Disclaimer: I have nothing, I own nothing. Damn.
A/N: This is a sequel to "And Many Happy Returns of the Day." It's complete but I'm posting it in two parts, this chapter and an epilogue. And for Dean, it's time to wake up. Please R&R.
UNWRAPPING THE GIFT
It had been relentless, the passing of the days. Since Gabriel's visit, and even before that, since Lucifer had so casually told Sam that Sam would agree to be his vessel in six months in Detroit. Same place as the future that asshat Zach had shown him, but almost two years earlier. For a moment, he wondered if he'd made a bad mistake, agreeing to get back together with Sam. He'd hoped it would work to prevent Sam's saying "yes" to Lucifer, but instead, it only seemed to have accelerated things.
Sam had told him about what Lucifer had said, after Dean had recovered consciousness, Sam sitting on the edge of the bed, looking scared and young and desperate and hopeful Dean would have some idea, any idea, about what to do. Dean had been afraid for his younger brother, too, yet some part of him couldn't help cynically noting that when the shit hit the fan, Dean suddenly wasn't too bossy or controlling, and Sam wasn't in such a hurry to grow up.
He'd mentally kicked himself. Apocalypse, now; working out the hitches in the Winchester family dynamics, later. No matter how rough Sam and his relationship might be, it was still always Winchesters against the world. Or Hell.
Before Gabriel had shown up to bestow his lousy birthday gifts—well, okay, the original straight-from-1967 Impala parts had been pretty incredible—Dean would have added Heaven into the "Winchesters against the—" mix. Now, though, he couldn't really say that anymore, could he?
Since then, he'd spent a few minutes every day, staring at himself in the mirror, trying to catch a glimpse of something, anything, that might hint at his other self waking up. He smiled unhappily. Funny how he'd never doubted what old Gabe had told him. He wasn't sure what he expected to happen. One minute staring at his stubbled mug, the next watching a tiny halo appear? Hearing a bell ring? Suddenly being taller than Sammy?
Okay, maybe it wasn't all downside.
Two days ago, Sam had awakened, gasping and sweating, crying out "No!" Sam had mutely nodded when his brother had gently asked if it's been another nocturnal visit from everybody's favorite fallen angel, then he'd raised haunted eyes.
"Has, um, has Michael ever, you know, made contact?" Sam had asked hesitantly. "I mean, we know Zachariah said you were Michael's vessel, but has Michael himself said anything?"
Dean had been tempted to reply, "Well, Sammy, since that would require me to walk down the street talking to myself, to the consternation—yes, Sam, I know the word so you can stop looking so damn surprised all the time!---of the passersby, that would be a honking huge 'No'." Instead, he'd just shaken his head and then assured Sam there was no fucking way Sam was ever going to give him to Lucifer.
Of course, that "no" was not the absolute truth. Maybe. Every now and then, during rare moments of relaxation, he thought he heard a whisper, a word or two, as if in response to whatever he'd been thinking about. But nothing more than that, and he'd worked hard to convince himself it was all in his head.
Well, duh, asshole. So's Michael!
It had sort of worked for a while, though it got harder and harder. And then…last week just happened to, well, happen.
During yet another strained drive, Sam had suddenly demanded Dean pull over. Both startled and pissed off by the order from his younger brother, Dean had growled an assent, turned the steering wheel sharply and slammed the Impala to a halt. Sam had been halfway out the door before the wheels had stopped turning. He'd snarled that he was going for a walk and had disappeared into the trees alongside the road.
Exhausted and drained by everything, including the gritted-teeth relationship he and Sam had had for a few months now, he'd leaned back against the headrest and wearily closed his eyes, muttering, "little brothers."
Tell me about it!
He'd blinked. It had sounded like him, only the timber was deeper, more powerful somehow.
He was never happy because nothing was ever enough. And talk about a sense of entitlement. There was a sigh. I enabled it. Indulged him too much. Carried his responsibilities. And ended up with a spoiled brat who sees himself as a perpetual victim!
At least, Dean was pretty sure it was the slowly—too damned slowly!—awakening Michael part of him who'd said that. About, you know, Lucifer. No way he'd ever say stuff like that about Sam. Nope. No way. Uh uh.
He'd checked the rearview mirror before Sam came back, just casually really, nothing serious, just looking to see if his nose had grown.
Even if he were looking forward to suddenly not being Dean Winchester, Truly Awesome Brother and All-Around Stand-Up Guy, anymore, he didn't have a clue how to go about it. Before, it had been easy: angel condom, just say "yes." Now? He had no fucking idea. He was pretty sure Googling wouldn't help, and for once, even Bobby would have to buy a vowel.
And so they stumbled forward, all three, er, two of them—Sam, Michael and him—on their way to the plains of Megiddo. Why, yes, Sam, once again I astound you. Not only do I read but I even do research on occasion. And I thought researching Armageddon might be a good idea, seeing as how we were the fuckers who started it all.
Oh, and by the way, Mikey, with Detroit looming ever closer, you just might want to get your angelic ass into gear!
Dean knew they were both bone-tired, neither one of them sleeping well at night, while days had been spent futilely chasing after possible means of confronting Lucifer without either of them ceasing to be human. At least, that's what Sam thought. Dean, on the other hand, knew it was way too late for one of them.
Sam was giving up. Dean could see it more every day and today, when the calendar flipped from April 30th to May 1st, Sam slid right over the edge into the proverbial pit of despair. Watching his little brother let go, Dean stopped caring about staying human and just wanted to become someone, something, that could prove to Sam that Lucifer would never have him.
Problem was, he still had no idea how to unlock the door. He'd tried everything he could think of. Even practically dancing a tango in a church hadn't accomplished anything except getting him a frown that promised rulers in his future from a tough-looking nun. It would have been nice if Gabriel had left him a fucking instruction manual when the archangel had done his little info dump.
Finally, this morning, Dean had stared into the grimy mirror of the abandoned house they'd crashed in—they'd been seeing more of them all the time--and whispered, "Yes. Yes. Okay? Yes. Hello? You in there? Damn it, wake up!" Only Dean had stared back at him.
He and Sam packed up in silence. The hunt in Kentucky had finished last night and now they were at loose ends, with May 1st glaring at them and Sam muttering, "Time's up."
Dean closed the door behind him carefully, not sure the door wouldn't fall over if he shut it normally. Sam was leaning against the side of the Impala, staring unseeingly at the farm vehicles and pick-up trucks and horse vans that rumbled along the country road not even fifty feet beyond the house's overgrown yard. He never shifted his gaze to Dean as the older Winchester approached but asked, "Do you think we should go to Bobby's?"
He sounded so exhausted and lost that all Dean's big brother instincts went on red alert. Dean wanted to hit something. Preferably a fallen angel, a whole bunch of demons and, oh yeah, Zachariah just because he hated the bastard's smarmy face.
Being denied the opportunity at the moment to beat the shit out of whatever he could, he answered Sam's question with a shake of his head. "I don't think we should, Sammy. We're heading for the endgame and I'd rather leave Bobby out of it."
Sam nodded dispiritedly and started for the passenger door, as Dean threw his duffel into the trunk. An instant later, he was flying backward. He slammed into the house wall with a grunt of pain and stuck there as if it had been made of flypaper.
When the spots in front of his eyes cleared, he saw Sam struggling in the grip of four men, all of whom sported black eyes. A van, with an open door, stood a little past the Impala and he realized the sound of the vehicles on the road has masked the van's approach. Even as he watched, one of the demons clipped Sam on the head and Sam slumped unconscious, kept upright only by the two demons holding his arms.
A familiar figure strolled around the Impala and grinned at Dean. "Why, hello, Dean. You're still that damn cockroach I can't get rid of."
"Meg," Dean snarled. He struggled harder but was still unable to budge a millimeter away from the wall. "I swear to God, I will permanently wipe that smirk from your face."
"Still full of hot air, too, I see." Meg's grin widened. "My father wants us to bring him Sam. Undamaged, of course. He's waited long enough, don't you think?"
She stepped right up to Dean's face. "But you? You, he doesn't want at all." She reached out, grabbed his throat and squeezed. "Time's up."
As his vision blurred, Dean could see Sam being dragged into the van. With what little breath he had left, he cried out, "Sammy! No!"
And then everything went…white.
A blazing, fiery white. A searing, blinding white. Pain so fierce it threatened to drive him to his knees. Somewhere beyond the pain and blinding light, he heard screaming. To his amazement, it wasn't coming from him. Then, everything changed, and he was not him anymore, not just him. Doors clanged open wildly and there was music and song such as Dean-Part had never believed existed but the Michael-Part recognized as the lullabies of Heaven. And for a moment, there were two set of memories and then a blurring, a merging, and there was just one. Just him.
He reached out and drew the power into his hands, his mind, controlled it, wielded it, then brought it back and tucked it safely away. He straightened up and stepped casually away from the wall, the demon formally known as Meg but a whiff of sulfur in the air.
He'd destroyed the demons. They'd tried to flee but there was no way he was letting them escape. Especially not when they knew what had just happened. Meg's host, standing at ground zero, had unfortunately been vaporized along with the demon bitch and he regretted that, though he suspected Meg had not been overly kind to her host.
Once he'd gained control of the power past the pain of his awakening, though, he'd directed it solely at the demons within. The remaining hosts lay in boneless heaps, like marionettes with their strings cut. He knew immediately that two of them were dead. The other two, however…he knelt beside the first one and placed a hand lightly on the man's chest. It took no more than a couple of seconds and the body was whole again. He quickly helped the other living host as well.
His contact with them had been enough to give him all the information he needed, and both of the former hosts, now merely deeply asleep, vanished. They would wake up to find themselves back in their homes. Undoubtedly to the great surprise of their families but, hey, you can't have a miracle without amazing onlookers, right?
He raised his hand, intending to turn the two corpses to ash but then he stopped and studied them sadly, chewing his lip. Their families deserved closure, but he couldn't just dump the damaged bodies of their loved ones on their doorsteps. Standing up, he started toward Sam. After the two of them were on their way, he would leave the local authorities an anonymous tip.
Sam was still unconscious, which was definitely a good thing as far as Dean (to which he'd continue to answer, just as he would answer to Michael) was concerned. He didn't want Sam to know, not before the actual battle between Lucifer and him began. Yep, they'd learned how damaging secrets could be, but right now there was no choice. Lucifer was appearing in Sam's dreams, rummaging around in Sam's head, which meant that anything Sam knew, Lucifer knew. And there was no way he wanted Lucifer to know. His fallen brother remained smugly sure that Dean Winchester would never say yes to being taken over by anyone.
Surprise, little brother. No permission needed.
So long as Lucifer felt secure, he would wait until he had his permanent host—which he was never actually going to get his disintegrating paws on!—before really unleashing the full fury of the Apocalypse. If he had any clue that his big brother was already here and on his way, a lot of people could go under before the final confrontation.
Sammy lay crookedly, snoring lightly as he'd done since he was two. Something about enlarged whatevers but it wasn't an emergency and it didn't stop Sam's being able to breath, so there was definitely no time or money to expend on clearing up the problem. He never told Sam that back in the day, it was the reason why he always knew if Sam were really asleep or just faking it.
Still unhappy about the secret keeping but knowing there was no other choice, he knelt down and placed two fingers against Sam's forehead. Sam would remember packing up and hitting the road, and nothing in between. Grabbing Sam by the belt--and with no effort at all—he lifted his brother with one hand and slung him over his shoulder. There were definite advantages to being the human form of an archangel. And like Anna, he would never need a vessel; he carried his own with him, even when he was in his angelic form.
After placing Sam inside the Impala and tilting his head back to rest over the top of the back seat, he slid into the driver's seat and listened to his baby growl as she started up. You got it right, sweetheart. Battle it is.
He guided the Impala along one bucolic road after another before entering onto the interstate. There were more abandoned houses along the small roads; the fingers of Hell were reaching into many places these days. As the hours passed, more rural areas gave way to suburbs and cities and then it started over again, until at last, coming closer, the skyline of a the large city he sought. Shortly after he saw that, a large green sign with yellow lettering greeted him.
"Welcome to Detroit."
He smiled grimly. Ready or not, here we come!
A/N: Only an long-ish (heck, it's just about as long as the story!) epilogue to follow. Hope you're enjoying it so far!