[personal profile] alchemyalice
Title: On the Wings of War
Author: Alchemy Alice
Genre and/or Pairing: Action/Adventure/Horror, Dean/Castiel
Rating: R for violence
Warnings/Spoilers: Up to 5.14-ish.
Disclaimer: The characters and the sandbox in which they play does not belong to me. I am simply borrowing for a short time.
Summary: The Horsemen are not just people with fancy rings. They aren’t even demons with fancy rings. They are another species entirely, a force unto themselves, and Lucifer is kidding himself if he thinks that they are at his beck and call. They are separate. They are neutral. Dean Winchester is not built like them.

A/N: Holy shit, it's finally finished. And I am terrified that this last little bit is anticlimactic and weird. I tried? Ack. Thanks to everyone who stuck with it, and I hope this doesn't disappoint.

Prologue | Chapter One | Chapter Two | Chapter Three | Chapter Four | Chapter Five | Chapter Six | Chapter Seven | Chapter Eight | Chapter Nine | Chapter Ten | Chapter Eleven | Chapter Twelve | Chapter Thirteen | Chapter Fourteen | Chapter Fifteen | Chapter Sixteen | Chapter Seventeen | Chapter Eighteen | Chapter Nineteen | Chapter Twenty | Chapter Twenty-One | Chapter Twenty-Two | Chapter Twenty-Three | Chapter Twenty-Four | Chapter Twenty-Five | Chapter Twenty-Six| Chapter Twenty-Seven




Epilogue



When Sam came back down for breakfast, he didn’t say a thing. Just made toast and eggs and poured himself a cup of coffee from the pot Dean had made.

He allowed himself one glance at Cas sitting on the couch, bent forward, and Dean sitting on the floor, leaning against the angel’s legs and steadily inhaling his own mug of coffee, head tilted slightly back to rest against Cas’s.

He grinned.

Bobby didn’t even blink when he came down. Just growled, “So you’re back I see,” and went out to the garage.

Dean figured that was about as much of a blessing as he could get. He exhaled slowly, and leaned back when Castiel’s hand slid against the back of his neck.

It felt good, Sam thought, to have done something right all by himself again. He kept smiling into his mug, and pulled out a candy bar from the cupboard, leaving it on the kitchen table for Gabriel to pick up.

After a second thought, he put out a second one as well. It felt like a two-Twix day.

***

The morning passed quietly, for such a momentous one. Well, it felt momentous for Dean, at least.

Cas had tasted like ash, and then like Dean, and then, a bit later, like the black coffee Dean poured for them both as the sun came up.

He tasted like he was done with waiting. And Dean was down with that.

He looked out the window, feeling the coffee warm him. It felt like years had passed since he’d first slipped that ring on, years since his skin had gone cold and turned the color of ashes. It felt like years, and it felt like days, and it also felt like he was beginning to forget it, like his mind had come to the conclusion that it couldn’t actually cope with remembering, so it was going to put the war, the goddamn apocalypse, into a neatly sealed box and lock it away forever.

It wasn’t going to last. The heat of the hellscape still licked at his heels sometimes. This whole fiasco would be no different.

The faint echoes of his wings hadn’t faded, not the sandpaper feel of their presence at his back.

If he really took the effort to reflect, he would recognize that these past few months he’d been grieving for a life he would never have, a life that Michael had saved him from. There was irony somewhere in there that he wasn’t prepared to deal with.

Cas came back, though. He came back, and Jesus but that didn’t happen often to Dean.

And looking at Cas—who looked at him now with something he was still almost afraid to call devotion, who wore those wings gracefully no matter what he said—Dean thought he could live with the loss.

He could live.

***

Dean encountered a Horseman only once more in his lifetime, and it was six months after the Apocalypse-that-wasn’t. He went to sleep exhausted from exorcizing a poltergeist in Texas, collapsing into bed having only barely managed to get his boots off.

And then.

“Hello, Dean Winchester.”

“How’s it rolling, hot shot?” he said, his own voice sounding strange and hollow in that same old dreamed parking lot, damp with evening rain.

“It’s fine, Dean,” Michael answered. He had his hands in the pockets of his trousers. He’d reverted to Lucas Wynchestre’s eighteenth century wardrobe it seemed; the black morning coat and cravat made him look, appropriately, like a funeral director from a Dickens novel. He appeared thin and pale and fragile, even as his skin refracted with angelic light. The black of his wings made him, inescapably, an angel of Death. “It is…enough.”

Dean looked at him shrewdly. “That doesn’t really seem like a recipe for happiness to me, dude.”

“I will know happiness when I am in my Father’s light again,” and then, before Dean could object in outrage, “I’m afraid that is how I am programmed, you see.”

“That is fucking unfair,” Dean stated.

Michael snorted quietly. “I agree.”

They sat against the hood of the Impala, which sat placidly beneath the streetlamp, collecting dew. Dean let the seat of his jeans grow cold and damp.

“Can I do anything?” he offered, eventually. Michael had seemed content to sit in silence, like somehow Dean’s dreamscape was some sort of strange escape into solace.

“I think you’ve done quite enough,” Michael said gently, and it was both a comfort and a rebuke, which made Dean sort of hate himself for a brief second.

But then again, he reflected, they’d all made their choices.

“Okay,” he said in reply.

Michael pulled a pocket watch from the inside of Lucas Wynchestre’s pocket. “The night is nearly over for you,” he says. “I will leave you to your day.”

“Wait,” Dean grabbed his wrist. “When it’s my time, you’ll come and get me personally, right?” He shuffled in discomfort. “I mean, I like Tessa and all, and it’d be nice to see her again, but I don’t know if I’ll really accept it unless it’s you.”

Michael brushed his knuckles down the plane of Dean’s cheek. “I wouldn’t trust anyone else with your passing, I assure you. And should anyone try to interfere with you or your brother before your time…let us just say that I will not tolerate it.”

Dean quirked a grin. “You are one scary motherfucker. I knew I liked you for a reason.”

Michael still wore a dead man’s face, but his answering grin was full and toothy nonetheless. “Good bye, Dean. Until then.”

***

(Dean slept a few more minutes before waking, and by then Michael was back at Gabriel’s side.

Gabriel said, with a crooked smile, “No more prophecies? No more plans?”

Michael answered, “None.” He turned to regard his brother, and said, “You know, this wasn’t the Apocalypse at all. This was the Emancipation of Heaven and Earth. This was the second beginning of free will.”

And Gabriel breathed, “Alleluia.”)

***

Dean woke those few minutes later, the South Dakota sun a polar opposite to the damp chill of the autumnal parking lot, and he shifted in Castiel’s arms and leaned close. “Hey,” he said quietly, at the angel’s sleeping face, “So. I’m not afraid of death anymore.”

Castiel opened his eyes. “At this point,” he said, somewhat snidely, “I should think death would be the one afraid of you.”

Dean laughed, surprised and amazed, and felt lighter than he had in years.

They lay in bed together and breathed like ordinary men.

The wings of War blanketed them both.



Fin.

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