Title: Hunting for Salvation
Author: [livejournal.com profile] sarkywoman
Artist: [livejournal.com profile] angrydumpling
Fandom/Genre: Supernatural AU
Pairing(s): Castiel/Dean, one-sided Michael/Dean, Sam/Jess
Rating: R
Word Count: 36560
Warnings: Non-con (drugs), swearing, captivity

Summary: Earth-Country is still recovering from the Demon War when the Angels attack. Severely outmatched, the Hunters are taken to Heaven, the glowing land across the seas. King Michael keeps Dean as leverage, guarded constantly by his loyal soldier Castiel. But Dean's influence and Michael's erratic behaviour begins to stir doubt in Castiel's mind and with Lucifer making dangerous plans of his own, disobedience might be the only way to save the Hunters.

Thank you so much to [livejournal.com profile] angrydumpling for the art! I was lucky this year! :D

Art link: Art Masterlist


The Look-Out was a crumbling tower of grey stone situated on the highest mountain in Earth-Country. It had been erected by long-dead Hunter Kings who knew the view from its windows would be the closest they ever came to omniscience. The days of regal glory were long gone, though. No living Hunter could remember the Look-Out as anything but a handy vantage point, a pile of rubble from which they could spy on the movements of their enemies miles away. There had been talks of rebuilding and refitting the place beyond the meagre work needed to keep it upright, but in the end that had come to nothing. The Hunters always had other priorities. Staying alive, for example.

Still Rufus Turner had found time to scale the mountain that day. He had set off early with the Clan-Mother’s blessing and an entire cart of supplies and survival equipment. In his younger days he had made the trip on foot. Now he was nearly getting too damn old to make it by horse. The Harvelle ladies had offered to make the trek up to the Look-Out, but Rufus had insisted on going. It had been too long since he’d seen Bobby Singer and it wasn’t like the grouchy old bastard would be dragging himself back down to civilisation any time soon.

His first thought upon reaching the Look-Out was that the ivy had probably already eaten the old man. The tower was really falling to pieces and the plants were taking advantage of it, crawling over it like worms on a corpse. Still, the walls stood mostly intact and the doors were still strong, so Rufus wasn’t too worried. He hammered his fist against the oak and then began pushing the double-doors open. It wasn’t easy with the weight of them dragging across the stone floor and the rusty hinges didn’t help.

Once the door was open enough to admit a person, if not the cart, the click of a gun drew Rufus’ attention. His head jerked up immediately and he saw Bobby at the end of the short stone corridor, his gun pointed around the corner with most of his body behind the safety of the wall. Rufus rolled his eyes.

“It’s me, you damn hermit! I’m trying to get this damn door open enough to bring you your dinner. And you’d better believe I ain’t keen on this home-help shit.” As Bobby rested the gun in his lap, Rufus managed to shove the doors open the rest of the way.

“I got food in,” Bobby sniffed as Rufus began lifting boxes off of the cart and carrying them through to the larder. “I never asked for nothin’.”

Stubborn bastard, that’s what he was. “And look what it’s got you. Something for nothing. Well done.”

Bobby scowled from his chair as Rufus stocked up the cupboards. Although they had managed to fix some load-bearing wheels to the chair, it was an inelegant and clumsy solution to Bobby’s physical impairment. Perhaps when they had the time and resources they would be able to make him something smoother.

“I assume food supplies are fine down in the Clan?” Bobby asked. Always worrying about the others. He’d starve up here before asking them for anything.

“Good harvest this year and the kids are catching bigger game every day. Clan’s fine, Bobby. You could see for yourself if you’d get in the damn cart.”

Predictably, Bobby wrinkled his nose and shook his head. “Nah. I’m better off up here, guarding the books of lore and watching the lands for Demon scum.”

Rufus sighed. “War ended months ago, Bobby. Almost a year, in fact.” He closed the crooked wooden cupboards. Bobby would have enough food for the next season at least.

“Doesn’t stop the slimy bastards trying to slip through our defences though, does it? It only takes one possessed Hunter to destroy the Clan in its sleep. Trust me, I know better than anybody.”

“You didn’t hurt anyone!” Rufus snapped, finally sick of the melodrama. “Damn it Bobby, you’re a veteran. You’re better than this, moping around up here on your own, drinking and reading and spying on the Demons like a nosy neighbour.”

“And what good would I be down there?” Bobby asked, fury still in his eyes. But it wasn’t fury at Rufus. No, it was his anger at this situation, at having the strength to do the right thing and losing his mobility as a result. Of course he was angry. It wasn’t fair. But there were better ways to handle it.

“You’re a damn hero, Bobby. There ain’t a person in the Clan who’d argue otherwise. You deserve to be down there with everyone else, not cooped up in here waiting for another invasion that might not even happen in your lifetime.”

“It will,” Bobby said darkly as he turned his chair away with some difficulty. “It always does. Those Demons won’t rest until we’re all dead. And they’ll start with Dean. That’s what they wanted, that’s why they chose me.”

“But they failed!”

“They almost didn’t! I almost drove a knife right into him!” Bobby stopped shouting and sighed. “I can’t take that risk again, be it me or someone else. Someone has to watch our borders and guard the lore for when Dean needs it. Might as well be me. I sure ain’t farming or catching game anytime soon.”

“The boys miss you,” Rufus said quietly, watching his friend shuffle ancient books along the shelf pointlessly. “Everyone does. You know John doesn’t listen to anyone anymore and Dean could really use your guidance with all his new duties.”

“New?” Bobby asked, finally giving up on the charade and rocking his chair around until he was facing Rufus again. “Mary’s been dead for years now and she had the forethought to teach that boy everything she knew. Dean might be an… unconventional person for the role, but so far he’s done a fine job. It’s his brother I’m worried about.”

“Sam’s got time to grow up,” Rufus reassured him confidently. He stepped out of the larder and leaned back against the stone wall, brushing the dust from the road off of his clothes. “It’s only because he and John are butting heads that it seems…”

Bobby held up a hand. “Wait. Shut up a second.” The older Hunter was staring intently at a red glass vase on the messy table of his study. Although it held no flowers, a water line could be seen dimly through the glass.

It was bubbling.

“What is that?” Rufus asked warily, already edging his way back towards the door. He had left his gun on the cart.

“I was practising warding and scrying combos. I wanted more spells that would help us watch out for invasion.”

Bobby grabbed the large wheels of his chair and began shoving at them quickly in an attempt to get over to the large open window. Rufus grabbed the back of the chair and pushed him, despite knowing how much Bobby hated it. No time to coddle. The older Hunter didn’t comment, just grabbed the telescope propped up against the windowsill and peered out across Earth-Country. What he saw made his grizzled features contort with horror.

“Invasion!”

“The Demons are back?” Already Rufus felt ten times the fool. A Hunter’s paranoia ought to be his best friend and in the last few months he had been letting his slide. They had all become a little complacent in peacetime.

“I don’t know how they’d have passed the wards. The invaders are already coming down from the Grand Mountains! Their teleportation is like nothing I’ve ever… Rufus, they’re headed straight for the Haven.”

“Fuck!” Rufus ran for the door. He was never going to make it down there in time to warn them. The whole Clan would be caught off-guard. They thought the wards were protecting them, thought they had driven the Demons back into hiding…

A man appeared in the open doorway just as Rufus reached it. He wore a breastplate forged of some shimmering silver metal, while across his shoulder and around his elbows there were guards of a sparkling reddish material that Rufus had never seen before. His pants were a loose, dark fabric clearly intended more for freedom of movement than defence. In his right hand, the man held a blade that shone brightly even in the shade of the Look-Out.

“Awfully sorry,” the man said in an accent that they had only ever heard on the haughtiest of Demons. “But I can’t let you go to their aid. Trust me, it’s already over. You never had a chance, you poor little apes.” The worst thing was that he genuinely seemed apologetic. It made Rufus want to brain the bastard. Luckily he had a chair to hand. He swung it hard at the invader.

It smashed to splinters over his head and he didn’t even blink.

“While I agree that chair was unsightly, I’m not entirely sure what you hoped to achieve there,” the man said amicably, though the pity had left his gaze. “Some of my colleagues would slaughter you for that. Count yourselves lucky that my boss wants this to be a bloodless take-over.”

“Bloodless?” Bobby repeated. His tone of voice suggested that if he hadn’t been in his own home, he would have spat on the floor at the word. “Funny idea for a Demon.”

“Demons?” The man laughed, but then his blue eyes regained that infuriating look of pity. “Demons couldn’t have vaulted your wards like they were nothing. Demons couldn’t have attacked the heart of your land without navigating the body of it. Demons can be killed. I am no Demon, and neither are the warriors currently cutting down your people.”

“What are you then?” Rufus demanded to know. He’d be damned if he would die at the hands of an unknown entity. “You some other creature from Hell? Some bizarre monster from the Purgatory Isle?”

“My name is Balthazar. And I am an Angel.”

“Balls,” whispered Bobby.

*

Michael watched his beautiful brothers and sisters spill across Earth-Country like a wave of righteous fury. The Hunters were rising up in small pockets of resistance but their efforts came too late. They were not a people built for direct warfare. When the Demons attacked, the Hunters had used their knowledge of the land to stage an impressive guerrilla assault. Their camouflaged tunics and headgear would serve no purpose against an enemy that knew their location and while their boots were hardy, the leather on their legs would not withstand the slice of an Angel’s blade.

Hopefully they would realise they were outmatched before too many of them were killed. After all, their firearms would not work and neither would their swords. It was not Michael’s intention to destroy them today, but his concept of ‘acceptable loss’ was probably very different to that of the Hunters.

He flew down to the force currently sweeping through the area called ‘Haven’ by the uncivilised creatures. The similarity of that moniker to the name of the Angel kingdom could only be a good omen. While many of his Angels would be handling the isolated groups and the guards on the outskirts, this was where the most pivotal combat would take place. Although the Hunters were mostly nomadic, there were many places in their land which they returned to over and over. Of all those places ‘Haven’ was clearly the favourite, though Michael could not see the appeal. It was dry and dusty, practically a desert. Aside from being flat enough for their numerous tents and huts, there seemed to be little benefit to the place.

It was mostly aflame now. All the better to scare the creatures out of their temporary homes. Some of the warriors were working on evacuating the children and the infirm. Michael told his Angels to allow them past for now. Let them think they were safe, leave them to get out of the crossfire. The stragglers would be collected later.

A man launched himself at Michael with a furious yell but in his youthfulness he sounded more like a mewling cat. Just as Michael drew his sword to deflect the uncoordinated attack, a fellow blade slid in and knocked the Hunter away before whirling around and slitting the young man’s throat. Michael smiled fondly at his would-be rescuer as the blood splashed onto the red crystals in their armour.

“Castiel. You know I can handle a Hunter of less than twenty years age.”

The lesser Angel nodded, holding his blade down at his side as he looked to the ground in deference. “Of course. I didn’t think otherwise.”

“You just wanted to show off how fast you had become since our last tussle.”

Castiel’s brow wrinkled in uncomfortable disagreement as he stared down at the dead body of the youth. The younger Angel had always been awkward, no matter how many times Michael gave him permission to speak his mind.

“I take no pleasure in this. It is necessary, nothing more.”

“Good. Sadism doesn’t suit us. Speaking of which,” he added in a low murmur that was almost inaudible over the sounds of futile gunfire, “Where is my brother?”

“He sought the Clan-Father, John Winchester. Perhaps he has found him and begun negotiations.”

Michael narrowed his eyes but suppressed the rest of his anger. Wrath was a sin, one his brother endlessly sought to provoke within him. Of course Lucifer sought the Clan-Father. The ruling family were the only targets Michael had demanded for himself.

The King of all Angels took to the sky, soaring above the battlefield until he saw his brother. Of course, ‘battlefield’ was probably not the correct term as it implied a fight more equal than this. The Hunters were being slaughtered. The sooner Michael could speak with John Winchester about their surrender, the sooner this bloodshed could end. Unfortunately, the Clan-Father was currently involved in a fight to the death with none other than the Morningstar, Lucifer.

Michael landed heavily, his boots shaking the ground. The sweep of his wings sent his brother stumbling backwards. Much to his amusement, John Winchester took advantage of the distraction to disarm Lucifer and wield his sword. Despite his rough and tired appearance, he was a strong man and a well-trained warrior. Michael could respect that, but he could not let the man kill an Archangel.

He stepped forward and met the Clan-Father’s stolen blade with his own. The swords screamed, not made to clash with one another. As they battled, Lucifer slipped out of their way. Michael dodged and lunged, enjoying the combat practise with someone who fought so differently. The Hunters would bring much variety to the Angelic Court.

“I am Michael,” he said between swipes, “King of the Angels.”

“What do you want?” John Winchester snarled before rolling away from a quick sword jab.

“Your immediate surrender. We are taking your land. We are taking your people. You are forsaken. This is a mercy.”

“We’re doing just fine, you sanctimonious piece of shit,” John Winchester responded before switching to a more aggressive fighting technique. His boots kicked up a cloud of dust at his heels as he pressed forward. He actually managed to slice into Michael’s cheek, drawing a thick line of blood.

That was enough frivolity. Michael disarmed his opponent and put his foot forward into the Clan-Father’s knee, drawing a scream of pain from the man as it shattered under Angelic strength. As John Winchester fell, Michael caught him by his jaw and held him in place with one hand. “Surrender.”

“Never. If you bleed, we can kill you.”

Michael narrowed his eyes and applied a little more pressure to the man’s jaw. It creaked beneath his fingers and thumb, but did not yet snap. “Do not be foolish. It is not merely your life that you are wagering. What of your people? What of your sons? Your Clan-Mother?”

The Hunter leader grunted, but his jaw was held too tightly for him to form a coherent response. Michael unhanded him and watched impassively as the man fell bodily onto the dirt. After writhing in pain from his jarred knee, John Winchester squinted up through the sun at Michael.

“You won’t defeat us.”

“You’re already defeated. We merely seek to collect our prizes with as little commotion as possible. Tell your people to stand down or they will be executed.”

John Winchester sneered. His lip bled, possibly due to a wound sustained in his fight against Lucifer. It stained some of his teeth red. Between that and the heavy furs that marked him as the Clan-Father, he appeared the archetype of a feral barbarian.

“Never. I’d rather see my people die free than watch them languish in your dungeons.”

Michael lifted his right foot and placed the sole of his shoe against the Clan-Father’s neck. It would snap like a twig if he were to simply push down. John Winchester simply glared at him, his fear entirely eclipsed by his loathing. The moment seemed to last an eternity while the battle raged on around them, as Michael considered whether this was a fitting end for the leader of the Hunters.

He withdrew his foot and placed it back on the dusty ground. If it was to be an execution, it ought to be performed with ceremony. John Winchester was not some anonymous Hunter to be killed and then forgotten. He was important to the Hunters. There was only one member of their Clan that held more value.

“Where is Mary Winchester?”

John laughed, blood dribbling out of the side of his mouth. He was paling and it was clear that his leg injury was causing him more pain than he was willing to show.

“You bastards don’t keep your intel up to date, do you? Mary’s long gone. And for the first time since her death, I can say I’m glad. Seeing this would have broken her heart.”

Michael did not care for the death of a Hunter, no matter how valued they were by their people. The loss of the Clan-Mother, however, was a troubling loss of leverage. But the Hunters were bound to their habits and rituals. They would surely have appointed a new figure in the role.

“Who is your current Clan-Mother?”

“Go fuck yourself,” John Winchester said, spitting blood at Michael’s feet. Unbecoming behaviour for a leader of an entire race.

“Castiel.” Although the name was spoken quietly, Michael projected it across the battlefield into Castiel’s thoughts and immediately his little brother was beside him.

“You called for me, my Lord?”

Ever subservient. Though most Angels obeyed, Castiel elevated obedience to an art. That was one thing Michael liked about him. “I did. You have studied Hunter culture most thoroughly. In the event of the Clan-Mother’s demise, who is eligible as her replacement?”

Castiel tilted his head to the side as he gave the question thought. “It would be a title passed down through the family. A daughter would be the first choice.”

“He has two sons,” Michael stated, nodding towards the broken figure on the ground.

“Then one of their mates. Or wives, as they would say.”

Michael nudged John Winchester’s shattered knee with the toe of his shoe, making the man howl in pain. “Do your sons have wives, Clan-Father?”

“I told you…” John Winchester paused to gasp in pained breaths. “Go fuck yourself.”

Castiel’s eyes widened at such bold disrespect towards the Holy King. But it was good that he learned what filth the Hunters were. He and his kin would soon realise how important this mission was. The Hunters needed to be saved from themselves, no matter how reluctant they were to listen.

Across the busy battlefield, Michael met Lucifer’s gaze. Though nothing was said and no thoughts were projected, the Morningstar nodded. As a small gang of Hunters ran past, presumably fleeing for their lives, Lucifer threw his hand out and dragged one back. Its fellows panicked and raised their weapons to attack but Michael raised a hand and knocked them flying backwards, weapons and all. Lucifer snatched the gun from the hands of the human he held and pushed the barrel to their throat.

“Do the Winchester boys have wives?”

The young Hunter quaked in fear and shook his head frantically. “I don’t… I don’t even know what you’re asking me!”

“It’s a simple question,” Lucifer said coolly, dragging the gun up and down the boy’s neck, knocking aside the green cloth that hung over the lower half of his face. “Do either of the Winchester boys have a wife?”

“I…uh…” The Hunter looked over to the Clan-Father, anxiously seeking guidance. But John Winchester merely shrugged. When he spoke it was through pained gasps.

“Answer if you want, Andy. Nobody will blame you.”

Andy continued to panic until Lucifer jabbed the gun into his skin with enough force to bruise. Once the boy had finished choking, he relented and told them what they needed to know.

“Sam Winchester, the younger one, he has a wife called Jess.”

Michael nodded to his brother in acknowledgement. “Let him go. Find this Jess. Bring her to me. We’ll see how resolute Hunters are when their Clan-Mother cowers under my blade.”

On the floor, in the progress of crawling over to the Clan-Father, Andy paused and looked up with confusion. “But…”

John Winchester groaned in his loudest demonstration of pain so far. Andy ceased speaking and moved to examine the fallen man.

“Castiel, watch over the Clan-Father while I seek out the other members of Hunter royalty,” Michael commanded, lending scorn to the last word. These Hunters were nothing but a pathetic rabble. They had the potential to be so much more.

Behind him, Andy whispered to John Winchester. Clearly the Hunter was unaware that an Angel could hear the fall of a needle in a crowded banquet hall. “We got word to him, sir. He should already be out of Haven.”

Michael had no time to investigate who ‘he’ might be, but given the sigh of relief breathed through the Clan-Father’s lips, it would certainly be worth looking into later. After all, his victory had to be absolute, or it would be no victory at all.

*

It was an average day in the camp when the invasion happened. Since the last big battle against the Demons, life had slowed down a little in Earth-Country. They kept the borders patrolled, kept the wards up and ensured the ammo was stocked, but the worst threats they saw were creatures from the Purgatory Isle, easily slain through the methods passed down by Dean’s mother.

So on a day like any other, Dean hummed to himself as he blessed jugs of holy water in his tent. Although he was privileged to receive a larger living space than other people in the Clan, he found most of it was taken up with the tools of the trade. Buckets of water were brought in from the well to be purified and then Dean would give them to the Clan to be stored until they were needed. With the Demons keeping their distance, the Hunters were building up quite a supply. The same could be said for the silver bullets and other assorted special ammunition. When they were next attacked (Dean was not naïve enough to think peace was eternal), they would be more than ready.

Or so he thought.

When the screams rang out in the camp, Dean immediately stopped what he was doing and grabbed the Demon-killing knife. They had snatched it from an enemy scout back in the war. It was the only blade of its kind that they knew of, although they had found a gun that possessed the same power. As he stood, Dean’s legs tangled in the white robe he had dropped around his ankles. He snarled at the thin cloth as he pulled it away and tossed it aside. Ritual necessitated he wear the stupid thing and it always got in his way.

As he moved to the tent flap he threw aside his red scarf as well. The sound of the baubles clattering on the ground was drowned out by the sudden burst of gunfire outside. Warily, Dean leaned his head out of the tent’s entrance and looked around.

His first thought was that he was seeing a well-armed and trained Demon army, but he dismissed that idea very quickly. Demons couldn’t organise that well no matter what motivation they were given. Their current King might be more pragmatic than their old Queen, but Dean seriously doubted there was a Demon alive that could turn the race into such an orderly military force. Not to mention that these creatures fought and dressed in a completely different style. They were something new.

Realising he had to take action, Dean ducked back inside his tent and hurried to the big wooden chest at the end of his bed. Just as he was about to lift the heavy lid, someone burst into his tent. Dean spun around with his knife at the ready, but it was just Andy and Ava, looking frantic.

“You have to go!” The girl cried out immediately, her camouflaged mask dangling from one side of her face as if she had been too hurried to fasten it properly. “The attackers, they’re not Demons!”

“Then what are they?”

“Nobody knows!” Andy replied, throwing his arms up in a panic. “Our weapons don’t hurt them! They’re unstoppable!”

“Nothing’s unstoppable.” His Dad taught him that. Dean went back to rummaging in the chest. The container wasn’t too big, so he quickly found what he was looking for. His camo tunic, headgear and leathers. Proper Hunter clothes, much better than the stupid skimpy red cloth vest and shorts he had been wearing under the robe.

Ava scooped the discarded white fabric up off of the floor and grabbed the red scarf. There was enough of a lull in the chaos outside that Dean could hear the obnoxious tinkling sound of the baubles on the end. “Come on, get dressed and let’s go!”

“I am getting dressed,” Dean said firmly as he pulled the leather leggings over his thighs. Might have been easier to remove the dumbass shorts first, but he didn’t have the time.

“Whoa, hang on,” Andy raised his hands in a ‘stay back’ gesture. “What are you doing? Those are normal clothes. Ava’s got your stuff.”

Dean shrugged. “If Ava cares so much she can hold it for me. I’m not going out on a battlefield in that robe.”

“You’re not going out on the battlefield at all!” Ava cried out. “You’re Clan-Mother! We need you!”

“Exactly.” Dean’s voice was muffled as he pulled the tunic over the red vest, but he kept talking anyway. “My people are dying out there. I’m not running.”

Ava sighed from the bottom of her lungs. “Dean, please. They’d happily die for you. Get on your horse and go. If we lose you, we’ve lost it all. Go join up with the evacuees, there must be bands of them all over the place by now.”

He ignored her, twisting his head-covering straight and clipping the mask across the lower half of his face. “I’m going to find my Dad and I’m going to check on Sam. I advise you guys find others and get out of here.”

Andy ran his hands through his hair as if trying to clutch at his skull. “I literally cannot believe what I am hearing right now. The Clan-Mother is going to war.”

“I’ve done it before,” Dean pointed out angrily as he sat on his fur-covered bed and tried to yank the boots onto his bare feet as quickly as possible. Outside the fighting continued. He needed to get out there.

“That was different, that was Demons. Not to mention they were minor skirmishes. This is… Dean, this is a massacre. It’s not even a fight.”

Dean stood and grabbed his Demon-killing knife from the floor. He turned to look at their anxious faces and felt a pang of guilt set in. They only wanted to protect him, just like the rest of the Clan. One of the reasons he regretted taking the position of Clan-Mother. He sighed. “Oh, alright. I’ll get up to the Look-Out, make contact with Bobby. But you guys stay safe, okay?” The least he could do was give them some peace of mind.

With matching expressions of relief, Andy and Ava nodded enthusiastically, Ava wringing his useless, red ritual scarf in her dainty hands.

“We’ll round up some of the others and see if we can get the injured to safety,” Ava said. She rushed out of the tent, pulling Andy along behind her. She was still carrying his stupid robe and scarf, but the pair had disappeared into the fighting crowd before Dean could call after them. He had more important things to worry about anyway. Sam, Dad, the rest of the clan. In that order.

Andy was right in saying their attackers seemed unstoppable. Bullets and blades seemed to do nothing for the Hunters who were fighting. The monsters didn’t seem intent on outright slaughter though, which was currently the only silver lining in a rather heavy black cloud. They were disarming and incapacitating everyone in the camp like it was child’s play. Dean couldn’t see Sam anywhere and it made him panic for a moment, but then he remembered that his brother had been out on a food hunt this morning. He might return later to find Haven in ruins, the camp burned to the ground.

To his right, Victor Henricksen was struggling to hold his own against one of the soldiers, so Dean lunged in and rammed the demon-killing knife in through its back where the heart should have been. The dark-haired man-like creature simply paused for a second, completely still. Then it turned to look at Dean and narrowed its eyes. It threw Henricksen aside as though the man weighed nothing, then backhanded Dean so hard his vision went wonky as he fell to the ground.

Noticing that their attackers wore no lower-body armour, Dean saw an opportunity and slammed his heel into the enemy’s groin. It was like kicking a mountain. “What the fuck are you?” Dean asked, wincing at the shockwave of discomfort that ran through his leg even after the initial impact.

“We are Angels,” the man replied as he loomed threateningly over Dean.

“Well looks like you dropped something, Angel,” Henricksen said from behind it before slamming the creature’s own sword into its back. The shining blade sank in right next to Dean’s knife, but this one had a much more dramatic impact. The Angel screamed out, light shining from its eyes and then seemingly from every pore in its skin. It exploded with such searing light and sound that Dean and Henricksen scrunched their eyes shut and clamped their hands down over their ears. When it was all over, the body fell to the floor just like an ordinary corpse.

Henricksen prodded it with his boot before holding out a hand to pull Dean to his feet. “You think it’s really an Angel? Didn’t know they were real.”

“I’ve read some ancient lore about them, but I figured… I don’t know, I never really thought about it. There’s a lot of stuff in those old books that seemed far-fetched.” Looking around at the camp though, it was easy to see similarities between the invading force and the supposedly-benevolent creatures in his mother’s old books.

“It’s hitting pretty close to home right now,” Henricksen pointed out, obviously having the same thought. “You ever read up on how to kill these bastards? We know these work...” He waved the shining sword he had stolen, “But something tells me they won’t all hand them over so easily.”

Dean tugged his camo head-covering and mask back into place. “I don’t know, I think there are some sigils… banishments and wards and stuff. It’ll all be in Bobby’s books.” He looked up at the old Look-Out, which loomed in the distance. “It’ll take too long to get there.” Haven would be destroyed by the time they returned.

“Not to mention the route between here and there will be full of these Angels. We can’t afford to risk you on that.”

All around them Hunters were being cut down and Henricksen still dared to try and protect him. “For fuck’s sake Victor, I am not sitting this out!”

Henricksen grabbed Dean’s shoulder in one hand and shook him. “Don’t be an idiot, Dean. Our way of life depends on you. Your mother invested all she knew in you. Correct me if I’m wrong, but you haven’t had much time to impart your knowledge onto Jessica Moore, have you?”

“She knows a bit,” Dean argued, sullenly. It wasn’t like he had ever wanted to become Clan-Mother. There just hadn’t been a choice. He could have been in line to be Clan-Father. He could have been out there right now, fighting for his people. Instead he was guarded like some sort of precious gem. It seemed like such a waste.

“You’re worth more than a blade or bullet,” Henricksen continued. “If they get their hands on you, we’re lost. You know that, so will you stop being so stubborn and get to safety? I think if you dart around the back of your tent you should be able to slip through the battle and get over to the cover of the woods. Don’t take Impala, of course.”

“Aw, what?”

“I know she’s your loyal steed, but a horse would only draw attention to you. Just go on foot, up to the woods. From there…”

“Head up into the Grand Mountains,” Dean guessed without enthusiasm, eyeing the outline of them where they bordered Haven. Running to save their culture while the people who celebrated it died. Yeah, that made sense.

“I’m gonna see what I can do here then if things get bleak I’ll make a run for the Look-Out, see if I can find anything to help us against our attackers. You get out of here, understand?”

Dean sighed. “Victor...”

Nearby, two Angels finished shoving a dozen hunters to the ground. They noticed Victor and Dean and began advancing towards them with the fast, purposeful strides that their species seemed to favour.

“Go!” Henriksen shouted and Dean knew there was no time to debate it. He turned and ran, feeling more like a coward with every step. He darted around behind his tent and kept running through the combat, dodging around Angels and fallen Hunters. Even though Dean knew the eyes of his Clan held nothing but concern for him, he still felt guilt every time he caught someone’s gaze. He couldn’t just leave them, he was a trained warrior for fuck’s sake!

He was almost at the trees when he gave into the masochistic urge to look back at Haven. In all the years of fighting Demons he had never seen destruction to this extent. Smoke billowed into the sky from the fiery tents and Hunters were being lined up on their knees towards the centre of the camp. The Angels seemed to want as many prisoners as possible. Were they here to take slaves? Was that why they were destroying the Hunter way of life?

An Angel emerged from the tent that was the nearest to the trees. As it stepped out, it dragged a woman along behind using a hand tangled in her long, blonde hair. Jess. The next in line to be Clan-Mother. Sammy’s wife.

Without thinking, Dean ran back towards camp, wielding his ineffective demon-slaying blade. He had initially been raised as a warrior, despite his mother’s concerns. He had been intended as the next Clan-Father. He couldn’t run away while his Clan were in danger. He could never forgive himself if Sam lost Jess because Dean had kept on running.

For a second, Dean was utterly convinced he would take the Angel by surprise. It was facing away from him and though it didn’t struggle to hold Jess, it had to be distracted by the way she scratched and kicked. Dean sprinted down the slight hill, across the grass, and lunged.

The Angel grabbed him in mid-air like he was a doll and flung him aside just as easily. His head cracked against one of the old trees and though he heard Jess scream his name, he was unable to reassure her he was fine. Dizziness made it impossible to stand or even see straight as the Angel stalked towards him, still dragging Jess along the dirt.

“Two Winchesters for the price of one,” the sandy-haired Angel said with mild amusement. “My brother will be pleased.”

“You let her go, you son of a bitch,” Dean snarled, trying unsuccessfully to push himself upright. He made it to his hands and knees before he had to pause to keep his dinner down. Definite concussion. Fantastic. “Take me and let her go.”

“Dean, don’t be stupid!” Jess snapped sternly. “Think of the Clan!”

It was only now that she had stopped thrashing around in the Angel’s grasp that Dean could see she had a black eye and he felt a new level of hatred for these bastards. “I’m thinking of what Sam will do if he comes back to find they’ve hurt you.”

“And what about when he comes back and finds they’ve hurt you?” Jess argued.

“Children, please,” the Angel said in a faux-parental tone. “No arguing. You’re both going to get hurt. Well…” he yanked on Jess’ hair, pulling her up further on her knees. As Dean’s protégé she also wore a white robe, but the apprentice’s robe was shorter and exposed her bloodied knees to the dirt and small stones in the ground. “…Our little Clan-Mother here might be hurt more for leverage.”

“She’s not…”

“Screw you!” Jessica yelled up at the Angel, spitting at him. Clearly she didn’t want Dean to expose the truth and endanger himself, even though her distraction led to the Angel smacking her back down to the ground and bruising her other eye.

Shoving forward was difficult with his balance so impaired, but Dean gave it a shot anyway, pushing himself up from the ground and lunging. The Angel grabbed him by the arm and with a quick movement twisted the limb up behind Dean’s back painfully. The tension increased, his muscle pulled more and more taut, the bone bent further and further out of place…

He heard the snap even through his scream.

A heavy branch smashed over the Angel’s head, but it didn’t seem to faze him at all. The creature just smiled down at Jess, who stood there staring stunned at the splintered remains of tree in her hands.

“I think we’ve all had a turn at violence now, haven’t we? Unfortunately the game has to end sometime. Let’s get you both home.”

The Angel grabbed Jessica’s upper arm and Dean’s broken one. Dean’s pained sounds were interrupted by a strange sensation not totally unlike having the air punched from his lungs. When he opened his eyes, he was on the dusty floor of Haven, Jess beside him. The sky was filled with smoke and his arm felt like it had been torn to shreds.

“Your arm,” Jess murmured with alarm. Dean barely heard her over the outraged and terrified yells of the captured Clan. All around them knelt their fellow Hunters. Dean tried not to meet their eyes. He’d let them all down.

Across the camp, his Dad was watching him with disappointment. Dean swallowed thickly. It was bound to happen. Dean was never meant for this. At least their Clan-Father was still in one piece, if nothing else. Andy was tending to his wounds while a blue-eyed Angel stood over them staring intently at Dean. Unblinking.

“We need to fix this quickly,” Jess muttered, drawing Dean’s attention back to the fire he had instead of a right arm. He’d been trying not to look at it, already sweating from the pain, but it was unavoidable. He now saw the bone had pierced the skin halfway up the limb. It was stomach-turning and he looked away fast.

“Yeah, that’s not good,” he gasped, trying to convey his usual nonchalance. It was times like this that his Clan desperately needed him to stay calm. “I’m looking at serious infection if we don’t get that cleaned, set and stitched.” He was actually losing the feeling in his fingers now, which was never a good sign, but he kept the panic internal. He’d been injured before, he could handle the pain.

The dick Angel who had dumped them there strode over to his blue-eyed associate. “Where’s Michael? I have the toys he was looking for.”

Even though the haze of pain-induced delirium, Dean could see the disapproval in the smaller Angel’s face when he replied.

“He should be returning shortly with the other Winchester. Then negotiations can proceed as planned.” Blue eyes looked over Psycho’s shoulder at Dean and Jess. “Lucifer, you hurt the Clan-Mother.”

“Don’t sound so scandalised Castiel, she’s their living saint, not ours. Besides, Michael wanted to exert Angelic dominance. Brutality is the only message these vermin will understand.”

The one called Castiel opened his mouth as if he had something to say about that, but the sudden arrival of another Angel stopped their conversation. This Angel was stern-faced with dark hair, but Dean’s eyes barely alighted on him when he realised who was at the Angel’s feet.

“Sam!”

At the sound of Dean’s voice, his younger brother’s head jolted up. Sam had clearly been on the receiving end of an Angelic beat-down, judging from the bruises and cuts on his face. Although Sam was the biggest, most physically-intimidating warrior of the Hunters, he looked like a lost little boy as soon as he realised his big brother had been captured and injured. Noticing the terrible damage to Dean’s arm, Sam surged up to lash out at the nearest Angel, but his rebellion was quickly crushed by a foot pressing down against his ribs, pinning him to the floor.

“If the Hunter royalty are done behaving like rabid dogs, we can begin,” said the Angel with his shoe on Sammy’s chest. “My name is Michael. I rule the Angel population of Heaven, the island across the sea to the West. And despite our rather… complicated arrival today, I can assure you that we mean you no harm. We are here to save you.”

The derision that met his statement was booming as every Hunter expressed their disbelief and rage. Michael waited calmly for a moment then clicked his fingers. Although mouths continued to move, no sound came out. These Angels were ridiculously powerful. Dean might have felt more afraid if he’d been able to think clearly through the concussion and the blinding pain of his arm. Jess cradled the broken limb carefully but she couldn’t do anything to help, not while they were surrounded by these bastards.

“We understand you may be reluctant to listen to us,” Michael continued. “You are lost, confused and ignorant children who do not understand what is best. That is why we intend to supervise you, to bring you back to Heaven where you can learn the great lessons our Father gave us to bestow upon you all.”

He waved his hand. It must have ended his spell of silence, as Sam immediately spoke up from where he lay on the ground. “And what if we refuse?”

“You will be imprisoned in Heaven until you decide you are prepared to learn our ways and obey our laws,” Michael said firmly. “Should you attempt to rebel, your Clan-Mother will pay the price.”

The psychotic Angel responsible for snapping Dean’s arm produced a shining blade and shoved Jess’ white robe open so that he could press the weapon to her pale skin. Without thinking, Dean made a grab for the creature’s arm and was shoved away for his efforts. He bashed his injured arm against the ground and cried out in agony. The pain was almost enough to force him out of consciousness, but he fought the wooziness.

“This one is getting on my nerves,” the Angel said with cool displeasure, glaring down at Dean as the Hunter struggled back into a sitting position. “We can spare one Winchester, can’t we Michael?”

Before Michael could even respond, the violent Angel raised the glowing sword to strike down at Dean.

“Wait!”

All eyes went to the protester. The blue-eyed Angel called Castiel, who was watching Dean closely.

“You’re commanding me?” Mr Psycho Angel scoffed, stepping away from Dean towards Castiel. “You, little cherub, are trying to command me, the Morningstar?” The taller Angel laughed heartily. “Michael, tell me you don’t value this servant of yours. I want to cut off his wings.”

“Be calm, Lucifer,” Michael regally instructed his brother. “Castiel, explain yourself.”

In response to that command, Castiel walked forward to stand between Lucifer and Dean. For a moment he simply stared down at Dean as if studying him intently. Then he tugged away the Hunter’s camouflaged headgear and threw it aside, exposing Dean’s hair and mouth. Next he hooked a finger inside the high collar of Dean’s green tunic and with a flick of the wrist, ripped the entire thing away, leaving Dean with only his red vest over the black leather pants.

“Well that is an improvement,” drawled an Angel standing near Rufus and Bobby. Dean hadn’t noticed them there. “But I think I speak for most of us when I say I’m not following your logic, Cassie.”

“Red dyes are more difficult to process,” Castiel said. His voice was too low to be heard by any Hunters further away than Dean and Jess. He was still staring down at Dean with his inhumanly blue eyes and Dean was too tired and hurt to glare in return. “Red clothing would only be bestowed on Clan members with the highest value. Observe.”

Castiel produced his own Angelic blade and held it to Jess’ throat. The gasps of horror echoed all around Haven against a background of jabbering panic. Under Michael’s foot, Sam was swearing bloody vengeance. The Angel Castiel looked around at the Hunter crowd and nodded, as if they had proved a theory. Then that same blade was against Dean’s neck. The metal was cold but whatever power was behind it burned like the sun.

The Hunters roared, unaware that they were being tested. Across the camp, John Winchester struggled to push himself up onto his broken leg. Castiel retracted his weapon and then it was like he had never held it at all. Dean hadn’t even seen him move to hide it.

“This is the Clan-Mother. Disguised like the others, presumably so that he might enter the fray and defend his home. The girl must be his protégé.”

Michael studied Dean with an intent gaze. There was something in the way this Angel carried himself that made him the obvious leader, even if he hadn’t announced it. He spoke and behaved like someone who expected to be obeyed. “His soul is almost…unspeakably bright. Strange. I had not expected Hunters to show such potential, considering how tainted some of them are.” He pressed down slightly with the foot that rested on Sam’s ribs. “That their spiritual leader is so pure only reinforces the need to re-educate them. They could be so much more than this.”

“We were happy, you son of a bitch,” Dean growled, reckless with pain. The numbness had spread up to his elbow now, but the pain had throbbed its way up through his shoulder and collarbone.

A few steps and Michael was within Dean’s personal space. It was effort just to lean his head back so that he could look up and see the bastard. There was something fond and condescending in the Angel’s expression now.

“Once you are with us, you will all truly understand what it means to be happy.”

Wounded or not, Dean had a hundred witty comebacks on the tip of his tongue. But as he was about to reel off a seriously biting ‘yo momma’ burn, the Angel reached out two fingers and placed them on his forehead.

Everything went dark. He heard Sam scream out.

*

Heaven was bright. When the Angels transported all the Hunters to the island with their magic, John Winchester had to squint just to be able to open his own eyes. Once he was able to raise his head, John saw his Clan were all blinking and scrunching their faces as well.

The Angel known as Michael appeared before him and placed his palm against John’s chest.

“Hey, what are you doing?”

John took a step back and realised that his leg could better support his weight, though it still hurt like a bitch. If Michael could heal it better, he didn’t seem inclined to. The leader of the Angels simply turned away and strode off ahead, further than John could see in this light.

It took a while for the eyes of the Hunters to become accustomed to the glare of their surroundings, but the Angels marched them onward regardless. For a long time, all John could see was his own boots stomping across an expansive stone and marble pathway that was interlaced with silver and occasionally, sparkling gemstones.

Once he was able to keep his eyes open for longer than a moment against the intense light, John looked around to examine the state of his Clan. They all marched behind him, some with minor injuries from the battle. Some were sullen, letting their expressive faces show exactly what they thought of their captors. His youngest son, Sam, was among that group. Others remained stoic, staring ahead with as much determination as they could muster in the blinding environment.

John blinked to try and clear his eyes of the water building up in them, a symptom of the bright surroundings. They had reached a sort of river, penned in and directed by the stone and marble pathway, but even that seemed to glow with an unnatural light that moved and glistened. John continued to look around as they were marched around the water, searching for his eldest son. That boss Angel had done something to him and captive or not, John would not rest until he found out if Dean was alright.

He was so absorbed in his task that he forgot about the delicate state of his own injuries and stumbled as they stepped from stone to grass. Luckily someone stepped in and took his weight, helping him stay on his feet.

“Easy there, Clan-Father.”

Really John recognised the voice before he even saw the face. “Oh, hey Jim.” Jim Murphy was an old friend and a learned man. He had proved invaluable in the manufacture of their weapons, back when the Demons had begun attacking again. John had barely been Clan-Father then and he’d needed all the help he could get. Some things never changed, even though Jim’s hair was much greyer these days than it was in John’s memory.

“You would have thought with all their fancy powers they could have transported us directly to wherever they want us,” Jim muttered.

“Maybe they want to show us the scenic route,” John grumbled back. He glanced around again, but still couldn’t see what he was looking for. “Have you seen Dean? That bastard did something to him.”

“One of the Angels is carrying him up ahead. He was still asleep from whatever spell they cast on him, but his arm seemed better. What I saw of it, at any rate.”

“Wish I could jump for joy at that,” John said under his breath. “But as long as Dean’s here, he’s in danger. They’re going to use him against us. I don’t even know what the bastards are after.”

“Expansion, maybe? Could be that they’ve outgrown their little island. Say what you like about Earth-Country weather, but we’ve got a lot of open space.”

“Then why keep us?” asked John as they continued to trek across the grass alongside weary Hunters and stern-faced Angels. “They could have just slaughtered us all.”

Jim shrugged, which nearly knocked John completely off-balance. “I honestly don’t understand their motivations. We have no way of knowing how they think. Perhaps it’s just as their leader said and this is some religious fight, an assault on our way of life because they find it offensive.”

“Our rituals have kept our people alive for centuries. I’d rather cut off my limbs than give up the culture passed down to us through the generations.”

“I agree with you. Anyone who tells me I can’t put a salt-line across my door is trying to get me killed, in my opinion. But I just worry that… well, how many of the Clan’s younger members feel the same?”

“They know how vital our beliefs are,” John insisted. “They all remember the war. Our sigils and wards and spells were the only things keeping the Demons from tearing us to pieces. Not to mention the tactics we use against the monsters from Purgatory. We won’t throw them away now just because we’re being threatened.”

The marching Angels up ahead slowed to regroup as they all approached the forest. For the first time since leaving Earth-Country, John saw his eldest boy. Dean looked ludicrously young when he wasn’t conscious and John’s stomach turned at the sight of his son so vulnerable, cradled in the arms of the enemy.

Jim obviously saw his fear. He kept his arm around John to steady him as they were led into the forest and asked, “What if it’s Dean they’re threatening? Then how will the Clan feel about our religion?”

John fell silent, because Jim didn’t need him to answer that. Dean was the Clan-Mother, the most popular one they had ever had. There was no sufficiently-trained heir. Without him, there was no religion.

*

The Hunters did not assimilate well to their captivity in Heaven. They did not desire the salvation that the Angels offered them. They refused to renounce their superstition and blasphemy and they refused to recognise Michael’s rule. Just as Michael had threatened, they were all cast into the prisons of Heaven until they reconsidered their position.

All of them except for Dean Winchester. Michael said he wanted their most precious Clan member kept away from them. He wanted Dean Winchester’s fate to rest in his hands so that the Clan would not try anything hasty. Dean was kept in luxurious conditions, but the Clan had no way of knowing that.

“Do you think he’ll let me visit them?”

Castiel frowned at the pale marble wall. Dean had begun his imprisonment mute and furious, refusing to respond to Michael’s imperious commands or Castiel’s concerned enquiries. As time went on however, the Hunter seemed to wish for conversation. Two weeks since the saving of the Hunter people and their subsequent imprisonment, Dean had decided to explore the lavish quarters he had been placed in. Another week later and the Clan-Mother seemed to spend most of his time in the bathing area, in the scented water. Apparently the water jets were quite unlike anything in the lakes of Earth-Country.

“I don’t know. I suppose if he feels he can trust you, Michael may be amenable to such an idea. But it’s preposterous to think I know his intentions, Dean. You would need to ask him.”

“At least look at me when you’re talking, dude.”

Reluctantly, Castiel shifted and stiffly turned around to face the pool. Dean was relaxing in the water, completely naked. It made sense that Dean would be nude to bathe, but Castiel was still unfamiliar enough with the concept that seeing Dean’s body was enough to discomfort him.

“Is it essential for me to face you while you are unclothed?”

Dean chuckled at that before swimming to the side and floating there a while. The short journey seemed to have no purpose but merriment.

“What, you’ve never seen a naked guy before? I find it hard to believe you guys don’t share these pools. They’re massive.”

“We do not use the pools. Angels do not perspire as Hunters do and we are able to bathe ourselves in holy light, should the need arise.”

Castiel liked to explain these things to him. The more Dean knew of their culture, the more likely he was to embrace it. Once the Clan-Mother had turned to their ways, the Clan would surely follow. Dean was their spiritual leader, after all. A strange choice, but for all Castiel’s studies into Hunter culture he had yet to fully understand them.

“So why are the pools even here?”

“They are a relic that Michael felt you might require. Left over from a time prior to our ascension. We were like you once, before our Father showed us the light.”

As usual, the talk of religion made Dean sneer. The Hunter still showed no tolerance for the Angel way of thinking.

“If the light involves kidnapping an entire race of people and locking them up under the pretence that it’s all for their own good, I’d rather stay in the dark.”

Dean turned and swam away from Castiel, down the short length of the pool. The light shone down through the high windows, making his body glisten in the water and Castiel turned away. He had seen some of the prisoners naked when Uriel hosed them down, but they had not made him feel this way. It was a feeling as if he yearned to be closer to Dean, yet when he made attempts at it he suddenly felt as if he ought to flee. Was it Hunter spellcraft? Dean would be the one to know such tricks, if they were possible.

“Can you at least tell me how they are? If they’re okay?”

Castiel could hear Dean splashing nearer than expected. When he turned back to the Hunter, Dean was climbing slowly up the marble steps, out of the pool. Something about the sight robbed Castiel of his words. No doubt about it, Dean Winchester held a mysterious power. Perhaps that was the reason he had been chosen for the role of Clan-Mother, not simple inheritance laws.

“It… it is not my place to say. Michael will tell you anything you need to know.”

“Like fuck he will. I’m his little princess in a tower here.”

Dean ducked and scooped his clothes up from the floor, the red cloth vest, shorts and the white robe and red scarf that they had retrieved from a member of his Clan. Castiel turned and lifted the other clothes from a hook on the door.

“Michael asked that I give you these to wear instead of your heathen clothes.”

Curious, Dean dropped the garments he was holding and took the ones from Castiel’s arms. He shook them loose and laughed at the brown robe and the golden headband that fell and clanged loudly against the marble floor.

“Seriously? You can’t tell me Angels wear this crap.”

“Only our preachers and those who channel our Father’s word,” Castiel replied earnestly. “It is a great honour to be offered such attire. It proves that Michael believes you can be saved, that you have the potential to be one of our most holy.”

“No, it means he thinks he can change who I am on the inside by changing how I look on the outside.” Dean threw the robe into the pool, where the water quickly soaked into the fabric and dragged it down.

“Your Hunter clothing is indecent,” Castiel explained.

Dean put one leg into his shorts then the other before tugging the fabric up over his wet legs. Castiel found himself following the path of the red material as it smudged the droplets of scented water along Dean’s strong thighs.

“Hey, I’ll be the first to say it’s a shit outfit. I never stopped longing for the sturdy leather of regular Hunter combat gear.” Dean hesitated as he pulled the vest top on over his head. “But you know what? These clothes mark me as Clan-Mother and that’s what’s important right now. I’d rather go naked than wear the stuff Michael lays out for me like I’m his damn doll.”

He shrugged on the white robe and stormed out of the room barefoot.

Castiel offered up a silent prayer to his Father and followed, wondering again what he had done to merit this trying duty from Michael.

*

Lucifer was no stranger to the wicked creatures that roamed the dominion of Hell. Considering some of the things he might have encountered, the Demons that attacked him were pitiful. He had expected better guards this close to the dirty castle that their King called his palace.

Without effort, Lucifer smote the Demons that dared attempt an assault on him and moved deeper into the dark forest that surrounded King Crowley's dwelling. He heard the howling of hellhounds nearby but ignored it. Such beasts were no threat to him. Nothing in this realm troubled him at all.

There was an open field of green grass after Lucifer emerged from the trees. He could see Crowley's castle looming over the landscape, dark and twisted. Compared to the rest of the trek, the clear route between here and the castle seemed slightly suspicious. He eyed the sky, but the smog of burning souls was still too thick for him to fly the rest of the way. No doubt that was the way Crowley preferred it.

Stepping out into the clearing, Lucifer immediately found his suspicions confirmed as the innocent-looking grass cut at him like a dozen little blades around his foot. Clever. Had Lucifer been anything but an Angel, that might have slowed him down. Given his resilience though, it was really just a nuisance. Much like Crowley himself.

Nothing attacked him for the remainder of his walk, which made Lucifer suspect his company was expected. That or this was as far as any other denizens of the realm dared to go. Demons were all cowards, rallied against the things they feared only because they were more scared of the one commanding them. In a way, they reminded him of Angels. Insane and depraved Angels.

The grand doors of Crowley's castle shuddered open as Lucifer approached. Yes, he was definitely an expected guest. He walked into the stone hallway calmly, head held high. He wasn't sure yet if Crowley was trying to be intimidating or inviting.

He could have ventured further in, down to the throne room or perhaps into one of the adjacent rooms to look for the King of Hell. But Lucifer wasn't about to go scurrying around searching for him, only to end up in some depraved scene of the Demon's choosing. If Crowley wanted to know his intent, he would have to get off his throne or stop his torture games and get out to greet his visitor.

It didn't take long. Crowley emerged from the door on the right to a chorus of screams, which were muted when he slammed the heavy door shut behind him. He peeled off his gloves and tossed them aside, where they left bloody smears on the stone floor. Then he brushed his hands down his black, expensive suit and smiled at Lucifer.

“Lucy, darling, what brings you to my neck of the woods?”

“The usual check-ups. Michael wants to be sure you all stay in your place.” Every so often a representative was sent to Hell to ensure the Demons were not becoming a threat. Lucifer had been that representative for some time now. He told Michael he enjoyed the flight, but he wasn't sure his brother believed his excuse.

“Stay in our place?” Crowley echoed. “But there's such a lovely, vacant space down South. Expansive plains, a cute little lake, some nice forest land...”

“Earth-Country is not available to you.”

Crowley pouted at him, mockingly disappointed. “Come on now, it's not as though the Hunters are using it. You lot have had them trussed up in your dungeons for nearly three weeks. It's only fair we have a crack at their territory.”

“If it were up to me, your kind could swarm the place. But it's not up to me. It’s up to my brother and until someone has a force comparable to the might he wields, that isn’t going to change.”

With the way his left eyebrow quirked, it was safe to assume Crowley had figured out the real reason behind Lucifer’s visit.

“I hold a force comparable to your brother’s. Alas,” the King added theatrically, “there’s no possible way I could infiltrate Heaven with it.”

“What if I were to suggest a way?” asked Lucifer, carefully watching the Demon for any signs of duplicity. Crowley was likely to sell him out to Michael if Lucifer could not provide ample motivation for a deal.

“Well, that would depend on the fine print of our contract.” One of the thick, wooden doors down the hall swung open and Crowley gestured down the hall towards it. “Care to step into my office?”

“After you,” Lucifer insisted. As if he would allow anyone to sneak along behind him, least of all a Demon.

Crowley strode on ahead and Lucifer followed him into the luxurious study. He settled into one of the chairs that seemed half-sculpture, what with the strange way the arms twisted. It was comfortable though, thanks to the plush red cushion.

The King of Demons poured himself a drink and offered Lucifer one with a silent wave of the bottle. Lucifer shook his head. He had never felt the appeal of such things. Crowley shrugged and brought his own glass to the desk as he sat down opposite Lucifer. He reached into the draw and pulled out a blank scroll.

“Straight to business then.”

*


From: (Anonymous)


is there any chance for a pdf of this story?
:)

From: [identity profile] sarkywoman.livejournal.com


Here is the link to the AO3 version:

http://archiveofourown.org/works/557848

I believe you can download it as a PDF from there? Not really sure how it all works.
.

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