"Michael isn't Lucifer," says Jack a few days later, over a bowl of shredded wheat. The unfrosted kind, which is the kind Jack eats when Sam is in the room. He keeps a box of the Tony Tiger kind in his bedroom.
Sam's thumbing through the cupboards. He never seems to know where anything is anymore--a consequence of there now being 50 different cooks in the kitchen. If this distresses him, he hasn't said anything.
Sam pours himself a bowl of frosted wheats. Jack covets.
Did you say something?" Sam asks. He jams his spoon through the center of a wheat square, lets the milk soak through. Jack watches.
"Michael isn't Lucifer," Jack repeats. "Does he lie?"
"Probably," says Sam. He doesn't want to talk about this. Then he admits, "I don't know if he has yet."
Jack's seen the notes. They're detailed. Were Sam a god, he might have enough to mould Michael from clay. It's everything Sam knows, down to every little thing--the way he uses his eyes, his mouth. The way he moves. Every rumor. Every utterance, to the best of Sam's ability. Sam wants to know Michael, see his motivations. And maybe, anticipate his breach. Dean says it's Sam's serial killer hobby coming out. Dean says Michael doesn't know shit; that he's unknowable because he doesn't know what he wants and he's making it up as he goes, just like everyone else. But Dean says a lot of things.
"He said he could get out of the cuffs," Jack points out.
Sam sighs. "Yeah, and he would've eventually."
"He said we'd never win."
Sam chuffs. Then his neck swivels abruptly, as though he's expecting Dean to materialize at any moment.
"Jury's still out on that one," Sam says to Jack, and Jack alone.
"But he tried to get into Dean's head, and he couldn't."
"Well, he did," Sam points out. "And technically, he's still there."
"He tried to get into your head, though, right? But you didn't let him. You brought Dean back and you didn't let him get in your head, no matter what lies he told or what he tried to make you feel," Jack insists.
"Yeah, he said some stuff," says Sam. "Stuff about me and Dean. Cas. Tried to screw with us that way, I guess. But I don't think he lied."
Jack's brow furrows. He watches Sam halve another frosted wheat square, substantially less crunchy and more soggy this time. "What do you mean?"
Sam shrugs. "Lies are cheap. Michael's not really a bottom-shelf kind of guy. You really wanna mess someone up, then tell the truth."
"Then what--" Jack watches the sugar sheen in Sam's milk swirl around his spoon. "If it's not a lie, if it's true, then how-- how do you win? How do you--"
Sam shrugs again. "It's not like truth is absolute. Context matters. And I know my brother."
Sam's thinking about his notes again. Thinking about his impossibility. He's not really thinking about Jack or Dean. Jack can tell.
Then Sam says, "Wait, what did Michael say to you?"
Jack chews his way around a dry, bland mouthful of cereal, but shakes his head. "Nothing, really," says Jack. "He was more interested in you."
It's not infidelity. Cas's loyalties are not in question. The closest human metaphor Cas can parse is that this is something akin to having a "sidepiece." A flirtation.
"I'm… not following," admits Jack.
"Pornography sums this up better than I," says Cas.
"You're not showing the kid any porn without supervision," calls Dean.
Cas had forgotten how the bunker echoed without the bustle of its erstwhile people. They're all deployed now, hunting Michael's monsters. Maybe that's why he feels lonely.
"Another time," says Cas, and excuses himself.
Cas just wants someone to call him Castiel. Not Cas. Not even truly "Castiel." He wants to hear his name the way it's sung in Enochian. The real way, the old way--for when Enochian is truly spoken, each word is sounded by multitudes.
Cas had forgotten, nearly. Now that he usually speaks English and Heaven--what's left of it--also uses human tongues, unless it's in pain. But Michael spoke differently; Michael spoke in multitudes. And the best Cas can describe this feeling that it's given him is carnal.
It is irrepressible desire. Untethered by logic, or even the bonds and realities Castiel knows to be true and does not doubt and would never, on his life, abandon.
--The bonds Cas knows to be true, that is.
Cas does not miss Heaven. He does not miss being a soldier. The Apocalypse. Glory, power. Not even unblinking faith. He does not believe in Michael's visions not his slander and he does not desire Michael.
But he misses the multitude. He misses his name. He misses the poetry. It sounds stupid when he puts it like that, but it doesn't translate well. Which is, in itself, the problem.
Castiel loves this world. Unflinchingly.
--Cas loves this world.
Michael made it feel empty.
Sam thought it was going to be harder.
"I mean, he wasn't even going to let you keep the bar, Dean."
"I wasn't going to sell it!"
No. Here's Sam's secret: He hoped it was going to be harder.
"Okay, but no customers, dead waitress, random vamp attacks, and getting hounded by briefcase lady? Maybe you weren't selling, but that thing was getting taken from you and you know it."
Dean looks hurt. Which is very stupid, given that it was never a real bar in the first place, but Sam tries to pull back.
"Look," Sam says gently. "I'm just trying to figure something out. Besides, who needs Porky's when we have the Fortress of Deanitude, right?"
Sam gestures at the empty bar, and the empty La-Z Boys, and the empty space where once, for a brief moment, a TV stood. Dean still hasn't crossed the threshold, is leaning against the doorframe, arms crossed.
"Rocky's," says Dean. "The bar was Rocky's."
"You're seriously going to be pissed at me for not mourning your fake bar? What do you want me to do? Sit shiva?"
Dean thrusts a hand out. "Okay, hold on. You're the one all pissy about my fake bar! We've been over this, I know what brooding shoulders look like. What, you're mad Michael didn't do a better job of locking me up?"
"Were you disappointed you didn't get to wade through forty strippers in order to--"
"God, no. Jesus, Dean."
"Then what, Sam."
Sam sits carefully on the arm of one of the La-Z Boys. Dean doesn't join him. "I'm just trying to get ahead of this. That's all," he says. "Michael knew he had to keep you placated. That he couldn't hold back this time. And we know"--Sam swallows--"how much an angel is capable of. Gabriel could make pretty much anything he wanted. Hell, even Zachariah. And Michael gave you… that?"
"Whatever works. I mean, fuck, Sam. So the guy's not an artist. You want we what, exploit that? Challenge him to a crayon duel?"
"That's exactly my point, though! It didn't work. We found you, I said Poughkeepsie. Bam, done. It shouldn't have been that easy."
"You think this is easy?"
Sam looks away. They've already had the talk, because of course they have. Dean wouldn't have been able to keep Michael's howling and banging a secret if he'd tried. It's too much. It's already too much. Sam's just not optimistic enough to think that this is as 'too much' as it can get.
"Of course I don't," says Sam. That's why I'm fucking scared, Sam doesn't.
He and Cas had sifted through Dean's head what felt like decades hunting for that bar. But in all that time, Rock's Bar--Michael's bar--was the only thing Sam heard that wasn't a memory. It was the only dream, the only wish.
The only future.
He asked me what I wanted, said Anael. Sister Jo. Didn't seem big on the ones who couldn't answer.
Dean has a book.