The ritual to open Purgatory was fairly straightforward. The blood had been easy enough to obtain, but the eclipse…neither Sam nor Famine could have brought on an eclipse by themselves. Together, however, their power was great enough. They painted the sigil on the back of an old barn, and watched as Purgatory started to tear open with a flash of brilliant light. Famine looked into it eagerly, then turned back to Sam and snarled, "All of this is mine. If you try to take even one from me, I will call all three of my brothers and they will—"
"What the hell are you doing?" said a voice from behind them.
Famine ignored the voice, shed his skin and expanded, opening his jaw wider and wider, ready to catch anything trying to escape through the dimensional portal.
Sam turned and saw War glaring back at him. "What does it look like we're doing?"
The gray-haired man laughed sharply and said, "It looks like you two decided to open Purgatory, like a couple of morons. And here I thought your brother was the dumb one. He certainly hasn't been any help."
Sam took a step towards War, and bared his teeth. "What are you saying?"
"Thanks to my brother's talents, Dean and his little angel friend came with me willingly. All I had to do was hold out a bag of cheeseburgers and a bottle of Jack." War chuckled. "I brought them both to Raphael."
Sam's anger brought lightning crashing down around them, singeing the dried grass, and War grinned even wider.
"Why?" Sam growled, grabbing War by the throat. "Take me to Dean. Right. Now."
"Or what?" War said, voice steady despite the pressure of Sam's grip.
Sam tightened his grip, and flames licked around his fingers, spilling out onto War's flesh.
"You can't kill War. Plus…you really think touching me is a good idea? With all that rage you've got going?"
"Where. Is. Dean."
The Horseman rolled his eyes. "Where do you think he is?"
"Heaven," Sam said. "Raphael wanted to bring Dean to Michael." His fury grew and more lightning crashed down around them.
"That's right," War said slowly, "So what are you gonna do about it?"
Sam's rage reached out wide as he unfurled his wings and looked skyward. "I'll storm heaven. I'll break down the gate and I'll tear them all to shreds."
War laughed louder and louder, as blood started to rain down from the sky. "I knew you wouldn't disappoint me. That's the spirit. Kill them all. They won't stand a chance against you — not with Michael gone."
"Michael…" Sam clenched his eyes shut, trying to think, trying to calm himself, trying to remember why he'd chosen a new path in the first place. Michael wasn't gone, he couldn't be…but every time Sam thought of Michael he thought of Dean, and his anger came flooding back. He took a deep breath, trying to focus on his human soul, buried as it was under the Devil's rage. The lightning slowed and then stopped, as did the rain. His grip on War's throat loosened just a bit.
"Come on Sam, let's go," said the Horseman.
Sam shook his head, trying to clear his thoughts. He'd forgotten something important, and it was right there, just out of reach…on the edge of his mind.
"Enough of this," came another voice, accompanied by the beating of a dozen pairs of wings.
"Raphael." Sam let go of War and turned to face the archangel. He'd come with ten of his soldiers, four of whom were standing guard around Dean and Castiel. Dean was unconscious, but alive. Castiel had a cheeseburger in each hand — he took a bite out of one, then the other, and chewed — seemingly oblivious to his surroundings. Sam walked closer to them and crouched down to get a closer look at Dean. "Which one of you did this?"
Raphael laughed. "Talk to Castiel."
"Castiel?" Sam repeated, trying to meet the angel's eyes. He had finished off one of the cheeseburgers and was about to unwrap another from a white paper bag that had manifested out of nowhere. Sam grabbed his arm. "Castiel. What did you do to Dean?"
Castiel tried to tug his arm free from Sam's grip and then looked up at his eyes. "Dean? Oh." His eyes focused back on the white paper bag, which opened as one of the cheeseburgers floated out of it, unwrapping itself as it went, heading for Castiel's mouth. Sam glared at it, turning it to ash.
Castiel's eyes widened and started to fill with tears. "Don't…don't do that."
"Tell me what you did to my brother," Sam repeated.
"He tried to take one of my burgers, so I put him to sleep."
Sam stared at the angel. "Because he tried to take one of your burgers?"
"Yes. I need them. He was about to drink himself to death anyway. It was for the best."
There was an impossibly loud hiss from the portal to Purgatory, and Sam turned just in time to see Famine close his huge jaws around what looked like a giant serpent.
"Leviathan," War said quietly. He took off his glasses and pinched the bridge of his nose. "This is going to end so badly." He folded his arms over his chest and watched as Famine and the serpent fought each other, wrapping themselves tighter together until the Leviathan's own razor-filled mouth was locked onto Famine. They twisted faster and faster, devouring each other, and didn't even notice when the eclipse ended and Purgatory started to close again. The portal pulled everything near it back down, grabbing hold of the few straggling souls that had made it out and past Famine's maw. They were all drawn back down, screaming and roaring in fury, and then — far too occupied with their own struggle — Famine and the Leviathan tumbled through the gate right before the portal snapped shut again.
Sam stared at War and raised an eyebrow. "Why didn't you help your brother?"
War turned from the blood-stained barn wall back to Sam and eyed him thoughtfully for a moment before saying, "Who says I didn't?"
Castiel coughed up a mouthful of half-chewed burger and blinked twice. Then he looked from Sam down to Dean and shook his head, saying, "I'm sorry." He laid his hand on Dean's forehead, and after a few seconds, Dean sat up and yawned wide.
"Man, my head…" Dean groaned as he looked up at Sam, blearily.
Sam held his hand out to Dean and pulled him up to his feet.
Dean rolled his head, cracking his neck and asked, "What did I miss?"
"Not too much," Sam said with a smirk. "You okay?"
Dean looked over his shoulder at Raphael, and said, "Yeah. I'm fine. Raphael's all talk."
Raphael bristled. "We showed you mercy because Michael wanted you unharmed.
"Michael?" Dean asked. "Is that a fact?" He walked towards the assembled angels and looked from one to another. "You know, you guys talk about Michael all the time, but I'm starting to think none of you have actually talked to the guy."
Sam cocked his head to the side, looking at Dean curiously. The memory evading him was flickering into existence. "You're right." He locked eyes with Raphael. "You use his name, because the Host respects him above all other angels, but…you don't even know where he is."
"You're still a fool, Lucifer. You always have been." Raphael's face turned to a sneer. "Just because your brother has hidden himself from you since you betrayed us all, doesn't mean he hides himself from us."
"Oh yeah?" Dean scoffed. "When was the last time you talked to him. Hm? Or got a memo, or a phone call or a text message or whatever it is you guys do?"
Sam stared at his brother as the elusive memory became crystal clear for just a fraction of a second.
"You haven't heard a word from him since he left. And you won't ever hear from him again," Dean said.
"Blasphemy!" Raphael snarled.
"Nope. Just fact. Michael's gone." Dean looked at Sam and flashed him a lop-sided grin. "I'm all that's left."
Raphael's eyes widened and the angels behind him all stared from Dean to Sam and back. "No. That's not possible."
"Of course it is. I fell." Dean cleared his throat and looked from one angel to the next. "I don't remember all of it. Only bits and pieces. I remember you," he looked at Raphael, "and Gabriel…and I remember Lucifer." He looked at Sam and smiled, then continued. "That's about it. The human mind can only hold so much, I guess."
An angel to the left of Raphael took an angry step forward and said, "Michael would never —"
"I would. I did. I did what our Father asked me to do. I threw my brother into Hell. I watched him for a thousand years, and then one day…I just couldn't live with myself, you know?" Dean sighed and shrugged, "So I fell. I tore out my grace and…" he smiled, "…now I'm me."
Sam swallowed as he watched his brother speak, suddenly overcome with emotion. All those centuries he'd spent convinced that Michael would hate him until the end of time, all the anger, all the hate…all of it started to fade away as he listened to his brother, his brother, speak.
Raphael radiated fury. He stepped towards Dean and spoke — low and dangerous. "We will find your grace, and you will stop this madness. Tell us where it is."
"Don't know. Don't care." Dean grinned.
For a moment, it looked like Raphael was going to speak again, but then his face twisted — his nose scrunched up, his eyes clenched shut, and he sneezed.
"Ha HA!" yelled Pestilence, manifesting next to War. "Behold my work and tremble, Host of Heaven, for I have given you the common cold."
War slapped his hand to his forehead.
The angel furthest to the right rubbed at his nose and sniffled.
Pestilence threw his arms into the air jubilantly and stuck his tongue out at Dean.
"Wow. You really did." Dean raised his eyebrows. "I'm impressed. 'Course that doesn't change anything. We're not fighting each other. We're not going to fight each other."
Pestilence's face crumpled, and War put his arm around his brother, patting him on the shoulder.
"You can't just disobey the will of Heaven," Raphael said to Dean, his voice soft with disbelief. "We are the agents of fate. If we disobey, everything will fall apart."
"Maybe." Dean nodded, "Or maybe fate's overrated."
"It totally is," Sam said, watching the angels behind Raphael start to leave.
Raphael frowned, and then looked at Dean curiously. "Have you seen him? Do you know where Father is?"
Dean shook his head.
"Why did he...abandon us? What are we supposed to do?" Raphael asked, and there was genuine sorrow in his voice. "This war was what we were told was going to come to pass."
"It's not. Plans have changed," Dean smirked, "You should try taking a vacation. It did wonders for us, didn't it Sammy?"
Sam scoffed. "Yeah, hell of a vacation."
"I am the instrument of God the almighty! I give and take life by his Word! I do not vacation," Raphael said, anger tinting his voice again.
"Suit yourself," Dean turned to Sam. "Ready to get out of here?"
"Yeah," Sam watched Raphael's wings twitch unhappily as he tried to decide what to do. "We're your brothers, Raphael, whether you agree with us or not. You're family. If you need us, we'll answer."
Raphael shook his head, "I'm the only archangel left in Heaven. Gabriel still won't come home, and neither will you."
"So we like it better down here, that doesn't mean we're shutting you out." Dean said.
"Vacation. Seriously." Turning back to Sam, Dean added, "Pizza? Or no wait — pie! A diner that has good pie."
"I'll see what I can do," Sam smirked, taking a hold of Dean's shoulder as he stepped through the folds of space and out into…Central Park.
"Huh," Dean looked around at the lake, the joggers running past them, and the small chess-tables. "I don't see any pie."
"This isn't—" Sam looked around, confused. "This isn't where I wanted to take us. I don't —"
"Sometimes, a single step will lead you to the most unexpected places," said a quiet, but powerful voice. Death smiled up at Sam and Dean, holding a black pawn. He placed it back down on the chessboard table. "Check-mate in 2 moves."
"Oh come on!" said Death's opponent. "Again? That's like...the third time today!"
Dean walked closer to the table and stared at the small, curly haired man across from Death. "Chuck?"
Chuck blinked up at Dean. "Uhh…yeah. Hi, Dean. Sam."
"What the hell are you doing hanging out with Death!" Dean raved, "What'd you—"
"It's you," Sam said quietly. "Isn't it?"
Chuck raised his eyebrow as he picked up his white queen and took Death's bishop. "In a manner of speaking, yes."
"You're—" Sam's nostrils flared angrily. "This is what you've been doing? Sitting here, playing chess while everybody debates your existence!"
"Oh," Dean said, pursing his lips.
Sam continued, angrily, "Do you have any idea—"
"Yes," Chuck said. "Yes I do. I have all the ideas, but it's better this way."
"How could you possibly think that?" Sam yelled. "What gives you the right to just abandon everything? Tell me why!"
The prophet's face softened. "Because of you. Both of you…you proved me wrong. You went off-script."
"Yeah, well, your script sucked," Dean said.
Death chuckled as he picked up his rook.
Chuck nodded, "You're not wrong."
Sam shook his head in disbelief. "So…what now?"
"I don't know," Chuck said, grinning. "Isn't that awesome?"
Sam was about to rattle off an epically long list of why it was in fact not awesome, when a sharp whistle from a few tables away caught his attention.
Dean was already heading towards the whistler, and Sam jogged a few steps to catch up with him.
"Man, all the cool kids hang out here, huh?" Dean scoffed, looking down at Gabriel, who was playing with a stack of checkers.
Gabriel looked at him oddly, "Pretty sure I'm the coolest one here dudes, sorry to burst your bubble."
Sam turned over his shoulder to point at the chess-table housing the Beginning and the End but the table was empty.
"I'm glad you're both okay," Gabriel said. "Sorry I didn't come by for round two, but I had to lay low." His voice dropped into a whisper. "Hildr and I kinda…had a falling out, and trust me you do not want to be on her bad side."
"Hildr?" Dean raised an eyebrow.
"The Valkyrie with the really nice…" he raised his hands up to his head and cupped them above his ears, "…buns. She saved your sorry ass. And mine, more times than I can count."
"What'd you do?" Sam asked.
Gabriel gave him a withering look. "Like I'm gonna tell you."
Dean gave Gabriel a grin and sat down across from him, and nodded towards the checkers. "So we gonna play or what?"
Gabriel smirked and the checkers slid into their spots on the board.
Sam shook his head and turned away from them. He looked out at the quiet lake nearby, closed his eyes and listened. The sun was warm, the wind was cool, and the only flutter of wings he heard were those of birds.