Sam didn’t know what Dean had said to Crowley but the demon/angel thing had gulped and the blood had drained from his face. He half-expected Dean to smite Crowley where he cowered there on the floor and felt a surprising relief when instead Crowley simply disappeared – seemingly of his own accord. Dean looked up, a positively cheery expression on his face. His eyes gleamed too brightly, like he had a high fever. “Well, looks like we’re going in! Everybody wear your Sunday Best. Sam, let’s take a walk.”
They left the angels in conference and moved purposefully down the corridor. “Going in where?” Sam was none too sure he wanted to know.
“She can’t control her people, Sam. Crowley showing up here…we can’t have that! If she can’t keep her end of this arrangement running smoothly, it means we just have to step in and do it for her.”
Oh, effff……… “Dean, wait, let’s think for a minute…”
“Sammy, alls I been doing for the last few weeks is thinking. Thinking, and thinking, and thinking some more. Quite frankly I’m kind of sick of thinking. It’s obvious that Jovi can’t run things. I get where you’re coming from there, I do. I acknowledge we have a Jovi problem, I just disagree with your solution. Jovi just can’t run things. It’s undeniable. Whatever part of her used to be able to, it must be that I got it now, and it’s time to stop thinking, and start acting. I mean, seriously, Sam, making angels out of demons, it’s, that’s just crazy!”
“What about what Cas said…that it made some sense, to make the dangles, and the balance of power…” Dean suddenly caring about this ongoing issue when he hadn’t cared in the slightest before felt an awful lot like a convenient excuse to Sam.
“Eh. She’s giving Lucifer an advantage that he doesn’t deserve, you know, and um, if she and I were together, really together, I mean working together, as a team, instead of this ridiculous separation of church and state…it’s just that we could do so much more if we were together! It’s so inefficient for us to be separated, it’s just stupid. It’s a waste is what it is. Us being together is the only thing that makes sense.” Dean stopped walking and then stopped Sam with a hand to his midsection. His tone went from faux-casual to spookily intense. “We were made to be together, Sammy, you see, don’t you get it? You get it, right? She and me were literally made to be together.” Dean seemed to be waiting for a response so Sam nodded and as he did he noticed his mouth had gone Sahara dry. Satisfied, Dean resumed walking so Sam did too and when Dean was no longer looking his way, he gulped. “Now come to find out she can’t even control her own people? They’re plotting behind her back! She needs someone to tell her what to do and make sure that her operation is running according to plan…”
“Whose plan? Is there a plan?” Sam suspected pointing out that Dean’s people had also been plotting behind his back would probably go over like a lead balloon.
“Well, of course there’s a plan, Sam. My plan. I’m the captain. I’m steering the ship. I know where we’re going. Jovi just needs to get on board. Smooth sailing.” And with that, Dean left to go take a shower. He shaved and trimmed his fingernails and flossed and even put some cologne on. He didn’t wear his normal Dean clothes, he wore black Levis and a pristine white dress shirt that had a mandarin collar and real mother-of-pearl buttons and a pair of new boots. For Dean, that was his idea of high fashion. While the rest of them scurried around amassing angel blades and holy oil, Dean acted like he was going out on a date and Sam realized with some dismay, that in his mind, he probably was.
And even though Sam still hated Jovi with every fiber of his being, there was a little kernel of fear in his belly.
Not of her, not this time. He wasn’t afraid of God. He was a little afraid for her.
Jovi was waiting for Oriphiel when he got back. He could see it in her face she already knew what had happened and he was thankful for that because it took that much less time to explain. “Darling, we have to go! NOW!” He fought a nearly irresistible urge to start flinging clothing around packing luggage, because it was silly; they could just make whatever they needed wherever they were going.
“Ori.” She smiled at him, a small, gentle smile. He saw both a fatalistic resignation and boundless forgiveness in her face and he wasn’t sure which of them cut deeper. He had ruined her and she knew it and yet forgave him for it, without question.
He was such a fool. As they say, when you shoot at the King, you’d best not miss. And he’d not only missed, he hadn’t even taken the bloody shot! He desperately wished he had the moment back again. The gun had hurt Dean. What might a shot to the brain stem have done? If it hadn’t killed him outright, maybe it would have knocked him senseless long enough for Oriphiel to cut him into pieces and scatter those pieces all around the world where no one could find them and then toss Dean’s blonde pretty head into the Marianas Trench or something. Yes. That would have done nicely. Thick layer of barnacles on that handsome face and probably conscious of every moment.
Even if Jovi would’ve been forever unhappy with Dean gone, at the least she would be alive to be unhappy. “I’ll apologize later, I’ll do penance, I’ll even go to Purgatory if you’d like, but please, please come with me! He’ll be here any second!”
“Ori, come on. Be realistic. He’ll only follow us.”
“We can stay one step ahead of him!”
“He’ll get bored with the chase eventually, surely! Dean Winchester has the attention span of a fruit fly!”
“Well, he’s not exactly Dean Winchester any more.”
Oriphiel knew that, of course; if he hadn’t truly known it before, certainly he did now. “Please, Jovi, darling! Please. We have to at least try! For my sake, please try.” If he thought begging would have helped, he’d have begged her on hands and knees.
“It IS for your sake, Oriphiel. If I run, if I run with you now, he’ll kill you. And I mean forever dead.”
The thought that she might be refusing to run for what she believed to be his sake felt like a knife to his guts. “If we stay he’ll kill YOU.”
“Maybe. Maybe not. I don’t think he will. Even if he does, I guarantee you, it won’t be forever. It might be a nice vacation, actually. Part of me actually kind of hopes for it. And honestly, between you and me and the lampost, it’s not a small part at all.”
“Stop talking that way! I’ll stay and let him kill me, even if it is forever, and you go.”
“No, Oriphiel. I couldn’t ever manage without you.”
He made a desperate sound. There was only one other option. “Lucifer?” He had a beautiful vision of Dean and Lucifer tearing each other to shreds while he sneaked Jovi off to Outer Mongolia or perhaps the Gamma Quadrant.
“Don’t be ridiculous.”
“Oriphiel. Enough.” Her voice was stern in a way he’d never heard before and it stopped him cold. “We were living on borrowed time, anyway, you know that, right? He was already headed my direction. Maybe you sped it up by a day or two – a week at the outside, but he was already on his way. It was only a matter of time till something triggered him.”
“I should have gone through with it!”
“No. You did the right thing.” The right thing. Oriphiel hated the right thing. Doing the right thing would now cost him everything. One way or the other. “And I’m proud of you. It’s ok, Ori. It’s just Dean. How bad could it possibly be?”
Oriphiel thought about how utterly mad Dean had looked. Very bad. He feared that it could be very bad indeed.
Dean, Sam, Bobby, Castiel, and Gadreel burst into Jovi’s castle as soon as they could with a minimum of preparation because Dean really didn’t think he could stand waiting any longer. The anticipation was killing him. He was so delighted to have the excuse finally he was practically beside himself with glee.
He hadn’t ever been in Jovi’s place before, of course. He’d never got an invite. Must’ve got lost in the mail. Huh. He’d only ever seen it from the outside when he just so happened to be passing by now and then on his way to somewhere else.
Not that it mattered now. Things would be made right.
The inside of Jovi’s castle echoed with her essence. Everything was peaceful and tasteful and color coordinated, shades of cream and gold and the classier shades of pink, with touches of green and brown that kept it from overwhelming the eye. The halls were deserted; wherever the dangles and darkangels were, they weren’t defending the place that was for certain. Dean felt surer than ever that he was making the right call. If he had walked in so easily, what was stopping Lucifer? Nothing, that’s what. Jovi was defenseless and she needed protection and he was the only one who could give it to her. The only one who could keep her safe. She needed him whether she wanted him or not.
They made their way through empty corridors to a huge, high-ceilinged throne room with a raised set of platforms at the far end. On the highest sat a queenly throne made from ebony wood. The blackness of the ebony stuck out like a sore thumb against the cream-gold-pink. It was so black it felt like it was siphoning off light from the room. It was hers; he swore he could sense the remnants of her essence coming off of it. The throne was carved with flowers. Dean couldn’t see the flowers from where he was, he could only see a distant blur, but he just knew it was flowers.
A lower platform had two more humble thrones upon it side by side – barely thrones, more like chairs, really, and the lowest still had an even plainer one, so small and spindly-legged it seemed like practically a folding chair. Dean surmised that this throne belonged to the least popular of Jovi’s darkangels, whoever they were. A set of steps ran up the middle of the platforms, covered with a pale rose carpet. The carpet looked soft and deep and welcoming and Dean decided later on once he’d won, he’d slip off his boots and walk up and down those steps barefoot in triumph.
Dean felt a surge of power in the air and got his hopes up, but disappointingly, Crowley and fricking Ruby, RUBY!!! appeared in the humble side-by-side thrones. Sam gaped at the appearance of his former demon squeeze. A moment later Metatron appeared in the lowest throne. Crowley, Ruby, and Metatron. Jovi’s darkangels. That’s nice. “Really?”
Metatron grinned evilly. The man was a rodent. “She works in mysterious ways.”
Gadreel seethed, Sam seethed, and Dean found himself seething a little himself. Crowley he’d been able to explain away as convenience, but Ruby and Metatron? Darkangels? Jovi had to have done it deliberately just to give him a big ol’ FU.
Ruby and Sam barely exchanged a glance. She rolled her eyes and cast her attention towards Dean instead. “What do you WANT, Winchesterrrr-s, plural?
“I’m just here to talk, Ruby. I don’t want trouble, but I want to see Jovi. I need to see her. We can’t just go on like this, working in opposition to each other. We have to at least be in communication, in case of… I don’t know. Emergency?”
Crowley, naturally, didn’t want that to happen. “You can’t see her. She doesn’t want to see you!”
Dean sniffed, offended. He was fighting his raging jealousy and the words flew out of his mouth before he could stop them. “Is she seeing Lucifer?” Grr. What was the point of being God if you couldn’t even stop words from emerging from your mouth, seriously.
Crowley went ballistic over that. Apoplectic. Ruby calmly a sputtering Crowley into silence with a gesture and responded to Dean’s accusation. “Why do you care, exactly?”
“Curiosity. I’d like to know if there’s a plot brewing against me.”
Ruby didn’t buy his carefully crafted explanation at all. She rolled her brown eyes. “Curiosity. That killed the cat, you know.”
Before Dean could come up with a clever retort, Metatron sniffed disdainfully, as if he found the entire accusation offensive. “You know nothing about her, Dean, if you think for a moment that she’d plot with Lucifer.” Weasel.
“Well, I’d like to hear that from her. You and I don’t exactly have a firm basis for a trusting relationship, Metatron.”
Metatron grinned from ear to ear. “I knew you wouldn’t stay dead, Dean. And it was such a good plot twist.”
Plot twist. I’ll twist your plot you little…“Crowley, please. I know you’re still in there somewhere. Help a brother out.”
“It’s Oriphiel. We have our orders. And she has her reasons.”
“Then I’m gonna come in swinging. And she will lose, and she’ll have no choice but to listen to me then, whether she wants to or not.”
Jovi appeared beside her throne. She’d been crying, sobbing by the looks of it; black trails ran all down her cheeks from eye makeup. Dean couldn’t help but react to it. He didn’t want to make her cry. Why wouldn’t she just behave herself, why was she making him do this? Ruby stood up to shield her mistress, as if to shield Jovi from him…from him, why?…and magically fixed Jovi’s appearance by wiping away the tears, carrying the ruined makeup away as she stroked Jovi’s cheeks with her thumbs. The women exchanged nods and then Ruby stepped aside. Jovi stepped forward, dejected, defeated, but still the brightest light in the room. Every eye was drawn to her; after all, she was God, the great and powerful. She straightened her shoulders bravely even as her hands nervously clutched two fists full of the long, full skirt of her dress, which was so dark green it was nearly black. “Let’s fight.”
The room filled suddenly with Jovi’s dangles, nearly all of whom Dean recognized as former demons the Winchesters had faced in the past. Dean took it all in. Even Yelloweyes was there. Sam looked at Dean in disbelief but he couldn’t believe it himself. How could she? HOW COULD SHE. Resurrecting demons at all was bad enough, but how dare she resurrect the demon that had killed his mother, his grandmother, the monster who had killed Jess and fed Sam demon blood when he was a defenseless baby? He couldn’t even believe she’d do such a thing. Dean felt himself start to lose control and struggled to keep it. “You’d rather fight a battle you can’t win, than talk to me for 5 minutes, Jovi?”
“Well, that’s mature.” Jovi simply shrugged, helplessly. Why didn’t she have more backbone? Or less? What was wrong with her? Why did she have to be both so annoyingly stubborn and disobedient, but at the same time so weak-willed that he couldn’t respect her, couldn’t just step back and trust her to run her own life and take care of herself? Why was she forcing him to control her due to her constant and unremitting ineptitude, and yet holding it against him when he tried? All he was trying to do was save her from herself, why couldn’t she see that? “So be it.” Dean focused for a moment and his angels appeared. He hadn’t gotten creative, himself; he hadn’t had the time. He’d simply had Castiel and Bobby remake the old angels who had perished along the way. It just made sense to him to do it that way, since they already knew how to be angels and he didn’t have to train them.
Jovi apparently found this concept tedious. “You really have no imagination, do you? Like, zero, nada, zilch.”
“I don’t need any.” He disappeared and reappeared in front of Jovi, grabbed both her upper arms in his hands and disappeared again. They appeared outside, away from the others, in Jovi’s garden where no one could intervene. “…because I have all the power.”
Jovi headbutted him for his trouble, broke away and ran. Her forehead could only reach up to his chin. It stung a little. Dean grinned, finding he was warming up to the idea of this fight in a big way. He took his time following after her. Because she couldn’t go far. When he’d laid his hands on her just then, the waterfall that pushed him towards her became a black hole pulling him and he understood he could simply let go, let the gravity have its way with him, and it would carry him to whereever she ran. He had all the time in the universe.
The angels raised a loud cry and attacked each other. Chaos ensued as blade met blade and the throne room became a war zone. Castiel turned to Sam. “I’m concerned for your safety, Sam. But I can’t leave the fight. I promised Dean.” Castiel had to fight, every molecule of glory within his being vibrated with the need to fight. But Sam was alone, defenseless, and what a coup it would be for a dangle to take out a Winchester.
Gabriel suddenly appeared. “I’ll keep an eye on him, Brother.”
Castiel could not believe that Gabriel still hadn’t picked sides. “You won’t fight? Still?”
“On which side, Castiel? And why? All this is meaningless. The real fight has just been moved to a different venue. And it’s equally meaningless. Jovi’s already lost. She lost when she created him. And she knew that.”
Castiel couldn’t understand what Gabriel was saying. She lost when she created him? What did that mean? She wanted it to come to this? Jovi wanted to lose? But she was God, and God was destined to win. Wasn’t she? “Then why? Why is she doing this?”
“Castiel, you realize, don’t you? Haven’t you put it together yet? This isn’t a fight. It’s suicide by cop.”
It felt true, but Castiel did not want to believe it. “No? No!”
“Think about it, Cas. She made him, then denied him, then abandoned him. Maybe she’s even helping his archenemy, for all he knows. She’s got him so worked up about her he’s damn near lost his mind and he’s damn near lost his mind anyway because of how she created him. You’ve been here as long as me, my brother, she doesn’t do things like this on accident. She never has. It’s a setup, dude.”
“She’s provoking Dean to kill her? Sam, do you think this could be true?”
Sam furrowed his brow. This drew Gabriel’s wrath for some reason Castiel didn’t understand. Gabriel had always been better at reading human faces than Castiel was; to Castiel, human expressions were like clouds crossing the sky. He might be able to tell when there was a thunderstorm coming or when the weather was clear, but most of the time he had no idea what weather patterns the clouds signified. “Oh, concerned now, are ya, Sam? A little of that concern, that empathy, somewhere along the way might have made all the difference. Now it’s too little, too late.”
“Can’t we do something? To stop them?”
“What could you, or I, even do? Heard the whole, unstoppable force, immovable object thing, right? Don’t get in between em.”
“I don’t know, warn Dean! If he doesn’t understand…”
Castiel was confused. “But Sam? I thought we…wanted her dead?” Castiel had never, of course. He never wanted Jovi dead. But Sam did. Or he thought Sam did? Maybe he had misunderstood. Humans were confusing. For his part, Castiel had simply thought eliminating Jovi was the only way, their last, best chance to restore Dean to himself. Castiel missed human Dean so badly sometimes he didn’t think he could bear it.
“Not like this, Cas. I don’t think Dean could forgive ever himself. We have to…I don’t know…tell him what she has planned!”
Gabriel laughed bitterly. “How do you know that’s not exactly what Dean’s endgame is, here? “Thou shalt have no other Gods before me.””
Castiel tried very hard not to find that scenario plausible, but couldn’t, quite. “Dean would not do that, Gabriel. Not ever.” As he said it, he wondered if he was lying.
“Because he’s been acting so normal and everything?” Gabriel looked over Castiel’s shoulder and gestured with his chin. That was a gesture Castiel understood, it meant that someone was coming up behind him. Castiel turned, finding that Ruby was coming at him with an archangel blade raised.
Of course Ruby would be the one; surely she would love nothing better than killing Sam Winchester personally. At the last moment Castiel dodged quickly left and Gabriel, also in her path, disappeared out of the way, reappearing again a few feet to the side. Her blade plunged into the wall, useless.
As Ruby struggled to pull her angel blade free, Castiel took the opportunity to engage her. Ruby and Castiel began to grapple hand to hand and while Gabriel wasn’t a coward, per se, he didn’t really want to hang out as the sole disinterested party in the midst of a heavenly war zone, either. “Kiddo, I think we ought to skedaddle. I’m as susceptible to an errant blade as I am one meant for me. And I don’t know if anyone is going to be here to remake me in a little while.”
“We have to stop him, Gabriel. He’d never forgive himself.” The earnestness coming off the guy, sheesh. It was mindboggling, all things considered.
“One of the things I find fascinating about you Winchesters, both of ya, is how many times you say you’ll never forgive yourself and then 2 weeks later it’s like it never even happened and you never mention whatever it was, whoever it was, again. Makes me wonder how much you really, like, value, the rest of us bit players.”
“I have to try.”
“I heard tell you were trying to kill our girl God just a few minutes ago. Changed your mind about the necessity of that?”
“I. I haven’t, to be honest. In the long term.”
“Well, he’s the best weapon you’re ever going to have, Sam.”
“Yeah, I know but…But tell me this, Gabriel – if he’s the one who does it, Dean himself…if he’s the one? How can he ever come back from that?”
Gabriel rolled his eyes, barely able to comprehend the notion that Sam still thought Dean COULD come back, that this was all going to end up with the two of them rolling out in the Impala to fight demons like nothing had ever happened. But convincing a Winchester of anything they didn’t want to hear was like beating your head against a brick wall. He attempted to disappear with Sam, but didn’t go anywhere. He tried again, and failed again. He reached out and explored the energy holding him, even though he already knew it would be Jovi. “She’s keeping us here, Sam. She means it.” Gabriel was temporarily overcome with emotion. Sam closed his eyes a moment. His lips moved. “What are you doing?”
“Praying, I guess. Trying to contact Dean.”
Gabriel examined the idea and found it sound. “If he hears anyone, it’ll be you. Keep it up. I’ll buy you as much time as I can.” Feeling like a sentimental fool, Gabriel stepped up to engage a couple of Jovi’s hybrids…dangles, as the Winchesters called them…headed toward Sam.
Dean followed Jovi out of her garden into the deep woods that bordered it. She was nowhere to be seen but he knew she was there just as he knew his arm was there. She was an attachment, an appendage. He called to her, making his voice loud enough so it could be heard for miles. “You can’t run away, Jovi. I feel you. You’re always there. I could track you down if you were a million light years away. And it would take me less than a heartbeat.” Jovi popped out of thin air in front of him and attempted to fight but her blows were absolutely ineffective. He barely felt them. Dean grabbed her fist in midswing. “Jovi, listen, I don’t want to fight. I’m enjoying the hell out of it for some reason, but I don’t want to.” He was, too, enjoying it. He felt happier than he’d felt in months.
“I have nothing to say to you. Just leave me alone!”
With a kick to his shin, she broke away again, disappearing and reappearing behind him, armed with a small, lightweight jeweled sword. Before she could strike at him, Dean manifested his own sword from nowhere. It was slim and long like a samurai sword, completely undecorated and utterly deadly. He was unaware of any conscious thought, the blade was simply there in his hand, and he spun to easily block her blow. They exchanged a few halfhearted thrusts but Jovi was completely outclassed.
Even though swordfighting wasn’t even one of the things he’d studied, he was immediately better at it than she was. She had had trillions of years to exist and he was only like 10 minutes old and he was still better at practically everything. What did she even DO all day?
Dean couldn’t help but find it it all very amusing. “Pretty feisty for somebody so…pitiful.” He struck at her using a fraction of his strength, really holding back, but even that was enough so Jovi was thrown back onto her heels. Before she could regain her footing, Dean was already upon her. Without meaning to, he sliced her cheek open with the tip of the blade. Careless, so careless, always he was so careless. He recoiled, shocked, and threw his sword away to the side. It vanished as it hit the ground and Dean resolved not to call it back again no matter what. “I’m sorry!” Jovi responded by holding her sword to his throat. Dean laughed and she pressed the blade harder, enough to hurt. “Ok, ok!” He pretended he was putting his hands up in defeat, but instead he grabbed her arm, the arm holding the sword, at the wrist before she got any bright ideas about trying to finish the job, not that she could. He heard an audible crack as the bones broke beneath his fingers. She gasped in pain as he forced her to her knees. Her sword fell to the ground and he obliterated with a glance. “I’m going to heal you.”
“Don’t do me any favors!”
Dean started to heal her, but then he hesitated. She sent him a challenging look. He echoed her words to him the day they’d met. “I just want to give you a taste of what it means to disobey me. Pain.”
“My life has been pain! This is nothing to me! A hangnail!” Jovi’s eyes narrowed with purpose and Dean felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end. She’d called down lighting from the clear black sky. At the last second he raised a protective dome around them like the one she’d made when they were in Hell, and the lightning arced around them and into the ground. As the lightning flashed he realized he was still holding her broken arm in his hand, none too gently. And he realized he was ok with that.
“What else you got, Jovi? I’m ready for whatever you want to throw at me. Water, fire, earth, any other elements you got up your sleeve? I’d rather talk, though.” She still refused to yield. Dean smiled, admiring the moxie, then squeezed her arm so hard he could feel the ends of the bone at the break grinding together through her skin. He could rip her hand right off if he wanted to. She gasped, gasped, gasped, but still she wouldn’t surrender. A tear came from the corner of one eye and snaked down her cheek. His heart gave a little twitch, guilt and sympathy and self-disgust, and he realized he had had enough. It had been fun, but now fun time was over.
Time for the ace in the hole.
He glowed from head to foot, holding nothing back, unleashing his full glory onto her. She had no choice but to worship him and as she gave in she sobbed quietly, defeated. She tried to prostrate herself, wanted bury her face into the dirt as she should, but he had hold of her wrist and wouldn’t let her look away. She ignored him long enough, now she would look at him till he said otherwise.
Dean took a great satisfaction in knowing, finally knowing, she’d told him the truth, that she really did have to worship him and he was under no compulsion to return the favor because if he had been, she’d have played the same trick on him he was playing on her. “I’m sorry, I know that’s cheating.” He had a thought, a thought he knew he shouldn’t indulge, but it was a thought he couldn’t resist. “Glow for me.”
“It’s your game, Jovi. You made the rules. It’s not my fault I’m better at it than you are. That was what you wanted, wasn’t it? Someone who could actually beat you?” Jovi said nothing and Dean gave her broken arm another squeeze. A good strong one with a vicious little twist at the end. She screamed and squirmed and he still wouldn’t let her look away from him. “You know what they say, Jovi. Be careful what you wish for. Now glow, because I told you to, and I’m the boss of you.”
Jovi didn’t like it, not at all, but she obeyed him because she had no choice. Dean fell to his knees worshipfully, not because he had to, but because he wanted to, and as he did, he willed that Jovi’s cheek heal. He could feel the small bones in her wrist beneath his palm knitting together again, felt the veins and arteries he’d ruined becoming whole. He released her arm and she pulled it to her chest protectively, rubbing it with her other hand. The glow faded from both of them and as it did they looked at each other and Dean could tell she felt it the same way he did. She felt it too. No playing. Jovi pulled out of the moment and turned away to sit on the grass, hugging her knees to her chest and resting her cheek on her thigh. Dean stayed on his knees beside her. Up close he could see her green dress was made of crushed velvet and he wanted to touch it to see what it felt like, imagined running his fingertips across it.
He grimaced for a moment as the voices in his head intruded. “Shut up, Sam.” He looked at Jovi and shook his head. “Do they EVER shut up?”
“No. If you go far enough away, it’s…it’s better.”
Dean considered this as he shifted position from his knees to sit beside her. It felt like her proximity was helping, somehow, bringing him back to himself again. With every second that passed he felt more reasonable and tolerant and patient and he he realized he hadn’t felt any of those things for some time. With a chill, he understood how far gone he’d been. “Why do you keep trying to get rid of me? Why do you keep pushing me away? Pride?”
“No. I’m…I’m afraid for you, Dean. And I’m afraid OF you.”
“You should have come when I called you, Jovi. And you would’ve had no reason to be afraid.”
“I’m not afraid for my sake, you idiot. I’m afraid of what you’re going to do to my creation.”
He wanted to argue, to reassure her, but given what he actually had done, Dean realized it was a fair concern. A different question occurred to him. “Why am I so drawn to you? Is that something you’re doing to me?”
“No. It’s happening to me too, Dean. That’s why I’ve been trying so hard to stay away. Once…once I realized, I knew I had to stay away from you. Because if I was with you, I’d try to keep you, even if the price I have to pay for it is Earth. You would destroy Earth right before my eyes and I…I would let you. It’s like a compulsion, to be with you. I thought if it didn’t work out with you, it would be like a bad blind date that I would laugh about later. Not…not like this. It hurts so much.”
“I had to attack you…because…because I had to see you.”
For a perfect moment, Jovi was comically oblivious to how twisted it sounded. “Oh, that’s so sweet.” She gave Dean an adoring look that felt like a treasure and he wished it could last. But then it faded, as he’d known it would, as she regained self-control. She had so much self-control, he hated her for it. Send a little of that my way, wouldya lady? “No it’s not, it’s horrible. I messed up when I made you, Dean. So bad.”
“Are you sure, Jovi? Was it really a mistake, or are we…just going about things wrong?”
It was as if he hadn’t even spoken. “Surprise, surprise. Something I did went terribly bad.” She hesitated, trying to find the words to explain. “I always had this duality of nature, Dean. What a human would call, male and female spirit. I’ve always been both. I made the life that I created, in the male or female image but I never…I never fully separated out the energies themselves before. I never truly divided male from female. The beings I made are like tiny pieces of me, so they’ve always had elements of both. My energy, my essence is…it’s not…used to being divided. It’s been together for over 17 trillion years and…I don’t think it likes being split up like this.”
Dean agreed. It made sense, what she was saying. “Doesn’t like it at all.”
“It’s worse than that though. I think you, well, both of us really, but especially you, Dean, you’re…out of balance. The part that I gave to you is the judge, jury, and executioner. The vengeance. The, “an eye for an eye”. I gave it all to you because I didn’t want the responsibility for it any more. I gave it all to you because it makes me sad and I’m tired of being sad. And I kept the other half, the nurturing, the forgiving part, the soft and fluffy, for myself because I’m greedy and I didn’t want to give any of that up. So who you are now is not being tempered by anything other than just a very cold and inflexible sense of rationality, and your, I mean, Dean Winchester’s, humanity. Whatever’s left of it.”
“I’m still Dean Winchester.”
“I hope so. I loved Dean Winchester. But I don’t know who you are.”
“I am what you made me to be. What you wanted. The most dangerous creature you ever made, Jovi, is a human male, and I am that, a million times over. They are stone cold killers. I was a killer when I was a human. They’ve killed so much, and so much of what they kill is smaller and weaker than themselves. They even kill the people they love. When I think about it, it amazes me that women would even want to be around men. You’d have to be insane. Like kissing a loaded gun.” Jovi closed her eyes and tensed up, as if she was afraid to hear what he was going to say next. “I think women – which, you are, now, Jovi, in case you forgot – are either incredibly brave, or totally crazy. You must be like lion tamers, you know, the kind that stick their heads right into a lion’s mouth. Why would anybody do that, unless they wanted to be bitten, a little?” He found the situation amusing in spite of himself and grinned a half-grin. “If I’m messed up and out of balance, then you’re right there with me, sister. Two halves of the same sick coin.”
Jovi admitted it. “I know.”
“Can you stop what’s happening to me?”
“You and Sam, always looking for the quick fix. The magic that will just be like poof, ok everything back to normal. Yay, happily ever after. But, Dean, the real work of creation is slow and tedious, and it takes a really long time and a whole lot of effort. You are going to have to learn how to handle…this. You have to learn control, not to go all Yoda on you or whatever, but you do. It’s not going to be easy and I think you’re going to fail more often than you succeed. And every time you fail, people are gonna die. Lots.” Dean considered the notion. Not the answer he’d been hoping for. But he wasn’t entirely surprised by it. “When I was where you are now, Dean, I killed off the entire population of the world…repeatedly. Everybody hears about the flood, about Sodom and Gomorrah, but there were other times. Plenty of other times. So I could start over and get it right. But you know what I learned eventually, is that there IS no getting it right. The humans have to stand or fall on their own. We can’t fix what isn’t broken. They aren’t broken, Dean. They’re just. Human.”
“They’re so messy, though. And it’s so tempting to just…clean up a little.”
“I know. But it never works, Dean. They are what they are. They’re good at life. I made them to be good at life. It’s just that being good at life has side effects.”
“Everything seems to have side effects.”
“It does, at that. What we see as imperfection, Dean, is part and parcel of humanity. And our job is to love them anyway and forgive them for that.”
“But you got that part, Jovi. The love, the forgiveness? What if I don’t have enough? ”
“Then we’re screwed.” Jovi stopped talking and thought for a while. “I can’t destroy you, and if you destroy me, if you even can, you’ll be too depleted to stand against whatever Lucifer has planned – for thousands of years afterwards. He will rule the world until you regain your strength. Then my creation would be even worse off than it is now. A world with Lucifer on one side and you on the other. Humans and angels will be crushed between you. And, Dean, you realize, I hope, that if you destroy me, there’s no guarantee my energy would go back into you anyway. It might just dissipate, become part of the universe. It might even go into him.”
“Huh. Do you think I’ll end up just as bad as Lucifer?”
“No, of course not, you dork, but a lot of evil gets done in the name of unbending, uncompromising good. I’m so, so sorry, Dean. I can predict so much, but then when it comes to my own behavior, I have this massive blind spot.” She sighed and plucked at the grass beneath her with her fingers. Her nails were coated with glittering polish, the same dark green as her dress. “I’m trying to hang on so I can help you if I can, however I can, but I was barely hanging on before. I just want…to end. To die. I think that’s the real reason why I made you. I’ll help you defeat Lucifer for all eternity, and then I want you to end my existence, too.”
“I don’t ever want you any further from me than you are right now, Jovi. Not even that far. I can tell you right now I will never. I will never do that and I don’t ever want you to ask me again. The very idea causes me physical pain.”
“It would be a mercy killing, Dean. Really. They shoot horses, don’t they?”
“Jovi, hear me. Never speak those words again. They are forbidden to you.” Jovi breathed through her nose, disappointed. “I won’t control your thoughts…”
“You can’t control my thoughts.”
“Well, I haven’t tried. But I will not hear those words again.” Dean understood, at least a little, how deep it ran, how tired and sad and defeated Jovi really was. “Maybe I can help you, too. This isn’t a one way street. Maybe I can make you happy. Let me try.”
“What you feel is irrelevant. What we feel. It’s not real. It’s empty. Meaningless. You don’t really have feelings for me. It’s just the energy pushing us together.”
“I wouldn’t…I wouldn’t be so sure about that.”
“You made it pretty clear at first that you weren’t interested. And that was when you were in control of your faculties, as much as Dean Winchester was ever in charge of his faculties.” She laughed through her nose and Dean couldn’t help but grin wryly. “I’m just saying, for me to believe what you say now over what you said then, because it’s what I wanted to hear…it feels like taking advantage.”
“I didn’t know you then.”
“You don’t know me NOW, Dean. I loved you because I knew you, I knew your whole life. The good, the bad, and the…karaoke.”
“You’re wrong, Jovi. I do know you. I look around the world and everything in it, everything amazing and beautiful and infinitely complicated, you made it. A flower, a snowflake, sunrise…the taste of chocolate. And I and I alone know how you did it. The time and the care and the thought you put into it. The effort, and pain, that it took you? Into making the smallest grain of sand. Everything in the universe, I can see how you touched it. I can’t imagine I could know anyone better.”
“You’re justifying it, that’s all. It’s no different than if I forced you to love me. And I don’t force people to love me. I decided that a long time ago.”
“Tch. We’re all just victims of circumstance when it comes to love anyway. Who does a guy end up with in the human world, Jovi? The girl next door, or at work, or on the barstool beside him. Random chance puts two people in the same place at the same time when they’re at a place in their lives when they’re looking for someone. Attraction is programmed by genetics and life experience, and a relationship is just attraction plus opportunity.”
“You’re entirely too smart now. You’re messing with my head.”
Dean felt a rising sense of panic. “I have to be. I have to stop you. I have to keep you. It’s too much for me to go through without you. Lucifer’s getting stronger and eventually he could maybe get strong enough to really hurt you. And maybe you’d even…you’d even let that happen, you’d ask him to do it, if I won’t. He could get strong enough and you might let it happen. You’re scaring me with the stuff you’re saying, Jovi. And nowadays, when I get scared, I get really, really angry.”
“Dean…Let me go, then. Instead. It will be easier if I go. If you don’t want to leave Earth, it’s ok. I’ll go far away and I’ll make a new world, if this one means that much to you. I wanted to hang onto it because I’m sentimental and it took me for-freaking-ever to make it, but you can have it. I guess.”
Dean refused to listen any more. “No. No. I understand what you’re saying and I can control this, Jovi, I swear to you I can, but I need your help. If you have the love and forgiveness, then help me. Be my better half. Tell me when to act and when to lay off. I will listen to you, Jovi, I promise. It’ll be, so much better if you stay. For everyone.”
“You don’t know that. It may be worse. Something bad could happen. It could destroy us both. It could destroy the entire world for all we know.”
“I don’t care. We can make a new world. This was a stupid world anyway. No offense. We should let Lucifer have it.” Jovi didn’t approve, tensed up and took a breath of air and cocked her little head from side to side in an attempt to disapparate, but nothing happened. She started to panic. Dean gave her a sympathetic look as it dawned on her. “Yeah, I stuck ya here. Sorry.”
“I just did. I give you the gift of sleep, Jovi. Sleep.” Jovi blinked, struggling to keep her eyes open, overcome with the irresistible urge to sleep for the first time in her heartbreakingly long lifetime. Dean caught her as she fell to the side and pulled her to sprawl across his lap. He ran his fingers up and down the sleeve of her dress like he’d wanted to and could feel her warmth coming through the soft fabric. He was sorely tempted to just stay there for awhile, hold her in his arms, look up at the stars, the smell of the woods in his nose and the sounds of nature in his ears. Sorely tempted. But he had a war he had to get back to.
They reappeared back in Jovi’s fortress, up on the dais where her throne was. Jovi was cradled in Dean’s arms, limp, looking dead. But Dean didn’t realize how it looked, so he just stood there dramatically and waited for everyone to react.
At first Sam, the only entity in the room who wasn’t actively fighting, was the only one who noticed them. Dean could see in his brother’s face he was shocked, horrified, disbelieving, and Dean knew what he was thinking – but then again Sammy was always little slow on the uptake. Let him wonder, Dean thought. As the battle raged, Dean raised a new throne beside Jovi’s – his throne, taller and larger, and clearly above hers, in every way. Folks needed a reminder about who was really in charge here. He made the darkangels’ thrones disappear because who wanted those clowns hanging around? He glanced around and the feminine quality of Jovi’s castle vanished, replaced by dark wood, stone, metal. It was his castle now. Theirs, but you know. His.
He noticed that many of his angels had fallen, so he brought them back to life and healed their injuries. He even brought back the dangles since Jovi seemed to like them. As the environment changed before their very eyes, the heavenly hosts gradually stopped fighting to gape at Dean. Believing Jovi dead, all the angels, both Jovi’s and Dean’s, reacted with great sadness. They keened as one, wailing and crying, and Dean realized finally it must look to them the way it looked to Sam. In the crowd he spotted Crowley hurrying to Castiel, beseeching him with his expression, but Castiel was equally stricken.
Seriously? They all really thought he would kill Jovi? Really? FFS. “The war is OVER! Stop fighting and get out!” Everyone in the room had a comical moment of hesitation.
Dean repeated himself, inhumanly loud. “Get OUT!!” It wasn’t a command, not yet anyway.
After a few moments, angels and dangles started to disappear, one by one. The archangels and Sam declined Dean’s request, or maybe they thought it didn’t apply to them. As beings disappeared around them, they shrunk together into a cluster in the center of the room, almost as if they were circling the wagons, almost as if they were gonna make a last stand or something. Against him. It was pretty funny, really. Dean wondered what it was exactly they planned to do. So he listened in. Sam pleaded with Gabriel. “Did he…did he…he couldn’t have…could he?”
Gabriel seemed stunned himself. “I don’t know.”
Bobby, faithful as always, was still not ready to believe it. “He wouldn’t have. He wouldn’t have.”
Castiel shook his head, sadly. “You have more faith than me, my friend.”
And that was enough of that. If even Cas was doubting him, Dean realized, things had gone far enough. He jumped across the room and landed in their midst, soft as a cat, with Jovi still cradled in his arms, sound asleep. He was so gentle he didn’t disturb her at all, and that just goes to show he DID have self-control after all. So there. Crowley snarled at him. “I’ll kill you, Winchester, I don’t know how, but I will kill you.” He made as if to rush Dean but Ruby quickly and wisely snaked her arm through Crowley’s to stop him.
“Don’t be stupid, stupid.” Dean despised Ruby, but she wasn’t dumb. He would have killed Crowley, no hesitation, killed him forever dead, if Ruby wouldn’tve stepped in. “He wouldn’t have killed her, Ori, at least not permanently. He wants her alive.” Crowley pondered the implications and he worked his jaw.
“She’s alive, Crowley. Oriphiel. And…I’ll take care of her. I promise.” In spite of himself Dean felt a little sorry for the guy. He was really the big loser of the day.
“She’s not breathing!” Crowley ground his teeth and clenched his fists.
“We don’t always have to breathe. But she is alive, Crowley, I swear to you. She’s just sleeping. I made her sleep.”
“He gave her a roofie.” Ruby figured she had it all figured out. And maybe she did. Dean glared at Ruby for a long and chilling moment and then laughed.
“She’s…she’s tired, Ruby. She’s been awake a long time. She needs to rest. And no one understands that feeling better than me.” Gabriel sent a querying look Dean’s way. “She asked me…asked me to. She asked me to kill her…and I said no. Even if I wanted to, and I don’t, I can’t spare the power. She’s safer with me, even if she’s not too happy about it, than she is on her own, Gabriel. She could…in this frame of mind, I think she could go to Lucifer.” Gabriel made a face as he connected the dots. “I know you guys have your concerns. I understand why. I understand I haven’t exactly been…my best self lately. But I think Jovi and me, we need to help each other get through this transition. I’ll keep her alive and she’ll keep me…human.” Dean meant it as a joke, but it fell flat. He looked away for a moment, no longer sure what that word human even meant. But Jovi knew, and that was gonna have to be enough. “Get out of here, go far away. Don’t come back. None of you come back here again unless we invite you. It’s not safe to be around us right now, I don’t think. We need rest. And peace. We have to learn to work together, and it’s not gonna be easy. We’ll be in touch when we’re needed.”
For his part, Gabriel couldn’t wait to leave. He liked the humans too much, Dean idly thought. Best to keep an eye on that. He made a mental note. “Sounds like a plan, Dad. Take all the time you need. Like, take extra time, why don’t you? Catch ya hopefully several thousand miles down the road, maybe in a century or two. Or ten.” And with that he was gone.
Sam was not going to give up that easily, of course. “Dean…”
“Adam’s waking up, Sammy. Be the big brother for awhile.”
“What? You’re sending me away? Me? No!”
Suddenly, Dean felt very weary. His mitochondria were begging him to take five. “Sam, it’s a lot of energy for one meat puppet to contain and I need…solitude, I guess you could say. I can’t maintain the level of control I need to be around you plus do all the other things I have to do right now. Having people around me is very draining, and Sammy, you are the single most draining person I know.” Sam snorted bitterly and shook his head. “Please, Sam, just don’t fight me. Not this time.” Dean turned to Ruby and nodded her direction. “You’re human.” Then he set his sights on Metatron. “You’re a gerbil.”
Ruby gasped, shocked into speechlessness as her wings shrank away into nothing. She leapt away from Crowley to grab at herself, catching only a handful of feathers as her angelic nature evaporated. “No, no no, no! Oh! God DAMN it!” she whined, looking at the remains of her wings with a stricken expression.
Metatron didn’t have time to say anything. He morphed into a gerbil in a ball and started skittering around. Gadreel laughed.
Dean tried to explain to Sam about Ruby. “I always thought you two made a…” He searched for the right words. “…a cute couple?” Sigh. “That expression is beneath my dignity. The circumstances were not right before, but things are different now. Maybe you two can work it out. Or not. You have free will. Enjoy it, Sammy. Surprise me.”
Neither Sam nor Ruby seemed particularly enthusiastic about that idea. Sam protested. “Dean…”
But Dean had had his fill. “Bobby, Cas, get him out of here. Everybody, out. Aren’t you supposed to obey me, or whatever? Or do I need to get my wrath on?” Bobby and Castiel looked a little sad, because it was an ending and endings are sad. But they obeyed even as Sam started to struggle. They disappeared, taking Ruby with them.
Crowley lingered as Dean had known he would. “I guess this is goodbye, Squirrel.”
“Let’s keep that nickname between you and me, ok Crowley?”
Crowley stifled a bitter laugh. “It’s Oriphiel. Take care of her, eh?”
“If I can’t, you’ll be the first person I call.” Dean could see his friend’s Adam’s apple move as he swallowed. Crowley was his friend, Dean knew that now. He felt kinda terrible about the whole ear thing all of a sudden. The darkangel stared at Jovi for a long moment but then he disappeared finally, and lucky for him too since even though Dean had some regrets, he was starting to get pissed off.
Gadreel, oddly since Dean barely knew the guy, was the last to go. He picked up the hamster ball containing Metatron and peered into it. “Can I have him?”
“He’s all yours.”
Gadreel tucked the ball under his arm and disappeared.
And with that, Dean was alone, but not really alone. Not ever really alone again.
Dean disappeared his boots and socks and carried Jovi up the stairs to his throne on the dais. The plush rose carpet felt just as good on his bare feet as he’d thought it was gonna and he was glad he’d left it behind when he got rid of all the rest of the pink. He blinked and It’s Good to be King began to play.
It seemed fitting.
He sprawled in the throne, which was uncomfortable as crap, so he turned it into a La-Z-Boy by tipping his head slightly to the left. Better. He popped the footstool up with a twitch of his little baby toe.
He could have done it all without even moving anything but he was wore out.
Jovi slept on his lap, her upper body cradled against his chest. He buried his fingers in her hair and realized he’d wanted to do that since the first second he’d seen her. He thought about how he’d liked her pink hair so he switched it back again. She wouldn’t mind, probably.
His other elbow rested on the stuffed arm of the chair, his forearm sticking up in the air. Dean had an urge and a cheeseburger appeared in his free hand. He bit into it, a massive bite, and it was delicious. Extra bacon. Extra cheese. Extra gooey.
Dean stared into space while he chewed and while he found the responsibility of being God and everything did weigh on him some, overall he was pretty darn satisfied with his new existence.