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The Master's House, for firealchemist1

Title: The Master's House
Recipient: firealchemist1
Rating: PG-13
Warnings: suicidal ideation/PTSD
Word Count: ~6500
Summary: Today is the first-ever Tuesday. Sam's been told there will be more.
Notes: The AU where Sam and Dean are angels at the dawn of the universe.




the master’s tools will never demolish the master’s house.

audre lorde






Today is the first-ever Tuesday.

Sam's been told there will be more, but he doesn't really get the point of them. Rumor has it God told Metatron told Joshua told whoever that it's all part of something larger. And bigger is better.

"No. It's not about bigness. It's about segmentation," Remiel insists, brandishing a writhing centipede in one hand, each gleaming nugget of its body articulating separately. It bites him, and hastily he throws it beyond the realm of existence.

"Uh, a prototype," Remiel mutters. ("Case in point. God said, 'Yikes. These should be smaller,' and then He threw it away! Guess He was right. I mean--of course He was right, He's God, but--")

Remiel shows Sam a handful of dust. "See? It's all segments. Little pieces."

"I can see that," says Sam.

"Isn't it amazing?"

When Sam says nothing, Remiel sighs. "Maybe you're too young to understand." ("Oh, and see, there's another act of genius. Splitting up time like that, making young and old in order to measure epochs. Having things some angels remember and others do not. It's all fascinating. God is good!")

"Maybe," says Sam. But Remiel is wrong about young and old angels. Sam knows; he's read the Tablet. He probably wasn't meant to, and wasn't supposed to be able to read it at all, but that's sort of the whole thing. There are no young and old angels because angels predate the concept of young and old; they predate the concept of segmentation, of Euclidean geometry, of Euclid, of man. Angels predate the concept of predating things, of existing in the plural. Sam's only been Sam since today. Yesterday, the idea of yesterday didn't even exist, because today is the first Today, and it's a Tuesday.

Time and memory are new. They're still in beta.

Maybe that's the point of all this, Sam figures. Tuesdays are important because otherwise existence is only a timeloop. Or it would have been, had time been invented before today, a Tuesday. That would be maddening.

Sam leaps from his thoughts, but Remiel's just standing there. Remiel's still not used to the passage of time, hasn't quite bought in. He hadn't noticed Sam's pause.

Time isn't quite linear yet.

It's beginning to set, though. It's only been one Tuesday, but it's been an assertive Tuesday. It's getting harder to move between epochs. Time travel will be a novelty. Time will be more powerful than they. In a few days, Sam imagines, it will be all but impossible.

"Impossible is nothing, Samael," says Zachariah, tugging on the last bit of Angel that is, at least for now, both him and Sam. Wrenching Sam's thoughts from him and taking them as his own.

Sam says, "I'm just Sam. Samael is someone else." Then he tugs back. (Coexistence is as violent as segmentation.)

Zachariah's been hard at work, he sees. Zachariah's been studying with Gabriel, trying to mimic the way God creates worlds, to keep space and time in multidimensions wrapped around his finger. The feeling, according to Zachariah, is a little like sex. If you spend enough time with Gabriel, everything is.

Zachariah's sin isn't lust, but wrath. He'd give every virgin that's yet to be born, every fax machine, every white suede loafer, every roll of toilet paper, and every juice cleanse for a taste of that war again.

You know, the War Against the Darkness. Capital letters and all.

"We can go back," Zachariah assures him. "Join me, Samael."

"It's just Sam," Sam insists again. "And there is no 'back.'"

The war pre-exists time. Now that it's Tuesday, the war is nowhere. No angel will ever find it again.


--


Sam doesn't know the war. If they are all segments of a prior photonic whole, Sam's piece did not include it. From what he can tell, most angels are the same in this. The ones that aren't end up like Zachariah.

The War is all Zachariah has, with the exception of the pale and paltry little snowglobe worlds he's been creating. But even in Zachariah, the war is changing.

As Zachariah imagines it now, there are hordes of angels, already segmented and individualized. There's one named Zachariah--in the form of a man, or a lion, or any number of multiplicities, but always Zachariah. It's history rewritten, subject to the rules of the universe that exists today, and not the one that existed before. The one before befores. The one when there was only God, the Darkness, and Angel. No Zachariahs. No hordes.

Memories change when they are accessed. They take on the flavor of the present. The world before Tuesday can only be remembered in terms of Tuesday's universe, its rules. Sam's not sure why none of the other angels seem to notice this.

"I mean, I get it. I just don't care," says Dean, dropping out of the ether. Dean's one of the few angels who enjoyed the creation of gravity. He's been doing all sorts of things with it.

It makes a gruesome kind of sense. Sam knows who Dean is, more or less. In the war, before befores, when they'd all been Angel, Dean had been the piece of Angel that was weapon--sharp and flaming and deep inside the heart of the Darkness. He hadn't enjoyed it. The thing about swords, though, is that they require vectors of force. They require physics. The only reason gravity exists now is likely because God had needed it to win his war.

"But you obviously do care," says Sam, gesturing at Dean's--well, gravity-ing. The appropriate verbs do not exist yet. Time is firming up, and the future is closing.

"I don't," says Dean. "The rules are only gonna change. See, you're mad about it, too. Getting your panties in a bunch about verbs."

Sam's pretty sure Dean doesn't know what panties or bunches are, but apparently idioms are a protected class. They get to stay, even if their antecedents are now nailed down on a timeline somewhere.

"Wait. How'd you do that?" Dean slinks back (that's the word, Sam thinks triumphantly. The one that had existed and then hadn't, at God's whim. Slinky-ing. That's what he'd been searching for earlier. God, it's not even a real verb. But Dean's earlier Slinky-ing is a far cry from Dean's slinking now).

"How did I… do what?" Sam asks, equally perturbed. Dean was smiling at him, and now he's not. Sam realizes he doesn't know why.

"You're gone."

"I'm here," says Sam, and hopes he really is. It's too late on a Tuesday to be getting existential. But Dean's right. Before, all he needed to do was slide into Dean's consicousness which was on some level Sam's consciousness because all knowledge is known all memories are had because time and lines and Euclid did not exist yet.

Now all Sam can do is watch Dean and guess.

"I'm here," Sam insists.

"You're not," Dean replies, waving Sam off. Sam, who's about to touch his shoulder. "Not that stupid body thing. You."

If Remiel were here, he'd probably point out that a visage is not a stupid thing; it's the image of what will one day be Man which is the image of God which is sacred.

"The other you," Dean snaps. "Why can't I--"

They're not Angel anymore, Sam gathers. They're not connected anymore. They are Sam and Dean (and Zachariah and Remiel and)

"It's segmentation," says Sam, parroting Remiel before he quite realizes what he's saying. "Wait, why would you think I had anything to do with this? I can't do anything. It was God. It always is."

"Because Remiel said God is, he said--" Dean frowns. "And this doesn't feel-- Fuck. Never mind."

Dean's eyes narrow, though they never leave Sam's. All that time strolling through Zachariah's head and that look is the first time Sam's ever really believed there'd been a war at all. It's there, in Dean. The War.

Then Dean's gone, because fuck visages; fuck gravity; fuck corporeality. In the war, before befores, when they'd all been Angel, Dean had been the piece of Angel that was weapon--sharp and flaming and deep inside the heart of the Darkness. He hadn't enjoyed it.

Now he's alone.

It's weird to read that on him, rather than just know it. Strange to realize, as a result of an act, over a span of time. It hadn't seemed like Dean's fear had worked like that at all. It just existed, immediate and always, like an old thing. Older than old.



--


The war is nowhere. No one is supposed to be able to find it again.


--


No one was supposed to keep it.


--


The angels invent Angel Radio shortly after the segmentation. (With God's permission.) It's not quite the same as what they'd been before, slipping through each other's thoughts and empathies at will, but it's hard to remember what you no longer have--and by Thursday, this is the way it's always been. No one remembers the closeness of their life before.

It's still not the same thing, Sam insists to himself. In the end, Angel Radio is just a cheap way of feeling like part of a group. It's mostly just posturing. A curation of the way angels think an angel should be thinking. There are too many layers between the radiowaves and the Grace. It never feels real.

No one on Angel Radio knows, for instance, that Dean needs help. No one's ever asked.

Even Michael, an Archangel, gave Dean a flaming sword--just handed it right over!--and that's the last thing Sam would trust Dean with right now. It's like Michael doesn't remember what Dean had been in the war. The way Michael talks about the war, you'd think he would.

But Sam remembers hearing Dean, seeing inside him. Before they were made to be alone in themselves. Inside Dean was a scream of fire, and pain, and darkness. He was the wrath in the belly of the universe. He was that which Zachariah can only wetly dream of.

On the outside, Dean agrees to plans with Anna. One day, they will go to look upon Hael's canyon. Hael had crafted it on Earth, with special permission from God. God allows canyons, not swords. Not blood.

God is good. God has never had any hand in evil.

"Tuesday, then," says Dean, to Anna.

Angels don't need to make plans, exactly, but with the invention of linear time most angels have gone out of their way to use time gratuitously. Sam suspects that the further they can stretch the timeline, the closer they feel to timelessness. In Enochian, Tuesday could very well mean any Tuesday, past or future, but unless further specified, it generally means the furthest possible one. The last Tuesday. Sam doubts Dean will make it that far. Dean is a scream of fire, pain, darkness. He is the wrath in the belly of the universe.

There is no wrath here.


--


These things will drive you mad, you know. The things that are gone from the world. The impossible memories.


--


Sam watches the sun rise and set, rise and set. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday. All the way through. Tuesday again. It's interesting, he supposes, in that on earth the sun is always rising as it is setting somewhere else, since the earth is round. A vestige of a time when time was significantly more spherical.

Sam watches the sun set as the day ends. Then the next day ends. Another another another.

It's okay that things end, Sam affirms. They're all replaceable.

It's not in the nature of angels to question.


--


Oh, Sam questions.


--


Sam has an idea about how time works. You can use it to build things. Not canyons, like Hael, but maybe something else. Something that begins with memory.

"You can't build things with memory," says Dean. "It's already gone."

"There's a difference between a memory and an event," says Sam. "You know there is."

The memory, for instance, of war. Of the Darkness and pain and the sound of her scream, so guttural and low the soundwaves haven't even found them yet. It could be another millenia or more.

"You can't build anything with that," Dean says finally.

"I'm not trying to," says Sam.

Dean shrugs. "Coulda fooled me. You keep bringing it up."

"I didn't," says Sam.

That was you, he doesn't say. Remember what it was like before? he doesn't say.

Remember when we were one we were Angel and all of this life, we shared. Remember i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)



--


How do you build that?


--


Dean has spent the last 1967 Tuesdays trying to build a car. It is not strictly an approved invention, as it's meant to be reserved for Man and Man is, as yet, only the dream of a zygote. But Dean doesn't want to wait.

"Don't you get tired of walking everywhere?" Dean says, which is supposed to be some sort of explanation.

"You're literally the only angel in all of Heaven who gives a shit about gravity, Dean."

But Sam has spent the last 1967 Tuesdays also trying to build a car with Dean.

"You could just fly if you don't want to walk," Sam points out.

Dean shakes his head without looking up from what he has decided needs to be an intake manifold. "I don't fly," he says staunchly.

Sam's not even gonna ask. "Okay. Say you invent a car. Where would you even go in it?"

"Down," says Dean. "Grand Canyon. Did you know not even Hael's been to her Grand Canyon? She blitzed it into existence from all the way up here."

"You're going to drive… from Heaven to the Grand Canyon."

"Thanks for the vote of confidence."

"You're going to drive from Heaven to the Grand Canyon," Sam repeats, deadpan.

Dean flips him off. Using the bodies for the purposes of language is all the rage in Heaven, on this 1967th Tuesday.

"I mean, I was going to drop it," he mutters. "I don't know what the fuck we're made out of. But I know two tons of metal definitely falls. So."

Sam laughs. "What do we do once we get to the Grand Canyon?"

"Oh, you're inviting yourself now?"

"Definitely. I didn't have to be here, did I? Helping you with this stupid car. Once we get it rolling, what's the game plan? Grand Canyon, then--"

"Find a cliff and hope it kills us."

Sam falls silent.

"Sorry," says Dean.

He says, "I don't know why I--"

He says, "Sam."

Sam kicks at one of the tires. Imagines a world where they could survive the fall from Heaven, but die at the bottom of a canyon on Earth. He supposes it depends on how skilled Hael really is. Whether her work is appropriately grandiose.

"I'd let you out first."

Sam snorts. "What's that supposed to solve?"

"What wouldn't it?"


--


Sam imagines standing on the ridge of the Grand Canyon, red rock tussling over his feet, closing his wings against the wind. He can still feel the hot metal of the door handle in his hand. He is alone.


--


There is a difference between Dean being there, and not. How do you build this? Sam thinks.

What am I building?


--


"I guess that's kind of weird," says Dean, at the end of the 1967th Tuesday. There is still no car. Dean's playing with a handful of dust. Something something coefficient of friction, something vectors of force.

"What's weird?" Sam asks.

"That I'd let you out. You know, before the swan dive. We come, we go. We're just things. It's whatever. But you--"

Dean lets the last of the dust slip through this fingers.

They have lived 1967 Tuesdays. They remember 1967 Tuesdays. Stacked top to bottom, these are enough Tuesdays for Dean to unlock the doors. It is not enough for Dean to take his foot off the gas.


--


How do you build this?


--


You don't understand, Sam tells himself, on those nights when he tries to get as far out of his head as he can, and as far into Dean's. You don't understand what it means to be alone with this memory.

You're not alone, Sam shouts back. It has been 1967 hard, blistering Tuesdays and this memory is written in Dean's eyes, the turn of his mouth. In the body he's chosen, in the way that he speaks to and for and around those around him, which really means Sam, only Sam, because Sam remembers what it was like to know Dean, what it was like to know, and he has lived and shared this hell and he will never understand but he does, he doesn't, but Dean you are not alone but I know that we are different, we are separate but we are


--


we are


--


They try to invent pickle chips. It would be easier if either of them had any inkling of what a pickle chip was, but honestly they're working backwards. To know that a thing is coming is not the same as knowing how to get there.

In the time it had taken Dean to sow and harvest a single, bulbous cucumber and not quite enough wheat, Sam had reverse-engineered the brining process. They had a pan hanging over Dean's flaming sword. Neither of them, however, had sought to consider the origin of oil.

It would have been easier to simply edge closer to the piece of timeline where such things had been invented on earth, but that was getting harder now. It was like trying to force recollection of a memory too far away.

"The fact that we remembered dirt was a thing at all is pretty--" Dean cuts off, dig his hands into the only patch of soil in all of Heaven. Its thick silty black nestles into the half-moons of his fingernails.

For a moment, Sam's proud of their handiwork. The attention to detail. The usual things in Heaven never had those kinds of irrelevant causal flows--things that happened as a matter of course, but with no deeper meaning. The sort of things Dean enjoyed, and Sam found himself enjoying. But all Dean feels in this moment is what Dean always feels, the only feeling that never wanders away.

He is the sword.

It's more than that, though. He is the sword who remembers being the sword yesterday, the day before, the day before, the day before, the day before. The same memory, iterating instead of overwriting.

He is the sword.

He is the sword.

"Dean."

He is the sword.

He is the sword.

He is the sword.


--


It is better when you're here.


--


It's a cruel joke. Sam is trying to build something. He's trying to stack memories, like some kind of perilous stone tower. He's trying to show what he knows in his heart, which is that they are more than their sum. Before time, each moment was its own island. Every entity was known, was always as it was. But time is different now. It adds, changes, morphs, mutates. 1967 Tuesdays is different than one Tuesday, different than Tuesdays in parallel, in loops. It is different, it is different.

It is fucked that there are things in this universe that refuse Sam this. Time is not as linear as he needs it to be.


--


Like time, language is something the angels go absolutely buck-wild for. There's a sizeable group of beatniks bringing slang to Heaven, and modernism, and postmodernism, all well ahead of their time. It's an art, like playing X-rays on record players or getting drunk off nail varnish, but it is possible to shove human idiom into angelic verse. It is possible to wax poetic about the defamation of inversions of reiterations of bastardizations of emotions no angel has ever felt before. Riff on riffs that haven't been invented yet, in a hundred thousand languages that only situationally exist. No one has spoken a full sentence of Enochian in at least 1650 Tuesdays.

What Sam needs is Castiel. Like all the others, Castiel is a lover of language. But Castiel has held to their mother tongue. Not cultures that will be, but the one that they are from.

"I'm trying to build something," says Sam, in Enochian. "And I need your help."

"Yes. The pickles. I've heard," says Castiel. He says "pickles" in Farsi, as there is no word for them in Enochian. "You know that's not my purview."

"How does everyone know about the pickle thing?"

"Joshua was upset. Surely you've heard what's to befall Eden. He takes unauthorized gardens very seriously."

"This isn't about the Fall. I'm trying to build something," Sam repeats, shoving past frustration. "And you know I don't mean pickles."

He doesn't mean cars, or canyons, or even universes (which in the end are only impressive masses of things). Sam wants the word for what it had felt like to experience them. Sam wants the word for the importance of that feeling. The importance of having shared all of them with--

"I need to know if there's a word for that," says Sam. "You know, for us."

"Grace," says Castiel.

"No."

"The Sublime."

"No. I don't--" Sam starts. "I don't think it's about God. It's not about being with God."

"That's impossible," says Castiel. "God is omnipresent. Everything is with God."

"That's the thing, though," says Sam. "That's not the world we live in anymore. There are things that have and haven't happened yet. There are memories we have and don't have. God said 'Let there be linear time' and now there's this whole world contingent on being not omnipresent, so--"

"God is omnipresent," says Castiel.

"But we're not. And that's important, too."

"Are you trying to start a war?" asks Castiel.

"No," says Sam. "I'm trying to remember one."

What is the word for remembering before memory? For leaving no one to lonely wars? What is the thing that is larger than a collection of acts, a span of time? What's the word that makes a memory of failed pickle chips more important, more cherished, than the trauma of a war? What is the word for love, when it is not for God, is not because of God, was not delivered by God?

"Idolatry," Castiel offers dryly. "Blasphemy."

But if Castiel has no word for this, then there is no word.

There is no word in Enochian for brotherhood. There is no word for love, save theophilos.

"Ask Dean why Michael gave him the sword," says Castiel. "That war is not over."


--


No one is supposed to remember the Darkness.

There was no war.

There is only God

and God

and love of God.


--


"So you talked to Castiel," Dean says.

Dean hasn't been quite right for some Tuesdays. Sometimes, around midday, he collapses into sound. Ceases to have form, or even light, or Grace. He bends to become the broad slow waves of the Darkness's screams. They are finally reaching this timeline. Dean cannot contain them. He can't even exist alongside them.

When this happens, Sam is never sure if Dean, the angel, will be back.

"Do you know him?" Sam asks, expectant and half-afraid that there will be no response. That there will be no Dean.

"Once upon a time," says Dean. "He's the one who pulled the sword out, you know. Dunno if he would have mentioned that."

"He didn't," says Sam. Typical Castiel.

"Michael was going to leave it in. Let the Darkness take it. But Castiel gripped me tight and pulled me out. Obviously, that was a mistake. Explains why Michael gets to play Archangel and Castiel… does whatever he does these days, I guess."

"That doesn't explain anything. We can't be paying penance for something that happened before time. There wasn't any cause and effect!"

"Yet here we are," Dean snaps. Then he loses form, slips through his body and becomes a twist of fire, fire piercing flesh. Fades from fire into sound, heavy in Sam's bones, a rumble on his skin.

"It never gets better," Dean's voice hitches. "The fuck is the point of linear time if it never gets bet-- if it never gets further away. It nev-- I just--"

"I know," says Sam. "Dean, I know."

Dean is the sword. He is the wound. He cauterizes the edges but the Darkness gapes and weeps. Pick your metaphor--a vulva, a volcano. She is the Darkness and her blood cannot be staunched. She is screaming.

She is only a memory, Sam wills himself to believe. But this is Heaven. This is the universe. This is time. Memory is the most powerful thing in this world.

Sam remembers Castiel.

He takes Dean by the hilt and heaves. The sword comes out by inches, its flames shooting from the blade as they leave her body and hit air. Sam feels his own skin burning.

The Darkness is only a memory, and memory is everything. Memory is everything, and Sam pulls the plug.

Sword in his hands, history derails. The memory retreats. It changes. Sam is part of it now, too.

"Dean, you can't do this alone," he pants. "You don't need to do this alone."

"It's not like I volunteered," Dean groans, dizzily lapsing between a body, a sword, smoke, and in-between. "I was just--bam, sword. And then--time happened, or segmentation happened first, or both. And then--yeah, it fucking is. No one else remembers this."

"I volunteered," says Sam. "Just now. I'm here, and I'm always going to be here, because I don't want you to go. You are not alone. It's not your pain. It's everyone's. And I don't want you to go."

Dean coughs on his own smoke. "Where would I go?" he rasps. "What if--"

"I don't care. I don't want you to," says Sam. "I just don't."

"She'll be back. Michael gave me the sword because he knew she'd be back. He knew what I--"

"Fuck the sword. She's a memory. Michael's not afraid of The Darkness. He's afraid we'll all remember her. What we did to her. How it felt. He's afraid of you. Fuck the sword, Dean."

Dean grabs the sword, which is now neither his body nor Sam's. Just another object. An object with mass.

He glances at Sam.

Then he drops it.

It falls and falls, the way Dean's estimation of gravity knows it must, until it cleaves its resting place in a place that, at certain points in time, is called Nevada. The sword spikes Nevada's surface temperature and the next thing anyone knows, Dean's invented climate.

"Can't wait to see how this fuck-up pans out," chuckles Zachariah, drawn by the commotion, as he always is. "Michael and the big man will have your hide if climate apocalypse upstages the Biblical ones."

"Oops," says Dean. "I had no idea that this might piss them off."

He turns to Sam. A shaky smile. "How'd you like that, Louise?"

"Not bad for a Tuesday."


--


i carry your heart with me(i carry it in

It's better when you're here.

my heart)


--


They're sitting on the hood of the car, sleek black and scuffless chrome. The car most certainly does not run. It is not really a car yet. The pickle they grew is not that good. But the sun still works as God intended. It goes up and down, like celestial clockwork.

"You know, I heard on Earth the days are actually different lengths, based on the earth's rotation around--"

You're different lengths."

Up down, up down.

"Seriously? Every idiom on earth and that's what you're gonna go with?"

"Ain't broke."

Up down, up down.

"The whole sword thing is gonna fuck us, right," says Dean.

"Uh, yeah. Probably," Sam replies.

"Awesome."

Up, down. Up, down.

"I want to be brothers," Sam says in the darkness, between a sunset and its next rise.

"We're already there," Dean points out. The sun rises. "All angels are brothers. You know, that's kind of the whole angel thing. Michael talks about it all the time. Band of brothers, lions in war, join my battalion. Rah rah."

"Sorry, which one are you? Zachariah, is that you?" Sam deadpans.

"Fuck that guy." The sun sets.

"Yeah, I don't like Dean, either, Zachariah. He's a fucking jerk."

Dean glares at him. The sun rises. The sun sets.

Then Sam adds, "They'll mean it differently down there, once they get there. I just don't think we're--"

"We're already there," Dean repeats. He wraps his arm around Sam's back (his back, his body, his visage crafted in the image of Man in the image of God which is sacred--)

Then he shouts "Gravity's a bitch!" and shoves Sam off the hood of the car. Sam locks his legs around Dean's and drags him with.


--


i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)



--


They're back on the hood when God finds them.

"Interesting choice of contraband," He comments. "Kind of conspicuous, don't you think?"

"You're omniscient," says Dean. "What would you suggest?"

God shrugs. "Cocaine? But you didn't hear that from me."

God continues. "I didn't mean the car. Or the, uh. Cucumber."

"It's a pickle," says Sam.

"It's not," says God.

Then He says, "You have something of mine, Dean."

"Your sword is in Nevada."

God smiles patiently, frostily. "The sword is Michael's. I'm not Michael."

"So you're trying to tell us you weren't involved with the whole sword thing," Dean replies.

God shrugs. "Michael has his own prerogatives. The whole 'God's will' thing is seriously overrated! You have a lot more freedom than you think. I think it adds to the spice of life."

"Unless you're not Michael," says Sam. "Then it just shortens your life."

God shrugs again. "He thought you were a threat to peace in this world."

"Threat." Dean snorts.

"Well, not you. The thing inside you. My thing. I guess the technical term for it is 'pain.'"

Dean's eyebrows raise. "I thought pain was her thing. That's the whole reason you wanted her locked way, right? The whole reason Michael--"

"Michael tries very hard to have reasons," God allows. "We're very different, he and I."

Sam frowns. "So why do you want it back?"

"Don't you ever get tired of sunsets?" God interjects, waggling a hand at the horizon. The sun stops dead. Stops interacting with the edge of space, emitting light they don't require and heat it's always taken a lot of imagination to feel. The colors go.

"No," Sam says immediately, heart like a hummingbird. Don't take this from us. "No, I don't."

God grimaces. "They're kind of trope-y, though, right? Same 'ol, same 'ol. It's pretty, but it's bad art."

"Who gives a damn about art?" says Dean, before Sam says, "This is art."

God is silent.

"You know--"

"No, yeah, I know," says God, quickly. He snatches at something in the air and crandles it in His palm. Time, perhaps. "Of course I know. Mr. Omniscient over here and all. Haha."

He releases time, if that's what it was, and as it wafts from His fingers the sun begins to set again. But Sam doesn't need to see inside God's mind to know his thoughts. It's written all over his face.

I can show you fear in a handful of dust, Sam thinks.

Then God smiles. "You know what," He says. "Keep it, Dean. I have a different idea."


--


God hadn't understood.

"Well, you were babbling. Of course he didn't."

"Shut up. I'm saying, He didn't understand what it meant to just, like. Enjoy a sunset with someone. Something you'd already seen before. Something you knew was coming, but that, you know. You might not always be there to see. Where the moment-- it's different when you-- We're different when--"

Dean snorts. "Woe is him."

"Dean! I'm fucking babbling because there aren't words for that, there's just--"

He didn't understand what it meant to be here, with you. To want to be with you.

"Which helps us how? The Darkness is what happened to the last thing God didn't understand."

"I'm not saying it helps us," Sam says, jaw tight, throat aching. "I'm just saying he'll never have this. And that I'd never give it up."

Dean says nothing. He doesn't have to.


--


Love is, in the end, a small thing. It is not a thing for universes, nor God.

It is hardly a thing for angels.

It is rarely a thing for man.


--


Brother, whispers Michael, just before he banishes Lucifer from Heaven. Tests the word on his tongue.


--


It rains for forty Tuesdays, in great torrents that force flash floods through Hael's canyon, make it into something new, something no longer hers or anyone's. It rains only on Earth, of course, and not in Heaven, but several angels adopt umbrellas and galoshes as fast fashion. In bright colors and zebra print Goretex coats, they discuss the origins of the rain. There had been no announcement, but the rumors were, none had seen Lucifer in quite some time.

The rumors were, he'd vanished.

By the time the rumors reach Sam and Dean, Michael is taking credit for chaining Lucifer atop a bed of lava, something something bound with shackles on Earth to atone for such-and-such deceit that they'd all known was coming, all could likely have prevented if they'd chosen. They'd all been around before time went straight. That's where they'd gotten their umbrellas, their burn books. But this is Michael.

No. This is God.

Dean whistles. "He wasn't dicking around with the whole 'different idea' deal."

"We need to get out of here," says Sam, cold like the rain that is not falling on them.

"Oh, you think? Where the hell are we gonna go? This is all God's golf course."

"I mean like, real gone," Sam pants. They're running towards nowhere. It's stupid instinct. It's raining but it's not. Sam can't tell if the world is settling or unraveling. "Like, cease-to-exist gone"

"What's that supposed to solve?"

"What doesn't it?"

Dean stops dead. "I don't want you cease-to-exist gone." Then he mutters, "I told you I'd let you out of the car, remember?"

"Dean. Dean, look at me. We don't have a choice. We'll find each other again."

"Oh yeah. I believe you. Because that totally falls under cease-to-exist gone. You were the one who was just saying, 'I'd never give this up.' You--"

"We're brothers, we're--soulmates."

"We don't have souls."

"But we're not just Grace. Dean, I believe in what we have. Dean."

Dean starts running again.

"Dean--"

"Fuck it. Fuck you. You're right, and it's Tuesday. We need to find Anna."

"What? What does that have to--"

"Sam! You want cease-to-exist? Fine. Anna's got it. That's how we were going to visit the Grand Canyon. She'll know what to do."

On the last possible Tuesday, Sam thinks. They made it that far after all.

And then there's God, guitar in hand. He's strumming opening chords of universe’s first sad acoustic ballad.

It's over.


--


The little gasp Sam's heart made when God took away the sunset.

That, God remembered.


--


What were you trying to build, Sam?


--


Sam watches Dean keep running as his time keeps turning. Sam's is still. Time is linear but the lines are broken.

Dean gets smaller. God sings.

Ah poor bird, take thy flight--

God coughs. "I really envisioned this in more of a soprano," He says. He means, Look, I'm fun. I welcome serendipity. I'm fallible, I let myself be vulnerable. I give everyone a fighting chance!

Then he says, "Where do you think Anna is, Sam?"

Sam closes his eyes.

"Do you even want Dean to find her? I guess it really depends on how much you trust her. Maybe she needs saving. Or maybe Dean does. But weren't you supposed to be following him, Sam? Maybe you're the betrayer. Maybe you were all along. Dean thought you were writing the story, remember? Way back when. Because God is good, and he still rolled snake-eyes. Maybe that's your fault. Maybe we're just two friends jamming, me and you."

God continues. "You know, you angels always make it sound like I just invent stuff. I mean, I do. But you make it sound like I don't wrestle with the meanings of it all, or lament the intractability of art. I respect the messiness of process. That's where all the good inspiration comes from, you know? All the really gnarly chords."

"We've debated this already," Sam points out.

"I know, Sam. I'm omniscient." God puts his guitar back in its case. "And somehow, there are things that I still don't understand! That's pretty wild, right? You really through me for a loop back at the cucumber patch. But I think I'm catching up now. Because Amara and I… Like, wow. Sure, without all her chaos swimming around I could set up time the way I wanted. Okay, cool. But it wasn't over once I sealed her way. That's really when the cogs started turning. And here's what I'm saying about gnarly chords: I don't even think Castiel realized what a poet he was, keeping all that messiness in play by pulling your friend out like that."

"He's my brother," says Sam.

"I know he is." God strokes a hand down Sam's cheek. Beholds him. "Amara is my sister. I didn't go through all this with her just to invent time. Just to invent pain. I promise this is about something bigger. It's just--I'm a serial creator. I don't really do sunsets. And like, the whole apple in the garden thing with Adam and Eve didn't really have the 'oomph' I need. There was no sense of consequence. And consequence is kind of the whole point of time, really. And then, watching you two--it all came together for me. Trust me, Sam, this is important. This is really important."

God shoves a hand through Sam's chest and rips out his heart.

Sam's Grace, he lets flow freely through the cavity, raining through Sam's body, his visage in the image of Man in the image of God which is sacred. God granted Sam his Grace; the heart, Sam filled on his own.

Sam's heart, God takes.

"Sam," says God. "Tonight, I'm inventing loss."






(i carry it in





my heart)




--



You don't have to thank me later.
Tags: 2019:fiction
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