Title: Some Dance to Remember, Some Dance to Forget

Summary: Dean reaches out and slaps a hand against the closest tree's trunk and he has a moment to think about the fact that the guy looks vaguely disappointed that nothing happened. AU Pre-Pilot.

Author's Note: Set pre-Pilot, but contains spoilers up through… season 5ish… Title taken from "Hotel California" by the Eagles. Pardon any grammar or spelling mistakes. Please and thank you. Rated predominately for swearing.

Disclaimer: Not mine. Never mine.

Dean Winchester crosses his arms as he gazes at the gigantic- and he really does mean humongous- oak tree. Well, rather three oak tress, standing in an extremely convoluted-hey, he knows big words too, Sammy-triangle.

The quickly passing thought of his brother sends a pain through Dean's chest, as it has every time he has thought of Sam since his brother's departure almost three years ago. He tightens his arms across his chest in order to resist the urge to reach out and run his hand over the slightly mossy tree bark in front of him. With his lips pressed in a tight line, he turns to gaze at the man standing next to him.

The word "man" might be too simple a term though to describe the individual, but for the time being "fugly" doesn't seem right either. He had been sitting in a bar, drinking away the pain from his injuries from his last hunt, when this… person had plopped down next to him.

"Ya know, Deano, pain meds and vodka don't really go well together." The "man" was shorter than he was, and decked in a green jacket and jeans. He looked, for all intents and purposes, like an average human, but Dean had learned, after hunting for almost twenty years, that average looking humans, are rarely average looking humans.

"Who the hell are you?" he slurred, for the most part an act, but in some part he really is getting drunk quickly… there's something wrong with that.

"Oh, Dean, Dean, Dean," the man shook his head, and shaggy hair fell into his face. "Let's get you sobered up."

The man had grabbed his hand and they had appeared in the middle of this forest, in front of these three trees. The man had grinned at him, and suddenly Dean was feeling way too sober. "Listen up, chucklehead," the man had said, an annoyed expression crossing his face. "I really don't feel like dealing with this right now, but I want to see how this plays out."

"You want me to what?" Dean asks again, a frown to rival Sammy's bitchface crossing his expression.

"Listen dumbass," the "man" growls, "touch the damn tree. I'm not asking again. I make you touch it next time."

Dean's arms tighten even more. "What the hell are you?" he demands. "Until you tell me that and why the hell you want me to...ya know..." he pauses, waving his hands- which he has momentarily freed from their place locked voluntarily to his sides- at the trees in front of him. This whole situation is too damn bizarre. He shouldn't be standing here talking to this fugly bastard, he should be shooting something, "do this... I'm not touching any damn trees."

"Listen up, bucko," there's honest-to-goodness anger in the tone now. "If you're who I think you are, then you'll be thanking me! If you aren't, than absolutely nothing'll happen. Got it?"

Dean shouldn't trust him. Hell, Dean doesn't trust him. But he believes him, and that scares the shit outta him. In the hunting business, one doesn't just trust random strangers, especially not random strangers who are probably things that go bump in the night. But somehow he's believing every freakin' word that's coming out of this guy's mouth and that really scares the shit outta him.

"If you're trying to screw me over, dude," Dean hisses, "my dad and brother will hunt your sorry ass to the end of the world and back. Do you understand me?"

"Your brother abandoned you to Stanford," the thing reminds him, "and you have no clue where ole' Johnboy is anyway." There's something odd in his attempted nonchalance. Almost… pity or maybe sympathy, Dean thinks. Though why the fugly pities him, he has no idea.

Suddenly angry for no reason whatsoever, Dean reaches out and slaps a hand against the closest tree's trunk, just to spite the asshole. "There," he growls. "Happy?" He has a moment to think about the fact that the guy looks vaguely disappointed that nothing happened, and in the pit of his stomach, he's almost sad that nothing has too, and then-

"You have a plan? Really? And what does this plan consist of exactly?"

"You'll see, kiddo."


Father has a plan. He always has a plan. He isn't sure that he agrees with Father's plan, but he'll go along with it, because it is Father, and Father is always right.

-and white-

"You've been away for a long time, little brother. I'm not sure you have the right to judge anything I do anymore."

"You're going to go along with this hair-brained scheme? Have you even thought it through? What happens when you… vanish for the next Dad-knows how long and all of the younger ones start asking questions?"

"Well, you aren't going to be up here to find out, and neither will I."

-and pain-

He had expected it to hurt more. For goodness' sake, he was ripping out his soul, essentially, and jumping off the highest cliff in the universe. He doesn't know why it doesn't. If just kind of feels like he missed a step, and twisted his ankle. At least- he makes this assumption. It has been a long, long, long time since he was human and doesn't have much to compare it to.

-and then he is sitting in the fading sunset, underneath one of three humongous oak trees. The oranges, purples, pinks, and fading pale blues of the sky reach him through the leaves canopying above him. He takes a deep breath. Air. Dirty, polluted, human, Earth air. Huh. He's been breathing it in for years, and he's only now realizing how bad it is. Despite its foulness, he sits there, breathing it in for a long time, stretching out like a cat in the sun, basking in the fading rays of sunset. He extends his wings to their full span, stretching them for the first time in decades. It feels wonderful to be so relaxed.

"I was right, then, wasn't I?"

He looks up into the fading sun, and blinks lazily. For a moment, he feels like he should be worried. It might be a human, after all- but a human wouldn't be able to see his wings- nor be so calm if he or she could. "I'm sorry?" he asks, frowning a bit. He doesn't recognize the man in front of him, at first. He's too short, too stocky. His hair is too short and far too dark. But then he sees the ephemeral image of faded and failing wings, hanging listlessly from the man's shoulders, and he knows he would recognize them anywhere.

Michael sits up in less than a second, and stands before his little brother, pulling the younger angel in for a hug. He pushes his Grace- newly reacquired- into Gabriel, healing the tatters of his soul from the centuries he's played hide-and-seek with his siblings. "You idiot," he whispers, brokenly into his brother's shoulder. "When was the last time you took a day off, Upstairs?" he asks.

Gabriel pulls away quickly. "So," he growls, scathingly, "your plan seems to have bottomed. What was the whole point of this meaningless "let's be human for a few years" exercise, anyway?"

Michael stares at Gabriel for a minute, unable to understand what he is getting at. Human? He isn't human. He's-

And then the memories of being Dean Winchester hit him like a bag of bricks to the head. "Oh," he comments quietly, suddenly unable to reconcile Dean Winchester with Michael. And his mind is a mix of hunterarchangelhumanfallen. It's a migraine waiting to happen, so he puts Dean aside for a few minutes while he deals with Michael's baby brother, Gabe. Sammy can wait for a while. "It wasn't just about being human," Michael tells him. "It was about being this human. Dean Winchester wasn't supposed to exist. Samuel Winchester was supposed to be an only child, abandoned by his father after the death of his mother. When Lucifer broke out of his cage, Sam was going to say "yes" to him without a second thought because he had no idea of what he was getting himself into. He needed to know about demons, angels- the whole shebang. He needed someone to balance him out. That's where I came in. I had to become Dean Winchester. I had to become someone who would keep an eye out for Sam's best interest. Who would temper the boy in a way that nothing else would- and if he says yes now…. Now I'm here to make sure that my brothers both wind up okay."

Gabriel smacks his lips slowly, thoughtfully, ponderingly. "Huh. This was Dad's plan all along? Then why did you forget so completely?"

"You were my failsafe." Michael shrugs without a thought. "I told you about Father's plan, and I knew if everything went sideways that you would remember and drag me along to fix it all." He smirks at his little brother. "That's why I told you, because- besides the fact that I wanted you to know- Father said that it would be best if you knew."

Gabriel crosses his arms. "Well, Sammy-boy's away at college. Looks like you don't have to worry about him anymore."

Michael runs a hand through his hair as Dean Winchester roars to life beneath his skin. "Why does everyone think that college is safe?" he asks, sighing. "It is no safer than being on the road, and I have a terrible feeling that he is being careless." He stands upright, away from the tree trunk. "Are you going to join me?" DeanAndMichael asks him, and Gabriel can see two distinct colors painting the archangel's eyes- Dean's green and Michael's gold. The personalities are going to grate until they eventually amalgamate completely.

"Follow you on another crazy, damn fool adventure?" he asks, looking at his older brother as if he were crazy. After a moment, a smile splits Gabriel's face, and it lights it up in a way that warms Michael's heart."Of course. I wouldn't miss it."