This is the final part of The Hand of Sorrow Verse. The very final part of this arc. Thank you to everyone who has read and alerted and reviewed. I can't promise anything, but there may be a future arc to all of this, maybe.


Well there was a time when you let me know
What's really going on below
But now you never show that to me do you
But remember when I moved in you
And the holy dove was moving too
And every breath we drew was hallelujah

The end is near, Dean knows that, the end of this war or the end of this battle he cannot really tell anymore, but the end is coming ever closer. He knows, just like Castiel and Sam and Bobby do, that this really is their last chance at this, their last chance to stop Lucifer before he is too well guarded or they are dead, probably even both.

They are driving towards the suspected location of Lucifer's run on the gates, driving far faster than is really safe and without a plan or a hope for success, Dean figures that they do not need one at this point, they just need to get in, kill Lucifer and not die, the final part being the most important because Dean would really rather like to come out of this alive and he prefers that Sam, Cas and Bobby all do too.

The only thing that they have planned is the distribution of weapons, Sam no longer having his demon killing mojo and Castiel being a little less than brilliant at hand to hand when he was a full blown angel let alone whatever he is now. They have one angel killing weapon, which presumably will also kill demons, and one demon killing knife, Castiel is still adamant that Dean is the only one who can kill Lucifer, has no reason to believe that there would be deception in that as well, so Dean has been given the bow to use, determined that the best thing to do is to take a shot at the fallen Morning Star before he has a chance to kill the angel he has kidnapped.

Sam is taking the demon killing knife, not because Dean does not believe that Bobby would be less of an asset, but because he needs the older hunter's experience in other areas. Castiel and Bobby have their own knives, crafted of iron and angelic arrowheads, no one knows if they will work, if they will be enough to stop a demon, let alone an angel, but it is all they have to go on. If that fails then the two of them will fall back on holy water and exorcisms. It is a bad plan, they all know that it is, no one needs to say it or mention it, the likelihood that it will succeed, let alone that they will all come out of it alive, is slim.

If he thinks about it all, which he is trying very hard not to, Dean is almost surprised that this whole ritual, pretty much like the entire apocalypse so far now he comes to mentioning it, is not taking place in a dingy cave or warehouse with a storm raging outside. Instead, Lucifer seems to be all set up in a wide open field and as they drop the Impala off just far away enough that the demons will not be immediately alert to their arrival, there is hardly a cloud in the sky, in fact, it is well on the way to being a beautiful day.

All in all, it feels wrong.

Naturally this puts a crimp in the plan ever so slightly, because now there will be no sneaking and no stealth involved in the attack, nor is there any time left to step back and rethink, they will simply have to march in, get Dean to the point where he might have a clean shot with the only weapon capable of killing an angel that they have, and hope that they walk out again.

Castiel has assured Dean that Lucifer will have taken Katie as his vessel this time, it is the only reason that Astaroth would have taken the girl with her when she left, Katie had served her purpose as far as the release of the Horsemen went, but as a closed vessel, Lucifer would only ever leave the body of his own free will, he could never be forced out so the method that Katie attempted to use to stop him the last time will be useless. Dean is less than happy about the fact that he will have to kill the young woman who got pulled into all of this against her will, who got dragged back in after they had tried to keep her out of it.

Due to the location, however, they do take a moment to rethink, to allow the angel to assure them that there is a lengthily ritual that Lucifer will have to complete before the sacrifice can be made, it is one that he cannot afford to stop, although stopping him from completing the ritual would be another way to kill him.

Dean wants to ask how Castiel knows all of this now, where before it took him days to work out what Lucifer was trying to do. He wants to ask, wants to demand to know what Sandalphon did to Cas when he touched the angel on the forehead, except that Castiel has been more certain of himself since they got in the car, almost happy and Dean supposes that it is because the angel can see an end to it all now. An end to everything that this has been building towards for years, no more saving the world, no more fighting against both angels and demons, just Dean, Sam, Cas and Bobby, saving people and hunting things without the weight of the world on their shoulders. So sure, Dean can see the end coming too and he can admit to himself that he is looking forward to it, but he can also admit to himself that he is scared of this, scared of the way that it will affect his future, if he even has one.

The demons are not even bothering to hide in the field when the three hunters and the angel arrive, they simply stand there, watching and waiting, listening as Lucifer's voice, the soft pitch of Katie's coupled with the ancient power of the former Lightbringer that sends shivers through all gathered, cuts through the air. Sam, Bobby and Castiel are at the front, as much as Dean chafes at bringing up the rear, they need him alive to make the shot, they insisted on going through first. There was not time to argue it out, they simply ran with it all.

It is not so much an all out battle, Lucifer has diverted a number of his forces to back up the Horsemen while they distract Michael and the angels, which is something that Dean really does not understand, if Sandalphon knows this is a trap then surely Michael must too, so why are they not here dealing with it? Dean can only hope that they know what they are doing and knows that hope is a foolish one. So it is not so much of a battle but more of an ugly fight, Sam, Bobby and Cas quickly outnumbered and outgunned, struggling to keep their heads above the water as Dean fights his way closer, knows the range of the bow but does not want to risk missing, wants to be close enough to see the light of Lucifer's stolen eyes go out as the arrow cuts into him.

All he can hear is screaming and chanting and praying, screaming from the dying demons and his friends, more than friends, his damn family, even Cas, chanting from Lucifer, growing louder and more frantic and prayers falling from the lips of the angel that he has strapped to the alter, prayers to a Father who sees all and cares none. Dean is close now, so close as he slams an arrow into the heart of an approaching demon, not taking the time to aim, not taking the time to bother, knowing that the arrow will fly true this close.

Demon after demon falls and dimly, the heat of battle upon him and blood pounding in his ears, Dean is aware of Cas going down under the weight of the demons, of Sam going to his aid, of another demon falling at the hunter's feet, a demon in the body of a girl no older than seventeen.

His focus is not on that, is not on Bobby or Cas or Sam or any one of a hundred other things, it is not on Lucifer's words or the rise of his stolen voice. It is on the feel of ancient and holy wood in his hands, of the string taut against his fingers, the brush of his calloused hand against his cheek as he draws, the touch of his lips against the arrow as he aims and wills it to fire fast and fly straight and true, the cold sting as he releases and the rush of air as it flies, the pounding of his feet on the ground as he runs forward and the splash of bright blood against the blue shirt that Katie wears as the arrow goes right through her, right through Lucifer, and embeds itself in the body of a demon stood just behind, the clatter of Lucifer's blade hitting stone and the louder prayers of the angel who's name Dean does not know.

There is another arrow in his hand as he reaches Lucifer's side, bends back the head that belongs to Katie, sees blood on their lips as the former Lightbringer laughs even in the face of his own death.

"You lose," he laughs in Katie's voice, so different from her laugh. "You lose." Dean growls at him, growls at the devil, and shoves the arrow through his throat, through Katie's throat, stepping back as the body collapses, mind somehow telling him to pick up bow and sword before stepping back, shouting to Castiel just seconds before he is forced to close his eyes against the blinding light that comes from the dead body of the fallen angel and the screams of dying demons fill his ears as the light fades.

He is aware before he even opens his eyes that they are no longer alone on the field. Although the empty husks of demons lie dead in the grass and the body of Katie and Lucifer is at his feet, Dean knows that they are not alone and as he opens his eyes he is greeted with a sight he never thought he would see. The field is full of people, men, women, teenagers, all coated in splattered blood and carrying various weapons not out of place during the holy crusades. He can feel the others at his back now, close, watching those gathered and Dean knows, he just knows, that these are angels. Knows from the way that Castiel stands a little closer to him than is necessary, from the way that they all look at him, blank, unfeeling and uncaring.

"Congratulations," one of them steps forward, tall, dark skin and darker eyes, bald head and white teeth that flash in the sunlight. "You did well, Dean Winchester." There is no warmth, no joy, nothing and Dean wants to ask who this man is, this angel is. Hears Castiel mutter his name, Michael, and sees dark eyes turn upon his friend, steps in front of him, worried that this archangel will finish what was started so many months ago.

Another steps forward, this one in the body of a teen, black hair and eyes that should be sightless, reaches a hand out and touches Cas on the chin, searching his eyes and smiling at him, though the smile means nothing because it is cold, not as cold as Michael's but chilling all the same. Behind Michael, Dean can see Sandalphon, and another who is his opposite, but who seems close anyway. He feels surrounded and over powered and out matched, nearly misses the first words that Michael says to Castiel.

"You did well, Little Brother, played your part perfectly and we have what we want from it," the tone is sickly, cuts through all gathered, makes Dean's gut twist with something that screams nothing is right. "You have my," the leader of the archangels pauses, seeming to search for the word, "regrets," he settles on finally, "for all that was done to you, for the necessity behind it. Go with Raphael, let him heal you and restore you to grace that we may reward you."

Dean expects Castiel to jump at that, to run to leave with his kind, his people, to be healed and cured and returned to all that he knew. So he is surprised when Cas shrinks away from Raphael's touch, shakes his head, eyes wide and afraid, moving closer to Dean, to Sam and Bobby. Sees something flicker across Michael's face, something like anger and Raphael seems to throw a look that is reproachful at him.

"Very well," Michael snaps and raises a hand. Just like that the angels are gone, in a whisper of feathers and the breath of air across stunned faces.

SPN

It is a week since Lucifer was killed, a week since Dean fulfilled his destiny and stopped the Apocalypse. Sam and Bobby both have been in high spirits, looking for future hunts with an ease and lightness that would have made Dean's heart soar a month ago. Castiel is settling down, now, settling into the life of a hunter, already so firmly a part of the group, of the Winchesters, that there is no way that they have even considered leaving him to find his own way, he is going with them.

Dean knows he should be happy, knows he should be over the moon, but for one thing, but for Lucifer's words to him as he killed him, as he took Katie's life from her as well.

"You lose."

It is not until he turns on the television that he begins to comprehend the meaning there, not until he sees the news, an entire town dead, wiped out over night, with no sign of illness or attack, just dead, in streets, in their homes, at work. Dead. All of them. He understands.

The Apocalypse was never stopped with Lucifer's death, it is just that the agents of it were changed.

They failed.

Well, maybe there's a god above
But all I've ever learned from love
Was how to shoot somebody who out drew you
It's not a cry that you hear at night
It's not somebody who's seen the light
It's a cold and it's a broken hallelujah

Hallelujah...

Reviews are little Castiels that fly above our heads and mini Deans under the bed. A small Sam in hand and a tiny John by the chair, a review that can show how much you care.

Artemis