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Salt and Glitter

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The Author

There are strangers in his forest. It doesn't take long for the Author to locate them; try as they might, silence is a hard thing to obtain in the woods where leaves crunch beneath every step and branches latch onto anything within their rattling grasp. The Author watches them tread through the brush, inspecting his new characters.

Both are fairly young, perhaps around the Author’s own age, and tall. One has shaggy brown hair that falls around his ears and is wearing a t-shirt and tan zip up hoodie. The other is wearing much the same thing, but a brown leather jacket in place of the hoodie. He has short dirty blonde hair and a scowl on his face. Both wear boots, heavy jeans, and carry a shotgun. They are talking quietly to each other, eyes alert and shotguns raised. What are they looking for? Or, what are they hunting?

The Author considers approaching, but he does not like the look of the guns. Besides, that would ruin some of the fun. No, he will return home, and think of a story fitting of these two.

Dean

Dean does not like hiking. He doesn't like the leaves, he doesn't like the branches that snag his jacket, and he hates bugs. They leave an itching crawling sensation that unnerves him, and he can still feel them if they're not there. Which is not fair.

“I don't like the woods Sammy,” Dean grumbles.

“Really Dean? Wow, I didn't pick that up the first fifty times you told me,” Sam sighs back.

“It’s cold, it’s quiet, and there is absolutely nothing anywhere.”

“There's animals Dean. See? Look up there-” Sam points up to the branches where Dean can see a squirrel staring down at them, “-there's a squirrel. I've seen plenty of birds as well. And heard them, so it’s not quiet.”

“You know what I mean! I just don't like it okay?” Dean shoves his brother, who snickers and pushes back. They walk a little longer in relative silence, slowly relaxing as nothing unusual happens. But then the air seems to stop, and it suddenly gets a little colder. The brothers’ shotguns go up in sync, ready for whatever may come.

The two brothers creep through the woods, wary of what may lurk in the shadows.

Dean stops dead. “What the fuck was that?” he growls, looking around for the source of the voice he had heard.

Beside him, Sam is just as still. “Uhh, I don't know.”

They search for the voice, only to realize there is no one else nearby. Fear begins to creep into them, but they continue forward despite it, determined to discover what is narrating their journey.

“There is no fear!” Dean protests to the empty air. Sam raises a hand and shushes him. “No! I'm not gonna be talked down to by a disembodied voice!” Dean hisses, then begins walking again, looking around as he goes. Sam huffs but follows, sweeping his eyes around as well.

Ahead of them the young boys see an old house, the wood worn and pale. Inside a single window glows.

As the voice said, Dean sees the house. Though, it's more of a old shack than a house. He exchanges looks with Sam and together they creep toward the door.

When Sam reaches out to turn the knob, the door creaks open by itself, allowing the brothers to step inside.

“I'm really really not liking this.” Dean mutters.

“I'd be worried if you did.”

“What if we don't do what it says? Maybe we should just leave,” Dean suggests.

Then the brothers would steered upon another course that, while bothersome to the author since he would have to rewrite it, would lead them right back to where they are.

“Rewrite? What does that mean?” Sam looks at Dean, confusion clear on his face.

“I don't know, but I don't like it. What do you think, enter creepy shack in the woods or leave?” Dean asks.

“It sounds like we’re gonna end up here no matter what, might as well figure out what’s going on.” Sam reasons.

Dean sighs. “Alright, into the creepy shack we go.”

The brothers step as quietly as they can into the house, shotguns raised and eyes peeled for any movement. They are surprised to see that the inside of the structure does not correlate to the outside, and is instead a house like the author had said. Walking through the house that is far larger than it appears from the outside, the boys head first to the room that they had seen lit, certain that whoever they were seeking would be there. But when they stepped into the room, they saw nothing. They creep across the floor, scanning everything as they go. At the end of the room is a desk, and Dean looks it over. Paper, pencils and erasers, even a typewriter lay on its surface. Dean sets his shotgun onto the desk to closer look at the papers.

Dean knows that setting down his gun is just about the worst idea right now, but that is what he finds himself doing anyway.

Sam leans his gun up against the desk to look over Dean's shoulder at the papers. When they hear footsteps behind them, they both reach for their guns, only to find them gone.

Dean gapes at the desk where his shotgun had been and snaps his head up to look behind him. Standing in the doorway with a small notebook in one hand and a pencil in the other, a young man grins at them. Dean moves to take a step forward and the man scribbles quickly onto his notebook.

Sam and Dean, when moving to attack the stranger, find themselves unable to move their feet.

Sure enough, when Dean tries to step forward, his legs do not cooperate with him. “What the hell?” he tries harder to move, to just shift his feet, but he can't. He looks back up when the man starts laughing.

“This is fun isn't it?” the man says. It's the same voice that's been following them, and now controlling them. “I haven't had anyone around in ages. Apparently these woods are ‘haunted’, so no one wants to venture in. Makes things a little difficult, I've been having to bring characters here.”

Dean glares at the man. Sam speaks up first. “Who are you? You seem to know us.”

The man grins and sticks the notebook and pencil into his pocket, then reaches out and picks up a metal baseball bat Dean had not noticed before. “I'm the Author.” He smacks the bat into his palm a few times, seeming to be quite enjoying himself.

“The Author? It was you that was talking to us then.” Sam accuses.

“I wasn't talking to you. I wasn't talking at all actually. There needed to be some narration written in between the dialogue, don't you agree? A story gets pretty monotonous when its just talking. There needs to be a setting, faces to put the voices to. The scene has to be set.”

“What are you?” Sam asks.

“Wow, Sammy, I thought that was obvious. I'm an author! I had you outlined as the smart one, that apparently has to change.” The ‘Author’ pulls out his notebook again and jots a few things down, mumbling as he does.

“What do want you son of a bitch?” Dean snaps. The Author whistles gleefully and twirls around the bat.

“I want to write a story Dean, that is what authors do.”

“And what’s that got to do with us?” Sam demands.

The Author rolls his eyes. “A story needs characters Sam. Really, come on.”

“We’re not characters for your little story asshole!” Dean says.

“Maybe you weren’t, but now you are. Pretty good ones too, interesting backstory, clear goal, good intentions. And monster hunters, that's what really makes you interesting. I can't wait to put your skills to the test,” the Author says, nearly giddy.

“Then you know we will kill you, just like all the other creepy crawlies out there.” Dean promises.

“Oh, I'm not a monster Dean. I don't kill!” the Author pauses. “Often. I don't kill often. There was that one time… oh and then too… oh and he, well he survived actually I think.” he continues mumbling, counting on his fingers how many times he has killed. “But not often!” he eventually decides. “Hardly ever actually. Getting new characters is time consuming.”

Dean is looking forward to shooting this thing in the face. He wonders if this is the kind of monster that will leave a corpse or if it'll disappear into smoke. Either way, it’s going down. As soon as Dean figures out how to break free of the Author’s hold on him.

All of them turn their heads when the front door slams open and hurried footsteps cross the cabin. “Peanut butter!” a voice almost identical to the Author’s cries. The Author sighs. “Where is the peanut butter?!” it calls again.

“It’s in the kitchen cabinet where it always is!” the Author shouts in the other voice’s direction.

There is the sounds of someone rummaging carelessly through shelves. “It’s not there! My subjects are hungry! I need the peanut butter!”

“King, they know how to get their own food! They’ll be fine until I can get more!” the Author yells.

The footsteps start again and then the door to the room they are in flies open. In the doorway is a man in a regal red robe and a high golden crown. Dean stares. Not only is this man dressed as a king in the middle of the forest, he has the same face as the Author, though he is wearing glasses and his jaw is completely covered in peanut butter.

“Author, my subjects are hungry. I need to let them lick the peanut butter off my face, but there is no more peanut butter.”

“King, you already have peanut butter on your face.” the Author sighs, fingers pinching the bridge of his nose.

“My subjects are many! This is not enough for all of them, I need more!” the peanut butter faced man insists.

“Alright! Alright, hold on.” the Author pulls out his notebook once again and writes a few lines. “It’s in the cabinet,” he says once he's tucked the notebook back in his pocket.

“Your service to the kingdom will not be forgotten.” Peanut Butter Man says solemnly, then once again rushes away. Dean hears him stop in the kitchen, grab the peanut butter, and then dash back outside. As he runs off Dean can hear him scream, “I’M KING OF THE SQUIRRELS!”

There is silence for a moment, neither Sam nor Dean having anything to say and the Author’s hand not holding the bat is covering his face.

“What the fuck.” Dean says. “Who was that?”

The Author sighs. “As he said, he is King of the Squirrels.” He tilts his head back and groans. “Inspiration; gone.” he puts the bat back down and pulls out his notebook.  

Sam and Dean find themselves back at their car, shotguns in hand. They look around, dazed, then quickly get into their car and leave, without any intention of returning to seek out the Author or the King of the Squirrels.

Part two

Dean

“So, all that’s left behind is… bubbles?”

“Yep. No footprints, no trace of anything. As well, there's never any sign of forced entry and, get this, any bullets have been replaced with glitter.” Sam taps the file on the table decidedly.

“Glitter?” Dean asks, looking up at where his brother is standing beside him.

“Glitter,” Sam confirms. Dean exhales.

“Alright, sounds fun.” He turns to Castiel, “you coming Cas?”

“I will meet you there. I prefer to not sit for a long period of time in the Impala.”

“What? Is there something wrong with her? Baby is perfect!”

Cas sighs. “There is nothing wrong with the car Dean, I simply don't want to sit for hours in the back of the car.”

Dean is going to further defend the Impala, but Cas has disappeared in a flutter of wings. Dean grumbles as he stands and grabs the keys.

The Host

“The Host would prefer Wilford not track blood into his house,” the Host says from his spot on a chair in the living room.

“Oh don't worry Hosty, I’ll clean it up good as new!” Wilford promises without pausing on his way to his room.

“The Host would rather Wilford not, given his tendency to exponentially worsen whatever he attempts to clean. The Host can do it.”

“That’s not true! I am very good at cleaning up after myself!” Wilford clasps a bloody hand dramatically over his heart.

“Only because the Host or Dark follow after him to fix what Wilford has done.” the Host mumbles.

“Well then the blood's no problem for you, is it?”

“The Host would rather to not have to clean it at all, something easily fixed by Wilford leaving his shoes by the door as the Host has requested many times.”

Wilford walks up to the Host and stands in front of him. The Host ignores him and continues to glide his fingers over the pages of his book. Apparently not content to be ignored, Wilford reaches out and places one blood covered finger on the Host’s nose. The Host ignores him still. Wilford takes his finger away, then puts it back on the Host’s nose, and again a few times until the Host sighs.

“Does Wilford need something from the Host?”

“Nope!” Wilford declares, then warps himself to his room.

“The Host once again wonders why he allows Wilford Warfstache to stay in his house. But overall Wilford does not disrupt the Host in his work, so the Host can handle cleaning the occasional bloodstain.”

Dean

“And there is no sign of forced entry?”

“All windows and doors locked from the inside, nothing broken, spare keys undisturbed.”

Dean only half listens as Sam asks the sheriff questions, instead looking around to try to find anything ordinary cops wouldn't look for. There's no cold spots, no EMF, no sulphur, Cas hadn’t mentioned anything angel-y. He takes a few swabs where bubbles had landed so Sam and Cas can take a closer look at them as well as the cops’ analysis, then scoops up a small sample of glitter from a bullet hole in the wall. Besides it being in an odd place, the pink glitter appears ordinary enough. Sparkly and annoying and clinging to every surface. If any gets in the Impala there will be hell to pay to whomever, or whatever, the glitter came from.

“Alright, thank you. We’ll be in touch. Call me if anything happens.” Sam finishes with the sheriff as Dean walks out of the house and follows him to the car. “Anything?”

“I got bits of the bubbles and glitter for you and Cas to check out, but other than that, zip. Sheriff give anything up?”

“Nothing different than was in the file. Things are the same at all four scenes; everyone in the house dead, either shot or stabbed, no sign of forced entry, only traces left are bubbles and glitter.”

“Can you think of anything that does something like that?”

“No. Maybe it’s just a messed up person, Dean, this might not be our kind of case.”

“It is.” Cas says, appearing suddenly beside the brothers.

“What makes you say that?” Sam asks.

“There is a presence in the woods. I cannot pinpoint what it is, but there is something not human out there. Not all the way human at least. It centers around a small cabin in the woods.”

“Alright. Let’s head back to the hotel for now, we’ll go out tomorrow.” Sam suggests. They agree and Dean slides into the driver’s seat while Sam takes shotgun, Cas already gone.

The Host

The Host is up early, sitting at his desk and preparing for his next narrations. Wilford is somewhere outside, throwing knives at trees while being careful to not go near any squirrels. He had nearly killed one once, and the wrath of King of the Squirrels had been great. Wilford has since decided practicing with those particular moving targets is not worth the trouble it brings. As well, Wilford had confessed once to the Host that he likes the fuzzy little creatures, and was grateful for their endless chittering. It made it easier to ignore the things in his head.

That had been a particularly bad day for Wilford. He had come home soaked in blood, shifting between wild, agonized screams and manic laughter, no warning between switches. Wilford had been just about collapsing as he came through the door. All the Host could do was get him to his bed, help him change, turn on gentle music to help him get the sleep he so desperately needed while the Host sat in a chair in the corner of the room to listen to Wilford’s ramblings and to prevent him from hurting himself.

It has been a while since there has been a day quite that bad, for which the Host is grateful. While he does not mind looking after Wilford, things could get dangerous for the both of them if he slipped too far.

“The Host returns his attention to his work, having no time to let his mind wander.” The Host resumes arranging his things, making last minute notes and checking his equipment.

It's only a few minutes until the Host will begin recording his narrations when he senses something in the woods. It’s powerful, and emits an energy the Host had never felt before. Focusing further upon it, the Host notices two more far weaker beings with it. These ones are human, but they feel… familiar, like he had encountered them before. Unable to recall where and when he had met them, the Host returns his attention to the being with them. He thinks that this creature may be as powerful as himself, possibly more, and that scares him. It is not often the Host can be overpowered, and he has grown comfortable with the control he holds over his surroundings. But this being changes things, creates an uncontrolled variable in the Host’s world, and he does not like it. Not one bit.

“Wilford gathers his knives from where they are stuck in the surrounding trees and returns swiftly home, cautious on his path back.” The Host does not often control Wilford, but the Host wants him by his side, and doesn't think Wilford will protest in this situation.

The Host crosses the house to meet Wilford in the front room as he enters. “Whats up Hosty? You don't do that unless something’s wrong, what did I break?” Wilford pouts.

“Wilford has broken nothing, and the Host requests he turn his attention to the energy in the forest.” The Host inclines his head, waiting as Wilford stretches his awareness beyond his immediate surroundings.

Wilford freezes when he feels it. “Well that’s new,” he says.

“The Host agrees.”

“Should I tickle it?” Wilford suggests, pulling out a knife and grinning. The Host reaches out a hand and stops Wilford from moving forward.

“The Host does not think that would be the best course of action. They are headed this direction, and the Host would like to know more about the being before deciding a course of action. Perhaps Wilford should attempt to learn more about it before deeming it a threat.”

“That’s far less fun.” Wilford says.

“The Host points out that there are many ways to have fun, and learning about this creature may provide more opportunities to entertain Wilford.”

“You have a point there Hosty. Alright, you've convinced me. Are we inviting it in or talking on the porch?” Wilford asks, nodding.

“The Host suggests intercepting it outside, as he would rather his home remain undamaged should Wilford ultimately decide to tickle it.”

“Alright! Come on Host, we've got to say hi to the visitors!”

Dean

“You couldn't have zapped us a little closer Cas?” Dean complains. They've been walking through this forest for over a half an hour and Dean has at least five bug bites, and has pulled two ticks off himself.

“The presence covers much of the area, and I am beginning to detect multiple individuals.” Cas says.

“You mean more than one bubbly glittery shooty stabby monster?” Dean snaps.

“Nope! Only one thing here bubbles and glitters like me!” a voice announces from above them.

Dean snaps his head up and shoots at the voice. A man falls out of the tree, landing hard on the ground. He lay still a moment before springing up and brushing himself off like nothing had happened.

The man is… bright. Light yellow button up, tan pants, pink bowtie and suspenders, a bright pink mustache that has been curled up at the ends, and very pink hair that falls over one side of his face. He looks down and dabs a finger in the blood spotting his shirt, then sticks it in his mouth. “Mm, salty.” he declares, then returns his attention to them and points at Dean, “That was rude. If I'd known we were playing tag I'd have brought my other gun.”

“What are you?” Cas speaks up before Sam or Dean can say anything.

“Oh, twenty questions! Fun fun fun!” The man jumps up and down and claps his hands together.

Another voice comes from behind the now very excited pink man, “the Host would like to point out to Wilford that the being is not intending to play games with him, but rather is trying to determine the threat that Wilford poses to him and his companions.”

Dean shifts the barrel of the shotgun toward the newcomer. He is standing behind the guy, apparently ‘Wilford’, with his back straight and arms crossed. His dark hair is brushed back, a gold streak clear on the left side, just above his temple. He's wearing a coat similar to Cas’, but it’s his face that captures Dean’s attention. Cloth bandages wrap around his head, covering his eyes, where they are soaked through with blood that drips down his cheeks. Through that he appears identical to the Wilford guy.

“Aw, less fun. So the ruffled lookin fella is the one glowing with shiny stuff? I can't tell.” Wilford asks his companion.

“While the Host does not know what these strangers look like, as Wilford well knows, he can confirm the one who spoke is indeed the source of the power.” The bloody man tilts his head then stiffens and grits his teeth. “The Host remembers how he knows Sam and Dean.”

“You know us? I don't seem to remember you.” Dean says.

“Sam and Dean have not met the Host since he became the Host,” the man says.

“What does that mean?” Sam demands, taking a step forward.

“Sam and Dean were characters for the Author briefly, but he lost interest in them rather quickly.”

“You're the Author?” Dean snarls, gripping his shotgun tighter and taking his own step forward. Their encounter with the Author had been memorable, and not in a good way.

“The Host was. And he advises Wilford to put that away and take a step back.”

Wilford quickly stuffs something back into his pocket. “You are just no fun Hosty,” he frowns. ‘The Host’ does not acknowledge him and continues to stand stiffly behind him.

Sam shifts his gun so it is once again pointed at Wilford. Wilford grins.

“What are you?” Cas repeats a question, more force in his voice.

“The Host speaks before Wilford can say anything to misidentify them both and possibly escalate the situation.

Wilford and the Host are ideas, created by one and sustained by many, but with lives and wills of their own. What the Host wants to know is what Castiel is. His Sight is blocked and he cannot properly narrate the situation without better understanding of those involved.”

Cas looks appraisingly at the Host for a moment, then speaks, “I'm an angel of the lord.”

“Ooooo, Host, Dark would be so interested in this, should I go get him?” Wilfords eyes are wide and excited as he looks at his companion.

“The Host does not think that would be wise. Dark would not react kindly to a being as powerful as Castiel. The Host requests Wilford keep Dark out of this for now.”

“Who’s this ‘Dark’? Another idea?” Sam asks.

The Host turns his head to Sam, as if looking at him. “A powerful idea that will get curious should we continue speaking about him, and who will certainly become hostile when faced with an angel. The Host warns that such an encounter would end poorly for those opposing him.”

“We’ve fought worse.” Dean growls. Wilford starts laughing.

“The Host thinks this is not the reason the hunters have come here. They would not have entered these woods for pure curiosity, they have a goal.”

“We were thinking someone around here might be responsible for a few murders in town. My money’s on the pink one.” Dean waves his shotgun in Wilfords direction.

“Oh those?” Wilford waves a hand dismissively. “Just having some fun was all. I'm sure they'll see the humor in it eventually.”

“They're dead!” Dean shouts.

“Yeah! That's a fun game, one of my favorites. Host here doesn't join me like the Author used to, he's lost his sense of fun you see.”

“The Host sees he needs to once again remind Wilford about the permanence of death, and that most people do not wake up after they are killed,” the Host sighs, running one hand through his hair.

“Oh yeah. Oops.” Wilford says, as if he had truly forgotten that dead people stay dead. “Well, I apologize for that, my bad. Welp, if that was all, you’ll be leaving then? Goodbye, nice meeting you!” He begins to wave with a huge smile on his face.

“Oops? Sorry? No, you don't get to say sorry and get away with killing people!” Dean drops the salt loaded shotgun and pulls out his pistol, pointing it directly at Wilford’s head.

“Dean drops the gun immediately, Sam drops his as well as he pulls it out,” the Host hisses.

Against his will Dean’s hands release the gun and let it fall into the leaves, Sam’s soon following. “This shit again?” Dean moans. “You fucking bastard.”

“Hey!” Wilford snaps, “Wilford Warfstache don't take shit from nobody, and won't let shit be given to the Host either.” He draws his own gun and aims at Dean.

Before he can pull the trigger Cas holds out a hand and Wilford doubles over in pain, blood dripping from his lips. The Host leaps forward and catches him before he hits the ground and lowers them both down.

“Castiel ceases his attack on Wilford and flies himself and the Winchesters back to their car!” the Host snarls. Dean grins when Cas continues, unaffected by the Hosts commands. Wilford starts screaming, blood bubbling in the back of his throat as he clutches at the Host’s jacket. “Dean tackles Castiel, causing him to break concentration long enough for Dark to arrive!” the Host shouts.

Dean feels himself moving, leaping at Cas and sending them both to the ground. Wilford’s screams stop and become harsh ragged breaths, then a sharp ringing cuts through the air. Everything grows cold as a man manifests before them. His skin is grey and he is wearing a black suit, the first button of his white undershirt undone. Blue and red light seem to outline him, shifting and changing as he looks down at Cas and Dean, one eye obscured by his black hair, the one visible narrowed as he studies them. His face matches Wilford and the Host. Dean moves to get up, but is pushed back down by invisible hands and held to the ground. To his surprise, it looks like Cas can't move either, and Sam has been thrown next to them and pinned as well.

“Why didn't you call me sooner?” the man asks the Host, his voice low and layered, multiple voices at once but speaking at the same time, echoing after each word.

“The Host did not wish to disturb Dark, and had hoped he and Wilford could handle the strangers on their own.” the Host explains, head down.

“Mm. Well that didn't work out very well did it?” Dark chuckles.

“The Host supposes not.”

Dark jerks his head, cracking his neck before turning his attention to Cas. “An angel. Interesting. Oh, but you're not an ordinary angel are you Castiel?”

Cas just glares at the man above them, still straining to stand.

“Can you See it Host? All the twists and breaks in his grace? All the scars and tape trying to fix years of abuse.” Darks grin is feral.

“The Host can See it. Castiel’s grace has been warped into many different shapes, made more powerful and weakened until broken. Tortured and taken away, now trying to pass as it once was, but broken beyond repair,” he says, voice low and dangerous as he holds a shaking Wilford.

“Indeed. And you-” Dark looks down at Sam, “-where would I even begin? Your soul cries, it weeps in pain and fear. It’s been twisted, tormented and shattered, smothered and tossed aside like the rotten thing it is.”

“You shut your fucking mouth.” Dean growls at Dark, teeth bared.

“Oh Dean, I wasn't going to forget you. Your soul burns. It is full of rage and hate, warped beyond salvation. It's been turned, transformed, beaten into submission. It is full of flames, lashing out and eager to prove itself better than all the pain it has suffered.” Dark seems to be sucking the color from his surroundings, grey staining the ground he stands upon and drifting through the air.

A weak cough sputters behind Dark, and he turns to look at Wilford. “Damien?” Wilford mumbles. “Damien why are you here? You gotta go, it's not safe here. Where’s Celine? Is, is she okay? You're taking care of her right?”

Darks eyes soften and the grey fades from his skin, color seeping across him. The red around him fades, leaving only the blue flickering in its place. When he speaks, there is only one voice, low and soothing. “Of course Will. You know I will always look after her my friend. She is safe, I promise.”

“But you, you hafta leave, they'll hurt you.” Wilford struggles in the Host’s arms, reaching out to Dark.

Dark grabs his hand and pulls it to his chest. “Go to sleep William. Rest, I will keep you safe.” Slowly Wilford, William? slumps down, relaxing in the Host’s grip and eyes slipping shut. “Take him home.” Dark orders the Host, voice layered and echoing once more, the color in his skin draining and the red light returning.

“The Host and Wilford warp to Wilford’s room-” the Host, along with Wilford/William disappear, leaving only a very pissed off looking Dark.

“You are not a single being.” Cas says, voice clear. Dark looks at him, face expectant, waiting for more. Cas continues, “You have two souls, a man and a woman, but neither belong to your vessel. They are both angry, feel betrayed and yearn for revenge. There is something else as well, something dark. It is old, powerful and cunning. It has made an arrangement with the souls, given them power in exchange for something.”

“Very good Castiel. You've got the basics down.” Dark smiles and cracks his neck again, then takes a deep breath. “Now, you’ve hurt someone very dear to me. This I cannot forgive, and will not go unpunished. I just haven't quite decided how yet. I have a few ideas of course. You know, Wilford really is the one that enjoys this kind of thing. He makes a game of it you see. He doesn't quite see things the way you do. His soul… well his soul was broken, and his mind soon followed. He is not connected to reality anymore. The real world hurts far too much. So he has fun, he plays and doesn't acknowledge any pain, his own or others’.”

He looks at Cas, eyes hard. “But you, Castiel, you woke up William. William feels everything. William remembers, and cares. He fears for those dear to him for he knows they have been ripped away from him in the cruelest way possible.”

“That does not give him the right to murder people.” Sam hisses.

Dark turns slowly to Sam. “No, perhaps not. But what would give him the right? What gives anyone the right? But it happens every day. What gives you the right to hunt him for it?”

“He deserves it.” Dean spits.

“Mm, I disagree. But for argument's sake, let's say he does. What gives you the right to kill him for it? Who decided you could? You yourselves have been hunted for killing. Maybe you weren't always killing humans, but killing nonetheless. You are hunted because you have no right to be killing anyone. So I hardly think you ‘have the right’ to be judging Wilford, let alone deciding he needs to die for what he has done.”

Darks crouches down to looks Dean in the eyes. “By your logic I have every right to do what I am going to do to you.”

Dark

Dark grins at Deans furious expression. “It's truly amazing how someone can live their whole life governed by an idea, but as soon as it no longer works in their favor, the idea can change. That's why I will always win. Because I do not need the right to do what I want. I will not be hindered in reaching my goals by rules that are followed only because of the stubbornness to not let go of them. Nothing is stopping me from moving forward, from gaining power. I have no guilt.” Without breaking eye contact with Dean, Dark raises one hand and clenches it into a fist. Sam screams.

Normally Dark prefers to break his victims slowly, to reach into their minds and turn them against themselves, but today he is eager to witness their suffering. Wants to hear their screams as they had heard Wil’s, wants to see their blood as they had seen Wil’s. Wants to feel their pain and bask in their suffering.

So he savors in Dean’s desperate attempts to reach his brother as Sam’s organs twist and bleed. He listens to the anger and desperation in Dean’s voice, in Castiel’s struggle to regain his freedom and help the ones he calls family. Dark releases his hand and stops squeezing before Sam passes out.

Who next? Castiel is the one inflicted the damage upon Wil, but he seems to be anguished by his companions’ misery. So Dark turns to Dean. He reaches out and grips his leg, just above his ankle, and squeezes. He crushes the hunter’s bones slowly, willing the bone to splinter and pierce into the surrounding muscle. Dean screams through clenched teeth, fists tight and eyes squeezed shut.

But Dark feels the bones begin to knit themselves back together beneath his fingers, the muscle healing and bleeding cease. He frowns for a moment before looking up to see Castiel has managed to move one arm so he is touching Dean’s hand, and is fighting against Dark’s power. He cannot help the grin that breaks across his face, and he releases his hold on Dean, allowing Cas to heal him fully.

“Interesting. I've not encountered a being that can counter me. The Host has come the closest, but even he has his limits. I think we have some fun games ahead of us Castiel.” Dark flicks his wrist and sends Sam and Dean flying back, slamming them against two trees, dazing them. He replaces his hold on them to keep them pinned to the forest floor, but allowing them enough maneuverability to watch what he does to the angel.

Dark stands and straightens his coat, twisting his neck to put the forever broken bones into a more comfortable position, then releases Castiel. The angel stands slowly, glaring at Dark. A silver blade appears in Castiel’s hand, and Dark can feel power radiating from it. That may be dangerous if Dark is not careful.

“Let’s get started,” Dark purrs. Castiel leaps forward, blade aimed to stab into Dark’s stomach. He catches Castiel by the neck and slams him down, pulling the blade from his hand as he does. Dark goes to press one knee on Castiel’s chest but the angel twists sideways and pulls Dark over himself, throwing him into the leaves. Dark warps to his feet a short distance away, still holding the blade. Castiel jumps to his feet and once again lunges toward him, so Dark holds out a hand and freezes the angel in place. He can feel Castiel struggle against his grip, but failing to do anything beyond jerking his body and clenching his fists. Dark holds up the stolen blade and examines it closely, prodding it with his aura and testing its strength. Impressed, Dark pushes Castiel back against a tree and grips his wrists with the hand not holding the blade, pressing them against the angels chest. “I'm curious, what does this do to you?” he ponders.

“Release me, demon.” Castiel orders.

Dark snarls and presses the blade against Castiel’s throat. “Do not compare me to those pathetic creatures!” he seethes. “Weak and foul the lot of them, groveling and pissing in their pits!”

Furious, Dark removes the blade from Castiel’s neck and starts digging the tip in his shoulder. The angel groans in pain as bright blue light shines from the wound. Dark pulls back the blade and drags it across Castiel's cheek, spilling more light. He then wrenches the others’ hand above his head, giving himself access to Castiel's chest. He cuts open the angel’s shirt and exposes the skin, then begins to carve a rough outline of Wil’s ridiculous pink mustache into his flesh. He will remember what he has done, remember the one he has crossed.

Castiel does not scream, just breathes heavily through his teeth, and Dark might have been impressed if he were not enraged. When he's finished Dark stabs the blade through one of Castiel's hands, burying it to the hilt into the tree. Finally the angel screams and Dark grins.

He wraps his power further around the angel to ensure he remains trapped against the tree, then snaps his fingers to pull Dean toward him. Dark steps away from Castiel to look down at the swearing and shouting hunter, whose expression is murderous. Dark manifests his own knife, blade flat and sharp on both sides, narrowing to a point at the tip. The handle and blade are both a deep matte black, and Dark grips it tight as he approaches Dean.

Both Sam and Castiel are screaming at him, calling out to Dean. Dark bares his teeth in a wicked mockery of a smile as he drops to one knee beside the hunter and places the tip of his knife into the dip between Deans collar bones, pressing the point into the soft flesh, drawing drops of blood that gather in the recess.

The Host apologizes for interrupting Dark from his task, but feels he must inform him that Wilford is awake, if not completely lucid, as he is begging for Celine and Damien. The Host is having trouble keeping him contained, and fears for Wilford’s safety.

“I am busy Host.” Dark growls, knowing the Host will hear.

The Host knows, but suggests that it may be the best course of action to leave the adversaries alive. The Host can deal with the Winchesters if Dark expels Castiel from the forest. The Host impresses on Dark the gravity of Wilfords current state and reminds him he can always seek out Castiel and the Winchesters if he wishes to continue at a further date.

Dark looks back down at Dean and lets out a sharp breath. “Very well. Give me a moment and I will be there.”

The Host acknowledges Dark thanks him.

Dark stands stands swiftly and turns to Castiel, stepping forward and pressing two fingers on his forehead. “You are forever banished from this forest, barred from returning. You will never pursue, communicate, nor harm Wilford Warfstache or the Host.” Dark removes his fingers from Castiel's head and leans in to hiss in his ear, “And you had better watch your back, for you have made an enemy that does not forget, and never forgives.”

Dark warps himself to Wilford’s bedside, to William.

The Host

As soon as Dark appears the Host narrates himself to the Winchesters. Castiel is already gone and Sam is helping Dean sit up. “The Host appears before the brothers, who once again find themselves unable to move. The Host tilts his head as he hears Dark speaking to him, telling him to not take away the possibility of interaction, as he may want to visit them in the future. Dark adds that the Host may do whatever he likes with the Winchesters, but requests he be swift.” The Host looks back down at Sam and Dean, a hint of a smile on his face.

“The Host has not intentionally inflicted pain without a purpose since he was the Author, but as he looks down at the Winchesters, fury and slight excitement course through him. The Host fills the Winchesters’ lungs with liquid, drowning them slowly.”

Sam and Dean begin choking, clawing at their throats, attempting to pull air into their lungs as water bubbles out of their mouths.

The Hosts voice darkens, “The Winchesters cannot be harmed by their drowning, nor any of the injuries and torment the Host will inflict, but will remain conscious and feel the pain of their torture. The Host fills their stomachs with molten lead and packs their intestines with red-hot needles. The Winchesters writhe in agony, encouraging the Host. Their eyes are burned out of their sockets and acid fills the gaping holes.”

“The Host removes the liquid from their lungs so he can hear them scream, and grins as he listens to the pain he has wrought. Dark scolds him for taking so long, though expresses his admiration of the Host’s work. The Host releases the Winchesters from their tortures, but ensures they will still feel the lingering pain until Castiel inevitably heals them. Sam and Dean are no longer immune to tortures, and once again can be wounded and die.”

The Host frowns, lamenting that he has to cease his torture. “The Winchesters are warped back to their car, never again able to enter the forest, and obstructed from seeking Wilford, the Host, and Dark.” The Host finishes his narration and Sam and Dean disappear.

Dark

“Damien, guess what happened next!” William is laying in bed, Dark sitting next to him, skin no longer grey and red light faded from around him.

“You know I am a terrible guesser Will, do just tell me.” Dark smiles.

“Oh alright. Next, I am woken by the sound of trumpets and banging, and emerge from my tent to find a group of gorillas and an elephant using all our supplies as musical instruments!” William laughs.

Dark smiles as well, and listens as William recounts stories of his adventures Dark has heard many times before. Before long Wilford will resurface, and he will forget all his tales, his past with Damien and Celine, will once again dissociate from reality and see Dark as he is now; powerful and cruel. But he will ignore that and treat Dark as a friend, because he doesn't care. He doesn't care about suffering, he doesn't care about hate, he goes through his existence seeing it as a joke. Because that's what he needs to believe.

It’s all a joke.

Chapter Text

Dark

It has been a little over two months since Dark’s encounter with the hunters and their angel. Wilford has long since recovered and is once again bouncing around, enjoying what he can and laughing at everything else. He hasn't killed anyone in those two months, but Dark knows that will not last. Not that he cares.

But Dark has grown bored, and thinks he may benefit from revisiting the Winchesters. He considers going alone, however Dark thinks Wilford may enjoy a rematch with Sam and Dean. Dark will deal with Castiel before joining Wilford with the brothers.

Decision made Dark warps to the Host and Wilford’s house, manifesting himself in the living room and sitting on the Host’s reading chair to wait for Wilford to either return or the Host to call him back. Dark picks up one of the Host’s books, opening it to a random page and running his fingers over the braille. Something about cats. The language is a little simpler than Dark would expect from a book the Host may enjoy, but perhaps simple is soothing once and a while.

After a few minutes the Host walks down the stairs to greet Dark. “The Host apologizes for not coming down immediately, but he had recordings to complete.”

Dark stands from the chair and clasps his hands behind his back. “It is quite alright Host. May you call Wilford please? I have a proposition for him, and you as well should you wish.”

The Host nods. “Wilford’s attention is brought from his games and he is requested to return home, as Dark has a proposal for him.”

It’s only a moment before Wilford pops into reality before them, hands and shoes coated in mud, twigs tangled in his pink hair.

“Darky! It’s been far too long!”

“It’s been a week Wilford.” Dark reminds him.

“Yes indeed, far far too long. Now!” Wilford claps his hands together, spraying bits of mud in all directions, “you had some ideas for something to do Darky? You always come up with the best games, I’m eager to hear your plans!”

Dark brushes a speck of dirt from his jacket and looks at Wilford. “Indeed. You remember the hunters from a few months ago?”

“Oh yes! I didn't know they wanted to play tag, I was entirely unprepared. Very rude of them,” he scowls.

“Would you like a rematch?” Dark smiles.

Wilford gasps and claps his hands repeatedly, bouncing on his toes, his eyes sparkling. “What should I bring? Stabbies or shooties? You know what? I’ll bring both.” He sprints down the hall towards his room to gather what ‘toys’ he thinks will go best with this game.

Dark turns to the Host. “You seemed to enjoy your activities with the Winchesters, would you like to join us Host?”

“The Host considers the offer for a moment, then decides to accept, but informs Dark he will most likely observe more than participate.”

Dark nods. “Give me a moment to deal with the angel, join me when Wilford returns.” He does not wait for the Host to acknowledge his words before warping to the Winchesters’ ‘secret’ bunker.

-----

Castiel is Dark’s first priority. The angel senses his presence as soon as he manifests, so he has to trap him quickly to prevent him from warning the Winchesters. Dark stuffs Castiel into a small pocket of reality, not quite a different universe, but out of the away enough from this one to keep him confined and unable to interfere with Wilford’s games. Dark may spend some time with Castiel alone, but for now he is content to watch and participate in the chaos Wilford is so good at creating.

And, if Dark is honest, he wants to keep an eye on Wilford with these two. They are indeed dangerous, and Dark is still a little on edge from their last encounter. He thinks the Host knew that Dark wanted him here not only for the Host’s own amusement, but to help keep Wilford from getting into too much trouble. The Host had known what came with allowing Wilford to stay in his home, and so far has taken everything in stride, willing to adjust to Wilford’s rather bizarre patterns and habits.

Once Dark is confident Castiel will not escape, he returns to the bunker and sits himself at one of the large tables in the main hall to wait for Wilford and the Host. It is only another minute before they pop into existence next to him, Wilford already grinning and the Host sporting not quite a smile, but not his typical impassive expression either.

Wilford seems to have cleaned himself up, mud and twigs gone, hair immaculate and clothes pristine. The Host looks like he had simply picked up yesterday’s clothes and finger combed his hair back. Dark himself has decided to forgo the tie for today, and lets his hair fall messily across his face.

“Dark, you should wake up those sleepy heads don't you think? We can start with hide and seek,” Wilford suggests, voice low.

“I quite agree Wilford.”

Dean

Dean is woken by the sound of his door creaking open slowly. “Sammy, we don't have a case, I am going to sleep all fucking day got it?” he mumbles into his pillow. When there is no response Dean lifts his head to look at the open doorway in just enough time to see a trail of ink-like fog drift down the hall.

“God fucking damnit.” Dean grabs his shotgun and runs to the hall and looks down the direction the fog had gone. All he sees is Sam, just outside his room with a shotgun as well.

“I think shoes are a good idea,” Sam whispers. Dean nods and slips back into his room and pulls on jeans and his boots, then goes back out to meet Sam.

“What’re you thinking?” Dean asks.

“My first guess is demon by the smoke, but there's no way one could have gotten in.” Sam says.

“Alright, it went that way, let’s go.” Dean steps forward and flips the switch, turning the lights on in the hallway. They blink on for a moment, hum, then explode in a shower of sparks.

“Oh, great, just what we needed.” Dean sighs. He looks over at Sam, who inhales deeply and starts forward.

They walk down the dark hallways, checking every room as they go. When they reach a section where the pathway splits, they hear a distant echoing laughter, deep and gargled. They turn in the direction in came from, jogging now to keep up with the warbling laughter as it travels down the halls. Finally they end up in the main hall. Dean wasn't going to bother to try the lights, but as soon as they enter all of them flash on at once, blinding Dean for a moment. When his eyes adjust he sees ‘TAG, YOU’RE IT!’ written in large sparkly pink letters across the wall.

“Oh fuck, no. Please no. Damnit, where’s Cas?” Dean swears.

Castiel is gone, the Host informs Sam and Dean. There will be no aide from him during Wilford’s games.

“Fuck!” Sam spits. He turns to Dean, “you think the other one’s here too?”

“I'm hoping not, but he was the one who could overpower Cas, so I'm betting he is.” Dean says.

Dark

The Host is down exploring the basement, keeping part of his Sight trained on Wilford and the Winchesters, who are running around the halls. Wilford is sprinting around the compound, laughing and blowing bubbles, while the brothers have split up, trying to corner him. Fifteen minutes are spent running around, Sam and Dean never once able to even catch a glimpse of the bubbly menace that has been unleashed in their home.

So far Dark has been content just watching through the shadows, checking in with the Host occasionally to see what other interesting and bizzare trinkets and devices he has discovered, watching as a bag grows ever heavier as the Host tucks away whatever he deems interesting enough to take. There are a few items sticking out of bag that appear to be meant for torture; Dark may have to have a talk with the Host once they leave. He is curious about them as well. He's also fairly certain there is a strange egg nestled in the Host’s pocket. Dark decides it is best to not think about that for now.

Dark warps back upstairs when he hears an unholy screeching, only to see Wilford running down a hall, hands held up and flapping around as he sprints, closely followed by Dean.

“Dark! Dark, he's almost got me! I don't wanna be It!” Wilford cries as he flees the angry Winchester. Dark dissipates before Dean can see him.

The Host would like to remind Wilford that he is the one who decided to play tag.

“But I didn't think he was gonna catch up!” Wilford screams into the air.

That is Wilford’s problem.

“Oh, I could make it your problem Hosty!” Wilford threatens as he skids around a corner, only to smack into Sam’s chest, knocking them both over. Dark watches as Dean does not stop in time to avoid crashing into them and lands on top of the both of them.

“Doggy-pile!” Wilford shouts from beneath the brothers before warping himself out from under the pile and into the air above them so he falls on top of them. It only takes a moment for Sam and Dean to throw Wilford off and right themselves. Wilford remains on the floor, curled up in laughter.

Both shotguns are swiftly aimed at Wilford, who doesn't seem to care. It takes a lot more than a shotgun to even affect him, so the impending threat of being shot doesn't much matter to Wilford. But there are no gunshots. Sam and Dean are just staring at Wilford as he lay on the ground giggling.

Dean

Looking down at the man laughing on the floor, Dean can't help but remember what Dark had said; “His soul… well his soul was broken, and his mind soon followed. He is not connected to reality anymore. The real world hurts far too much. So he has fun, he plays and doesn't acknowledge any pain, his own or others’.”

The man below him truly does not understand the world around him, he thinks everything is a game. Doesn't understand that dead people stay dead. To Dean, he seems more like a child.

He looks over at Sam, who seems to be thinking along the same lines as him. Slowly, Sam hands his shotgun to Dean and crouches down a little ways from Wilford. Wilford’s loud guffaws have been replaced with faint giggles and he turns his head to look at Sam.

“Oh! That was fun! Now that I’m It, do I get a shooty? That only seems fair. People tend to really laugh when I have a shooty, they're just so much fun.” He sits up quickly, both Sam and Dean shifting back a small bit. “But stabbies are lots of fun too. Makes it more challenging you see, you gotta get close enough to tickle ‘em!” Wilford pulls a knife out of… somewhere and wiggles it around, as if tickling someone with it.

Dean looks over at Sam, prompting him to say something. Sam looks back at Wilford and takes a deep breath,

“Look, uh, William-”

“William? I don't know a William around here.” He looks behind him at something Dean can't see, “Darky, do you know a William?”

Sam shakes his head, “You're William. You-”

The air turns frigid and a familiar piercing ring fills the space. Sam is immediately standing and grabs his shotgun from Dean, but they are both thrown back and pinned against a wall.

“New game Wilford.” Dark appears before them, layered voice low and dangerous, barely concealing rage. “You're hunting, Dean is your target.”

Dean is dropped to the floor and looks up to see Wilford’s manic grin.

Dark

Once Wilford has dragged Dean away, Dark turns to Sam. “How dare you,” he seethes. “You know, you know what that does to him, you know the pain it puts him through and you try to manipulate him? To take the cowards route and hit your enemy at their weakest point, knowing it will break them.” He is nose to nose with Sam, growling in his face, his auras flickering and twisting.

“You mean like you? That's exactly what you tried to do to us.” Sam hisses, eyes glaring into Dark’s, not giving an inch.

Dark grins, “Yes, Sam. Exactly like me. How does that feel, to know you have stooped to my level? That you use others’ trauma and pain to manipulate them. That’s the sort of thing you enjoyed when you didn't have a soul, right? My have you fallen.” Dark gives a mock sympathetic frown.

“How do you know about that?” Sam demands, trying to twist free of Dark’s hold on him.

“I know many things Samuel. What's important here is what you know. Do you know what kind of person you are? When everything is peeled back, when only your intentions and motives are seen, what are they? Selfish, prideful, twisted and rotten.” Dark rolls his neck, popping bones back into place. “Let's find out if we can see them.” he grins.

The Host

Truth be told, the Host does not know what half of the things in his bag are, and the only thing he Sees in the future of the egg is something snake-like, with lots of teeth and golden eyes. But he is excited to bring it all home and more carefully examine everything.

Upstairs, Wilford is in an large empty room, playing with Dean. Dean probably sees it as a fight to the death, and is fighting as hard as he can, but the Host knows that if Wilford were to truly attack, Dean would be on the ground with skin so flayed and bones so broken he would be unrecognizable. Across the compound Dark has Sam pinned to a wall and bleeding, blood dripping from his eyes and mouth as Dark wrecks havoc to his organs, all the while whispering to Sam, getting into his head and breaking him from the inside. The Host considers joining Wilford. It may be interesting to see how Dean reacts to two such powerful opponents, one breaking his body, the other his mind.

The Host stills as he feels something shift in the compound. “The Host warns Dark that Castiel has escaped his prison, and is intent on protecting his family.”

Dark freezes in his task, knife slid under the skin on Sam’s chest, peeling it away from the muscle. “Get Wilford and get out.” Dark orders.

“The Host can help-”

“No! Leave!”

“The Host will send Wilford home, but he will stay. Sam and Dean must be warded off if Dark intends to face the angel.”

“Host! You fucking-”

The Host stops listening. “Wilford warps back to the house, unable to leave until Dark or the Host allow it. The Host knows he was in the middle of a game and is now angry, but narrates Wilford to safety regardless.” The Host quickly sends his finds back to the house as well, nestling the egg in one of his desk drawers, surrounded by many of his spare bandages.

The Host sends himself to Dark’s side in the main hall, muttering beneath his breath, sending the Winchesters to the dungeon he had found in the basement, and securing it many times over. Already Dark has the blade he had stolen from Castiel in his hand, and sends a glare toward the Host.

“The Host will stay out of the way and not interfere unless he deems it one hundred percent necessary, while ensuring his hold on the Winchesters remains strong.” the Host promises, then carefully retreats to a nearby room in order to better See Dark and the Winchesters.

Dark

Dark is furious with himself. He had lost control of Castiel’s prison, a foolish mistake he should have noticed and fixed. But Wilford is safe, and the Host can take care of himself, leaving all of Dark’s focus on the wrathful enemy swiftly approaching.

The front doors to the bunker are blown off their hinges and bright blue light streams in. Castiel enters, his face neutral but the shadows of his wings twitching and beating in fury. Dark does not wait for Castiel to strike first, he spreads the shadow of his aura across the room, pushing back Castiel’s light and surrounding the angel in a fog. The angel is delayed but for a moment before he rips free of Dark’s power, stalking toward him.

“You attacked my family. You have tortured them. You will die for your actions.” Castiel growls.

“I was merely returning what you bestowed upon my family.” Dark spits back, straightening his spine. He rolls his head, glass shattering and static filling the air as the bones in his neck crack against one another.

Castiel begins to march forward, steps even and consistent, not rushing toward Dark, but certainly not hesitating either. Dark stands, waiting as the angel approaches. When he is just out of reach Castiel rushes forward, hand outstretched to cover Dark’s face. Dark swings the blade up and sweeps it sideways, catching Castiel’s arm and pushing it away from him while cutting a long gash across the skin. Not deterred Castiel continues forward, maneuvering swiftly and striking hard. Dark blocks each blow, stepping back as needed to avoid Castiel’s advance.

As Dark retreats, he studies Castiel, learning his attacks and anticipating his blows. Castiel’s main goals seem to be getting his hand on Dark’s head or reclaiming his blade, making his movements easier to predict. Once he is confident in his knowledge, Dark surges forward, countering Castiel’s attack with his own, taking the angel by surprise. He had become sure this was a fight he would win. Now he is more desperate, not using agility as much as just brute force.

As loathed as Dark is to admit, Castiel is stronger than him, and Dark as well must renew his efforts.

Castiel

The creature surprised Castiel; he is a more challenging opponent than Castiel had expected him to be. The being is indeed powerful, but power does not always assure strength. This thing, this ‘Dark’ however, has impressive skills, and fights with experienced ferocity. Despite this, Dark is still slowly losing control. The auras around him, the reflections of the beings inside him, fight as well, attempting to break through Castiel’s power and weaken him; but without success.

Castiel manages to breach Dark’s defense and press his palm to his head. Dark screams, the multiple layers in his voice all screaming at different pitches. Cracks appear on the floor below him, spreading out as he falls to his knees. Once again Castiel is surprised when the creature’s screams of pain continue long after other beings would have been reduced to ashes. It seems that this is not killing the creature; he resists even as he begins to seize in pain. Dark’s cries of agony slowly shift to roars of fury. Dark jerks back and away from Castiel, breaking the contact between them.

For all his strength to survive Castiel’s power, he is left weak, struggling to stand but only managing to collapse completely onto the floor.

The Host-

“NO. Do not interfere Host, this fight is mine, and you shall not bear any of it.” Dark growls before his ally can try to aide him as he pushes himself onto his hands and knees. Dark’s concern for the Host almost gives Castiel pause, but this being, as well as the Host, hurt Castiel’s family. Dark will die, and the Host shall follow.

Castiel circles behind Dark and grips his hair, pulling him to his knees, the creature growling and twisting, attempting to pull away. Castiel leans down and firmly grips Dark’s head and twists, snapping his neck.

But something is wrong. No bones broke, there was no crunching sound as the throat collapsed, and Dark is on the ground where Castiel has dropped him, still breathing. Castiel stares as Dark lets out weak huffs of laughter, eyes closed and a smile splitting his face.

“You cannot kill a body that is already dead.” Dark wheezes, neck still bent at a wrong angle. Then he jerks his head and there's a scrape and a pop as the bones realign, broken but functional. Dark lay panting on the floor, curled in on himself, his auras flickering and jumping, betraying the agony the creature is in.

Unwavering in his task to end Dark’s existence, Castiel kneels down and once again presses his palm to the creature’s head. Again Dark screams as Castiel uses all the power he can to destroy him. Dark is weakening, Castiel can feel the souls inside him fading, their reflections stuttering.

The Host appears before Castiel, shielding Dark from further harm.

Castiel’s grip on Dark is broken and he stands to face the Host. The bandages covering the Host’s eyes are stained with spots of blood, a single drop trailing down from his left eye.

“The Host is past anger, is past fear. The Host only has calm determination to defend Dark from the angel before him.”

Castiel gazes at the Host. “You cannot control me, creature.” Castiel reminds him.

“The Host well remembers their first encounter. This does not dissuade him from protecting his brother. The Host will fight Castiel, even if that means the Host will die. Castiel would die for Sam and Dean would he not? Castiel has died for them, after having only known them for what Castiel considers a blink of an eye. Dark is the Host’s brother, and he will protect his brother to his own dying breath.” The Host stands unwavering in front of Dark, face set and body firm, ready to move at a moments notice. Very well.

“The Host anticipates Castiel’s attack and counters it, then begins his own assault upon the angel.” the Host does as he narrates, muttering his actions as he pursues Castiel, pushing him back with unexpected strength. It is not long before Castiel is on his knees in front of the Host, hands pinned behind him and his own blade pressed against is neck.

“Perhaps the Host cannot narrate Castiel, but he can write his own actions.” the Host hisses, panting. “The Host will spare Castiel’s life, and the lives of the Winchesters, if Castiel makes a deal with him.”

“What are your terms?” Castiel snarls, hesitant to make a deal with a creature he knows nothing about.

“Castiel and the Winchesters will never confront the Host or any of his brothers again. No harm will come to them by the Winchesters’ or Castiel’s doing, nor by any other being carrying out their intent. In return the Host will ensure neither himself nor any of his brothers will ever confront or harm Castiel or the Winchesters.”

“And how would we seal this contract?” Castiel asks, not seeing any better option than the one the Host has presented.

“The Host is not a demon, he does not have the power create a soul binding contract. Castiel will give the Host his word, and should Castiel violate the terms, the Host will make him watch as Sam and Dean are killed, slowly and painfully, before Castiel is destroyed as well. Does Castiel accept the Host’s terms, or will the Host have the pleasure of slitting Castiel’s throat?” The Host presses the angel blade a little firmer against his neck to impress the importance of Castiel’s decision.

“I give you my word that no harm will come to you or your brothers by my or the Winchesters actions or intentions.” Castiel promises, voice even and sure.

“The Host gives his word no harm will come to Castiel or the Winchesters by his or his brothers actions” With that the Host releases Castiel and rushes to Dark’s side.

“I told you. To not interfere.” Dark pants once the Host is kneeling beside him.

“The Host only promised he would not interfere unless he deemed it necessary. The Host believes it was necessary.”

The Host stands and once again faces Castiel. The angel notices the Host’s bandages have completely soaked through, blood now continually dripping down his face and staining his coat.

“Why do your eyes bleed?” he asks.

“Because the Host allows them to.” The Host answers coldly. “The Host releases the Winchesters, who are healed of their wounds. The Host casts his Sight once more around the compound, and suggests the doors be repaired at the earliest possible time and informs Castiel that there is a family of squirrels living in the mattress of one of the corner bedrooms on the top floor where there is a small hole leading from the ceiling to the roots of a nearby tree. The Host requests they remain undisturbed, as they are causing no harm and will continue their lives out of the other inhabitants of the bunker’s way. The Host supposes the King of the Squirrels has influenced his feeling towards the small creatures, but insists upon their safety nonetheless.”

The Host waits for a moment, but before Castiel can inquire as to why he has not left he hears Sam and Dean running towards them. The Host nods at Castiel, having confirmed to the angel he is upholding his end of the bargain, then returns to Dark’s side. “The Host warps himself and Dark back home-” The Host and Dark disappear just as Sam and Dean burst into the room.

“Cas! You're okay!” Dean grins. “What the hell happened, where'd they go?”

“I made a deal with the Host, they will no longer be a problem as long as we stay away from them.” Castiel explains.

“A deal?! Cas, what the fuck! Why would you do that?” Dean shouts, relief turning to disbelief and anger.

“The Host is not a demon, there is no price, only the expectation that I shall uphold my end. In return he will uphold his.”

“Why not kill them, why make a deal?” Sam asks.

“The Host is smart, and more powerful than anticipated. His only wish was to protect his brother.”

“So he beat you.” Dean states.

“No, we came to an agreement before more blood was shed.”

“Yeah, he kicked his ass.” Dean laughed to Sam. Sam smirks back. “What about Dark?” Dean asks.

“He is interesting. I tried to kill him, but his body is already dead. I was almost successful in burning the entity and souls from his vessel, however the Host intervened.”

“And then kicked your ass.” Dean adds, smiling.

Castiel glares but does not say anything to defend himself, knowing Dean will continue his insistence of Castiel’s defeat.

The Host

Despite Dark’s vehement protests, the Host calls Dr.Iplier and the Googles to the house to assist in Dark’s recovery over the next few weeks. It is slow, as Dark’s souls have to heal; regain their power and strength. It takes Wilford being stationed outside Dark’s room, instructed to never leave Dark’s side should he attempt to flee. As much as Dark loves Wilford, prolonged exposure to his boundless energy and excitable nature can become trying. Dark is currently too weak to warp himself anywhere for him simply disappearing to be an issue, and the Host keeps close watch should it ever become a problem.

Google and his upgrades are furious about what has been done to their brothers, and desire nothing more than to tear the Winchesters to pieces, but they comply with the Host’s rules and settle for learning all they can about the brothers, which, they have discovered, is quite a lot.

After Dr.Iplier’s initial ‘I’m sorry, you're dying’ speech that everyone ignored he has kept close watch over Dark, much to Dark’s annoyance.

King of the Squirrels has visited a few times, bringing in a few of his loyal subjects in an attempt to cheer Dark up. Needless to say, Dark does not enjoy the small animals crawling across him and digging through his things, but grits his teeth and tries to ignore them, occasionally creating sudden sounds where they are exploring to scare them away from his belongings, at which the King will scold Dark as if he could have any effect on Dark’s actions or opinions toward the rodents.

The rest of their brothers for the most part keep their distance, either just not having a close relationship with Dark or being perhaps a little scared of him. Or banned in the Jims’ case.

After a month Dr.Iplier deems Darks well enough for him to be no longer needed and swiftly leaves. The Googles leave soon after, the Host once again making them swear to not go after the Winchesters.

A few more weeks pass and Dark is nearly fully healed, and certainly well enough to warp himself wherever it is he goes when not with any of his brothers. Wilford insists it’s some hidden base in a cave where he plans his world domination, and while the Host does not exactly agree, he would not be surprised if that where the case.

Either way, Dark leaves without much fanfare; just disappears without leaving any trace he had been in the Host and Wilford’s home. Wilford is disappointed but the Host knew Dark wouldn't be staying any longer than he had to. He would come back to visit soon enough, if Wilford doesn't drag him back first.

Chapter Text

“No.”

“Dean, they're our best option.”

No. Do you not remember the torture bits? Or the, the creepy Jedi mind tricks?”

“No, of course not. But-”

“But nothing! There is nothing that can justify even trying to contact them.”

“They can help.”

“No.”

“Dean, they-”

“Aw Cas, not you too. They're dangerous!”

“And powerful. They can assist us.”

“And what makes you think they'd help huh?”

“Because it may end up affecting them too, they'll have a better chance if we work together.”

“They're not going to help.”

“We have to at least try, Dean.”

 

Castiel

 

This is pushing the lines in the terms of their agreement, Castiel knows. But he hopes the Host will understand and take the circumstances under consideration. Had it been Dark Castiel had made the deal with, he would not have come even this close.

Castiel is standing at the edge of the forest that holds the Host’s home. He is unable to go any further in, Dark’s powers as well as the deal preventing him from entering. The Host will sense him soon enough. Hopefully before Wilford or Dark. While Castiel does not fear either of them, Dark’s power certainly gives reason to be cautious, and he has a grudge with Castiel.

Castiel has been standing at the edge of the woods for a little over an hour when a soft rustling a ways away in the trees brings his attention up. In a tree, surrounded by twelve squirrels, is a man dressed in the clothes a king may be depicted wearing in a child’s cartoon. His face, the same as Wilford, Dark, and the Host’s, is covered in peanut butter from below his nose to his chin. He peers through glasses at Castiel, expression cautious but intrigued. Before Castiel can say anything the man scurries away, running across tree branches and leaping through leaves with surprising swiftness, closely followed by the squirrels.

The Host

 

“The Host thanks the King for informing him of the stranger and gives the squirrel nearest to him a soft pat.” The Host waits as the King of the Squirrels leaves, his subjects scampering after him. Once they are gone he goes to the tank in the corner of his room, reaching his fingers in to lightly run them across smooth scales.

“The Host assures Clarence he will not be gone long, and smiles as Clarence bumps his head against the Host’s hand. The Host brushes his hand against Clarence again before withdrawing and replacing the screen on his tank.” The Host takes a deep breath.

There must be a reason Castiel is here. He would not risk breaking their agreement unless it’s important, and the Host does not look forward to discovering what that reason is.

 

------

“The Host appears within sight but out of reach of Castiel, wary of the angel’s intentions and ready to defend himself.” The Host takes comfort in the weight of Castiel’s blade in his pocket as the angel looks him over. “The Host would like to know what drives Castiel to come back, despite the deal he and the Host had struck.”

Castiel takes a grounding breath before replying, “We need your help.”

“What does Castiel need the Host’s assistance in?”

“There is something threatening this world, something powerful and unknown to us.”

“And Castiel wants help fighting it?”

“Yes.”

“Do Sam and Dean know of Castiel contacting the Host?”

“Yes.”

“Do they approve?”

“It was Sam’s idea, but Dean believes this to be a mistake.”

The Host ponders Castiel’s request. “Dark’s hold on Castiel is loosened enough for Castiel to follow the Host to his house, and only his house, but can be reestablished at any time should the Host see fit to expel the angel from the forest. The Host then warps himself to his living room, expectant that Castiel will follow.”

The Host runs his fingers down a few of the fronds of the fern in the corner of the room as he waits. Before long there is a flutter of wings and Castiel appears in the room as well. The Host waits as the angel inspects the room before speaking. “Now in a more comfortable setting, the Host requests more information about what Castiel wants from him.”

Eyes still sweeping his surroundings Castiel answers, “There is a being, one we do not recognize, that has begun exploring this world. It has killed one hundred and thirty seven people in the last month. It seems to follow no visible patterns regarding its target’s locations, and the only way we know they were all killed by one being is because I can feel the traces of its presence, but I cannot track it.”

“What exactly does Castiel want the Host to do?”

“Help find it, then help kill it.”

“And why should the Host help? Past interactions with Castiel and the Winchesters have not ended well, for anyone involved. And does Castiel expect the Host to be the only one to be involved in this? Dark is already watching and Wilford will not allow himself to be left out from anything he thinks may be exciting.”

Castiel shakes his head. “Dean would strongly protest either of them being involved.”

“Dean is not here, and if Castiel wants the Host’s help, he will have to accept that some of the Host’s brothers would be involved as well.”

Castiel stands silently for a while. The Host turns away and goes to the kitchen to make tea as he waits for Castiel’s answer, muttering narrations as he goes.

Once the Host returns with his tea in hand, Castiel nods and answers, “I accept that your brothers would be involved should you agree to help, but I expect them to uphold your promise, as the Winchesters and I shall uphold ours. Will you help?”

“The Host’s decision depends on what Dark thinks of Castiel’s request.”

 

Dark

 

Dark manifests himself behind Castiel, spreading the darkness of his aura close to the angel, surrounding him in greys and blacks. Dark smirks as the angel shifts uncomfortably, and looks at the Host.

“Were I not a factor, what would be your decision Host?” Dark asks.

“The Host is considering accepting Castiel’s request, part of it at the least, as he is curious about this being that has appeared.”

“Hm.” Dark looks back at Castiel, inspecting him. Castiel stands, unblinking as he returns Dark’s gaze. “I am inclined to agree with you Host. I suggest assisting in locating this creature, but waiting until it is found to determine if attacking it is the best course of action.”

“It is killing people.” Castiel growls.

“That is hardly my concern is it?” Dark snaps. He looks over at the Host, “What is your decision?”

“The Host will accept Castiel’s request, though only in finding the being before making decisions about what do with it.”

Castiel grits his teeth and nods. “Very well. Meet us at the bunker at the earliest possible time,” he says, then disappears with a beat of his wings.

“Give me an hour, I will come here before we go to the bunker.” Dark commands. “I think Google and his upgrades may be helpful, but their feelings towards the Winchesters may complicate their cooperation.” Dark waits until the Host nods before warping to the small warehouse the Googles reside in.

 

----------



As soon as Dark appears all four of the Googles look at Dark from their charging stations. Dark rolls his neck and addresses the Googles, “The Host and I are assisting some… acquaintances. Our task may interest you should you agree to certain guidelines.”

The Googles’ eyes all flash and there are soft hums as they ‘talk’ amongst each other. After a moment Google_Blue steps away from his charging dock. “What is the task?”

“An unknown being has gained the attention of our acquaintances, but they have failed in tracking it on their own. They have requested help in finding it.” Dark explains.

“Who are these acquaintances?” Google_Green asks from his dock.

“Castiel and the Winchesters.” Dark says. All of the Googles’ eyes flash red, and Dark raises a hand before they can speak. “That brings us to the condition. The promise of our not harming them must be upheld.”

“Why should we help them?” Google_Red spits.

“I confess I am curious about what they are hunting; it may prove to be useful if not a threat. And if it is a threat, the sooner it is dispatched the better.” Dark waits as there is further humming and clicking while the Goggles discuss the proposal, then _Red, _Green, and _Yellow step away from their docks as well.

“We will assist in the task.” Google_Blue states.

“Very well. We will go to the Host’s home before meeting the Winchesters.” Dark says, then disappears.

 

Dean

 

“I don't like this waiting around,” Dean says as he paces around the main room, arms crossed over his chest.

“None of us do Dean, but there’s not a lot else we can do,” Sam sighs from his seat at the center table.

“And why does the Dark guy have to get involved?” Dean growls.

“Because you need me,” says the familiar layered voices from behind him. Dean pivots to look at Dark. The man is standing across the table, hands behind his back and head tilted as he peers at Dean.

“Where is the Host?” Castiel asks.

“Reminding the Googles of the rules.”

“Googles?” Sam speaks up, tone conveying his confusion. Dark just smiles at him.

To his left Dean hears muttering, turning to see the Host in the corner with four men beside him who, like all of the ‘brothers’ Dean has met, share the same face. The four each wear a solid colored shirt, one blue, one red, one green, and one yellow, each with a bright glowing ‘G’ on the chest. When their gaze lands on Dean their eyes flash behind their glasses, each the color of their shirt.

“I advise you keep a healthy distance from the Googles, they tend to follow their secondary objective when agitated.” Dark warns, but with a smile on his face, sounding like he wants nothing more than for the ‘Googles’ to be provoked.

“Googles? They're named after a search engine?” Dean scoffs.

The Googles all turn their heads at once to face Dean again. “We are Google IRL, primary objective is to answer all questions as fast as possible,” they say in unison.

“And Dark mentioned a secondary objective?” Sam says.

The Googles all have  malicious grins across their faces as they answer, “Secondary objective is to destroy mankind.”

“Oh. Uh, okay then.” Sam purses his lips. “Let’s not do that.”

The Googles’ faces turn into murderous scowls.

“The Host suggests the Googles are told any information known about what is being hunted so they can begin searching,” the Host who, besides his mutterings, has stayed quiet, speaks up.

“Of course.” Cas nods and faces the Googles. “The creature always leaves behind a presence, but never enough to use to track it.”

“It seems to affect technology.” Sam adds, “Any speakers or screens in the building it was in only produce static.”

At this information Dark’s eyes flick over to the Host and his aura flickers in almost an agitated manner, while all the Googles begin to hum softly, the ‘G’s on their chests glowing a bit brighter. Dean looks over at Sam, who seems to be just as lost as him as to why this got a reaction from them.

“How were the humans killed?” Dark asks, voices calm despite the actions of his reflections.

“Either stabbed or throats cut. Seems a bit odd for a supernatural creature to use a knife, but none of the victims were killed any other way.” Sam answers.

The Googles have silenced and the Host has stopped narrating what is going on around him, and is just leaning against the wall with his head down. Dark takes a deep breath and runs his fingers through his hair, pulling it back and tugging on it sharply before letting it fall back over his face.

“I take it you know what this is.” Dean says. The Googles all look at Dark, who has lain his palms flat on a table. Slowly he straightens back up, rolling his head and cracking his neck, joining his hands behind his back.

Dark turns his head to the Googles. “It is your decision whether or not you stay,” he says, voices low. The Googles all glance at each other and begin to hum again.

They look back at Dark. “We will stay,” the blue one says.

“Then you are to remain cautious,” Darks says sternly. The Googles nod and Dark looks at Dean. “Show me your weapons,” he orders.

“Excuse me?” Dean says. “Like Hell I'm gonna show you where everything is.”

Dark rolls his eyes. “Host?”

The Host begins muttering again and Dean startles when he finds himself suddenly in the main weapon vault. “I was trying to be considerate, I guess we shall forgo that.” Dark sighs, walking up to various racks and inspecting what is there. “It’s pathetic you think anything is secret here.” He pauses and tilts his head. “Don't you dare.” he growls. Dean is thoroughly confused for a moment before there is a loud clang behind him and he turns to see Wilford swiftly withdrawing his hand from a rack of bear traps.

Well isn't this just great, the Bubblegum Menace has decided to show up. “I heard the word ‘secret’,” the man drawls, pointing at Dark, “and you know how much I love secrets.”

“Indeed Wilford. We are going to play hide and seek; Anti is hiding, we are seeking. Guns and knives are allowed.” Dark tells him, but speaks again before Wilford runs off. “BUT. You will not begin until I say, and we are seeking as a group. And we must be quiet, Anti does not know we are playing.”

Wilford nods eagerly. “What shall we do when we have found him?” he asks, knife appearing in his hand.

“That is up to Anti.” Dark says. Wilford nods again and bounces on his toes. Dark nods at him and he rushes off, grabbing weapons as he goes. Even as Wilford disappears from sight Dean can hear him laughing through the vault.

“Who is Anti?” Cas asks Dark.

“Another… idea, as the Host described us.” he says, gritting his teeth.

“Another brother of yours?” Sam inquires.

“No.” Dark snarls. “The same means of creation, but a different creator.”

“What are your creators?”

Dark turns to Cas and stares at him, eyes hard. “Unimportant and of no consequence.”

“Could this ‘Anti’s’ creator help?” Dean presses.

“No.”

“Have you even tried-” Sam starts.

“I said no. ” Dark repeats, voices raising and echoing louder, filling the space, aura crackling.

“The Host advises Sam and Dean to not pursue this idea further, and instead go over with the Googles what weapons you have so they may tell you if they are useful or not.” the Host says from a few racks away, running his fingers along various magical blades. “Does Castiel have any more of the angel blades?”

“No, only the one you took.” Castiel answers, not bothering to hide his anger over the theft.

The Host nods slowly and walks toward Cas. Once he is standing in front of him, the Host reaches into his coat and pulls out the angel blade. Cas stiffens, preparing for the possibility of an attack. “The Host will return the angel blade to Castiel, but reminds the angel that should it be turned upon him or his brothers the Winchesters will be the ones to suffer. Does Castiel understand?” The Host holds the blade before him, just out of Cas’ reach.

“I understand.” Cas nods, and the Host holds the blade out to Cas. Castiel takes it carefully and tucks it up his sleeve. Dean watches the exchange carefully, ready to jump in to Cas’ defense at a moments notice. But the two nod to each other and the Host turns away, muttering under his breath and continues his explorations.

“We need to find appropriate weapons,” a sudden voice speaks behind Dean and he spins around, fists up and ready to defend himself. The blue Google raises an eyebrow, twitching occasionally and smirking as if amused by Dean’s silent threat. Dean lowers his hands, one hundred percent not liking the look on his face.

“Yeah. Okay.” Dean agrees and walks to the first gun row. “What's your name?” he asks as he pulls out the first rack.

“Designation: Google_Blue.”

“Google Blue? That's it? No actual name?” Dean looks over from the guns to the other man.

“Why would I need a more human name? Mine serves the purpose required of a name.” Google Blue looks over Dean’s shoulder at the firearms lain out.

“I mean, I guess, but it’s pretty boring don't you think?”

“I have no need for an interesting name.” He points at one of the guns, “This one.”

Dean picks it up and closes the rack before moving on to the next. “Alright, well, I'm just gonna call you Blue.”

“Why?”

“Shorter, easier to say. And less weird than calling you ‘Google’.”

“Mm. These are all useless,” he says, pointing at the guns.

“What? Why?” Dean looked down at the guns, all of which were decent.

“You shot Wilford, yes?” Blue asks.

“Uh, yeah.”

Blue glares at him for a long moment before asking, “How did it affect him?”

“Just knocked him out of the tree.”

“Anti is more powerful than Wilford.” Blue says, closing the drawer.

Wilford pops his head around the corner. “Far less fun though. Sure, he's got a sense of humor, but his games are no fun. It’s always ‘stab, stab, stab’ with that guy.” He pulls out a knife and stabs the air to emphasize his point, then disappears.

“Okay…” Dean stares where Wilford had disappeared, ready for him to jump back out. When he doesn’t, Dean turns back to Blue. “So what do we use?”

“Anti draws power from technology; anything powered by electricity, or batteries. He can control it. He is a sort of glitch that can manipulate anything with a power source, corrupt any computer. This is why my upgrades and I cannot face him. It would take time, but he could hack us.”

“Wait, hack you? What does that mean?”

“I am an android, and the other Googles an extension of me. We are purely machine, and thus vulnerable to computer error or viruses.” Blue looks at Dean harshly. “Not any you could create, we are powerful and our software well protected.” He holds Dean’s gaze for another moment before returning his attention to the next rack of weapons.

“Anti is incorporeal, he has no body of his own and so can travel through technology, send himself anywhere with connection to any power. But to interact with the humans of this world he has possessed a sort of copy of his creator. To fight him effectively he needs to be cut off from anything that can give him an escape and strengthen him.” Blue explains.  

“Frankly, your weapons are close to useless. The only one of you even remotely capable of facing him is the angel. You and Sam will simply be more puppets for him to toy with.” Blue says dismissively. “You had just better hope Anti does not give Dark a reason to side with him.” Blue’s voice drops and his glowing eyes turn blood red. “Because where Dark goes, we all go.”

 

The Host

 

The Host had been right when he had assumed this would not go well. A fight with Anti is not one he wants to have, but Dark has decided to confront the glitch, and the Host will follow.  

After helping the Winchesters sort through which of their weapons may be useful, (not many) the Googles stand in a circle and begin to search for traces of Anti. Given Anti’s near constant connection to the internet, the Googles are best suited to tracking him, but they must be careful. Should Anti detect them, he may very well attack the Googles. Wilford is still running about the bunker, exploring every corner he can find. Dark has sat himself in a corner in the main hall and is deep within his own mind, planning and preparing, rifling through the possibilities of this encounter.

Sam and Dean are sat next to each other at the table farthest from Dark and the Googles, whispering to each other about plans and strategies. Castiel stands a little down the table, staring at the Host.

“The Host knows Castiel wants something, and would rather he talk to the Host than stare at him until Anti is found,” the Host mutters, but sends the narration to Castiel, ensuring he will hear it. After a moment Castiel walks over to the Host and sits across from him. The Host waits for Castiel to decide what he will say.

“You took something, last time you were here.”

“The Host took many things, Castiel will have to be more specific if he wants answers.”

“You took an egg.”

“The Host did.”

“Why?”

“The Host was curious.”

“Do you know what it is?”

“Leaning back in the chair and crossing his arms, The Host confirms he does.”

“Then you know the danger it poses.”

“The Host knows the potential for danger he poses.”

“He? How do you know its gender?”

“The Host could See it once he hatched.”

“It hatched?”

“The Host would have rolled his eyes if he possessed them, as he thought that was clear.”

“It must be destroyed.”

“The Host will not allow that to happen.”

“It is a threat.”

“To mice maybe. Clarence is young, he does not possess the power an adult would have.”

“It will grow.”

“True. And the Host will guide him.”

“You cannot guide a beast.”

“Clarence has more intelligence than Castiel credits him with.”

“Why should you be trusted with it?”

The Host leans forward. “Who else would Castiel rather care for Clarence? Dark? Wilford? The Winchesters?”

Castiel is silent for a moment. “Why did you really take it?”

The Host pauses, “… He was alone. Uncared for, left to forever sit in the dark and be forgotten. The Host could sympathize.”

Castiel sits, gazing at the Host. The Host remains still, allowing Castiel to inspect him, but blocking the angel’s less than subtle attempts to view his mind. A series of high dings draws Castiel’s attention away from the Host and to the corner the Googles are huddled in. A large map has been projected above them with a bright green dot blinking in a building.

“That’s where it is?” Sam asks, pointing at the map.

“Yes.” Google_Yellow confirms.

“Googles, go back home.” Dark orders. The Googles nod and all warp out of the bunker. “Wilford!” Dark calls out.

“Yes Darkie?” Wilford appears, legs hooked over the railing of the landing in front of the door, hanging upside down and looking down at them.

“Game starts now.”

--------

 

Dark is the first to arrive in the dusty basement Anti currently inhabits, closely followed by Wilford and the Host. By the time Castiel has brought the Winchesters, Dark can feel the static moving through the air. Wilford feels it too and lets out a small giggle, ready to begin the game. Sam and Dean have their shotguns raised and are surveying the space around them, as if they would be able to see the glitch before he wanted them to. Behind Dark the Host is silent, arms crossed and head bowed.

Wilford grins. “Ready or not, here we come.”

 

Dean



A soft chuckle echoed around the space. “ D͝ar͘k,̡ y̷o͡u͝ brought͡ ̀f͢r̷ienḑ ,” a broken voice murmurs around them. “ M̵o͡rȩ pųp͝pe҉t̷s t̴o p͞lay ҉w̧ith̕ .”

“We aren’t your damn puppets!” Dean growls.

A full laugh this time, sharp and high. “ Y̕o͞u'rè mi͞n̛e̕ ́nòw̨ ,” it says, grin clear in its voice. A voice with an Irish accent , which Dean had not at all been expecting.

A figure flickers in front of them; a thin, pale young man in black skinny jeans and black t-shirt, green hair ruffled up and throat cut, blood trailing down his neck. Before Dean can shoot the figure disappears, leaving static in his place. Dean whirls around, looking for where he could have gone, but there is just more laughter.

D̡o ̀y̕ou ̴wan̵t so҉met̨hin̶g̡ ̀D̛ark? Or ͢a͞re͡ y̸ou̴ here̴ ̡to̧ ̸tr͘y̧ to ͡kil̀l me̕? ” the voice asks, glitching and sputtering.

“I haven’t decided yet.” Dark responds. Dean looks sharply at Dark, who looks as calm as he had in the bunker, spine straight and hands tucked behind his back.

Oh̵? ̡An͢d͜ ́what͡ ̷is͝ ͢y͟our d́eci͟di̢n͝g ͞f͘acto̕r ?” The figure, who must be Anti, appears again; vicious grin splitting his face. Sam and Dean both shoot but Anti disappears before the shots hit him.

“Your motives and intentions.” Dark says.

I̵'̢m͟ t͡e͠s͢tin̵g t̀h̸ę waters.̡ ̨Se̕e͜in͘g ̢w̴h̢a͘t͢ th͏i͞s pla̴c̢e̵ ha҉s҉ ̵to off̵e͟r, sur̵e͏ly ́you͟ ͠u͡n͠derst͝an͞d .”

“Of course. And after you’ve decided?”

The͟n͘ t͞h̴is͝ ͘w͞orld n͜eeds ̧t̛o҉ k͟no͡w̧ ̵i͢t̵s ́pl͜ác͢e̛, ̷who ͏h͟a͜s̴ ̨c̡o̶n̕troĺ .”

“And just who is that Anti? Who has control of this world?” Dark inquires, voice low and dangerous.

Śu̸r͟e̢l̀y̢ ͢you̶ ̷cán s͘ha̵r̨e? T͡h͏ȩre͜ are s͠even̛ b̢i҉lli͠oǹ ̸p͢up҉pe̸t͟s on thi͟s̴ e̵art͞h̨ ͟Da͞rk̷,͝ ỳou d͘o̶n'͢t̛ ̷ne̕e͘d̢ t҉h͜e̶m ̸ all .” Anti appears in front of Dark, head tilted to the side. Dean fires again but the shot just passes through him. Anti looks over at him, smirking. “ You̡ can st҉óp t̴h͠a͞t ́now̴ .”

“I assume you have a few targets in mind.” Dark prompts.

I̧r͢el͜an͢d i͏s ̕a͝p̢pe̡a̢l͜ińg .”

“It would be, to you.” Dark scoffs. Anti grins widely, then spins around, catching Castiel’s wrist as he moves to stab Anti in the back.

T͢e̛a̷m͝ing ͢up͞ on͢ me͞ ͡ţherę ͝D͢ar͘k̷ ?” he asks, wrapping a hand around Castiel’s throat.

“Not at the moment, but I'm hardly going warn you should you be stupid enough to let a threat approach.” Dark replies as Dean rushes toward Anti and Cas, dropping the shotgun and pulling out the demon blade, aiming it at Anti’s chest. Dark steps back to avoid being caught up in the fight. Anti laughs and twirls, throwing Cas at Dean, knocking them both to the ground, then disintegrating into static before they can stand and attack again.

Wilford appears next to Dark, bouncing impatiently. “Do we start now?”

“Not yet Wilford, I have to discuss a few things with Anti, then he will decide if he wants to play.” Dark says. Wilford frowns but steps back, crossing his arms and pouting.

Sam helps Dean up and stands back to back with him, watching the space Dean can not.

Anti’s voice crackles around them, “ W̴hat͞ ̕d̨o͏ ya ́s͢a̧y͏ ̴D̷ark͡? ̷Let͘ ̴m̀ȩ h͘a̛v̢e͢ ̨ju͝s͘t́ ̡a lit͢t͏le bit, ̷we c͠a̵ń see̸ howit ̴g̕oe̸s,͏ ne̛g͞o̢t̴i͏at̶e ̸f̴ur̵ther ͡l͠ate͝r .”

“Since when do you negotiate, Anti?”

I'm̴ ,no͜t͢ s̶tupid̡. T́a̷k̷in͡g ͘co҉n̡t̵rol ̵from ̨y̨ou̸ ̸b̴y ͢fo̸r͘ce is su̴i͢c͢i͟de, and͘ i̸t̛’ś m̶u͏c̛ḩ ea̧s̶i̧er̴ ̡t̀o͡ play̶ ̀p͠u͝p҉pȩt͝ ͘m̷a̧s͏t̴e̶r wh͢en̴ aliv̕ę .”

“Mm. You will leave my family out of this?”

Y̛o͠u̶'r̶e ̸so͘ ͢at͠t҉ac̸h̛ed͟ D̀a̡r̵k, it́’̨s̀ ̧a̶ ̕w͝e҉a̡k͡ne͟ss .”

“Answer the question.”

Ye̕s, ye͢s,̨ I͝'͟ll̡ n͏ot ͢touc͘h an͏y͞ o̡f͝ ͝y͜ou͢r҉ ͠b͡r͟oth͠e͘r̕s sho̷ul̡d ͢th̵e̸y̷ n̵ot̡ b͢o͜th͝er ̛me f̡irśt̴ .”

“Very well. I will keep close watch Anti, remember that.”

I̧ expe̡ct̀ n͝o ̢less .” Anti flickers into view just behind Dark, “ Ánd͠ wha̶t ̢a̷b̴o͟ut̢ the̕m ?” he whispers, looking at Castiel, Sam, and Dean. “ Ar̸e ͠t͞h͞ey̶ ͢o͝ff l͡i͢m҉i̵t̸s̛? ̢B̀e̛c͜a̷usȩ ̵I ̢mus̴t sa͜y, ͠I ͜m̀ig͘ḩt ͝ha͠ve ̀to c̀o͏ntest̛ if̶ ͘tha̧t w͝ere ̡th͝e case .”

“We have a deal Dark.” Castiel growls.

“No, you and the Host have a deal.” Dark says, waving a hand. “Besides, the agreement is that neither you nor the Winchesters shall be harmed by our actions. We made no promise to protect you should harm befall you in our presence.”

S̸o y͢ou ͝la͠y̵ n̷o̶ cl͜aim͏ to͡ t́he͟m̛ ?” Anti presses.

“No.”

Anti disappears again, his laugh twisting around them. “ G͟ood̡. O҉h͟,̢ an͘d̡ d͡ea͟r ̶Ẁi͞lfo͟r̀d -” Anti manifests behind Wilford, massive kitchen knife pressed against his throat, “- yo̢u'r̕e͜ it .”

Wilford whoops as Anti disappears once again, pulling out his own knife and holding it loosely in one hand. He then disappears, a cloud of bubbles billowing from where he had stood. Dean looks over at Dark, who just rolls his eyes and sends a look to the Host, who nods. Dark then disappears as well.

Dean freezes when Wilford pops in front of him, pressing the flat of his knife to the side of Deans neck, “Tag! You're it!” he laughs. Dean is unsure of what to do, he doesn't know what Wilford will do next and attacking him would bring the wrath of the Host and Dark upon them. However, Wilford has a knife to his throat.

“The Host reminds Wilford of the rules. He is not to hurt the Winchesters,” the Host says from where he is leaning against the wall.

“I'm not! I'm tagging him is all.” Wilford protests, then vanishes.

“Wilford, this isn't tag!” Sam snaps to the air.

Oh͢ y͞e҉s͏ i͏t i͢ś ̶S͢am͝m̡y̕ ̶bo͠y̶ .” Anti snickers, creating flashes of green static around Sam and Dean. “ An̢d͠ ̕yo̢u'͟re̷ ńo͠t ҉go͞n͏na͝ w͡i͢n͞ ̶by ̢j̕ưs̸t̨ standi̴n̡g͡ t͜h͡ere !” Green explodes in front of them, throwing Sam and Dean back.

“Doesn't seem like a very fair game!” Dean points out, pushing himself to his feet and readjusting his grip on the demon blade. “Can't tag something you can't touch. Seems like cheating.”

Anti appears next to Dean, leaning in to whisper in his ear, “ T̕h̶̢̨e̛ǹ͟͝ ̸̡̧s̶top͟͡҉ ̡͘͜m̛̛e .” He steps back when Dean swings the knife, smoothly dodging every attack Dean gives. Castiel steps up behind Anti, sweeping the angel blade to stab into Anti’s neck, but the creature glitches away before Cas can land the blow.

This continues, Anti appearing long enough to threaten and mock but disappearing before anything can touch him, laughing the whole time. Wilford occasionally pops up, not doing any real harm to anybody but serving as a very distracting annoyance. The Host has not moved from his spot, just continues muttering under his breath while leaning back on the wall. Dean’s frustration is rising, and he knows Sam’s must be too; and he can only assume Cas is getting fed up with being played with as well.

 

Castiel

 

This creature is bothersome. So far it hasn't touched them, just shown that it could should the desire strike. Castiel is growing annoyed with Anti’s game, as is still furious that the Host and Dark will do nothing about this creature, a creature that has killed over a hundred people in just a month.

After minutes of useless sparring, Anti lands a blow on Dean, stabbing his kitchen knife into Dean’s upper arm then disappearing. Dean’s hiss of pain is the last straw. Castiel lets his grace simmer to the surface, making the air around him glow but for the shadows of his wings while his eyes burn bright blue. “ Enough ,” he commands, his true voice creeping into his word.

Sam and Dean both shield their eyes from the light and Anti is ripped out of the air, forcefully manifested and slammed onto the concrete floor. Castiel holds his presence another moment while the glitch sits up and looks at him before pulling his grace back in, the glow leaving the space around him and light in his eyes fading.

Anti doesn't move for a moment, just regards Castiel with narrowed eyes. Then he bares his teeth and snarls, anger oozing from him, the air around him turning to static. “ V̵e̶r̶y we͝l̴l̢ ,” he growls, standing slowly. “ If́ yo̴u̸ wa̡nt t͟ǫ p̧lay t̵hat w̴ay .” Anti’s eyes turn black as he turns his head, gaze drifting from Castiel to Sam and Dean.

Despite his protests, the Host insists Wilford leave with him.

Castiel looks back to where the Host had been standing, and sees he has gone. A patch of bubbles is slowly drifting through the air a short distance away, telling Castiel that Wilford has left as well. Probably for the best, Wilford was a distraction and the Host was never going to intervene.

Castiel turns his attention back to Anti once the glitch stands, teeth bared and knife clutched tightly in one hand. His form fizzles for a moment, then solidifies. Anti frowns and he tries to turn to static again, with no success. He snaps his head toward Castiel. “ Wha̕t di̢d ͢yo҉u d͏o͠ ?!” he demands, last word turning into a crackled screech.

“Stopped you from cheating,” Castiel says, keeping his eyes on Anti while Dean sneaks up behind him, demon blade in hand. Anti growls and whirls around, catching Dean’s arm and twisting it behind his back, then pressing his own knife to the hunter’s throat. Anti spins them around when Sam aims his shotgun at Anti’s back, shielding his own body with Dean’s from Sam, but exposing his back to Castiel. Castiel steps forward, blade in hand, ready to stab Anti.

Before Castiel can reach him, Anti drags his knife across Dean’s neck, slitting his throat. Sam shouts and leaps forward, catching Dean and Anti regains control of his powers and glitches away. Castiel rushes to Dean, ready to heal his wound, but there is no blood. Dean sits up, a confused expression on his face, hand reaching to touch his undamaged neck. “What the fuck?” he mutters.

W͘h̢at͡ …” the low voice of Anti drifts by. He appears again, this time behind Sam and wastes no time in stabbing his knife into Sam’s back. But again, nothing. Anti screeches and disappears. “ H͢ost! ̀T̨h̵e͜y҉ węr͞e ̨t͏ó ̨be҉ ̢m̡in҉e !”

The Host made no such promise. Castiel and the Winchesters appear back home, Anti unable to follow.

Castiel blinks as he is brought back to the bunker, Sam and Dean beside him. Seated at a table before them is the Host, arms crossed and a small smirk on his face.

Dean points at the Host. “You mother fucker,” he hisses.

“Would Dean rather the Host send them back?”

“No, no, thank you Host,” Sam says before Dean can speak.

“Why?” Castiel asks.

“The Host was the one to bring Castiel and the Winchesters to Anti, and so they were put in danger through the Host’s actions. It was their choice, but the Host felt it still applied enough to the Host and Castiel’s deal to intervene.”

“You're taking this deal awful seriously,” Dean growls, voice laced with suspicion.

The Host turned his head to Dean, giving the impression of a hard stare despite his lack of eyes. “The Host is upholding his end of the deal to the degree to which he expects Castiel to hold his. Any less would violate Castiel and the Host’s agreement, opening the Host’s brothers to danger from him and the Winchesters. The Host will not allow that. If saving the hunters’ lives is what the Host must do to protect his brothers, the Host has certainly done far worse for far less.”

“What kind of worse?” Dean demands.

Instead of answering the Host twists his lips into a vicious grin, then disappears.

“Maybe it’s better we not know,” Sam says.

 

Dark

 

Dark looks up at the Host when he appears. “They are safe?” he asks.

“The Host nods. Both Castiel and the Winchesters are in the bunker unharmed, Anti unable to reach them.”

“Good.”

“The Host is curious as to why Dark cares.”

Dark scoffs. “I'm hardly going to let that glitch take whatever he wants. Avoiding violent confrontation is the best strategy for now, but I can't let him think I will give him even the slightest bit of control so easily. And staying in the favor of the hunters will likely prove advantageous in the future. Useless as the Winchesters may be, their angel is powerful enough to be valuable.”