he couldn't make any promises on.
"It's alright, child. I will help you no matter how you decide."
Something deep in him, beyond his bones, rattled with that same apprehension as Michael drew him closer, his hand still touching something he may never be able to see.
"Close your eyes and relax," the angel intoned. "Let it come over you."
The world fell away as he did.
Everything felt like it wasn't attached to his body anymore even as he became aware that, yes, he did indeed have a body.
Tucked up against Michael, he felt that he was on his knees in the small hidden valley. An answering hum, and Dean knew he would always be able to hear that, that strange thrum, as it coursed beneath flesh. It sang, and he pushed closer to it without opening his eyes. His arms were loose and he slipped one hand high on Michael's right side, feeling the soft shirt there now. Without even understanding, he knew this was where the part of Michael was right now that Lucifer had slipped in his blade, and then whispered words of love.
This creature that had shattered and rebuilt himself so many times in order to find a way to exist in the reality he was cast into.
A soft sigh and Dean managed to open his eyes just to slam them back shut because that was jarring.
"Seeing your life makes me nauseous."
A breath and fingers slid up into his hair, warmth flowing through him to settle his nerves that seemed to still be engaged at full throttle.
"Better?" Michael asked.
He opened his eyes and things didn't seem to have that sharp, shiny, too bright edge to them.
Blinking some, he saw they were on the ground, his head still against the angel's shoulder, kneeling in the damp moss. The world was dimmer, but tilting his head he saw the sky was fading again, going into dusk. Apparently, seeing an angel's life took a long damn time.
"Yeah, thanks." Dean shifted a bit, and the angel loosened his hold so he could rock back and look at Michael who had his eyes closed and, well, had a blissed out expression of a man who had been fucked well. "Happy there, Sparky?"
"Are those new?" Dean squinted at the ground around them that seemed littered with tiny flowers that he was convinced hadn't been there before. Christ, he was cuddling on a carpet of flowers, a fact he was sharing with no one, ever.
"It was accidental."
"You make flowers bloom when happy? Are you a Disney princess? Should I be worried about a prince coming around to claim you?"
A soft, amused sigh, as a hand rubbed his back. "I did not have the heart to remove them after I was done with your memories –"
"Wait." Something close to fear was flowing freely now as he put a hand on the angel's chest, almost pushing himself away. Why hadn't this occurred to him? "Human life memories?"
"All of them."
No, not this. It was the one thing he had always been certain of. With Alastair and most of his helpers dead, there was no one left to tell. General ideas yes, specifics no, and he had wanted to keep it that way. Struggling, he tried to get himself out of those arms, not sure how anything that wasn't evil could touch him after seeing him get off on –
"Dean," Michael said, turning him so that his back was to the angel's chest, now sitting between long legs, caught up in arms that might as well have been stone.
"Power trip much?" He can't keep that bitter tone out of his voice, as Michael rested his chin on his shoulder.
"You believe you have no power over me."
"Well, can't say I can hold you down so, yeah, going with not a lot of say."
"Do you trust me?"
There was an unspoken 'to not hurt you, never again you' in there and all he could do was say a soft yes because, goddamn it all to hell, he did. Completely after this, even if made him a bitch to heaven he couldn't –
That voice brought him back as the angel picked up his left arm, running his fingers over it. Michael pressed his lips to the pulse point on his wrist covered by that always too thin skin that liked to tear, before the angel, in one swift move, opened it up all the way to the elbow.
Dean gasped, struggling for a second before he realized there was no pain, no blood, just the strange sensation of air on the things that really should be inside. Muscles and veins, all his inner parts were out in the open. He was not seeing where this was going outside of a really freaky biology lesson as to why he was inferior.
Releasing his arm with one hand, Michael manifested a knife and he sucked in more air, wondering if he was going to be splayed out so that he could see everything working in there.
There were just some things a man didn't need to know.
"Here," Michael said, with something like fondness and pressed the hilt of the knife into Dean's right hand. Then the archangel loosened his grip, pushing up his own left sleeve, and Dean realized what he was supposed to be doing.
Maybe this is some sort of angel foreplay, he thought, as he made the incision with a quick, practiced hand. A wave of Michael's right hand pushed it wider, the inner working falling open to the eye. Inside, there was a small faint glow, like Michael lit up everything from the inside out. It whispered, like a thousand voices if he listened.
He tried not to listen.
"In these bodies, we have our weaknesses. Your blood can be drained, my essence banished. You pulled apart while, with holy fire, I can be burned from the inside out. I can put that knife through your heart and end you," Michael said, pausing as he grasped Dean's wrist of the hand that still held the knife. "You could do the same to me, beloved, if you saw what it truly is you hold."
The blade lengthened and sharpened with a hot glow that coursed through him, crafting itself into a blade like Cas used to have except longer, the feeling of fire ever-present. He held it tightly, terrified if he let go that somehow, something could go wrong. The hand slide off his wrist as he watched the light of heaven shimmer through what wasn't metal, and he swallowed.
"Mike –" He couldn't think of something to say, his mouth snapping shut.
"What I want you to understand," the angel continued, voice seeped in the power of universes, "is what is being offered. You were always meant to weld my sword with me."
Arm wrapped around his chest, not restrictive, as the angel watched Dean move his wrist, the fire that was Michael in his hand without pain. As if it was some sort of challenge, he extended his arm and rotated his wrist so its point was facing them, just touching the top of his shoulder where Michael was pressed against him and vulnerable.
That arm around him tightened, but the angel made no move to stop him.
"I became loyalty without compassion," Michael whispered. "Obedience without hope. I was obsession forged from rage with only my final destiny before me."
"You would let me do this."
"I have broken Father's commandments."
Silence was draped across this tiny nook of paradise lost, he couldn't even hear the water, as the flowers, with faces turned up to heaven, waited for his decision. This creature that had ruled with fear and rage, who had allowed so much to happen, whose head was pressed against his. Michael's unneeded breaths against his cheek.
Finally he let his wrist relax, turning the point away, arm falling to his side. Michael's hand joined his own on the hilt.
"We will do what is right and good," came the soft words, "because it is right and good. You have reminded me of what I was created to be."
"Yeah, well, you have one hell of a sales pitch."
"Hmm," was the only response as Michael raised both of their hands, letting the short sword turn before them in the growing night. "It is an extension of myself."
"I can't see you." A slight tinge of regret because that apparently was a design thing with God despite Him wanting His children to get along.
"Someday you might be able to."
"How terrifying are you? I mean, I got hazy images from your memory stuff, though it was like looking through eighteen inches of gauze. And I'm pretty sure you didn't hang out in front of any heavenly mirrors. Zach boasted that he had like four faces and all these wings while he was doing obscene things with my heaven."
A thumb ran across his knuckles as Michael moved the sword.
"I was unhappy over that."
Dean knew he never wanted to ever see this creature displeased in the way good old Zachy had, just by that low tone alone.
"He was tiny compared to me, though I rarely appear in my full form, even among my siblings," Michael said.
"Uh huh. See, not helpful for size comparison."
A part of him was utterly fascinated how something that huge got all itty bitty and shoved into a human. Probably something close to trying to shove a basketball into a wine bottle.
"I fold. Albeit, I fold a great deal, but I am light."
"I'm going to just stop trying to figure it out," he said, not wanting to think how something like that would feel pressed and bound in his own meatsuit. It wasn't something he wanted to experience first-hand, but he knew it was coming all the same.
Michael's head was beside his, chin still on his shoulder, as the night took hold all around. Dean wished that what was in front of them was only this valley.
"We must end their suffering and protect the world."
"I don't – can't do it if it's paradise or whatever you want to bring."
Not that he was convinced he could do it at all no matter the conditions.
"It is Father's creation; it should be left as it is."
Dean watched them turn the sword, wanting to just stay here. If Michael gave him a good brain enema, he was certain he could be happy here.
"We must do what is right," Michael told him.
"It may be right, but it doesn't make it any easier to accept."
The heat of Michael closer, arm around him tighter, and Dean reminded himself it was still better than Sam being tortured till the universe collapsed. Maybe longer.
It wasn't quite enough to get that crushing pain around his heart to loosen.