blue_bells: BY <lj user="chosenfire28"> (Supernatural :: Somewhere to Begin - dar)
[personal profile] blue_bells
» Title: Somewhere to Begin - Part IX (MASTERPOST)
» Author: [profile] _bluebells
» Artist: [personal profile] chosenfire28
» Beta: [personal profile] ladyknightanka, [personal profile] mishaphappens
» Pairing(s)/Character(s): Michael/Adam, Dean/Castiel, Lucifer/Sam/Gabriel, Raphael/Balthazar, Bobby and others
» Warnings: NC-17/R for violence, torture, gore, dub-con, angelcest, language, alcohol, and character death
» Spoilers: All seasons, AU from Season 5 finale
» Summary: Adam Milligan was just another casualty of the engine of the Apocalypse. After Michael breaks them out of the Cage, Adam is accidentally thrown into the future where peace has finally settled by strange circumstances. With his memories sealed to protect his sanity, Adam learns the censored, Apocalypse-free version of the life he's forged with a suite of archangels, a crabby adopted Uncle, and brothers he never knew he had, but this has all happened before and will happen again.

PREVIOUS / NEXT


Michael is staring out the window, forehead almost pressed to the cold glass pane, when Adam finds him in the living room.

The angel’s eyes flicker up, seeing him in the reflection. Adam tilts his head in silent question, Michael’s gaze drifts back down to the street below, and Adam feels a confusing sting of disappointment in his chest.

“Are you okay?” he asks quietly, skimming fingertips down the arm of the bucket chair beside him.

The living room feels empty with its few furnishings, but he didn’t think Raphael was the sort of angel who would linger in one space for long – like it would expose her to too much risk of being found and stuck with a sword in the back – and somehow the whole set-up felt modest for her proud and haughty personality. Maybe that was just Adam’s humanity trying to subscribe human models to a creature unlike them at all. It’s with a blunt sense of stupidity that he realises he would always be a little off the mark when it came to angels.

He would probably never completely understand them.

“… Michael?”

He digs fingers into the chair’s arm because Michael has never ignored him before and he doesn’t know how to act in this situation with the angel’s back turned on him. He doesn’t know what’s going through the angel’s mind (but he can guess) and he doesn’t know if he’s wanted here, either, but he has to do something. He remembers how quickly Michael had always placed himself at Adam’s side as though he understood before Adam ever would that Adam needed him there.

Adam is not a mind reader, but that’s not something you do if you don’t want to in the first place.

Michael is so still when Adam comes to his side, it’s eerie. With hands in his pockets, Adam glances from Michael’s face to the parked cars on the street below and he thinks Michael’s staring at the burnt orange Mustang with the black racing stripe, but the look under his pinched frown is unfocused and vacant.

Adam’s chest twists and he has to stop himself from taking Michael’s arm. He hasn’t forgotten the last time he spoke to this guy -- he’d been shouting at him to get out -- and he isn't sure that he’s welcome.

He feels himself frown and sits back against the windowsill instead, peering into Michael’s face, and tries to meet his eyes. Michael’s mind is still faraway. Adam bunches his hands in his jacket against his stomach.

“Is there anything… can I do anything? Michael?”

Dean’s been missing for a day. Gabriel, Lucifer and Sam have locked themselves upstairs and the one time Gabriel surfaced for air, the darkness in his face made the pit of Adam’s stomach sink deeper.

They’re all falling apart around him.

Adam bites the inside of his cheek and tries to swallow down his nerves.

“I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to help you guys. You just… you need to tell me what to do. Tell me what’s going on.”

There isn’t a flicker of reaction in Michael’s expression and Adam can’t even tell if he’s breathing. He deflates in exasperation and starts pushing himself off from the windowsill when Michael finally speaks and his voice is a faint, toneless whisper.

“He’s dead.”

Adam’s chest tightens hearing that word from his mouth, ‘dead’. Michael utters it like a disease, something that summons revulsion and heartbreak all at once, and Adam shakes his head. It’s beyond him.

“I’m sorry.”

“… Our numbers are down to a third. Because I broke the seal.”

Michael’s mouth twists and he’s not fast enough to hide the wince Adam recognises from too many times forcing back his own tears every time he thought of his mother and the life he lost overnight.

“Come on,” Adam says, voice plaintive, “You didn’t know.”

His hand closes over Michael’s shoulder and he feels the tremor go through the angel, melting the stiff line of his back. Adam risks stepping closer after Michael rests his forehead against the glass, his eyes sliding shut, and the small wince is the only sign of his pain.

It’s enough to draw Adam’s arm around his shoulders and squeeze the shoulder still in his hold.

“You didn’t know… you just thought he was hitch-hiking into my dreams. You didn’t know, okay?”

“I know what it means to be an endangered species now,” Michael says, breath fogging against the glass.

Adam stares at Michael’s profile, stunned. Michael sighs under his hands and Adam tries to imagine what he’s going through. He tries to imagine being able to count the last human to the exact number, knowing where each and every one of them stood at a point in time because they were so few; knowing their names, their faces, and the exact way they would wear their pain.

He doesn’t think I’m sorry is going to cut it again, but nothing he could say would probably be enough right now.

“You still have us,” Adam eventually says, whatever that counts for, “We’re still here.”

You’ve still got me, he almost says, but it catches in his throat. It feels like someone else’s words, too raw and dangerous to let slip that easily. He has to be careful. Michael was fragile and Adam can’t trust that he knows how Michael will react. He’s not sure he could handle any more surprises the angel might still have to share.

Michael finally looks back at him, expression pensive. He turns, glancing at the ceiling, and Adam wonders if he’s thinking of their brothers who were still up there, isolated with their grief.

Michael’s gold eyes look dark and disarmingly ordinary in the shadows. He folds his arms loosely over his chest and Adam’s hands fall to his sides.

“She healed you,” Michael says, scanning Adam from head to toe, “I didn’t know she had it in her.”

“Raphael?”

Michael’s expression is still far away with his thoughts and Adam wonders what’s going on behind his eyes as they search his face.

“You won’t need my name anymore. And Uriel’s spell is broken.”

“So....” Adam feels himself frown as he connects the dots.

“You don’t need my protection,” Michael clarifies smoothly and sits back against the sill where Adam had settled only moments before.

Adam’s frown deepens, the instinct in his gut warning him against something in the calm of Michael’s expression.

“Michael, I’m not – I’m not here because anyone’s forcing me to be. Sam and Dean are my family. You guys are –“

Michael’s eyes narrow gently, curious.

“What?” he challenges softly, but it still makes Adam blanch.

Like family? Like friends? Part of him is still afraid of the angels and what they’re capable of, but the larger part is confused because he’s only seen their concern, their humour, their kindness, even from Lucifer, in his warped, twisted way.

The cage feels like a bad dream and the only thing he knows is that he doesn’t like seeing them hurt.

But he can’t form any of these words and Michael smiles, wryly, his arms dropping to his sides.

“That’s what I thought,” he says, and leaves Adam standing by the window.

-*-


Sam rouses from his light sleep with the cool hand that slides around his hip, long fingers stroking absent lines in the dip of his pelvis.

He twists in the sheets that someone had pulled straight and neat over his chest and rolls into Lucifer who was already lying along his back. Lucifer’s head is propped up on his hand, fingers curled into his short, blond hair. He almost smiles when Sam squints up at him and tries to rub the sleep from his eyes, then pushes his dark hair from his forehead.

“What time is it?” Sam groans, covering his eyes with a hand.

“It’s still dark.” Lucifer leans down and kisses his brow. His hand moves down Sam’s thigh and Sam sighs, resting his forehead on Lucifer’s bicep.

“Where’s Gabe?”

“There.”

Sam follows Lucifer’s pointed nod and sees Gabriel leaning on the rail of the balcony. He had slipped back into a pair of pants before he stepped outside and Sam doesn’t know why he bothered because modesty wasn’t Gabriel’s first or best virtue, but maybe he was sparing a thought for Raphael’s neighbours. Sam dismisses the thought immediately, but….

Raphael with neighbours. Weird.

Gabriel is looking up and down the street, hands clenched tightly on the rail. The street lights have painted the skin of his shoulders pale and grey and the hair at his ears lifts with a gentle breeze. Sam sees the tight concentration in his frown when his head turns sharply at the blare of a car horn.

“Tell him it’s over. We’re safe here.” Sam sighs, head falling back against the pillows.

There’s no response from Lucifer and Sam shifts back, looking up into his face. Lucifer’s eyes are on Gabriel’s back, expression distant and inscrutable. Sam frowns and nudges him in the chest. He does it again, a little more insistently, when it fails to tear Lucifer’s attention away the first time.

“It’s over,” Sam insists.

Lucifer’s gaze flickers down to him and Sam remembers when this used to scare him, he remembers the first time he rolled over and found Lucifer in his bed after he’d heard Jess’s voice only moments before. Lucifer’s attention is no less intense than it ever was, challenging Sam’s air like a physical weight on his chest, but it’s different now. It’s thrilling and reassuring at the same time, and Sam may be tired because none of them have left this bedroom in the last day unless absolutely necessary, but interested warmth still stirs low in his gut when Lucifer shifts his weight onto his elbow and pushes patterns through Sam’s hair on the pillow.

“Let him do this.” He’s mourning. “We have to learn again. We can’t feel you anymore.”

Sam’s hand falls out of the way to the mattress as Lucifer lowers himself, kisses his shoulder and the anti-possession tattoo over his heart. Lucifer leans into him, a familiar, trusted weight that Sam wraps his arm around when Lucifer curls one of Sam’s legs between his.

He stopped being afraid when Lucifer walked away from them.

“How about you?” Sam asks, fingers sifting through short, blond hair.

Lucifer buries his face against Sam’s neck in response and Sam sighs as Lucifer breathes him in, skimming kisses along his skin.

Lucifer’s kiss abruptly peels back and he sucks Sam’s skin between his teeth, but it’s not his first bruise of the night, or even of the last twenty-four hours, and Sam can only imagine what a patchwork he looks like of purpled skin and scratches; long, thin and angry red. Every part of him is singing with some sort of ache, sharp and acute, or dull and low, and a quiet part of him just wants to sleep for a month.

They wanted to heal him, and they tried, but Sam knows how much strength they’ve already lost and he said ‘no’. The war taught them all how dangerous it was to use their power when their grace was exhausted.

When the room emptied to all but the three of them, Lucifer was the one who pushed Sam down to the bed first and kissed him into the pillows as Sam helped shove their clothes aside.

Gabriel had stood by the bed with a troubled expression on his face, and his hands loose at his sides, as though he didn’t know what he was watching or what to do. It made Sam concerned, but he struggled to focus under the slow, deliberate stretch of Lucifer’s fingers, and then the way he’d cut Sam’s questions off with kisses like he was drowning and Sam had the only air.

Lucifer had always been tactile and he touched like he was starved, but he was careful and reverent and his rare hesitation could bring Sam to his knees. Lucifer could worship and beg permission at the same time with only the wet press and pull of his mouth, his hands, and the delicious cold of his weight, if Sam and Gabriel were lucky. After spending what could have been thousands of years in icy solitary confinement, Sam thinks his patience is staggering.

But after they confronted Uriel, Lucifer’s patience had worn through. Gabriel had watched them with a detached interest when Sam’s fingers wrapped around the bar of the head board and Lucifer thrust in between his thighs. Sam could feel Lucifer’s pain with every press of his fingers, the grinding roll of his hips as he tried to bury himself deeper, and Sam was gasping, almost breathless, when Gabriel finally laid down beside them. Gabriel hadn’t even bothered to take off his jacket, propped up on his elbow and watching Sam writhe through his pleasure.

The blankness in Gabriel’s expression had scared him when Sam finally fought to open his eyes and saw the other archangel there. Gabriel looked down with a detached observation at the hand Sam fisted in his dark shirt. His grip settled warm and firm on Sam’s arm, a familiar contrast with Lucifer, who stubbornly refused to heat up, and his gaze traveled down Sam’s body, shining with sweat as he rocked and strained beneath the push of Lucifer into him.

Sam groaned, vision almost going black when Lucifer pulled Sam’s hips higher in his lap, sharpening the angle of his thrust, and Gabriel’s hand had caught Sam’s knee, drawing his thighs wider apart.

Lucifer was already watching Gabriel when his brother looked into his face, expression dark, but Lucifer seemed to understand.

“Go harder,” Gabriel said, and the two angels spent the next three hours taking Sam apart.

Sam had flashbacks to what he remembered of the time Sariel had ripped their names from him. Castiel had left him in the care of these two before joining with Raphael and Balthazar to get those names back.

Sam’s body remembered with a shivering rush of fire while trapped between Lucifer and Gabriel, who leaned Sam back against his chest with hands under Sam’s knees spread wide as Lucifer drove into him hard. Each snap of his hips shoved them both against the cold steel of the head board, as though Lucifer was trying to fuck Gabriel through Sam, and Sam’s hands twisted in the sheets, boneless and moaning, head tipped back on Gabriel’s shoulder. Lucifer and Gabriel kissed with a passion that bordered on violent, turning something over in his chest, and some brief and malformed thought streaked through his mind just before his orgasm wrenched it away from him, something along the lines of bliss and how goddamn beautiful those two were together, but then Sam was being rearranged between them and his disappointment that Lucifer and Gabriel had pulled apart didn’t last when Gabriel slid around to his front, pulling his jacket off and he fixed Sam with that dark, hungry look.

“My turn, Sammy.” Gabriel smirked and Sam was relieved by the familiar expression. He’d fallen in love with that smile. Gabriel’s gaze fell to half-mast as Lucifer mouthed the muscles of his back where the memory of wings left them sensitive and Sam saw Lucifer’s hand slide between Gabriel’s legs.

“I could sit this one out.” Sam was enthralled watching them move together between his thighs, Gabriel straining back to catch Lucifer’s mouth in a kiss as Lucifer pushed into him with a groan of relief. Lucifer trailed wet, biting kisses from Gabriel’s shoulders, to his neck, and his earlobe before he found Gabriel’s mouth again. Sam stroked hands up the former trickster’s thighs, feeling them tremble as the angels rocked above him.

“You could also never walk again,” Gabriel threatened, voice hitching with a wince of pleasure when Lucifer did something with his hips that folded Gabriel in half over Sam’s chest.

“You’re losing this one,” Sam said, leaning up to kiss his bruised and swollen lips.

Gabriel braced himself with hands on Sam’s hips and glared at him like he was about to counter, but then his fingers dug into Sam’s pelvis and the involuntary moan Lucifer wrenched from him was absolutely filthy. Lucifer smirked behind him, exchanging a knowing look with Sam that smouldered renewed interest in the pit of his stomach, and Gabriel hanged his head with a whine.

“I hate you two,” Gabriel said.

“I love you more,” Lucifer vowed and dragged that amazing noise out of Gabriel again, making Sam’s mouth water.

Sam stared between them and he was so out of his mind in love, he didn’t hesitate to agree when Gabriel muttered his plan for payback into Sam’s mouth and they flipped on Lucifer, ignoring the ice Lucifer sharded along their skin in shock, before they pinned and drove into him between them.

It was a long night that drew into a long morning and, by afternoon, Sam was sure he’d dozed at least a few minutes while Lucifer and Gabriel lay beside him, kissing and enjoying each other without the frantic edge that broke somewhere around dawn. At times like that, he was especially grateful there were three of them because angels didn’t need sleep, food or air, though he really, really did. Sam didn’t know how Adam handled Michael on his own, but that probably wasn’t a problem those two were having right now, and Michael was something else completely.

Sam stepped out for a shower when the sun was finally setting. He handled himself gingerly, the hot water sluiced over his abused skin and flesh, but he didn’t have any fresh clothes here and it was almost nine o’clock in the evening when he stumbled out of the en suite naked to where there were clean sheets on the bed and Lucifer and Gabriel sat against the head board, side-by-side with limbs comfortably tangled as they murmured in hushed conversation.

Sam’s stomach had starting to growl viciously halfway through his shower to remind him he hadn’t eaten in over a day. He paused when he saw the serious look Lucifer and Gabriel shared and pushed his hunger down when their discussion clipped short, noticing he had joined them again.

“I’ll get us something to eat,” Gabriel had said and disappeared before Sam could ask what he’d missed and the look Lucifer regarded him with was inscrutable.

Sam mentally sighed because Lucifer was near impossible to interrogate and, thankfully, Gabriel returned a moment later with a steaming bag of gourmet burgers with salad, fries and milkshakes.

“I took some to your brother, too,” Gabriel's brow pinched in a disapproving frown, “I don’t think he or Michael remembered to eat.”

“Are they—?” Lucifer paused with Gabriel’s milkshake halfway to his lips. He didn’t enjoy eating, but he did like depriving Gabriel of what he adored, only to make it up for it later more than double. Sam would never admit it aloud, but he found it too endearing to discourage Lucifer.

Gabriel threw Lucifer a look that answered the question Sam had also been thinking.

“No. But they’re around.”

“What have they been doing?” Sam wondered aloud, incredulous, because… they’d been up here for more than a day.

Gabriel rolled his eyes with a shrug and slurped a sip from the milkshake right out of Lucifer’s hand.

“They took a note from Dean’s book: zip.”

Sam’s heart jolted at the mention of his brother. Oh, no. He’d been up here all day with these angels and he hadn’t even thought of…. He found the edge of the bed and numbly sat down, guilt sinking like a stone in his chest.

The food sat forgotten in his lap and he felt a cool hand curl around his arm.

“Sam.” Lucifer’s look was firm, he wasn’t the sort of guy who tried to brace people with smiles and Sam was so reassured the angel doesn’t fake that for him. “We reached out, but when Dean wants to be found, he’ll find us. We’ll stay until he comes back. Keep your phone charged if we need to move.”

Sam didn’t know why they would need to move, but there had been no whisper of Raphael, either, and he had no idea what was going on outside the four walls of what used to be Michael’s guest room.

He should really go downstairs and check on Adam.

“Please eat something first,” Lucifer coaxed him and Sam nodded along, eventually unwrapping his burger, but afterwards, they had distracted him again, and now Gabriel’s standing vigil on the balcony in the dark and Lucifer is being predictably quiet and stubborn.

“I’m going to see how Adam’s doing.” Sam reaches for his jeans on the floor when Lucifer leans back to let him rise.

“Sam,” Lucifer says quietly and Sam pauses with his new shirt halfway down his chest, conjured up by Gabriel when Sam had pointed out the shredded state of his current one after dinner. Lucifer’s thumb brushes Sam’s lower lip, healing the split from when he’d bitten down somewhere between can’t take any more and don’t stop.

“What?” Sam asks, frowning gently.

“I’m glad you’re all right.”

Sam tries to repress the smile that tugs at his mouth and he glances at his shirt’s hem over his belt.

“… I’m glad you came back,” he says, even though he and Gabriel had spent the last day showing Lucifer how much they had missed him. Sam kisses him anyway and enjoys the way Lucifer’s eyes slide shut, how he tastes and smells familiar now: sharp, clean and fresh like the morning chill that Sam learned to associate with comfort, safety, and home.

It’s not until after Sam’s shut the bedroom door behind him that he realises how right Lucifer is: he’s more than all right. He’s teetering on the edge of real happiness for the first time in years. The guilt strikes him so hard he has to shut his eyes and rest his forehead against the cool wood of the door.

He’s standing at the end of a long, dark hallway, thinking of his brothers, and he doesn’t know what to do.

He starts with flipping on the light switch.

He finds Adam downstairs sitting under the halo of the kitchen island, his legs folded underneath him on the marble counter top. Sam is actually a little surprised that Adam is still here.

Adam is going through the contents of someone’s cell phone and Sam wonders where he got those ear phones.

Sam sets his hand on the counter and Adam looks up, pulls the ear phones out, leaking loud electronic bass as he rests them on his knee.

“Hey,” Sam says.

“Are you all right?” Adam looks him over, cautiously, and Sam spares a thought for how things might have sounded from down here before Adam found something to plug his ears with. He hopes one of the angels put down a wall of silence, but he pushes the thought aside before it can heat his cheeks. Besides, Adam didn’t look embarrassed.

“Yeah, I’m okay. You?”

“I’m okay.” Adam nods, shrugging it off and Sam glances at the phone.

“… You heard from Dean?”

Adam’s shoulders sag and he looks down at the phone, its interface still glowing in his hand.

“No. You? Oh – stupid question.”

The laugh escapes Sam before he can stop it and when Adam meets his gaze, his blue eyes are also dancing with amusement. Adam shakes his head, laughing with him, and Sam relaxes, leaning his side against the counter top.

“Whose phone is that?” Sam asks.

Adam flashes the phone’s front at him, as though the picture of the green field beyond the tall fence of wooden logs is supposed to mean something to him. It was taken in low light, Sam’s guessing dawn, with the sun just peering over a row of pines in the distance.

“Michael’s. He left it behind,” Adam points at the picture, “We’ve been here before. That’s the field from the photos in my study. I mean… in that house.”

“… It’s still your house, Adam,” Sam says, taking the phone for a closer look. “Oh yeah, you’re right. Gabriel took the ones that hung on your wall. It was right after Michael convinced Raphael and Cas to –“

To lead Heaven together. It was the day of their ceasefire and nobody ever thought it would last as long as it did. That was the funny thing about the persistence of family.

Adam’s expression is sombre when Sam hands him back the phone.

“Are they okay?” he asks, quietly.

Sam studies the chrome faucet over the polished sink on the far wall. Everything in this apartment was clean, spotless, and untouched. It felt like a display home, not somewhere ordinary people lived and breathed and made memories. There are a lot of memories that were going to hurt for all of them for a long time.

“I don’t know,” Sam admits, though he manages a smile for his brother, “But they’re talking. I’ll take that.”

“Bobby’s been keeping me company... well, he texts,” Adam glances down at the phone again, “He took the news hard. I’m not sure, but I think that’s where Michael went.”

Sam frowns.

“You’re not sure?”

“Nobody’s really been talking to me,” Adam’s mouth twists into a falsely bright smile, “Don’t think Michael even wants to look at me right now.”

“Huh. Well, you did smash his heart open and melt the pieces – in front of Lucifer,” Sam smiles at the deadpanned look Adam gives him, “I know where you’re coming from, but if Dean were here, he’d tell you to cut to the chase and just serve his own balls up to him on a silver platter next time. Adam, this kind of trust doesn’t come easy. Don’t beat yourself up. You just made a mistake.”

Adam blinks at him in surprise and frowns.

“Did I?”

-*-


“If we do this, it could change everything. We could undo all of this,” Gabriel says.

Michael watches his brother’s hands wring around the balcony’s rail, arms locked straight, and his shoulders hunch as he wrestles with the decision.

“He saved my life, I owe it to him. You don’t need to join me—“

“Oh, plug it,” Gabriel snaps, turning around and leaning back on the rail with a sigh. He rubs his forehead in frustration. “Of course I’d help – if I let you do this.”

Michael looks through the open balcony doors to where Lucifer is sitting on the edge of the bed.

“What about you?”

Lucifer raises himself from leaning his elbows on his knees. His fingers tap a rhythm on the worn denim of his thighs and he looks at Michael thoughtfully.

“Are you sure you’re doing this for the right reasons?”

“I owe him.”

“We could lose Sam. You could lose Adam,” Gabriel says.

Michael bites down the first response that he’s already lost Adam. Lucifer would give him that droll, piercing look when he was unimpressed and point out that Adam was just downstairs, but Michael isn’t in the mood for his antics.

“We could also save plenty of lives.” Lucifer looks at Michael meaningfully and Michael nods, because he had considered that. Michael owes their fallen kin much more than he can give them.

“We swore we wouldn’t interfere anymore. Who knows how much damage Uriel already did,” Gabriel says.

Michael watches the silent conversation pass between his brothers. It’s not the sort he’s privy to because, of all the voices that he can once again hear whispering from the Host in their mourning, Gabriel and Lucifer are not using that connection.

“I won’t do this unless you agree,” Michael eventually says and they look at him in surprise, “I know it’s not only my life, this will affect all of us. But I can do this much for Dean. I owe it to him.”

Lucifer and Gabriel exchange a look; Lucifer nods.

“Okay,” Gabriel says, “Let’s call Raphael.”

-*-


Sam is hunting through the cupboards of the kitchen.

"Does Raphael keep any sort of coffee?" Sam wonders aloud, but Adam is only listening with half an ear.

Bobby’s gone to bed and Adam just found the phone’s gallery in a completely non-intuitive location. He’d begun to think this phone didn’t have one.

He discovers that it’s impressively full.

There are videos with photos numbering into the hundreds. Adam glances at Sam who’s peering under the cupboard of the sink, and he slips one of the ear phones back in.

A still image of the Impala slightly trembles as the video begins to play and Adam can hear the background static of a gentle breeze. A faraway voice carries on the wind, too distant to really make out the words, but it sounds like someone is shouting a rough, familiar melody. Adam squints at the screen, bringing it closer to his face, and he realises that’s Dean swaying on the Impala’s hood with something that looks suspiciously like a beer in his hand.

The Impala is parked against that wooden fence in front of the field from the study photos.

“Like this?”

Adam stiffens hearing Michael’s voice and realises he’s the one recording the video. The angle shifts significantly to the side as though Michael’s held the phone out to someone and then Adam hears himself snort a laugh on the video’s audio track.

“Yeah, keep rolling. Send it to me when you’re done.”

“What for?”

“Why not?” Adam's arm waves in front of the video.

Dean goes still on the car, going abruptly silent as he notices them, and Adam’s burst of laughter startles Michael enough that he forgets he’s supposed to be focusing on Dean and the camera’s angle drops abruptly to their boots. The ground looks muddy beneath the grass and then Adam’s boots leave the shot as he starts laughing even harder like he can barely contain it.

Adam hears it: Dean has started singing again, louder, with even more intensity, and Adam finally recognises the chorus of More Than a Feeling.

Adam pulls Michael along and the video blinks white for a moment, blinded by the sun. The image shudders while they walk and the phone flips in Michael’s hand. Adam catches a glimpse of himself, grinning at Michael like an idiot, before a new voice joins Dean’s ballad and Adam would recognise the sound of Gabriel from a mile away.

The next video starts with a pair of denim-clad knees seated alongside pressed, black office slacks and there’s the faint click of buttons being pressed.

“What’s the purpose of this?” Castiel’s gravely inquiry precedes the slow pass of his hand in front of the camera.

“I’m still praying for revelation,” Michael replies.

Michael turns the phone over in his hands a few times, making Adam dizzy. When the image finally stills, Castiel and Michael are frowning back at him, politely troubled, like of all the ways they could move forward with this, they don’t even know where to start. Castiel finally looks at Michael with the closest expression Adam’s ever seen him to what the fuck? and Michael raises his eyebrows as though to agree Dude, I have no idea.

Something explodes off screen. They look sharply towards the source, golden light bounces off their faces, but neither of them are moved to concern. Castiel’s frown actually slackens, exasperated.

“Gabriel!” Sam’s disapproving shout rings out, quickly drowned by Adam and Dean’s whooping cheers. “Don’t burn down the whole field!”

Adam feels himself smile watching Castiel straighten and Michael’s mouth curve in a polite smile, but it’s the smile of a dare, both of them under some new scrutiny, and Michael shakes his head.

“Don’t look at me,” he tells someone off-screen.

Castiel’s eyes narrow at the same person, shoulder-to-shoulder with his brother.

“I’m not stupid, Sam,” the youngest angel says, bristling defensively.

“He’s your brother,” Sam’s voice snipes, fading quickly like he’s rushed past.

Michael’s face twists as though he’s just smelled something foul.

“Gabriel hasn’t listened to me since the first mortals entered Heaven thousands of years ago.”

“You’re sleeping with him. Use sex!” Castiel twists around, calling after Sam, and Michael frowns.

“I think you mean he should withhold sex.”

Castiel blinks back at him.

“That’s what I said.”

Sam’s voice interrupts Adam in the here and now, almost making him jump.

“What are you grinning at?”

Adam gestures with the phone, pulling the ear phone out.

“There’s a bunch of home videos on here! Look!”

Sam backtracks with wide eyes and holds his hands up in defence.

“Oh no, that’s – I don’t need to—“

Adam rolls his eyes and nods Sam over with a jerk of his head.

“Not the private kind, Sammy, I mean… just look – ha ha, it’s you!”

He doesn’t notice Sam’s double take or the slow smile that crosses his face because Sam leans close on the counter beside him.

The next video opens with Sam walking past a large bonfire with a cache of beer under his arm while Lucifer offers Castiel to stick his hand in a half-eaten bag of marshmallows. Dean and Gabriel are singing again, somewhere off-screen, and Michael’s quiet laughter can be heard beside the crackle and hiss of the flames.

Sam forgets his hunt for coffee and sits with Adam on the island, watching and laughing through the videos, he fills in the gaps of those moments Michael didn’t catch, and they stay there for hours.

“Hey.” Adam smiles down at Michael where he’s seated by the fire. He glances from the camera to Michael’s face out of view. “You look like you’re getting pretty good at that.”

Michael holds out his hand and Adam’s smile grows wider, though he blinks in surprise when Michael pulls him down to his lap.

“Oh. Okay. I’m good with this,” Adam seems to decide and takes the phone out of Michael’s hands. The picture shakes as Adam makes himself comfortable and the outline of the Impala glimmers in the dark by the dancing flames. “You okay?”

“I’m fine,” Michael says, amused smile familiar in his voice and Adam can even picture it. He’s learned the way that smile would light Michael’s gold-brown eyes as they searched Adam’s face like he was waiting for Adam to join in on the joke, how he would lean in and press that smile to Adam’s forehead or his hair, but by the muffled sound of Adam’s laugh in the video, he thinks that time the angel homed in on something a lot better.

Somewhere in the background, Gabriel’s got his hands on a guitar, and the only sound is the snap of the fire and Gabriel’s gentle strumming as he sings softly.

“… They call me on and on across the universe….”

It’s almost two in the morning when Dean walks through the front door.

-*-


Dean feels like a large knife has just been stuck through the hole already in his chest when he finds his brothers laughing and leaning into each other like they’re high as kites on the floating island of Raphael’s kitchen.

All the mirth drains from their faces when they see him standing there. He feels guilty for killing the mood, but vindictive at the same time. What the hell was so fucking beautiful that they’d forgotten one of their best friends was dust?

“Dean? What – where the hell have you been?” Sam asks.

“I tried to call you more than a dozen times, man!” Adam says.

Dean’s mouth pulls in a scowl and he grinds his teeth as Sam and Adam jump off the island, rounding the marble and studying him with mutual concern.

“Well, it doesn’t look like you girls missed me too much. Did I miss the party or are they still serving the canapés? Don’t let me interrupt,” Dean growls. His fingers trace the hilt of the blade up his sleeve and he snaps seeing the look of annoyance that flits between his brothers. “Don’t roll your damn eyes at me! I’m older than both of you and I’ve been doing this longer! I call the shots, I ask the questions, not the other way around – and if I tell you both to shove it, you say yes, how goddamn far, Sir?”

“Touché.” Adam’s brow wrinkles and Dean’s obviously going to have to teach this kid to fear him again.

“Dean,” Sam says, low and steady in that old attempt to calm him and Dean cuts a glare at him because his words have rolled right off Sam like water down his feathers, “Are you all right?”

Dean sneers and throws up his hands, heading for the stairs.

“Oh, I’m awesome. My best friend just died, I don’t even get to bury his body, and a familiar demon told me the only way to bring him back was to gank your boyfriend.” He stabs the air viciously and Sam’s eyes go round as though Dean had jabbed him in the chest.

“What?”

“I’m not going to kill Lucifer.” Dean snarls in frustration and wrenches his hand from the banister, tossing Sam the sword up his sleeve. Adam yelps, ducking out of the way, but Sam catches it in spite of his own startle.

“Dude! Throwing knives in the kitchen?” Sam shouts, gesturing with the bright silver angel sword.

“It’s one less sword that douche can pull out of his ass. Not gonna lie! I was tempted because the only guy worse than Crowley is the devil he’s marked!”

Sam frowns deeply.

“Dean, don’t call him –“

“Your boyfriend’s the freaking devil, Sam, and your other guy’s got multiple personalities; deal with it!”

Adam glances between them warily.

“I don’t think Gabriel has dissociative—“

“Hey, shut it, Doctor Phil.”

“What are you yelling at me for?”

“Dean,” Michael interrupts and they all stop, seeing the angel at the top of the stairs. He glowers at Dean with severe disapproval, but Dean barely spares him a glance.

“Sorry, Mike, this is between family, so do me a favour and get the hell out.

“There’s something I want to show you,” Michael says without missing a beat, “Now.”

Dean throws him a thin smile.

“It can wait.”

“No. It can’t.”

Castiel would have reappeared at Dean’s side, ending the argument with a clean brush of touch to remove Dean from the situation, but Michael isn't Cas. Dean can feel Michael’s glare boring into the side of his skull and it’s only the knowledge the archangel was fully-fledged again that makes Dean hiss under his breath, relenting, after Michael descends a step.

“This better be good,” he growls, butting the angel’s shoulder as he stalks past and up the stairs.

He isn't expecting the three other archangels to be there waiting on the other side of the hallway door. At the far end of the hall, Gabriel is leaning against the floor-to-ceiling window with his arms crossed over his chest. Lucifer is standing vigil in front of the main bedroom door and Raphael is also there with her shoulder against the doorframe and one hand on her hip.

They all stare at Dean with a look in their eyes challenging his right to be there in that dark hallway with them amongst the shadows, but then the threshold of the hallway closes, and Michael’s hand grips his shoulder firmly.

“What’s going on, Mike?” Dean looks into his face suspiciously, feeling a lot like a pig that’s just wandered into a slaughter house and he just left his only sword downstairs.

Michael leads him to the main bedroom door and Dean can see him searching carefully for the right words.

“We’re placing a lot of faith in you, Dean, but you deserve the chance to say goodbye. We’re not as strong as we used to be; you’ll have until morning. Then he goes back.”

Dean stares at Michael in disbelief. He considers the white door and looks to Michael again.

He can’t mean….

“… Cas?” He whispers, fearful that saying his name aloud will crush the possibility of what Michael’s telling him. “Cas is in there?”

Michael’s look turns deadly serious.

“Dean, you have to understand the risk. He’s from five years ago and anything you tell him will have consequences. Choose your words carefully.”

“I don’t agree with him; I’m not doing this for you,” Raphael speaks up, almost flipping her hair over her shoulder and if Dean wasn’t so floored by what was happening he might have made a snide observation about how well she was settling into her vessel. “But if you can possibly avert the deaths of so many brothers, I condone it. Castiel was my brother, too.”

Lucifer and Gabriel don’t appear to have any wise parting words for Dean. Lucifer just gives him a piercing look like he knew what Dean had considered to trade for Castiel’s resurrection (if Crowley even had the juice) and he averts his gaze with a flush of guilt. He could never do that to Sammy. Gabriel’s hand claps him on the arm as he passes and he calls out to the angels when they pull open the hallway door.

“So, dawn? And what’ll you be doing?”

“You could change all our lives tonight, Dean,” Michael says, voice grave, and Gabriel sighs heavily.

“I don’t want to disappear tomorrow, but, you know. Just in case,” Gabriel motions down the staircase, “Try to get it right this time, Dean-o. I’d appreciate it.”

Lucifer smiles at him serenely and it sends a chill down Dean’s spine.

“I know your baby’s license plate number. I have eyes everywhere.”

Dean blanches in spite of the fact Gabriel smacks Lucifer upside the head and he ducks into the bedroom without ceremony.

The bedroom isn’t much brighter than the hallway, but there’s a streetlight almost directly outside the window by the head of the bed. It casts a harsh silhouette over the figure standing there and Dean’s heart clenches in his chest at the familiar line of those hunched shoulders rumpled by the trench coat falling to knee-length, the soft spikes of hair, and when Castiel looks away from the window, Dean has a wretched moment for his pride when he honestly thinks Castiel’s soft, calculating frown is the most beautiful thing he’s ever seen.

Castiel tilts his head in query and Dean’s heart almost breaks in relief.

“Dean….”

Castiel’s words muffle in Dean’s shoulder and he goes stiff in shock as Dean crushes him in a bear-fisted hug. Dean wishes that he could press the air from Castiel’s lungs, make him weak and dizzy like a lot of the other people Dean’s held before, but Castiel isn’t just a man and he most importantly isn’t like the others.

Castiel lets Dean hold him tight, but Dean has to pull back after Castiel’s hands remain at his sides, the tension only knots tighter in his shoulders, and Dean accepts that the angel isn’t going to hold him back. He breathes out in a rush and the deep suspicion in Castiel’s face makes his stomach clench.

“Cas,” he gasps, shaking his head, and Castiel’s eyes narrow to slits when Dean’s hand slides along his jaw, “It’s good to see you, man.”

Castiel’s frown shifts from suspicious to considering. He searches Dean’s face carefully and glances him over from his boots to the mess of his hair.

“You were going to say ‘yes’ to Michael. I stopped you,” Castiel’s gaze cuts to the door and Dean’s stomach flips, realising just which night Michael plucked the angel from, “Dean the archangels brought me here and they said you – Dean, are you their prisoner? They’ve stifled my powers, I can’t fly us out of here, but—“

Dean’s hands close firmly around Castiel’s shoulders and he can’t resist kneading the coat and flesh under his fingers, undeterred by the fall of Castiel’s expression to confusion.

“It’s okay, Cas. It’s okay. I – uh. I need to tell you something.”

-*-


After the angels came downstairs, Michael marched right past them to the solitude of the living room.

Raphael had hovered at the head of the stairs, uncertain gaze flitting between the door at her back and the one Michael had shut himself behind, ignorant of Lucifer’s expectant stare for her to follow him down to the kitchen.

It had taken Sam and Adam a few minutes to recover from their shock when Gabriel explained what they had done.

They had until dawn. That was four hours away.

Dread sank like a stone in Adam’s stomach, rippling anxiety, and a slow-build of what threatened to brim into panic, under his skin. The look on Sam’s face made him think his brother was reeling from a similar horror, but anger flared in its wake. He was finally starting to understand his place here and everything could change again?

Adam was going to lose his family again?

“Oh God,” Sam groans into his hands.

“So, what do we do now?” Adam squeezes Sam’s shoulder, surprised how steady he sounds because he really felt like he needed to sit down. It’s a lot easier to cope if he’s too busy reassuring someone else to think about it.

Surprisingly, it’s Raphael who steers them.

“I would like to try this pizza the Horseman spoke of,” she says.

Adam doesn’t trust that she understands the words coming out of her mouth.

“Now?” He can’t believe it.

“It’s two in the morning,” Sam says, though Adam was referring more to the fact it was probably the end of the world (their world), and Raphael wanted to go out for pizza. Then again, it was the end of the world, so why the hell not?

Lucifer seems to agree.

“My brother, if it’s pizza you want, you’ll have your fill.” Lucifer snaps his fingers and two small towers of steaming pizza boxes appear on the kitchen island with what looked like a fridge worth of beer stacked beside it.

“I knew I loved you for a reason,” Gabriel says, voice hushed with awe.

Raphael claims an entire box for herself, sniffing critically between hers and the one Adam opens beside it, before the group of them barrell into Michael’s isolation of the living room. Michael turns away from the window with a dark look of offence that wondered why they didn’t understand he had claimed this space for himself, and why Sam was turning all the lights on?

“Don’t say anything. Just eat it,” Gabriel cuts off Michael’s argument and shoves a fresh box against his eldest brother’s chest, “And if we live through this, stop brooding. You’ll get lines.”

Gabriel had summoned a large television and enough furniture into existence for them to sprawl around the spectacle of what Michael had recorded on his phone. Adam had enough piece of mind to risk approaching Michael to verify something important.

“They’re playing everything on your phone. Um. Are they all… safe?”

Michael frowns slowly.

“What do you mean ‘safe’?”

Adam hisses a tight breath of exasperation and manages not to roll his eyes, feeling his cheeks heat up.

“Safe from stuff of you and me?”

Michael looks at him like he’s an idiot and it’s not the response Adam was hoping for.

“It’s my phone: eighty percent of it was you and I.”

Adam curses that the angel couldn’t get a hint and he resists the urge to smack his own forehead.

“I mean, personal stuff. Of you and me.”

Michael’s frown only deepens and he tilts his head like Adam was speaking to him in tongues.

“Having sex?” Except, apparently Michael did understand.

“Sex?” Lucifer calls out, ears perked up, and Adam wishes for a moment that the ground would open up and swallow him, in spite of the droll look Michael shoots over Adam’s shoulder.

“Of course not,” Michael finally says, meeting his eye with a smooth shrug, and Adam breathes out in relief, “Those were on your phone.”

“You—what?” Adam’s brain short-circuits. Holy shit, where did he leave his phone? He had a phone? Why didn’t anyone tell him this?

“That was a joke.” Michael blinks at him, expression bored again, and Adam stares at him.

Who was this guy?

“That’s funny.”

“It’s safe.”

The doorbell abruptly rings through the apartment, a clear, polite note of inquiry.

When Adam looks over his shoulder, Sam is frowning in question from the end of the longue where he’s sprawled against Lucifer’s side, Gabriel tears a bite from his still steaming slice of pizza and glances between them, but they all look equally confused. Except for Raphael, whose expression seemed forever stuck between bored and pissed off, even while she sat between her brothers, slowly working through the lion’s share of their second dinner.

“Were you expecting someone?” Michael asks.

Raphael is the one who answers the door, dumping her half-empty box on top of Gabriel’s (to his displeasure), and Adam follows out of curiosity. The angel’s poker face doesn’t flinch when she opens the door to Bobby’s exhausted glower under Balthazar’s arm.

“You’re late.” Raphael glares back at Bobby with equal fire, but she lets him pass without incident.

Adam doesn’t get to spare a thought for the way she opens her arms to Balthazar with that same terse expectation. Bobby tugs Adam into a hug just as Balthazar folds himself into Raphael’s embrace with a slow, heavy sense of relief, pressing his mouth to her shoulder.

“You all right?” Bobby asks, arm thumping on Adam’s back, and he’s shaking when he pulls away, eyes suspiciously wet.

Adam forces a smile for him and shrugs a shoulder because Bobby’s the first one that has threatened to cry in front of him and seeing this sweet, gruff guy crumble breaks his heart.

“Yeah, yeah. You? Didn’t think you were coming.”

Bobby just ruffles a hand through his hair, mouth thinning with a tremor, and he slaps Adam’s shoulder for good measure. Adam nods, he doesn’t trust himself to try smiling again. He means to follow Bobby’s slow hobble towards the living room, but he can’t help overhearing Raphael as she pulls Balthazar’s hands away from their drift towards her stomach.

“We’re fine.” She glares, holding his wrists, and Adam stares.

“Are you—?”

Raphael’s scowl whips to him like a backhand across the face. If Adam had the time (and inclination), he would have asked Balthazar how he built up immunity to it.

“Am I what?” she challenges and, at this point, Adam doesn’t think it would matter what he said.

“Um. Are congratulations in order?”

Balthazar’s weary face brightens, features lifting in surprise.

“Yes!”

“No.” Raphael glares at the angel with his arms still around her, and the way it narrows when Balthazar looks down at her with confusion reads suspiciously like shut up.

Okay. Maybe Adam shouldn’t have said anything after all. He returns to the living room as swiftly as he can, leaving the angels to their hushed argument and shuts the door behind him.

They’ve been watching home videos for the past hour and Adam spares all of a second for the shaky image of Dean’s bored stare into the camera as Sam hands his brother another beer. Bobby is settling himself down on the couch beside Gabriel. Michael is coincidentally the nearest to the door and already watching him with suspicion when Adam turns to him, stunned, blurting:

“Raphael’s pregnant.”

“Cas will drink you under the Impala,” Sam laughs from the television, and the angels in the room have all sat up abruptly to attention.

“What?” Lucifer gapes, and Michael echoes him sharply.

“What?”

“Wh—oh, you didn’t know?” Gabriel blinks innocently and gestures with the slice in his hand that’s wilting with cheese. “You didn’t feel it when we… with Uriel?”

Adam startles, backing up with his hands raised in defence when Lucifer and Michael rise and stalk towards the door like synchronised soldiers.

“Whoa, wait! What are you going to do?”

“Move aside, Adam,” Lucifer says, unsettlingly calm, he even smiles, but it’s the promise of a predator, and Adam shakes his head.

“Er—no.” In spite of the fact he’s not sure he’s doing the smart thing here, he stands his ground between them and the door.

“He’s an ant,” Michael says, “She is….”

“Careful,” Gabriel chimes in around a mouthful of pizza and when Adam glances at him, he realises Gabriel isn’t even watching them, instead nudging Sam in the arm and gesturing to the video where Sam is pulling Adam away from a box of fireworks in the open field, faces lit with glee.

“We’re archangels,” Lucifer says.

“So, where does that leave Sam?” Adam asks, pointing at his brother, who waves off the attention.

“Leave me out of this!” Sam really needed pointers on coming to the table with support even though he clearly wanted as little as possible to do with anything involving Raphael.

“That is different—“ Lucifer frowns, and Adam puts the question to Michael with a hot glare.

“And what about you and me?”

“There is no ‘you and me’,” Michael’s voice grits, his look turning sharp and mocking, “Remember?”

It stings more than it should. Adam’s a beat too late to react after the angels step around him, but he catches Michael’s arm before the angel moves out of reach.

“It’s only a few hours,” Adam appeals and he shrugs, he’s helpless other than this, “Can’t you let them have it? A few hours; that isn’t even a breath for you.”

Michael’s stern expression fractures and he looks at the hand on his arm. Adam pulls back, suddenly aware that there are three other people on the couch watching them and the living room is quiet, even the television fallen mute.

Lucifer is hovering in the doorway when Michael turns to him.

“What do you want to do?” Lucifer asks.

Michael’s jaw tightens and, eventually, he shakes his head.

“Leave them,” he says. “I’m going out.”

Bobby speaks up, startled.

“Mike, the time—“

Michael silences him with a pointed look, softening into a smile at the bitter edge.

“I’ll miss you, Bobby.”

He doesn’t glance back when he walks out. He squeezes Raphael’s shoulder as he brushes past, sparing a warning look for Balthazar before the door shuts behind him, and the apartment rings in stunned silence.

“What about me?” Gabriel mutters, petulantly, reaching for his beer bottle.

The television is still on mute. Adam finally tears his gaze from the bloody sigil on that front door and realises that everyone’s eyes are still on him.

“If you plan to go after him, you should do it before he flies,” Lucifer says, voice almost a growl.

His look is scathing and expectant, forcing Adam to swallow past the tightness in his throat, but his voice doesn’t work when he tries to use it, boxed low and afraid.

Heels click deliberate and threatening on the polished wooden floor, and he looks up just in time to see Balthazar pull Raphael back with hands around her wrists, barely an arm’s length away.

“I didn’t save you out of the goodness of my heart,” she spits, glaring daggers at Adam, who stumbles back in surprise when she lashes out for him, “You ungrateful, short-lived—“

“Sweetheart. Raphael. Raphael,” Balthazar keeps winding his arms over hers no matter how many times she continues sliding free, “Love, it’s not our business.”

Raphael looks sorely tempted to elbow him in the ribs. Or worse (probably worse). Adam is grateful Balthazar manages to keep his arms around her and that Raphael lets him.

“My brothers! This makes it my business!”

“I’m sorry,” Adam tells her, before he even thinks about why he’s apologising.

This is apparently the wrong thing to say because Raphael lunges for him with a sound that splinters the windows and his ears ring. Balthazar catches her around the waist like he was just waiting for it, Lucifer steps in the cross fire, receiving the unfortunate end of her boot in his stomach, and Adam almost trips over his own feet in the shock of jumping away.

“Peace, brother,” Lucifer calms, shaking his head sadly.

“I’ll throw you back in your cage,” Raphael snarls, still fighting the arms around her, and that deadly look cuts to Adam over Lucifer’s shoulder, he shrinks back, “Then I’ll tear down your walls!”

“Hey, hey, hey!” Gabriel’s voice rises above them and his look is incredulous, he’s already on his feet, when Adam glances to him by the couch. “Put a sock in it! Dean and Cas are upstairs probably changing our pasts and we’re tearing each other to pieces, again? Raphael, we don’t have time for this. You could disappear. You might get your wish - we could all disappear. I’m sick of us fighting! Everyone sit down, shut up, and eat some freaking pizza.”

Sam is sitting by Bobby’s side and squeezes his shoulder, staring at their boots. The line of Bobby’s back is hunched and his face is lined with a weariness Adam can’t even hold a candle to. He just wants to sit by Bobby’s other side and blend into another pillar of support where he can be quiet and fade into this waiting game until the sun rises and it’s out of his hands.

He knows it’s just the nerves talking. That doesn’t make it any easier to think about confronting Michael, even with a countdown over their heads, but it’s Gabriel’s look of expectation that makes the decision for him. The intensity of that piercing, gold stare abruptly jogs his memory, like a footnote magnified from fine print, that Gabriel was once a General, too; a messenger who destroyed nations in storms of fire and brimstone, and he doesn’t even have make it an order for Adam to bow his head.

“Take care of yourself, kid,” Gabriel says, and hugs him tightly, before he goes.

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