Disclaimer: Not mine. They belong to smarter and richer people than I.

Chapter 23

October 28, 2005

(- - Sound of Silence, by Simon and Garfunkel - -)

As far as death goes, this ain't so bad, he thought as he drifted in the darkness. No pearly gates, no heavenly choir or multitude of saints. Just darkness and silence.

But at least he was warm on his soft cushion of ever-after. His limbs felt heavy and sluggish, and he wondered if his limbs were real or if they were just figments of his imagination. He felt as if he was drifting in some thick and viscous liquid, and he stretched out his conscience to feel the breadth of his little piece of never-more. He felt his ghost fingers brush something warm and the electric shock of that shot up his non-existent arm and into his imagined heart. He knew the feel of that softness. He knew it intimately. He'd known the feel and taste of every inch of that soft and glorious skin.

Jessica…

He reached for her again, feeling the solidness of her body next to his and his heart broke that she was dead with him – that he hadn't saved her after all.

At least we're together…

A light snapped on, and he was in his bed back in his apartment. He looked wildly around, ready to fight and to protect. He didn't know from what, but he'd stand between her and whatever just turned on that damned light. He reached out to shake her into consciousness, if that were even possible if she was dead, but… he was dead too, and he was alert, and… Fuck this was hurting his head.

"Jess, wake up."

"She will not wake. Not until I'm finished talking to you," came a deep and gravelly voice from the corner. A shape shimmered into existence with a flutter of the curtains and a ruffle of something, and a man stood before him that was not there a second ago. He was a tall man, bald and black skinned, wearing a dark suit, and with an air of complete and immense disdain aimed at him.

"Who are you?" he demanded, ready to throw back the blankets and dive for the baseball bat stashed under the bed.

"I am Uriel." The stranger spoke slowly, and with contempt dripping from his deep voice.

"Okay, Uriel, what are you?"

I am gonna mess you up you demon fuck, he thought, planning on saying the exorcism as fast as humanly possible.

"I am an angel of the Lord."

Whoa, so not expecting that one. Angel? Really?

"I don't believe you."

There was a flicker of the bedside lamp and the stranger stood even straighter, a shadow of unfurling black wings burned their way across the white wall behind him and he shrank back a bit.

O. Kay.

"Huh, so I did die." He looked at Jessica lying next to him, cuz for a second there, he thought they might have lived through it all by some miracle. "So I didn't save her after all." His failure tugged at his heart – the world lost a brilliant star and it was all his fault. "At least we're in Heaven together," he whispered, brushing his fingers lightly over her exposed arm, trying to reconcile himself with the loss.

"You are not dead and this is not Heaven. This is your home Sam Winchester," the angel growled.

"But I don't understand. How did we get here?" We were drowning in a fucking river…

"I brought you here," the dark man said, clearly thinking him a moron for not figuring it out on his own.

"And Dean?" Tell me my brother lived – tell me the Hellhound didn't catch him.

"Safe. He's outside New Orleans. He was working there when you called him and I just put him back. The hound is vanquished as well."

He's a goddamn mind-reader… and he winced at the poor wording of his thoughts as the angel's scowl got even darker.

"Not that I'm complaining… but why would an angel of the Lord come to my rescue?" He swung his legs around and planted his feet on the floor. Definitely his apartment – he recognized the gouge in the wood floor by his feet.

"Because you have an important role to play in the days to come."

I have a what!

"Me? What's so important about me?" He had made the mistake of standing, and now felt his knees soften, and he wondered if it would be a show of weakness or tribute to fall to his knees in front of an angel of the Lord – even one that was acting pretty douchie.

"That is information that you aren't allowed to have yet." The angel drew himself up to his full height – he was not a sleight figure.

"I don't understand. What am I supposed to do? How will I know what's expected of me?" This was all too much right now. A minute ago he was drowning! And now he was alive and in his apartment on the other side of the freaking State, talking to an Angel of the Lord, and dude was telling him he had a mission? What. The. Fuck.

"It will all become clear when the time is right. There is a purpose for everything, and your purpose is great." It would have been a pretty speech if the angel wasn't glaring at him so hatefully.

"But…"

"Enough!" he thundered. The walls seemed to waver from the anger emanating from the presence in the room. "Who do you think you are to question the words of an angel! I could lay waste and ruin to this entire city if I chose, and you pester me with stupid questions? You have a task that is important to my superiors – that is it."

He wondered how Jess could still sleep through that outburst, until he remembered that the angel said she wouldn't wake until he was done with him.

"I'm sorry. It's just that I don't understand."

Come on, Dude, give me a break.

"Of course you don't understand. You are human and incapable of understanding the scope of Heaven's plans." The angel sneered at him, and he distinctly felt an electric charge in the air as the angel's scorn reached an even higher level. And he got pissed too, because, weren't angels supposed act better than this?

"There's no need to act like such a jerk," he shot at the stranger. "I thought angels were supposed to be righteous and kind – that's what the bible made them out to be."

"That is your bible's versions of angels. Winged protectors at the beck and call of the humans? Hardly," the angel hissed derisively. "Your bible has been corrupted by the men who have copied, translated, and altered it to suit their needs. The bible you speak of now is not the same as the one dictated to the Prophets two millennia ago by my brothers."

Didn't need the history lesson.

"Look, I'm sorry I'm confused. The last thing I remember is drowning and watching her drown, and the next moment I'm freaking home and a pissed off angel in a bad suit is yelling at me. I mean, anyone should be able to figure out what the hell is going on, right?"

Stop being a smart-ass Sam. That voice in his head was his dad's, and he hadn't heard anything like that in awhile.

"Your lack of respect for my kind is the reason I don't like interfering with yours," Uriel spat.

"Then why did you?" he shot back, not heeding John's advice. Never did before, so why now, right?

"Because I had orders. You cannot be allowed to die – you are necessary. Do not think it was for any other reason than that. I'm tempted to smite you where you stand for your insolence alone."

"Bet you'd get into trouble for that though, wouldn't you?"

Shut. Up. Sam.

"Do not tempt me, Winchester," the deep voice threatened. "I will suffer the consequences gladly if it means an end to your sniveling existence."

"Then do I go to Heaven after you smite me and lodge a formal complaint?"

Just shut up you idiot – what is wrong with you? And he couldn't figure that one out for the life of him. This guy could wipe him out with a fucking eye twitch, and he was being a smart-ass?

"You'd never remember anyway," the angel smirked, and the look sent a shiver of fear down his spine.

"What do you mean, I won't remember? How many times do you think an angel waltzed into my bedroom after saving me from a Hellhound, only to start acting like a douche?"

"Who knows?" the angel shrugged, clearly enjoying himself. "We don't allow humans to remember us if we reveal ourselves to them. You are not going to be any different."

"How can you make me forget something like that?"

"I am an angel, I will just wipe your memory." The smug grin on the jerk made his blood run cold.

"You can't do that! They're my memories!" he shouted.

"Remember when you were twelve, and you and your brother stole your father's car and took it for a joyride in that farmer's field?" Uriel asked silkily.

He remembered. It was the first time he'd driven the Impala for fun. Dean had been coaching him from the passenger side and he cut the wheel, spinning through the muck and kicking up runnels of long grass and mud behind them to Dean's cheering. Then they spent an hour washing her to hide the evidence from John.

The angel raised a hand and snapped his fingers, "And now it's gone – like it never happened."

He felt his face go slack, as one second the memory was crisp and clear, and the next…

"You sonofabitch," he breathed, trying to hold onto the memory, but it was running through his fingers like fine beach sand until it was no more. "You sonofabitch!"

The angel grinned at him again, "What other memories do you want to lose for your insolence, young Winchester?"

"What do you want?" he growled, feeling angry – violated even.

"I just wanted to meet the one on whose shoulders so much rests. I have to say that I'm… underwhelmed."

"Sorry to be such a disappointment."

"That comes with being human. You can't strive for much when you're not given much to work with."

"You're a real dick, you know that, Uriel?"

The angel laughed, low and throaty, as if he'd just said something he found clever. "You're opinion of me matters as much as a tick's opinion of a dog's ass, Sam Winchester."

Sam could only glare at the angel.

This is what people prayed to? What a rip-off.

"You will remember nothing of tonight," the angel intoned. "You will remember nothing of the demon, or what you learned the last several months. Your knowledge is dangerous and it cannot be trusted with you yet."

"What about Jessica?" he whispered, truly scared now. She had found out what he was and accepted him for it. They were going to start a new life together without the lies getting in the way.

"She will remember nothing but the happy memories I'll give you both," the self-satisfied smile on Uriel's face made his eyes burn.

"Please don't do that," he begged, tears threatening to run down his cheeks. "Please."

Uriel snapped his fingers and was gone with a rustle of feathered wings and a warm breeze across his cheek.

He blinked, standing in the middle of his dimly lit bedroom, wondering what made him get out of bed. There was nothing amiss, and he didn't hear anything from the rest of the apartment.

Why am I out of bed? What's wrong with me? He swiped a hand over his cheeks, realizing he was crying and not having a clue as to why.

He glanced around the room, looking at the bed and Jessica's still form under the blankets. He walked to the bed like a zombie, feeling empty of something he couldn't put his finger on. He slid between the blankets, wrapping an arm around Jess and holding her tight. She mumbled contentedly in her sleep and he pressed his chest against her back, letting the warmth of her body fill him up as he buried his face in her sweet smelling hair and cried for no reason.

That night, he dreamt of her burning on the ceiling…


Somewhere on the coast of Fiji…

"Is it taken care of?" he asked the ruffle of feathers that sounded to his left.

"The boy is safe, and his memories altered. He will remember nothing of the last several months other than what I left behind for him. I planted the same false memories into the girl's mind as well."

"Thank you Uriel. That is most efficient of you." That was high praise coming from someone like him.

"There is one thing, Zachariah… The girl. She disturbs me. She should not have been able to cause the damage to the Hellhound as she did."

"Humans can be surprising sometimes, Brother. Surely you've noticed that over the millennia?"

And here comes something about mud-monkeys… he thought idly.

"The mud monkeys are a stain on our father's greatest creation. They talk of Eden and don't even realize that they are ruining "Eden" as they speak. The greatest gift our father could ever give them, and they violate her to the edge of destruction." Uriel's voice dripped with scorn and it bored him terribly.

Mud-monkeys. Am I good, or am I good?

"Those are the means to our end, are they not, Uriel? Is that not why we are striving to release our brother from his prison? To vanquish the human scourge?" He gazed out over the crystal waters. It will be nice to have this place back to himself.

"Yes, Zachariah. It is only that I don't see the reason why the girl was saved too. Why not have let me kill her and be done with her?" he asked angrily, the dark eyes of his vessel narrowing on his dark face.

"Because she and Sam Winchester are a fated pair," he spoke with an air of someone about to lose their patience. "And if there were some way that her death were to be traced back to us… Well I can promise you that it would not be pretty and all our plans would have been for nothing."

"Their child," Uriel hissed, "should it come into existence, could ruin everything we've worked for. You know this."

"Yes, I do." He knew it all too well. Someone higher up had decreed the match and he could do nothing to stop it. He had a feeling he knew who did it – an insurance policy of biblical proportions taken out against him. Well… it was time to cancel that policy, and he knew the way to do it. "And you are right, of course… Release Azazel from the pit and tell him to finish her off. I'm sure he would appreciate the chance to redeem himself for the embarrassment she caused him."

"I do not trust the demon stain." Uriel spoke derisively, in case his disgust for the demon wasn't already evident.

"Nor do I, but he is a dog on a leash, and if he wants his master freed from his prison, he'll do what he's told like a good pup."

Or face annihilation at my hands. The thought of one day destroying Azazel was something that served to cheer him up.

"And if the girl escapes again? What then?" He could almost hear the bloodlust in his subordinate's voice. He wanted the privilege of killing the girl and was almost rooting for the demon's failure for the chance to do so.

"Hmmm. We can't allow that to happen again." I can't allow you to kill her. "We need her vulnerable…" he mused, forming a plan to get the Winchester's out of the way. "Plant the idea in the brother's head that he needs to start looking for his father, and that he wants his brother with him."

That damned free-will God gave the cretins could ruin everything.

They couldn't force the humans to do anything. Sure they could hurt them, coerce them, or dangle something in front of them like bait on a hook, but the final word would always be that of free-will.

"Tell Azazel to catch her unawares and tell him not to play with his food this time. A second failure will not pass by un-rebuked." He cracked his fingers for emphasis. Uriel would gladly pass on the message.

"I do not like working alongside a demon. It galls me to stoop to such levels," the specialist spat.

Oooh, such pride, Uriel. What do they say about pride? It goeth before a fall?

"Now, Uriel," he cajoled. "What do you think will happen to the demons once Lucifer is free? He'll destroy them all, along with the human filth." He clapped Uriel on the back in a friendly manner. The schmooziness he'd picked up from the humans was a fast learned gift. "Sometimes to plant a garden, you have to get down in the dirt before it can grow." But he was growing tired of the playacting. He wanted this done with and the sooner the better. "Now go quickly. There is much to be done and the timing is critical."

Uriel took a deep breath of resignation. "Yes, Zachariah."

"Oh, and Uriel?" he smiled at his scapegoat. "Make sure that you are not seen. Kill any witnesses that see you with the demon."

"Yes, Zachariah." That earned him an honest smile. Uriel was truly 'The Smiter.' He had made an art form of it.

Uriel disappeared with a rustle of feathers and he breathed deeply of the ocean scent to calm himself.

Fool.

He would have to dispose of Uriel when this was all over. He couldn't be found to have dirty hands if this thing went sideways on him. He didn't get to where he was today by not having contingency plans in place for all outcomes. Uriel, in all his pompous disregard for the humans, accused them of being shortsighted, when he himself was so blinded by his supposed importance that he couldn't see the big picture himself.

He always saw the big picture - that was what led him to his station today. Uriel might think that they were doing this to free Lucifer from his prison and scour the earth of the filth that inhabited it. That was certainly one goal, but not his end game. Lucifer and Michael would fight to the death, and he was betting that neither would survive the battle, that they would kill each other, or at least one would survive with wounds so grievous, that he would be able to finish off the victor and make it look like they both died in the fight at the hands of the other.

With Michael and Lucifer out of the way, that would leave Raphael in charge of Heaven, making himself Second-in-Command. That in itself was a position of untold power, and for a time, it would be sufficient. But when the chance presented itself, he would take out Raphael and then he would be in charge of the host. Gabriel disappeared so long ago that he wasn't worried about him coming back to steal his throne. He would be burned as the deserter he was the second he showed his face. And God? His father left Heaven not long after Gabriel did. Not even a word of goodbye or instruction to the children he left behind. No, when this was over, he would be the ruler of the kingdom of Heaven… and all beneath it

Centuries ago, he had set out carefully, getting a feel for the discontent amongst his brothers, and later, daring to broach Raphael. He had used Uriel to recruit among the ranks, leaving no trail back to him. But Raphael? Uriel did not have the station to approach the archangel, and that dangerous job was left to him. Raphael's abhorrence for humanity was almost as bad as Lucifer's, but he had never crossed the line of waging war on the filth like his brother did. And Raphael was tired of being under Michael's sword. Michael, the leader of the host and the favorite of their father, who strutted around Heaven in all his self-important glory. There were some who were loyally devoted to Michael and the possible return of God, but they were known to him and would be eliminated if they stood in his way.

So it was not hard to sway Raphael onto the path they both now rest their feet. Raphael had told him the way to unlock the cage, and together they came up with the plan of using the demons and humans as pawns. He himself sought Azazel, the second most powerful demon in existence, and recruited him into service. And as the Keeper of Vessels, he had a hand in leading Azazel to Lawrence, Kansas, and Mary and John Winchester.

John Winchester, whose bloodlines were the Keepers of the Brothers, and Mary Campbell, who sprang from a line of warriors – the perfect ingredients to make a Boy King befitting Lucifer and a sword-arm for Michael – and he was the hand behind their fated match. Both vessels would have to be evenly matched if things were to go his way on this. One brother could not be stronger than the other or all would fail and he'd wind up with his head on a block next to Azazel and Uriel. The child destined to be a vessel for Lucifer should by rights be the one to set him free, and the other contaminated children were a blind to throw off any angel digging into the happenings on Earth. Azazel didn't know this. He thought he was growing a crop of potential leaders for his demon army, not helping to create his master's perfect vessel. He favored Sam Winchester as the ultimate winner – it was obvious the boy was above and beyond the other 'Special Kids'. And after witnessing the power the kid was capable of when they were drowning – his un-trained power had catapulted Jessica clear to the surface of the water and free of the undertow – he rubbed his hands eagerly in anticipation. Centuries of careful planning and plotting were about to come to fruition. And the death of Jessica would drive Sam onto the hunt for vengeance, just like it did for John Winchester. He'd planted that little suggestion into old John's head himself.

And after the coming power shift, Raphael would be the natural choice to lead the host, and after his position of Second-in-Command was assured, then he would have his just desserts. The certainty that Raphael was behind mating Sam Winchester with Jessica Moore was obvious on him. Jessica Moore had a rather special branch on her family tree. Five hundred years ago, an angel by the name of Ilithia fell in love with a human. She ripped out her grace and fell to earth to live the rest of her mortal life with an inferior human. She was not the first to do so, nor would she be the last, but Ilithia had been a most fearsome warrior in Michael's army. Several times since Ilithia's disgrace did an offspring of her line show a glimmer of her grace – and Jessica Moore was one of those glimmers. Most angels erased Ilithia from their minds, as her disgrace was abominable – but he was Keeper of the Vessels, and he knew what the girl was. Uriel knew because of his abhorrence for their brethren that elected to turn human. Uriel had hunted Ilithia, and he killed her for her defection, but not before Ilithia succeeded in bearing a human child and hiding her amongst the human population. Uriel sensed that there was something peculiar about the girl, but not the depth of the situation. Again, showcasing his lack of being able to see the big picture. They did however know what the child would be capable of. They'd seen it.

Apparently, Raphael knew who Jessica was too. That is why he sent Sam Winchester on a collision course with the girl, and fated them together. Jessica and Sam's child would have unspeakable powers… And Raphael would use that child against him if he suspected treachery on his part.

But he couldn't be held accountable for an angry and blood thirsty demon. The girl humiliated him – Azazel would not turn the other cheek on that. The demon would destroy her and with that, set everything into motion.

Soon. Everything was falling into place beautifully. The power and the glory of Heaven would be all his, and he could almost taste the victory sweet on his tongue.

So long as everything goes according to plan.


"Sam!" his angel called from the other room. "You coming or what?"

He popped his head out from around the door frame. "Do I have to?" He took in the naughty nurse uniform she was wearing and swallowed hard.

She wants me to go out with her while she's looking like that? He would much rather stay home and admire her in that outfit. His eyes trailed down to her feet and the Amber-style borrowed red heels she was wearing with the thigh high nylons.

Yeah… definitely would prefer to stay home.

"Yes. It'll be fun. And where is your costume?" She had a mischievous glint in her blue eyes – she'd caught the lustful thoughts on his mind and wielded them like a weapon. She could have her way with him and she knew it, so long as she played her cards right.

"Jess, you know how I feel about Halloween." He'd told her he thought it was a stupid holiday, but she wanted to celebrate his LSAT score. A one-seventy-four – an incredible mark for a first attempt at the test. He could have his pick of law schools and one of his professors arranged for him to have an interview with the Dean of Stanford Law on Monday. Another reason Jess wanted to celebrate – she wanted to tell their friends the good news.

"Come on," she pouted. "It'll be fun."

The End.


A/N: And it's CANON! Sorta *grins sheepishly*. You guys have been awesome and supportive and I can't thank you enough for following me along on this story. And that slap-myself-in-the-forehead followed by a sharp left turn that I mentioned several chapters ago? Originally, I had planned that Sam never made the call to Dean. He tracked down Jay on his own and went up in the mountains with him. Jay was always going to die up there, and Sam would escape with some divine intervention, only to have his memory wiped. The I'm-so-stupid-for-not-thinking-of-it moment was that if the angels were gonna zap Sammy's memory, why not invite Dean and Jess along and have some fun with it? So long as I was doling out mind bleach, why not have Dean hit on Jess and be the big brother on this crazy mission that Sam needed? Why not have Jess see all the dirty laundry and accept him regardless? I had fun with it, and I hope you guys enjoyed the story too.

Again, thank you all so much from the bottom of my heart. You've made this such a treat for me. I plan on taking a few weeks off to kick-start my next story, and hopefully will start posting again before too long. I don't think I'll make it until Season Six starts up before I'm posting again as I'm pretty addicted to this site (it fuels my obsession and I like it). If you liked what you read, hopefully you'll put me on author-alert, or *gasp* the coveted Favorite Author – and I'll see you again in a few weeks ;D