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05 June 2011 @ 11:04 pm
"In This We Stand or Fall" — Supernatural — Michael, Anna Milton, gen  
fandom: Supernatural
rating: mature audiences
characters/pairings: Michael, Anna Milton, John Winchester; gen.
length: ~800 words
content notices: non-graphic depictions of torture; major character death; canon-typical violence.
summary: Michael doesn’t understand Anna, but he condemns her anyway.
notes: title from Milton’s Paradise Lost: “Freely we serve, / Because we freely love, as in our will / To love or not; in this we stand or fall.” betaed by the incomparable lady_ragnell, who continues to cross fandom lines for me to make sure I make sense.
ao3 crosspost: here

The disciplining of rebellious angels is outside Michael’s responsibility, but he becomes aware, as they all do, that Anael is—resilient. He doesn’t question her loss, but he regrets it; if she had remained loyal she would have been a formidable warrior for the Lord in the coming battle. As it is, it remains only to ensure that, since they can’t have her, neither can Lucifer.

She will repent before she is destroyed, and Michael has faith in the abilities of the ones seeking to purify her.

He looks in on her, twice: the first time when she has been here for what would be a little less than five months on Earth. Space shifts around him unexpectedly as time slows, and he feels the memory of his most recent vessel settle over him as Anael lifts Anna Milton’s face from the floor and spits blood across his feet.

“I could smite you now,” he says.

“You won’t.” Her voice drags mortal-low, unmelodic and grating, thickened with the blood she shouldn’t have here. She looks up at him; it’s visible through her skin that she knows they can’t risk it and doesn’t care if they do.

He doesn’t.

As he leaves the place where she is being held the press of human perception releases him.

He goes back again a little while later, curious, and finds her a fierce and blazing light, Grace spurting raggedly from the coils of her being, and when she cries out her voice is high and fine and pure as sphere-music.

When she escapes, even after everything, it’s a surprise. It is still not Michael’s duty to go after her, so he doesn’t—and then the vessels are in danger, and he feels the free unfettered wrongness of Anna’s tattered and scarred Grace by them.


John Winchester is not his true vessel, but he can be—useful. Michael says, “Your wife is going to die, and your son with her, if you don’t let me help.”

“Please,” John gasps. Here is the man who will sell his soul unflinchingly, years later, for that same son’s life.

“I need you to let me use your body, just for a few minutes.” John can hear the voices of angels; Michael makes his tone honey-sweet, mead-soothing. “Say yes, and I’ll fix everything.”

“I—all right—yes.”

He is too small for Michael, imperfectly-fitting; he is a man, in the grander scheme of things, as clean and good as the first rainfall over Eden. Michael is an angel, and perfect as no human can ever be, but John Winchester’s soul is smooth against his Grace in a way that is—unsettling; it slides, and leaves him nothing to hold to. John fails to understand the love which is obligation, or the paths away from mercy which duty demands good sons tread.

If he had more time, Michael would drag Anna back to heaven until they know how she escaped, but Sam Winchester is bleeding to death on the floor and the Dean Winchester of this century is in grave danger with every second the struggle between Anna and Mary continues.

Anna looks at him with fear—wide-eyed, open-mouthed, her vessel’s reactions a perfect and effortless match for her emotions—and he doesn’t hesitate to greet her as Anna, not Anael. She lost the right to that name when she used Anna to protect herself.

He doesn’t hesitate, either, to reach out and burn her. She is brilliance right now, still a warrior, a commander, but all her reckless broken devotion is no more Lucifer’s than it is their Father’s. She serves humanity, and the love of it she has is defiance screaming beneath her human skin.

What was once Anael burns first; he starts the fire at the base of her wings. They burn still crumpled invisibly within the vessel, and the smell of lightning and ancient spices fill the room. Fire streams from her eyes, blue-hot, and then the vessel’s flesh catches.

John Winchester thinks of cooking meat, and hates himself for it.

Anna is gone in another moment, and there is Uriel’s contrition and Mary’s fear and Dean’s defiance to endure. Dean will be a much better fit than his father, Michael thinks; he has the understanding of the world that John lacks. Lacked? His soul fits more easily against Michael now, almost shaping itself to fit, as if he’s learned something of the complexity of love and the workings of the world.

He is careful, as he leaves John, not to burn him out as it’s easier to do than not. Heaven still needs him: to father Sam, to raise his sons to be the men they will.

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