"Unlike my brothers, I'm not gonna leave you a gibbering mess when I'm through with you."
There's a disconnect going through Dean's brain right now. That part of it that seems to love the permanent bull's eye on him—that mocks crazy rednecks until they forget about Sam—wants to smart off and say something about how magnanimous Michael is, even if he's not sure that's the right word. But what comes out instead is, "What about my dad?"
"Better than new," Michael tells him. "In fact, I'm gonna do them a favor."
"What?" Dean's pretty sure his heart actually stops for a second. He knows how nice the angels play, and he can't even begin to fathom what Michael might consider a favor.
"I'm gonna scrub their minds," he says. "They won't remember me or you."
Dean got into a car accident once—more than once, really, but this one time in particular. He was driving this clunker piece of crap to a garage for some kid in school and got t-boned by some lady whose kid started seizing in the front seat or something. No harm or ill-intent or demons—or angels—trying to gut a Winchester while he's down, just a lady who got rightfully distracted.
Even so, Dean landed himself in surgery that was bad enough for them to have to pry him open. The feeling he has right now is just about damn near identical to the one he had after the surgery: a stabbing, pulsing pain in his stomach, like there's a knife trying to push its way from the inside out. Every single thing that thing they told his mom, everything about the angels and the yellow-eyed demon and even about them, she won't remember any of it. "You can't do that," Dean begs.
"I'm just giving your mother what she wants," Michael says, and it's wrong, grotesque to hear those words coming out of his father's mouth, to know just what they mean and exactly what's going to happen as a result of them. "She can go back to her husband, her family."
"She's gonna walk right into that nursery." Dean can't keep the shakiness out of his voice; he tries, but he can't. He only just succeeds in not crying.
"Obviously," Michael says. "And you always knew that was gonna play out one way or another. You can't fight city hall." He smiles Dean's Daddy's smile—that one Dean remembers from when Mom was alive, that died in the fire with her—and makes his way over to Sam.
"Wait," Dean calls out. Dean has no idea what the hell he's doing; there's that disconnect again, and his mouth is moving a few billion miles ahead of his brain. He's always been good at improvising, though, so he just goes with it.
"Dean, this is starting to get sad," Michael says serenely.
"Just... just let them keep their memories," Dean tries. His brain's working triple speed now, trying to catch up to his mouth. He is aware that most people tend to think up plans in advance, but so far, the Winchesters have done pretty good with flying by the seat of their pants. If Michael lets them remember, then it will all change; Dean knows it will. It has to.
"And why would I want to do that?" Michael asks him.
"Because you're just such a nice guy?" Dean tries. Michael turns around again, and Dean panics. "What are you, chicken?"
"Really, Dean?" Michael asks. "Name calling? This is what you're resorting to?" As hard as Dean tries to resist it, he can't help but flinch a little bit at the disappointment in the thing using his dad's voice.
"It's more like taunting, really." Dean tries for his cockiest smile, but he can't seem to manage more than a half-assed attempt at best. "And what's the big deal? If you're so damn sure she's gonna die no matter what, then why do you gotta neuralize them? What's so bad about her having one memory about a day with her grown sons, huh?"
"Dean, you aren't still clinging to the hope that your mother will live, are you?"
It hurts, and he's still got John's face in that sick, patronizing smile, and Dean wants to punch that smile right off his face. "Hey, if there's no free will, and she's gonna die anyway, then just do it, okay? Quit flapping your damn trap, fix Sam, send us back, and let Mom have some kind of memory of Sam past diapers, okay?"
Michael stares at Dean. Not the way Castiel used to do, and not the way he does now, but kind of like Anna did at first, back before she was a crazy bitch and right after she got her angelic groove back. "Fine," he says.
Dean waits for more, but nothing comes. "'Fine'? That's it? Just... 'fine'? Nothing else?"
"I don't have to understand your sentimental reasoning; but I hope that you will remember this in the future when you're trying to convince yourself you have any hope of saying no. Everything is pre-determined, Dean; the game is fixed, and you just keep betting on the guy taking the fall."
"Well. That's just. Awesome. Really, it's sweet of you."
"Your sarcasm has no effect on me, Dean. Is there anything else you want to ask of me before I so graciously bring back your precious Sammy?" What a jackass. Even Dean knows better than to insult someone you want something from.
"Yeah, if you could do me a favor and bite me, that'd just be super." Okay, so maybe not. Dean should probably let his brain back online now before his mouth talks him right out of his plan.
Michael just sighs at Dean, and, seriously, that smile needs to fucking leave already. It's starting to get really creepy.
Michael makes his way over to Sam and touches his forehead. Sam glows this weird bluish shade before he just vanishes. No fade out, no dissolving; he's just there, and then he's not anymore. "Sam's safe and home now," Michael says before making his way over to Dean.
Dean's eyes are stinging with his tears, and he isn't even bothering to try and hold them in anymore. "Can I just—I. If my dad can hear this, if he can remember, I just. I want him to know I love him and... and all things considered, he could've been worse."
Michael nods just slightly, and it reminds Dean of Cas a little, enough that he spares a thought for him. Michael reaches for him, and the last thoughts Dean Winchester ever has are, I love you, Sammy, and, I hope this works.