In Dean's opinion, the apocalypse had been a bust. There they were all lined up at Armageddon--angels to the right, Lucifer and his rebellious angel demons to the left, and the Winchesters front and center smack in the middle. Then Michael--sorry, Archangel Michael--descended from Heaven with this big, shiny sword and said in a deep, purring voice, "Hey, Luce."

And Lucifer whimpered and said, "Damn, Mike, you've buffed up since I've been gone."

Michael gave a casual shrug. "Had to work off my excess energy somehow, didn't I?"

Lucifer looked stunned. "You mean...? You didn't...? You waited for me?"

Michael lowered his head, then looked up shyly. "I knew you'd come to your senses sooner or later, baby."

Well, that did it. In a blink of an eye, Lucifer was in Michael's arms. "Oh, Mike," the Light Bringer simpered. "Can you forgive me? I got pissed off and went too far. I'm soooo sorry."

Michael kissed Lucifer's forehead. "Big Daddy's all about forgiveness," he drawled.

And he was--Big Daddy God, that is. It seemed that the old man hadn't truly left the building. He'd just stepped out to see what the winged kiddies would do if He left them to their own devices. Seeing His two "bestest" kiss and make up, He reentered the picture, kicked the asses of Zachariah and his crew, gave Cas and Anna the keys to the Kingdom, and told the remaining demons to get their butts back to Hell while He still suffered Hell to exist. To the Winchesters, He'd said, "Ain't y'all got work to do?" and so here they were, on their way to a haunting/beastie attack/fruitcake sighting.

Of course, Sam said he had it all wrong. Said it was about agape love, true brotherhood, good triumphing over evil...or some such shit, but, hey, Dean knew a hook up when he saw one. He'd bet his ass--which he truly loved--that Heaven at the moment was less Inspiration Network and more HBO.

"So, the dead walking around," Dean said to Sam who was in the passenger seat of Dean's beloved Impala, squinting at the equally beloved (by Sam) laptop. Dean sighed. The kid might be the abdicated Antichrist, but he was also getting to be blind as a bat. Next Walmart? Straight to the Optical Department.

"You're hoping for zombies, aren't you?" Disgust was obvious in the tsk Sam didn't bother to vocalize.

Dean shrugged. "Any brains go missing?"

"Zombies don't eat brains; they're just mindless drones for their master."

"Like we were at Sandover Bridge and Iron?"

Sam rolled his eyes. "Do you really want to bring up your donning of suspenders?"

"Better than the lederhosen," Dean muttered.

Sam laughed, just as Dean had hoped. Although the end of the world had been avoided, Sam was still a bit mopey about the whole "I let a demon lead me around by the dick" thing. The kid really needed to get over it. His older, and wiser, brother wasn't still all broody because the angel dicks had jerked his chain, now was he? Of course, it helped that his two personal angels had rebuked their dickedness and were chillin' up at the throne while Sam's appointed demon had been wiped completely from existence. Bitch never had seen the light--which was funny considering how bright things had been moments after her ganking. At least now he knew why Stephen King had put Lucifer in Vegas in The Stand.

"Think if I take off my shirt, they'll give me beads before I blow their heads off?"

It was evidence of Sam's self-preoccupation that it took the Wonder Boy a few seconds to get Dean's connect-the-dots between zombies and voodoo and New Orleans and Mardi Gras. Then he threw his head back and howled, laughing so hard that tears started streaming down his face.

And Dean, despite thirty odd, hard years on Earth and forty odd, torturous years in Hell, forgave God for all the shit he'd been through.

I believe, he thought, his fingertips tapping together at the top of the steering wheel maybe in applause, maybe in prayer.

I believe.

Laughter and song were their companions as the former lost boys sailed along the inland sea of road from dusk to dark and straight on into the dawn.


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