What Could Have Been

Chapter 29

“Thank you, Gabriel,” Sam said. He let Dean pull him to his feet and dust him off, knowing that the contact was Dean’s way of reassuring himself that Sam was okay. And he was; a little shaky, maybe, but the pain was gone and Dean was safe which was all Sam really cared about.

“Huh. That’s not something I hear often in my line of work.”

“You saved us.”

Gabriel scratched the back of his neck, looking somewhat uncomfortable. “I guess I did. That’s very out of character for me, you know.”

“Well, we’re grateful that you turned up when you did.”

Gabriel looked to Dean. “You were really going to say yes to Michael, weren’t you?”

Dean stiffened and said nothing, glaring down at his toes.

“That doesn’t make you weak, Dean,” Sam said, knowing what had to be going through his brother’s mind. “You were doing what you thought you had to.”

“Life as an angel condom is rough,” Gabriel said. “Saying yes takes as much guts as saying no.”

“Yeah, well saying yes is still be on the table. You might have taken out Zachariah but there are hundreds more where he came from and I’m pretty sure that Michael is like an army unto himself. You’ve already said you’re not going to fight him, which means it is up to us to stop Heaven. As far as I can see, the only way to do that is for me to let Michael in and for someone to gank the both of us with that sword you’re holding.”

Gabriel looked down at his archangel sword and clutched it tighter. “You want to kill my brother?”

“I don’t see any other option. So if you’re serious about helping out the humans in this fight, you’ll hand over the sword.”

“Sorry, but I’m not going to do that.”

Dean’s expression darkened. “Then you might as well go back to your playboy mansion to live it up as much as you can before the world ends. You’re useless to us.”

“Dean!” Sam hissed.

“Don’t worry, kid, I’m not taking it personally. Your brother knew nothing but violence and death during his stint in Hell and that kind of thing is hard to shake off. But I came here to offer you another way out, Dean; one where no one has to die. If you’re interested.”

“I’m listening,” Dean said grudgingly.

“Okay, here’s the thing… oh,” he raised his voice, “the rest of you might as well stop trying to eavesdrop and come on out here.”

“Dean?” Bobby called.

“If they step outside the wards are we going to have a host of angels on our ass?” Dean asked the archangel.

“No. My presence here will give them pause, at least for now. And I would sense them coming if they were dumb enough to try anything.”

“It’s fine,” Dean called back.

Bobby, Mom and Dad stepped out of the front door and approached cautiously. Bobby was still holding his shotgun, though he had to know it wouldn’t be much use against an angel.

“I won’t bite,” Gabriel said. “Unless you want me to, doll face,” he winked at Mom.

“Gross, dude!” Dean protested.

“Go near my wife and I’ll kill you,” Dad snarled. “If there’s anything left once she’s done with you, that is.”

“Ooh, touchy.”

Dean rolled his eyes. “Can we just skip to the part where you tell us how to stop the Apocalypse?”

“Where’s my kid brother?” Gabriel asked. “We need him here, too.”

“Cas? He’s out looking for you.”

“Hm.” A look of concentration passed over his face. “Ah, there he is.” Gabriel snapped his fingers and a startled Cas appeared out of nowhere.

“What- Gabriel?”

“Hey bro.”

Cas took in the scene, his gaze lingering on Dean before dropping down in bemusement to the cockroach running around at their feet. “Is that-?”

“Zac? Yep. Suits him, don’t you think?”

“What happened?”

Sam told him the short version, trying not to feel guilty about leaving the wards and putting himself and therefore Dean in danger. It had all turned out okay; they had found Gabriel and no one was hurt too badly.

“I am surprised you answered Sam’s call,” Cas said to Gabriel. “When you left it was clear you did not intend to return.”

“I admit, getting mixed up in this whole mess again was not in my plans, but Sam had some compelling arguments. Besides, I’d really rather not watch my older brothers butcher each other. I figure that if we can keep them separated we can stop our family drama from turning into a family tragedy.”

“I would like that,” Cas said. “But Michael is determined to follow the script our father left for us, no matter the cost. He believes it is his destiny to fight Lucifer and he will not be persuaded otherwise.”

“Ever the perfect son,” Gabriel sighed. “But fate is a tricky mistress. If we play our cards right, there is a way we can use her to our advantage.”

“What do you mean?”

“This is the deal. If Lucifer was to ever escape the Cage, Dad knew he’d be pissed and he wanted to make sure his rebellious son wouldn’t bring about Hell on Earth. So Dad told Michael that when the time came he would have to kill Lucifer, and Michael has been psyching himself up for the job ever since. To be honest, I think the pressure and emotional stress has driven Mike a little crazy.”

“I can believe it,” Dean muttered.

“However, the rules for the prize fight are pretty strict. Michael and Lucifer have to possess two brothers descended from the line of Cain and Abel. The bloodline has been diluted over the centuries; the only direct descendants were the Winchesters, from Cain, and the Campbells, from Abel. The union of these two families produced the first pair of brothers the bloodline has seen since its origin.”

“Dean and me,” Sam said.

“Yep. That’s what makes you two so special. No one else fits the bill.”

“You’re saying that Sammy is Lucifer’s vessel?” Dean asked, horrified.

“’fraid so. Michael is supposed to possess you, Lucifer is supposed to possess Sam and you two are supposed to fight to the death.”

“What the hell? I’m not going to kill Sam! And there’s no way in hell I’m going to let Lucifer ride around in his body! How could they think we would ever agree to that?”

“Because you were chosen, and angels don’t really grasp the concept of free will. They don’t think you have a choice.”

“Well they’re working damn hard to make sure we don’t. What are we supposed to do, hide in Bobby’s house for the rest of our lives?”

“Give them long enough and they’d find a way in. Hiding won’t work, and running won’t work either. Fighting isn’t going to get you anywhere – Dean, I know you think you can hold Michael back long enough for Cas here to get the drop on him, but it is far more likely that you’d just be a helpless spectator watching as Michael atomised Cas and everyone else you cared about. He’s an archangel, more powerful than the rest of us combined. There’s no fighting him.”

“Well what then? You’re not exactly helping!”

“What you need is a way to say no, once and for all. Not just for yourselves but for your descendants too or else Michael and Lucifer will just wait a few generations for another pair of brothers to be born.”

“And how are we supposed to do that?”

“God only knows,” Gabriel said, and it sounded hopeless. “Or so Dad thinks. But he had a scribe write it down on a Tablet a long time ago and, well, I snooped. I didn’t hear everything, but there was a section on how to banish angels.”

“Seriously?”

“Yeah. I didn’t catch the part about how to slam the gates of Heaven on all the angels – something to do with three trials – but to get rid of one or two in particular… I know how it’s done.”

“Is that like the blood sigil that is supposed to blast them off the mother ship?” Dad asked. “Because I thought the effects of that were only temporary.”

“It’s an adaption of that spell, actually. A lot more complex, but it follows the same principles. If it works, it should banish Michael and Lucifer from Earth permanently and prevent any angel from coming within a twenty mile radius of any member of your family. That’s the great thing about destiny; there is no one else they can use. My older brothers will never be able to possess their vessels, Lucifer will never be released from the Cage and the Apocalypse will never happen.”

“So what are we waiting for? What do we need?”

“Blood,” Gabriel said. “A lot of blood. Blood of Cain, blood of Abel, blood of the vessels, and blood to represent the intended targets of the spell – in this case, blood of the Fallen and blood of an Archangel. Luckily, we have all of those ingredients right here. It’s gonna take all of us, though. Well, except for you, baseball cap guy, sorry.”

Bobby shrugged. “Hey, if I don’t have to open a vein I’m not complaining.”

“Sounds easy,” Dean said, pulling out a knife. “Someone get a bowl we can all bleed into and we’ll get painting.”

“We need one more thing though, unfortunately,” Gabriel said. “A spell this big, it needs a source of power to work.”

“Like electricity?” Dad asked.

“No. An angel’s Grace.”

“Well, you’re an archangel, don’t you have some to power spare?”

“It is not a matter of quantity. The spell demands the core of an angel’s Grace and without it an angel isn’t an angel anymore.”

Dean narrowed his eyes. “I’m guessing that’s not a sacrifice you’re willing to make.”

“Sorry, kiddo, but as much as I enjoy living among humans I have absolutely no desire to become one. They are weak, mortal, overly emotional, helpless little creatures… no offence.”

“That will not be necessary, Gabriel,” Cas said. “Much of my Grace is gone, but my core remains intact.”

“Cas-”

“You know what losing your core will mean, don’t you little bro? Best case scenario, you’ll be human. Worst case – it could kill you.”

“Cas, you don’t have to-”

“It’s okay, Dean. I gave up life as an angel a long time ago. And life as a human does not sound so bad, if it means I get to spend it with you.” Blue eyes burned with sincerity, conveying so much emotion that it was almost awkward to witness the silent exchange.

Dean flushed and looked down at the ground. The cockroach was still running around making strange patterns in the dirt. Dean stared at it for a little while, his forehead creasing into a frown. “Hey, do those patterns look familiar to anyone?”

They followed his gaze.

“Yeah, now that you mention it,” Bobby said. “They look a lot like the symbols we painted on my walls to keep the angels out.”

“It’s Enochian,” Cas said.

“Oh crap!” Gabriel exclaimed. “It’s a summons. Zachariah is summoning Michael here.”

What?

“He’s calling Michael down, finishing what he started when I interrupted him before.”

“Stop him!”

Dean stomped savagely on the cockroach and it splattered under his shoe. For a second they were all blinded by a bright flash of light and when they could see again there was the imprint of wings burned into the ground.

“It’s too late,” Gabriel said, “he just finished the final symbol.”

Sam quickly scuffed his foot through the writing but the archangel shook his head. “The call has gone out already, there’s nothing we can do.”

“Michael’s coming here? Now?

Gabriel dropped into a battle stance, shifting his grip on his angel sword and turning his attention to the skies. “Right the hell now,” he said grimly.

Even as he spoke, a high-pitched sound began ringing in their ears, building with intensity. The glass windows of the cars around them shattered one after the other. The darkness was lit up with a glow that burned brighter and brighter with every second that passed.

Sam clutched his hands over his ears. It felt like his eardrums were going to burst.

“If we’re going to do this thing it has to be now!” Gabriel yelled. “Here!”

A vial of blood appeared in his hand and he tossed it to Sam.

“I’ll hold him off as long as I can. Go, go, go!”


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