The first time Dean Winchester saw god, He was a homeless man beside a busy road. God, that is, not Dean. And God didn't exactly look like God, what with being a hobo and all.
God sat on the roadside, on an upturned milk crate, holding a cardboard sign level with the Impala's window.
Out of the corner of Dean's eye, the sign read "Dean Winchester is saved."
When he faced it, though, the words written in black sharpie were: "We are all saved."
Dean shook his head, to clear it, and kept driving.
Even though he enjoyed hunting, there were a few things too disgusting or messed up for even Dean to deal with. One was slime monsters.
Well, it wasn't technically a slime monster, it had a name, but Dean couldn't actually pronounce it without concentrating and making his mouth hurt a little. Voody-something.
Anyway, the Voody-thing was inhabiting a small fishing pond, which wasn't really a big deal, except that it got pissed when people tried to fish in the damn pond and ended up dragging the poor bastards in by their fishing poles.
Needless to say, it wasn't very happy when Dean lit a handful of firecrackers and threw them into the pond, scattering algae and drops of water everywhere.
"Was that necessary?" Sam asked, readying his crossbow.
" 'Course it was, Sammy," Dean said, grinning. The Voody-whatsit jumped out of the water as Sam rolled his eyes, and it hung suspended over the surface of the pond.
"Ew," Dean said, and Sam made a noise of assent, his face screwed into a grimace. The Voody-something looked like a naked old man, twisted with age and half covered in scales, coated in a thin mucus-like layer of slime. With it came the reek of dead fish. Or, y'know, live fish, depending on which smelled worse.
Dean half expected it to call him whippersnapper and tell him to get away from it's pond. Instead it started screeching at him in angry Russian.
He looked at Sam. Sam sighed and fired the crossbow, hitting the Voody in the stomach and sending it sprawling on the opposite edge of the pond. Dean rushed over to it.
According to Sam, the only way to kill the thing was to dry it out.
Dean pulled the lighter out of his back pocket and lined it up with the can of bug spray.
Voody spat something in Russian at him. It sounded like gibberish.
Dean flicked the lighter on and depressed the nozzle of the spray can. A jet of flame came out, turning Voody into extra crispy fish sticks in less than ten seconds flat.
"I think it's dry, Dean," Sam said. Dean stopped his makeshift flamethrower, even though the Voody-thing was already lit, and was well on it's way to becoming a decent blaze. It smelled like deep fried fish.
"I'm hungry," Dean announced, making Sam roll his eyes again.
And then the Voody-whatsit exploded, showering Sam and Dean in slime.
There was a piece of bluish-brownish scale stuck to Sam's cheek.
The second time Dean Winchester saw God, She was a child in a park. Dean was talking to Castiel, about how the angel was more than just a weapon. More than just a hammer.
A little girl, in a pink jacket, sitting on a pretend truck with a wooden floor and big blue wheels. Unlike the rest of the children, She was just sitting there, not moving or laughing or joking. Just sitting.
Staring at them.
Dean saw Her out of the corner of his eye.
They finally got to eat after spending nearly three hours washing the slime off. The damn stuff dried fast, and itched like crazy while doing so. Dean wasn't sure about Sam, but he was pretty sure the fish smell was deeply engrained in his own nose, that he would never get rid of it and everything he smelled for the rest of his life would reek like the Voody-thing. It was a deeply disturbing thought.
Dean asked the waitress to bring him steak, the anti-fish, and Sam ordered a BLT.
"Dean," Sam said softly, glaring over his sandwich at a point behind Dean's head. Dean turned his head and glanced back, and behind him, standing near the door and looking mildly out of place, was Castiel. The angel was glancing curiously around the diner, like he had never seen the inside of one before. Which he probably hadn't.
Dean turned back, gave Sam a look, and growled disapprovingly into his forkful of steak. Sam gave him a glance that very obviously said you wanna sneak out? Dean shook his head. Even if they made it out without Cas noticing, the angel would just show up somewhere else later.
Dean felt shivers crawl up the back of his neck and knew Castiel was looking at him. He pointedly ignored the angel. Sam wrinkled his forehead, staring at Cas.
The shivers went away, after a very faint gust of wind.
"He's gone," Sam said, sounding like he didn't quite believe it. Dean shrugged. "How did you do that, Dean?"
Dean glared at his brother.
"Didn't do nothin' Sam," He said around a mouthful of steak. "Eat your sandwich."
Sam had the sense not to argue. Then.
The third time Dean Winchester saw God, He was pissed. God that is, not Dean.
"Dean, I don't think you can avoid an angel." Sam said, having rediscovered his end of the argument in the car on the way back to the motel.
"I'm not avoiding him." Dean didn't even have to look to know that Sam had his arms crossed and his pull the other one face on.
"Yeah, sure Dean."
Too tired to retort, Dean flopped over on his bed. The mattress was thin, and smelled funny, but not in a fishy way, so that might've been a sign of the bits of Voody-whatsit coming out of his nose. The steak must've been off, because Dean could feel it repeating on him.
Altogether, he just wanted to sleep.
And he did.
Dean woke up on a white sand beach, with bluer water than he thought was possible. The hell? He looked up and down the shore, his eyes fixing on a point of orange light in the distance. He might as well check it out.
It first occurred to Dean that it might be a dream after he walked about a half mile through the sand without his legs hurting. Also, he wasn't covered in sand, despite the fact that he was laying in it and sand is the stickiest substance known to man. So, yeah, not real.
The orange light was getting closer, and it was now obviously a tall bonfire.
With a man sitting next to it.
Dean came closer and closer, and the hunched figure stoking the fire looked more and more familiar.
When Dean was close enough to sit by the fire, he knew who it was.
"Dad," Dean greeted, unsure wither to be happy or sad to see John.
"Yeah," John said. "But not the one you're thinking of."
"What?" John didn't answer, choosing instead to simply gaze at his son, a very un-Johnlike smile on his lips. "You're not saying what I think you're saying."
"I am," The man who looked like John said, grinning.
It made perfect sense, in dream logic. Dean was talking to God, who just so happened to look like his dad. Sam would have a psychobabble field day with that one.
"What do you want?" Dean asked, trying and failing to be blunt in the face of his father. God laughed.
"That's what I like about you Dean, you don't tolerate bullshit." God chuckled. It was odd for Dean to see his father like this. So obviously happy, without any recently-killed demons in the picture.
Well that was depressing.
"Or, I should say, you don't tolerate other people's bullshit." Oh, God was starting to look a bit more like John now, pulling Dean's father's ex-marine you better listen or I will fuck you up face. Dean sat up a fraction straighter, hearing his back crack.
Awfully realistic for a dream.
"Dean," God said, sighing. "I can't allow you to torment your brother like this."
"I'm tormenting Sam?" Dean asked.
"Not your younger brother. One who is much older."
"What?" Dean asked. God chuckled and glanced at the fire, which was starting to burn out. The orange glow flickered in John's eyes, a sarcastic grin in the corner of his mouth, making him look more demonic than godly.
Dean's face was pressed into a pillow that smelled like sour milk now that his nose was clear. His dream came back to him in fuzzy bits and pieces, starting with the image of John--err, God--glancing into the dying fire with a little smile on his face.
Dean stretched, and looked to Sam's bed. His little brother was huddled up under the covers, meaning he hadn't gotten up at six am for once.
Or not. Dean's cell phone clock read 4:23 am.
"Fuck," Dean whispered, too awake to fall back asleep.
Sam did wake at six in the goddamn morning, which Dean thought shouldn't even be a time. His theory was that all hours between midnight and eight should just be dark o'clock or, possibly, naptime.
Dean grunted at Sam over his coffee mug. Winchester for good morning.
"Dean?" Sam asked muzzily, rubbing at his eyes and heading for the coffee pot. "Why're you up?"
Dean grunted again, with more of a downwards inflection. Dunno. Stop talking.
The last part of his message must've been lost somewhere between his mouth and Sam's ears.
"That's weird." Sam said, sitting across from Dean with his own mug of steaming coffee. "So, what're we doing today?" Dean rubbed his face with a thumb, trying to kickstart his brain.
"Uh…thing in Montana." He said, trying to remind Sam of the details without having to actually remember them himself.
"Golem," Sam said, more to himself than Dean. The older Winchester nodded absently. There was a comfortable silence as they took a simultaneous drink of coffee. The caffeine briefly sparked a reaction in Dean's sluggish brain.
"Sam, if someone said you had an older brother, like, other than me, who would they be talking about?" Dean asked.
The question had just jumped out of his mouth while his brain was looking the other way. He wanted to take it back, but that would be even weirder than saying it in the first place, so he let it hang in the air.
Sam raised an eyebrow.
"I'd assume they were talking about religion," Sam said. Dean didn't have to ask for clarification. "According to the Bible, we're all the children of God."
"Oh," Dean said.
"What's this about, Dean?"
"Nothin'." Stupid dream.
God, having watched over Dean for the boy's entire life, was well aware of his think head. Dean's head, that is.
God had a plan.
They were driving along a country back road, the only things in sight a line of interconnected telephone poles and scrub grass.
In other words, Dean's favorite place to be in the world.
The breeze blowing in through the window smelled like dirt and sun, waking him up better than coffee ever could. The radio, static free for once, played Led Zeppelin. Sam dozed against the window.
Dean was very aware of what felt like a big, stupid grin on his face, but it probably looked more like a smirk. Montana was hours away, not counting rest stops.
It was turning out to be a good day.
Something behind the car broke, sending a loud SNAP reverberating through the air. Sam started, woke, and turned to look out the back window.
"Dean…" He said, eyes wide. Dean looked at his rearview mirror and, holy shit, one of the telephone poles had somehow cracked down the middle, and the wires were dragging the rest down with it.
"Dean!" Sam yelled. The beam in front of them was collapsing, and Dean swerved to the side to get out of the way. The beam landed just shy of the front bumper.
"Holy shit," Dean said. Sam nodded, staring out the window at the telephone pole that had nearly crushed them. "You okay, Sammy?"
"Yeah," Sam said.
Dean felt his hand searching for anything that could be used as a weapon. Empty takeout wrappers, while nasty, probably weren't going to do much against whatever just did that. Sam, embarrassingly well prepared for this sort of thing, pulled a handgun out of the glove compartment.
They stepped out simultaneously, crouched and wary. Sam pointed the gun to the front of the car and Dean scanned the area in the back. All clear.
Like that meant anything.
The ground seemed to hum under Dean's boots, a static charge singing through the dirt.
"I feel it."
They took a few tentative steps forward, keeping low.
More noises sounded suddenly, a cross between gunfire and popping bones, like the telephone poles were flexing their joints.
Which, in a way, was exactly what the beams were doing. They picked themselves up, with no visible means of doing so, and reconnected to their bases. It reminded Dean of a racecar set he'd seen in a commercial. Where the course dropped obstacles in front of the shiny plastic racecars in an attempt to weed out the slow ones.
Thoughts of a toy should not make the bottom drop out of his stomach like that.
"The fuck?" Sam whispered, lowering the gun a fraction in his confusion.
"I dunno, but I say we haul ass before it happens again." Sam agreed with this plan, and they climbed back into the car, keeping a lookout for bits of falling sky.
Dean sat on something that crinkled. He jumped to his feet, nerves still on edge from their near miss. Laying in the center of his seat was a plain white envelope.
"Keeps getting' weirder and weirder," Dean muttered, having the oddest feeling that he was having the most realistic dream of his life.
The front of the envelope said to, Dean Winchester, rural route 15, just outside of Wyoming in a strong, familiar handwriting.
"What is that?" Sam asked. Dean could tell he was expecting it to explode, or come to life in his hand, or give him a paper cut. Dean was pretty sure that wasn't the intention.
He opened the envelope slowly, unfolding the back flap. There was a stamp on the front, made of a shiny gold paper, that read Eden.
Dean read the note aloud to Sam.
Do I have your attention?
He crumpled it into a little ball and threw it by the side of the road.
The next diner on the way was half an hour later, but they chose not to stop, eyeing the power lines wearily. The one after that was better, with few cables or surrounding buildings.
"You're getting messages from God." Sam repeated for what had to be the hundredth time since Dean told him.
"Yeah," Dean replied.
"Messages. From God."
"Yes." Sam opened his mouth to say it again, possibly with an extra word or inflection, but Dean cut him off.
"Sam, if you say it again, I will throw you out of this car." Wisely, Sam didn't say it again.
They pulled into the diner's parking lot, Dean making sure not to leave his precious car near any trees or overhanging ledges, and went in.
The first think they ordered was coffee, strongest in the house. Sam's inability to form a sentence impaired conversation until the waitress came back.
"So, since when?" Sam asked awkwardly.
"Have I been talking to the big guy?" Dean said gruffly, making Sam less uncomfortable and more irritated. "Since last night, I guess."
"Dean, this is huge," Sam started, pulling his hands away from the mug to gesture at Dean. "What's he saying? Are you a prophet or something?"
"Dunno, Sam. Didn't ask." Sam exhales through his nose, like an angry dog.
"He must have said something."
"Yeah, something about mistreating my brother," Dean said.
"You're mistreating me?" Sam asked, brow furrowed.
"Apparently not," Dean quipped. "He said it was my older brother."
"So, that could mean basically anyone older than you." Dean nodded. Sam put on his thinking face, and brought the coffee mug to his lips for a thinking sip.
His eyes widened, and he stared into the cup. Sam's mouth dropped open in a little 'o' of surprise, and he just held it there for a second, staring into the cheap coffee like it held the secrets of the universe.
Sam placed the cup on the table, gently, like he was afraid of disturbing something. He placed his hand over the top before Dean could look inside.
"Dean," Sam squeaked. Dean raised an eyebrow. The younger Winchester lifted his hand the slightest bit to allow Dean to peer inside.
Okay, that wasn't normal. Or physically possible. Assuming he was seeing that right.
It was probably--no, definitely--just a shadow on the liquid. Because there was no way it was parted. Liquid did not divide itself around thin air, not even the goddamn Red Sea.
Sam's eyes met Dean's. Okay, maybe it was real.