May, 2010, Detroit
The final showdown took place in a public park in a suburb full of foreclosed houses, and as he walked through it alone, Sam felt appropriately unnerved. It wasn't just economic decay run rampant, but the way reality itself felt so... thin after months of Lucifer massing his forces in this one place. Dean had indulged in a nice long rant - on at least six separate occasions - about how Lucifer must have been planning to break through here at least since 1999 - or whenever they decided to produce that mockery they called an Impala these days.
Sam had laughed at Dean's theory the first time, but the truth was he'd known why Lucifer picked Detroit ever since the Devil mentioned it back in Carthage, Missouri. Chuck had mistaken Hell's sadistic sense of humor for literary symmetry but Sam recognized it for what it was: predictable. Once a demon thought they knew your trigger, they'd keep pushing the same button until you broke. And though it had been years since he'd seen her or even really thought about her, Jess' niece Brittany had always loved Sam - treated him like a jungle-gym during the Christmas and two weeks in Hilton Head that he'd spent with the Moores. She was the closest thing Sam had to a daughter. Mother, girlfriend, would-be niece: demons and angels had a thing for threes too, so it made sense. A quick Internet search back in November confirmed that Jess' brother Carl and his family still lived in Grosse Pointe, but there wasn't much Sam could do but try to stop the Apocalypse before it came to that. It had been five years: there was no way to warn Carl and Brittany that wouldn't come across as crazy, plain and simple. Sam dropped Carl an e-mail over Christmas to re-establish the connection, just in case. Once the calendar turned over to May and no magic Lucifer-killing weapon had appeared, it was just a matter of waiting for the phone call.
Lucifer didn't snatch just Brittany, but nabbed her entire class on a field trip to the Tuskegee Airmen Museum. After twenty-seven years, Sam counted himself something of a connoisseur of demonic machinations and frankly, Lucifer's maneuver struck Sam as amateuristic, lacking Azazel's intricate, interweaving subtleties or Lilith's spare, elegant simplicity. Of course, the fact that Sam was in a position to make that comparison at all was a strong indicator of how fucked up his entire life had been to this point. Sam also had to remind himself that Lucifer wasn't
a demon; he was an archangel, and so far as Sam could tell, archangels didn't even rank as blunt instruments: they were forces of nature. It was like using a hurricane to carve a marble statue: you might get a pile of stones smashed together, if you were lucky. If you weren't lucky... well, Sam's conscience didn't have room left for twenty dead middle-schoolers. Sam hung up on Carl and buried his face in his hands, then told his brother it was time.
Dean had slapped his thighs, stood up, and grabbed that broadsword which never seemed to leave his side these days. "Let's go rope us some dopes, champ." They called Bobby and Castiel, ate burgers at a greasy spoon, and drove all night to reach Detroit, singing along to Dean's old tapes the whole way. Lucifer sent Sam a dream of this park, but Bobby had triangulated the exact spot months ago, so it wasn't a surprise. On Dean's advice Sam took a long, hot shower that morning, then put on warm, comfortable clothes and armed himself with enough knives that he practically jingled as he walked through the park.
Sam stopped walking when his view matched the one from his dream. "Okay. I'm here." He turned around in a lazy circle until Lucifer came into view. Sam sighed: predictable. "Nothing's changed," he said.
"I didn't want it to be this way, but you've forced my hand," said Lucifer, palms held out and his borrowed face a mess of sores. "Say yes, or the kids die."
Sam shook his head. "No. I say yes and the world ends."
Lucifer actually looked like he pitied Sam. "I don't believe you, Sam. You're just too noble: there's no way you'd sacrifice them to the greater good. After all," and Sam would never forgive Lucifer for his smug smile, "what kind of monster would that make you?"
"You're right. Problem is: I know the kids are safe, and I'm not saying yes to you." Sam crossed his arms. "Not now, not ever."
"Don't be so sure of that." Gabriel's voice came from right behind Sam's shoulder, but Sam didn't flinch. When he turned he saw Gabriel smirking as he held Dean and Castiel each by the collar. "Your lame little rescue mission? Didn't work out so good, even with Dean all decked out in his Dungeons and Dragons gear. Cute cloak, by the way, what does it give you, plus-3 defense against the cold facts of reality?"
"No, I just like the way it billows behind me all heroic-like," said Dean as he tried to kick back at Gabriel, but the angel swiveled his hips and avoided it.
Sam backed up a few steps so that he could keep Gabriel and Lucifer in sight at the same time. Castiel didn't struggle like Dean but simply glared at Gabriel. "I would never have believed that you would sink so low as to do Lucifer's dirty work, Gabriel," said Cas.
Lucifer placed his hand on his chest. "I'm touched, really. I didn't even ask him to do this."
"And here we thought you had standards, Gabriel. Where's the trick?" asked Dean.
Gabriel rolled his eyes. "Tried tricks before, but you two are just a little too dense, so I've had to resort to more direct tactics." He released Castiel and pushed Dean onto his knees, the broadsword clanging against the ground. "So how's about you say yes, Sam, before little bro over there gives his demonic minions the go-ahead to tear little Brittany and all her BFFs to shreds."
"And while you're at it, if Dean could consent to my companion here, why, we'll have this show on the road." Sam glanced at his brother who stopped his struggles at the sound of Zachariah's voice. Zachariah and Michael strode towards the group to stand opposite Lucifer and Gabriel, which left Castiel and the Winchesters surrounded. "Not that this isn't a delightful family reunion - wasn't expecting to see you, Gabriel, you never return my calls anymore - but we've got a schedule to keep, and you Winchesters have delayed us long enough."
Dean cracked his neck as he got to his feet. He was smiling. "Looks like you've got us right where you want us."
Michael tipped his head forward, keeping his eyes on Dean and avoiding looking at Lucifer. "Destiny has brought us here, Dean, as I've told you it would. Your time is up. Say yes, and let us end this."
Sam looked down at his brother. "They want us to say yes," he said in a stage-whisper. "I told them nothing's changed."
Dean looked up at Sam. "They don't listen so good, do they?" Sam looked around to see all of the angelic fury he could have hoped for. More importantly, all of that fury was narrowly and completely focused on the two brothers.
Which made it a complete surprise to the angels when a voice screamed "Face full o' heid," and Big Yan plunged down from the trees, landing smack in the middle of Gabriel's forehead. Gabriel crumpled to the ground like a puppet with cut strings, and before any of the other angels could react, the Winchesters were covered in tiny blue men while a mass of Feegles surrounded the entire group.
Dean quirked his eyebrows. "Of course, there was that one thing that changed."
Lucifer's brow furrowed, causing the skin on his forehead to crack open. "What are these creatures?"
Zachariah shook his head. "They aren't yours?"
"No!" shouted Lucifer. He scowled. "This is your great plan? Tiny Scotsmen?"
Rob Anybody waved his tiny sword in Lucifer's direction. "Who ye callin' a Scotsman, ye huge scuggan! I'm Rob Anybody, big man o' the Chalk clan o' the Nac Mac Feegle, and I'll give ye a heidin ye'll nae ken till next Tuesday!"
The Feegles all raised their weapons and shouted. "Nae King! Nae Quin! We willnae be fooled again!"
Zachariah took a breath. "Very funny, Winchester, but enough is enough." He snapped his fingers. Nothing happened. His face fell and he looked at Michael, who shook his head.
Castiel stepped forward. "You will be interested to learn that the Nac Mac Feegle are natives to another dimension, and as such, are immune to our abilities to manipulate reality. I have tried to silence them myself." He paused. "Many times. You are fortunate that Dean requested they not drink prior to our meeting."
"Oh, and one other thing you might want to know about them," added Dean, facing Zachariah and Michael. "Cas tells me you angels aren't so good at moving from one reality to another. Boy, Rob and the guys here had a good laugh over that: after all, Feegles can move between realities just by setting one foot in front of the other." He chuckled. "So here's the deal: back off on the apocalypse, or else my brother and I will disappear from this world forever, right now, and you guys can just wait for the next pair of true vessels to show up. That'll be in about - what did you say, Cas?"
"Three hundred thousand years," supplied Castiel.
Zachariah snarled, "You wouldn't."
"I so very would," said Dean. "Did the Long Lake clan make it to the warehouse, Rob?" he asked without turning.
"Aye, the wee bairns are safe as houses, Dean-o, and these schemies ought to be cackin' their kecks less'n we do the same to them as been done to the smokey scunners."
Gabriel had recovered enough to rise to his feet. "What the hell did he say?"
Sam shrugged, facing Lucifer and Gabriel. "You've got me, but, like I said, the kids are safe, and we're still saying no."
Lucifer had turned red. "This is destiny! You will not deny me!"
"The apocalypse is written. It must come to pass," added Michael, who sounded only slightly less agitated to Sam's ears.
Sam laughed. "Would you listen to yourselves? I mean, I get it: angels were created as servants to the Word, so you're all caught up in this 'it is written' thing. But we're not angels: we're humans. We have free will. And we don't care about what's written. So what if God had it written that you and Michael have to have this stupid fight to the death? God's not here anymore." Castiel looked down, and Sam knew this part still bugged him, but it had to be said. "Why do you still care about what he wrote? I mean, other than following this stupid script, do you even have any reason to fight?"
"What part of 'destiny' don't you two understand?" asked Lucifer.
"That's the nice thing about being human," said Dean, and Sam could hear the smirk in his voice. "We're not scripted. We're messy. And we kind of like it that way. It's a lot more fun than playing out your family feud all over again."
Castiel raised his hand. "I have informed them that you are disinclined to give up on this story. So they suggested that you re-cast the roles in your head." He tilted his head. "Imagine the angelic host as the obedient older brother while humanity is the rebellious younger son."
Dean finished the lecture. "You guys are free to fight this little war you've got planned if that's really what you want - but you're going to leave us out of it. Leave Earth out of it. Go ahead and kill each other off, I don't give a damn. But your fight isn't our fight." Dean brushed his shoulder against Sam's. "You keep trying to involve us, and we'll run off to Stanford." There was a rustle as the Winchesters, Castiel, and several hundred Feegles all folded their arms in unison.
Lucifer clapped his hands. "Very nice. Go ahead, run to Stanford. Worked out so well for Sam the first time." Sam kept his gaze steady and jutted out his chin.
"We've got all the time in the universe," said Zachariah. "We will find you no matter what strange little world you run to." Sam caught a glimpse of his brother's silent smile out of the corner of his eyes.
Rob Anybody menaced the angels from Dean's shoulder. "Know that if'n ye ever do find them, I have a powerful suspicion ye'll nae find the Last World verrae welcomin' tae scunners like you. Hate tae see such smug schemies have their own arses handed tae them by the wee big hag, o' course, that'll only happen if'n we dinnae find ye first."
Michael took a step forward and Dean lifted his hands. "Hey! One more step and we're gone."
Michael stopped and spoke, his voice calm and even. "God wants the apocalypse."
"He wants it so bad, then where is he?" demanded Dean. "I'm not holding my breath. If he shows up, we'll deal with him when the time comes, but until then, the Apocalypse is off. Sam and I Are. Not. Playing."
Gabriel narrowed his eyes, focusing on Castiel. "And if God does show up?"
Castiel shrugged. "They'll probably just tell him the same thing." He looked at each of his brothers in turn before settling on Lucifer. "It is one of the prerogatives of being disobedient that you can continue to be disobedient whether or not the authority figure is present at the time."
Sam bit his tongue as the angels seemed to finally process that they'd lost the high ground. On his side, Lucifer had developed a thoughtful look. "You boys do know that the demons aren't going to change their ways just because I said so."
Sam nodded. "They were humans originally. They're still our problem. We can deal with them, just so long as we don't have to fight your apocalypse at the same time."
Michael pressed his lips together. "Is this really what you want? More of this same, messy, painful existence?"
Dean exhaled. "Pretty much, yeah. It beats the alternative."
Zachariah was about to state his objections, but Michael held up a hand to silence him. Michael and Lucifer shared a look and Michael said, "It is clear that you will not see reason at this time. But you have not heard the last of us."
With a rustle of wings, Castiel was the only angel left in the park. The apocalypse had been deferred indefinitely. Sam took the first full breath he'd been able to manage in two days while around him the Feegles cheered and celebrated. Dean pulled a mason jar full of clear liquid out of his jacket and held it out to Rob Anybody.
"As promised, one jar of genuine Tennessee White Lightning. It'll put Nanny's scumble to shame." He hesitated. "There's always going to be one of you sober in case those sonsabitches get any ideas, right?"
Rob wrapped himself around the jar. "Aye, aye, nae worries 'bout that, Dean-o."
Dean released the jar. "Okay then. And if we ever do wind up on the Disc, you just go and ask Bobby Singer for your last jar." He said this last bit to the empty air as the Feegles had already disappeared to enjoy their wages, and laughed. "Good job, guys, good job." Dean caught Sam's expression and grimaced. "We won. What's the problem?"
Sam bit his lip, not wanting to ruin his brother's good mood; then again, Dean's good moods had been a lot more common since New Haven. "It's just - the angels aren't lying. This is
an imperfect world, and we're still gonna have to fight against the demons and all the other evil on this planet with hardly any allies. All that's changed is that now we'll have Heaven and
Hell plotting against us for the rest of our lives-"
"Longer," said Cas. "They have the ability to resurrect you."
Dean sighed and put his arms around Cas and Sam's shoulders. "I know. I know. It's a tough job, nobody ever said it wasn't. But we're good at it and it needs to be done. For now, that's enough for me." Dean looked at Sam, his eyes soft and earnest and yeah, okay, it was enough for Sam too. Dean turned to look forward. "And on the day it isn't enough anymore, well, I know a great retirement spot."~The End~