Author's Notes: I just wanted to thank everyone who's read and reviewed this. Your kind words were wonderful, and I'm so happy you took the time to give me them. You are all fantastic; thank you so much for everything!
That's all he's been able to think about for the last two days. The heat. It's not regular heat, because having grown up in the Midwest he knows heat. He knows how the air shimmers above scalding asphalt on the long stretches of road in Kansas, the way the fields in Missouri are scorched with the sun's affection, the resigned turning of windmills all throughout Iowa. He's spent countless afternoons in the Impala, soaked through with sweat, ready to sacrifice an arm or a leg or Sam for a cold front, or at the very least a bit of rain.
This is a different kind of heat. He likes this heat. It rides on the back of the sea breeze, tempering it into something manageable, warm instead of oppressive, clean instead of cloying. It smells like the trees that cling to the sides of the rock faces that line the beaches, greener than anything he's ever seen in his life, surrounding him like how a kid would throws his arms around his father's neck and hold on.
The sun's dipping below the horizon, taking its heat with it and leaving bare traces, giving instead one hell of a sunset and a cool breeze. He watches the colors chase each other across the sky, reds and golds and oranges, setting the ocean ablaze.
A shout tears him away from his contemplation of the ocean and he turns his head, unable to stop a laugh as he watches Sam splash the hell out of Castiel. It had taken some convincing to get Castiel into the swim trunks, but it had taken even more to get him in the water. Once he went in, though, he was loathe to come out. Sam had taken it upon himself to teach Castiel the basics of dicking around in the ocean, how to splash just right, how to body surf the tide, how to pack a mudball and the best way to throw it at Dean.
They've been here for five days now, still in awe of the coastline, the people, the atmosphere, and they're in no hurry to leave. He hasn't seen Sam this happy in years, and he doesn't think Castiel's ever been so relaxed. In South Dakota, Bobby's sitting on his porch being driven out of his mind by Gabriel, while the Paladium Quartet - as Sam's taken to calling Sariel and her psychotic brood - are gearing up for finals. All alive, all well, not a mark on them. Because Dean's that good.
He's… He's good.
In a few minutes, he's about to be even better.
"I was here when this island was birthed," someone says behind him, and Dean grins.
"You're late. I called, like, an hour ago. What if I had been in trouble or some shit? You ought to be ashamed of yourself." But it's all in good fun. There isn't much that can harsh his buzz right now.
Raguel smiles and inhales deeply, eyes sliding shut to savor it. After a moment, he regards Dean curiously. "Do not misunderstand me - I am very happy to see you - but I… Why have you called me here, Dean? There is much to do in Heaven."
Dean grins and turns to face the ocean, catching the bare curve of the sun as it sinks from view. The first stars are coming out. "Did you know that I haven't made anything yet? I keep thinking about what the Metatron'd said, about how being God means you need to create, to make. And I haven't yet. I think it's time that I should."
Head tilting in confusion, Raguel asks quietly, "What did you have in mind?"
"Bigfoot." Raguel stares, and Dean cracks up. "No, I'm kidding. I'm going to make… a change. To the rules."
"I want angels to be able to sit on the Throne."
Raguel sucks in a breath and Dean holds up a hand to stem the protest he knows is coming. "Dude, let me finish. I don't want a limit on who can be the big guy. It should be open to whoever's worthy of it. So, my first decree is this: everyone. Everyone is fair game. Angel, human, fucking Vulcan - I don't care. Everyone gets to have a shot."
"But the List -"
"Fuck the List." Dean shrugs. "I'm God, so I get to change the rules. Effective immediately."
Raguel stares at him for a long moment, long enough that Dean shifts uneasily under the scrutiny, but a slow smile spreads across Raguel's face, grateful and relieved.
He laughs. "Dude, are you going to cry?"
"No," Raguel scoffs, still smiling.
"Good. And for my next trick… In the same vein of being able to do whatever I want because I'm God and I'm awesome -" Raguel rolls his eyes, but Dean pointedly ignores it and pushes on - "I'm allowed to give it up to whoever I want. So… I hope you didn't have plans for the next few millennia."
He grins and holds out his hand to Raguel, who looks so dumbfounded that Dean wants to take a picture and then post it all over the internet.
"Dean, no -"
"Ah, ah, ah," Dean tsks, grinning so widely it feels like it's going to split his face. "I'm God. I get to do whatever I want. And I want to do this. It should be yours, Raguel."
He looks over his shoulder to see Sam kicking the air futilely as Castiel holds him above his head, then tosses him in the ocean. Castiel laughs as Sam breeches the surface, sputtering and wiping his hair from his eyes.
"This means war!" Sam shouts, lunging for Castiel, but a wave catches him in the face.
"See that?" Dean asks Raguel. "That's it for me. That, right there, is what I want. I don't need eternity. Guys like me aren't supposed to have it anyway. Sam's gonna die someday, but not before he has a long life. Cas is gonna kick it at some point, too, but at this rate I'll outlive him a million times over. I want to see them live; I want to be there for all of it. That's what I want. I want to be Dean Winchester, and nobody else."
Raguel opens his mouth, but nothing comes out, and Dean reaches for him, clasping his shoulder tightly. "You're a good friend, Raguel, and I hope you'll still be one after tonight, but you deserve this. It's time you took what's rightfully yours. No lists, nothing."
He can feel the shift. Where everything was possible, time and space at his command, he's just a guy on a beach in Hawaii. Dean releases Raguel and looks up. He'll never get tired of the looking at the sky from this viewpoint. It's big and beautiful and mysterious, the way it ought to be.
"I know that Heaven's in good hands. And when it's time, I'll be kicking down your door with a six pack of Heineken and a boatload of stories about Sam's kids and their kids and the absolute monster of a wolfhound that Cas and I will have someday. But I'm gonna do it as me."
Dean follows Raguel's gaze over to where Sam and Castiel are still horsing around, Castiel sending wave after wave at Sam until Sam cries uncle.
"I've got my Heaven, man," Dean says softly. "I'm all set."
Raguel smiles and holds out a hand for Dean to shake. Just a handshake now. "You would have been great, Dean Winchester."
Dean grips his hand, hard. "… Any way you can still keep all the bars as churches?"
"Not a chance." But Raguel's laughter hangs in the air as he disappears, leaving the Earth to go back home, back to where he belongs. Dean stares at the place he'd been for a long moment, wistful, but okay. Good. Great, even. As far as being a Winchester goes, this was a pretty awesome week.
"Dean!" Castiel shouts, throwing an arm into the air, laughing, happy. His.
Sam comes at him from behind and uses all his bulk to dunk him. "Dean, come on! I need all the help I can get!"
Pulling off his shirt, he tosses it onto the sand and goes to show them how it's done.