So I abandoned Kyrie. Seriously it wasn't going to happen after this week's episode. Then between the awesomeness of Gabriel and a weird idea I had, I figure it was time for a fic. So this one I thought was just too good not to do...and, well, read on.

Grief was a strange thing.

It didn't hit Dean on the plane ride back. Didn't hit him on the car ride to Bobbys, nor as he watched the picture of the four of them burn. As he watched it the only thing he felt, really, was numbness. After all, as he watched the last real evidence that Jo Harvelle had stood in the room burn away, it seemed to him that he was in a dream. Their plan, their great master don't-let-the-angels-take-your-bodies-plain was a bust. Five things. Five stupid things and Lucifer happened to be one of them. So much had been lost that it was almost too much. He couldn't focus on any one loss, on any one problem or he feared he truly would shatter. Like the shot glass Bobby threw against the wall as they left, the one they barely heard shatter behind the closed door.

No, it was not until they were safe in the motel, when he was in the show, that was when the grief hit. The water that streamed down his body was warm and comforting, comfort he didn't deserve. He had died three times protecting people and yet when Jo tried to protect him--damn it, there wasn't anyone to protect her. Sam, his dad, Cas--they had brought him back. But there wasn't anyone to protect Jo and she was gone. Blindly his fingers reached for the knob of the shower, twisting it as hard as he could in the other direction until the water that streamed across the planes of his shoulders was freezing. Or he knew it was freezing. Honestly he didn't feel it. Didn't feel a damn thing. It felt like someone had ripped his chest open and taken out everything he was.

What did it matter now? What did any of it matter. Death was released, Lucifer was immune to the Colt and Jo Harvelle was dead. What was the point in anything anymore? From Sam's silence he had a feeling that Lucifer had played some kind of mind-fuck on him, again. Everything was going to hell in a hand basket and he was supposed to stand against it all. How the hell was he going to do that? Every stand he made, every time he gained an inch, those bastards took a mile. He could and he would fight to his last breath but that didn't matter. They would still fight him, he would still loose. It was as simple as that and standing in the shower, he could acknowledge that. Even if he couldn't anywhere else.

"Dean?" there was a knock on the door, "Dean, you okay in there?"

Blinking drops out of his eyes, Dean looked at the door through the cheap fabric of the shower curtain. He must have been there for a while to worry even Sam. Slowly Dean reached behind him, his fingers grasping the knob. Twisting it off, he pushed the curtain back. His hand reached out and grabbed the towel. His movements felt robotic, alien. He knew the weren't for him. He could sit in the shower and let the cold water stream over him for eternity. He deserved it. Deserved the pain, the suffering, the abandonment. But it wasn't to be. Any longer spent in the bathroom and he knew that Sam would be there, pulling him out, doing everything to warm him back up. Sam or Cas, the two people he knew would throw themselves into hell to bring him back.

Wrapping the towel around his waist, Dean walked into the other room of the hotel. Sam sat on the bed nearby, obviously having been pacing back and forth. His brother's hands were irritated from wringing them together and his hair was in even further disarray than usually was. His eyes slid over to where Cas stood against the wall, his hands loose by his sides. His eyes were downcast but they rose when Dean exited the bathroom. What Dean saw in them though, did little to make him feel better. After all, Cas hadn't known either of the women well enough for their deaths to make him look as he did. Something had happened to him as well, something terrible. But Dean couldn't find the strength to make his mouth work, to force words of concern through lips that were not trembling only by virtue of how tightly they were pressed together.

"Hey," Sam said, "you should get some cloths on, try to warm up."

Dean nodded slowly, his feet taking him towards the bag in the corner. He picked up cloths and headed back into the bathroom, pulling them on. He kept his back to the mirror though. He did not know if he could stand to look at himself now. Not so soon after everything that had happened. Dean opened the door to the bathroom and stepped back out in the main room.

But everything was not as he had left it.

"Dean get back!" Sam shouted.

Dean's head turned towards the newest occupant in the room. He still looked exactly as he had when they last seen him. Same cocky twist of the lips, same bright hazel eyes. The cloths were different, the haircut altered a bit as well but even if everything had changed, he had a feeling they would still recognize the being in front of them. He wasn't looking at them with any sort of fear or concern, just with that same look of 'i know so much more than you'. His eyes went over to Dean and the way they lit up made the barest flutter of concern make itself known in the pit of Dean's stomach.

"Oh oh oh, they did a number on you," Gabriel said with a grin, "down boys," he said glancing at Cas and Sam, "I ain't here to hurt you. See? The greif-struck one gets it," he looked at Cas, "and I think he gets it too."

"If he was here to hurt us, he would have already," Castiel said, though his eyes didn't move from Gabriel's form, "why are you here?"

"Well I was thinking about what you said," Gabriel said, "you know, about me 'screwing with people' and my 'fear of standing up to my family' and as much as it pissed me off to admit it, you had a point."

"And you took the trouble of finding us to tell us we were right?" Sam asked.

"First off, it wasn't really that hard," Gabriel said, "I could find you anywhere. You two ain't that hard to find. Second, that isn't why I came."

"Then why are you here?" Castiel questioned.

"Oh this is just another stop on a very long road," he said, "I stopped off in Maine, paid Raphael a visit. Nice job there, by the way, he was still trapped when I got there. Not too happy with you either, Cas. But we all know how Raphael gets when you step on his toes," Gabriel crossed the room, "and then I went off to a little town in Brazil and you'll never believe who I found there--"

"Lucifer," Sam cut in quickly, "you found Luci--"

"Shut up and let me finish," Gabriel snapped glaring at him, "and no, you're wrong. Big brother left that shit hole to its shitiness. I did run into Death though," he shuddered, "dude gives me the creeps. But that's not who I'm talking about."


Dean's eyes widened as he looked over at Cas. There was certainty in the Angel's eyes, a certainty he didn't like. Michael was here. The Archangel that had put them through so much shit it was almost difficult to believe he was a force for the side of good. He was on Earth. Dean looked back over at Gabriel who slowly raised his hands and clapped, the sound anything but celebratory in the grief filled room.

"Bingo," he said, "if I still had you in those tv shows, you'd get the million dollar prize. Michael," he let out a low whistle.

"I thought Michael was waiting for Dean," Sam said, "what's he doing here? He needs a Vessel."

"Circumstances change," Gabriel said, "Death's here, the Colt-idea was bust--great job on that one by the way--and we're running out of time. I'm sure Lucifer told you. Six moths, Detroit. We gotta work faster. We're on a time limit."

"So there's a 'we' now?" Sam demanded, "you're on our side?"

Suddenly Gabriel was in front of him, their eyes locked. Sam braced himself for an attack but there was none, the Archangel simply glared furiously up at the younger Winchester.

"Lets get one thing clear right now, shall we? I'm on one side and that side is Michael's. Now do you want to fly or should I just grab and pull you there?"

They didn't get a chance to make up their minds.

One moment they were in the cheap motel room, the next they were in a completely different place.

They stood in a circular squareof stones, surrounded on all sides by ornate buildings, except for the place where they should have entered. It was night, wherever they were, the sky painted a dark navy. The entire place was illuminated by lights that seemed to make everything around them glow. The buildings, the stones, even their skin. Dean looked over to the left where a massive pillar stretched towards the heavens. People around them walked with their eyes full of reverence. Even Castiel seemed surprised by where they were, his eyes moving around as if he was in disbelief as to their location. Only Gabriel seemed amused by the surprise and reverence painted on their faces, as if the place he stood was somehow familiar and comforting. Dean did not know how any place as large and ornate could be, he felt uncomfortable just standing there.

"Welcome," Gabriel said, motioning outwards.

"Where the hell are we?" Dean finally got himself to speak.

"Seriously?" Gabriel looked him up and down incredulously, "wow. That Hunting has killed your education," he shook his head, "welcome to Rome," he explained, "welcome to the Vatican."

"The Vatican?" Dean repeated.

Gabriel rolled his eyes. Dean gritted his teeth, trying to force himself to care. But he was finding it hard. All he wanted to do was drown in icy water, or drink until every blond woman in the world looked vaguely the same. Instead some Archangel had broken into his room and kidnapped the three of them, making them travel the way Dean hated most--even more than flying. And yet he found that at the end of the day, he didn't really care. He could be anywhere in the world and the world would still be little more than cruel joke. Hardly worth saving at all really. Dean looked over at Gabriel who seemed torn between amused frustration and outright murderous intent. His eyes moved form the Archangel to the largest and most ornate building, the one at the head of the square.

"He's in there right?" he asked, his eyes not moving from the building.

"Dean!" Sam strode forward, "Dean what the hell are you doing?" he grabbed his brother's shoulder.

"I'm going, Sammy," Dean said, not moving his eyes.

"Going--going where?" Sam questioned, "Dean, I know you're upset but you can't just--"

"The Colt didn't work," Dean said turning and looking at Sam, "it didn't work, Sammy, and I'm out of ideas."

"Then we'll figure something out," Sam said, "don't let him just take you like this--"

"Sorry, Sammy," Dean said breaking his brother's grip.

Sam started forward but Castiel held out an arm, stopping the younger Winchester as Dean walked forward towards the Church. Sam looked down at Castiel but the Angel had his gaze on Dean.

"Cas, Cas you gotta let me go to him," Sam said, "Dean's gonna be possessed--"

"No," Castiel said, "he is not."

"What do you mean?" Sam demanded, "you heard him--"

"Michael already has a Vessel," Castiel said, his gaze moving to where Gabriel stood, "or he wouldn't have sent Gabriel to bring us here."

Gabriel smiled wickedly and Castiel felt his stomach turn. He knew they should stop Dean from going into the church but they were out of ideas and running dangerously out of time. The Colt didn't work against Lucifer and another plan half as good would take time to figure out. Michael had found a suitable vessel or this would not be happening. Even Gabriel had to locate a vessel before he could pull his disappearing act, one that would allow him access to his powers. Angels could not simply walk the earth, it didn't work like that. And Lucifer's sworn enemy, he would not be foolish enough to enter Earth without a body that would allow him at the very least to fight.

He was worried for Dean, same as Sam, but he knew that this was one fight they could not help Dean with. Grief was a paralyzing emotion, one that could override everything else one felt. Dean was lost to it right now and that was something they could fix. They could not join him in the darkness, not this time. All they could do was wait. Wait and hope and do everything they could to make sure that when he came back there was a world to fight for. Though it killed Castiel inside not to be able to do anything, to be so helpless, he knew that any attempt they made at kindness now would be met with disgust from Dean.

"We must let him speak to Michael."

Down the square, Dean crested the steps and walked through the massive double doors into the Church. Sense told him it was closed, there would have been people inside of it if it was open. But there was no-one there. As he stepped inside, the beauty of the place was not lost on him. If the square outside had been spectacular, the interior of the cathedral was a thousand times that. Everywhere he looked, images of a God he had never truly believed in until recently reigned down on him. He could still wonder in the back of his mind if Gabriel had really once looked like the statues depicted him. If so he couldn't really blame the guy for wanting a face transplant. His eyes moved past the statues of Raphael and of the God everyone said abandoned them to the front of the Church.

A single, solitary figure stood under the glow of the lights.

Dressed in an open coat that reached his ankles, the contours of his body were lost to the garment. Dean frowned as he approached, realizing that Michael seemed to be rather short. The blond hair that he had seen in the pictures was there, but it was wavy and reached his shoulders. Dean at least looked at the Archangel's hands to see if the infamous flaming sword was there but they were empty, covered by tan leather gloves that Dean could have sworn looked familiar. As he approached the figure, elation and trepidation spread through him, against his own will. He didn't know why, but those were the feelings, muddling together.

His feet stopped when he was still behind Michael, but close enough for it to be clear that he was a good head shorter than Dean and, though his form was lost to the black coat he wore, it was not the body of a man. If Dean had to bet, he'd bet that Michael's sorry vessel wasn't that of a man.

It was a girl.

"You wanna talk?" Dean demanded, "then why don't you turn around and show me the sorry son of a bitch who took my place."

Michael said nothing before he turned around. Later on, Dean would think that somewhere deep inside he knew. He had to know. It was just sick and twisted enough that the strongest of the Archangels would do it. But it didn't stop his eyes from widening in horror as every emotion he felt was wiped away by the simple revelation of the sorry son of a bitch who had taken his place as Michael's vessel. Dean had been destroying himself over how he had been unable to protect her, but somehow this was a thousand times more terrible than anything he could have imagined. There was no blood, no eyes struggling to focus, nothing to show what had been done to her. Whole, alive--everything he had wished she would somehow be again and yet it was in the worst way possible. He looked down at Michael and the son of a bitch smiled up at him, that small smile that lit up the eyes he was certain he would never see again.

"No," was the only word his lips could make, his voice reverant enough that any passerby would think he was praying, "no."

"Hello, Dean," the Archangel said.

It was Michael who said those words.

But it was Jo Harvelle's voice.

OK so I know Dean was a bit crazy, everyone was. But i figured after loosing two awesome girls like the Harvelle's, they'd be acting a bit weird. Poor Dean, things are about to get even worse for him.

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