What Could Have Been

Chapter 32

Blood magic ripped through the very fabric of reality. It unceremoniously deposited an archangel in one of billions of Heavens; in particular, the perpetual Tuesday afternoon of an autistic man.

Dazed and confused, Michael stared up uncomprehendingly at the kite floating in the blue sky above his heads.

It took him a while to remember what had happened, but when he recalled the events that had led him here rage began to bubble up within him. Gabriel had betrayed him. He had sided with the humans, fought against Heaven and given the Winchesters the key to destroying everything Michael had worked so hard for. Even worse - Dean Winchester, Michael’s rightful sword and vessel, had refused him.

Destiny had been eradicated. Michael would never have closure regarding his conflict with Lucifer. There would never be Paradise on Earth. Everything was ruined, and Michael was trapped here.

Michael flared his wings wide and heaved his body off the ground. His lion head roared with fury and deadly intent. The humans may have won the battle, but the war was not over yet. Maybe his armies could not touch the Winchesters directly, but he could send them to burn the world to ashes around their ears. If he had been allowed to fight Lucifer he might have spared some of the more hapless humans, but now he would not rest until the oceans ran red with blood. The humans would pay for their insolence. The taint of ‘free will’ would be purged. Dean wanted to save the world, but he would live only to see his actions result in planetary annihilation. Then the air would turn to poison and Dean would choke to death and when his soul turned up in Heaven Michael would have his revenge.

He stalked towards the path through the woods that would lead him to the Garden. From there he would send out a call to every angel in Heaven and command them to begin the Apocalypse.

“Michael!”

He froze. It couldn’t be.

He turned slowly, not believing.

“You cannot be here,” he said to the ghost. “You’re dead. Twice over.”

The apparition nodded. “I was. And so was he. But Gabriel brought him back.”

“Gabriel-” He was supposed to be dead too, but this wouldn’t be the first time he had created the illusion of his death to escape his responsibility to his family. “He raised you both?”

“Not I.”

“Then how are you alive?”

The angel Castiel just looked at him. “I think you already know the answer to that question.”

“No. He’s gone. He left us. What possible reason would He have for interfering now, after all this time?”

“You threatened His creation.”

“I did what He asked of me! I have only ever done what He asked of me. I am a good and loyal son.”

Castiel shook his head. “You have lost your way, brother.”

“What right do you have to pass judgement on me? I am an archangel and you are nothing but a lowly seraph!”

“I was brought back for a reason.”

“I do not care. I will not be lectured like a child by a younger brother barely grown out of his training wings. I am the regent of Heaven!”

“Under your rule Heaven has been led astray.”

“I am leading us towards eternal peace in Paradise!”

“You were going to destroy our Father’s children.”

We are His children!”

“We are His soldiers. He created us to worship Him and to serve Him. He does not love us, not like He loves them. The humans are His most beloved creation and He entrusted them to our care. Hurting them will not earn you His affections.”

“When they are all dead and gone there will be nothing left to distract Him from us. He will return and our family will be whole again.”

“So this is not about following God’s plan after all. This is about you craving the attention of our absent Father. But we were never enough for Him, and we never will be. He wants more than mindless obedience and manufactured love. He wants people, with all their chaos and irrationality and disbelief and poor choices, because when they do choose Him it means so much more.”

“I have spent millennia trying to please Him, trying to be the perfect son. How can He love those foolish, imperfect, irreverent, overgrown apes more than us – more than me? It is not fair!”

“What are you going to do? Throw a temper tantrum as Lucifer did? Take your insecurities and feelings of inadequacy out on the innocents of Earth?”

“They stole our Father.”

“He chose them.”

The truth struck Michael at last. God had abandoned them. He did not care. No matter what Michael did, it would never be good enough. His father would never love him.

Suddenly, Michael understood why Lucifer had rebelled. He had started a good work when he corrupted the humans, doing his best to ensure as many as possible would be expelled from God’s presence. But God chased after them. Michael understood, now, why Lucifer wanted to wipe every last human off the face of the Earth. And if Lucifer could not do it, Michael would. He glared at the seraph, his every word laden with bitter fury. “Then God will watch them burn.”

Michael screamed out to the Heavens, screamed for the angels to rally before him.

As they began to appear, one, then two, then dozens, then hundreds, then thousands, Michael began a rousing speech to sweep them up into his tempest of bloodlust. But as his final words rang out, there was silence. The angels stared at him in shock.

“Our duty is to the humans,” Castiel said simply.

At the sight of him, murmurs swept through the crowd. The angel Balthazar stepped forward. “Castiel? You’re alive?”

“Yes.”

“How?”

“I do not know for certain, but I believe God raised me.”

“You’re his chosen,” breathed Hannah.

“Tell us, Castiel, what does our Father want from us?” Rachel called out.

“He gave us our mission long ago,” Castiel said. “Protect and serve the humans.”

Michael saw many heads nodding.

“No!” he yelled. “You obey my orders now!”

Castiel stared levelly at him. “You were never meant to be a leader, Michael. It is not in your programming, and it is clear that the burden has been too great for you to bear.”

“Then there is no angel fit to lead!”

Balthazar scratched the back of his head. “I dunno. Castiel here has always been a bit of an oddball. He was never very good at following orders, but he flourished as the commander of our Garrison. He knows how to think independently, how to act under pressure, how to lead by example. And I know of no other angel who has taken God’s commandment to love the humans to heart the way Castiel has. He’s genuine, and honest, and he seems to know what he’s doing. I’d follow him.”

“As would I.”

“And I.”

“And I.”

The responses filtered through the crowd. Castiel’s garrison was the first to stand behind him, but soon all but a scattering of angels had flocked to Castiel’s side.

Michael was outnumbered. Even with Raphael and a half dozen angels backing him up, he did not have the power to match the might of Heaven.

“I am sorry, Michael,” Castiel said. “But it is time to talk about a regime change.”

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