Stull Cemetery hadn't looked quite this...chaotic, the last time Dean had been here. Castiel had zapped them both to the outskirts of the cemetery ground, but Dean knew that only because of the cemetery sign he was standing on top of.
The ground in the cemetery was mostly gone. In its place was a vast pit. The weirdest part though was that pieces of the torn up earth were hovering in the air, stretching upwards for miles. It was like some giant hand had reached down, dug out a handful of earth and then retracted, leaving chunks of the ground stuck in it's wake as though the air itself were made of amber.
"Cas, what the Hell is this?" Dean asked.
"I believe someone attempted to open the Cage." said Castiel, gazing upward at the trail of earth.
"Gee, ya think?" Dean walked forward, onto the cemetery grounds, some morbid curiosity pushing him to peer over the edge and see what he could see.
Castiel grabbed his arm, "Dean don't go any closer, it's-" and then there was a blinding light and Dean was staring at a lobby of an office building.
"Ok...and, where are we now?" Dean asked, looking around and trying to take in his new surroundings.
Castiel was staring at the far wall, which had some of the ugliest wallpaper Dean had ever seen. It was some modern art type print, all random splashes of red paint and black feathers, and..."Oh,"Dean swallowed, "is that what I think it is?"
"Yes." said Castiel and turned away from the remains of his brethren to head toward the elevators.
There were no buttons on the inside of the elevator, but it dinged politely once Dean followed Castiel in and started going up. It opened again, moments later onto a hallway covered in a far thicker, and far more gruesome mass of feathers and blood. Though Dean couldn't see any light fixtures, there had to be some, because they were flickering.
Dean saw Castiel heading toward a large set of ebony double doors and went after him.
A weak snort came from behind them. "You're a bit late, Castiel." Raphael wheezed. He was slouched against the wall in the corner of the elevator bank.
Castiel turned to face him, "Raphael. What happened here? Did you free Michael?"
Raphael laughed loudly until it turned into a hacking cough. "Michael? No, no if I had been the one to free him, do you think any of this would have happened?" Raphael pushed himself slowly to his feet and leaned back against the wall again for support. "It's done, Castiel. We're all done. The Traitor has taken the Throne."
Castiel stared at Raphael, "That's...not possible. If that had happened, wouldn't we all know by now? Wouldn't Earth be burning?"
"Maybe he wanted Michael to witness the end of our Father's creation? I don't know, I don't care, but what I do know is that because of you, we missed our chance to stop him. This is your doing Castiel. You and your insistence on breaking every rule, disobeying every command. You may as well go in there right now and fall to your knees. You've served the Morningstar well." Raphael's anger was palpable, but Dean didn't really care.
"You think this is Castiel's fault? He did nothing but try to stop all this crap! That's all he's ever done!" Dean would have probably gone on, but despite their heated arguing, all three of them heard an audible click as the doors opened.
Dean turned to ask Castiel if they should go in, but he was gone. Raphael had vanished too. The two probably fluttered inside without me. Awesome. thought Dean, and went to open the doors further. Whatever was through the doors was unbearably bright. Dean blinked as he walked forward, until he could see again.
He was in what looked like an endless desert. Barren except for thousands of vines running along the ground. They were rose vines. Of course they're rose vines.
"So...is this a bad sign?" When he got no answer, he looked behind him, looked all around him, but couldn't find either angel, or any sign of the doors.
Dean walked for a few minutes in silence, more creeped out than he would have cared to admit, until he saw a massive, pale tree up ahead.
The vines ran closer together the further he walked and met at the base of the tree. Dean was close enough to be under its branches, where it was raining. He wiped a stray drop from his cheek with his thumb only to find it stained red with blood. Dean looked up again and saw that it was an apple tree. It wasn't just pale, it was completely, impossibly white, down to the leaves; only the apples were red, and dripping.
At the base of the tree was Sam. He was huddled over something hidden from Dean's view and his shoulders were shaking. Dean recognized the sight for what it was immediately. Sam was crying.
As he got closer, he heard him saying over and over, "No, no, no, no..." the closer he got to the tree, the more details he noticed. At first he'd thought the trunk was warped where Sam was kneeling, but that wasn't all there was to it. The tree itself was shaped differently here. There was a throne built into the trunk of the tree, huge and pristine. Steps led down from it, and at the foot of those steps, no longer completely obscured by Sam was something that looked almost like a person.
When he was close enough to reach out and touch his shoulder, Dean spoke, "Sam?" He leaned closer and nearly touched his shoulder, when Sam turned to him. As he did, Dean could see that whatever he was holding was running through his fingers like sand.
Sam's eyes were twin suns again, and when he spoke, Dean felt every word echo through his bones. "I got him out. I promised him I would, and I did, but...he's not...something's wrong." Sam turned back and gently pushed the shimmering mass that had slipped through his grip back together. As Dean watched, he could see a humanoid form taking shape.
"Opening the Cage was easy, after..." Sam stopped, and leaned forward, inspecting his handiwork. Sam's fingers were around what would be the face of the person. As he sat back up, Dean thought he could see eyes, a hazy mirror of Sam's own, glowing softly. "...but he won't wake up. I know he's here, but he's...he's broken. I can't- why can't I fix him? I can't fix him. I keep trying and he keeps falling apart."
"Michael? Is that Michael, Sam?" Dean asked, suddenly feeling a sense of dread. "You got him out, but how long was he down there? I mean, Hell does a number on every-"
"He was fine!" Sam bellowed, and Dean fell, landing in an undignified sprawl. "He was fine," Sam repeated, "I could hear him, I could feel his relief when I finally cracked the Cage wide open, but then I went to get him out and there was something there, trying to stop me, and I pulled harder and I got him free, but..."
Dean never did learn. He got back up, walked over to where Sam sat with what was left of Michael, and knelt beside him. "It's not your fault."
Sam looked toward him but not at him and then snarled, "No, it's yours." and grabbed for the amulet around Dean's neck.
"M-mine?" Dean stuttered, scrambling backwards, but Sam was facing away from him, staring at the amulet he'd torn free which had come flaring to life, burning so brilliantly Dean had to look away. Dean closed his eyes, and listened.
Sam's voice was everywhere, inescapable, and Dean could feel his anger - moments away from crushing...everything "You did this! You coward! I know you can hear me! Give him back! Give him back or I'll-"
"Or you'll what?" Dean asked. "Destroy the world? How is that gonna help?" Dean had no idea if Sam was listening to him, or not, so he went on, "Listen to me, for just one minute ok?"
He heard, distantly, the muffled clatter of metal, which Dean imagined had to have been Sam flinging the amulet somewhere far away. Dean breathed a sigh of relief when he realized he could open his eyes again. He sat up a little straighter and continued, "One of the last times we saw each other, I asked you what it felt like, remember?"
Sam was sitting back at the foot of the tree, at the foot of the Throne. He looked at Dean, and his eyes were hazel and human, "You asked me what it was like to be Lucifer...I told you I'd always been him." Moment over, Sam turned his attention back down to Michael.
"You said - 'We're two halves made whole'. I thought it was a load of crap at the time, honestly, but...considering everything..." Dean couldn't think of anything else to explain what he had suddenly realized, so he just kept going, "Anyway... do you think it's the same with Michael and me? Do you think, we're connected too?"
Sam remained focused on Michael, "What if you were?"
"I just thought, maybe...I could help? If I said yes to him, now - would that even work? I mean, do you think there's a chance it could bring him back?"
When Sam looked at him again, Dean couldn't read Sam's eyes at all. They were still hazel, but they were anything but human. The Morningstar was looking at him, and he was ancient, immensely powerful and considering Dean very, very thoroughly.
"It might save him. It might destroy you. Nothing like this has ever happened before." Sam looked at Dean expectantly, and continued, "Why would you even offer something like this, now, after fighting it your whole life?"
Dean smiled, "That's easy- because I know what it's like to lose your brother. I know what it's like to wish the world would just go away so you didn't have to feel so damn alone all the time. I know you know it too Sam, and I know that's what's making this so much worse." Dean looked back down at Michael, "Whatever Lucifer would've felt about this, I know you agree with him one hundred percent, and honestly...I'm kind of surprised the world is still standing. Well, mostly."
Sam broke his gaze, looked back down, and ran his fingers over Michael's forehead. "He's still there, I know he is."
"Ok then," Dean looked down at Michael, at his featureless face, and said softly, "Yes."