Title: Concordance

Author: ghost4

Disclaimer: Not mine… not sure I really even want them, at the moment.

Rating: M (for language)

Synopsis: Dean says yes; and all hell breaks loose. (will most likely go AU in, like, 12 hours)

Authors Notes: Hmmm…I'm not happy with this, but I feel like it's either post it now, pre-episode, or give it up. This started as me just trying to get into Dean's head a bit. I'm having a really hard time with him, at the moment. I miss the brothers.

This could stand as a one-shot, I think… though I can sort of see about three more possible chapters. I have no idea if they will get written. All thanks and much love go out to Mikiya, for both the pep-talks and the awesome beta. You rock! All remaining mistakes are soooo mine…

******

"Yes."

It's such a small word, sibilant as a lover's whisper as it crosses his lips. Yes. Yes, he is tired. Yes, he is lost. Yes, he is disheartened and disenfranchised and discouraged.

Yes, he wants out. Yes.

He's not sure what he expected. Maybe Michael knocking on some door in his head. Maybe the heavenly host swarming Bobby's panic room, trying to reach him through the angelic wards Sam and Cas painted over the walls before they took off.

But the angels do not swarm.

He is as alone and ignored as he had been when Sam and Cas had locked him down here. It was Cas' suggestion, to lock him away in case he should say yes. In case he should try to fulfill his destiny. In case he should decide he knew what he wanted to do with his life. And how not shocking that his little brother was trusting some supernatural creature more than his own flesh and blood. He had told Sam not to use his powers, just like he'd told Sam that it was over, time to give up. Sam had chosen the advice of his friends. Elevated demon or descended angel… they were all the same thing in the end. Fuckers.

So now he's locked up like an animal in a cage. For his own good, of course.

Not that it would work. Dean knows he doesn't have a 'good' anymore. Only a series of horribly dark days pulling him ever forward – and farther and farther from what light he had once had.

Love. Acceptance. Family. Brotherhood.

He wants out.

"Yes," he repeats, staring at the devil's trap on the ceiling. The fan rotates, lazily cutting the light into chunks and making Dean feel vaguely nauseous. "I said yes, already."

There is a distinctive snick; and the door creaks open. Dean looks, and can see Zachariah leaning against the back wall. The angel's trying to be casual, but he's tense and he's picked a spot as far from the angelic wards as he can get.

"We heard you the first time, Deano," the angel sneers, but his wary stance belies the tone and makes the words only a show of bravado. No, Zach doesn't like Cas and Sam's artwork one bit.

"So?" Dean demands, his voice coming out rougher than he wants. His throat is tight, and he clears it. "What now?"

The angel rolls his eyes. "First you come out here, where we can talk, civilized being to primate. You can come out now, right? Now that the door's open? I have to ask because they really did truss you up like a pig in a slaughterhouse, didn't they?"

Zachariah sounds half impressed – half amused. Dean ignores him. His hands are shaking. His fingers feel like ice, despite the early summer heat. He stands, trying to take a deep breath, but it snarls in his chest – a hot, aching knot. Closing his eyes he lets the air out, feeling the exhalation like a loss. Knowing that is probably the last choice he will ever make for himself, for his body or his soul, Dean squares his shoulders and steps through the door and away from the safety of the wards.

He looks up, knowing that he's free of the wards, and that, for the first time in a very long time, he's unprotected from the gaze or will of heaven. "Yes," he says again.

And waits. Waits for Michael's presence. For surety and strength. For the loss of his self.

He swallows as nothing happens. His heart speeds, and he begins wondering if he is already too late, past the deadline – if Michael won't come at all…

"Relax," Zachariah says from his place on the wall. "It's not too late."

Dean sags. Not so much from relief as from reprieve. "Then, what?" he says, and is pleased that his voice is stronger now. His decision has been made and he's done with wavering. Now he just wants to get the show on the road. He wants it over. "I'm here, I'm willing… what the hell are you guys waiting for?"

Zachariah smiles, and Dean frowns at the raw contempt in the angel's expression. "Funny you should say that. Because that's exactly what we're waiting for."

"What?"

"Hell, Dean," Zachariah explains as if speaking to a slow kindergartner. "We're waiting on Hell."

Of all the things Dean had imagined feeling after he said yes to Michael, confusion hadn't been one of them. "What does that mean?"

Zachariah snorts, amused. He makes a show of crossing his arms. "I see. You thought you'd say yes, and Michael would drop everything to leap into your meat and you'd be free of this mess." He sneers. "Sorry to be the one to tell you, but it doesn't work like that, Dean. Michael can't come through until Lucifer takes your little brother. You opened a door; you let Michael in – but he can't come through until he's called. And that will only happen when Lucifer claims his vessel."

Dean isn't sure whether the pressure in his chest is more from relief… or disappointment. His flesh is still his, for the moment, and that's a plus – but now the apocalypse still lingers over him, burning in it's urgency like rusty wrought-iron pushed into a raw wound, implacable and rough and heavy. He wants this over.

And he can't deny a faint spark of something that could be irritation at the cause of the delay. Sammy. It's always Sammy. "Well, then," Dean says to the angel, resignedly, "it ain't never going to happen, because Sam will never say yes." After all these years, that kid is still getting in Dean's way, keeping him from what he wants.

He wants to be angry. He wants to be proud.

All he can manage is tired.

But Zachariah smirks, turning a bit to hitch a hip onto a box next to him. He folds his hands. "Ah. See, you misunderstand. We don't need Sammy's agreement. We never really did. It was yours that mattered."

"What?" Dean feels the thin, cold thread of tension sneak through his neck and shoulders. He feels the first strings of a sensation that has become way too familiar. A bitter taste, a hollow beat to his heart. He recognizes a betrayal building. He knows it by smell at this point.

"You were the one everything hinged on," Zachariah says, almost happily, definitely smugly. He points at Dean, and Dean feels it like the barrel of a gun. "You were the chosen one: 'The righteous man who starts it will be the one who can finish it.' That's you, kiddo."

"But Sam…"

Zachariah chuckles at his obvious confusion. "You are so cute when you're slow. Sam never had to say yes, Dean. In fact, if he said yes before you, Lucifer would have taken certain steps to ensure that Michael couldn't come downstairs at all. But you said yes first! Just like we knew you would." Zach smiles at him, so brightly. His teeth are too perfect, too strong. Dean shudders. "The righteous man who started it, is finishing it. At least, he's opened the door for the finish."

"I'm not finishing anything!" Dean shudders as a wave of first cold, and then dull heat, flushes his skin. He feels almost feverish with alarm. His adrenaline runs, his mouth going dry. When his hands clench into fists, he is unaware.

"Oh," Zachariah breathes, leaning in, "but you are. You're finishing what you started in Hell. You're bringing on the Apocalypse. You just rang the bell, Deano, and now we're only waiting for the contestants to take their corners."

Dean shakes his head. "Sam hasn't said yes. He has to say it –" It's the one thing Dean knows about this fucked up situation. Sam has to give in for Lucifer to take him. He has to say yes. Lucifer can't just take him…

"Sam has to what? Agree to be Lucifer's butt-monkey?" Zach makes a scornful noise, flipping a hand dismissively. "What kind of system would that be? Like it or not, Sam's going to get ridden by the King of Hell. The biggest of the big-bads. You remember your time downstairs, right? Well, the guy who wants Sam – flesh and soul – is the one who ruled the freaks you cow-towed to. Who would ever say yes to that?"

"But Lucifer told Sam…"

Zachariah sighs impatiently. "Let me guess, Lucifer – AKA the Father of Lies – tells you two geniuses that Sam has to say yes or he can't get in, and you believed him? That's almost cute enough to be priceless." He chuckles, picking a piece of lint from his coat.

"But then what has he been waiting for?" Dean demands. "Months of this shit? Why? If Lucifer could have taken Sam whenever he felt like it, why wait?" Dean knows he's shouting, and he knows it stupid, he knows any sign of emotion will be exploited as a weakness… but he can't stop himself. He's so tired of playing a game where he doesn't know any of the rules – and the ones he does know keep changing.

"Dean, Dean, Dean," the angel says, standing up and taking his first step forward… not too close to the wards Dean stood next to, but closer – looming like a coming storm. "Sam never had to agree to play his part – at least not for us; but you did."

Dean felt his stomach churn. He could barely pull a breath to speak. "So my agreeing to host Michael…?"

"Got the ball rolling; finally," Zachariah says, with all the enthusiasm and elation of a kid on Christmas Eve. "We're almost there, now. Either one of you could have said yes, which would have automatically granted access to the vessel for the other – because both Michael and Lucifer need vessels to finish this. Them's the rules. As long as both of you were saying no, neither Michael or Lucifer could make a move. But now that one of you has said yes, all bets are off. Lucifer doesn't have to ask nicely… at least he doesn't once the end-times start. And you just flicked the switch on the timer. Good job there, sport."

Dean feels the shaking start as the angel's words hit like hail-stones. "And if Sam had said yes first?" Dean heard himself asking.

"If Sam had said yes first, Lucifer would have blocked Michael's access to you. Believe it or not, the Devil likes to cheat." He gave Dean a conspiratorial smirk. "But you said yes first! Sam only had the power to deny Lucifer until the beginning of the end. Once Michael has his vessel – which he does now, thanks to your signing off on the lease – well, then Lucifer has to have one, too. I mean," the angel's hand fluttered almost dismissively, "Michael could block Lucifer, just like Lucifer could block Michael, but Michael won't do that. He has morals."

Dean was appalled by the…pride Zachariah imbued in the word. "Like you fuckwads ever knew what morals were."

"Hey, now," Zachariah says, sounding more amused then insulted. "Watch it. I'm not the one who just sold his soul."

"At least I had one to sell," Dean shoots back, never slow to draw first blood. "Tell me, how's it feel to be a soulless freak?"

And he knows he's succeeded in striking a nerve when Zachariah's eyes go cold and hard. "And look how much good that soul's done you. Hurting people, hurting yourself. Being so caught up in your own pain and rage that you couldn't even see what was going on around you. I have to thank you, really. Your brother has been standing up to that fiend for months. A couple of times we were pretty concerned that he'd break and then we'd all be screwed – but he held fast," the angel sounds grudgingly impressed. "God bless him. Or, well, you know… figuratively speaking." The angel tips Dean a wink and Dean shudders. "Little hard to get a blessing when your being worn by Satin."

"That can't happen." Dean knows it can't. "Sam isn't willing!"

"You opened the door for Lucifer to take Sam, willing or not. He'll tear that boy's soul apart to get in – but he will get in. Which will be the call to have Michael down here to take his vessel and we can finish this whole mess. It will finally be over. Just like you wanted."

"That wasn't the deal!" Dean feels the full range of the betrayal now. He only wanted out. He only wanted rid of a life that he's grown so weary of, a life that has become more burden than joy – but he never intended giving away Sam in the process.

"What deal?" Zachariah says, cracking his knuckles and smirking. "There was no deal, Dean. We aren't common demons who need back-alley bargains to get what we want. All we needed was you. Just you, weak and lost and so sick of this life – of this hopeless existence, of the constant pain and loneliness and death. All we needed was for you to be filled with so much anger and agony that you would give your soul to be free of it. And you did. And your brother's as well."

Zachariah leans in as Dean tries to gasp past the knife twisting through his heart and lungs, stealing his breath. The world falls away, leaving behind a cold, black void, a void filled with the unrelenting voice of the angel. "You just sold your little brother to the Devil, Dean. Just like your mother. Tell me, how's that feel?"

It is Castiel who answers.

A Castiel who shouldn't be there; who should be with Sam, both of them scrambling for some way out of the snare that heaven had set while Dean was locked away.

"He feels like an idiot." Cas says, answering for Dean as Dean's world tips more and more into black. Castiel raises a hand – and there is a flash so bright that Dean's eyes begin watering. He can't see, blackness in his head swirling sickeningly with the white light outside. He feels Cas' hand clamp down on his shoulder, hears his voice in the darkness, cold and hoarse and full of reflected pain. "You are an idiot."

And then there is nothing.

And Dean wishes only that the nothing could last longer. Could last forever.

But nothing good ever does.

*