Disclaimer: Supernatural belongs to the CW and whoever else owns it, but definitely not me. I'm just a fangirl.
Author's Note: Welp, this is awkward. "Yes" was supposed to be a one-shot, but then…. well, then I decided that if it was that weird for Dean to accept Michael, what would it be like for him to lose him at the end of it all? And how would he deal with being just Dean again? And what exactly are the side effects of riding shotgun with the right hand of God for three months? And thus did the one-shot become a series… PS, reviews still welcome, and for those of you waiting on my other fic, I am so sorry,writing crazy people is a beyotch. I promise I'm working on it. This one's just easier. Yeah I know I'm lazy.
Jimmy Novak had been right- it was like being chained to a comet. Michael's Grace was around him and through him and had been for… Dean didn't know how long. Time, physical exertion, pain, everything was muted, blotted out by the sheer sensory overload of the angel inside of him. The passage of time meant little to Michael, and so it meant little to Dean. Michael's very being made Dean more alive than he had ever been- what did he need with sleep, or food? Any wounds to Dean's physical body were healed as instantly and completely as if they had never happened. Dean might have been scared, but the angel's Grace was so all-encompassing that Dean's puny emotions were lost in the enormity of his being.
Dean was relatively certain that it hadn't begun this way. He thought that there may have been a time when he still had access to his body, could utilize his senses if he tried. He had seen Sam like that, just once, when he had still known what was going on outside his own mind. He thought Sam might have been shouting, but the memory was transparent, fleeting. Much of what Dean had been was washed away now, eroded in the light of Michael's glory.
He remained there, wrapped protectively in Michael's Grace, unaware of anything save the occasional shift as the angel transported them from place to place. It was a peace Dean had never known, and he felt he could have waited forever, perhaps fallen asleep there and never woken up. But even if Dean had long since forgotten why he was there and what he had given up, Michael had not.
The archangel had learned about Dean from their constant contact, learned more than anyone could ever know about him, more even than Dean knew about himself. And Michael had grown to respect this man, this human who had fought the inevitable so hard, who had tried until his final moments to protect those he loved. So while it may have been easier for Michael to remain within Dean forever, or for him to gently soothe Dean's soul away until there was nothing left, he didn't. He kept his word, kept it even knowing the pain it was likely to cause. Because the most important thing he learned about the man called Dean Winchester was that he would never, ever stop trying to save those who needed saving. And right now there were many who needed his help.
For Dean, coming back to consciousness was like having a load of smothering blankets peeled off of him one by one. The first sensation to return, ever so faintly, was touch. Dean was laying on something soft, rough cloth under his hands. Next was smell and taste, and Dean registered the chemical burn of ozone on his tongue. Hearing came shortly after, the sounds of running water and glass clinking too loud in his ears. Sight was last, and Dean only knew it had returned because the lightness of the void slowly darkened to the reddish-black of closed eyelids.
As his senses returned, so did his awareness. Dean could remember saying yes to Michael, having the angel's being and light filling him completely. After that there was just a sensation of slow loss mingled with such divine wonder and awe that it took Dean's breath away. And Dean realized then that he was breathing, that his body was his once more. And with that awareness, he heard the voice, the one from long ago and yet only a few moments earlier, ringing with bells and trumpets.
"I have kept my promise to you Dean, although I do not think you anticipated the difficulty that is bound to follow this act. Should your return prove too much, or too little, for you, you need only call me and I shall return and take you into myself once more." Dean thought he heard, for the first time, a trace of emotion enter the voice. It sounded like amusement. "But I do not think you shall. Goodbye, Dean Winchester. As I said before, thank you. And I am sorry."
With that, Michael left Dean completely, flowing out of him with the same awesome power that he had come with. But unlike before, this time hurt. A hundred thousand needles ripped through Dean's being and left him torn and sagging, like a shredded sail on a ship too damaged to travel. A part of Dean had been taken by Michael, and now Dean understood why the archangel had apologized; he thought that the sense of wrongness in him might kill him on the spot. Gradually the feeling lessened to something more tolerable, but Dean felt as though it were still there, hovering just below the surface.
He must have made some noise, because the water stopped and he heard floorboards creak and shoes thump. Everything seemed much too loud, and Dean didn't dare open his eyes for fear they would burn out of his skull. Someone grabbed his arm, and Dean whimpered again as nerves that he hadn't used in months reacted to the touch.
"Dean?" For a moment Dean's breath caught in his throat. That voice, husky with worry and lack of sleep, he would know it anywhere.
"Sammy?" Dean tried to say, but the word that fell from his lips was jumbled and unfamiliar, and the room seemed to vibrate with it. The hand on his arm jerked back.
"Dean? Is that you?" There was fear in Sam's voice now, and Dean's heart clenched. His brother shouldn't be afraid of him. It was just Dean now, he was alone, no more Michael. The thought tugged at the emptiness inside him and made him cringe.
"How is he, Sam?" This voice was gravelly and deep, and for the second time in as many minutes Dean felt as though he might cry from joy. He swallowed, determined to make his mouth work this time.
"Castiel?" This name seemed better suited to his lips, and Dean was sure he had said it correctly. Still not trusting his eyes, he reached a hand out. "Sam. Sammy, it's me." This time the words were right, but they felt strange on Dean's lips, as though he had not spoken English in a very long time.
Someone took his hand, and the sensation was so great that Dean almost passed out again. "Dean!" Sam's voice broke with relief, and Dean could feel something dripping onto his hand, warm and wet. He gave Sam's fingers a gentle squeeze.
"Don't cry man, I'm fine." Dean hoped that the words didn't sound like the blatant lies they were, but when Sam choked out a laugh he breathed a sigh of relief. "How long was I out?"
Cas answered before Sam could, and Dean could hear rustling as the angel drew closer. "Michael came here after… after the battle. He said that he was going to keep the promise he made you. Then he lay down on that sofa, and you have not moved, nor spoken, nor even breathed since. That was five days ago." Dean could feel the angel's eyes on him, studying him, and it made him nervous.
"Dean, open your eyes." Although Cas spoke softly, it was a command. Dean shook his head slowly. It would hurt, he knew. Whatever else being possessed by Michael had done to him, he somehow knew that his eyes wouldn't work the same.
"No," he whispered.
"Dean, I am not asking. Open your eyes, now." Cas' voice was hard, and Dean quaked at the tone. But a part of him was angry with Cas. He had no right to order Dean around, and for a moment, Dean considered turning away, ignoring the angel. But then Sam spoke.
"Why? Cas, is something wrong with his eyes? Did Michael make him blind like Pamela?" The near-panic in his voice was barely concealed, and Dean couldn't bear the thought of making Sam worry any more. Steeling himself, he opened his eyes and stared at the ceiling, taking deep breaths to control his roiling stomach.
His eyes didn't shrivel or burn, for which he was grateful, but everything he looked at seemed clearer than he remembered, more defined. He was in Bobby's house, which he could have guessed by the comforting scents of whiskey and old paper. The cracks in the plaster above him seemed sharper than usual, and he could make out the individual brush strokes in the paint of the devil's trap. A beam of sunlight slanted across the room, and for a moment Dean imagined he could see each speck of dust suspended in it.
"Dean, look at me." the note of command was still there, and he obediently turned his eyes to the angel standing beside him.
Dean gasped. The angel seemed just as Dean remembered him, and yet there was so much more. First and foremost, the angel's wings were unfurled behind him in all their splendor, glossy black feathers mixing with shadows and light where they touched the walls and bookshelves. There was also a fullness to Cas that Dean had never seen, a sort of pure glow that made him ache with longing for what he had lost.
The angel was staring at Dean with wide eyes, seeming not to have noticed Dean's scrutiny. Next to him Sam muttered "Holy shit."
Dean turned to ask Sam what was wrong and cried out involuntarily, flinching. "My god Sam, what happened to you face?"
"What do you mean?" Sam was confused, but Dean just stared in a sort of horrified fascination. More than half of Sam's face was covered in thick white scars and what looked like burns, some of which were oozing a yellowish liquid. Dean hoped that whoever had done this to Sam was already dead for their own sake, because if they weren't, he was going to make them suffer first.
"Dean, what are you talking about? Nothing happened to my face, what the hell happened to your eyes?"
"Don't tell me nothing happened to your face, it's covered in scars! You look like you got caught in the middle of a fight between Wolverine and the Human Torch!" Fear made Dean's voice harsher than he meant. Next to him, Cas sucked in a breath sharply.
"Sam, why don't you go get Dean a drink of water and a sandwich. He's probably hungry." Cas kept his voice calm, but Dean could see his wings rustling agitatedly.
"Really Cas? Now's not exactly the best time. Dean, I swear there is nothing wrong with my face, look." Sam tried to lift Dean's hand to his cheek but Dean instinctively pulled away, not wanting to touch the raw-looking wounds.
"Sam, go. Now." The command was back in Cas' voice, and Sam looked up, bewildered.
"NOW. Please, Sam. Your brother is just disoriented, he'll be fine in a minute. Anyway, he needs to get nutrients into him now that he's supporting his own metabolism again."
Dean tried to protest, but to his complete shock Cas swept a wing forward and covered his mouth. The touch of the feathers sent a jolt through his system, and he found himself craving more of it. Carefully he reached a hand up, wondering if he could run his fingers through the feathers and capture some of the vitality inside. Cas twitched nervously, but other than that gave no sign that he knew what Dean was doing.
Oblivious, Sam gave Dean one more worried look before lifting himself off the floor and making his way into the kitchen. As soon as he was out of sight, Cas jerked his wing away from Dean and bent over him, blue eyes boring into him.
"Dean," he said slowly and clearly, "can you see my wings?" Dean thought this was a bit of a dumb question, as he was currently trying to catch hold of the nearest wingtip again, wondering if it was really as soft as it looked. But Cas pulled his wings back and forced Dean's hand away.
"Dammit Dean, this is important." Dean blinked. Cas had never said "dammit" before, that Dean could remember. "I need to know, can you see my wings?"
"Of course I can see them," Dean snapped, trying to focus on Cas' face instead of his wings, which were ruffled again. "They take up the whole frigging room man, where the hell have you been keeping them? And why doesn't Sam know that his face looks like he's had the Freddy Krueger experience?"
Cas stared at Dean for a moment, then slowly lowered himself to the floor without blinking, eyes still fixed on Dean. He didn't speak, and if Dean hadn't known better he would have said the angel was at a loss for words.
"Hello, Cas? Wanna fill me in here?"
"Dean-"Cas began, but then stopped, glancing over his shoulder to the kitchen, where Sam had just finished slapping together a roast beef sandwich. "Look, I promise I will explain everything later, but for right now please, act normal. Sam's face doesn't actually look like that. It's fine, he hasn't been injured at all, so don't bring it up."
"How the hell am I supposed to not bring it up, he-"
"Dean, please!" Cas' eyes were large and liquid, and Dean was rattled by the uncertainty he saw there. Dean nodded grudgingly as Sam came back into the room, big brown eyes watching Dean nervously from his ruined face.
"Fine. But there had better be a damn good explanation for this later."
Cas nodded gratefully and stood. Dean had been hoping that his wing would brush by him again, but the angel seemed to be making a conscious effort to avoid any physical contact with Dean. With a shrugging motion, he folded the wings against his back, smaller and smaller until they suddenly winked out of existence, like flipping a light switch. Dean blinked, but Cas was saved from answering any questions by Sam's return with the food.
Ignoring the unexpected disappointment at not being able to see the wings anymore, Dean accepted the plate that his brother handed him. Now that he could smell the beef, he had to admit that he was hungrier than he ever remembered being.
"So," Sam said, watching Dean warily. "You feeling better? Still think I look funny?"
Dean met his brother's eyes and didn't look anywhere else, pretending that Sam's face wasn't horribly disfigured. "Yeah," he managed, "Yeah I feel better, and I'm sorry, I must have still been wigging out a little from the whole angel thing. Your face is fine." He cleared his throat awkwardly. "So, what's wrong with my eyes?"
Sam swallowed nervously before answering his brother. "They're, um, silver."