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The Devil's Plans

Chapter Text


“Dean, what are you doing? You’ll get us both in trouble,” Sam hissed sitting up in his cot as his brother slipped into his room.

“Dude, fuck ‘em. What’re they gonna do, kill me? They want us for somethin’ or we’d already be dead. So if I wanna see my brother I’m gonna and they can kill me or shut the fuck up about it,” Dean grumbled, making his way slowly across the room to sit beside Sam on his cot.

“You know there are worse things they can do than kill you.”

“Yeah, know that first hand. I can handle it.” Dean frowned, turning toward his brother gingerly, one leg coming up to rest on the cot. He was always sore, bruised, and/or cut somewhere.

Sam knew they’d been giving Alastair free reign to perform his ‘experiments’, which were little more than studies in the limits of human endurance, on Dean. He felt guilty over it because, though he was a guinea pig too, it was for very different types of experiments. Sure, some were a little painful, but nothing like what Dean had to bear, and the demon scientists were forbidden from touching Sam sexually. The head of the research institute, Azazel, didn’t allow it, insisting Sam was only to be ‘fed’ from a cup. That wasn’t necessarily a good thing though; it meant he was being kept ‘virginal’ for some reason and Sam feared what that might be.

“So why would you risk making it worse?” Sam countered.

Dean shrugged. “Maybe if I piss them off enough they will kill me?”

“You don’t mean that.”

“The hell I don’t. What’s the point? Who wants to live life at the mercy of demons? Or worse, angels when the demons get tired of their experiments and sell me off?”

“But you don’t want to die. If you did, you’d do something worse than sneak in to see me. You’d fight back against Alastair or try to escape. Seriously, why don’t you escape? You already know how to pick the locks.”

“It’s been forbidden,” Dean replied, tapping his head behind the right ear where his chip was implanted.

“Of course it has.” Sam sighed. “Dean, please tell me you didn’t risk a beating just to shoot the shit with me. What’s going on?”

“What’s wrong with just wanting to spend time with you?” Dean asked, crossing his arms over his chest without thinking and almost managing to hide the slight wince at the movement.

“Come on, Dean, spill. What’s going on?”

Sighing, Dean let his arms relax. “I heard the techs talking about you.”

“What did they say?” Sam asked, licking his lips and swallowing against a suddenly dry throat. He and Dean weren’t the only new experiments going on in the facility. There were dozens of others, though Sam had only interacted with a few; Max, Andy, Ava, Lily, and Jake. Even so, he and Dean, as far as Sam knew, were the only ones in the EBP. As such, their names came up fairly regularly, Sam more than his brother, since the experiment had apparently been unsuccessful with Dean. Neither knew exactly what the experiments were though. But because Sam was mentioned so often, if Dean was feeling the need to risk himself to pass on something he’d overheard, then it must be significant.

“They said there were only a few more tests to run and then Lucifer would be taking you for the trial stage in two weeks. Sam, we gotta get you outta here. Alastair’s sunshine and roses compared to Lucifer.”

“Great plan, Dean. Except for two things: one, I’ve got the same programmed instruction as you; no running away, no disobeying demons or angels unless ordered by my ‘master’, which is currently Azazel, and no harming myself, and two, I won’t last more than three days without being ‘fed’,” Sam pointed out.

“But you can’t let Lucifer get his hands on you. I don’t know what he wants you for, but whatever it is, it’s evil.”

“That’s a given. But what choice do I have? Crap. I knew them not being allowed to use me was bad news. I don’t want my first… Fuck. This sucks.”

Dean put a hand on Sam’s knee. “We’ll think of something. We’ve got two weeks. No need to panic just yet, but you’re smarter than me. I figured you should be thinking up solutions too.”

“You’re smart too, Dean,” Sam replied, running a hand through his hair nervously. “But you’re right, I should. Two heads are better than one, right? Thanks for the warning, Dean, but you need to get back to your room before they notice you’re gone.”

“Are you gonna be okay?”

“Depends on what we come up with, right? But yeah, I’ll be okay for now. Just need some time to think.”

“You sure? I could stay the night, like I used to when you had bad dreams when you were young.” Dean obviously stopped himself from saying little, because Sam was never really little. It had something to do with the genetic tampering the demon scientists did when he was in utero. It was also the reason he and Dean grew up without a mom. Baby Sam had just been too big for her and she hadn’t survived the delivery.

“Dean, I’m twenty years old. I don’t need you to hold my hand through nightmares anymore. Besides, Alastair will beat the shit out of you if he finds you here in the morning,” Sam replied, shaking his head.

“He’s gonna beat the shit outta me anyway when he skims through the security tapes from tonight. If it’s gonna happen either way, may as well spend the night. Besides, not to be a downer or anything, but one way or another, we’re gonna be split up soon.”

Sam made no reply, just shifted to the back of his already-too-small cot, wedging himself in the crack between it and the wall to make room for Dean to slip under the covers in front of him. He knew Dean was really the one in need of comforting. After having raised Sam as best he could when they were kept together through their childhood, the thought of being separated would be painful for him. Not that Sam was looking forward to it either, but Dean would feel like he’s letting Sam down, though Sam was the one who had been the cause of at least half the pain in his life. Not only did their mom die giving birth to him, but once it became clear that whatever they were trying to do had worked with Sam, Dean had been cast aside and suffered horribly for it. The very least Sam could do was indulge him while there was still time.

Chapter Text

“Seems a waste letting this one go to Lucifer. Once that sadistic bastard’s done with it, there won’t be enough left to sell,” one of the lab techs that Sam thought he’d heard called Guy said.

“Not in front of the s-u-b-j-e-c-t,” the other tech replied. Sam knew her name was Astaroth. She’d been working on the ‘project’ since the beginning and knew damn well Sam could spell but enjoyed treating all the test subjects like inarticulate animals. “Besides, this one was never intended for sale. Not unless the first experiment had been a success. But even then, Lucifer probably would have taken this one and sold off the older. After seeing EBP1, he insisted we make the second attempt more to his tastes. Anyways, EBP3 is looking promising, so that one’s sale will keep us funded for years.”

EBP3? Sam wondered. Dean was EBP1, Sam EBP2. Was there a third test subject? He’d never heard mention of one before. Gasping, Sam let out an involuntary whimper as Astaroth stuck a large needle through his navel. If he hadn’t been strapped down he’d have curled in on himself. For some reason, they didn’t even want to mar his skin with needle marks so he was forced to endure being stuck in places they wouldn’t show. Which all tended to be more painful; in the belly button, between the toes, under the tongue.

“Aww, poor baby. Just need to check your hormone levels. But don’t worry. Pretty soon, you won’t be getting poked with needles anymore. You’ll be getting poked with something much bigger and a hell of a lot more painful if the rumors are true.” Astaroth smirked down at Sam, malevolence dripping from every word. But then, what else would you expect from a demon?

“Yeah. Poor kid. Lucifer is going to wreck you so bad. Such a shame, but he’s the backer behind the experiment so he gets what he wants, no matter how much more money we’d get from auction.” Guy filled in a few things on his clipboard as Astaroth put her samples away, then he tilted the table Sam was strapped to, bringing him to a mostly standing position. Which also, unfortunately, brought the view of ‘the diner’ into Sam’s line of sight. “Time for your daily dose of ‘ambrosia’,” Guy smirked, holding a sample cup full of cloudy liquid to his lips.

Sam knew what it was and who it came from. He’d been forced to take it direct from the source twice before, in the interest of his ‘education’. Azazel’s semen. It wasn’t horrible; salty with a bit of an odd aftertaste he couldn’t quite describe but didn’t particularly care for. However, the fact that he couldn’t survive without it definitely sucked. That wasn’t a result of the EBP though; it was a modification the demons had already perfected and used on hundreds of humans, probably thousands by now. One they didn’t enact until after puberty. Their Pet Project. Literally.

They forced humans to become their pets, nothing but toys for sexual gratification. The humans were genetically altered to be unable to survive without angel or demon ejaculate. Then they were implanted with a microchip that stole their will. Sam was still himself, the same person he’d always been, except now, he was compelled to obey orders from any demon or angel, unless they went against explicit orders from his ‘master’. All too soon, Sam’s chip would be reprogrammed to make him obey Lucifer.

Sam’s near-vertical position gave a clear view of the exam room door, which was made of glass, as was the entire wall on that side of the lab. He suspected Astaroth had put in the window-wall specifically to give the humans she experimented on glimpses of what awaited them. Beyond the glass was a large room, nicknamed ‘the diner’, where demons ‘fed’ humans who were part of the Pet Project.

Eight beds took up the far end of the room on both sides, half of them in use. The rest of the room was devoted to a variety of surfaces and restraints. Benches—both padded and non—had humans strapped to them, demons rutting into them roughly as they enjoyed the looks of pain they drew forth. Tables of adjustable heights allowed demons to bend humans over and fuck them quick and hard, getting off and pulling out, then moving on to the next human needing to be fed. Manacles hanging from the ceiling clasped wrists, the humans in them barely touching toes to the ground as they were toyed with and made to beg for the come they couldn’t live without. Hanging harnesses had humans swinging, adding momentum to the force of the cocks ramming into them.

In comparison, the beds were rather tame. In one, a female demon rode a human, fondling her own tits as she rocked onto the hard length, which absorbed the juices of her pleasure. Another held a woman chained to the metal bars of the headboard as a demon rutted into her, not rough, just endlessly. Two more beds held twin demons laying on their backs, arms folded behind their heads as they smirked up at the humans—one a guy, the other a girl—who rode them, working hard at giving them enough pleasure to earn the semen they needed to survive.

With a shudder, Sam realized Lucifer could be doing any or all of those things to him, in less than two weeks. Focus shifting to the unwanted nectar Guy held to his lips, Sam swallowed it down with a grimace and the demon smirked. “Enjoy it while you can. The ‘free’ grub is gonna stop soon enough. Then you’ll have to earn your food.”




Sam sat up, eyes shooting open wide. Someone was in his room, and it wasn’t Dean.

“Well, aren’t you just rare as a rainbow unicorn. Guess my source was right. You really will fetch us a fortune,” a woman drawled, smirking.

Jumping up, Sam started toward the woman, only to stop short at her command.

“Hold it there, Sam. That’s an order. That’s right, just stand right there. I only have one more command then; drink this down for me, would ya?”

Though he tried not to obey, Sam’s arm jerkilly shot out, twitching upward to accept the small bottle. He drained it in one gulp.

“Good boy, Sam. Now, just relax. Gonna have yourself a nice little nap.”

The edges of Sam’s vision grew dim as two larger figures came through the door. His sight darkened around the edges, narrowing down to the woman’s pixie-like face, barely visible in the dim light of a glowstick. Her dark eyes and bowed mouth were an interesting combination of cold beauty and colder ruthlessness. That was the last Sam saw as he sank toward the ground and into unconsciousness, his descent stopped halfway down by rough hands catching his arms on either side of him.




“Knew that wasn’t enough serum,” a voice his brain tried to recognize drawled. “That’s okay. Come on, Sammy-boy. Open those pretty peepers for me. There ya go.” The woman smacked his cheek with firm but light taps until Sam came all the way around.

Eyes blinking open, the face before him brought memories rushing back. Someone had come into his room in the middle of his sleep cycle and ordered him to drink something. Demon or angel, though? Would it matter? Sure, angels didn’t cause pain for the fun of it like demons did, but they were haughty, self-righteous asses who demanded respect and came down very hard on any human who neglected to revere them twenty-four/seven. At least with demons, they liked humans to have their own minds and speak them. And doing so only earned pain and punishment half the time.

“So, updated your chip while you were out. For now, I’m your master, though you can call me Meg, if you like. You woke up a bit early on us. Thought you’d sleep ‘til just before auction time, but I guess there’s no harm in you being awake a bit early. Knew that moose-sized body of yours would need a bigger dose but I didn’t want to risk you sleeping through the main event.” The woman’s smile was hard to decipher, but Sam’s impression was that she wouldn’t do him any harm.

“You’re gonna be a good boy for me, aren’t you?” Sam nodded. He’d learned long ago not to speak unless given express permission. “That’s right. You’re about to make me very rich. My contact didn’t know all the details of the experimental breeding project you were from, but just your physique and the fact that you were being kept virginal for Lucifer himself, well… Sure, some buyers might be scared off by fear of retaliation from Lucifer, but the ones that bid will bid high. Come on, Sam. Wanna have dinner with me while we wait for the fun to start? You can even wear some clothes.”

Meg pointed to a small pile of cloth. A very small pile. It contained a pair of black bikini briefs and a leather harness for his chest that the demon had to help him into. At least, Sam was pretty sure she was a demon. He’d never met an angel, but from what he heard of them no angel would lower themselves to help a human dress no matter how complicated the outfit.

Meg left and Sam followed. It hadn’t been an express command, but Sam knew better than to take a question at face value. Leading the way, Meg headed down a hallway passing door after door, all looking the same. Eventually they went past stairs behind and leading up to a stage of some sort with drawn curtains. Once beyond the backstage area, Meg made her way up an aisle beside rows of theatre seating, eventually exiting into a lobby.

Off the other side of the lobby was another door, this one with a long line leading from it which Meg bypassed, entering the posh restaurant like she owned the place. Sam continued to follow, head bowed and not making direct eye contact with any of the angels or demons they passed, nor with the human servers carrying large trays of food or bringing drinks to various customers.

When Meg was escorted to a table and seated, Sam automatically kneeled on the pillow beside her chair, there for human pets to sit beside their masters.

“So well trained, aren’t you. How’s your reading? Here, you can pick your meal.” Meg handed Sam the menu and he eyed her warily for a moment before scanning through the various items available, eyes frequently darting back to Meg just in case this was some sort of trap or trick. She just smirked at him, waiting with a raised eyebrow to see what he would do.

Few of the engineered human pets knew how to read, but free humans usually managed to learn from their parents or relatives. Sam, however, was taught at the lab. Reading gave him something to do when not being poked or prodded. Most of the others didn’t need anything to do between being ‘poked and prodded’ because they weren’t being kept virginal; what little alone time they had was spent sleeping. After skimming through the selections, Sam decided on chicken parmesan. Turning the menu toward Meg, he pointed to the word listing of the meal rather than the picture.

“Gonna have to tell me what it says. Speak, boy,” Meg drawled with a devilish grin. She wasn’t letting Sam get away with playing middle ground. Pointing to the words suggested he read them, but he could have just pointed randomly. Saying the words out loud would confirm his ability to read them. But he’d been ordered to speak; he had no choice but to do it.

“Chicken Parmesan,” Sam replied softly, not wanting to be ogled by the other patrons. It was against the rules of etiquette for anyone to allow their pets to speak in public.

“Good boy,” Meg praised again. “I’ll have to think about whether to advertise that or not. Could fetch even more money. Or less. I’m thinking with the type of buyer you’ll attract though, your intelligence and skill will add to your value.” She ordered for them, asking for his to be brought on a tray with silverware, for which Sam was grateful. He didn’t have much pride, considering how he was raised, but didn’t like being fed by hand or eating from a bowl without using his own. Having his meal brought on a pet table with silverware was implicit instruction for him to feed himself. Restaurant etiquette was one of the things he’d been taught at the lab alongside the other experimental humans.

When their food arrived, Sam waited patiently for permission to eat. He felt like the eyes of every demon and angel in the restaurant were on him but knew better than to look around to check. Meg waited until several bites into her meal before bothering to let Sam start his. Knowing he could be cut off at any time, Sam ate quickly, though making sure to cut and chew each bite properly. It wouldn’t do for him to appear lazy or messy. The better buyers didn’t want flawed goods, generally speaking, so he didn’t want to make a bad impression. It stood to reason that the more someone paid for him, the less likely they were to damage such valuable property.

As Sam ate, he reflected on the turn of events. He’d been hoping to find a way to avoid going to Lucifer and as it turned out the way was chosen for him. Being sold didn’t guarantee him a good owner, but it was better than the definite bad that Lucifer would be. Sam was just glad he’d paid attention when the lab techs talked about these damned auctions. It meant he at least had an idea of what to expect. It only helped a little though. Beyond knowing that the higher he sold for the more likely he was to be valued there was no way to know what his future held. He’d just have to wait and see. Dwelling on it wouldn’t do him any good.

Once dinner was done Meg took Sam back to the stage area, passing a lot more angels and demons than they had on the way in. Almost half of the theatre-style seats were filled, with more bidders entering behind them. Sam found himself standing with a dozen or so other humans, most nude, waiting to be led onstage. None were restrained; a simple command was enough to keep them in place. Their chips must all be set to Meg as their owner, otherwise any demon could command them to go with them and it would override Meg’s command.

Sam tried to listen to Meg as she started the auction, but he’d noticed that one of the other humans waiting to be sold was Andy from the PKP—Psycho-Kinetic Program. The last he’d heard, Andy was one of the experiment’s successes and scheduled for months more of testing. Which suggested Sam wasn’t the only one abducted from the lab last night. Did these people really think they’d get away with it? There had to be tracking devices or something. No way would it be that easy to take off with the lab’s prized experiments.

They removed the tracking bugs from our heels and reprogrammed our chips so we can’t be traced, a voice said in Sam’s head, causing him to startle and look down the line of waiting humans. Andy’s eyes met his and he flashed Sam a quick smile before straightening back up. The psykinetic’s abilities had grown considerably since the last time they’d spoken. Would that mean he could hear a response now, not just catch emotions or intent?

Have you seen Dean? Did they take him too? Sam asked as worry over his brother pushed past the other concerns that had been occupying his mind. He’d just assumed he was the only one taken, but if they’d grabbed more than Sam, maybe Dean was here too… Sam prayed he was, because Azazel would be livid over losing Sam and he had a feeling the demon would take it out on Dean. Or worse.

I was awake when they took us out; the only ones I saw were you, me, my twin brother Ansem, and Ava.

Are they here? I didn’t see them. Sam hadn’t had time for a thorough look, but was pretty sure he’d have noticed the familiar faces, even though he’d never met Ansem directly.

No, not right now. Ansem and I were in the same room before I was brought here. Maybe they wanted us sold separately, either because we’re twins or because we have the same abilities. I’m guessing that Meg chick wants to keep Ava herself. It’d make running an illegal auction easier if she had a precog telling her when things were about to go ass-up.

That makes sense. How were you awake when they took us? They didn’t drug you? Seems like they’d have to for you to be able to leave the premises without reprogramming your chip first.”

Yeah, they made me drink something, but things that affect the mind don’t work as well now that I’ve gotten better with my powers. I’d been trying to think of a way to bust us all outta that place, but even though the chip is only half as effective on me as it used to be, I still gotta be dosed every three days, same as all of us humans there. No point bailin’ if we’d all just die. But hey, I plan to be working on improving human rights now that I’m on the outside.

Thanks for thinking about us, but if you go talking about those kinds of radical beliefs you’ll get yourself killed.

Sam heard Andy’s laugh inside his head. I’m not suicidal. I managed to keep it from them in the lab, but I’ve started being able to influence minor decisions the demons make, and I can catch feelings and intentions from them too. Even specific thoughts if they’re thinking them loud. Whoever buys me’s gonna gradually start advocating for human rights.

“Wow, that’s amazing. Didn’t the demons swear you wouldn’t be able to— Crap, I think she’s coming for you next. Good luck, Andy.

Thanks, you too Sam. Hopefully we’re both headed somewhere better than where we’ve been, Andy thought back as Meg arrived and ordered him onto the stage. Like Sam, Andy was clothed, though he actually had on full length, tight denim jeans as opposed to Sam’s bikini briefs that barely covered anything. His chest was bare though. Sam figured Meg was probably going to hype his mental abilities. As far as Meg knew, they didn’t work on demons or angels, but Andy could give humans commands as absolute as any demon or angel’s orders, except his ability worked on humans without chips as well as those with.

Sure enough, when Sam focused his attention on the auction, he heard Meg playing up his ability and how useful it would be keeping free human employees in check. Of course, Andy would rather die than force anyone to do something harmful to themselves or others. But the bidders wouldn’t know that. And Andy would probably do what he was told if it wasn’t something he felt was wrong.

Though Sam wasn’t familiar with the value of money, the three hundred thousand that Andy finally sold for sounded like a hell of a lot. He listened as the rest of the line were sold one by one. The highest any of them fetched was twenty thousand, so Sam got a better idea of just how much more Andy had gone for. Then it was his turn to follow Meg onto the stage.

“And now, angels and demons, we have the pinnacle of tonight’s prizes. A sex pet from a super-secret, experimental breeding program. Not only is he the only success from the project, he’s also been kept virginal, fed only by mouth to make sure he’s pure. Well trained since he was intended for Lucifer himself, this pet is intelligent and knows his place. He’s a tall glass of lean muscle and sexiness specifically made for pleasure. That pleasure can be all yours, if the price is right. Let’s start the bidding off at two-hundred thousand.”

Sam doubted he’d be worth as much as a psykinetic like Andy and didn’t expect anyone to meet the minimum bid, but suddenly numbers were being shouted in the dimly lit theatre from four, five, six, seven different bidders. The speed at which he surpassed Andy’s price was astounding and Sam could barely keep up as the bidders dropped out one by one, coming down to three once the price passed seven hundred thousand. And when the bid jumped from eight hundred thousand to a million Sam thought that would be it, but only one of the bidders dropped out. The other raised to 1.1 million and the jump bidder upped it to 1.5 mil. When the price got to 2.5 million, the other bidder finally dropped out and the guy who’d been jumping his bids won.

The auction thus concluded, Meg led Sam off the other side of the stage to a secluded area where the other humans were meeting their new masters. Andy was being checked over by a mousy looking man with a pointed nose above a scowling mouth and heavy black eyebrows overshadowing dark eyes. He didn’t appear very friendly. Sorry, Andy. Looks like you didn’t luck out in the master department.

Andy’s laugh sounded in Sam’s head. They’re using an angelic glamor, projecting an appearance different from their normal form. My angel’s actually pretty hot. Most of the angels here are using glamor. The rest, along with the demons, are wearing hoods and face masks. Considering these auctions are illegal, no one wants anyone else to know who they are.

Huh. Guess that makes sense. Have you seen my bid winner yet? Are they angel or demon and are they using a glamor?

Sorry, I didn’t get to watch the rest of the auction and I don’t think they’re here yet, Andy thought back as his new owner ordered him to follow and they headed for the door, Andy’s head uncharacteristically bowed as it was supposed to be. He’d been punished often for disrespect at the lab, but he must really like his new master because Andy was the perfect pet for him, making sure not to do anything that would bring shame to the angel. Good luck, Sam. I hope we get the chance to meet again sometime.

Me too. Hope your angel is good to you, Sam’s thought replied. Once Andy was gone he had nothing to distract him from the waiting. Demons and angels appraised their purchases, paid their bids and left until the only human remaining was Sam and he wondered if maybe his bidder had gotten caught up in the excitement of the auction and bid more than he was able to pay. Finally the door opened and an imposing figure walked in, almost as tall as Sam and decidedly broader, wearing a hood and kitsune mask. So, a demon then.

Meg was clearly unhappy with having been kept waiting, but obviously didn’t want to anger a customer with such deep pockets. Apparently deciding she’d be better off not risking saying anything, she held out her bank tablet and the man punched in a code rather than using a finger or hand print to pay. That made sense though; he was in disguise for a reason. A quick swipe of a device over the spot where Sam’s chip was implanted completed the transaction by changing his programmed master.

“Thank you for your-”

“Follow,” a gruff voice ordered from behind the mask, cutting Meg off. The man turned and left, forcing Sam to hurry after him.

Keeping his gaze on the legs walking in front of him, Sam found himself cowering behind the man. Something about his new master had him on edge; the guy reeked of power. Not that Sam had ever sensed power before other than in the presence of Azazel. But the man who had purchased him was projecting an aura of strength that had angel and demon alike scrambling to get out of his path. And Sam could do nothing but follow and hope he wasn’t as brutal as he looked. Or as his projected aura felt.

Once they exited the old theatre, the man led him to a shiny black hovercar parked on the street and ordered Sam to get into the back seat. When the man climbed in beside Sam, he couldn’t help but look up at him in surprise. Sam had never ridden in a car before—not while conscious, at least—but in the old fiction novels he’d been allowed to read, drivers were usually in the front seat. The windows were heavily tinted, as was the glass between the back and front seats, but someone else must have been up front, because the man knocked twice on the glass and said, “Home, Balth. Take the long way.”

Chapter Text

The car cruised along at ground level, hovering over an old street covered in cracks and potholes that made little difference to the modern conveyance. Sam wanted to press against the tinted glass to see the odd jumble of buildings either lit up neon-bright or shrouded in darkness, but he dared not. He didn’t want to do anything that might antagonize his new master. Not when the guy was that powerful, though his aura somehow felt less intimidating in the confines of the car. Which seemed backwards to Sam. If anything it should be even more overwhelming in the small space, but no, it definitely… actually, Sam couldn’t feel it at all anymore. Huh.

“Sorry, kiddo, gotta leave the tints on for now. Once we’re in the clear you can look out the windows all you want.” The guy darkened the tint further, until the glass couldn’t be seen through at all.

Sam blinked. That wasn’t the voice he’d heard earlier.

The man pulled his hood back and took off his mask. “And please stop with the looking down thing. As long as we’re not in public, go right ahead and look wherever you want. There’s nothing wrong with a healthy bit of curiosity.”

To Sam’s surprise, when he raised his gaze to glance at his master, the imposing figure was morphing, melding into a shorter man with angular features, golden hair, and honey-brown eyes that twinkled merrily above a wide grin in the dim glow of the car’s interior. “Name’s Gabriel. Nice to meet you, Sam.”

Gabriel thrust a hand toward Sam, whose brows furrowed, not sure what was expected of him. His master must have read his confusion because he rescued the human by grabbing his right hand and shaking it firmly. Shake? Is this a handshake? Sam had read about them in books, but they hadn’t been part of his slave training. Those were only given between equals. There was no way the demon—no, he’d used glamor. He must be an angel. There was especially no way an angel would ever shake hands with a human.

“We’ve got a bit of a drive ahead of us. Gotta make sure no one follows us home, so we’re gonna leave the city entirely, kick around in the woods a bit, change tags, then head for the upper city from a different direction. And the windows are staying dark ‘til just before we get back to New Jerusalem, so there won’t be much to see for a while. Which leaves talking. Because I don’t do boring, awkward silences. Hmm… what to talk about? Oh, I know. Do you know the story of how we—angels and demons, I mean—came to rule the Earth?” Gabriel asked, and Sam started to shake his head no, then paused, obviously thinking. “Sam, as your… owner,” Gabriel’s face soured with distaste at the word, “I’m giving you an order. Unless I expressly ask you to be quiet, I want you to speak your mind, openly and freely, at any time. Okay?”

Sam started to nod, then stopped himself, smiling hesitantly as he said “Okay. Um… our mom told Dean—uh, Dean’s my older brother. Mom told him the story a lot when he was little, and he told me what he remembered of it, so I kinda know the gist of it.”

“Which is?” Gabriel prompted.

“It was over a century ago. Dean didn’t remember how long exactly…”

“1,482 years. Go on.” The angel turned more toward Sam, pulling a pillow from thin air and tucking it behind his back. Wiggling against it to get comfortable, he settled in to listen.

“Okay, so 1,482 years ago, two siblings by the name of Colt, don’t know the first names but it was a boy and a girl…” Sam continued, adding in the new information. He turned to face his new master, hoping he wasn’t overstepping boundaries, but the guy seemed pretty calm. Then again, so did Alastair. But Gabriel grinned at him and nodded, pulling another pillow from the air and handing it to him.

“That’s right, Samuel and Deanna Colt.”

With a nervous smile, Sam tucked the pillow behind his back and returned to the tale. “Yeah, so the Colt siblings were hunters. Back then, humans were dominant and angels, demons, vampires, werewolves, ghosts, and all the other supernatural beings, they were all just legends to most people. Stories parents told their kids to scare them into being good. But some people knew the truth, and they hunted the supernatural. The Colts were the best hunters of their generation, and they found these books that told about—”

“They were stone tablets, actually. Dictated by God before he left and transcribed by an angel by the name of Metatron. He’s gone now, but that’s part of the story. Sorry for interrupting. What happened next?” Gabriel leaned forward eagerly, resting an arm on the back of the seat. He obviously knew the tale better than Sam, but seemed to be enjoying hearing his version.

Sam blushed to his ears at being apologized to by an angel. He’d never met any other angels, but Gabriel was nothing like the stories he’d heard of uptight, self-righteous beings who demanded respect and were brutal to anyone who didn’t show it, but were still better than demons for all that. His new owner was a mystery, but Sam found himself more relaxed than he’d ever been around anyone, even Dean, since he’d always known they were being watched. “So get this; the books—sorry, tablets—were in a language no human could read, except they found a prophet, Chunk or something, and—”

“Chuck,” Gabriel corrected, chuckling.

“Sorry, Dean was four years old the last time he heard the tale from Mom, and he related it to me as he remembered it. Anyway, the prophet, Chuck, managed to translate the bo—tablets, and they told how to close the gates of Heaven and Hell. The Colts took up the challenges to close the gates, though they knew it would cost them both their lives and souls. They thought it was worth it for humans to never have to worry about demons or angels again… um… Dean didn’t remember the rest. I guess he always fell asleep before the end of the story.” Sam looked down at his hands fidgeting in his lap, embarrassed at his lack of knowledge though he knew it wasn’t his fault. None of the experimental humans had been allowed to learn anything more than how to please their future masters. While that had included reading for Sam, he was never given anything of substance to read, though the old human fiction stories the demons provided had taught more than they’d intended. But as for history, he was lucky Dean had remembered as much as he had from before their mom died. It wasn’t like there was anyone else to pass down human knowledge to him. Dean never said much about their dad, only that they kept him separate for fear he would devour his young like some male animals do. Ridiculous, of course, but angels and demons had never viewed humanity as anything more than wild creatures. Pets at best, prey at worst. A stark reminder that, amicable as he seemed, Gabriel was an angel and Sam was nothing to him. Even if he was nicer to a human than angels were reported to be, that didn’t mean Sam was anything more than the passing of a second in the endlessness of his immortal existence.

“That’s alright, I can fill you in on the rest. Samuel was closing the gates to Hell, Deanna the Heaven gates. Both were preparing for their third and final trials when Metatron showed up. Since he’d transcribed the tablets, he said he knew a secret that God had changed his mind about including in the writing; there was a way for the challengers’ souls to survive. Their bodies would still die, but their souls would be reborn, which was the only afterlife remaining to human souls once the gates were closed. It’s one thing to die, but another matter altogether for your soul to be destroyed. Samuel and Deanna were all too quick to jump on the Metatron bandwagon when he told them how to alter the last trials to save their souls.

“As the Colts completed Metatron’s version of the third trials they welcomed death, knowing that their sacrifices would save the humans from ever being prey to demon deals or angelic interference again. But Metatron had tricked them. Their souls survived, that part was true. However, instead of locking demons and angels behind the gates, it kicked both races out to Earth before the realms sealed shut. Metatron had planned to use Heaven as his own private eden, but he didn’t know that God had found and closed the back door he’d created for himself. So he wound up stuck on Earth too, not an ally to turn to.”

“So humans were the architects of our own destruction? Sounds about right.” Sam rolled his eyes with a sigh.

“Yeah, basically. Most angels were pretty pissed at being kicked out of our home. The demons… not so much. Of course they liked Earth better than Hell. There was a lot of fighting at first, especially after the demons killed Metatron so they couldn’t be sent home. Before long, leaders on both sides called a truce and tried dividing the Earth up; some places angels only, some demons only, with humans and monsters ignored. That didn’t go over so hot. Both races crossed lines regardless of treaties. And some of us angels didn’t approve of leaving the fate of half of humanity up to the demons. Eventually both sides settled on making up a governing system that allowed us all to live together without too much friction. The higher-ups figured it was better than killing each other off so the humans could take over again. We may be immortal, but we can’t have rugrats so the more who get killed, the less there are. No way to rebuild the ranks.”

“I thought new demons could be made from human souls that went to Hell?” Sam asked.

“Yeah, they could. Back when Hell was open, Lucifer used to make them by twisting human souls stained in evil, but that takes centuries. Sure, it was no problem with immortal souls down in Hell where time flows much faster, but now? Even if Luci had the power (which he doesn’t), he wouldn’t have enough time; you humans just don’t live long enough. Anywho, I’m not sure why Dad ever allowed him to make demons in the first place. He always liked you guys best of all His creations. Y’know, originally, we angels were supposed to watch over humanity; keep you safe. But after the expulsion, most of the remaining archangels decided humans needed a firm hand to guide them. You ask me, I think they’d been looking for an excuse to ditch their duties for a while. Been kinda ticked since Dad left and they pretty much blamed the humans for it. Besides, they couldn’t take care of all you guys since part of the peace agreements with the demons involved letting them do whatever they want with humans who made deals with them. Demons need you guys to make deals in order to use the full strength of their magic. And now that technology has advanced, they’ve started experimenting with people who make deals and breeding them to claim their children too, sometimes even forcing humans into a ‘bad or worse’ situation to coerce them into making deals in the first place.”

Sam shuddered. He knew first hand how bad demons could be.

“Sorry, I didn’t bring all this up to make you uncomfortable. Thing is, some of us angels don’t like the way things have gone. A few demons, too. Human rights went from tenuous to non-existent, and that’s no bueno—not good. You aren’t just animals, you’re thinking beings, innovative and creative and brilliant and beautiful. We don’t have any right treating you as lesser beings and neither do demons.”

Blinking, Sam stared at the angel. He looked nothing like the imposing man who’d bought him, which made it a little easier to take his words at face value, but that didn’t mean he should. Regardless of appearance, he was still an angel and even with their powers halved thanks to Heaven being closed, they were still formidable. Was he trying to trick Sam into subversive thinking so he could punish him? Had Gabriel been using some kind of angel trick to lull him into complacency in hopes of uncovering some human resistance group or something? As far as Sam knew, there was no such thing. This was all very confusing; angels couldn’t possibly be so completely different from what he’d heard. Could they?

“Hey, no worries, kiddo. You barely know me and don’t have any reason to trust me yet. But I’m only telling you all this so you understand why I bought you. Lucifer had plans for you that were meant to be the first step toward getting rid of us angels and subverting all humans under demon rule. We had to keep you out of his hands at all costs. But you aren’t here as a pet or slave. For your own safety, you’ll have to stay at my place. However, other than that, you’ll be treated like a guest. Anything you need, any food you want to try, clothes, games, books, whatever, all you gotta do is ask. If I’m not around, you can ask Balthazar; that’s the angel who’s driving. He’s your personal guard and will always be in the room right outside yours.”

Sam nodded, not sure what to say. He’d been given a lot of information in a short amount of time and had no way of knowing if or how much of it was even true. When the angel opened his door and stepped out of the car, Sam was startled to find they had stopped. The motion of the vehicle had been unsettling at first, but somehow he’d grown so used to the movement that he didn’t even realize when it ended.

“We’re only halfway there, kiddo. Just relax while I change the identification tags on the car, then we’ll be off again. You need anything while we’re stopped? Bathroom break? Something to eat or drink?” Gabriel asked, leaning in through his open door.

Though worried he might be punished for being troublesome, Sam realized he did need to pee. If they really were halfway there he could hold it, but he’d get in more trouble if it turned out to be too long for him and he soiled the car. “I could use a bathroom.”

“Okee doke. Balth will show you the way.”

Sam heard the front door of the car open and close, then flailed his arms to catch himself as his own door was jerked open behind him, the pillow he’d been leaning against falling to the ground.

“Well, come on then, we haven’t all night.” The angel holding the door open was handsome but in a different way from Gabriel. His hair was cropped short and the moonlight washing over his angular features lent him an ethereal glow that didn’t match the frown on his face. Looking at Sam with distaste, he was much more like Sam had expected an angel to be than Gabriel.

“Balth, play nice,” Gabriel instructed from behind the car.

Quickly righting himself, Sam scrambled from the vehicle and stood, following after the angel who turned and stormed off without a word.

Rushing to catch up, he entered behind the angel, barely managing to catch himself from running into him when Balth—Balthazar stopped short just inside the door. He shouldn’t have bothered. The angel sidestepped before Sam would have crashed into him, then turned to smirk in amusement as Sam tried to keep his balance after the abrupt stop. Cheeks burning, Sam looked around for any indication of where the bathroom might be. It was obvious the sandy blond with mocking blue eyes had no intention of helping.

Sam had never been in a ‘cabin’ before, but he’d read about them in books. The chance to look through one for real was something he wasn’t about to pass up. After all, Gabriel had told him not to avert his eyes or hold his tongue. He had the impression Balthazar wouldn’t appreciate him talking, but didn’t think the angel would stop him from looking around, so Sam examined the room the door opened into, which he guessed must be an old fashioned kitchen, matching descriptions he’d read of kitchens in the early to mid 1900s. The floor beneath his feet was checkered in black and white, and the alabaster counters were shiny, not stone, wood, metal, or concrete; porcelain, maybe? Ignoring his desire to tap against it, since he would have to move past Balthazar to do so and didn’t want to get that close to him, he forced himself to focus on finding the bathroom.

Sam headed for the door on the left, past a small round table made of wood surrounded by four wooden chairs—this place was obviously built and furnished before angels outlawed killing trees—and found himself in a large room. It appeared to be designed for gathering; there were several different seating options, the ones on the near end arranged around a large, low table, the rest arranged around what must be a fireplace at the far side of the room. There were five doors besides the one he came through: three on the same wall, one to the left of the fireplace, and one centered between two large windows on the wall across from him. The wall on the left only had a large window. Logically, the door in the wall with windows must lead outside, so not the bathroom. The fastest way would just be to check all the other doors, so Sam did just that, starting with the one closest to him on the right. It led into a small room with a bed, Sam guessed—it looked kind of like his cot, but bigger and more comfortable. Definitely not a bathroom. The next door on the wall was a bedroom almost identical to the previous one. The third door, near the corner of the room, was the bathroom, though the facilities looked a bit different than what he was used to. The colored rectangles of tile on the wall and narrowness of the room made it seem much smaller than the ones at the lab. Having one toilet rather than twelve may have had something to do with it as well.

Sam had his bikini briefs around his lower thighs, trying to aim without making a mess—the toilets at the lab were higher and ran further up the wall, with splash shields to keep urine contained—when he heard a voice behind him.

“Hey, Sam, do you—whoa! Why didn’t you close the door?” Gabriel squeaked.

“It didn’t occur to me,” Sam answered with a shrug. He didn’t bother adding that the room was kind of small and closing the door would have made him feel boxed in. Looking over his shoulder, Sam found his master stood in the doorway facing away, having quickly turned around. Redundant, really, since Sam’s back was already to the door so it wasn’t like his junk was on display. Not that it would matter much if it was. Sam had spent his whole life naked. Modesty was a foreign concept, though he’d read of it in books. Honestly, he was more uncomfortable in the scant clothing than he would have been completely naked.

“Okay, well, no rush or anything, just wanted to let you know I’m done with the tags on the car, so we can leave whenever. Take your time though, there’s no hurry. I’ll just be out here.” Gabriel went back into the seating room and Sam heard his footsteps move toward the opposite wall.

“How long does he think it takes to pee?” Sam chuckled softly to himself as he wiped off and pulled the bikini briefs back up.

“Couldn’t tell ya, kiddo. I’ve never seen a human do it,” Gabriel replied as though Sam had spoken at a normal, audible-from-across-two-rooms level. When Sam came out of the bathroom, Gabe turned away from the window and looked him up and down, brows furrowed. “You know, that outfit’s barely a step up from naked. I should’ve fixed that sooner. Here.” Gabriel snapped his fingers and Sam found himself in faded jeans, similar to the ones Gabriel wore, along with a soft, black, v-necked, short-sleeved shirt and black shoes.

Sam had to admit, the clothing was much more comfortable. A bit warm, considering he wasn’t used to wearing clothes at all and he had no experience walking in shoes, but he felt more at ease about not averting his gaze and speaking without being told to. “Thank you.”

“No problem, kiddo. Ready to get going?”

After a brief, longing glance at the last door, the one next to the fire place, Sam nodded. He was curious to know what was behind it, but it wasn’t like he’d die from not knowing, and his master wanted to leave.

Gabriel had seen the look though. “Go see what’s in there. Like I said, we’re not in a hurry.”

Smiling, Sam dashed over and looked into the room. It was another bedroom, larger and better furnished than the others. With a quick look back at Gabriel, who was smiling encouragingly, he went in, past the large bed to a tall cabinet against the far right wall. Opening it, he found clothing hanging inside—just a few, odd-looking shirts and pants and a matching jacket. If he had to guess, he’d say it was an old suit. The strips of shiny cloth hanging on the inside of the cabinet door were probably ties, though he had no idea if he was right; he’d never seen one. Closing the cabinet—wardrobe, they were called when meant to hang clothes in— he opened the door beside it to find another bathroom, not much bigger than the one he’d used, but it looked a bit nicer.

“Curiosity satisfied?” Gabriel’s voice came from right behind him and Sam jumped, spinning quickly. He hadn’t heard the angel approach.

“Uh, yeah. Thank you for letting me look. What is this place?”

“Just an old cabin from before the expulsion. It was pretty well made, so some friends and I use it as a pit stop when we have to be out of the city overnight. We keep it clean and stocked with non-perishables, and anyone who passes by is welcome to use it,” Gabriel explained as he headed back to the kitchen and out to the car. Following behind, Sam kept his gaze on the back of his master’s heels as he’d been trained to do from the moment he could walk.

When they stopped at the car and Gabriel opened the door for him, Sam glanced up and saw a raised eyebrow and the hint of a frown. “S-sorry. Habit,” Sam mumbled as he climbed in, moving across the bench seat and tucking the pillow from earlier back behind him as he leaned against the door, facing his master who was positioning himself similarly. Balth was already in and had the hovercar up and into the air as soon as Gabriel’s door closed. Shrinking in on himself, Sam waited for punishment for having forgotten his orders and wondered whether it would be verbal or physical.

“Hey, stop with the frightened rabbit impersonation, Sam. I get it. It’s not easy to overcome training that’s been drilled into you for your entire existence. Believe me, I know. I’m not gonna punish you for taking time to learn to be a person rather than a possession. We’ll work on it together, okay?” Gabriel said, patting Sam’s knee where it rested on the seat. Sam only flinched a little at the contact. Apparently noticing that Sam was still waiting for punishment, Gabriel withdrew his hand with a sigh and they rode in silence for a while. Eventually he looked back at Sam, who was sitting quietly, hands in his lap and chewing his bottom lip. “We’re almost back to the city. You should take advantage of the view,” Gabriel suggested, working the controls on his door to untint the windows.

Just as Sam was starting to turn in his seat, the hovercar made a sharp bank, throwing him against the door, which flew open, allowing Sam to tumble out into the night sky. For several heart-stopping moments, he found himself in free-fall. Then there was a hand around his wrist, stopping his descent. Looking up, Sam saw Gabriel hanging from the door’s handle with one hand, his other already pulling Sam up as though he weighed nothing. The angel tossed Sam into the car before casually swinging himself back inside too, closing and locking the door behind him. The scowl on his face was unlike anything Sam had seen yet, and his aura of power was back in full force, speeding Sam’s already racing heartbeat even more. Sam cowered in the footwell—as much of him as he could fit, anyway—white-knuckled grip tight on the seat. The anger wasn’t aimed at him though.

“Balth, what the hell?” Gabe demanded after raising the partition between the back and front seats.

“Sorry, there was a bird,” Balthazar replied nonchalantly.

“And why wasn’t the door closed all the way?”

“Couldn’t tell you; I only opened the door. I wasn’t the one who closed it,” the driver replied, his light accent dripping with sincerity and innocence. Sam had heard that tone before, from demons who ‘accidentally’ allowed or caused damage to humans at the lab. There was never anything accidental about the incidents.

“I closed the door myself after both of you went into the cabin,” Gabriel stated.

“Don’t know what to tell you, Gabriel. I didn’t touch it after I let him out.” Balthazar looked back at his boss and friend, eyebrow raised as though daring Gabriel to call him a liar. The expression on Gabriel’s face had him turning back quickly though, watching their course over the tops of the trees.

“Balthazar, I am only going to say this once, so you’d better listen up. You are responsible for Sam’s safety. If any harm comes to him, I will strip you of your powers and toss you out on your ear to live the rest of your life as a human in the lower city slums. Capiche?”

Balthazar sighed. “Understood. In the future, I will try to be more attentive.”

“You’d damn well better do more than try. I mean it, Balth.”

“Of course.” Balthazar closed the partition before Gabe could say anything else.

“Shit, Sam, you’re scared stiff. C’mon up here. You’re safe, promise.” Gabriel pried Sam’s hand off the seat, pulling him up to sit beside him and wrapping an arm securely around his waist. “You don’t want to miss seeing the approach to the city. It’s kinda breathtaking.” He added, pointing out the window with his free hand.

Though he was still shaken, the fall hadn’t soured Sam’s appreciation of his first view out the window. To the right and left of the hovercar, ambient city glow and moonlight reflected off the tops of trees stretching interminably to either side. In front of them, and coming ever closer, the lights of New Jerusalem spread out before them, glowing like a sun rising from the Earth. The buildings were all circular, built atop four starmetal posts around the edges with a thicker spire rising up to the middle.

The ones around the edge of the city had ten to twenty tiers each, all with railed balconies encircling every level, the tops a flat hovercar parking area open to the air. Interspersed among the housing were larger buildings, hovercar parking taking over the top tiers so the cars could be out of the weather and the roofs were free to be covered with clear domes and used as parks and outdoor recreational areas. Signs beckoning from the lower tiers declared various goods or entertainment available for purchase. Half a mile below, one of the burrows of Old New York huddled among the shadows, an occasional light casting a faint glow, barely enough to make out the square, squat houses around it.

As they flew past at a leisurely pace, Gabriel described what Sam was seeing. The apartment complexes at the edges of the city held hundreds of separate homes, housing what were once the lower ranks of angels, those of the third sphere, alongside demons without the ambition or power to earn better quarters. The shopping and entertainment complexes that he described sounded to Sam like malls he’d read about in books.

Past the outer edges of the city, the middle ring had taller housing structures, but Gabriel informed Sam that they actually housed fewer tenants than the smaller buildings they’d just passed. They had eight apartments per tier rather than sixteen, and the angels who’d belonged to the second sphere, along with moderately ambitious and powerful demons lived there. Those structures had covered parking on the top levels and glass-dome covered gardens on top.

As they neared the center of the city, the buildings had fewer tiers but were larger around. The ones that were housing had two suites per level, along with wider balconies, and an area where several hover cars could be parked, right outside the front door of each dwelling. Top tier roofs here were elaborate, glass-domed gardens full of flowers and small trees, ponds where waterfowl splashed about in the artificial lighting, and gazebos of varying sizes where tenants could relax with lovers or friends. Other buildings interspersed among the grander dwellings offered more upscale entertainments; art galleries, play houses, gambling parlors, fine dining, gaming halls. Just about any activity to eat up endless free time.

In the very center of New Jerusalem stood the largest structure of all, lit up like the center of a sun. That, Gabriel informed Sam, was the council building, where all functions of government took place. It boasted far more starmetal stilts than any other building in the city and towered over Old New York’s Columbus Circle. Sam watched as they swung right—grabbing tight to Gabriel’s arm around his waist—and the bright glow dominated the left hand window. A few minutes later, Gabriel scooted them to the right, keeping his arm safe around Sam, and pointed out the window and down. “That’s the empire state building. It used to be the tallest building in the world. And it’s still standing 1,551 years after being built. It should’ve been long gone by now, but humans feel it represents something, so they keep fixing it as best they can, just to keep it standing. Same goes for a lot of buildings in the lower city, and the Statue of Liberty too.”

Forgetting his fear, Sam pressed against the glass to look down. The building, which towered over the ones around it, still looked small from where the car flew, about a quarter mile higher than the top. It wasn’t long before he could no longer see the structure, as the hovercar pulled up to the round, stilted building situated almost directly above it.

“And this is home,” Gabriel said as the car came to rest on the parkway near the door. “Come on, Sasquatch, let’s get you inside before anyone sees you.”

“Sasquatch? What does that mean?” Sam asked as the angel ushered him through the front door Balthazar held open for them.

“Never heard of bigfoot? Harry and the Hendersons? The Search for Sasquatch? Cryptids?”

Sam blinked at Gabriel, confusion written all over his face.

“Okay, so none of those were great movies, but come on, there was even a Scooby Doo episode with bigfoot. Anywho, it looks basically like Chewbacca, and I called you that ‘cause you’re so tall,” Gabriel babbled in the entryway as he removed his shoes, then helped Sam out of his.

It seemed like the angel was speaking a foreign language, though Sam appreciated the help with the footwear. He’d never worn shoes and had no idea how to unfasten them. “I think I read something with a Chewbacca in it. Furry brown Alien called a Wookie? I’ve never seen any movies though. They weren’t allowed at the lab. Humans weren’t supposed to have free time, other than me. And I was only ever allowed to read fiction novels.”

“Damn, really? Gonna have to get you caught up on humanity’s greatest hits then. First though, let’s get you settled in. C’mon, your rooms are this way.” Gabriel took Sam’s hand and headed through the large room past the entry, which was filled with floor to ceiling windows that let in the city’s glow. Sam barely had time to decide it was a sitting room before being pulled through a door to the left which led to a room that had both seating and a bed. Sam’s heart skipped a beat, fear pouncing on him with the reminder of what, exactly, he was bought for. But Gabriel drew him swiftly past the furniture, to a heavy metal door on the shorter wall opposite the curved bank of windows, which, in this room, were tinted dark.

Sam’s fear weighted his feet until they dragged, but Gabriel didn’t seem to notice that his hand on Sam’s wrist had gone from leading to half-dragging him. Beyond the door was another sitting room, smaller than the main one with a long couch and two arm chairs arranged around a low metal and glass table, a screen taking up the entire wall across from the sofa. Along the left wall was a higher table with several chairs around it, and between that area and the seating was another metal door set into the inner wall.

“Sorry about the rush, Sam. Wanted to get you away from the windows. These inner rooms are a bit more secure. I designed this place myself back when everyone was still fighting and I wanted to make sure I had a safe bolt hole, just in case anyone figured out… well, just in case. So, this is your living room. You’ve got a full entertainment unit on the wall there; I’ll teach you how to use it before we go to bed. Dining table and chairs on the left, and then, through this door,” he opened the metal door, pulling Sam along after him, “you have your bedroom, with-”

Gabriel cut off as Sam pulled away from him, running out the door, through the living/dining room and smack into Balthazar, who stood in the other doorway. Sam may have been taller, but he bounced off the solid angel and would have fallen backward onto his ass if Gabriel hadn’t been there to catch him.

“Hey, Sam, what’s wrong? If there’s something about the room you don’t like, I can change it, no problem.” Gabe set Sam back on his feet, waiting to release him until he was steady.

“I…” Sam swallowed hard. What could he say? ‘I’m scared and a virgin and please be gentle’? Gabriel knew he was a virgin, Meg said as much during the auction. Gabriel had been nothing but nice to him so far, but… the angel was his master. It wasn’t like he had a choice in the matter. He knew it was coming from the minute he was sold. Hell, he’d known for years that it was going to happen, and it being with Gabriel would be infinitely better than Lucifer, Sam was sure. He just wasn’t ready.

“I think the little rabbit fears for his chastity,” Balthazar said lazily, dusting off his v-necked shirt and dark jacket as if Sam had gotten him dirty, even though Sam was immaculately clean.

The look on Sam’s face made it obvious Balthazar’s guess had hit the mark. Gabriel blinked at Sam, confused. “Didn’t I already tell you that’s not why I bought you? I mean, don’t get me wrong, Sam, you’re all kinds of hot. But no way would I ever force myself on you or anyone. That’s just not my style. Sex is great and all, but only with full consent all around. The bedroom in there is just yours. There’s a door that leads to my room, but all your doors can be locked from the inside. If you let me finish the tour, I’ll show you how everything works.” He held out his hand and Sam looked at it for a few tenuous moments before taking it, allowing the angel to lead him back into the bedroom.

True to his word, Gabriel showed Sam the bathroom and closet, which held a few angel mojoed outfits, then opened the door to his own bedroom for Sam to see. Closing the door, he showed Sam how it locked, then they went back to Sam’s living room where Gabriel taught him how to use the entertainment system. At Sam’s request, Gabriel got him a reader and explained to him how to load books onto it. Back in the lab, Sam had always been given old, brittle, paper books, so using the reader was new to him.

“It’s getting late. You should probably get some sleep soon,” Gabriel said, once Sam was comfortable with using all the amenities.

“I slept all day. But, if it’s okay, I’ll lay down and read until I get tired.”

“Sure, Samshine, whatever you want. Just remember, you’re here for your safety, okay? That means you gotta stay in your rooms. I don’t like giving you orders, but…”

“Yeah, no, I get it. You’ve given me way more here than I ever had at the lab. You didn’t have to, and I appreciate it,” Sam replied. Much as he cautioned himself not to trust, he was beginning to believe Gabriel might just be as nice as he seemed.

“Hey, you’re a good kid and you deserve to be treated well. Same goes for most humans. I want you to feel at home here. Balthazar’s room is the one right outside yours, so if you need anything, just use the com system to ask him, or knock on the door. Of course, you can ask me too, when I’m home, but I have a council meeting tomorrow, so I won’t be back until around dinner time. Anything you need before I head to bed myself?”

Sam paused a moment, then shook his head. “I’m good, thank you.”

“Alrighty, then. It’s a standing offer, anything you need, anytime, just ask. You aren’t a prisoner or possession, and I want you to be happy. ‘Kay?” Gabriel reiterated and Sam nodded. Patting Sam’s shoulder, he stood and went to the door that led out to Balthazar’s room, knocking three times. As Balthazar opened the door from the other side, Gabriel paused to look back at Sam. “Goodnight, kiddo. Sleep well.”

“Thanks, Gabriel. You too.” Sam thought about saying goodnight to Balthazar too, but he closed the door behind Gabriel without a word before Sam finished drawing breath to speak.

Left alone, Sam reflected on how radically his life had changed. He’d gone from being poked and prodded and treated roughly by demons—frustrated that they couldn’t use him like they did the other humans in the lab—to being treated as an equal by an angel, one with money and power. Too bad it wouldn’t be for more than two days, he mused as he picked up the reader and went into the bathroom to shower and get ready for bed.

Gabriel had promised he’d give Sam anything he needed, but also said he hadn’t bought him for sex. He might not even know Sam couldn’t survive without ejaculate. And if he didn’t, Sam wasn’t going to tell him. While he was sure Gabriel would ‘feed’ him—probably by hand rather than directly—if Sam told him he needed it, the fact was that the surest way to derail Lucifer’s plans was to let himself die. Suicide was forbidden at the lab, but Gabriel hadn’t given that order. Besides, letting himself die wouldn’t be the same as killing himself, right?

Showered, dried, and teeth cleaned, Sam climbed into a four-poster, canopied bed with matching burgundy curtains that was more comfortable than his cot at the lab had ever dreamed of being. On one hand, it was a nice luxury for his final days, but on the other, it was a stark contrast to everything in his life up until then as well as a taunt of the things he could have if he weren’t about to let himself die. There was no sense dwelling on it though. With time limited, it was best to spend it wisely. He finally had access to any book he wanted and there was one in particular that the demons had never let him have. Using his reader, he downloaded a copy of The True and Complete Bible According to Joshua.

Older humans at the lab had passed on tales from the book to their children, one of them being the story he and Gabriel had discussed in the hovercar. It was the only book Sam had ever asked for by name, though not the only one he’d been denied. In addition to being limited to fiction, Sam was also denied anything historical whether it was mixed with romance, action, mystery, suspense, or any other genre. Fiction with heavy political or religious themes was also withheld, although a few managed to slip through, like The Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, and Watership Down. Sam had definitely learned more from those books than the demons had intended. But there were so many more available, titles he’d never heard of and some Astaroth had specifically taunted that he couldn’t read. He wouldn’t be able to read them all in the time he had left, but planned to do his best to finish the bible while he could.

“Hey, Sam, you feeling alright?” Gabriel asked over dinner the next night. They were eating at Sam’s dining table.

“Yeah, why?” Sam lied.

“Dunno, you look kinda… off. Did you sleep okay? I can give you a different mattress if—”

“No, the mattress is great. It’s probably just an aftereffect of whatever they knocked me out with. Plus I slept all day yesterday, so it took a while to get to sleep,” Sam insisted, taking a bite of the grilled chicken Gabriel had cooked for them. “This is delicious,” he added.

“Thanks, but don’t change the subject. I’m worried about you, kiddo. Maybe I should call in a healer...”

“Really, thank you for worrying about me, but I’m fine, Gabriel. How was your council meeting today?”

Gabriel rolled his eyes, though Sam wasn’t sure if it was at the second subject change or the meeting. “Same as always. Long-winded asses flapping their jaws all day without actually saying anything.”

Sam frowned. “What would be the point of that? Doesn’t it just keep things from getting done?”

“Got it in one, Samwise, and that’s the point in and of itself. Demons don’t want angels to push their agendas, and angels don’t want demons to push theirs. Neither side agrees on anything and no one’s willing to compromise. Every proposal is hundreds of pages long with all kinds of extra crap shoved in by both sides, none of which has anything to do with the original suggestion. It’s ridiculous, and I’m just so sick of it. I’d vacate my seat if I wasn’t one of the few on the council looking out for human and humanoid rights.” Gabriel stabbed a piece of cheese-drowned broccoli and shoved it into his mouth.


“Yeah, anyone with the ability to think and take responsibility for their actions. Vampires, shapeshifters, werewolves, spirits, fae, wraiths, ghouls, lots of folks like that who are decent and could live peaceably in society or on the edges of it without hurting anyone if we put the resources into arranging it. Trouble is, angels don’t trust ‘em, and demons use fear of ‘em to trick humans into deals. So no one wants them to have rights. Whether they’re good or bad, supernatural beings can be killed or captured and used in any way, and they have no legal recourse. Granted, it was the same when humans were in control, but back then, most people didn’t know they existed. Now that everyone knows about them, they should have legal rights if they’re willing to follow the laws.”

“Don’t most of those eat humans? Seems like it would be kind of hard for them to eat people without hurting them?” Sam pointed out.

“That’s why I said we gotta devote resources to making it possible. You humans had been working on synthetic organs and blood back before the expulsion. All we gotta do is dig up some of that old research and finish the work. There’re plenty of demon scientists around who could and would do it. A few angels too, though we’re less inclined toward science and tech. Anywho, once we can make human organs and blood, everyone can eat without having to hurt anyone to do it.”

“Huh. That sounds like a good idea.”

“I do have them from time to time. Don’t sound so surprised, Sammich,” Gabe said, grinning when Sam raised an eyebrow at the new nickname. “Of course, we’ll also have to make laws regarding vamps and wolves turning humans and whether djinn are allowed to ‘grant wishes’, things like that. But I know it can work. After all, it’s been mostly working with the laws restricting demon deals. Up until the last fifty years or so, at least. I’ve been trying to pass a law for decades to bar demons from claiming kids of contractees, and one to forbid any practice that would shorten the life of a contractee. But I doubt there will ever be enough support for those to pass. Never mind anything limiting when or how an angel can punish a human. Won’t stop me from trying though. Most sympathizers keep themselves hidden but by having my stance openly known, those folks contact me secretly to ask how they can help.”

“Doesn’t that also mean that people who are openly friendly with you might be suspected of sharing your views?”

“Well, yeah, but doing what’s right is worth a bit of ostracism. And us archangels, along with Joshua, have permanent seats on the council, balanced out against the four princes of Hell and Lucifer. So it’s not like I can be kicked out.” Gabriel wiped his mouth and hands, then set his napkin on his empty plate.

“So you are the archangel Gabriel? The one named in the Joshua Bible?” Sam asked eagerly, eyes widening as he leaned forward over the table.

Gabriel laughed. “Guess that’s me, but don’t believe everything you read. Joshua didn’t bother mentioning that I ran away from the family drama at home and hid out on Earth as a pagan god for a few millennia. Hanging out with humans and playing the part of a Trickster rounded off the sharp edges.”

“A trickster?”

“Yeah, an archetype of pagan god. Tricksters play pranks on humans to teach them lessons. Sometimes deadly pranks. Everyone knew me as Loki, trickster god of the Norse Pantheon. The real Loki took himself a nice little vacation. Until the expulsion, at least. With angels and demons overrunning the Earth, it got a bit harder to hide out.”

“It must have been lonely, leaving your family behind,” Sam commented, thoughts drifting to his brother. Once Sam died, Dean would truly be alone. But he’d never know that, being trapped in that damned lab. Maybe the thought of Sam being free and safe would be a comfort to him, left alone in that place. Knowing Dean, it definitely would.

“A bit, yeah. But I had friends and never lacked for company. If I’m being honest, it’s actually been lonelier since the expulsion. Michael and Lucifer were all set to kill each other, even if it took half the world with them. It wasn’t hard to drum up enough support from the angels and demons trapped here to force them to put a pin in their endless feud. I doubt either of them has forgiven their fight, but for the past fifteen hundred years or so they’ve just been biding their time, scheming.” Gabriel put their empty plates on the cart he’d used to wheel the food in, then pulled out two slices of pie and a tub of hand-whipped cream. After giving Sam his, he buried his own slice in the whipped cream before offering the tub to Sam.

Sam had never had anything like the pie—cherry, Gabriel informed him—with its sweet filling and flakey crust. After trying both ways, he found he preferred it without the whipped cream, though it was delicious. It just wound up being a bit too sweet with it.

“Anywho, I know you’ve read at least one Star Wars, but how about we watch the main trilogy tonight? I bet you’ll like them,” Gabriel said, reaching across the table to wipe some whipped cream from the corner of Sam’s mouth, then licking it off his finger. Sam froze and Gabriel blushed, holding his hands up placatingly. “Sorry, Sam. I wasn’t thinking, just didn’t want it to go to waste.”

“Um, it’s okay. You just startled me,” Sam mumbled, gaze falling to his plate as he finished off the last bite of pie. “Watching the movies sounds great.” It had been almost forty-eight hours since the last time he was fed. One more day and he’d be gone. Gabriel would be mostly alone again. The latter thought was far more disconcerting than the former.

Gabriel made a sound somewhere between a groan and a sigh as he stepped into the entryway and kicked off his shoes. Another council meeting day full of endless discussion of absolutely nothing. Being the youngest of the archangels—not counting Uriel who Dad had conjured up to fill out the ranks after Luc fell—no one ever listened to him, even though he seemed to be the only one who’d noticed the pointless stalling tactics that had kept the council from almost any law making changes or additions over the past fifty years. But there was no sense worrying about his crap day right now. He had a hot human waiting for him.

“Hey, Balth. Any problems?” Gabriel asked as he moved through his friend’s room toward the door leading to Sam’s.

“Nope; haven’t heard a peep since lunch.”

“He’s probably reading. Can you believe he read Joshua’s whole bible in less than twenty-four hours? Kid’s a regular bookworm.” Gabriel’s chest was swelling with pride, but Balthazar just gave a noncommittal grunt. They really were great friends, but sometimes it was hard to remember. Balthazar’s stance on humans was really the only sore spot between them, but it was a big one.

Ignoring Balth’s dismissive attitude toward Sam, Gabriel opened the door and stepped into the living/dining room. Finding it empty, he moved across to the bedroom door, only to find it locked. Which, of course, was fine. He’d shown Sam how to lock his doors from the inside because he wanted Sam to have his privacy. Gabriel just hoped propping his feet on Sam’s lap while they watched movies last night hadn’t made him uncomfortable. When he’d asked, Sam had said it was fine, he didn’t mind, and he’d seemed sincere. But as far as he knew, this was the first time Sam had locked his door and Gabriel felt sure there must be a reason.

“Sam?” he called through the door after knocking. “It’s Gabriel. Can I come in?” Silence. He knocked again. “Hey, at least talk to me. Did I do something wrong? Are you mad at me?” No response. Worry gnawing at his gut, Gabriel banged loudly on the door. “Sam! At least let me know you’re okay! Sam? Sam! C’mon, answer me!”

“What’s with all the ruckus?” Balth asked, leaning against the door frame in the exit to his room.

“Sam’s not answering me,” Gabriel answered, pushing past Balth and running out to the living room, through the kitchen, past the game room, to his own bedroom door. Balthazar trotting after him at a more leisurely pace barely registered as Gabriel dove into his drawers, looking for his magnetic key. Finding it, he rubbed it over the metal door between his and Sam’s bedrooms until he heard a click. Rushing in, he found Sam on his bed, reader fallen to his chest, complexion sallow. Gabriel’s heart stopped momentarily before he noticed the slow, shallow rise and fall of his chest.

“Sam? Sam, wake up!” he exclaimed, removing the reader to the bedside table and shaking the man lightly by the shoulders. There was no response.

“When is the last time you ‘fed’ him?” Balth asked.

“We had dinner together last night. And you said you gave him lunch today, right?”

“Not that kind of feeding. You do know that these human pets are genetically altered to require sex, right?” Balthazar’s tone was a bit sardonic.


“Well, not sex specifically. They must ingest or absorb ejaculate from either an angel or demon every three days or they die. Surely you knew that when you bought him?”

“What?! No, I didn’t! Why didn’t he tell me?” Gabriel was frantic, tapping firmly at Sam’s face in an attempt to rouse him. “And how do you know that?”

“I have acquaintances who are quite enamored of their ‘pets’. Rest assured, I am not personally acquainted with their feeding, but it has come up in conversation.”

“What do I do?”

“I would recommend ‘feeding’ him,” Balthazar said, rolling his eyes.

“But he’s unconscious!” Gabriel protested.

“And will remain so until he dies, unless you give him what he needs.”


“Who else? I’m certainly not going to do it.” Balthazar pulled his vidphone from a pocket and made a call as Gabriel continued, fruitlessly, to try to wake the human. His conversation barely registered to Gabriel, who was focused entirely on Sam.

“If you feed them daily, it can be done by just jerking off into a cup and having them drink it. But if they’ve gone too long without, the most effective way is a direct injection. The inside lining of the rectum or vagina absorb the needed substance more quickly. I’m told once they’re unconscious, that is the only way that’s fast enough to save them, and even then it may be too late. It’s up to you to decide what you want to do, but either way I’ve no desire to stay and watch.” Balthazar informed him as he turned off his vidphone. Turning on his heel, he left through Gabriel’s bedroom, closing the door behind him.

“Well, shit, kiddo. What do I do here? Do you dislike me, mistrust me, so much that you’d rather die than let me give you what you need to live?” Talking was pointless, as Sam was completely unconscious, but Gabriel couldn’t help it as he worried over what to do. Despite his reluctance to take Sam without his consent, his hands were already working to remove the taller man’s pants and underwear, then quickly shucking his own.

Grace slicked fingers slid into Sam, stretching and opening quickly but gently as he searched for the prostate. It didn’t take long to find, and he exhaled in relief as he saw Sam’s impressive cock begin to twitch and lengthen. It wasn’t explicit consent, but at least he knew Sam’s body was accepting him. The knowledge helped his own limp cock begin to come to life. Gabriel had always been big on consent and reciprocation. No matter how attractive he found Sam, both physically and as a person, lack of response made it hard for him to, well, get hard. But there wasn’t time.

Focusing on the affection for Sam that had grown in the short two days he’d known him, Gabriel took Sam’s semi-hard length into his mouth, teasing it to fullness as quickly as he could while adding a third finger to stretch his tight hole. Once Sam’s cock was firm enough to bob over without needing a hand to help, Gabriel shifted his knees wider to stabilize himself, then took his own cock in hand, stroking quickly to thoughts of Sam laughing at Star Wars, smiling at him across the dinner table.

As much as he would prefer to take it slow, time was something Sam didn’t have. Pulling off Sam’s length as soon as his own was hard enough, Gabriel removed his fingers, replacing them with his firm cock. He wasn’t quite at full mast, but that meant he also wasn’t at full girth, and considering how tight Sam’s virgin hole was as he slowly pushed in and bottomed out, it could only be a good thing. Even with the tightness, the glide was plenty slick enough, almost too slick since he slipped out several times and had to guide himself back in.

The lack of response made staying hard almost impossible, but Gabriel reminded himself it was the only way to save Sam’s life. Once Sam was awake, he could replace the rushed, awkward first time with something Sam would actually enjoy and remember, if Sam let him. Not that Sam wasn’t enjoying it; his cock was twitching against Gabriel’s stomach as the angel leaned over him, wrapping his arms around Sam’s firm torso and under his toned back. Laying his head against Sam’s chest, he listened to the heartbeat there, which was still slow but starting to pick up its pace. He continued rocking into Sam, not pulling out as far with each thrust, but slamming deep every time and enjoying the way Sam’s cock jumped and hardened more between them.

Focusing on happy images of Sam in his mind, Gabriel slid a hand between them, grace-made slick on it as he gripped Sam’s cock and began stroking in time with his own thrusts. Despite the urgency of the situation—maybe even because of it—Gabriel needed Sam to come. Even if he didn’t feel or remember it, he had to bring Sam to completion, or he would never reach his own, which Sam desperately needed. There was never a thought to his own pleasure, beyond reaching the physical release that would save Sam’s life.

“Sam, please. I need you to come for me. I need you to live,” Gabe begged, tears stinging his eyes as he continued to thrust, desperately reaching for release that hovered just beyond his grasp. The heartbeat below his ear seemed to pick up at his words, though Gabriel hardly allowed himself to believe. He continued to stroke Sam, twisting his hand over the head. Resting all his weight on Sam’s chest, he pulled the other hand from under his back and slid it down to tease Sam’s tightening balls, brushing under them against the perineum. Sam’s breathing hitched, and then he was coming into Gabriel’s hand between them. That seemed to grant Gabriel the permission he needed for his own release as Sam’s tight warmth twitched and squeezed around his thrusting cock.

“Fuck! Sam!” Gabriel cried out as he slammed deep and spilled his life-giving release deep inside Sam’s twitching heat. Shifting back onto his hands to take his weight off Sam, he stayed buried in that warmth, willing out as much spend as would come, then began thrusting again, ignoring the pressure on his sensitive, spent cock in favor of trying to spread the release along Sam’s inner walls, hoping to speed absorption. Going numb, he lost track of how long he rocked into Sam, only stopping when his cock became too soft to continue. Exhausted, he slipped out and climbed up the bed, tucking himself into the crook of Sam’s limp arm as the tears flowed freely.

“Please, Sam. Please don’t leave me. I promise I’ll make you happy. I promise I’ll keep you safe. Anything you want, I’ll give it to you, just please don’t die. I don’t want you to die.” Gabriel sobbed, pressing a hand over Sam’s chest. The heartbeat there seemed stronger, but that was no guarantee. Despite his dread, Gabriel was spent, both emotionally and physically, and at some point his continued pleas faded as he cried himself to sleep.

Sam woke slowly, blinking up at the canopy above his four poster bed. Something about opening his eyes felt wrong, but it took a while for him to remember. He wasn’t supposed to be waking up, he was supposed to be dead. How… the weight against his side, the hand over his chest, and the ache in his ass answered the question before he even asked it. Though his face was hidden, buried against Sam’s side, the golden waves of hair were unmistakable. Gabriel. Had he…? He must have. Why? Why hadn’t he just let Sam die?

“Gabriel?” Sam asked, voice husky with sleep. The angel nestled against him stirred. Sam raised the hand of his trapped arm and trailed a finger lightly up and down Gabriel’s arm, not sure how he felt about how he was still alive.

The angel stirred. “Sam? Oh, thank Dad! You’re alive! Shit, I’m so sorry, Sam, I didn’t want to but, you were dying and it was the fastest way to give your body what you needed and I didn’t want to, I mean, not without you having a say in it, but I just couldn’t let you die and I’m so sorry, but I just-”

“Hey, hey, calm down. It’s okay. I understand,” Sam said, grabbing Gabriel’s wrist as he tried to pull away.

“Why didn’t you tell me, Sam? If I’d known sooner, you coulda just drunk some from a cup instead of… I mean, I know neither option is great considering your lack of choice in the matter, but I can’t undo the changes the demons made, so at least, if I had known sooner, you could have had a choice in the method…”

Sam sighed. “Honestly? Wouldn’t it be better if I just died? I mean,” he continued, talking over Gabriel’s protests, “If I was dead, Lucifer could never use me for whatever his plans are, right? And you wouldn’t be troubled with taking care of me, in any way. Doesn’t that work out better all around?”

“No way, Sam! How can you think so little of yourself? Nevermind Lucifer’s plans; I’ll keep you safe, I swear. You’re an amazing person, Sam, and the world is a better place with you in it. At the very least, my world is better. Maybe I’m just being selfish, but I don’t want you to die, Sam. If you hate the idea of staying with me, then I’ll find you somewhere else safe, somewhere you’ll like. Or if you don’t like the thought of me being the one ‘feeding’ you, I’ll get someone else to do it, however you want. But dying is not the solution. Please, Sam, don’t give up on this world. Sure, it has plenty of problems, but that’s exactly why you need to stay. We can work together to make things better; make the world a better place for everyone to live. If you die, what kind of world will you be coming back to when you reincarnate?”

With another sigh, Sam let his grip slip from Gabriel’s wrist, down to his hand which he squeezed. “Honestly, I hadn’t thought about all that. I was only thinking about preventing whatever the Devil was planning. I like it here, and leaving before I’d had a chance to enjoy all the things you’ve given me, including your company, was one of my biggest regrets.”

“One of?” Gabriel asked, curious to know everything that went through Sam’s mind before deciding the world would be better with him gone, in the hope of keeping him from ever coming to that conclusion again.

“My brother. I’m the only family he has so I didn’t want to leave him alone, but he’s still at the lab, in Alastair’s clutches, and he’d never even know what happened to me. I hoped maybe he’d imagine me being free and it would give him at least a little peace of mind. If he’s even still alive. I’m sure Alastair has probably been pissed that I’m gone and blowing off steam on Dean. Why couldn’t they have taken him too? He was part of the same experimental program that I was.”

“You love him.”

“Yes, very much. We grew up in the same room together until Dean hit puberty. He was pretty much father, mother, brother, teacher, and friend, all in one. And even after they separated us, he’d still sneak out to see me, even though Alastair beat him every time.” Sam looked sad and wistful, and this time it was Gabriel’s turn to squeeze his hand.

“If he means that much to you, I’ll get him for you.”

“What? Gabriel, it’s too dangerous. You barely even know me. Why would you risk yourself like that?”

“I told you Sam, I want you to be happy. If having Dean here will make you happy, then I’ll rescue him. Don’t worry, I’ll be careful, and I won’t go alone. Best part of making you happy is getting to see you actually being happy, and if I get myself dead I won’t be able to enjoy it. So, that means planning and caution. Might take a couple days to get organized, but I swear I’ll have your brother here by the end of the week.” Gabriel smiled, bringing Sam’s hand up to his lips and planting a kiss on his knuckles. His mind was obviously made up, and nothing Sam could say would change it.

Chapter Text

“Sam, are you sure this is what you want? I know you gotta be ‘fed’, but it doesn’t have to be this way. I mean, I want it, don’t get me wrong, but it’s only been two days since I… since you almost… Just sayin’, if it’s too soon or makes you uncomfortable at all, or if you feel obligated, we can hold off on the sex part. If we do this, it’s gotta be because you want it, and not just because you can’t live without come. You get me?” Gabriel was perched on the edge of Sam’s bed, toying nervously with the hem of his shirt.

“I’m sure, one hundred percent. The thought that I would ever want or enjoy sex never even crossed my mind before, no matter how much I knew I’d need it to survive. I hate that I don’t remember what happened when you saved my life, because my body definitely remembers and it must have been good. Just you brushing lightly past my arm sends a tingle of pleasure through me, and I need to know why. Please, Gabriel, show me what my body knows but my mind doesn’t.” Sam’s shirt was already off, and he scooted over to kneel behind the angel, easing the shirt from his fingers before pulling it over his head for him.

Turning his head, Gabriel looked back and up at Sam, raising a hand to rest lightly on the back of his neck and guiding him down gently until their lips were inches apart. “Can I kiss you?” he asked.

Swallowing, Sam licked his lips and nodded. He’d read about kissing, but never done it before.

Gabriel’s hand tugged his neck down the last few inches until their lips met. The angle was a bit awkward until the angel turned, crawling onto the bed as he guided Sam backward without letting their lips part. In only a few short moments Sam’s head was on the pillows, Gabriel hovering over him as they kissed.

Sam tensed slightly before his body relaxed, but Gabriel seemed to notice the minute action. He broke the kiss, sitting back on his heels, face worried.

“Sorry, was that too fast? What am I doing wrong?”

“Nothing! You didn’t do anything wrong, I was just startled for a second,” Sam replied.

“But you weren’t kissing back. Did you not like it?” Gabriel pressed.

“What? No! It’s not that, I just…” Sam felt his cheeks warming in embarrassment. “I don’t know how. I’ve never done this before.”

“Wait, you mean you haven’t even kissed?”

Blush deepening, Sam shook his head. “I was being kept pure for… you know.”

“Sorry Sam, that’s nothing to be embarrassed about. We’ll have plenty of time to practice. Wanna try again?” Gabriel asked and Sam nodded. “Okay, this time, just try to relax and let your lips move with mine.”

When their lips met again, Sam allowed his to soften, a quiet moan escaping him when Gabriel’s hand moved to cup his jaw, thumb brushing lightly over his cheek. It wasn’t long before Sam was kissing back, pressure varying as they both learned the shape and taste of each other. Then Gabriel’s tongue traced the seam of Sam’s mouth and he opened without a thought, pleasantly surprised as Gabriel licked into him. Tracing over Sam’s teeth, thrusting, exploring the cavern of his mouth, Gabriel seemed to know just how to send thrills of pleasure tingling through Sam’s skin. Eventually Sam realized Gabriel was rocking against his stomach, and Sam’s own cock was full, hard, and aching for attention.

With a groan, Sam pulled himself free of the angel’s sinful lips long enough to pant, “More. Gabriel, I need…” Sam didn’t know what, exactly, he needed, but he was desperate for it. It wasn’t just his cock that wanted attention though. His ass was twitching, something inside him aching to be filled.

“It’s okay, I got ya, Sam. Just relax and let me take care of you.” Gabriel’s lips returned to Sam’s, kissing a few tender times before making their way along his jaw, down his neck, over his clavicles, teasing each nipple into a hard nub. Everywhere he touched sparked heat and need in Sam, sensations he’d never felt before. Somewhere along the way, the rest of their clothes had angelically disappeared. By the time Gabriel’s skilled mouth made its way down his abdomen to finally brush lightly over the tip of his cock, Sam was leaking steadily and aching to be filled. Grace-slicked fingers answered his need, slipping into him an inch at a time, gently stretching his twitching hole which almost seemed slick even without the grace helping. Gabriel thrust them in and out slowly, taking his time opening Sam up, though the muscles lining Sam’s tight, moist heat were twitching and pulsing with impatience. Too overwhelmed to be embarrassed, Sam whimpered and begged, aching for more though he still didn’t know quite what he wanted. Crooking his fingers, Gabriel drew a deep moan of pleasure as he found the prostate, then slid his fingers back out a bit, preparing to repeat the movement.

“Oh, fuck! There, Gabriel, right there!” Sam cried, arching off the bed.

Perplexed, Gabriel felt around the area just before the prostate again, earning another sharp cry and arch of Sam’s back that pushed his fingers forward, past a second ring of muscle that shouldn’t be there. “Sam? Is this-”

“Fuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckyes!!!” Sam squirmed downward, trying to force Gabriel’s fingers further past that second, mysterious opening. “Pleasepleasepleaseplease, more! Need you Gabriel! Need you inside!” Sam didn’t even know what he was saying, only that he was desperate for it, whatever it was.

“Okay, Sam, I understand. I got ya.” Gabe stretched a bit more as he slid his fingers out then slicked up his cock as Sam’s hips squirmed on the bed, begging for him. Gripping his hips tightly so that Sam wouldn’t hurt himself in his eagerness, Gabriel pushed into the welcoming tightness, slowly bottoming out. Sam whimpered and squirmed in his grip. “That okay Sam? Too tight? Does it hurt?”

“Doesn’t hurt, just, not right. Not there. Need you in that other spot.” Sam’s voice was practically a whine as he begged, still trying to squirm.

“It’s okay, relax Sam. We’ll get there. Can you hold still for me?”

Sam nodded, stilling his hips, though he couldn’t stop the need trembling through him.

Grabbing a thick pillow from thin air, Gabriel slid it under Sam’s hips then slowly slid out and back in, searching for that spot in front of Sam’s prostate. He felt the puckered opening and nudged the head of his thick cock against it, Sam’s pleasure ringing through the room. Concentrating, Gabriel nudged a few more times and the muscles expanded, not only allowing him access, but drawing him in as Sam’s legs wrapped around him, and he shot his release onto his own stomach and chest, crying out in ecstasy. “Holy shit, kiddo, you okay?”

Hooded, emerald eyes gazed up at Gabriel in wonder. “More than okay. Don’t stop, Gabriel. Need you moving, need you to come. Please, please, Gabriel, I’m aching for it.”

“Anything you need, Sam.” The way Sam clenched around him, the tight heat, the head of Gabriel’s cock tugging against that inner opening every time he drew back but not quite far enough to slip out, everything was perfect and amazing as Gabriel set up a swift pace of deep thrusts.

Sam didn’t even know what he was saying at that point, but there was a constant stream of praise and begging and whimpering and cries of pleasure. It was obvious Gabriel was enjoying it too, his thrusts punctuated with profanities and Sam’s name, along with variations of ‘never felt so good’. In less than a minute Sam was hard again, Gabriel staring down at him like he was the most wondrous treasure to have ever existed as he continued his hard, deep thrusts into that mysterious second opening, driving Sam into a frenzy of overwhelming sensation that burned through his body.

“Fuck! Sam! You’re amazing! I’m so close,” Gabriel panted, sweat dripping from his brow and the ends of his curls. Hands tight on Sam’s hips, he continued to thrust, harder, faster, deeper, more.

“Please, Gabriel! Fuck! Need you to come for me!” Sam moaned, fingers gripped tight into the sheets as his whole body trembled with anticipation.

There was no time for a response, Gabriel just slammed deep into that second hole and poured his release into Sam, wave after wave crashing through him. When Sam screamed his second release, muscles tightening around Gabriel’s thick cock as his body arched with the lightning pleasure burning through him, it was as if it triggered a second orgasm for Gabriel too, though that was impossible. Or not, because his pulsing release went back to crashing waves, spurting hot and thick and deep into Sam. The intensity remained for endless minutes, Sam and Gabriel riding the high for longer than seemed possible before collapsing onto the bed, both passed out.

Sam woke to the feel of a warm cloth roaming gently over his chest and his eyes fluttered open to see Gabriel hovering over him, cleaning away the evidence of Sam’s pleasure. That was fine though; the evidence inside his chest could never be washed away. Something significant had happened between them, though Sam didn’t know if Gabriel had felt it too. Whether or not it was mutual though, he knew it wasn’t just infatuation with the angel’s skill or gratitude for being treated so well. It was far greater than some fleeting attraction, and much more permanent. He didn’t know how he knew, but he felt it in every fiber of his being. Sam was Gabriel’s and it had nothing to do with auctions or ownership.

“Oh, good. You’re back. Glad I wasn’t the only one who passed out; that woulda been embarrassing. How you feeling, Sam?” Gabriel asked.

Taking a moment to stretch, Sam found his muscles unexpectedly loose and relaxed. With the electric pleasure that had been jolting through him, he’d expected to be stiff and sore, but he wasn’t. Well, at least not until he tried to sit up. Then he was definitely sore, but at least it was just in one spot.

“Whoa there, take it easy, kiddo. That was pretty intense for both of us. Sorry, I think you’ll be feeling that for a few days.” Gabriel stopped Sam halfway up and guided him back down to the bed.

“Yeah, and every time I do, I’ll think of you,” Sam replied with a smile. “No need to apologize. That was amazing. Is it always like that?”

“To be honest with you, I’ve never felt anything like it, and believe me, I’ve been around long enough I thought I’d done everything. What was up with the, ah, extra hole?”

“Extra? That spot that felt amazing?”

“Yeah, that.”

Sam shrugged. “I don’t know. Maybe it’s just something humans have? They only taught me about how to please angels and demons, not humans, so for all I know it’s normal.”

“Nah, I’ve been with plenty of humans and none of them had that. They didn’t tell you anything about it at the lab? Did you even know it was there?” Gabriel asked.

“They never told me anything but what I needed to know to please my owner. I knew it was there, but thought it was normal. It’s only been opened a few times though, around five or six years ago. The demon scientists forced it open during medical procedures that hurt like hell. Once they stopped the tests though, I forgot it was even there. I never would’ve thought it could be pleasurable.”

“Good to know I’m a better lay than an anal probe,” Gabriel joked with a wide grin as he finished cleaning Sam off and tossed the washcloth over his shoulder. It disappeared in mid-air.

“Why do I get the impression you like to show off for me?” Sam chuckled.

“Because I do?” Gabriel laughed, scooping Sam up into his arms as though he weighed almost as much as a feather.

“What are you doing? Put me down!” Sam cried, arms wrapping tight around Gabriel’s neck.

“Relax, kiddo. I thought we could cuddle on the couch and watch a movie together.” Gabriel didn’t wait for permission or any response at all, just strode across the room, through the door—which angelically opened for them and closed after they’d gone past—and to the couch, where he lay Sam gently on his side. Grabbing a pillow from thin air, he tucked it under Sam’s arm and shoulder so he’d be able to see easily, then lay in front of him on the couch, remote in hand. “Got any requests?” he asked as he turned the viewscreen on.

“I’ve got what I want right here,” Sam replied without thinking, squeezing the arm he’d wrapped around Gabriel’s chest to keep him secure on the couch. Once he realized what he’d said, he felt his cheeks heating and wondered how he’d come to care so much in just a few days. For an archangel, no less. But Gabriel really was something special. “How about we watch your favorite movie?”

“Okee dokes, The Princess Bride it is,” Gabriel said with a grin, pulling a sheet over their naked bodies, then queuing the movie up on the viewscreen.

Balthazar came through the door from his bedroom, walked across to the door to Sam’s bedroom and opened it, gaze fixed pointedly upward.

“Gabriel, if you’re finished playing with your human, Cassie is here,” Balthazar informed the ceiling.

“Send him in,” Gabriel replied from the couch in the sitting room, where he and Sam were cuddled.

“Oh, oops. Alright then, will do.” Balthazar strolled back out and Gabriel snapped his fingers, clothes appearing on Sam and himself. A minute later another angel entered, his unkempt dark, wavy hair at odds with his serious, intense blue gaze.

“Hello, Gabriel,” the new angel said in a low, gravelly voice, coming around the couch to address him.

“Hey, Cassie. This is Sam,” Gabriel replied, pulling Sam forward on the couch as though showing him off. “Sam, this is Castiel.”

Sam felt his cheeks heat at the attention, then warm further as the angel stuck his hand out for Sam to shake, which he did. “It’s a pleasure to meet you,” he said. The lab hadn’t taught him greeting protocols between equals, because humans were animals and didn’t give each other proper greetings, and angels and demons would never greet him as an equal. He’d only been taught to keep his gaze lowered, nod if required, and never speak unless ordered to. But introductions were fairly standard, even in the fiction Sam had been allowed to read, so he wasn’t at a total loss.

“It is nice to meet you as well. Gabriel seems very enamored of you.” Castiel replied, and then Gabriel and Sam were both blushing.

“Right then, moving on. Everything all set?” Gabriel asked after clearing his throat.

“I have schematics for the layout of the lab and Casey will let us in through the back entrance after Gil uses Charlie’s program on the security, if that’s what you mean by all set.”

“Yep, that should about cover it. Oh, was Charlie able to give us more time?”

“She managed to give us another five minutes, but she said any longer than that and she’d be caught out. If they learn how we are getting around their security, they will change it. Then we won’t be able to make any further incursions. Considering our window is limited, I suggest we get into place now to be certain we don’t miss it,” Castiel said, moving toward the door.

Gabriel sighed, his arm around Sam tightening. “You’re right. Just give me a minute, ‘kay?”

“Of course.” Castiel left, closing the door behind him.

“Maybe we should rethink this. I don’t want you to go. What if-”

Gabriel stopped Sam with a finger over his lips. “I know. It’s dangerous and I don’t think either of us want anything to happen to me, especially after today. But your brother’s the only family you’ve got. He should be here. So Cassie and I are gonna get him and bring him back for you. And I’m gonna be extra careful, make sure I’m all in one piece when I get back. ‘Cause I wanna be able to at least make out for a bit. Perk of playin’ the hero, right?”

Sam laughed. “So does that make me the damsel, or Dean?”

“Well, I don’t want a reward from your brother, so how about you be my damsel, and Dean can be Cassie’s?” Gabriel grinned.

“I don’t have any say over what Dean does, but I’m definitely down for giving you a reward. Just… promise me you’ll be extra careful? I have a bad feeling something is going to go wrong.”

Pulling Sam closer, Gabriel captured his lips in a heated but gentle kiss. “I’ll be careful. And I’ll be back before you know it. Promise, kiddo,” he vowed when their lips parted. When he got up Sam followed, until Gabriel turned to give him one last kiss. “Stay in your rooms. If anything happens, lock all your doors and hide out in your bathroom. It’s the most secure room in the house. Not that anything’s gonna happen, but just in case.” With that, Gabriel turned and walked out, leaving Sam standing in the doorway between his room and Balthazar’s. Sam’s bad feeling hadn’t gone away with Gabriel’s reassurances. But he told himself he was just being overly worried because of how close they’d gotten that day. Gabriel would come back safe and sound, with Dean and Castiel. They’d all be fine.

Balthazar’s light accent was grating as he stood in front of the door, arms crossed over his chest, blocking the exit. “I must express my objection to this plan, Gabriel. The life of one human is hardly worth risking yours. I’ve been to that lab. It is built like a maze and armed like a fortress. Going in with the intent of theft is suicide. Besides, this Dean is property of Alastair, isn’t he? Even I know better than to play with that sadist. The human is likely dead or broken beyond repair already.”

“How and why have you been in the lab?” Castiel asked, eyes narrowed.

“I have… friends. They wished to show off their work, though I must confess I was quite unimpressed.”

Gabriel rolled his eyes. “And by ‘friends’, you mean fuck-buddies. Look, Balth, you’ve made your opinion known. We’re still going. Get the hell away from the door and make damn sure you keep Sam safe while we’re gone. That’s not just a request as your friend, it’s an order as your boss.”

Balthazar glared, gritting his teeth, but stepped aside obediently. He was obviously worried for Gabriel’s safety, but was just going to have to accept that this was happening.

“Don’t forget to lock up behind us,” Gabriel added as he breezed past, Castiel following in his wake.

“Yes, Sir,” Balth replied with only a hint of sarcasm. They heard the lock mechanisms fit into place after the door closed behind them.

“Gabriel, you know I like Balthazar, but are you sure you should be leaving him to keep Sam safe?” Castiel asked as they both got into the front of Gabriel’s sleek black Subaru 5000 hovercar.

“They’ll be fine. Balthazar may—mistakenly—think humans are beneath him, but that don’t mean he’d let one come to harm under his watch. Besides, nothing’s gonna happen anyway. Luci has no idea who bought Sam so there’s no reason for him and Balth to be in any danger,” Gabriel reasoned as he started the car and flew them off.

“You are forgetting how much of a grudge Balthazar harbors against humans for Heaven being closed. He may be enjoying Earth now, but he’s just drowning out his longing for home with distractions. I doubt he would hurt a human himself, but he wouldn’t risk his own life to protect one either. Though you are probably right about there not being any danger.”

They’d been waiting in the shadowed loading bay for nearly half an hour when a brunette poked her head out the back door and waved them forward. It was a good thing the lab was in the lower city. The upper city never seemed to have any shadows regardless of the time of day. Castiel rushed quietly to the door, Gabriel following just behind. He’d insisted on taking point since Gabriel wasn’t much of a warrior, despite being an archangel. Sure, he could handle himself and had done his fair share of fighting, but Castiel knew he’d never cared for it. Fortunately, God had allowed him to be His messenger instead of leading Heaven’s armies. Castiel had been a soldier, so he was much better suited to this kind of job.

Once they were inside, Casey, the demon who’d opened the door, nodded to them, then left. The sound of her heels clacking against the tile floor echoed softly, fading as she disappeared among the maze of darkened corridors. Since the door beside the loading bay was kept locked and monitored by the cameras, there were no guards around. Castiel and Gabriel had both memorized the layout, but a blueprint looked a lot different than standing in a three dimensional maze of corridors, all with doors that looked exactly the same.

They knew which room was Dean’s, thanks to intel from Gil. It was just a matter of getting there through the darkened hallways without being seen. The guards patrolled every half hour, so they’d be able to get in and out with a few minutes to spare, as long as nothing went wrong. Too bad everything was tile and metal and plain white walls; there was no wood to knock on after that thought. Not that Castiel was superstitious.

Within four minutes they’d made it to Dean’s room without incident. Pausing to listen at the door, there was no sound within, so Castiel stepped back for Gabriel to get them past the lock, then opened the door quietly, looking inside.

“He’s not here,” Castiel whispered.

“Well crap. What now? Where would he be if not in his room? He can’t be dead, right? Our source said he was alive.” Gabriel murmured back.

“We would have gotten word if he was dead. At this time of night, the only reason for him to be out of his room would be if Alastair had him. I think we should check the demon’s ‘play room’.”

“Lead the way then.” Gabriel said, following again and watching their backs as Castiel led them further into the facility. This would take longer and toe the line of their time limit. They hurried as much as they could while still being careful and quiet. When they were still several halls away, they began to hear screams and voices. Passing a worried look between them, they picked up the pace.

“That’s it, boy. Scream for me,” Alastair said in a whispery, nasally voice. He stood between Dean’s legs which were strapped into the stirrups of the metal table beneath him. The small knife in his hand glinted in the glaring light of the room beneath which Alastair’s face was shadowed.

“Fuck you,” Dean rasped. Alastair smirked, his razor-thin knife slicing into Dean just below his left nipple. Despite his determination to keep his mouth clamped shut, Dean screamed again.

“Hmm… not a bad idea, but I think we’ll try it the other way around. You are past due for a feeding… though I should just let you starve. Maybe I will. I know you were in your brother’s room talking a few nights before he disappeared. What did you talk about? How did you manage his escape? It’s your fault Lucifer is pissed and taking it out on Azazel. Your fault Azazel is passing the pain on to me. And it’s your fault I’m passing that pain to you threefold.”

“Much as I’d love to claim credit, I had nothing to do with Sam’s disappearance, and I’d rather starve than endure more of your lame-ass idea of fucking.”

“Oh, I still plan to fuck you, just not come in you. But I will be nice and get you wet first. What were you saying about lame asses?” Alastair held up a dildo covered in small but sharp spikes for Dean to see.

“You can’t be fucking serious. You’re not putting that thing insi—aaaah!” Dean cut himself off with a scream as Alastair stretched his hole just enough to ram the dildo in.

“I said I’d get you wet. I didn’t say what with. Blood makes for a good lube, don’t you think? Should I keep using the spiked dildo or do you wanna be a good boy and beg me to fuck you?” Alastair whispered in his nasally voice, sending shivers of fear through Dean.

“Fuck you, assho—aaaaaahhhh!”

“So obstinate,” Alastair chided as Dean continued to scream. “Come now, Dean, why make this harder on yourself. If you keep being stubborn, this thing might do permanent damage. Not to mention you could bleed to death, or get infected. I suppose it could be interesting, letting you die incrementally. That might be worth keeping you alive to see. Watch you die slowly as you go septic, your own blood becoming a poison that pumps through your body, killing you off one organ at a time. Which would kill you first, I wonder, the loss of blood or the poison of infection? Though, if you ask nicely, I’ll feed you and patch you up. Then you’ll at least have three more days and might avoid sepsis. Whaddya say, Dean-o? You know what I want to hear.”

“Dammit, no more! Fuck, I don’t care if you feed me or kill me, just stop using that thing.” Dean’s voice was broken and cracking, sobbing.

“Ah-ah-ah, Dean. That’s not what I want to hear. I’m not going to stop until I hear you begging me to fuck you.”

“Fine dammit! Fuck me, whatever, just take the damn dildo out.”

“That doesn’t sound much like begging to me. Try again.” Alastair gave a few harder thrusts with the dildo, changing the tears leaking from the corners of Dean’s eyes into streams running unchecked down the sides of his face and into his short, light brown hair.

“Dammit! Please, Alastair, okay? I’m beggin’, please fuck me.” Dean was sobbing and whimpering, straining against the restraints holding him to the table. “Please! No more, please, I can’t… I want your cock, okay? Please, please, anything you want! Please fuck me!”

“That’s better. Alright, I’ll fuck you. Still not sure whether I’ll feed you or not, though. Depends how nicely you beg me to fill you with my come.” Alastair’s smirk grew as he unzipped his jeans. Pulling out his hard cock, it twitched when Dean screamed as Alastair finally jerked the dildo out, tearing the muscle guarding his opening. Then he was ramming that long cock into Dean’s bloody hole, groaning in pleasure as Dean gave another cry of pain. Fortunately he wasn’t too wide. Dean couldn’t have handled anything with more girth. Alastair’s eyes closed as he set up a quick pace, ramming hard into Dean’s abused hole, getting off more on the screams Dean couldn’t hold back than on the actual sex. His nails raked into Dean’s hips, leaving bloody trails and giving him purchase to drive into Dean harder.

Dean couldn’t help watching through his tears. As much as he hated Alastair, the truth was that his existence was tied to whether or not the demon got so into it that he forgot to pull out. Looking up at the tall bastard, Dean stopped trying to hold back his cries of pain, screaming louder instead. He was rewarded with a low moan as Alastair’s hips started to stutter, ramming into him even harder as he neared release. Hot come finally spilled into him as Alastair’s eyes snapped open and began to glow. That had never happened before. A blue-white luminescence pulsed from those eyes as Alastair’s jaw dropped in surprise and the light spilled forth from it too. That was when Dean noticed the hand on top of Alastair’s head. Brilliant light intensified sharply before burning itself out and leaving his eyes gaping black holes. As his body collapsed to the ground, a man with messy dark hair was revealed behind Alastair, hand slipping from the demon’s head.

Castiel scowled with distaste at the demon slumping to the floor, then looked at the human he’d been assaulting. He and Gabriel had heard everything, since the door had been left open, probably specifically for other demons to enjoy the screams he drew forth, or for the humans to fear him even more. But no one would have to fear Alastair ever again.

“Dean, right?” Gabriel asked, pushing around past Castiel to start removing the restraints.

Dean nodded, wincing. “Yeah. And you are?” he rasped.

“I’m Gabriel, and the knight in shining halo there is Cassie.”

The nickname drew Castiel from his wandering thoughts. “It’s Castiel,” he corrected. Though not a medic, every soldier knew at least the basics of healing. Stepping forward, Castiel held both hands above Dean’s chest and channeled his half-powered grace through them, sending it into Dean’s torn and scarred body to at least stop the bleeding cuts and mend the toes and fingers Alastair must have broken before Castiel and Gabriel had been in range of hearing. But the worst injury was a problem. The demon’s seed mixed with the blood in Dean’s rectum made it impossible to heal the shredded membrane properly.

“You’re angels?” Dean asked, raising an eyebrow without wincing this time, which was pretty good considering how badly Alastair had worked him over.

“Yes,” Castiel replied shortly before addressing Gabriel. “The damage to his rectum is beyond my ability to heal. He will need a doctor once we get him out of here, but I’m unsure how to stop the bleeding for now.”

“Our window’s closing, we gotta hurry. Here, you get this last restraint and I’ll see what I can do.” Gabriel held a hand over Dean’s abused opening, brows furrowing in concentration as he sent a tendril of grace to explore the damage. By the time he pulled his hand back with a nod and a snap of the fingers of his other hand, sweat dripped from his forehead and Castiel had finished with the last restraint. He raised a questioning eyebrow at Gabriel, who shrugged. “Hey, I’m great at powerhouse stuff, but delicate things like that are much harder for me. Anywho, he’s stuffed full ‘a gauze, which should do for now. C’mon, Dean-o. Let’s get you outta here.” A wave of his hand and Dean was clothed in a loose, soft, white outfit, the same as the demon scientists wore.

Castiel and Gabriel worked together to help Dean off the metal bench, warning him to be quiet as they hurried out of the room and into the maze of corridors. Retrieving Dean from the further room had taken up too much of their window, not to mention the time spent healing him enough to be mobile and the fact that Dean still couldn’t move fast with his much-abused ass.

“This is not working. We have to move faster,” Castiel stated once they’d made it down two corridors with too many to go. He swung Dean around to face him and touched two fingers to his forehead. Dean slumped down immediately but Castiel caught him and tossed him over his shoulder. He resumed their trek to the loading bay, moving much faster than they had been before, even with the added weight of carrying Dean. Gabriel rushed to keep up.

Managing to make it to the back door without being seen, they slipped out and dashed to the car. Castiel climbed into the back with Dean and Gabriel hopped in the front, zooming them out of the parking lot, hovering just above the streets of Old New York. They weren’t out of the woods yet, but there was no alarm behind them. Hopefully, by the time Alastair’s body was discovered, they’d be safe at home, with Dean and Sam united and a doctor there or on the way. The mission, in Castiel’s expert opinion, was a success.

Chapter Text

Azazel crossed his arms over his chest and tapped a foot against the landing pad outside the door impatiently. It was supposed to have been left unlocked, but apparently someone preferred punishment over doing their job. Finally the lock gave a quiet click and the door opened, revealing Ruby, his ‘demon on the inside’.

“Sorry, I unlocked it before we headed for his room, but once we got there, he came back out to double check it. Gotta go, I’m supposed to be getting us drinks.” Ruby dashed off to the kitchen, making plenty of noise as she got out two glasses and filled them from the dispensary.

Slipping into the suite, Azazel moved silently past Ruby, who whispered ‘middle drawer, left side’ before heading back to the bedroom, drinks in hand. He knew the layout and had no trouble finding the master bedroom. The magnetic key was right where ruby said it would be. Rubbing it over the metal, Azazel heard a satisfying click and pushed the door open triumphantly. Too easy, really.

“Gabriel? I wasn’t expecting you back so—”

“Silence,” Azazel ordered in a harsh whisper, cutting Sam off.

“Balthazar!” Sam yelled, able to ignore Azazel’s order since it was counter to the express order Gabriel had given him to speak freely at all times.

“Oooh, Balthazar! Yes, yes, yes! Give it to me baby! Your cock is so amazing,” Ruby’s voice cried out loudly from Balthazar’s room, covering Sam’s voice. Balthazar said something too quiet to be heard through two closed doors, and Ruby replied, “Screw the human; he probably needs you to wipe his ass or something. I want you screaming my name. Let him hear how amazing sex between equals is.

“Oh, bugger all, Ruby, I swear you’re going to be the death of me! Where did you even learn to do that?” Balthazar cried out.

“A girl likes to keep her secrets,” Ruby replied, still talking loudly.

“Holy hell Ruby, do that again!” Balth exclaimed. Their activities remained loud and vigorous and Azazel smirked at Sam.

Sam got up from his bed with a resigned look on his face, taking a couple hesitant steps toward Azazel, who gave an approving grin.

“That’s right. Playtime’s over. Time for me to take you to your true master.”

The next hesitant step shifted into a full sprint as Sam dashed toward the bathroom. “Gabriel is my true master,” he called out as he ran.

“Stop,” Azazel said in a bored tone. Sam’s legs froze and his arms windmilled to keep his balance. “Come here.” As Sam turned jerkily and started moving toward Azazel, he began screaming to Balthazar for help at the top of his lungs. Ruby’s cries of pleasure got louder, drowning him out. “Drink this.” Just like with Meg, Sam’s hand shot out, taking the small bottle, bringing it to his lips, and drinking it down.

“I’ll never be his,” Sam managed to say before the drug knocked him out.

“Maybe not, but that won’t stop him from taking you,” Azazel said quietly to the unconscious human. He grabbed one of Sam’s arms, dragging him through the apartment and out to his waiting hovercar, not caring if he damaged the kid or not. Lucifer was pissed and he wasn’t going to notice a few bumps and bruises. He’d probably make a few of his own before any from Azazel’s rough treatment showed. Shoving Sam into the back seat, Azazel closed and locked the doors, then got in the driver’s side and flew off, heading straight for Lucifer’s.

Chapter Text

Sam’s eyes blinked open slowly, looking up at an unfamiliar ceiling that was definitely not the canopy over his bed at home. Less than a week living there, and he already considered it home. But he obviously wasn’t there, so where was he? What had happened? Shoulders stiff and sore, Sam tried to stretch his arms out only to find that he couldn’t. Just as he was realizing his wrists were bound together and tied above his head, the memory of Azazel bursting into his room came back and fear settled like a death knell in his heart.

“Finally,” Azazel’s voice said from the corner, and Sam lifted his head enough to look at the demon while rolling his left shoulder as much as the restraints allowed. The right one was in too much pain to move. “I only gave you a quarter dose. With your size, you should have been awake within an hour, but it’s been four. Not wise of you to make Lucifer wait like that. He was already pissed at you for disappearing on him. Now he’s livid. And all that anger is just for you, so have fun. I’ll go let him know you’re ready for him.”

Left alone, Sam tried to remain calm and assess his situation. He was on a padded bench, arms restrained above his head and his legs were tied, calf to thigh, by ropes than hung from the ceiling. The fact that he was naked was far more uncomfortable than it should have been. At the lab, he’d been raised naked his whole life. He’d never worn a stitch of clothing until this week. But he’d already grown so used to being dressed that he felt especially vulnerable being naked. Other than that, he had a bruise on the back of his head—probably from when he fell since Azazel hadn’t caught him—his left shoulder ached and the right hurt like hell, the ropes around his legs were biting into his flesh, and his back stung something fierce.

“So, Sammy. Back with us, are you?” the Overlord of Demons said as he stalked into the room, a dangerous smile on his face.

“Don’t call me that,” Sam growled. Dean was the only one allowed to call him Sammy.

“You’ve never complained before,” Lucifer pointed out.

“I was never able to complain before.” Sam glared at the Devil with a smile of his own. “I see you haven’t been able to change the setting for my owner.”

“That doesn’t matter. You’re going to be too tied up here to worry about who your chip’s set to. And I’m going to fuck the memory of my thief of a brother right out of you.”

“Gabriel’s not a thief, and there’s nothing you can do to make me forget him. I’m his. Regardless of what your damn microchip in my head says, I’ll always belong to Gabriel and no one else.”

“Pretty words. Frankly, Sam, I don’t give a damn who you think you belong to. You’re going to make the perfect general for me, whether you want to or not.” Lucifer beckoned someone in from the hallway.

“What are you talking about? I’m not a general. I know nothing about the military or fighting.” Sam’s brows furrowed, trying to figure out what the Devil meant.

“Well, aren’t you a regular Chatty Cathy,” Astaroth said as she entered. “All that work I put in to make you perfect for Lord Lucifer, and here someone’s gone and ruined you. But you’ll still do for your main function.” The demon worked while she talked, ignoring Sam’s gasps of discomfort as she inserted a metal spreader into his hole, using it to keep him open as she picked up a smaller, longer spreader. “This might sting a bit,” she warned, grinning in anticipation of Sam’s pain. The tip of the smaller spreader hit the spot that sent a shiver of need through him, but it wasn’t pleasurable for even a full second before she was forcing her instrument past the tightly closed ring of muscle. The pain was excruciating, and Sam couldn’t hold back his voice.

Lucifer ignored Sam’s screams as the lab tech worked. “You aren’t going to be a general. You’re going to help me make one, Sam. What did you think the EBP was for? You know, demons and angels used to be able to breed with humans, before Dad got all pissy about nephilim and cambions being so powerful and changed your biology so we couldn’t breed you anymore. But we’ve finally managed to isolate and reverse that change. Congrats, Sammy. You’re gonna be a mommy. Well, after I pump you full of my little swimmers. So! How we doin’ there? Almost done?”

“Yes sir, I just need to insert the ring to keep him open.” Astaroth held up a circular rubber piece that had a firm ring in the center, edged by more rubber studded with metal pins. Fitting it into the tight opening, she used a magnet to pull the short pegs through Sam’s most sensitive flesh. He screamed himself raw, and around the time she was snapping the flat cap over the second fastening, Sam mercifully passed out.

Sam woke to almost as much pain as he’d been in before passing out. His back felt like it was on fire. The ropes holding his legs had been spread apart further and shortened so that Sam’s ass was off the bench, leaving most of his weight resting on his back. And Lucifer was between his legs, ramming hard into his ass. With the position he had Sam in, it was obvious he was aiming for that extra hole, but he only hit it half the time. The rest of his thrusts rammed around it, occasionally hitting the prostate which barely registered through Sam’s pain, but more often than not hitting on or near the metal fastenings holding the ring in place. He was in agony, cheeks and hair already wet; he must have been crying even while unconscious.

“Sorry I didn’t wait for you Sammy, but there’s another damned early council meeting and I didn’t want to waste any time. I have to leave in three hours. Wanna make sure I get you good and full before I go. Then when I get back we can do it again. By the way, you passed out before I could mention your punishment for running away on me. How’s your back feeling?” Lucifer leaned forward with a smirk and put his hands on Sam’s shoulders, grinding his back into the bench as his hips rocketed forward, slamming against the pins punched through his sensitive skin.

With a yelping whimper, Sam managed to turn his head to the side before the pain ejected what little was in his stomach. At least he wasn’t choking on his own vomit, but if not for his desire to get back to Gabriel somehow, Sam would have welcomed death. Not bothering to give an answer—Lucifer knew damn well how Sam’s back was feeling—Sam closed his eyes and tried to distance himself from the pain.

The Devil smirked, ignoring Sam’s mostly dry heaving. In fact, he seemed proud of having caused it. “Fine, be that way. I won’t tell you how hard I got giving you forty lashes with a spiked whip. Fuck, just remembering has me ready to blow another load.” Lucifer’s aim improved as he neared release, the head of his cock pushing past the rubber ring and thrusting deep before spilling his seed into Sam, whose vision went black, white-hot sparks flying through the darkness as the tight ring pushed and pulled against his flesh.

“Damn, Sam, we are gonna make one fine baby together.” He kept his thrusts inside the ring until every drop had spilled, then pulled out, jerked himself a couple times to get hard again, and went back to ramming roughly into Sam’s ass.

“It’s a shame each EBP is only good for one use. Humans just can’t survive giving birth to a nephilim. I did have the lab make you a bit bigger and stronger than most humans, so maybe you’ll live. Even if you do, though, I doubt the womb they engineered into you will. But hey, Adam’s looking promising. He’s the half-brother you never met. Shouldn’t be long before he’s ready to be bred. Then our little guy can have a sibling. Or girl. Either is fine. Gender has no bearing on angelic power. But I really want a son, you know? A chip off the old block. We can do all those great father-son things, like play baseball, toss a football back and forth, take over the world together… You know, regular guy bonding type of stuff. It’s gonna be so perfect, Sammy. Just thinking about it makes me all tingly inside. Oh, wait, that’s another load getting ready.” Lucifer rammed his cock past the rubber ring again, shooting another round of come into Sam’s second hole with a groan.

Sam was sliding up and down on the leather bench as Lucifer resumed driving into him, blood from his back making it slippery. The constant agony from his back and ass dulled the pain of his shoulders and legs and he found himself wondering if he would lose the use of either as feeling in his limbs faded. Maybe he’d bleed to death from the open slashes on his back. Or maybe the pain would give him a heart attack.

But Lucifer needed him alive, at least for now. Dead men couldn’t give birth, after all. Technically, that statement should be true without the ‘dead’ at the front, but apparently the demon scientists were playing god. Growing up, Dean had taught him as much as he knew about everything, including reproduction. Men provided the seed, women provided the egg and then grew the child in their bodies.

Not knowing any more details though, the thought of giving birth was terrifying, especially hearing he wasn’t likely to survive the experience. However, if he had to endure it, the one comfort was that Gabriel’s seed may have already taken root. Lucifer could fuck him from now to eternity but if he was already carrying Gabriel’s child inside him, the Devil’s efforts would be pointless. Not that genetics played much part in a child being good or bad. It mattered some, of course, but how the kid was raised was far more important. Hopefully Gabriel would manage a rescue before Sam gave birth. He would definitely come for Sam, right?

Sam’s thoughts drifted, distancing him from the pain and Lucifer’s constant babble. The Devil didn’t seem to care if Sam was listening or not; he just liked to hear himself talk. Imaginings of Gabriel coming to save him, stealing him away while Lucifer was at council, permeated his mind as he drifted in and out of awareness of what was happening to him. It wasn’t so much that the pain faded as it was Sam growing acclimated to its level. And as much as he would have liked to watch Gabriel torture and kill Lucifer in retaliation, Sam didn’t want a confrontation between the two. His master—lover?—was plenty powerful, but he suspected Gabriel would never use his full might against his brother no matter how angry he got.

So inured was he to the pain that by the time he pulled himself from his thoughts enough to realize Lucifer had stopped, the Devil was gone. Had it really been three hours? Sam’s body throbbing with agony told him yes. Please, Gabriel, please come for me soon. I don’t know how much more I can take, Sam thought, knowing his archangel couldn’t hear him but sending the hope out anyway.

Chapter Text

Castiel supported most of Dean’s weight as he helped him from the car to the entrance while Gabriel unlocked the door, only to find it was already unlocked. “What the hell?” he said, rushing inside and directly to Balth’s room, finding his friend passed out naked on his bed, body covered in hickies. “Balth! Get your ass up. Why was the door unlocked?” Gabriel demanded.

“What? I don’t know; Ruby must have forgotten to lock it when she left.” Balth quipped as he sat up groggily, rolling his neck to crack it and rubbing his eyes.

“Why the hell did you have company over when you were supposed to be guarding Sam?”

“Relax, Gabriel. The little monkey is fine. Haven’t heard a peep from him.” Yawning, Balth stretched his arms up over his head. “Seeing as you’re alive and well enough to complain, I take it your rescue mission was a success?”

Gabriel huffed out a frustrated breath. “It was, but don’t change the subject. Balth, this attitude of yours towards humans has to stop! They’re no different than you and me and I’m tired of your narrowmindedness. I told you to take guarding Sam seriously and you went and had a woman over, then passed out.”

“I told you, your precious little human is just fine. Nothing happened, so why are you being so damned pissy?”

A gravelly voice interrupted the argument. “Gabriel, I’ve laid Dean on the couch for now, and the doctor said replace the gauze every two hours and she’ll be here tomorrow afternoon. She’s out of the city right now,” Castiel said from the doorway of Balth’s room. “Should we try a different doctor, or wait?”

“No, she’s the best around. I think Dean can last ‘til then as long as I change the gauze and keep him sanitized as much as I can. Hopefully once the, err, demonic interference has been absorbed into his system and out of the damaged area, I can heal him up a bit better. I should change the gauze now, though. Once I’m in with Sam, I won’t wanna leave for at least two hours.”

“Don’t you have to be awake in three hours for the next council meeting? Forget about the humans for now and get some sleep,” Balth suggested.

“Balthazar, I mean it. Adjust your attitude or you’re out of here,” Gabriel warned before heading out to the living room to take care of Dean. “Hey, Dean-o, how you feeling?”

“Like someone fed my ass through a meat grinder. But a helluva lot better than before you rescued me, so thanks for that. Both of you.” As he added the last part, his gaze went to Castiel and they stared at each other like there was some unspoken language communicated between their eyes. Gabriel raised an eyebrow, but didn’t comment.

“We should get you away from the windows, just to be safe. Then, if it’s okay, I need to change the gauze you’re packed with and see if I can’t heal you up some more. Think you can walk a bit further?” Gabriel asked. Cassie was by Dean’s side before he even finished talking, ready to help him to the bedroom.

Once Dean was settled on Gabriel’s bed—Gabriel insisted since he planned on sharing Sam’s—the archangel ran his grace-full hands through the air over his pelvis. He disappeared the gauze and used his grace to feel out the damage. There was less demon semen, though it wasn’t completely absorbed yet. Enough had gone that he was still able to manage a bit more healing before snapping new gauze into existence inside Dean, packed firmly against the abused membranes still oozing blood.

“That should hold you for now. Think you can get some sleep?” Gabriel asked when he was done.

“Yeah, maybe. I’m pretty worn out,” Dean answered.

“Gabriel, Dean’s human. Do you have any pain reliever? They don’t have grace to ease pain like we do,” Castiel pointed out.

“Oh, of course. Where’s my head at?” he pulled out his vidphone and looked up human pain relievers. Finding the one most effective without side effects or chance of addiction, he studied the picture then pulled a bottle from thin air. He hadn’t actually created it, though. Sure, he could pull simple things together from thin air, but there was no way he’d be able to recreate the precise mix of ingredients in the medicine. Instead, he’d just taken it from a human pharmacy, leaving a marker in its place as payment. Currency had fallen out of use among humans, at least with each other. They usually bartered to exchange goods and services among themselves, and received markers from angels and demons which could be traded in to the one who issued it for food, materials, or favors. He tossed the bottle to Cassie. “You gonna be around for a while? Mind making sure he gets the right dose and something to wash it down with?”

“Yes, I thought I might stay several days at the least, to double up on your security. Besides, you’ll need someone to… help care for Dean, right? I can do that, if Dean doesn’t mind,” Castiel offered.

“Um… I kinda think I’m gonna be outta commission for a while,” Dean said, frowning.

“I meant feeding you from a cup.”

“Oh, right. Yeah, I don’t mind that at all.”

“Okee doke, you boys can decide who sleeps where and all that. I’ve got a bit of Samshine waiting for me.” Gabriel went to grab the magnetic key from his drawer, only to find it wasn’t there. Heart pounding, he turned and checked the door. It was locked. Rushing through the apartment, he barged through Balth’s door, not caring that he woke his friend again as he rushed through and tried opening the door to Sam’s living room. It was locked too.

“Dammit!” he ran back to his room, checking the door again before knocking loudly on it. “Sam? Sam, open up!” No response. “Sam! Answer me, dammit! Sam!!

“Gabriel, what’s wrong?” Cassie asked, but Gabriel was too distraught to answer. Opening his drawers one by one he pulled all the clothes out, looking for his key. “Gabriel! Calm down. Think. What are you looking for?”

“My key’s gone!” Gabriel shouted, moving to check the nightstand between his bed and Sam’s door in case he put it there after last time he used it. When was the last time he used it? Had he left it in Sam’s rooms? He couldn’t have, but if he did, and something happened to Sam so he couldn’t get to the—

“You’re an angel, Gabriel, and you know what you’re looking for,” Cassie reminded him.

“Yeah, and I can’t find the damn thing!”

“Can’t you just…” Dean suggested, waving his hand in the air.

“Just what?! Oh, right.” Gabriel snapped his fingers and the key appeared in his hand. He skimmed it over the door quickly then ran in as soon as the lock opened, going straight to Sam’s bed. It was rumpled, but empty. The bathroom was empty too. So was the living/dining room. Gabriel felt himself start to hyperventilate as he ran back to Cassie, grabbing his arms in a bruising grip. “He’s not here! Cassie, he’s not here! He’s gone! What do I do???”

“For starters, calm down. You have security cameras, right? Let’s check those.” Castiel was the voice of reason, grounding Gabriel in his panic.

“Right! Security!” Gabriel started to run toward his office, only to be stopped by Cassie’s hands on his shoulders.

“Gabriel! Calm down. You can’t help anyone if you hurt yourself or damage the equipment. Take a breath and focus.”

“You’re right, Cassie. Thanks. Okay, I’m good now. Let’s go check the footage.” Gabriel took several deep breaths before forcing himself to walk, not run, to his office, Castiel following behind. He brought up the security footage and rewound to several hours earlier.

“Fuck. That’s Azazel,” Dean said from behind the angels, who hadn’t realized he’d gotten up and followed them.

“Dean, you should be resting,” Castiel chided.

“Not when my brother’s in danger. Azazel runs the lab and is Lucifer’s right-hand man. If he took Sam, you can bet they went straight to Lucifer.”

“Dammit, I promised I’d keep him safe from Lucifer. How did this happen? Where was Balthazar?”

“That woman who let Azazel in, I think she’s a demon named Ruby,” Cassie commented.

“Ruby. Balth said he had someone named Ruby over.” Gabriel forced himself to watch the rest of the footage, blue-white energy crackling around him the whole time. He winced watching the demon drag Sam through the apartment without a care for bumps and bruises, and probably dislocating the shoulder of the arm he was being dragged by. Standing up, he forced his steps to remain slow as he trembled with fury that heated the air around him. Once he got to Balth’s—no, it would be Cassie’s now—room, he crossed his arms over his chest and stood beside the bed, glaring down at his former friend. It didn’t take long for the angry crackling energy he couldn’t contain to wake Balth, who blinked up at him in confusion.

“Gabriel? What’s—”

“Sam’s gone.”

“Not possible. He’s in his room. Maybe he’s just hid—” Balth stammered.

“No. He’s gone. While Ruby kept you distracted, she let Azazel in and he took Sam.” Gabriel’s voice was trembling with the force of his fury by the end of the sentence.

“Gabriel, that’s not—I didn’t—she didn’t know Sam was even here, I only said I couldn’t leave because I was looking after your human and—”

“She’s smart. It wouldn’t’ve been hard for her to guess who that was. What did I tell you would happen if you failed me?” Voice still trembling with barely controlled rage, Gabe somehow managed to keep his volume low. Deadly.

“You can’t, Gabriel. You wouldn’t.”

“I believe I said I’d take all your grace, but I’ve changed my mind.” When Balth opened his mouth to thank him, Gabriel continued on, talking over him. “I’ll leave just enough of your grace for you to remain an angel, immortal, so that you will have eternity to regret not taking my order seriously.” Gabriel’s hand shot out, the tip of his archangel blade slicing across Balth’s throat where he held a small glass bottle into which most of the angel’s grace flowed before Gabriel ran a hand over the cut to close it, then snapped his fingers and Balth was gone without a chance to protest or defend himself. Power still crackled around Gabriel as he capped the vial, but its fury lessened a fraction at having had an outlet.

“We need to find out if he’s at Lucifer’s home or if the Devil has him stashed somewhere else,” Castiel said from the doorway, making no comment on Balthazar. He stepped out of the way as Gabriel stalked out of the room, not wanting to be anywhere reminiscent of his ex-friend.

“The council meeting today is mandatory. Lucifer will have to be there too. I’d rather be getting Sam back, but—”

“It will be more helpful for you to be at the meeting. You can keep an eye on Lucifer and let us know when he leaves. I will enlist aid to locate and retrieve Sam. With any luck, we will have him home before the doctor arrives and she can look after both him and Dean.”

Gabriel broke down at the thought of Sam needing medical attention, fear for what his Sam might be going through filling him and stealing his strength. He collapsed onto the couch, his head dropping into his hands.

“Hey, man, Sammy’s strong. He’ll be alright. Lucifer has some kinda plan for him, so I’m sure he won’t hurt him too bad,” Dean said, kneeling gingerly beside the couch and patting Gabriel’s shoulder.

“Yes, and you aren’t at fault here. Balthazar was supposed to be keeping him safe,” Cassie added, sitting beside him on the couch.

“But you warned me not to trust Balth. I should have listened to you.”

“Hey, now, don’t go beatin’ yourself up. If you hadn’t gotten him out of the lab, this woulda happened anyway. I’m sure he knows you care for him and will rescue him. That in itself will comfort him no matter what happens.” Dean gave him another pat on the arm before standing with a groan.

“Dean, you need to get back in bed. It would be best for you to remain as still as you can until the doctor can get you healed better,” Cassie said in his gravelly voice, brows furrowed.

“But I wanna help.”

“The best help you can be is resting up, so that you’ll be well enough to comfort Sam when we get him back. Don’t go dying of sepsis on us and make the whole rescue moot.”

“I’m not gonna—” Dean cut himself off at the stern look Castiel gave him. “Yeah, okay. I’ll be in bed if you need me. Or should I lay down somewhere else? You need to sleep before your thing you gotta do or whatever, right?”

“I’m not gonna be able to sleep until Sam is home and safe. You can have the bed, but if you get bored and can’t sleep, you can watch the viewscreen in Sam’s room. Cassie can show you how to use it.”

Balthazar found himself outside Gabriel’s front door. Though he hadn’t cared for the human Gabby brought home, he still felt horrible at having failed him. Sure, Ruby was a demon, but so were half his consorts. The thought that she might arrange the human’s—Sam’s—abduction while keeping him busy had never crossed his mind. And, thinking back, he may have heard Sam calling for him, but Ruby had been very distracting. Some of the things that woman could do with her hips and tongue… yes, distracting. Quite.

What was he supposed to do now though, with no home and almost no grace? There must be something he could do to correct his lapse in judgement, right? Pulling out his vidphone, he scrolled through his contacts as he walked toward his car. It was a sleek black Subaru 5000, just like Gabriel’s. Actually, it had been bought for him at the same time. Gabriel may have tossed him out with nothing but the clothes on his… waist—he didn’t even have a shirt, though at least he’d pulled on his silk boxers before falling back asleep—but he hadn’t forbade Balth from taking his car. And he would need it, if he was to rescue Sam.

Half an hour later, Balth landed on the rooftop parking of Anna’s apartment complex. He needed a shower and clothing, and Anna had offered him both when he’d told her he and Gabriel were on the outs. She didn’t know why of course, nor did any of the other consorts he’d contacted. They only knew he was looking to speak with someone close to Lucifer. Someone who wasn’t Azazel.

“Hey, Balth. In the doghouse again?” Anna teased with a grin when she opened the door for him.

“That would imply having a house of some sort, which I currently do not. I’m far beyond doghouse territory. I fear Gabriel may never forgive me.”

Anna hugged him as he entered, then pulled back, quirking an eyebrow in curiosity at the change in his aura.

“He took my grace.”

“Oh, ouch! You really must have messed up bad.” Anna winced in sympathy.

“Beyond bad. As I said, he may never forgive me this one. But at the very least, I can try to rectify my mistake. Thank you for the use of your shower. I will try to be gone as quickly as possible.” Balth headed for the bathroom which was easy enough to find in the small apartment, even if he hadn’t already known its location, having used it many times before.

“Hey, take as much time as you want. I told you on the phone, you’re welcome to stay here as long as you need.”

“And I appreciate it greatly. But as soon as I find the information I seek, I’ve a mistake to correct. If I survive the attempt, I may return tonight though.”

“I’d love that. It’s been much too long since we’ve played together. In fact, if you need help washing your back…” Anna suggested.

“Another time, perhaps.” For once, Balthazar was in no mood for sex. He closed the door and got into the shower.

Clean and dressed, Balth checked his vidphone and found a few contacts had gotten back to him. Most of the messages were simply replies of being unable to help, but Crowley had said to meet him at the Old Town Bar in the lower city within the next hour. Checking the time, Balth found he still had forty minutes, and he could be there in ten. Thanking Anna, he went back to his hovercar and headed down into Old New York.

The roof of the old brick building had been reinforced and modified to accommodate hovercar parking. Once landed, Balth got out and headed into the elevator that took him to the ground floor. Crowley was in a tiny booth at the back of the bar and Balth made his way over, sliding in across from him.

“Took you long enough,” Crowley groused in an accent more distinct than Balthazar’s. He was nursing a small tumbler of scotch.

“Apologies, I thought you would prefer me clean and clothed,” Balthazar replied.

“Actually, I like you better dirty and naked, but this isn’t that type of place. I took the liberty of ordering for you.” Crowley pushed a cocktail glass full of something pink—topped off by a tiny umbrella poked through a couple cherries—toward him with a smirk.

Raising an eyebrow, Balthazar gave Crowley one of his most charming smiles and took a drink.

“Right then, down to business. I have a proposition for you,” Crowley said, trying to lean back casually in the booth and put an arm over the back. The fact that the bench seat was twice as tall as his shoulder and far too close to the small round table to allow much movement at all made the attempt fall flat. Instead, he leaned his arms on the table, toying with his half-full tumbler between his hands. “Firstly though, you said you were looking for information on Lucifer’s household and I’m wondering if said information might pertain to the new arrival at his place?”

“It might. How might you happen to know of this new arrival?” Balth asked, reluctant to give out too many details. If Lucifer happened to find out Balthazar was asking around, that could go very badly for him, and possibly for Gabriel as well. Or Sam.

“Let’s just say, hypothetically, of course, that I might be well acquainted with a member of his household. And, also hypothetically, said household member might be in need of extraction. Would you be willing to assist with that extraction in exchange for information on the layout of the place, how to get in secretly, and where that possible new arrival might be being kept?”

“Would this hypothetical household member happen to have a chip and tracking implant?” Balth asked, falling easily into Crowley’s usual way of dancing around less-than-legal propositions.

“Tracking? Yes. Chip? No. Lucifer keeps her in line by threatening her mother, who also requires extraction. She has both a chip and tracker.”

“How did you happen to meet this human of Lucifer’s?”

“Luci likes to pass her around. She’s quite delightful. Much better than pets chipped to obey. I believe our first meeting was when I talked Kate Milligan into making a deal. Lucifer let me play with her as a reward. This is all still hypothetical, of course,” Crowley said, finishing off his scotch and setting the empty tumbler aside.

“Yes, yes, of course. I’m surprised at you though, Crowley. I hadn’t thought you one to dally with humans, hypothetically or otherwise.” Balth pushed his mostly full cocktail over to Crowley. He didn’t care for the sweet drink, preferring a nice dry champagne.

“That’s because you are a narrow-minded twit. No offense. Sex is a human activity. Why wouldn’t it be best enjoyed with one? Angels had no concept of fucking before the expulsion, and demons are so far removed from their human origins that it’s practically a new concept for them as well. Humans, on the other hand, are hardwired to not only enjoy but also need and want sex. Propagation of the species and all that. Besides, they tend to be far more interesting than angels and demons. All those feelings they’re always having. Fascinating really. Anyways, as for your perception of me, of course I would be reluctant to show my appreciation of humans around you. You hate them,” Crowley informed him.

“I do not hate them. I just don’t like them. There is a difference,” Balth corrected.

“The difference being indifference. Point is, you weren’t likely to approve so I just never mentioned. However, this new arrival at Lucifer’s is human, so I would surmise you are working on Gabriel’s orders.”

“Actually, I’m not. Hypothetically, I may have inadvertently allowed the theft of the human in question and wish to make up for the error.”

“So you plan to retrieve the human before he notices the loss?” Crowley asked, scrutinizing Balth’s reaction. Nodding at some involuntary twitch or expression, he continued without waiting for a response. “No, he’s already found out. I take it that puts you in the doghouse until the human is returned?”

Balthazar rolled his eyes. “Can we get back to the main point? You are, hypothetically, willing to help me retrieve the human in exchange for extracting your human and her mother, correct?”

“In a nutshell, yes. I will also provide you with the means to detect and remove the tracking devices, and to disable the chip in the mother. Lucifer has not been able to take ownership of the new arrival, so that chip shouldn’t be a problem.”

“Why haven’t you gotten them out yourself already if you have the means to nullify the electronic devices controlling them?” Balth asked, raising an eyebrow.

“Jo isn’t my human, per se, merely a friend, in as much as a demon can be said to have such a thing. I am not fond enough to risk my own pretty little neck stealing her away. However, since you are going in anyway, easy enough to take three instead of one, especially with Jo and Ellen helping you find and retrieve Sam. What do you say, Balthazar? Do we have a deal?”

The casual mention of Sam’s name lent credibility to Crowley’s assertion that he did indeed have an inside source feeding him information. Not that Balth had doubted him. For a demon, he was surprisingly honest when it came to making a deal. He might add in fine print now and then, but he always kept his word. “As long as this isn’t counting as a demon deal, sure. No fine print.”

“Not a demon deal, and no fine print whatsoever. Just a case of working together to accomplish overlapping goals.” Crowley set the empty cocktail glass beside his tumbler and straightened up, offering his hand across the table.

“What, no kiss?” Balth asked with a smirk as he shook the offered hand.

“As I said, not a demon deal. I trust a handshake should be good enough?” Crowley replied.

“It will do. Now, I’d like to leave immediately. I know there is a mandatory council meeting today, so would like to time things to be in and gone before Lucifer returns, preferably with the cover of darkness.”

Knocking three times then twice, in the pattern Crowley had instructed him to use, Balthazar waited until the door opened to reveal a lovely young blonde with a suspicious look and firey steel in her eyes. Was that Jo? He hadn’t expected the human to look so… angelic. Without a word, she stepped aside, allowing him entrance through Lucifer’s secret back entrance. Once inside with the door closed and locked, she spoke.

“Balthazar, right?”

“Yes. And you’re Jo, I presume?”

“Since I was born, yeah. Come on, I can’t wait to get out of here. Stay close and keep quiet; he left a dozen guards here to make sure no one takes Sam while he’s gone.” Jo led the way through a maze of hallways and rooms much more complex than Gabriel’s apartment. It didn’t help that everything was white on white on white. Balth would never be able to navigate the maze on his own. They eventually arrived at the kitchen.

“Jo? What’s goin’ on?” the woman working there asked as they entered.

“Hey, Ma. Anyone else around?”

“Haven’t seen neither hide nor hair of anyone in over an hour. I think the demons are all playing poker outside Sam’s room. Poor kid. They wouldn’t even untie him to eat. I had to spoon feed him.”

“Good. Not that, I mean good that the demons are all busy. Remember how I promised I’d get you out of here one day? Today’s the day.” Jo beckoned Balth forward and he pulled out the devices Crowley had given him, setting both on the counter.

“What are you on about, Joanna Beth? Where exactly do you think we can run that he won’t track us down and make us pay for tryin’ to get away?”

“Mom, this is Balthazar. Balthazar, this is my mother, Ellen. He’s going to help us, Ma. And his archangel boss will keep us safe from him.”

Balth didn’t bother correcting the statement. After all, even if bringing Sam back didn’t earn forgiveness, he was sure Gabriel would give the women sanctuary. He was more interested in the fact that neither human had said Lucifer’s name. “Is there some reason you don’t call him by name?” he asked as he approached Ellen with the chip scrambler.

“He doesn’t allow it. And he has audio recognition in the house that alerts him if keywords are spoken. His name is one of them,” Jo replied.

“That might’ve been nice to know before I got here,” Balthazar pointed out as he used the device to disable Ellen’s chip.

“Yes, but I couldn’t exactly tell my contact what not to say over the phone.” Jo rolled her eyes.

“I suppose that might be problematic. You could just write them down for me, so I can make sure not to say them,” Balth suggested, setting the chip scrambler down and picking up the tracking disabler.

“Sure I could. If humans were allowed to read and write.”

“You aren’t allowed?” Balthazar was surprised. He knew humans didn’t live long so didn’t have as much time to learn things, but surely there couldn’t be harm in allowing them to learn what they could manage in their short lives.

“Now, Jo, not all humans are forbidden, just us. He doesn’t want Jo gettin’ ideas. I can write them down for you if you have something to write with,” Ellen said.

“Can you type it onto my phone?”

“Maybe? Never done it before, but there’s a first time for everything. Lemme see if I can figure it out.”

Balth showed her how to use the device and she typed out a list of ten words while he located and disabled the tracking devices implanted in the women.

“Alright then, next problem; how do we get past the demons?” Balth asked once Crowley’s devices were tucked back into his pockets.

“You’re an angel, right? Can’t you just put them all to sleep or something?” Jo suggested.

“Would that I could, but I’m afraid I’m a bit low on angel fuel. Even if I were at full power, the sleep thing only works on humans, and one at a time at that. We’ll have to come up with something else. If I could manage to get them one at a time I could take each out before they’d have a chance to call for help. But they would certainly become suspicious before more than a handful had left and not returned.”

“What we need is a way to incapacitate them all at once, and it needs to last long enough for you to get Sam out, that right?” Ellen asked.

“Yes. Is there a way you can do that?”

“Now that my chip’s disabled, yeah. I got somethin’ special I can add to their mornin’ coffee. Takes about five minutes to kick in and it’ll only have them throwing up their insides for ten minutes or so before they start healin’ themselves up, so we’ll have to be quick.”

“The sooner the better. If there’s any pursuit, it’ll be easier to shake them off if it’s still dark out.” Balthazar slid his angel blade out from his sleeve, thankful he still had enough grace to manifest it. Attempting this while so low on power was practically suicide, but he and Gabby had been close friends for millenia despite their occasional differences of opinion. He had to retrieve Sam for him. Besides, after only a few minutes in the company of these two brave women, he was coming to see Gabriel may have been right. Their chips and tracking were disabled; they could have just taken off and left Sam’s rescue to him. Instead, they were still here helping, regardless of the danger to themselves.

Ellen made and delivered the coffee, then they all waited outside the door for the sounds of retching to start. Once it started, Balth raced in, stabbing any who were still well enough to charge him.

“Fuck! Lucifer! We’ve been breached!” one said before collapsing to the ground and vomiting bright red onto the white carpet.

“Well bugger. You girls get to the car and lock yourselves in; I’ll get Sam and meet you there,” Balth ordered as he dashed into the next room to find the human much abused and strapped to a padded bench.

“Nope. You need help with the restraints.” Ellen pushed past him, pulling a key from her apron and using it to unchain Sam’s wrists.

Balth recovered from his surprise after only a second, using his angel blade to sever the ropes holding Sam’s knees up.

Sam woke as the first leg dropped, Jo catching it before it could wrench anything. “What? Balth?” he mouthed, the scratchy croaking sound that emerged unintelligible.

“We’re getting you out of here. Can you walk?” Balthazar asked, but Sam didn’t even have the energy to shake his head. Obviously walking was out of the question. Once he had the other leg loose, he looked at the door then back at Sam, wishing he still had his angelic strength.

“Gimme that pretty knife of yours, angel. You and Jo will have to carry him out. I’ll take point.”

Not having time to wonder how Ellen knew tactics, Balth pulled one of Sam’s arms over his shoulder, lifting him from the bench a bit, then wrapped his own arm around Sam’s back, gripping his waist and heaving him up. He stumbled with the weight but Jo was there in a flash, pulling Sam’s other arm over her shoulder and helping hold the unconscious man up.

Ellen led the way through the house, heading for the back door with Jo and Balth hurriedly dragging the unconscious Sam between them. They almost made it.

“I’m so disappointed. I’ve taken such good care of you, Jo, and here you are biting the hand that feeds you. And Balthazar. I never took you for the suicidal type.” Lucifer was standing in front of the open back door with his arms crossed over his chest and an expression like poison.

“Jo, when I give the word, you guys run for the door,” Ellen murmured as they caught up to where she was halted ten feet in front of the Devil.

“What? Mom, no!”

“Joanna Beth, you do as I tell you. No time for arguin’ now. Get ready.”

“Mom, you can’t!”

“Now! Go!” Ellen shouted as she lunged toward Lucifer, angel blade slashing. He was so startled that she managed to tackle him as Jo and Balth ran past, dragging Sam between them.

“Mom!” Jo sobbed brokenly as they heaved Sam into the car. She turned back, hoping to find her mom running after them. Instead she saw her mother’s limp body hanging from Lucifer’s blood-spattered grasp, silhouetted by the light spilling from the doorway into the darkness of early morning.

Balth shoved the shocked Jo into the car on top of Sam, slamming the door behind her and running to the driver’s side. Lucifer tossed Ellen’s body casually into the apartment as he stalked toward the car. The crisp suit he’d worn to the council meeting was covered in splotches of red, and his glare promised death.


With a shiver of fear, Balth dove into the hovercar and started it up, heading north, away from Gabriel’s. Lucifer was sure to retaliate anyway, but he didn’t want any circumstantial evidence implicating Gabby. Technically, the law considered Sam property and his rescue theft. Diving down into the lower city where the darkness would hide the black car, he took a circuitous route through Old New York. He had to get Sam out of the city and keep him hidden until Gabriel could come for him. Hopefully, he’d have somewhere safe to hide the humans. And maybe Balthazar too, if he’d earned enough forgiveness for Gabby to at least not wish him dead.

The way-too-early mandatory council meeting had been going on for an hour, and Gabriel found himself constantly jolting awake. It didn’t help that Zachariah was an hour into a five hour speech on the necessity of equipping all humans with tracking devices. For their protection, of course.

The proposal had been discussed endlessly and was reintroduced every five years because the votes always turned out the same way. On the heaven side, Joshua and Gabriel were against, believing humans had the right to privacy and freedom, Michael and Raphael—who always did what his oldest brother wanted—were in favor, claiming it would keep the humans safer, and Uriel abstained, mainly because he couldn’t be bothered to give a damn about humans one way or the other. As for the demons, Lucifer and Azazel were against, since they didn’t want the humans they made deals with being tracked by anyone but themselves, Dagon and Azmodeus were in favor, to keep the humans in their places where they belonged, and Ramiel abstained, claiming he could see the merits of both sides and didn’t want to be drawn into the political conflict.

To be honest, whenever they actually did get around to voting on anything, the votes usually split up the same way and it was pretty damn ridiculous. Why even have a council if they could never agree on anything due to a fundamental flaw in the council’s design?

Just as Gabriel was stifling yet another yawn and wondering if there was a way to bottle Zacharia’s speech-giving to sell to insomniacs, Lucifer jumped up from where he dozed in his council seat, eyes snapping wide open and instantly alert. Then, with a sound not heard since the expulsion, there was a woosh of huge wings beating that echoed through the stunned council. Before the air had even filled in the spot where the Devil had stood, conversation roared across the room, everyone talking at once, jumping up to find friends, asking each other what this could mean, how Lucifer could still have his wings when no one had been able to fly since the expulsion.

Demons, of course, had never had wings. They were either summoned, or popped into the veil, flew with the speed of thought while there, and popped back to Earth at the spot where they wanted to be. Angels, on the other hand, had flown on great and beautiful extradimensional wings, all of which had burned up as they fell through Earth's atmosphere during the expulsion. Demons no longer had the ability to access the veil and the angels’ wings were irreparably destroyed, so no one had flown in nearly 1500 years. Unless an angel happened to already be on Earth during the expulsion—like Gabriel. Or, apparently, if one was expelled from Hell so didn’t burn their wings up falling.

Gabriel hadn’t told anyone he could still fly—hey, it came in handy in a pinch and he wasn’t gonna waste time bein’ a taxi service for grounded angels. Looked like Lucifer hadn’t told anyone either. Even Azazel, his right-hand demon, appeared shocked.

There’d be time to worry about wings and things later though. Taking advantage of the confusion, Gabriel slipped outside the council hall and pulled out his vidphone, sending off a quick message to Cassie that Lucifer had flown off during the meeting, so wrap up whatever he was doing or he’d be facing off against the Devil.

When the phone rang seconds after he sent the message, Gabriel jumped, fumbling the device but managing to catch it before it hit pavement, and answered. “Cassie? You need help? I can be there—”

“Wait a minute, Gabriel. Where do you think I am? I’m still at your place, trying to get a lead on Sam’s location,” Castiel interrupted.

“Then what made Luci literally fly outta the council meeting?”

“Literally? You mean with wings?”

“Yeah. Guess since he was kicked up instead of down, his wings didn’t burn up. But even Azazel didn’t seem to have known he could do it, so for him to let the cat outta the bag right in the council hall like that, it must’ve been something pretty damn important. Like Sam important. I thought maybe you were already attempting a rescue and had tripped some kind of alarm.” Gabriel breathed a sigh of relief that Cassie wasn’t in danger, then frowned as it occurred to him that maybe someone else had been trying to get Sam and tripped an alarm. “I’ll call you back,” Gabriel said as he headed toward the parking area , which was below the domed council hall.

“Gabriel, you can’t go after Lucifer. For one thing, you don’t know where he went. For another, the council meeting is mandatory. You need to stay there in case Lucifer decides to risk accusing you of theft.” Cassie was still being the voice of reason.

“He’s not gonna come after me legally. Big bro don’t want the council to know what experiments his demons get up to in that lab of theirs. What we don’t know can’t be made illegal, right?” Gabriel replied as he jogged toward his car.

“Yes, but he doesn’t have to mention any modifications, just that Sam’s a human bound to Lucifer through his parents’ contracts.

“And I have a bill of sale showing I bought him.”

“At an illegal auction. Gabriel, you have to go back to the—”

“Oh, hey, looks like I don’t have to worry about the meeting. Joshua must have ended it early since no one would be paying attention to anything after Luci’s little display anyway. I can hear the chatter from everyone leaving the building. I’m just gonna drive past Luci’s place, see if anything obvious is goin’ on. Check ya later.” Gabriel ended the call before Cassie could think of another objection. Really, there’s a line between looking after a friend and smothering them in overprotectiveness.

Hopping into his car, Gabriel flew west, wishing there was someone around he could pray to for Sam’s safety. But no one had listened to prayers in well over a century and even when they had been heard, angels weren’t allowed to make prayers, just answer them.

It only took a few minutes to get to Luci’s apartment and Gabriel came in high, looking down on the building. He was just in time to see his brother standing on his patio, glaring death after a very familiar black subaru 5000 hovercar flying away. Heart skinking, Gabriel realized his brother was covered in blood and he had no idea whose. The fleeing car was Balth’s, he was sure of it. Was the blood his? Or Sam’s? Realizing he was too shaken to be driving, Gabriel headed straight home, hopping out and running in the second he landed.

“Gabriel? What’s—” Cassie started to ask as he emerged from the room that used to be Balth’s.

“Balth musta tried to get Sam on his own. Someone got hurt, but I don’t know who. The car was flying away when I got there, but Luci was covered in blood.” Gabriel was already pulling his vidphone from hs pocket.

“If Balthazar is hurt, maybe you shouldn’t distract him while he’s driving,” Cassie reasoned.

“I have to know!” Gabriel shouted, hitting the button to call Balth.

“Not a good time,” Balth said by way of answer. His voice sounded strained.

“Is Sam alight?” Gabriel demanded, not caring what was going on as long as Sam was okay.

“I’ve no idea how you figured out I’d know, but yes, mostly. Lucifer was none too gentle with the poor kid, but he didn’t get any new injuries during the rescue. I’m getting him out of the city for now. I was planning on taking him to the waystation, unless you’ve a better idea.”

“No, that’s probably safest for now. I’ll have the doctor go there instead of here. Dean, Cassie and I will be there as soon as we can.” Gabriel was already in Sam’s room, packing up his reader and several changes of clothes.

“There’s no need to go straight there; we’re taking the long way and you should too. The Devil’s pissed and would likely expect you could lead him to Sam,” Balthazar warned.

“I’ll take that under advisement. And Balthazar? Don’t think this means you’re forgiven. Make sure he’s alive and well tended to when I get there.”

“That would be easier if you hadn’t relieved me of my grace, but I’ll—”

Gabriel shut off his phone, shoving it back into his pocket as he started packing his own clothes, calling for Cassie to pack too.

“What’s going on?” Dean asked, coming through the door from Sam’s living/dining room.

“Sam’s been rescued. We’re going to him. Oh, that reminds me.” Gabriel pulled his phone back out and called the doctor, letting her know the change in plans and to meet them at the waystation instead. She said she’d be there in three hours, since the waystation was closer. That done, Gabriel grabbed food from the kitchen, packing the rest of the space in the two bags as full as he could.

“Okee doke, good to go. You ready Cassie?” Gabriel called across the apartment as he headed toward the front door.

“Of course. I hadn’t even unpacked,” Castiel replied, coming out of the room he’d taken over. “Dean, you were supposed to be resting.”

“Sorry, Cas. Had to see what all the commotion was,” Dean replied, rubbing a hand over the short hairs at the back of his neck, then wincing when his shoulder reminded him that wasn’t a good idea.

“Come on, get in the car.” Gabriel headed out the door, tossing the bags into the trunk.

Dean stopped in the doorway as Cas put his bags beside Gabriel’s. “Um… Do we have to?”

“Unless you have wings, yes, Dean. What’s wrong with the car? You were fine before,” Castiel asked, head tilting to the side and brows furrowing.

“I was asleep most of the way, then outta my head with pain before,” Dean pointed out. “Now I’m awake and clear headed.”

Castiel walked over to Dean and placed two fingers on his forehead, catching him as he fell unconscious. “And now you’re not.” He lay Dean across the back seat, then got into the front with Gabriel. “Did you remember to bring Balthazar’s grace?”

“I haven’t forgiven him.”

“Of course, but he did rescue Sam, and if anything happens while we’re there, he would be more useful with it than without. Returning his grace doesn’t have to mean you forgive Balthazar, just that you appreciate him getting Sam for you even though he was all but human.”

“That’s the problem though. He got Sam for me, not for Sam’s sake. If he could just learn to see humans as people too, then I might be able to forgive him. Too bad that’s never gonna happen. I’ll bring it, just in case, but that doesn’t mean I’ll give it to him.” Gabriel ran back into the apartment, returning a minute later with the grace tucked into the pocket of the vest he wore under his suit jacket, not having taken time to change after the council meeting.

Chapter Text

Jo was sobbing quietly in the back seat and Balthazar had no idea what to do. He couldn’t offer her false reassurances or tell her everything was going to be fine. Not even having a frame of reference by which to understand her grief, there was little he could do, save close the partition between the front and back to give her privacy. But he wasn’t sure if that was what she wanted, and he was afraid she might take it as him being annoyed by her tears. Which he wasn’t, just distressed.

Sam was still unconscious and Jo had settled herself into the footwell then positioned him as comfortably as possible on the seat. The whole time, her face had been damp with silent tears, but once Sam was taken care of, the crying started in earnest. Balthazar had lost friends and lovers in wars, but he didn’t know how the bond between parent and child compared. His own father was absent, but He was also God, so it wasn’t like the relationships were comparable in any way. In the end, Balthazar didn’t close the partition, instead choosing to offer his silent support. His own eyes were a bit moist too, which was unlike him. Even though he’d only known her a handful of minutes, Balthazar had liked the woman. She was smart, fiery, and brave. And she’d given her life to save theirs.

Ellen had also been a prime example of what an idiot he’d been. Humans could be every bit as wonderful as angels or demons in spite of their short lifespans. Or perhaps because of it. Maybe life held more interest when there was a finite amount of time in which to experience it.

Checking frequently to make sure they weren’t being followed, Balth wove through the trees once they were out of the city, taking a roundabout way to the cabin they used as a waystation. Once there, he parked and went inside to retrieve the first aid kit. Bringing it back to the car, he set about sterilizing the visible cuts on Sam, bandaging each gently. Sam woke a couple times, but it was mainly just drifting in and out of consciousness. Jo watched, tired eyes red and cheeks still damp, and helped as much as she could. The worst injuries were the gashes on Sam’s back, and Balth wound up having to get a clean sheet which he folded and placed over the sterilized wounds, then wrapped into place with bandages, Jo helping keep it positioned until he was finished. She was visibly drooping by the time they were done, obviously worn out.

“I think that’s all I can do for now. There’s likely internal damage, but without my grace, I can’t… We’ll just have to hope Gabriel and Cassie get here soon. They’ll be able to do more to keep him stable until the doctor arrives. How about you, Jo? Any injuries that I can help with?” Balthazar asked.

Jo shook her head. “Bandages don’t work on hearts. It doesn’t matter though; I’ll be joining Mom soon.”

“What do you mean?”

Blushing, Jo lowered her gaze to the footwell where she was still sitting. “I… It’s been a few days… since… uh…”

“Since you’ve been fed?” Jo nodded. “How long exactly?”

“Three days ago, late afternoon or early evening.” Jo was leaning against the seat, struggling to keep her eyes open.

“Damn. Alright, Cassie and Gabriel should be here in an hour or two. Do you think you can last until then?”

“I’m already having trouble staying conscious. Sometimes he let me go until I passed out so he could take me while I was unconscious, but I… it’s kind of terrifying going under and not knowing if I’ll ever open my eyes again.”

Jo’s voice was small and Balthazar realized, for the first time, what a horrible thing the demons were doing to the humans. It was cruel and unfair and only allowed because humans had so few rights, especially ones who’d made deals. But Jo had never even made a deal, simply been born to someone who had, and Balthazar found himself furious at the state of things. He finally understood why Gabby worked so hard trying to improve human rights.

“If you’re that close, I doubt you’d have time to wait for someone else to get here either? I could try calling Crowley if you like,” Balthazar offered.

“It’s okay. Mom’s gone. There’s no reason for me to—”

“No! Jo, I’m sorry about your mother, truly, but she sacrificed herself so that you could live. Can you throw away your life so easily after that? You needn’t wait for anyone. I’m here and have enough grace left that I’m still an angel. If you don’t find me entirely repugnant, allow me to save your life?”

Jo looked up at him, wide eyes shining with unshed tears. “You aren’t completely repulsive. But are you saying I actually have a choice?”

“Of course. Well, biologically, no. But if you choose to die, I won’t stop you. Or you can choose to wait until someone else arrives, and I will make sure you are fed in time. The only other option would be me. I should mention, I do rather enjoy sex and have extensive experience, though I’ve never shagged a human.” Balthazar was pulling Sam’s unconscious form up and over his shoulder. Once he was secured, Balth staggered toward the cabin, once again mourning the loss of his grace and the strength that went along with it.

Scrambling out of the car, Jo hurried to help steady Balthazar, then stumbled ahead to pull the door open for him. She opened the door to one of the smaller bedrooms for him too, and assisted in arranging Sam on the bed. When she started to leave, Balth scooped her up into a bridal carry, noticing she was practically asleep on her feet.

“Hey, you don’t have angel strength anymore, right? Put me down. I can walk,” Jo protested weakly.

“You’re far lighter than Sam, and if you don’t mind, I’d like to carry you to bed. May I?”

“It’s not like I can stop you anyway, right?”

Balthazar halted, setting Jo back on her feet, though keeping an arm around her back. “Of course you can stop me. Jo, you aren’t property. Not anymore, at least. You are the one in charge here. I will do whatever you want. Within reason, of course. So, may I carry you, or do you prefer to walk?”

With an adorable pout, Jo crossed her arms over her chest. “Alright. If you really want to carry me, go ahead.”

Grinning, Balthazar scooped up the small blonde again and headed to the master bedroom. Once there, he set her on her feet. Jo, already naked since pets weren’t allowed clothes, went about removing his dark jacket and grey, v-necked shirt. Shamelessly, her hands roamed over his firm chest, down to the soft dip of his stomach just above his jeans. She pressed a kiss slightly below his navel as she dropped to her knees while sliding his pants and dark grey, silk boxers down to the floor.

“You don’t have to do that,” Balth said, though his hands automatically moved to rest on her head.

“It’ll be over faster if I get you worked up first,” Jo replied, not waiting for a response before swallowing his length down, taking him deep into her throat.

“Oh, hell, you’re good at that, but do you really want it over so quickly?” Balth asked with a moan. He was no stranger to blow jobs and had both given and received excellent ones many times over. Jo, however, seemed every bit as experienced as he was, despite his having centuries more practice.

Not pausing to give an answer, Jo worked his cock expertly, tonguing the underside as she bobbed, taking the head into her throat with each thrust. One hand rested on his hip, fingers brushing over his ass, while the other lightly teased his balls and perineum. In less than a minute she was pulling off, rising fluidly to her feet as she licked her lips.

“This is just taking care of a biological need. There’s no reason to stretch it out.” She spun Balth and pushed him backward onto the bed, then crawled over him. Holding his cock steady, she sank down onto it with a soft gasp of pleasure Balthazar suspected he wasn’t supposed to hear.

“Bloody hell, that’s hot. Am I allowed to touch?”

“No.” Jo didn’t waste time adjusting to his rock-hard length inside her. She was wet and ready and looking slightly dizzy as her body begged for the angel’s release. Placing her hands on Balthazar’s abdomen, she began rocking down onto his cock in a hard, fast, rolling undulation.

“Fuck, woman. You’re making me look like a damn novice,” Balth said with a groan after less than a minute, hands darting to her hips without permission as he pulled her down hard, driving into her and shooting his release deep in shuddering waves.

Gasping, Jo’s back arched as Balthazar filled her with his—literal—life-giving seed. He was holding her too tight astride him for her to ride him through his release, so instead she squeezed her internal muscles around him in time with his pulsing, milking him dry. When his shudders finally subsided, Jo’s tension released with a long sigh and she slipped down to lay on her back beside him across the width of the mattress, arms stretching languidly above her head, legs dangling over the side of the bed.

“Thanks,” Jo said simply, staring up at the whitewashed, old wooden beams that formed the ceiling.

“That’s my line,” Balth replied, rolling onto his side and propping his head up on a hand despite his body’s insistence that movement was not on the menu for the foreseeable future. He hadn’t been that completely and exquisitely screwed in decades. “Especially when you got me off, but I’ve not yet returned the favor.”

“‘Returned the favor’? You fed me, that’s return enough.”

“Not in my books. Sex is meant to be thoroughly enjoyed by all parties involved, and what your body’s been forced to require has no bearing on that.” Balthazar traced a finger lightly over Jo’s lean stomach, roaming up around the outside of her breast as he spoke.

“I did enjoy it. You didn’t hear me complaining, did you?” Jo asked, turning her head to look at him with a raised eyebrow. The rest of her body remained still, relaxed against the mattress, and she made no protest at Balthazar’s wandering hand.

“No, but I didn’t hear you coming either,” Balth replied, spiraling his finger around her breast, slow and light, moving inward but stopping just at the edge of her areola, then moving to the other to start over again, never quite touching the most sensitive parts.

Jo exhaled a shuddery breath. “You were the one who needed to come, not me.”

“Has no one ever concentrated on your pleasure before?”

“Never,” Jo answered softly, shivers running through her body.

“Allow me to correct that?” Balth finally let his fingers trail softly over the taut nub of one breast, propping himself up and leaning forward to take the other into his mouth. He teased his teeth lightly over the nub, then suckled, drawing a gasp from the beautiful young woman. The fact that she had never been allowed her own pleasure was abhorrent and he meant to show her the heights her body could reach.

Though she gave no answer, Jo moaned and didn’t tell him to stop, so Balthazar took that as permission to kiss and lick his way down her body. Slipping off the bed to kneel between her legs, he slid her closer. When he looked up the length of her body, she had an arm over her eyes, the other still stretched out above her. Jo’s breath hitched in anticipation as his warm exhale wafted over her clit.

Fingers drifting softly over her thighs, Balth trailed his tongue lightly around the edges of her short, coarse blonde hair, teasing for long moments before finally moving in to flick over her clit. When Jo cried out, back arching off the bed, Balth grinned. Using two fingers to spread her open, he grazed his teeth lightly over the bundle of nerves, eliciting a whimper, then began sucking around it as he flicked his tongue back and forth over the sensitive nub, creating an intense juxtaposition of pressure that was both too strong and too light at the same time. Within minutes, Jo was writhing on the bed, trying to hold back her whimpers and moans.

“Balth? Balthazar, are you—woah, sorry,” Gabriel said, cutting himself off as he opened the door without knocking. “Um, carry on. Take your time, we’ll just be in the other bedroom.” The door closed.

Not in the least deterred by the interruption, Balthazar continued worshiping Jo’s clit, using every trick he knew to bring her to the heights of pleasure nearly as quickly as she’d done for him.

For her part, Jo ignored Gabriel’s brief entrance. Balthazar suspected sex had never been a private thing in her experience, wheither it was demons reporting to Lucifer while he had her bent over his desk or being passed around the room from demon to demon. So Gabriel’s arrival barely registered. Besides, she was so obviously lost in pleasure that the world could fall down around them and she probably wouldn’t notice.

Listening closely to the gasps and hitches of breath Jo made, Balth skillfully drove her pleasure higher, just focusing on that magical bundle of nerves.

“Oh… Something’s… I think… Aaah!” Jo cried out as he edged her closer to the brink of euphoria, then pushed her over.

Balth continued his attentions until Jo was a shuddering wreck and reached down to push him away. Rising, he licked his lips then sat on the bed beside her. “Still think I didn’t need to return the favor?” he teased.

Jo shook her head.

“Good. I quite enjoyed that. It would be my pleasure to offer my services again, any time you’ve need.” Balthazar grinned, standing and moving Jo so that she lay properly on the bed, head resting on a pillow. He pulled the blanket folded on the end of the bed up and settled it over her as Jo looked at him askance.

“I’ll keep that in mind. Who knows, I may even take you up on it,” Jo replied with a cheeky grin.

“You should get some rest. I ought to go speak with Gabriel and check on Sam. Unless you’d rather I stay? I’ve no aversion to a bit of post-coital cuddling.”

“That’s something else I haven’t done much, but maybe another time. I’m not about to pass out anymore, but I could definitely use some sleep. I was up most of the night.”

The darkness that clouded Jo’s eyes suggested whatever had kept her awake wasn’t pleasurable. The guilt roiling in Balthazar’s stomach suspected it might have been Sam’s screams. “I’ll wake you once the doctor’s been to see Sam and Dean. She should look you over as well.”

Jo hummed softly in response, already drifting off. Smiling to himself, Balth left, closing the door softly behind him.

“So, that was something I’ve never seen before,” Gabriel commented when Balth entered the bedroom they’d lain Sam in.

“You’ve walked in on me performing cunnilingus a number of times,” Balth corrected. “One would think, at some point over the centuries, you’d have learned to knock before entering.”

“Yeah, but never with a human,” Gabriel pointed out, ignoring the part about knocking.

“What can I say? I’ve learned a lot in the last few hours.” Shrugging, Balthazar moved over to the bed to check on Sam. He was either sleeping or still unconscious. “I’m sorry I was so blind to your wisdom on the subject of humans. How long until the doctor arrives?”

Gabriel checked the time. “She’ll be here soon.”

“Good. I truly am sorry. I let my opinion cloud my judgement and Sam paid the price. Now I understand why you were so angry. I won’t ask your forgiveness, but was hoping I could request your protection, at least for Jo if not myself. My first thought had been to take her and her mother to the Human Rights Advocacy office, but they don’t really have the resources to help humans who’ve been ‘altered’. As long as we can keep her safe, I think Jo will be better off here.”

“Of course Jo can stay. You too, especially if you’re going to be taking care of her. But where’s her mother? I didn’t see anyone else here.” Gabriel looked around as though she might be hiding somewhere in the bedroom.

Balth’s face fell. “She didn’t make it, I’m afraid. Lucifer showed up as we were leaving and she sacrificed herself to buy time for Jo and me to escape.” He wiped a tear from his eye. The brave, confident woman’s death was a terrible loss, and one he should have been able to prevent, if only he’d had his grace.

“Sorry. Did you know her well? How did you and Jo meet?” Gabriel asked, putting a hand on Balth’s shoulder.

“Unfortunately, no. I’d only just met her. But she was brave and resourceful. Launched herself straight at the Devil, slashing with my angel blade with no thought to her own survival. Ellen merely wanted her daughter to survive and be free. I know few angels and no demons who would do such a thing. As for meeting Jo, I was put in contact with her through an acquaintance after casting discreet feelers to get in contact with someone in Lucifer’s household. Don’t worry, I made sure no one would know what I was looking for, or could connect my activities back to you.”

“Gabriel, isn’t there something you wanted to say to Balthazar?” Castiel asked, coming in from the other bedroom where Dean was sleeping.

“Hey, I was gettin’ to it. Balth, I haven’t forgiven you. Honestly? I didn’t think I’d ever be able to, and while I appreciate you rescuing Sam, that alone never woulda swayed me. So you have Jo to thank for this, and I hope you remember that in the future. This is for taking care of her, and crying for her mother.” Gabriel pulled out the small bottle of grace and held it up to Balth’s lips before uncorking it. The blue-white light swirling inside rose up out of the glass and Balthazar inhaled it.

“Thank you, Gabriel. I’ll do my best to prove the change in my opinion on humans is not temporary and hope to one day earn your forgiveness.”

“Well, we’ll see. For now, I’d actually prefer you and Jo to stay with us. Mainly so Jo doesn’t get hurt and Luci doesn’t torture information outta you. If you wanna be useful, put the food in my bags away and bring the doc here when she arrives, ‘kay?” Gabriel sat in a small chair beside Sam’s bed, obviously not going anywhere until Sam was healed and awake.

“Of course.” Balth and Cassie both left Gabriel to his vigil.

“Anael, thank Dad you’re here,” Gabriel said, jumping up and hugging her as she followed Balthazar into the room.

“Sorry. I wish I could’ve been here sooner, but I was at the base outside Dayton. It’s times like these when I miss my wings most.” Anael replied, pulling her long, chestnut waves back into a ponytail. “I’m going to examine them both, then heal whichever is worse off first, okay?”

Gabriel’s heart fluttered in his chest with worry for Sam. He knew Dean still had internal bleeding so it was hard to say whether Sam’s torn up back was worse or not. “Yeah. I really appreciate this, Anael.”

“Hey, it’s what I do. So, down to business. Is he sleeping or unconscious, and how long since he was last awake?” Anael asked as her hands glowed with grace and she began a quick examination. Though she said she’d treat them in order of urgency, she couldn’t help the way her grace patched up minor things as it swept through her patient’s body, seeking out the more serious injuries.

“Cassie put him to sleep after we got here. He was whimpering and moaning, going in and out of consciousness. Seemed to be in a lotta pain,” Gabriel replied with a slight hitch in his breath, remembering the sight he’d been greeted with on first arriving at the cottage.

“He seemed to come around fully when we were rescuing him, but he passed out right after recognizing me. After that I didn’t see any instances where he was awake and aware,” Balthazar added.

Anael nodded as her grace informed her of injuries. Nothing physically wrong in the head, dislocated shoulder, shredded back, oh, that’s odd, come back to that one, low circulation in fingers and toes. Everything else was minor. She boosted the blood flow to the extremities then concentrated her grace back on Sam’s pelvic region. There was some kind of interference that made it hard for her to see a small section of his anatomy, but the parts she did see were anomalous. The organs themselves appeared to be something he’d been born with though, so she focused on what was injured. There was extensive anal and rectal tearing consistent with extended rough sex which her grace partially healed automatically. Far more troubling was the rubber ring holding open a sphincter leading into a channel that extended toward the concealed area. The ring was fastened into place with metal pins and had to be causing at least as much pain as the torn up back. Wondering if she should mention the added anatomy to Gabriel, she looked up at the angel in question, who was hovering with concern. It might be better to check the other patient before asking. She got the impression Gabriel was especially attached to this one.

“Okay, keep him asleep while I go examine the other one. Andy, can you—” Anael stopped, looking around and realizing he wasn’t there.

“Andy?” Gabriel asked, arching an eyebrow.

“My human. Got him the same night you got this one. He’s great at calming patients and better than any pain reliever available. I must have forgotten to tell him he could come in out of the car. Those chips can be so frustrating. Half the time, they’re as much of a hindrance as a help.”

“Why not just remove it if it’s so troublesome?” Gabriel followed as she left the room, heading out to the car.

“I could, but then I’d have no way of controlling him.”

“Doesn’t he like helping you with your work?”

“He does. But that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t run away the first chance he got.”

“Why? Does he not like you? Not trust you?”

“He seems to like me quite a bit, but I don’t know if he trusts me. And I do know I don’t trust him. Andy’s very smart and liking me could just be an act to get me to let my guard down. At the lab, he was part of the Psycho-Kinetic Program. I suspect his powers may be stronger than the demons at the lab knew, but I’m not even sure why I think so. Maybe it’s because he never does anything unless I directly tell him to. It’s like he’s trying too hard, you know?”

“Can’t you just tell him to do whatever he wants unless you give him a specific order?” Gabriel asked.

“The chips don’t seem to work that way. They can’t handle an order that generalized.” She and Gabriel were paused a few feet away from the car, finishing their conversation before they got into hearing range, though Anael suspected Andy was listening in anyway.

“Really? Works fine for Sam.” Gabriel shrugged.

“It does? Hmm… It shouldn’t be able to. I’ll have to study that once he’s well.” Conversation done, she continued to the car, opening the door and ordering Andy out. Once he was standing on the grass, gaze on Anael’s feet, she had to tell him to step aside so she could close the door, then tried to tell him to go see if he could contact Sam’s consciousness. When he didn’t move, she sighed and directed him to go inside the house, through the doorway on the other side of the kitchen, then through the second doorway on the right. Once there, he was to sit on the chair beside the bed and attempt to mentally contact the young man sleeping in the bed. Blushing, she turned back to Gabriel and apologized as Andy began walking toward the house. “Sorry, he’s not dumb or anything, just needs very clear orders.”

Grinning, Gabriel shook his head and chuckled. “I think he’s teasing you. You didn’t see the smile he was trying to hide. But I get the impression he’s got the hots for you and just likes winding you up.”

“What makes you think that?” Anael asked as they headed in so she could examine Dean.

“Let’s just say I know the type,” Gabriel said, eyes twinkling.

“You’re talking about yourself?”

“Maaaaaybe. Come on, you have patients to get to.”

“Sure, just change the subject,” Anael said, shoving Gabriel’s shoulder as she went into Dean’s room. He was sleeping, and she had no need to wake him up. A quick examination and her grace automatically patched up everything that hadn’t already been healed except the anal and rectal tearing, which were much worse than Sam’s. However, combined with Sam’s back and that ugly ring that needed to be removed, Sam was worse off. “Looks like you’ve done pretty good healing this one on your own.”

“Cassie and I both did what we could, yeah. But we could only do so much on the internal stuff.”

“Yes, that will take some work to fix. But I think I need to do what I can for Sam first. Okay, I have to ask some… sensitive questions now. Is that alright?”

“Yeah, I can handle it. Whatcha need to know?”

“Do you know anything about … Sam was the one at the auction that was part of the Experimental Breeding Program, right?” Gabriel nodded and Anael continued. “Do you know what that entailed?”

Shaking his head, Gabriel said, “Not really. I’m pretty sure that extra hole he’s got has something to do with it though. I thought Luci was engineering humans to breed some kind of super soldier or something, but considering what he… what seems to have happened when he took Sam, it might be… I mean, it shouldn’t be possible, but could he have engineered Sam to try having a kiddo of his own? A nephilim?”

Anael nodded as she led Gabriel out of Dean’s room and into Sam’s. “That could explain the interference. There was a small area my grace couldn’t see past. I would have to do some tests to know for sure, but if he was carrying a nephilim, that would explain it. Have you examined him yourself? Or did he just tell you about the extra hole?”

“Not with my grace, but you could say I learned about it through physical examination,” Gabriel replied with a wink.

“Ugh, I did not need that mental picture. Okay, so that extra hole… it didn’t happen to have a rubber ring there holding it open, did it?” Anael asked cautiously.

“What? No. Why?”

“It does now.”

“Raspberries. That spot was extremely sensitive. Sam said they’d forced it open in the lab a couple times years ago and it’d hurt like hell. Luci must have done the same thing. It opens on its own when he’s, ah, properly stimulated. They prob’ly either didn’t know that, or didn’t wanna take the time.” Gabriel sat in the chair he’d been in earlier and took Sam’s hand. “Sorry, kiddo. I promised to keep you safe and I did a crap job of it.”

Andy was seated on the other side of the bed, concentrating on Sam, but Anael got the feeling he’d been listening to everything they said, and Gabriel’s heartfelt apology had garnered extra interest. There was no physical indication that he’d paid either angel the least bit of attention, though. She had no idea why she kept suspecting him of being more aware of things than he let on, but she just couldn’t shake the feeling.

“Andy, are you getting anything from Sam?” Anael asked, looking around for a third chair to sit on. Gabriel jumped up and conjured one, holding it for her to sit in before reclaiming his own seat.

“Nothing coherent. His consciousness is kind of floating in a thick fog, keeping him from feeling his body. I think once you get him healed up he should come around okay. Right now there’s too much pain for him to handle.”

“Okay, I’m going to start with his back, then we’ll see about removing that ring. I’m not as good with inorganic matter though, so maybe you could help me on that part, Gabriel?”

“I dunno. I mean, I can try, but I’m scared of hurting Sam. I’m not sure how much help I’ll be.” Gabriel stared down at his hands which were trembling in his lap. Anael reached over and put one of hers over them comfortingly.

“We’ll work together and I’ll guide you. Don’t worry, I won’t let you hurt him. Between the two of us, we’ll have him better in no time,” Anael assured him.

Healing Sam’s back didn’t take long at all. Anael worked until the thick, jagged slashes were nothing more than pink stripes criss-crossing the expanse of skin, then switched focus. Removing the ring would be much harder and require more grace, and she still had Dean to work on. Sam’s back would heal the rest of the way on its own, and she could remove the scars later.

“Okay, Gabriel. I want you to reach out and explore the ring. My grace will guide yours and help you get a look at what we’re up against,” Anael instructed. Gabriel’s celestial energy explored Sam hesitantly, gently, as Anael’s wrapped around his brighter light and guided it to the ring so cruelly pinned in place. With a visible wince, Gabriel started to draw back, but Anael clamped a hand on his wrist, holding him in place.

“Sam needs you. Don’t you want to ease his pain?”

“Yeah. Yeah, you’re right, I do. Okee dokes, I can do this. It’s just a matter of conjuring it from there to somewhere else.”

Just then, Balthazar and Castiel poked their heads in through the door.

“I thought you might want to know Dean is awake. How is everything going?” Castiel asked.

“Is there anything we can do to assist?” Balthazar added, his silky, lightly accented voice a nice counterpoint to Castiel’s low, raspy rumble.

“We’re just about to start the hardest part. This is good timing, actually. Could one of you fetch an empty dish for us? It doesn’t have to be too big, but if you can find something that isn’t see-through and has a lid, that would work best,” Anael replied, concentration still on her grace helping Gabriel get a complete picture of what he needed to remove.

Balthazar dashed off, returning shortly with an old—very, very old since plastic hadn’t been manufactured since shortly after the expulsion—green tupperware bowl complete with matching lid.

“Thank you,” Anael said, taking the offered bowl and setting it on the bed beside Sam’s hip. “Gabriel, you can put it in there. Do you need the lid off?”

“Nah, I can do it with the lid on, and I’d rather not see it. Just feeling it out with my grace is cringey enough. You know as soon as I move it, all those pin holes are gonna start bleeding, right?”

“Yes. I have my grace ready to flood the area and seal the holes all at once. What do you think? Are you ready?”

“As I’ll ever be. Let’s get this puppy taken care of.” Gabriel began concentrating harder, making sure he knew every bit of the rubber ring and its metal fastenings that needed to be conjured away. Sweat beaded his forehead and his honey-blonde hair dampened and dripped around his eyes though he ignored it, keeping his intense focus. He needed to dematerialize the entire contraption at once, otherwise removing it might pull the pins against the sensitive skin they were punched through. “Are you ready?” he asked through teeth gritted against the strain.

“I’m good,” Anael replied, keeping her own focus razor sharp on the healing she was about to enact.

“Okay, here goes. One. Two. Three,” Gabriel said, conjuring the offending contraption directly into the sealed plastic bowl. “Now.”

Anael started working before he even finished the short word, grace filling the holes left behind to prevent bleeding, then seeping into the flesh and stitching it back together. Nerves and capillaries were the hardest to heal, but also the most important. Without proper blood flow the damaged tissue could become gangrenous and die off, and without nerves, Sam would never feel the pleasure that Gabriel said he’d experienced when that area was stimulated.

Collapsed into his chair, panting, Gabriel laid his head on top of his arms, resting on the bed. The stress of the intricate work had taken a lot out of him. Anael was the one sweating now, though healing usually didn’t strain her much. But Sam was a very important patient and she had to get this right. The epidermis—exterior skin—healed much more easily than internal injuries because it was exposed and therefore expected to get scrapes, cuts, and bruises. It was made to handle it. Internal tissues were not.

After much longer than it normally took her to heal, Anael stepped back with a deep sigh. “That’s as much as I can do for now. There’s still some bruising around the internal hole, but all the punctures are healed as well as the rectal tearing. I’m going to need a break before I start on Dean.”

“Sure, you’ve more than earned it. You want Somethin’ to eat? A nap? Both?” Gabriel asked as he started to stand.

Pushing him gently back into his chair, Anael shook her head. “You need rest too. Besides, I think Sam will finish healing faster if you stay with him. You can even lay beside him on the bed if you want, but no sex for at least a week.”

“Good thing I don’t just love him for his hot bod.” Gabriel chuckled as he climbed onto the bed beside Sam, snuggling up against him. “How long before we can wake him?”

“I want him awake and talking before I leave, just so I can see how he’s feeling, but I’ll be here at least another two or three hours. It’s better to let him sleep for now, while his grace-charged system works on healing the rest. I’m going to eat and take a short nap so if you need me, I’ll be in the kitchen or living room.” Anael turned to leave but stopped when Gabriel cleared his throat expectantly.

Looking back over her shoulder with a raised eyebrow, Anael saw the archangel’s hand that had been resting on Sam’s chest pointing to the other side of the bed. Following the indicated direction she realized Andy was still sitting in his chair, having remained motionless and silent while the angels had worked on Sam. Sighing, she ordered him to go into the kitchen, make some food and a cup of tea for her, then bring them to her in the living room. Andy hurried to obey and she tossed a wry smile to Gabriel before following him out, shutting the door to give the archangel and his sleeping human their privacy.

Several hours later Dean was healed, though instructed to also wait a week for sex, and Jo had been checked out and declared fit after clearing up a few cuts and bruises that had been several days old and on their way to healing on their own.

“Gabriel,” Anael said softly from Sam’s doorway. “Gabriel, time to get up. We need to wake Sam and see how he’s doing.”

“Just five more minutes,” Gabriel mumbled, rolling over. His arm and leg landed heavily over Sam’s sleeping form.

Anael chuckled as Castiel pushed past her, striding up to the bed and smacking his friend’s shoulder. Gabriel jumped up, almost falling out of bed as his head whipped around.

“Hey, what was that for?” he complained.

“Did you want to make sure Sam wakes up properly before Anael leaves or not?” Castiel asked, striding around the bed and leaning over Sam from the other side, two fingers hovering over his forehead. “Anael? Is there any preparation you need to do before I wake him?”

“No, we should be good to go.”

Castiel touched his fingers to Sam’s forehead. His breathing got a bit heavier, more strained, but that was the only change. Looking up at Anael, Castiel raised an eyebrow, tilting his head to one side.

“What’s wrong? Why isn’t he waking up? Anael?” Gabriel asked, panic rising in his voice.

“Calm down, Gabriel,” Anael instructed in her firmest doctor voice. Gabriel shifted back to his chair beside the bed, trying to get control of his breathing as he took Sam’s hand in one of his, rubbing the other over it comfortingly, though for whose comfort was debatable. Turning back toward the living room, Anael called Andy over. “Go sit in the chair on the other side of the bed and see if you can contact Sam. If you can, let him know that he’s safe now and it’s okay to wake up,” she instructed.

Without a word, Andy did as directed, moving past Castiel to sit in the chair he’d used earlier. Hands resting on his thighs, he looked at Sam and appeared to concentrate.

”Sam? Hey, Sam, you back now?”

Andy’s voice pulled Sam from the deep fog he’d been floating in. ”Andy? How are you… Where… What’s going on?” Sam asked groggily.

“Good question. I guess, technically, you’re in a coma? Your angel friend put you to sleep until the doctor could heal you, but you didn’t come around when he tried to wake you up.”

“Angel friend? Gabriel? Is he here? Is he okay?”

“Woah, hey, relax Sam. Gabriel’s good. He’s sitting beside you holding your hand as we speak. But Castiel’s the one who put you under. Mind if I sit down? Technically I’m already sitting, but this being inside someone else’s head is a bit easier if I can relax here, too.” Not waiting for an answer, Andy sat on the hazy air they were floating in, drifting above the thicker fog Sam had been submerged in before. As Andy reclined, a dark blue, plush, round pouf of a chair appeared beneath him, forming itself below his body.

“How did you do that?” Sam asked.

Andy shrugged. “Dunno, I just do it. Anyway, why’re you still hiding out here in your mind?”

“I don’t know. I was drifting in that dark stuff down there. I didn’t even know I was asleep. What happened?”

Looking uncomfortable, Andy shifted in his seat a bit. “What do you remember?”

“Gabriel and Cassie—Castiel, went to rescue Dean and—Oh! Are they okay? Is Dean—”

“Calm down, Sam. They’re all fine. Dean was roughed up a bit, but Anael’s already got him healed up. Do you—”

“Anael? Who’s that?” Sam interrupted.

Grinning, Andy waved his hand and an image of a very attractive woman with russet brown, wavy hair framing her face appeared, then gradually faded away. “She’s my master. And boy, is she something else. Told you I lucked out, didn’t I? She’s an amazing healer and I get to go all over the country with her, helping people who’ve been rescued from bad ‘owners’. We were in Dayton helping a couple of twins when she got the call from Gabriel. I guess he hadn’t known you’d been taken yet when he called, because we were only expecting one patient—Dean—until he called back this morning. I hope she can rest a bit after this. Between bringing Alicia back from near death, reopening Max’s chakras from when his master tried to seal off his magic, and then healing the extensive damage you and Dean had, even with Gabriel’s help healing you, she’s dangerously low on grace.”

“I was taken? When? By wh—” Sam’s mental voice cut off as memories came rushing back. Azazel. Astaroth. Pain. Lucifer. Excruciating pain. Struggling not to freak out, Sam reminded himself he was safe now. He’d been rescued and healed. “How did Gabriel get me away from Lucifer? He wasn’t hurt, was he?”

“I already told you, he’s fine. Besides, from what I’ve gathered, Gabriel wasn’t the one who rescued you. That was Balthazar, with the help of a couple of Lucifer’s ‘pets’. One of the women, Jo, is here and fine. I guess the other didn’t make it. Anyway, you can talk about all this with Gabriel when you wake up. You should be able to now.”

Sam looked around the white haze where they were floating. “How?”

“Try imagining a door leading to the waking world, then just go through it,” Andy said with a shrug.

Following Andy’s suggestion, Sam imagined a door and floated toward it. He paused with his hand on the knob, turning back to look at his friend questioningly.

“Go for it. See you on the other side, Sam,” Andy said, smiling. Then he was gone, along with his pouf chair.

Taking a deep breath, Sam turned the handle, opened the door, and stepped through.

“Welcome back,” Andy’s voice said in his head, and Sam’s eyes shot open, afraid he was still trapped inside his own mind. “You’re awake. I just haven’t been given permission to speak. Out loud, at least,” Andy informed him.

Sam expected him to be on his left, as he’d been when Sam glanced back at him in his mind. Looking in that direction, he saw that he was right. Andy was sitting in a chair, smiling at him. Feeling his right hand being crushed in a tight grip, his attention shot to that side of the bed and he let out a sigh of relief, tension he hadn’t realized he’d had leaving with it. “Gabriel,” he croaked, voice hoarse. He couldn’t tell if it was from disuse or from screaming his throat raw when he was with… Sam shuddered, unable to even think the name, but he realized he was going to have to talk about it, because he knew what the EBP was now, and there would be plans to make.

“Sam! Thank Dad you’re awake!” Gabriel exclaimed, a tension-filled breath identical to Sam’s leaving him. “How are you feeling?”

“Sore, but better than I expected,” Sam replied hoarsely, sinking back into the pillow he’d started to rise from. When Gabriel stood and leaned over the bed to give him a soft, gentle kiss, Sam murmured for his ears alone, “Gabriel, he was trying to get me pregnant. That’s what the EBP was for, to make—”

“It’s okay, kiddo, we already figured that out,” Gabriel whispered back.

“Am I? Did he… Did he succeed?”

“The doctor—Anael—thinks you are, but… it could be mine. There’s no way to tell for sure.” Gabriel sat on the bed beside him, cupping Sam’s face in one hand, thumb rubbing gently over his cheek. “Besides, I don’t care, even if it is his. I’ll love the baby anyway, because it’s part of you.”

Leaning into the touch, Sam blinked moisture from his eyes. He had a feeling Gabriel wasn’t aware of the survival rate for nephilim mothers, but now wasn’t the time to bring it up. Better to wait until he loved the child before mentioning that giving birth to him—or her—would kill him.

“Hey, quit hoggin’ the popcorn, Bitch,” Dean said, shouldering Sam away from the big bowl on the low table in front of them.

“Like you’re one to talk, Jerk,” Sam replied automatically, shoving back against his older brother. They were in the sitting room—no, it was supposed to be called a living room—watching a vid screen perched above the fireplace. Once he realized they couldn’t safely go back to his place, Gabriel had set about making the cabin more comfortable. Which, for Gabriel, meant less boring.

Dean had taken to the vid screen like a fish to water. In the week they’d been there, he’d watched more movies than Sam could even remember, including all the Star Wars movies—even the bad ones and side stories—The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings movies, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Hunger Games, Harry Potter, The Princess Bride—at Gabriel’s insistence though Dean wound up loving it—followed by a Mel Brooks marathon, Monty Python, then even older films that were in black and white like Abbott and Costello movies, Casablanca, and so many others Sam had lost track.

Half the time, Sam read while the movies played, only occasionally watching to catch up on what was happening. Mostly, it was Dean and Gabriel enjoying the endless hours of films. Balthazar and Jo came out of their room to watch once in a while, but they spent far more time ‘feeding’ Jo than necessary. Sam didn’t really get the change in Balthazar’s opinion of humans, but he was glad for it. Once he wasn’t looking down his nose at Sam, Balthazar turned out to be a pretty decent guy.

They were watching a marathon of something called Buffy the Vampire Slayer when Anael and Andy arrived. It was just a quick check-up and, thankfully, she declared both him and Dean fully healed and cleared for sex. The second he was pronounced fit, Castiel grabbed Dean and dragged him off to their bedroom. Sam knew Castiel had been feeding Dean, but was determined not to think about how, in any way, shape, or form.

Anael also confirmed that Sam was indeed pregnant, and Andy said he could sense the baby’s thoughts, though they were mostly just images and feelings.

“He’s definitely happy, though. Sweet little thing. Tiny, but growing so fast.” Andy thought to Sam.

“It’s a boy?” Sam asked, shocked.

Andy cast a glance through his eyelashes at his master, then nodded when she gave him permission to speak. “Yeah. He wants to be like you, Sam, so I guess he chose to be a boy.”

“Hopefully not too much like me,” Sam replied, hand resting over his stomach. He didn’t want his kid—his son—to die bringing a child into the world.

“Well I, for one, hope he’s exactly like you,” Gabriel said, hugging Sam and putting a hand over his. “Smart, kind, and strong. Plus mind-staggeringly beautiful.”

Sam laughed, blushing. “What’s that leave for him to inherit from you?”

“I think he’s better off without anything from me. But if I had to pick something, maybe my sense of humor?”

“Not just that. Your capacity for love, too. And don’t go getting all defensive. You can deny it all you want, but you wouldn’t work so hard for human and humanoid rights if you didn’t care so much.”

“Aww, stop. You’re makin’ me blush. Besides, who can say? Maybe I have ulterior motives. For all you know, I could be planning to build a human/humanoid army to crush them all—Lucifer and his demons along with all my other dickbag heavenly relatives.” Gabriel frowned in an obviously artificial huff; an attempt to hide the tint on his cheeks.

“I know better. As much as you hate the things your siblings do, you still love them.”

“How the hell would you know that?”

“Star Wars ring a bell? That scene where Vader finally redeemed himself, your reaction was very personal. Like you wished maybe your brothers could find similar redemption.” Sam was smug, watching as Gabriel’s blush deepened.

“Yeah… Kid defo needs to inherit your smarts, Samwise.” Gabriel nuzzled closer to Sam with a soft sigh. “Hey, Anael… You said you can remove the chips, right? Sam and Dean both need theirs taken out.”

“I can do that, but are you sure? You won’t be able to control them.”

“I don’t want to control Sam, just take care of him and make him happy. And Cassie feels the same way about Dean,” Gabriel replied with a shrug, squeezing Sam lightly.

“What if they run away? You spent a ridiculous amount buying Sam, and a great deal of effort getting Dean out of the lab, right?” Anael asked.

“I’m not going anywhere. I like being with Gabriel. You know, Andy wouldn’t run away either, if you took his chip out. He loves helping you with your work. Plus, you’ve never ordered him to misuse his abilities, which many owners probably would have. He appreciates that and respects you for it.” Sam doubted Anael would take his word for it, but wanted to speak up for Andy, who couldn’t do so for himself unless given permission. Well, not without revealing that the chip barely affected him at all any more.

Anael looked at Andy thoughtfully. His gaze was lowered, as usual, playing the perfect pet for her. “I’ll think about it. Should I remove Sam’s chip first, or Dean’s?”

“Fuck, Cas! Yeah, just like that!” Dean’s voice cried out from his and Castiel’s bedroom.

They all exchanged a look, even Andy, and said, “Sam’s,” at the same time, then burst out laughing.

Everyone gathered in the living room that night for dinner, Anael and Andy having been invited for the meal. The kitchen table wasn’t even big enough for all the people staying there, let alone two extra.

“Gabriel, how long do you plan on staying here? Seems a bit small for the six of you,” Anael commented as they ate.

“Maybe a little,” Gabriel replied with a shrug, “but it’s too dangerous to go back home. I was thinking of moving to the bunker but wanted to wait ‘til Sam and Dean were fully healed. If you think six is a lot for one place, try adding fifty to that. Figured they’d heal better with more space and privacy. But, other than being a bit remote, this place isn’t defensible at all. And I took a short leave of absence but I have to go back to work in a week, so—”

“Wait, what? Gabriel, you can’t go back to the council! Lucifer’s there. He’ll—”

Gabriel cut Sam off before he could get too worked up. “Relax, kiddo. He can’t do anything in the council building, and Cassie will be with me. Plus, I have a place in the lower city where I’ll appear to be staying. It has an underground passage that leads out to the forest so I can enter and leave the city without being seen. Don’t worry, I’ll be extra careful. I wouldn’t ever let anything keep me from you, especially not my dickbag brother.”

“Is it wise to be coming and going from the bunker every day?” Castiel asked.

“The garage is hidden in the trees, and if we take airbikes on silent mode there won’t be much chance of us being found. Besides, even if Luci knew where the bunker was, he couldn’t get in. No angel, demon, or supernatural creature can unless exceptions for them have been woven into the warding.”

“Wait, you said there’re already fifty people livin’ there? We gonna be packed in like sardines?” Dean asked, pointing a forkful of food at Gabriel.

“The rooms are about the same size as the ones here, and they’re soundproof.”

“Sold,” Dean said, popping the bite into his mouth.

Gabriel laughed. “There are only ten showers in the shower rooms though, so you gotta take turns. At least every room has a toilet and sink so you don’t gotta wait for that. And between the library, computer room, science lab, magic lab, research archives, and five different lounges, there’s usually enough space in the common areas for everyone, though the kitchen gets a bit congested in the mornings. I’ve been thinkin’ of putting in a few coffee stations. You know, soon as we get someone in the bunker who knows how to do plumbing and carpentry.”

“And there are enough bedrooms for everyone? I thought you said it was hidden? How can you hide something with that much space?” Sam challenged.

Laughing again, Gabriel squeezed Sam’s hand. “No worries, Samshine. It’s all underground. Actually, it was built to house two hundred and fifty. There are five levels, each meant to accommodate fifty people. So far we’ve kept the bottom three levels of dorms closed off and unused, though the communal areas are open all the way down. Considering how much you like to read, I think you’re gonna love it. The library is huge.”

Chapter Text

One week later, they packed their bags and cleaned the cabin, leaving it fresh and stocked for the next time someone needed it, then headed for the cars. Sam rode in the front seat, Gabriel driving beside him. Balthazar and Jo were in the back, their windows tinted too dark to see through. Though the archangel had agreed to allow access through the bunker’s warding for Balth, he still hadn’t forgiven him for dropping the ball with Sam which meant he didn’t quite trust him enough to let him know the bunker’s exact location. Castiel and Dean followed in Balthazar’s car.

When both hovercars had flown in past the open garage doors, which closed behind them, they drove to the end of the large garage then turned, going down a ramp to a second level, one that wasn’t already full of vehicles. Finally they parked in two adjacent spots and everyone climbed out and began unloading the trunks.

“We could have stopped upstairs long enough to get the bags out,” Castiel mentioned as he shouldered his bag, along with the one Gabriel had conjured to carry the clothes Dean had accumulated during their stay at the cabin. When Dean came over to try and take his own bag, Castiel just stared at him until he backed off, drawing a laugh from Sam, though he pouted almost as much as Dean grumped when Gabriel wouldn’t let him carry his own bag either. Balthazar grabbed his and Jo’s bags, but handed hers to her under the weight of her glare.

“Why would we do that when our rooms are down here? Since Cassie and I hardly ever stayed at the bunker, we gave up our rooms on the first floor to permanent residents years ago.” Gabriel led them across the garage and down a short flight of stairs to a solid metal door. It opened at his touch and he ushered the group through. “This actually works out better anyway. Lot less folks living on level two, so it’s easier to get shower time or use the vid screen in the lounge. We’re just over here.” He headed down the hallway to the right, pausing at the second door on the right, opening it, and setting his and Sam’s bags inside. “Sam and I are in this one. Cassie, you and Dean are the third door down across the hall, there. Balth and Jo, you’re in the last room on the right. Take a few hours to get settled in, and we’ll do the meet and greet stuff when we go upstairs for dinner.”

They stayed in the hallway until the others had gone into their rooms, then Gabriel held the door of their own bedroom open for Sam. Turning on the light switch revealed the small interior. There was a twin bed along the right wall with a nightstand beside it, on which rested a lamp and a clock. Next to that was a desk, and a dresser stood on the left wall between the wardrobe in the corner, mostly hidden by the door Gabriel still held, and another doorway in the far left corner. Upon further exploration, Sam found that door opened into a small room that contained only a toilet, sink, and mirror.

“Seems a bit small,” Sam commented as he stepped back into their room. “Made for one person, not two.”

“We can manage,” Gabriel said, setting their bags on top of the dresser and snapping his fingers. The wide desk switched places with the tall dresser and the bed grew to a Queen size, moving away from the right wall, a second nightstand identical to the first appearing in the empty space created. “See? It’s better already, right?”

Sitting on the edge of the bed, Sam gave an experimental bounce. “Not bad.”

“That’s no way to test a bed’s support, Samshine,” Gabriel said, going over and tackling him onto the bed.

“Hey, we’re supposed to be settling in,” Sam said with a laugh as Gabriel crouched above him, grinning.

“Oh, I plan on ‘settling in’,” the archangel replied, eyebrows jumping suggestively. “Besides, we can check how good the room’s soundproofing is while we test out the bed.”

“You’re incorrigible,” Sam said, shaking his head as he reached up to rest a palm on Gabriel’s cheek, thumb tracing lightly over his lips.

“No, you’re just irresistible,” Gabriel corrected, nuzzling the hand on his cheek before leaning down to capture Sam’s lips.”

“Do you want—” Dean and Castiel both started to say as they stepped into their room and looked around.

Dean chuckled. “You first.”

“I was wondering if you want your own room. Gabriel just assumed we would bunk together, but if you would rather have some privacy, I am sure the rooms on either side of this one are empty. There aren’t many residents on this floor.”

“That’s funny. I was gonna ask you the same thing. Doesn’t matter to me either way, but the bed’s a bit small for two people.”

Castiel cocked his head to the side, his gaze on Dean curious. “Does that mean you would prefer your own room?”

“Nah. Like I said, it doesn’t matter to me.”

“But you said the bed is too small.”

“I said it’s a little small, not that I don’t wanna share it with you,” Dean clarified, shaking his head. Castiel still looked confused.

“Then you prefer not to have your own room?”

“I’m fine with whatever you wanna do, man. I mean, the bed’s the same size as the one we were sharin’ at the cabin, right? But if you want some privacy, I don’t mind havin’ my own room. Just ‘cause you’re feedin’ me doesn’t mean we have to be joined at the hip.”

With a sigh, Castiel put his bag down near the wardrobe and handed Dean’s bag to him. “I have no preference. Angels do not care about privacy the same way humans do. If you want to stay here, then stay here. If you prefer your own room, then pick one and stay there.”

“Sorry, buddy. Wasn’t trying to piss you off or anything. The opposite, really. You’re doin’ me the favor of makin’ sure I don’t die, so I just wanted to do whatever’s easiest for you.”

“Why do you always call me that?” Castiel asked as he started hanging up his suits. Dean had no idea why he wore the things all the time. They didn’t look very comfortable.


“Buddy,” the angel replied, not looking away from what he was doing.

“Oh, dunno, man. I don’t even know when I started doing it. But hey, if you don’t like buddy, I can nix it. Whadda you want me to call you?” Dean asked.

“I would like you to call me by my name.”

“Yeah, but Castiel’s a bit of a mouthful. How about Cas?”

Castiel’s brows furrowed. “I don’t know. I have always been Castiel. No one has ever called me anything else other than Gabriel and Balthazar, who call me Cassie.”

“Do you want me to call you Cassie?”


“Right. Cas it is, then.” Dean smiled and Cas’s expression seemed to soften, just a bit. Going over to the dresser, Dean opened the second drawer down and dumped his bag in. He only had a few outfits and still wasn’t quite used to wearing them. Wrinkles were a foreign concept. “I left you the top drawer. And the bottom two.”

“The top will suffice for my underthings. I left you the left half of the wardrobe.” As Dean sat on the bed and started taking his boots off, Cas moved to the dresser and began placing his carefully folded undershirts, underwear, and socks in the top drawer.

“What for?” Dean asked, grunting as he pulled the first boot off without untying the laces.

“To hang clothes,” Cas replied as though that was obvious. Which it was.

“Yeah, but my clothes are just t-shirts and jeans and a couple flannels. No use bothering to hang them when they all fit fine in the drawer,” Dean said, struggling to pull the other boot off. The laces were tighter so he wasn’t having much luck.

“Even properly folded, they’ll still get wrinkled in the dresser. You should hang them.” Cas moved over to the bed and squatted down, untying the laces and loosening them so Dean could remove the boot. “Dean, I have shown you how to do this several times.”

Dean shrugged. “If I untie them, then I just have to tie them up again when I put them back on.”

“If you don’t untie them and then retie them when you put them back on, they will be too loose and affect your walking. In addition, you will have more pain in your feet, legs, and back.”

“But the laces are a pain in the ass. So’s hangin’ up clothes.”

Castiel stood and went back to the dresser, opening Dean’s drawer. “Dean, I have also shown you how to fold your clothes. If you leave them like this, they will wrinkle.”

“So?” Dean asked, flopping back onto a pillow, hands behind his head, feet kicked up on top of the covers.

Not bothering to respond, Cas set about folding Dean’s jeans and underthings.

“You don’t gotta do that, Cas. They’re fine,” Dean said, staring up at the ceiling. It was white, same as the ones at the lab had been. Fortunately, the resemblance to that sterile, horrible place ended there. Though empty for years, the room had a cozy, warm feel that nothing at the lab could ever even come close to emulating. The walls were brick with the lower third being decorative grey concrete. All the furniture was made of rich, warm wood, which Dean had come to appreciate at the cabin, especially after Cas told him killing trees to make furniture was no longer allowed. Using wooden furniture made him feel like he was giving a big ‘fuck you’ to the laws that did little to protect humans like Sammy and him.

“They are not ‘fine’, Dean. They are, in fact, wrinkled. If you refuse to take proper care of your clothes, perhaps you should go back to not wearing them.”

“Aww, tryin’ to get me naked, Cas? ‘S not even time for a feeding,” Dean teased.

“I am trying to get you to take better care of your possessions. I fail to see what is so difficult about hanging a few shirts and folding three pairs of jeans.” Castiel looked exasperated.

Grumbling, Dean pushed himself up off the bed and stomped over to the dresser, yanking the pants Cas was starting to fold out of his hands. It wasn’t like he hadn’t learned the first time Cas had shown him. He just didn’t see the point in folding them when he was just gonna unfold them to put them on in a day or two. And who cared if they were wrinkled?

“Thank you, Dean,” Cas said, grabbing a few hangers from the wardrobe and bringing them over. He lay them on top of his bag which still sat on the dresser. Rather than helping, he left Dean to it as he took his toiletries to the bathroom.

“I’m done,” Dean said a few minutes later, leaning against the door frame with a grin. “Do I get a reward?”

Raising an eyebrow as he closed the mirror over the medicine cabinet, Castiel brushed past Dean to check his work. He frowned a bit at the loose socks and underwear that Dean had simply shoved over to one side of the drawer, but the folded jeans apparently passed muster because he closed the drawer and went to the wardrobe. The shirts were still wrinkled, though Dean had smoothed them as much as he could, and the hems on one of the t-shirts were turned up, which Castiel fixed. Everything else, he let slide. The wrinkles would smooth out the rest of the way on their own, just from the weight of the hanging fabric.

“Passable,” Cas finally pronounced, closing the wardrobe and turning his intense blue gaze on Dean. “What kind of reward were you thinking of?”

“Dude, I was kiddin’ about the reward.” Dean licked his lips under the weight of Cas’s stare.

“But I was not. I appreciate your effort and would like to express that.”

“You just did,” Dean pointed out.

Cas stared at him for a moment, expression unreadable, then turned towards the door. “Use whatever parts of the room you want. I have no other belongings. If you wish to shower, take a right, then another right down the main hallway. Showers are the first door on the right. The door past that is the kitchen and across from that is the game room. The lounge is across from the showers. Stay on this floor and I would recommend avoiding the Computer Lab at the north end of the main hall. Charlie can be very protective of her equipment.” That said, Cas opened the door, heading out.

“Wait, Cas. Sorry, man. I get cocky when I’m nervous. Don’t go?” Dean asked hopefully.

“You don’t appear nervous,” Cas stated, closing the door and returning to Dean.

“Well yeah, I’m the big brother. How would Sammy keep his shit together if I lost mine? But seriously, I’ve been in the lab all my life, and the only time things changed was when they got worse. I don’t think it’s possible for me not to be scared as hell over anything new or different, even if it starts off good. But, uh, can we keep that between us? Sammy’s got enough to worry about with him bein’ preggers and Luci still on the loose.”

“If you want to keep it between us, I would like you to do something for me.” Cas took Dean by the wrist, leading him over to the bed. After stacking the pillows against the headboard he sat and untied his shoes, removing each and setting them paired beside the nightstand while Dean waited curiously. He sat back against the pillows and patted the bed between his legs. “Sit. Back toward me.”

Dean did as instructed. “Not sure what you want me to do for you when I’m facing away with all my clothes on.”

With his legs on either side of Dean, Cas pulled him back against his chest and began rubbing his shoulders. “What I want you to do for me is relax and listen. Can you do that?”

“I can try.”

“Good. I have never enjoyed change either,” Cas began, only to be interrupted by Dean.

“Sorry, I’m sure you weren’t expecting to get saddled with a random human for the next however many years.”

“Dean, you are supposed to be listening,” Cas chided.

“Sorry, right. I’ll be quiet,” Dean apologized.

“And relax. Your shoulders are very tense.” Continuing to massage the stiff muscles, Castiel got back to his story. “I know you are aware of what happened during the expulsion, to some extent. Several years before that, Michael had been preparing for the Apocalypse and Lucifer got released from the prison that had held him since he fell. I was stationed on Earth, after having been sent to retrieve the Righteous One from Hell and then guide them. At the time, I did not know it was the start of the Apocalypse, or that Michael was only pretending to prevent the seals to Lucifer’s cage being broken. The Righteous One’s brother was tricked into breaking the final seal and releasing Lucifer. I didn’t find out about Heaven’s deception until it was too late. Gabriel was barely in time to fly the Colts away from where Lucifer emerged.”

“The Colts? Weren’t they the ones who—”

“Yes, Dean, but that came later. Did you know that angels must occupy a human vessel when on Earth?”

“What do you mean?” Dean asked, shoulders tensing again.

“Not just us. Demons are the same, but at least angels must have permission before taking a vessel. The body I am in once belonged to James Novak. His soul moved on to Heaven before the expulsion. I have not come across his reincarnation since, as far as I know. It isn’t always easy to recognize souls after so many lifetimes have passed, because they grow and change with each new lifetime. Rest assured, though, I did visit him in Heaven before the expulsion and he was happy. But Jimmy is not why I brought up the subject of vessels. Back then, Samuel Colt was slated to be Lucifer’s vessel, and Deanna was to be Michael’s. However, the siblings were very close, as well as headstrong and brave. Neither would give permission to either archangel, and eventually, after I rebelled against Heaven, we—Deanna, Samuel, Gabriel and myself—found a spell to lock Lucifer back in his prison. Thus the Apocalypse was averted with few knowing it had even started.”

“Damn. It seems like I should know that, but I’ve never heard anything about it before,” Dean commented, humming contentedly as Cas continued massaging.

“Not many have. It is not written in any texts. Joshua never knew about it, since Michael kept his intentions hidden from Heaven’s gardener. Michael was angry though. So much so that his ire bled through from Heaven, causing massive disasters; earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, destructive electrical storms. Many people died. That is why Samuel and Deanna began searching for a way to seal off Heaven. When we found the tablets and Chuck translated them, Gabriel and I begged Samuel and Deanna to find another way. I had grown… very fond of Deanna. Gabriel thought our attachment was created by the rescue and shared danger, but I think it was something more than that. From the first time I saw that soul, even dirtied and dimmed from decades in Hell, I was lost. Never have I seen another so beautiful.”

“You loved her,” Dean stated.

“I love the soul that was her core. Regardless of the vessel containing it,” Cas clarified.

“Have you found her again since then? Samuel and Deanna’s souls were reborn, right?”

“They were, many times over by now. But I have never managed to find that soul again.”


“Until now,” Castiel added.


“I was unsure at first, but the more time we spent together the more certain I grew.”

Dean laughed, a bit nervously, and pulled away. Turning to look at Cas, he shook his head. “Dude, just because our names are similar doesn’t mean we’re the same person. Soul. Whatever. For one thing, I’m not a chick.”

“I am well aware of that, Dean, having intimate knowledge of your physical makeup. But souls have no gender. It does not matter if you believe me, though. The reason I told you all this was so that you understand when I say not all change is bad. You are safe here within the bunker’s warding. And I do not take care of you out of philanthropy. I very much enjoy spending time with you and wish you would stop thinking of yourself as a burden. Please.” Castiel’s voice had grown deeper and even more gravelly as his story went on, as though he wasn’t used to talking so much. It was definitely the most Dean had ever heard him say at once.

“Yeah, okay. I mean, I can try.” Dean fidgeted nervously, even more confused about their relationship than before. He wasn’t sure if he believed Cas about him being some reincarnation of the legendary Deanna Colt, but whether it was true or not, Cas believed it. Did that mean Cas was only taking care of him because he was chasing after a ghost? And if, by some chance, he was Deanna, were his feelings for Cas his own, or an echo of hers? Same with Cas; did he care for Dean, or Deanna?

Dinner was served from the kitchen on the first floor and Sam quickly saw what Gabriel meant about it being congested. Maybe in the future, they could cook their own meals downstairs.

Fortunately, as each level was meant to support fifty people, the kitchen featured floor to ceiling ovens in one corner, and beside them stretched endless ranges across the back wall with storage beneath. A long metal counter on wheels stretched opposite the ranges, providing space for food preparation, and presentation after it was cooked. The door was secured to the wall so that it wasn’t in the way of the line that came through it, moving along the metal counter to fill plates, and then leaving through the same door. Most residents ate in the lounge or game room across the hall, the accordian wall between the two open at meal times to accommodate everyone.

Full plates in hand, Sam, Gabriel, Dean, Castiel, Jo, and Balthazar wandered across the hall and began looking for somewhere they could all sit together. As they moved through the crowds, Gabriel began pointing out people who had more active roles in the alliance. Eventually they made their way to a corner of the game room where two tables were pushed together. Gabriel conjured up another table to add to the end, along with more chairs, and they all sat.

“These are the head honchos of our rag-tag group of heros,” Gabriel said, once everyone was seated. Then he began the introductions.

“Charlie’s in charge of the computer lab, aka the Charlie Cave.” A petite redhead waved, grinning widely around a mouthful of food.

“Her girlfriend Gilda is head of lore research. She’s a fairy from across the pond.” A regal-looking woman nodded in acknowledgment.

“Garth and his wife Bess, both werewolves, are in charge of morale.” The lanky man beside Gilda gave a goofy grin, waving enthusiastically before going back to his very rare steak. He bumped shoulders with his wife beside him, who gave the newcomers a shy smile, wavy blonde hair framing her face, cheeks tinged pink.

“The mullet-head next to Bess is Ash. He’s in charge of intel.” Sam knew that was a hairstyle, short in the front and long in the back, but he’d never seen one before. He wasn’t sure what to make of the man sporting the bleach-blond mullet, but that could have had more to do with the sleeveless red flannel shirt worn open over a black tank top and holey jeans, or even the not-quite-with-it blank gaze he gave them.

“Next to him is our vampire in charge of security, Benny.” The bear of a man beside Ash greeted them pleasantly in a thick accent, which Gabriel said was from Louisiana.

“And the grumpy old men are Bobby and Rufus. They’re the big cheeses in charge of the whole operation,” Gabriel said, indicating the last two men in the group they’d joined.

“Actually, we’re only in charge of the bunker. Gabe’s the one at the top of the Alliance pecking order,” corrected the man wearing an old baseball cap. His blue eyes glinted above a brown beard and mustache peppered with grey, and he reintroduced himself as Bobby Singer.

“An’ we’d be a hell of a lot less grumpy if our boss was a hell of a lot more professional,” added the other man whose dark chocolate eyes matched the shade of his skin. His head was bare of hat or hair and the mustache he sported seemed to be trying to make up the difference. He also gave his full name; Rufus Turner.

“Right. Anywho, you all know Cassie, and most of you know Balth. The other three new residents are Sam, his brother Dean, and the lovely lady there is Jo. Don’t let her appearance fool you, she’s got quite the set of cajones on her—I’d think she stole them from Balth if I hadn’t been assured she had them before they met.” Gabriel pointed each out as he said their names, then started in on his strawberry and chocolate mousse parfait. Apparently the stew and biscuits available in the kitchen hadn’t been sweet enough for him so he’d conjured up his own dinner.

“Sam, huh? The Sam?” Charlie asked from across the table.

Ducking his head, Sam wondered if his bangs were long enough to hide the heat he felt pooling in his cheeks. “I, uh, I guess so?”

“Don’t worry, Samshine, she hasn’t heard that much about you. I’ve only mentioned a few things, none of them bad. And nothing she’s going to embarrass you with, right Charlie?” Gabriel said pointedly.

“Oh, of course not! Sorry, Sam, I wasn’t trying to make you uncomfortable. Gabe, on the other hand… he hasn’t shut up about you. Seriously, he’s so gone on you it’s adorable. Anyway—not that I’m changing the subject before Gabe gets too mad—Dean, good to see you safe and sound. When Gabe wanted to go into the Death Star after you himself, we were all pretty worried. But it looks like everything turned out okay.”

“Yeah, I really appreciate the rescue. Wish we could get everyone outta that place though. Most of the demons there are pretty sadistic. Not a great place to live. But at least Cas took out one of the worst during the rescue.”

“I’ve been sayin’ for a while now that place needs shuttin’ down. I’d be happy ta lead the charge myself if we want ta give it a go,” Benny said from the other end of the table.

“Unfortunately, they haven’t technically done anything illegal yet,” Gabriel said with a frown. “The second they do, I’m all over it. But until then, we’ve gotta keep under the radar. If the council got wind of the Alliance, we wouldn’t be able to move around in the city at all.”

“Agreed. The best we can do for now is to keep the special projects out of Lucifer’s hands as much as possible,” Castiel added.

Chapter Text

Crowley sat before the hearth in his antiquated wooden arm chair with upholstery on its five-hundredth iteration and watched the flames dancing merrily across the crackling logs in the grate. Laws be damned, there was something to be said for a wood fire. Not that he cut down any actual trees for the wood. There were plenty in the surrounding forests that had fallen down on their own, and clearing a few out reduced wildfire danger. New Jerusalem’s apartments up in the clouds didn’t have fireplaces though. That was only one of the reasons Crowley made his home in a charming old brownstone near the heart of Old New York.

Thanks to the spire-top buildings of the upper city, the lower city was full of shadows, day and night. There were still spots where the sun’s rays managed to reach, but shade thrived in between. It made it easier to avoid scrutiny, and not just from the angels. Crowley hadn’t pressed his views but he’d certainly voiced them more than once. Lucifer would be a fool not to keep tabs on him, and Crowley would be a fool not to know that. The Devil was long overdue for another fall, and the king of the crossroads was waiting in the wings to claim his throne.

Lucifer had made a right mess of things. Sure, demon deals were meant to have loopholes that favored the demon making them, but this whole business of claiming children born after the contract was made, of specifically breeding the contractees to genetically engineer offspring was, quite frankly, bad for business. In the past, Crowley had always given his underlings leeway in their deals, but the damn Devil was giving them free reign to do whatever the hell they wanted. They forced humans into deals and barely lived up to their ends of the bargains. If it kept up, no human would make contracts with them.

Take his last big deal, for instance. Kate Milligan had wanted a child but was infertile. A simple matter of correcting her anatomy fixed that, but Lucifer had decided that the contract meant they were responsible for getting her pregnant too, and whisked her off to that damnable lab of his, putting her into his secretive breeding program. She’d nearly died giving birth to the oversized brat and rather than patch her up, Lucifer had fed her to a ghoul, watching with her baby on his lap as she screamed in agony, eaten alive.

That wasn’t what demon deals were supposed to be. Originally, they’d been meant to gather souls to make new demons. Now, with Hell closed, they were just ways for demons to exercise their full powers and gain some free help in the bargain. After ten years. There was no point in killing the person they’d been contracted to save a year later like Lucifer had done with Ellen’s husband, Bill. Well, technically he’d had Azazel do that one, but the end result was the same. Ellen and Jo became his property without even getting to enjoy the husband and father that Ellen had traded her golden years for. How was he supposed to keep consumer confidence up when the boss twisted and broke deals left and right?

Answer? He couldn’t. At least, not while Lucifer held the throne, so to speak. Which meant, if he wanted to get demons back on track, he needed the Devil gone.

He didn’t have much to do with the lab. To be honest, he hated the place and avoided it at all costs. But over the past ten years, ever since Lucifer’s pets had been introduced to the consumer base via underground auctions, he’d started taking more interest in the lab. Crowley couldn’t give two shits about the humans—they’d made their deals and their fates were on their own heads—but he was concerned over what else the scientists were cooking up in their little mad lab. That PK Project seemed like he was trying to bioengineer humans into weapons and the EBP was troubling simply for how hush-hush Lucifer was keeping it. Even the demons working on the project didn’t know what it was for, other than Azazel and Astaroth.

Computers weren’t his area of expertise, but he was nothing if not resourceful. It hadn’t taken long for him to learn enough to cover his tracks while putting out feelers. He knew there was some type of underground organization working against the lab. Using the screen name Cloud—a nod to the human name he’d once had, MacLeod—he eventually came across QueenB, who he was pretty sure was in said organization. They put him in touch with DustToDust, saying if he happened to come across any info worth sharing, they were always eager for gossip. Neither ever said anything about their group, nor did Crowley share the sources of his ‘gossip’. Everything was anonymous and safe.

A few trips to the lab and Crowley had easily spotted the few dissenters. Demons who worked there but didn’t approve of the testing being done or the treatment of the subjects. He passed their names on to Dusty along with the suggestion that, should someone need contacts inside the lab, those demons might be persuaded to help. He kept his ears open and passed on any other information that seemed pertinent, including the start of the PKP and EBP, along with his suspicions about what Lucifer might be planning for them.

Concrete information was hard to come by, though. Lucifer played his cards very close to the vest. Sure, Crowley had a vast information network, and Jo had been an invaluable resource. It was too bad she’d finally put her foot down, refusing to help extract Sam unless she and her mother got out too. It was worth it to get Sam out of Lucifer’s grasp though, especially since he hadn’t had to involve himself directly. Besides, even without Jo, he still had sources.

The news he’d received earlier that night was what had him staring into the fire, thinking back over the centuries since the expulsion. It had been a good run. He’d rather liked Earth. Too bad its time was up. True, Lucifer said he was going to kill the angels and subjugate all humans, but he’d also said eating an apple was harmless back in the garden. Neither was an outright lie, but it wasn’t the whole truth either. Sure, the Devil would eliminate angels and put humans in their places. But what came after that? Crowley had no doubt that the serpent spoke with a forked tongue. Next on the list would be demons, and eventually Lucifer would destroy everything, the entire world. It was in his nature. He’d always feel like something was missing, and since he had no clue what it was, he’d just keep lashing out in the hopes of stumbling across it. Truth was, the damned kid had daddy issues a mile long.

With the plan already in motion, there wasn’t a snowball’s chance in Hell of stopping it. Still, humans were full of surprises. Who knew, maybe the resistance or whatever they were calling themselves might have a sliver of a chance. Sighing, he swirled the cabernet in his glass then took another sip before getting up and heading to his office. He didn’t normally allow beverages in the room, but he needed it tonight. Setting the glass beside his monitor, Crowley booted up the computer and entered his password. Several proxy server reroutes later, Cloud was at The Roadhouse, a chat server on the Underground.

Making small talk in the main server between private messages was a pain in the arse, but it helped hide his real purpose for being there, so he did it. The server population was hidden from everyone, so there was no way to know if Dusty was online or not. There was nothing for it but to send a private message and hope he didn’t have to wait too long for a response.


Cloud: Fancy a fag and a chat?


The private message sat for ten minutes before the indicator popped up showing that Dusty was typing


DustToDust: you know i don’t smoke. not cigarettes, at least. ^.~ down for a chat though. whatcha got for me?

Cloud: Bad news, I’m afraid. I just found out that the Petshop of Horrors has been training its pets to turn on their masters. And they’ve stepped up production. The big guy plans on nationwide distribution by the end of the week, worldwide by month’s end. They need to be put out of business before either happens. Know anyone who could make that happen?

DustToDust: might. tkx 4 the info. got anything else?

Cloud: Nah. The big guy has been holed up making plans, so he might have something else in the works, but the petshop info is all I have for now. If I hear any more gossip, I’ll be sure to pass it along.

DustToDust: k, i’ll let you know if i hear anything too.


Crowley continued making comments in the main server for another half hour just to make sure his time online didn’t match too closely to Dusty’s, then closed the chat and shut down his computer. He’d taken a few more sips of wine while online, but the glass was still half full. Downing what was left, he went to the liquor cabinet and grabbed a clean tumbler and a bottle of Craig. Though still in production across the pond, it was damn near impossible to come by in the states. He’d hoarded every bottle he could find, but tonight was a drinking night if ever there was one. Setting the bottle and glass on the spindly based, small, round, wooden table beside his chair, Crowley tossed another log onto the fire then sat, relaxing into the upholstery. Pouring himself a double, he resumed watching the fire dance, losing himself in contemplation and trying not to think about the approaching end of the sodding world.

“Andy, start the laundry and unpack the suitcases. We’ll be staying home for a few weeks this time.” Anael left him in the bedroom and went to see what food they had. It was odd how Andy followed orders easily when they were alone, but had to have more specific instructions when anyone else was around. It didn’t make sense.

Just as she entered the kitchen the house alarm went off and the front door burst open, demons pouring through. Anael prayed Andy was smart enough to hide rather than coming out. He was a lover, not a fighter, and there were far too many for even the two of them to handle. If Andy stayed hidden, he could go for help if she needed it. Obviously they had bad intentions, otherwise they would have knocked.

“Who are you? What do you want?” Anael demanded, angel blade slipping into her hand and held warily in front of her.

“Relax, sweetie. We just have a job for you,” a demon said, stepping forward. His eyes glowed yellow above a sinister smile.

“Then make an appointment,” Anael said, moving backward until she was pressed against the fridge, eliminating the possibility of a rear attack.

“Well, we would, but we need you for a bit longer than one appointment. Am I right in assuming you won’t be coming quietly? It would be better if you did, you know. We don’t really want to hurt you.”

Anael appraised the six imposing demons, all with blunt weapons at the ready. The seventh, the leader who had spoken, seemed to be waiting patiently for her reply, but Anael intuited that he was watching every minute twitch and microexpression she made. She could fight, but there really wasn’t any point. She would just wind up bruised and battered, possibly unconscious when they took her.

“I’ll go with you, but that doesn’t mean I’m willing, just that I’d rather not bother with a fight I can’t win,” Anael replied, stowing her blade. The leader raised an eyebrow, but didn’t insist she give up her weapon. As she walked out of the kitchen, the other demons converged on her, two reaching for her arms. She pulled away. “Don’t touch me. I can walk on my own, thank-you.”

The leader waved the other demons off and they just surrounded her, still closer than she would have liked, but not touching. As they marched her out the door and into a waiting hovervan, she wondered idly if she should even bother insisting they repair her door. Probably not.

Andy was hanging up the clothes from their suitcases when he heard the commotion. His first instinct was to run out and see what was going on, but Anael’s loud thoughts stopped him in his tracks. Too many. Hide. Get help. Though reluctant to hide while she was in danger, Andy saw the wisdom and grudgingly hid in the closet behind her longer hanging clothes.

He had no need to peek out and see who the assailants were. He’d recognize that voice anywhere. Azazel. Andy shuddered, but forced himself to remain calm. The other six demons were anticipating violence, but Azazel was calm, and he meant it when he said he’d rather not harm her. Andy couldn’t probe his thoughts too deeply without risking detection, but he got the impression Azazel wanted her to be reasonable and go quietly. He needed her to care for the humans at the lab; there was something about stepping up production, but the thought was there and gone too quickly for Andy to make much of it.

As soon as he felt their minds leave the apartment, Anael with them, and move away from the building, he came out of hiding. His first thought was phoning someone, but Anael’s vidphone was in her pocket. Maybe they’d overlook it and she could call for help herself. Not that he was gonna bank on a maybe.

The cabin in the woods, the waystation, was pretty remote and they always took a different route to it, so Andy doubted he’d be able to find his way there. Not that it would do any good anyway. People from the alliance brought humans to the cabin when they needed Anael’s help, but Gabriel, Sam and company had already left for their secret hideout. Someone else might have stopped by or might show up sometime, but he wasn’t going to sit around and wait for help. Anael needed rescued sooner rather than later. Even if the demons needed her healing skills, that didn’t mean they wouldn’t abuse her.

That left him only one option. He knew where Meg’s auction house was, having seen the route when Anael drove them home. And despite his first impression of her, he knew she would help. In fact, she was secretly working with the alliance. So secretly that he hadn’t even caught a hint of it from her mind when he’d been there. That knowledge he’d gleaned from Anael’s thoughts. Meg got intel on which humans to take from the lab and then made sure the alliance people were in place to buy them at the auctions. She usually grabbed one or two extra, sometimes at the request of demons working at the lab who were in the alliance. Subjects who had it worse than others, or rebellious humans the demons knew would soon have a fatal “accident”. They also told her which ones not to take, as some would draw too much attention for too little reward. The others in her auctions had been taken from abusive owners. In other words, Meg was basically trying to find better homes for ‘pets’, and none of the humans funneling through her auctions ever even knew what she did was for them, not just to line her pockets.

Only problem with going to Meg was that she was in the lower city, and he was in Anael’s apartment in the middle ring of the upper city. The hovercar was coded to Anael’s fingerprint so the only way he could start it without her was by using an override password. He’d have to be psychic to know what that was. Chuckling to himself, Andy went out, closing the door as best he could so at least it didn’t look broken. There wasn’t much trouble with burglary in the upper city but there was always a chance. It didn’t take long to get to the carport on the top tier, and took even less time to input the override password, HiPPoCraTeS. He opened the door and climbed in, clicking the driver’s harness into place before starting the car.

It was fortunate that most people think their actions before or as they perform them. Andy went through Anael’s checklist step by step. Adjust camera angles for visibility behind, above, and below. Shift to H to lift and hover. Depress the stabilizer pedal. Shift to F for forward. Slowly release the stabilizer then gradually press down on the—With a yelp of surprise as the vehicle shot forward, Andy slammed his foot down on the stabilizer, jerking hard against the harness then slamming back into the seat. Shaking, he took long, deep breaths trying to calm himself. This obviously wasn’t as easy as Anael made it look.

Fortunately he was above the other parked hovercars, so hadn’t caused any damage. He tried again, this time taking his foot fully off the stabilizer and letting the hovercar idle forward a bit before slowly pressing on the speed pedal. That worked better. The car gradually accelerated and he set the speed lock when he’d gotten up to fifteen miles per hour. Anael drove much faster, even in the parking area, but Andy was perfectly content to go slow, especially as he learned how the car moved.

When he made it to the edge of the landing platform, Andy pressed the stabilizer again and examined the controls. He knew there was an altimeter somewhere that adjusted height. Finding it was another matter. Jo’s movements when she drove were too swift and smooth for him to see everything she did. Eventually he found it, though it wasn’t marked. The steering wheel moved in and out. Pulling it toward him increased the height of the hover until he pushed it back to center position, pushing set it back down, though it never got more than two feet off the ground unless he switched the gear to park. Despite his hurry to get help for Anael he took a bit more time to get the hang of it, driving a few laps around the landing platform before carefully easing the car out into the open air. It dropped a few feet before he got it leveled off, his stomach dropping along with it. Then he was flying, and the feeling of having control of the vehicle was exhilarating.

Even so, he didn’t wait too long before diving down into the lower city and sticking with a low hover over the roads. Humans couldn’t afford hover cars, and few angels or demons let humans drive, though it wasn’t unheard of. Better safe than sorry, though. It wouldn’t do to get stopped and questioned. Down in Old New York, no one bothered policing drivers unless there was an accident.

It didn’t take too long—or too many wrong turns—to get to the old theatre where Meg hosted her auctions. After finding some rooftop parking, he headed down and to the side entrance. Anael had brought him once between cross-country trips to heal one of the people Meg had rescued from an abusive master, so he knew about the entrance, and that the front was only open on the nights they had auctions.

After knocking for quite a while, the door finally opened and Meg peeked her pretty head out.

“Andy? I wasn’t expecting you. Where’s Anael?” she asked. Even with her dark, wavy hair tousled and eyes heavy-lidded as though she’d just woken up, Meg was a beauty.

“She’s been taken. Can I come in?”

“What? Taken where? By who? Yeah, come in out of the alley before someone sees you.” Meg stepped back, holding the door open for Andy, then closing it behind him. “I was just about to make some coffee. Come have some with me and tell me what happened.”

“Well, that’s a wrench in the works for sure,” Meg said when Andy finished his story. “This is not good. Adina called yesterday and said Daniel is missing, and she couldn’t get a hold of Inias to ask if he knew where Daniel was. They’re best friends, and both specialize in healing humans. I think the only other angels in the city who heal humans are Hannah, Indra, and Ezekiel along with his assistant Hael. I should check on them and make sure they’re okay.”

Sipping at his cooling coffee, Andy watched as Meg pulled out her vidphone and made her calls. The demon’s brows drew closer together after each one.

“Dammit. They’re all missing, and Andrea, Indra’s pet, was found dead beside his car at a shopping complex. Her son, Lucas, was found alone in Indra’s apartment. Indra dotes on that kid and no way would he ever hurt Andrea or leave Lucas alone all day.”

“Do you think they were all taken by Azazel too?” Andy asked.

“Probably. There’ve been rumors about Lucifer planning something big. Maybe taking the doctors is connected to that. But whatever they’ve been taken for, they need to be rescued, and quickly. Dammit.” Meg mused silently for a moment, unaware that Andy could read her agitated thoughts. My communication with the lab only goes one way. They leave messages for me, but only the alliance knows who in the lab is helping them and how to talk to them. I’ve gotta keep my activities here secret and seperate. I can send a message to Dust if they’re on, but this is urgent. Even so, I can’t risk trying to find them. I don’t even know for sure where their hideout is, just the general area where I send Ketch to drop off supplies when they need something.

“Uh, Gabriel’s on the council and Anael’s helped him a lot with his pet, who’s a friend of mine. I’m sure he could help, but he isn’t at home and I don’t know how to get a hold of him. Anael and I were supposed to be going in two weeks to a secluded place where he’s staying for a few months, but I haven’t been there yet so I don’t know where it is.”

“Oh. Well, I’ve heard he has a place where he stays once in a while, but I only know the general area,” Meg said, relieved at not having to spill her secrets. “Maybe if you go there you could find him or your friend?”

“Yeah, that’d be great if you could give me directions.”

“Sure thing,” Meg replied, getting up to look for paper and a pen. “By the way, when’s the last time you were fed?”

“It’s, uh, been a couple days. But I’ll be alright, just need to make sure Anael gets rescued tonight. No offense. I mean, you’re hot and all, but I’m kinda—”

Meg laughed. “That wasn’t an offer, but thanks for the compliment. I’ve kinda got my hands full with my own pet. She gets terribly jealous, but Ava’s such a cutie she’s worth going monogamous for. I do, however, have a fridge full of ‘food’ available. Ketch and Mick prefer it, and in my line of work, having it on hand is a necessity anyway. Maybe you should have a dose and take an extra with you, just in case it takes time to set up the rescue?”

Andy nodded. “Yeah, thanks. That’s probably a good idea.”

Fifteen minutes later, map in hand, Andy headed back to the hovercar. At Meg’s insistence, he’d taken a dose of ‘food’ and had two more in a protective, gel-cooled traveling case in his pocket, an old one of Mick’s that he no longer used.

He drove faster on the way out of the city, letting the speed creep all the way up to forty, but once he hit the woods he slowed back down to fifteen. There were still remnants of roads winding between the trees, but the foliage on either side obscured most of what remained of the pavement. Andy had to go slow enough to dodge low hanging branches and wild animals, as well as make sure he was on the road he was supposed to be following.

The directions were just as difficult to follow as the road and Andy quickly found himself wishing he’d accepted Meg’s offer to have Ketch drop him off. But Anael loved her midnight colored Jaguar—a deep metallic purple-blue with small flecks of silver in it that sparkled like stars—and there was no way he was leaving it parked in the lower city. Sure, it might pick up a few scratches in the woods, but at least it’d still be in one piece for Anael when they got her back. Which they would. Quickly.

Pressing the stabilizer, Andy stopped for a minute to check the map, then began idling forward, looking for the turnoff. It was a smaller road, so it was barely discernible after centuries of neglect. In fact, he might have missed it altogether if there hadn’t been a rusted pole at the intersection. Though it must have supported a sign at some point, that part was long gone—weathered away or stolen—but Andy already knew it was the road he was looking for. Turning left, he edged his way between the trees and hoped the road remained wide enough for him to pass through. Anael sometimes tilted the car onto its side to go between trees when they flew through the woods, but Andy had no idea how to do that himself.

Fortunately he was only met with one tree growing through the center of the road, and there was enough room to drive around it. Arriving at the clearing marked on his map, Andy got out and looked around. He’d caught tiny glimpses of the area around the bunker from Gabriel’s thoughts, but this place wasn’t one of them. Of course they wouldn’t want deliveries too close to their hidden base, on the off chance that whoever delivered might be followed. At the same time, they wouldn’t want it too far, either. Anything needing refrigeration would have to get to the bunker fairly quickly, even if the vehicle that delivered it had a way of keeping it cool.

Unfortunately, the road ended at the clearing. There must be a path through, but Andy wasn’t about to risk Anael’s baby trying to find it. Locking the car, he searched the edges of the clearing until he found what looked like an animal trail and followed it.

“Gabriel...Gabriel, stop. Wait a minute,” Sam said, trying to push the archangel away from his neck long enough to think clearly for a moment.

“Aww, Sam, why? You can still read your book, don’t mind me.” Gabriel stretched against Sam’s restraining arms, nosing against his neck, just below his ear.

“Dude, Gabriel, it’s not that. Back off for a minute. I think I heard something.” Sam cocked his head, listening.

Sitting back on his heels, Gabriel gave Sam some space, listening too. “I don’t hear anything.”

“It’s...It’s not here. I think it’s in my head. I think it’s Andy. But I can barely hear him.”

“Andy? He and Anael aren’t supposed to be here for another couple weeks. It could be a trap, someone pretending to be Andy or forcing Andy to call you, to lure you out. Can you tell what he’s saying?”

“Just my name, and ‘help’. At least, that’s all I can make out. Seems like he’s shouting the thoughts, but they’re coming through muffled, like someone tossed a thick blanket over a speaker.”

“Hey, that was one time, and we started the movie over after we were done, so you still got to watch it,” Gabriel protested, knowing why Sam came up with that comparison.

Sam laughed. “I wasn’t complaining. Anyways, maybe I can hear him better from closer to the door? Promise I won’t set foot outside, but if it is Andy, and he’s in trouble, we have to help him.”

“Yeah, I wasn’t suggesting we ignore it, just that we be careful about it. I’ll call Benny while we head upstairs. Let me know if his thoughts get any clearer.” Gabriel took Sam’s hand and led him out of their room and to the computer lab, where stairs leading up curved around the outer wall, stairs going down on the other side of the circular room.

Once they were on the first floor, Sam paused, listening to the voice in his head. “Still muffled, but it’s coming through a bit better. Something’s happened to Anael,” he informed Gabriel, as Benny and Garth arrived in the library.

“Hey, guys, what’s going on?” Garth asked. “Benny said you needed our help.”

“Yeah, Sam has a psychic friend who seems to be trying to contact him from outside. Think you two could go find him and make sure he’s alone and not being coerced, then bring him in?” Gabriel replied. “His name’s Andy.”

“Sure thing, brother. We’ll be back in two shakes.” Benny headed for the door at the top of the last flight of stairs, Garth following.

“Just be extra careful. If it’s a trap or he’s being followed, we don’t want anyone finding out where the bunker is,” Gabriel cautioned.

“And don’t let him, or yourselves, get hurt,” Sam added.

Chapter Text

The library was crowded, some people sitting at the old wooden tables, most standing. On the curved viewscreen that took up the north wall, schematics detailing the layout of the lab took center stage. Gabriel, Castiel, Balthazar, Sam, Dean, Jo, and Andy sat in chairs on one side of the screen, Bobby, Rufus, Benny, Garth, Bess, Charlie, Gilda, and Ash seated on the other.

Nervous chatter murmured through the room as the hands on the grandfather clock, stood in the reading nook beneath the stars, ticked slowly towards the hour. As its gong rang out ten times, Gabriel stood and moved to the center of the clear area in front of the viewscreen. Wordlessly, his presence alone drew everyone’s attention and he waited until the room was silent save for the faint rustle of cloth or scrape of a chair.

“Okie-dokes, let’s get this party started,” Gabe said with a smile. Quiet, scattered laughter broke the tension in the room. “We got word a few days ago that Luci’s putting some plan involving his Pet Project into action, so we were getting ready to raid the lab Thursday anyway, but last night we found out he’s abducted certain angels: healers whose focus is on humans. Other sources have confirmed that those angels are being held at the lab. That means we’re gonna move the attack up, hit the place tonight and hopefully be able to get the angels, and the humans there, out in one piece. No worries though, we do have a plan.” Stepping off to the side, he waved Benny up.

Benny smiled wide, then willed his vampire teeth to retract as he noticed a few nervous stares. His friendly Louisiana drawl put them at ease as he began to speak. “Lucifer has increased security after the last few ‘thefts’, so there’s gonna be a hell of a lotta guards. Plan is, I lead a bunch ‘a you—volunteers only, mind—in a full force attack against the back door. That’d be this area right here.” Benny pointed to the loading bay on the map behind him. “Our job will be ta draw as many demons out as we can and keep ‘em busy. Or dead. Don’t matter which as long as we keep ourselves alive and the guards out of the building. Now, while we’re doin’ that, a smaller group will slip in through this side entrance here—a contact inside the lab will switch off the alarms and security cameras soon’s the ruckus starts out back. Once inside, those folks will rescue the doctors, download all the research data then erase the computers, and save the humans. I know lots of you ain’t fightin’ types, an’ that’s okay. If you wanna help but can’t handle a blade, we’ll need drivers for the evacuation.”

Bobby and Rufus stood up as Benny stepped aside, and Bobby spoke. “Anyone knows how to drive, Rufus an’ I are in charge of that part so come see one of us after the meetin’. Ash’ll be coordinatin’ the operation from here, an’ he’s in charge while we’re gone, so I expect those stayin’ behind to follow his orders or there’ll be hell to pay when we get back.” Rufus whispered in Bobby’s ear, and Bobby rolled his eyes. “Correction. I expect you to listen to reasonable orders. If he tells you to act out a page of the Kama Sutra with him or somethin’, feel free to ignore that.” A low chuckle murmured through the crowd.

Castiel took over next. “The team going into the lab will be Gabriel, Balthazar and myself, along with Charlie and Gilda who will be taking care of the computers. I know some of you might want to come along, but we have to keep our team small. Even with the cameras shut down, most of the scientists will probably stay in the building, so we need to be able to move quickly and quietly. So if you want to help, volunteer for Benny’s team or the evacuation team, or stay here to help the evacuees when they get here. I think that’s—” Cas’s brows furrowed as he saw Andy holding a finger in the air, trying to get his attention. “Did you want to say something, Andy?”

“Yeah, I wanted to say I should be on your team. I’m good at keeping people calm.”

“And Cas, if you’re goin’, then I’m goin’. I’m not gonna sit around hopin’ you make it back okay. Besides, you need someone with you who’s walked those halls, and I know every inch of that place.” Dean crossed his arms over his chest in determination. Sam and Jo gave similar looks to their own angels.

“We’ll talk about it after the meeting,” Cas conceded, then went back to his seat for Gabriel to wrap things up.

“Anywhoo, I think that’s everything. Oh, Bess will be organizing the welcome wagon. Remember though, none of you have to help in any part of the operation. All of this is strictly volunteer work. But what’s life without a bit of excitement, right? If you’re gonna help, see Benny, Bobby, Rufus, or Bess within the next few hours. Each team will have a smaller meeting tonight after dinner. What else? Oh! The attack will start at one AM sharp. I think that’s it, so, meeting adjourned, I guess.”

Everyone was nervous as they piled into hovercraft and flew off toward the city. Dean, Sam, and Jo had insisted on joining the infiltration team and after a lot of argument, the angels gave in and allowed it. Gabriel was the most nervous, not wanting Sam at risk of being recaptured, but he couldn’t deny him. He understood the feeling of not wanting his lover in danger without being there to keep him safe.

Bobby drove Gabe’s car with Cas in the front, Sam, Dean, and Gabriel in the back. Rufus took Balth’s identical car, Andy beside him and Balth and Jo in the back. Gabriel had flown Anael’s Jaguar to the bunker and parked it at the far end of the second level where there was no danger of it being dinged or scratched. It wasn’t practical for transport, and Andy had insisted it be parked somewhere safe for her.

Benny and Garth—his second in command—took various vehicles with their assault force and parked several blocks over before walking through the shadows around to the back loading bay. Everyone was armed with angel blades, which Gabriel and Balthazar had spent years gathering. Not many angels had died in the past fifteen hundred years, but enough to arm their small force. The only ranged weapons they had were two rocket launchers which Benny and Garth would use to blow open the loading bay doors and announce their presence.

They’d wound up with around twenty-five men, women, witches, warlocks, angels, vamps, weres, and shifters. Even a couple ghouls, a kitsune, a gorgon, and a leprechaun had volunteered. For such a large group, they were eerily silent as they waited in the shadows for the hour to strike.

Thirty seconds to the hour, Benny and Garth raised their rocket launchers to their shoulders and took aim. At exactly one AM, they both fired simultaneously with a roar from the weapons and a ringing clang as the aluminum metal doors shattered inward. Giving each other a silent nod, they discarded the rocket launchers and pulled out their angel blades, ready to face the guards.

What they weren’t ready for was the army of demons that came pouring through the openings, ripping the holes wider for more to fit through. They knew security had been increased lately, but this was beyond that. Their small alliance force was outnumbered by at least three to one. Regardless of the numbers, they had a job to do and they did it, slashing and hacking at the wave of demons as it crashed into them, threatening to pound them to the pavement by sheer force of numbers alone.

They were in for a long fight.

“It’s started,” Castiel said, needlessly. They all heard the clang of the doors shredding, and the sounds of fighting were unmistakable. “Three minutes for Guy to get the alarms and cameras turned off, then we go in.”

Dean and Sam pulled out the spelled demon-killing knives they’d found in the bunker’s armory and the angels drew their angel blades. Jo sported a pair of brass-knuckles, coated with silver and enochian sigils that made them effective against demons, angels, and a number of supernatural beings. Charlie was unarmed, except for her messenger bag with her laptop, hacking tools, and data storage devices, along with a few other items just for this job. Gilda had her magic; she didn’t need weapons. Andy was bringing up the rear, only there to calm the evacuees, and carried a small, heavy, metal club. He wasn’t planning on having to fight.

Once the three minutes were up, Cas held his breath as he pushed open the door. It was unlocked, and there was no alarm. With a sigh of relief, he headed in, the rest following.

“The doctors are down that hall,” Andy whispered, pointing to the right.

“Okay, time to split up. Andy, Balth, and Jo, go rescue the doctors. Cassie, Dean, you go to the computer lab with Charlie and Gilda; keep them safe while Charlie works. Sam and I will start on releasing the humans. Casey and Father Gil took the night off, but Guy should be here. You might have to fight a few scientists, but make sure you don’t hurt Guy. When you’re done, meet at the computer lab or this door,” Gabriel instructed. Everyone nodded and went their separate ways.

Andy led the way swiftly down the hall on the right, Anael’s thoughts guiding him. Stopping outside of a door, he pointed at it and nodded. Balthazar tried the handle and, finding it unlocked, pushed it open on silent hinges. Unlike the corridors that were darkened at night, the room beyond was brightly lit, and three demons in lab coats stood inside, facing the door as though knowing they were coming. Not bothering with words, they attacked.

Balthazar tried to take on all three, blade slashing at one as a foot lashed out to catch a second in the side. The third one, however, managed to slip past him, aiming for Andy who had frozen in the doorway, hands clutching his head. Fortunately, Jo was on the ball and her right cross to the demon’s jaw sent him flying, thanks to the sigils on her brass knuckles.

“Snap out of it, Andy!” she hissed as the demon Balth had slashed at came toward them.

Shaking his head to clear it, Andy readied his club but there was no need. Once again, Jo stopped the demon, hitting this one with a left jab and a right hook. Like the other had, the demon went flying, landing hard against the wall and shaking her head. The first one Jo had punched was getting back to his feet, charging again, but Balth was pulling his blade from the one he’d just dispatched. Spinning, Balth threw his weapon, which buried itself between the demon’s shoulder blades. With a shriek of anger, the last demon charged the weaponless angel, the needle of a hypodermic flashing in the air between them. Before she could get close enough to use it, Balthazar stopped her with a hand on her forehead and simply smote her. Even without a blade, he was never unarmed against a demon.

Looking around, Andy didn’t see any other scientists, nor did he hear thoughts of any more nearby. The angels were all in a holding cell on the far end of the room, away from the door. They were also all awake, watching from behind the warded bars.

“Anael, are you okay?” Andy asked, rushing over to the cell.

“Oh, thank Heaven you’re alright, Andy. After Indra said what had happened to his Andrea, I was worried that...I’m just glad to see you. And I’m fine. We all are, just a few bruises.”

“Here, keys. Mind releasing them? I’d rather not get near the angel warding on those bars,” Balth said, tossing an only slightly bloody ring of keys to Andy.

“Yeah, I’ve got this. Why don’t you and Jo go help Gabriel and Sam. I’ll get these guys out and on their way, then I’ll come help.”

“Hey, I don’t think we should be leaving you here alone,” Jo protested, adjusting her brass knuckles on her hands.

“Nah, it’s cool. There aren’t any more demons in this area, and I’m not alone, I have all these angels with me.” Andy started trying keys in the lock on the cell, looking for the one that fit.

“Gabriel will kill me if anything happens to you,” Balth said, shaking his head.

“Gabriel isn’t much of a fighter, and neither is Sam. There aren’t any demons around here, but there are quite a few still inside the lab. You think those two can handle three or even more on their own? Besides, something doesn’t feel right. I’m not a precog, but I have a bad feeling that something’s about to go wrong, something to do with the chips implanted in us humans. Go help Sam and Gabriel.”

Balthazar still looked reluctant, but he turned and headed out, Jo following.

“Andy, are you sure you’re okay? You don’t look well,” Anael said once they were gone.

“No, I’m not okay,” Andy replied, trying to move faster at finding the right key on the ring.

“What’s wrong?”

“It’s the chip. Azazel’s trying to command me to—” Andy had finally gotten the right key into the lock, but collapsed before he could turn it, clutching his head. “Shit! Hurts! He’s telling the humans to turn on the angels. You have to get out of here!” Andy pulled his way back up the bars of the cell, just enough to turn the key before collapsing again, curling in on himself and wailing in pain.

“Andy!” Anael exclaimed, kicking the cell door open with a wince. Even through her boot, the angel warding burned. She rushed out and dragged her pet away from the bars, the other doctors filing out behind her.

“Anael, go! It’s some kind of master override hidden in the chips. I can’t fight it and I don’t want to hurt you. Turn right. End of hall. Door. On left. Cars outside. Go! Now!”

The other angels were already following Andy’s broken directions, but Anael refused to leave him. “Fight it, Andy.”

“I...I can’t.” Andy’s hand shot out, swinging his metal bat at Anael.

She cried out as it connected with her shoulder, but before he could swing again Anael placed two fingers on his forehead, grace slipping inside. Though she’d never been good at making humans sleep, Anael was a damn good doctor. Using her grace as an insulator, she stopped the electrical pulses to the cerebrum. That prevented Andy from moving, thinking, feeling, and sensing, but still left the medulla oblongata working, controlling involuntary functions like breathing and heartbeat.

As Andy slid limply back to the floor, Anael focused her grace on his chip. She’d been so worried about him defying her once the chip was out that she hadn’t even thought about the fact that it could be used to force him to do something against his will. After all, she was his master, and Anael would never be that cruel. But she should have thought about it. If anything happened to her—like being abducted by demons—Andy would be helpless, subject to the whims of whatever angel or demon took over his care.

It was past time to remove the chip. Anael did so as quickly as she could while still being careful not to damage the brain it was embedded in and connected to. Doing so had been easier with Gabriel to help remove the thing once she’d freed it from the brain. She really didn’t do well with inorganic matter. Without the archangel’s help, she was forced to open a small slit in Andy’s skull, using her grace to push the chip through and out. By the time she caught the chip in her hand, Anael was shaking with effort and dripping with sweat. Swiftly, she sealed up the bone and flesh, then withdrew her grace from his mind, allowing normal function to return to his cerebrum.

A few minutes later, Andy woke, blinking up at Anael. “Hey, I must be in Heaven, ‘cause you’re definitely an angel,” he sighed softly, reaching a hand up to cup her cheek.

“If you were in Heaven, you’d be alone,” Anael corrected, helping him to his feet. “How are you feeling?”

“About a million times better, thanks.” Freezing for a moment, Andy’s gaze went vacant then he snapped back to awareness, looking at Anael with wide eyes. “Which is more than I can say for the others. I have to go help. Come on, let’s get you out of here first.”

“No way. I’m helping too. Lead the way.”

Andy knew better than to argue, even though he was free to do so now that his chip was gone—not that it had ever exercised that much control over him. His inability to resist orders earlier had been terrifying. “Got your blade, angel?” he asked as he bent down to grab the bat that had fallen from his grasp when Anael had knocked him out or whatever. Seeing the blade appear in her hand, he nodded and headed down the hall, Anael right behind him.

“Computer lab’s in here. Sam, Gabe, you know where you’re going, right? Down the hall, make a left at the—” Dean whispered, Sam’s hushed voice cutting him off.

“I know, Dean, I grew up here too. I may not have snuck out at night like you did, but I at least know where the rooms were. Besides, we went over the layout before we left. We’ll work our way through the halls and we’ll have the people we free help us free more, then escort groups at a time out for transport. We know what we’re doing. Now get in there and make sure the computer room’s clear for Charlie.”

“Just...Be careful, Sammy. You’re the only family I got.”

“Yeah, you too, Dean.”

With a final nod between brothers, Sam and Gabe were off, and Dean turned to the door as Cas prepared to open it.

Motioning Charlie and Gilda back, Cas held up three fingers, counting down silently before opening the door, he and Dean going in with weapons drawn. The two scientists at the computers jumped up, one producing a dagger from somewhere, the other pulling off their belt and wrapping one end around their hand.

Being the experienced fighter, Cas took on the demon with the blade, leaving the one with the belt for Dean. The belt would be a trickier fight, but as long as they didn’t get Dean’s knife from him it would be less deadly than a fight against a dagger in the hand of someone who knew how to wield it. With a series of lunges, Cas backed his opponent away, getting out of range of the belt and leaving Dean open space for his fight.

Stepping into the room, Dean squared off against the demon with the belt, crouched and ready. Cas had taught him the basics but he hadn’t had any combat practice. Still, when the belt snapped toward him, the end with the buckle aiming for his right hand, Dean stepped to the side and moved in, slashing at the hand holding the weapon. The leather protected the demon’s hand, but that wasn’t really where Dean was aiming. His goal was to cut through the thick leather, taking out the weapon. One slice wasn’t enough though; he nicked through several layers of the wrapped belt on the side toward the demon’s wrist, but the outer edges were still intact.

As the demon pulled the belt back in, Dean jumped back, ready to dodge the make-shift weapon’s next strike. It came, and Dean sidestepped again, but the demon had anticipated a repeat move and, rather than trying to disarm him, swung the belt buckle in from the other side, aiming for his head. Barely able to bend backward far enough to avoid the strike, Dean lost his balance and landed hard on his back, knocking the wind out of himself. Taking the advantage, the demon lunged for Dean, landing on top of him and using their leather wrapped hand to punch. The fist landed hard against Dean’s jaw and his head snapped to the side. As the other fist came down for another sock to the jaw, Dean reacted instinctively, right hand swinging up from the side to knock the demon’s arm off course. He succeeded more than he’d meant to. The demon-killing knife was still in his hand and his swing not only pushed the arm aside but managed to imbed the dagger in the demon’s throat. Their eyes widened in surprise as blood pulsed around the blade’s hilt, then poured from their open mouth.

Dean scrambled out from under them as they collapsed, his bloody hand leaving streaks on the white floor. Blood was also splattered on his shirt and smeared down his pants, but there was no time to worry about his clothes. Getting his feet under him, Dean pulled the dagger from the demon’s neck and turned to help Cas. There was no need.

Cas had backed the demon into a corner and dropped his knife to pin his opponent’s weapon hand to the wall. When Dean looked, he saw Cas’s hand land on the guy’s head and closed his eyes as light burst forth from the demon’s eyes and mouth.

“Wow, got a bit messy in here,” Charlie said as she and Gilda entered the room.

“Dean’s fault, not mine,” Castiel commented, bending and retrieving his blade.

“Well, sorry I can’t just smite demons. Teach me that trick and maybe next time won’t be so bloody,” Dean replied, wiping his bloody hand on the back of the dead demon’s lab coat, then using it to clean off his blade.

“Are you injured anywhere?” Cas asked, frowning at Dean’s blood soaked clothes.

“Nah, blood’s all theirs. Jaw’s a bit sore, gonna have a helluva bruise, and I got the wind knocked outta me, but I’m good. At least Alistair was good for something. I know how to take a hit and recover quickly.” Dean touched his left cheek gingerly, just to see how far the bruising extended.

“Alistair was good for nothing, and you don’t have to be bruised. I can heal that easily.” Castiel extended his hand toward Dean, who ducked out of reach and pushed the hand away.

“No way. We don’t know if any more demons will show, and you need to conserve your energy for fighting. You can heal me once we get back to base if you aren’t too drained,” Dean insisted.

“Are you a masochist?” Cas rolled his eyes.

“Nope, just a pessimist. Seriously, dude, err, Cas, it’s just a bruise. It only hurts if I touch it. Charlie, do your thing. The quicker we get done and out, the better.”

Despite his inhuman stamina and strength, Benny was struggling against the waves of demons. There seemed to be no end to them and his force was taking heavy casualties. Not as heavy as the demons, but still. Their twenty-five was down to fifteen or so still able to fight, most of those injured. Most disturbing was Garth.

The werewolf was a fierce fighter and had started off half-shifted, his claws ripping through demon after demon. At some point, a demon had grabbed Garth’s arm, shoving the claws further into his own stomach to immobilize the werewolf. Another demon swept in from the side with a machete, severing the trapped arm just below the shoulder. Garth had howled in pain and rage, then shifted to full wolf form. It stopped the bleeding from the stump that was left of his arm, and rather than slashing, he took to ripping demons’ throats out, twice as deadly as before the injury.

Though the group tried to stay together to watch each others’ backs, with the press of demons it became impossible. Benny had gotten separated, isolated in the sea of enemies. But it wasn’t the first time he’d taken on a fight of impossible odds, and he’d be damned if it was the last. He could see the blasted doors where the flood of demons had slowed to a trickle, one last demon bringing up the rear, his eyes a deep crimson rather than the usual black. So Lucifer had some type of above-average demon batting cleanup? After fighting all this rabble, he wasn’t sure he would have enough left for a stronger opponent. There wasn’t time to focus on that now though; he was surrounded and his bloody blade was slippery as he stabbed one demon in the chest then slashed at another who tried to take advantage of his distraction.

A third and fourth came at him from either side and he stabbed right, kicking left. Both moves hit, but his back was exposed as a fifth charged him from behind. Benny could smell the human blood on the demon’s blade, and it was moving toward the middle of his back. There was no way he could turn in time to defend against the cowardly strike. But the blow never came. Instead, he heard a squelch and a grunt, completing his turn just in time to see the red-eyed demon pulling an angel blade from the back-stabber.

“Bloody cowardly move. You. Vampire. Get your head back in the game. I’ll ‘watch your six’ as they say.”

“An’ jus’ who might you be?” Benny asked, even as he turned his back on Red-eyes and resumed fighting, blade flashing in the dim glow cast by the building’s floodlights when he slashed it across an approaching enemy’s throat. The cut wasn’t deep, but between nicking the carotid and the inherent properties of the Heaven-made weapon, the demon went down.

“Name’s Crowley, though you might’ve heard of me as Cloud. I’ve been feeding your group intel for years.”

“That so? Come to think of it, I think Ash may have mentioned Cloud a few times. Good of you to come help out.”

Chuckling, Crowley pulled his blade from the demon he’d just skewered, then lunged for another, careful not to move too far from the Vamp’s back. “Ash, is it? Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. He must be Dusty. Clever. How about you? Got a name?”

“Benjamin Lafitte, but my friends call me Benny. Pleasure to make your acquaintance.”

“Likewise, Benny. How about we finish off this rabble, then head home to lick our wounds?”

“Well, now, that depends who’s doin’ the lickin’ and where,” Benny replied with a grin as he picked up a demon in his left hand and threw her into her compatriots. Having someone at his back had bolstered him, recharging his strength.

Balth and Jo caught up with Sam and Gabriel at the first intersection of hallways. After a brief discussion, Gabriel and Sam went left, Balth and Jo going right. That way they could free the humans twice as quickly. Rather than having locks that required keys, the rooms of humans in the Pet Project were secured with a bolt that operated by turning a latch below the doorknob. That made getting into the rooms easy, which was good. Because getting the humans out was anything but. They were terrified of retaliation from the demons, not to mention their chips forbade them from leaving the lab.

The alliance had anticipated the trouble with the chips though. Once Charlie finished downloading the research from the computers, she had an EMP bomb just big enough to short out every bit of technology in the lab, along with wiping the hard drives of the computers. Charlie insisted it was safe for the humans, though when the chips shorted it might knock them unconscious. She wasn’t sure on that though. Either way, the chips wouldn’t stop them from exiting the building.

Still, it took time to talk each human into leaving their room. But the more Sam and Gabriel convinced, the faster it went, since the ones they’d already freed helped get the new ones to agree. They worked their way down to the end of the hall, then took a u-turn to the right, coming up a second corridor. When they made it back to the main hallway, they saw Balthazar and Jo about halfway up the hall on the other side. Since many of the humans knew Sam, he and Gabe had an easier time of convincing people.

Sam turned to address their group of evacuees. “Everyone stay close together. We’ll try to move faster through the last four halls on this side, then we go to the side entrance and wait for—Jake? Max? How’d you two get out? We haven’t gotten to the special projects ward yet.” Two young men were approaching from the end of the main hallway that they hadn’t gotten to yet.

“Sorry, Sam. We’ve been given orders,” said the taller man with ebony skin, buzzed dark hair, and wide, chocolate eyes set in an attractive face. A knife glinted in his hand.

“What orders? Given by who? Resist them, Jake.” Sam replied, drawing his dagger and stepping protectively in front of the humans they’d released. Gabriel stood at his side, angel blade slipping into his hand.

The other man, a blond with pale skin and a flushed face, shook his head. “We can’t. You know that.”

Gabriel drew himself up to his full height, which had a few inches on the shorter man, Max, but was eye to chin with Jake. “You don’t want to do this. I’m ordering you to drop your weapons and come with us.” If they’d been ordered to attack by anyone other than their master, Gabriel’s command should be able to override the command.

Jake’s grip on his knife tightened and he charged Sam as Max went after Balth and Jo.

“How’s it comin’, Charlie?” Dean asked, arms crossed over his chest, foot tapping, and ass resting against an empty table.

“Dude, chillax. I’m fast, but I’m not Merlin,” Charlie replied, fingers flying over the keyboard.


“We have got to get you caught up on the classics.”

“Hey, Gabe had me watch a crap-ton of movies.”

“If you didn’t come across any with Merlin or King Arthur, he failed in your education. Don’t worry though, you now have me to introduce you to all tales epic and magical. But first, I need to download everything this system has to tell us.”

“Dean, maybe her work would go faster if you didn’t ask for a progress report every thirty seconds,” Castiel pointed out in his gravelly voice, gaze fixed on the room’s only door. They were supposed to be protecting, not distracting.

“Yeah, yeah. I can’t help it, I’m worried. The noise out back is pretty damn loud, and I don’t like Sammy being out of my sight. On top of that, shouldn’t Andy, Balth, and Jo have checked in by now? How long does it take to let a few angels out of their cage?”

“Dean. Not helping. What was that?” Cas asked, cocking his head, listening.

“I didn’t hear any—”

The door burst open and eight people poured through. Dean and Cas jumped to attention, drawing their weapons and rounding on the intruders.

“Lily? What are you doing?” Dean asked, recognizing the nervous-looking blonde at the front of the group.

“We’ve been given orders. Sorry, but you all have to die.” She raised her right hand and blue energy danced across her fingers.

“Shit. Cas, be careful of her. She can stop your heart with one touch,” Dean warned, dropping into a crouch.

“What about the others?” Cas asked, moving to Dean’s side to block the way to Charlie and Gilda, who started whispering softly, chanting.

“I don’t recognize any of the others,” Dean replied.

“Scott’s in the PKP too. He can zap you with electricity,” Lily supplied, nodding toward the guy on her right.

“Why are you helping us?” Dean asked, quirking an eyebrow.

“Because I wasn’t told I couldn’t, and I don’t want to hurt anyone. But we were ordered to kill you and we can’t disobey. We’ll be fighting seriously. If you have to kill us, don’t hesitate.” Lily didn’t waste anymore time on words, simply surged forward, reaching a hand toward Dean.

Dodging away from the deadly touch, Dean swerved around her and attacked one of the non PKP humans, knocking the baton from her hands and kicking at the back of her knee. She went down with a cracking noise from the joint. Dean was already on to the next opponent, Cas taking on Scott. Watching from the corner of his eye, even as he barrelled into another human, knocking him into the wall hard enough to steal his breath and make him drop his weapon, Dean could tell that Cas was trying to take the man down without killing him. He also saw Lily coming up behind the angel.

“Cas! Behind you!” he called, grunting as one of the humans brought a baton down on his back.

Moving quickly, Cas dodged around Scott, using him as a shield. Lily, too close to stop her charge, widened her eyes in horror as her fingers landed on Scott’s chest. Scott’s eyes also got wide as his body seized up and he fell over stiffly, dead.

Rage took over her expression as she lunged for Cas again, but the angel dodged to the side, kicking her lower back as she went past, propelling her into the remaining humans. Lily quickly fisted her hands and shoved them under her armpits to avoid killing any of them and wasn’t able to stop until her shoulder landed on the wall. Rebounding, she shook her head, dazed.

Cas had already moved on, bringing the hilt of his angel blade down on the head of the human attacking Dean.

The other three humans had slipped past them and were heading toward Charlie. Dean went after them, tackling one to the ground, then jumping up. He put on a burst of speed, grabbing a woman by the wrist and swinging her sideways into the woman beside her. They both tumbled to the floor in a tangle of limbs and Dean paused, panting.


There was a flapping sound and suddenly Dean found arms around him. He struggled, looking over his shoulder, only to find the arms belonged to Cas. And Lily was behind him, her hand inches from his shoulder. Dean’s heart nearly stopped; there wasn’t time to warn Cas. But with another woosh, he and his angel were suddenly on the other side of the room.

Gilda finished her murmuring and all the humans in the room slowly sank to the floor, slipping into deep slumber. Dean included.

Sam ducked under the knife that Jake swung toward him. The guy wasn’t pulling any punches, he was really trying to kill Sam. The next swing was already coming and Sam blocked it with his knife, which was a huge mistake. He’d forgotten about Jake’s superhuman strength. Jake’s swing was barely slowed as Sam’s knife was knocked from his hand. If not for Gabe’s shoe landing on the tall man’s hip and shoving him sideways, Sam would’ve been done for.

“Thanks, Gabe. Forgot Jake has super strength. Balth, Jo, incoming. Max has telekinesis. Watch out for flying objects,” Sam shouted down the hall as several of the bolder humans they’d freed engaged Jake, who threw each back into the crowd they’d come from, one by one.

“We’re not outta the woods yet. Don’t take him head on; try to tire him out and aim for weak spots like the knees and nards.” Gabriel snapped his fingers and a clone appeared behind Jake, tapping him on the shoulder. When Jake turned to look, the clone punched him in the face, then cried out in pain, holding his hand.

“Son of a bitch!” the clone cried, just before Jake’s knife stabbed into his chest. Grabbing at the knife, the clone tried to wrench it from the tall man’s grasp but Jake just kicked him off the blade and watched as Gabriel’s clone sprawled onto his back, eyes wide and staring. Seconds later he was gone.

“This isn’t good. Balth, Jo, Can you get to us?,” Gabe asked, snapping his fingers and creating another clone which jumped on Max’s back, arm going around his throat in a choke hold. Max fell under the clone’s weight, but the darts floating in the air around him, which he’d been sending flying at Balth and Jo, all shot into the clone as Balth and Jo ran past. The pincushion Gabriclone still clung to Max, cutting off his air, but fifteen seconds later he was convulsing and thrashing, poison from the darts coursing through him until he gave one last twitch, sliding to the floor before vanishing.

Ducking and weaving, Sam darted this way and that to keep his large frame out of Jake’s long reach in the narrow corridors. The humans they’d freed surged forward again and Gabriel was about to warn them back when he realized they were coming toward him, not Jake.

Sam, heads up. The chips have some kind of remote override. Everyone’s being ordered to attack the angels. Anael and I are on our way. Andy’s voice rang through Sam’s head.

Don’t come here, there are too many. Head for the computer lab and we’ll meet you there. Get stuff ready to barricade the door and let them know what’s happening. We’re going to need Charlie’s bomb asap. Sam thought back.

Alright, but be careful!

“Gabe, we need to retreat. Got a distraction for us?”

Snapping his fingers, Gabriel created several lit smoke bombs which rolled into the corridors, spewing thick grey vapors that blocked view. Gabe pushed Sam in front of him, Balth and Jo already running toward the computer lab. Once they made it past the intersections, Gabriel snapped his fingers again, drawing in a sharp breath. A wall appeared behind them, blocking off the pursuing humans.

Sam looked back and grinned. “Gabriel, you’re amazing!” he said, then his eyes went wide as Gabe stumbled forward. Automatically, Sam caught him, dragging his angel, who was starting to twitch, toward the computer lab. “Anael! Help! He’s been poisoned!”

Anael came rushing out to them, grace flowing toward Gabriel even before she’d landed on her knees and slid to his side. Sam held up the dart he’d pulled from Gabe’s back and the doctor took it from him, grace swirling around it to get the feel of the poison. Then she tossed the dart aside, focusing on pulling all of the poison from Gabe’s body and repairing the damage already done. Sweat broke out on her brow but Gabriel was still twitching, though less violently. “Shit! I don’t have enough power, I can’t work fast enough!”

Without a word, Balth appeared at her side, crouching down and placing a hand on her shoulder. His grace shot into her, bolstering hers and supplying the energy she needed. With his help, she made quick work of the poison and managed to repair Gabe’s damaged cells in time. The twitching subsided.

“Fuck, Gabe! Don’t scare me like that!” Sam exclaimed once Anael sat back, wiping an arm across her forehead. He pulled his angel into his arms and hugged him tightly.

“Sam...air,” Gabriel gasped.

Loosening his hold, Sam scooped him up and carried him into the computer lab.

Gabe put his arms around Sam’s neck. “Sorry, kiddo. Didn’t mean to scare you, and what the hell kinda poison works on an angel?”

Anael and Balth followed them into the room. “It wasn’t anything I’ve ever come across before. My guess would be that the demons cooked it up here in the lab,” Anael said.

“If they did, we should have the info on how it’s made and how to counteract it. Download’s done. We ready to blow up this Death Star?” Charlie said as she tucked her data storage device into its lead-lined case.

“Wait, what’s wrong with Dean? Is he okay?” Sam asked as he spotted his brother curled up on top of an empty desk. He sat on another desk, setting Gabriel on his lap.

“My apologies. The spell I cast put all the humans to sleep,” Gilda said. “But he will awaken perfectly fine and well rested in two or three hours.”

“Wait, we aren’t actually blowing up the building, are we?” Anael asked. “Because there are still quite a few humans here. They may want to kill us at the moment, but you can’t just blow them all up.”

Charlie chuckled. “Sorry, I meant that figuratively, not literally. I brought an electro-magnetic pulse bomb. It’ll wipe the memory on the hard drives, and temporarily disrupt electronics.”

“It looks like you had a pretty big fight in here. So it wasn’t just us who got attacked?” Sam asked, his train of thought still on what happened to his brother.

“Yes, we were attacked by two psychics and six humans,” Cas replied.

“Yeah, we were attacked too, in the room where the doctors were being held. It kinda looked like they were waiting for us. Like they knew we were coming,” Andy added.

“But Guy shut down the security and cameras, right? I mean, there was no alarm when we came in,” Gabe pointed out.

“No audible alarm, at least,” Charlie confirmed, “but maybe they switched it to silent?”

Gabriel shook his head. “Guy wouldn’t do that. Not unless his involvement was found out and his life depended on it. He is a bit overprotective of his own ass. But then, it is a pretty nice ass, at that.”

Sam frowned.

“Nowhere near as nice as yours though, Sam.”

“O-M-G, as much time as you’re all wasting gabbing, I almost wish Dean was awake so he could go back to asking when we’re going to be finished every thirty seconds,” Charlie commented with a chuckle, pulling a medium-sized device from her messenger bag. “We just set this baby off, the microchips will stop controlling the humans and we can get them out of here, then remove the chips back at the bunker. We’re almost done, right?”

“Hey, that thing, will it disrupt the camera feeds too?”

“What are you thinking, Sam,” Gabe asked, looking up at him.

“I’m thinking the cameras must still be on, otherwise how would they have known where to send people to attack us, right?”

“Sounds logical to me. Why?”

“What if they caught Guy trying to disable the security system and all this is a trap?” Sam suggested.

“Wouldn’t whoever’s watching have tried to stop us before I got all their research?” Charlie pointed out.

“Looks to me like they did. Didn’t they?”

“You’re right Sam,” Gabe replied, “and they weren’t fooling around either. The psychics we fought were tougher to handle than demons. They prob’ly thought those guys’d take us out.”

“I think, after we set off the EMP bomb, we should split up. Whoever’s controlling the humans is probably in the security room, right? Some of us should go there and confront them. I have a feeling it’s Azazel pulling the strings, on Lucifer’s orders, and if we can eliminate him, this whole operation will fall apart.”

“I think Luci would keep the lab going even without Azazel, but I’ll be presenting evidence against him to the council tomorrow. Not sure what kinda punishment we’ll come up with, but he won’t be following through on any of his plans. And I’m going to recommend mandating that all human ‘pets’ have their chips removed immediately. So, who’s going to the security room to face the end boss and who’s on evacuation detail?” Gabe asked, sliding off Sam’s lap, then stretching onto his tip-toes to give him a quick kiss.

“I’m going,” Sam stated immediately.

Gabriel sighed and rolled his eyes. “Had a feeling you were gonna say that. I’m not gonna waste time trying to talk you out of it, so I guess that means I’m going too. Cassie? You game?”

“Yes, as long as we can get Dean out and into a car first. I won’t be able to concentrate if I’m worried about him.”

“I will carry him out, along with the other unconscious humans in this room. If the electro-magnetic pulse knocks out all the humans though, we’ll need assistance carrying that many out,” Balthazar said.

“Anyone got a wheelbarrow?” Gabe joked, then paused, thinking. “Actually, that’s not a bad idea.”

“Tell me you aren’t just going to pile bodies into a cart like that scene in Monty Python,” Charlie said, rolling her eyes.

“Hey, I wouldn’t do that. Give me some credit.” Gabriel snapped his fingers and two metal framed rolling carts appeared. They had cloth stretchers over metal frames that slid into place on the carts with latches to hold them there. Each cart held four stretchers. “You just slide the stretcher out, lay it on the ground, then Charlie, Gilda, Jo and Andy can drag or roll people onto them. Strap them in, then Balth and Anael can slide them back onto the cart, lock them in place, and one of the humans can wheel them out to the cars. And while one cart’s being taken out, the other one can be loaded up. Good plan, right?”

Sam looked impressed. “Not bad. Think the three of us will be enough against Azazel?”

“I hope so. You aren’t allowed to get yourself hurt. Or worse,” Gabriel replied.

After the EMP went off, Balth started loading humans from the computer lab—the ones still alive—onto the cart, and Castiel carried Dean out to a waiting car while Gabriel removed the wall he’d put up. Beyond it, the humans were all slumped together on the floor. So the shorting microchips had knocked them out after all. Once Cas rejoined them, he, Sam, and Gabriel set off for the security room.

They had glow sticks hung around their necks providing light, since the EMP had left them in darkness, but it still took a while to find their way through the warren of corridors. When the three finally made it to the control room, they arranged themselves around the door, weapons in hand. On Castiel’s signal, he threw the door open and they burst in, expecting to catch Azazel by surprise.

Instead, they were the ones surprised, as a flash of bright light assaulted their eyes.

“So good of you to come home, Sam. Of course, we’ll have to punish you for running away. Again. You know, you don’t need legs to get screwed and pop out a kid. I have a feeling you wouldn’t be running anywhere without them. By the way, have you met my children? Tom, Meg, take out the body guards, but don’t hurt Sammy-boy. He might already be carrying our future prince inside him,” Azazel’s voice said lazily.

Before their vision had finished adjusting, Gabriel and Cas were being attacked. Sam stepped back, afraid of accidentally hurting the angels in his temporary blindness, blinking furiously to clear his sight.

“Sam, Sam, Sam.” Azazel stepped over the mocha-skinned demon lying dead at his feet and moved past the fights, ignoring Meg and Gabriel clashing blades on one side, Tom and Castiel grappling on the other, both having lost their weapons. “Haven’t I been good to you all these years? I’ve raised you like my own, given you an education, fed you, and yet you insist on trying to defy me. When will you learn?” Holding up a hand, he clenched it into a fist and Sam flew backward into the wall of the corridor. As Azazel raised his fist higher, Sam slid up the wall, gasping for breath.

From that height, he could see over Azazel’s head. Meg and Gabriel had stopped fighting as soon as the yellow-eyed demon was distracted and both turned on Tom, stabbing him in unison.

“You belong to Lucifer. He is your lord and master, and you will obey him, and me. It’s what you were born for; what we created you to be.”

“Fuck you,” Sam spat out, still struggling for breath. Blue-white light began to glow around his body and he found he was able to breathe a bit easier, able to force his arm up, dagger still gripped tightly. His eyes flashed golden and suddenly the dagger shot from his hand, embedding itself in Azazel’s chest, right where his heart would be, if he had one.

“Dean, have you been hiding from me?” Cas asked a few days later, entering their room and finding Dean sitting on their bed, propped up against the pillows. He had a book in his hands, and Cas could just make out the title. See Spot Run.

“What? Hiding? Why would I do that? It’s just been busy with getting the injured fighters patched up and the double funeral yesterday for Desmond and Lucky. Not to mention helping everyone from the lab settle in and finding good matches for them to take care of the whole ‘feeding’ crap. You know there isn’t enough donated stuff for all the new arrivals.”

“And is that why you disappear every time I walk into a room? Even now, you would have already left if I wasn’t blocking the only exit.” Cas crossed his arms over his chest, leaning back against the door.

“That’s not...I mean, I haven’t…” Dean stammered, crossing his own arms, book abandoned on his lap.

“Dean, talk to me. Are you still angry that I let you sleep through the battle against Azazel?”

“No. Well, I mean, yeah, but that’s not why...Okay, look. Maybe I have been finding things to keep me busy, but that doesn’t mean I’m mad at you.”

“Just that you’re avoiding me. Why? You know you can’t avoid me forever. You’re due for a feeding tonight.”

“I was thinking maybe I’d make due with a donated dose,” Dean mumbled, turning away from Cas to stare at the brick wall to his left.

“Dean, you just said yourself that there isn’t enough for everyone. Why would you do that rather than—do you hate me now? You say you aren’t angry, but if not, then why is having intercourse with me no longer acceptable?”

“It’s just...It’s complicated, okay?”

“No, Dean, it is not ‘okay’. What did I do wrong and how can I fix it.”

Sighing, Dean shook his head. “I’m not good at talkin’ ‘bout this crap.”

Cas went over and sat beside Dean, crooking a leg up on the bed so he could face him. He put a hand on Dean’s shoulder. “Neither am I, but ignoring whatever’s going on is not going to make it go away. What happened during the raid on the lab that upset you?”

“I’m not mad, I told you that. Just...kinda worried and a bit weirded out.”


“When you appeared between me and Lily...she almost killed you, Cas. You could have died. And all for chasing after a ghost. You shouldn’t have done that; I’m not worth it.” Dean pulled away from the hand on his shoulder.

Grabbing him more firmly, by both shoulders this time, Cas turned Dean back toward him and ducked his head down into Dean’s line of sight. “You are worth it, Dean. You’re worth everything to me. And what do you mean by ‘chasing after a ghost’?”

“I’m not Deanna.” Dean closed his eyes to avoid Cas’s intense blue gaze.

“Of course you aren’t. Dean, I told you weeks ago, I love you. The you that you are right now, not who you may have been in the past.”

Dean felt his cheeks warming. “Actually, that’s not quite what you said. You said you love Deanna’s soul, no matter what body it’s in. But even if we have the same soul—and I’m still not sure I believe you on that—I’m not her. I don’t remember being her—if I ever was—and I can’t be her for you now.”

Cas sighed heavily and Dean risked opening his eyes, only to find Castiel’s shimmering, staring down at the bed. “I’m sorry, Dean. I thought you understood. You must have been worrying over this for weeks, all because I wasn’t clear enough. I told you that souls grow and change with every reincarnation, right? It’s difficult to recognize one after only a few reincarnations, let alone dozens. Dean, I didn’t fall in love with you because you have Deanna’s soul. It’s the other way around. I only realized the soul was the same because I fell in love with you. I would never confuse you for her, or expect you to be like her. I love you, Dean, just the way you are.”

Angel tears must be contagious, because the ones shimmering in Cas’s eyes were somehow spilling from Dean’s, trailing silently down his cheeks. “Me too, Cas,” Dean choked out, pulling Cas closer by his shoulders to rest their foreheads together. “So much.”

When Gabriel addressed the council about Lucifer’s activities, the Devil wasn’t even there. With testimony from Casey and Father Gil, as well as Anael and the other doctors, the council decided to incarcerate Lucifer for now, until they could uncover the extent of his transgressions. With the existence of Lucifer’s pets acknowledged officially, a mandate was issued for chips to be removed from all humans who had them, and temporary laws were enacted regarding ownership and care of said pets.

After the meeting, Gabriel took a whole garrison with him to Lucifer’s place to take the Devil into custody. They were too late. Lucifer had already gone, and there were no clues as to where. All they could do was put a warning out to all the other cities and hope someone would spot him. Gabriel wasn’t holding his breath.

Chapter Text

The weeks seemed to fly past while Sam’s stomach expanded. Gabriel wanted to name the baby Jack and, having little knowledge of baby names, Sam agreed. He later learned the moniker meant God is gracious, which made him smile. As much as Gabriel hated the state the world was in with angels and demons and God absent, he still loved his father and his heavenly family.

As his sixth month being pregnant began, Sam spent more and more time talking to the baby. Despite the months slipping past, Sam still hadn’t told Gabriel he’d be raising Jack alone. He was so happy at the prospect of being a father, Sam just didn’t want to ruin that. Instead, he tried to pass on as much knowledge as he could, and made sure Jack knew how much he was loved. He trusted Gabriel to raise their son right, but still couldn’t help worrying that outside influences could trick him, taint him, corrupt him without Sam there to help guide Jack on the right path.

“Hey, Samshine, you okay?” Gabriel asked, sitting beside him on the sofa in the bunker’s first floor lounge and putting an arm around his shoulders to pull him close.

“Yeah, I’m fine. Just thinking about Jack,” Sam replied, skirting around the truth.

“Looking forward to the little ankle-biter being out and about in the world?”

“Just hoping he grows up to be a good kid, a good man. I mean, he feels good, inside me. Like all I can sense from him is love, and I just… I hope he can hold on to that when he’s born. He’ll do great things for this world, with the right guidance.”

“Of course he will, Sam. And with me and you raising him, he’ll have all the right guidance he can stand,” Gabriel said, squeezing Sam gently and placing a hand over Sam’s, which rested on his rounded stomach. “He’s got a beautiful soul; Jack’s gonna be amazing.”

“Yeah, you’re right, of course. I know he’s gonna be the sweetest kid. Guess it’s just normal hormonal jitters.”

“You know the best way to take the edge off those hormones? Aren’t you due for a feeding?” Gabriel asked, nibbling lightly at Sam’s neck.

Sam laughed. “You just fed me this morning. But hey, I’m ‘eating’ for two now, right? I wouldn’t say no to another round.”

Chuckling, Gabriel stood and scooped Sam into his arms, huge baby bulge and all. With his angelic strength—and wings to offset the excess of weight in front of him—carrying pregnant Sam was apparently just as easy as carrying normal Sam had been. After an affectionate kiss, Gabriel whisked him off to their room for some private time.

Gabriel tucked Sam in for a late afternoon nap, kissed him tenderly on the forehead, then left silently, closing the door behind him. Though he wanted nothing more than to curl up with his love, there were things to do. He probably should’ve told Sam that giving birth to a nephilim was a death sentence, but he was still trying to find a way to prevent that.

If he’d been at full, pre-expulsion power, there was a slight chance he’d be able to keep Sam alive himself, though it might take every drop of his grace, leaving him all but human. That wasn’t an option, though. Sure, as an archangel, his halved power was more than most angels at full, but it wasn’t even close to enough. Anael had offered to help, but Gabriel knew that wouldn’t work either. From the research Charlie and Gilda had done, it would take a whole host of angels to even have a chance of keeping Sam alive, and they’d burn out all their grace doing it. As much as he loved Sam, he couldn’t let his friends lose their essences, even if he had enough angel friends to do it, which he didn’t.

They were running out of time to find a solution, but he hadn’t given up hope yet. Hence leaving Sam to sleep alone while he went for his daily briefing with Charlie and Gilda.

“Heya, Charles. How goes?” Gabriel asked as he entered the bunker’s computer room, aka the Charlie Cave.

Running a hand through her red hair, Charlie slumped back into her chair spread eagled, using her feet to turn it around so she was facing Gabriel.

“That good, huh?”

“Sorry Gabriel, we’ve been through everything we can find. There’s no record of a single nephilim birth where the mother survived. From what I’ve read, it’s not even the physical damage that kills them. They just can’t handle that much angel power. When the baby’s born, there’s a pulse of grace that burns through the mother’s system; kind of like an electrical surge frying a computer.”

“Perhaps your human friend with the mind powers could explain to the offspring, ask it to keep its power contained until after being birthed?” Gilda suggested.

“Well, I could, but Sam still doesn’t know and I doubt Andy would keep it a secret from him. Think I’m gonna have to tell him soon anyway, though. I just don’t like the idea of this hanging between us like a dark cloud or wet blanket. If I could, I’d rather just enjoy every moment we can together without Sam worrying that each one might be the last.” Gabriel wheeled over an extra chair and sat, elbows on knees, head in his hands. Never had he felt so defeated.

Charlie toed her chair back around to her computer. Grabbing her big ceramic coffee mug—which said ‘Nerds know how to use their fingers’ and had a picture of a computer keyboard resting over a naked lap—she took a large gulp before pulling up research on her screen. “I’m not saying it isn’t worth a try, but I don’t think that pulse of power is voluntary. It just seems to happen. Oh, I did manage to dig up more on their lifespans, though. Physically, nephilim can reach maturity in minutes if they feel threatened, though their average growth rate is anywhere from six to twelve months. As for how long they live after they’re full grown, there’s no record of one ever dying of natural causes. Theoretically, they could be as immortal as any full-blooded angel. Most are killed before they’ve been alive for more than a hundred years, but I did find one text that claimed some of those early bible people who lived hundreds of years were actually nephilim. I guess the important thing, for now, is how long before he’ll grow up. Should be long enough to teach him what he needs to know but soon enough to get the council in hand and make sure Lucifer doesn’t try to make another power play.”

“Thanks, Charles. That’s good information. I just…” Gabriel sighed, fingers carding into his hair as his head drooped further. “I wish we could find a way to save Sam. There has to be a way.”

“Sorry, Gabriel,” Gilda said, moving over and resting a hand on his shoulder lightly. He felt the faint touch of her fairy magic easing away some of the tension he carried. “We will, of course, keep looking. I have fae relatives in England asking around too, and checking old lore there that we don’t have access to. You mustn’t give up hope yet.”

“Thanks, Gilda. I dunno what I’d do without you two helpin’ me on this.”

“Probably run around like a chicken sans head, hyperventilating,” Charlie quipped. “Seriously though, if there’s any way at all, we’ll find it. But it’s not looking good; you should be prepared for the worst. Try having Andy talk to the kidlet and see if he has any ideas. And yes, that means you’re going to have to tell Sam. You’re running out of time, and he should know.”

“Yeah, you’re right. I can’t put it off forever. I’ll tell him before his next checkup with Anael.”

“What’s all this?” Sam asked, struggling to sit up against the pillows in bed.

“Breakfast in bed. I can do something nice for my baby mama once in a while, right?” Gabriel replied with a grin.

“Yeah, but you’ve done something nice for me every day this week,” Sam pointed out.

“Well, I can’t help it. I love you.” Gabriel blushed as he settled the tray over Sam’s lap.

Sam’s heart raced. It wasn’t the first time he’d said it, but every time he heard those words it struck anew how amazing his archangel was and how lucky they were to have found each other.

“Well, I love you too, with or without breakfast in bed. But especially with. Do we have any plans for today or were you going to be keeping me in bed until dinnertime again?” Sam asked as he started in on his spinach omelette.

“Hmm… can I pick both?” Gabriel asked, hopping onto the bed beside Sam and grabbing a piece of toast with strawberry preserves.

“Depends on what the plans are.”

“Ravaging you senseless is definitely on the list. But it should probably wait until after your checkup with Anael.”

“Oh, Anael’s back? Where were they this time? Mississippi?”

“Close. They had a few patients in New Orleans, Louisiana. Great city. They’ve actually got angels, demons, humans, and humanoids living together without too much friction there. Lots of super old buildings too. Wish you could see it.”

“Maybe you can take Jack to see it,” Sam suggested.

“Yeah, but it wouldn’t be the same without you. Wait, why did you say ‘I’ could take him instead of ‘we’?” Gabriel asked suspiciously.

“Err, did I? Guess I figured I’d be resting up for a while after—no, that’s not true. There’s a difference between not telling you and actually lying about it. Gabriel… Lucifer talked a lot when… um… anyways, he uh… he didn’t expect me to survive giving birth. Not that I took him at his word, of course. I’ve been researching as much as I could on my own, but it seems like he was right.”

“Sam? You knew? You knew and you didn’t tell me?”

“I didn’t want you worrying about something we couldn’t change or fix. So I figured I’d wait as long as I could before telling you. Wait, you don’t seem as freaked out as I thought you’d be. You already knew, didn’t you?” Sam accused.

“Of course I knew, Samshine. And I didn’t tell you for the same reason. I want what remaining time we have together to be happy, not mourning something that hasn’t even happened yet.” Sighing, Gabriel laid his head on Sam’s shoulder, putting his half-eaten strawberry toast back on the plate. “Actually, that’s why I’ve been extra nice this week. I’ve been trying to build up the nerve to tell you. But I’m still looking for a way for you to survive this. I’ve spent the last five-plus months calling in every favor I could, scouring the globe trying to find some way to keep you around. I love Jack, I do, and I know it’s not his fault. No matter what happens, I’ll still love him. But I want him to grow up with two loving parents. More importantly, I don’t want to lose you, Sam.”

“Too bad tracking devices don’t work on souls. You could just find me after I reincarnate, then you and Jack could raise me together.” Shaking his head, Sam chuckled as he imagined Gabriel trying to change his diapers, a young Jack—looking four or five years old but actually only being a few months—peeking up over the counter to see what Papa Gabriel was doing and trying to help.

“You know, kiddo, that’s not a bad idea. As a last resort, of course. A backup plan. Your soul’s the part I love most, but I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t miss the packaging once it comes time for you to move on. Plus the ol’ balls would be pretty damn blue waiting for you to grow up. Worth the wait, of course, but still… If we can keep you alive, I’d rather do that. I have an old… acquaintance who’s good with witchcraft. Maybe she knows a spell that can track souls.” Shifting to reach his pocket, Gabriel pulled out his vidphone and started scrolling through contacts.

“Gabriel… why did you say ‘acquaintance’ the same way Balthazar says it when he means ‘fuck buddy’?”

Making the call quickly, Gabriel put the phone to his ear, holding a finger up to Sam in a ‘just a minute’ gesture as he rose and walked out of the room. “Hey, Ro, it’s Gabe. Got a minute?”

That was all Sam heard before Gabriel closed the door. Not pouting, since grown-ass men didn’t pout, Sam put his barely touched breakfast tray on the bedside table. The pulse of warmth and small pressure in his belly reminded him he wasn’t just eating for himself though, so he put it back over his lap and started eating in earnest. It was really good, and there was no reason to let the food be soured by jealousy. He knew Gabriel loved him so there was no reason to worry about someone he may have screwed around with in the past.

A few minutes later, Gabriel came back in, smiling. “She thinks there’s a spell that can create a link between our souls—well, your soul, my grace—she just has to look it up and see if she can modify it for human-to-angel connection instead of human-to-human.”

“That’s great. Here, finish this,” Sam said, handing him the strawberry toast.

Accepting the plate, Gabriel climbed back into bed beside Sam, snuggling up against his left side. “Thanks, Sammich. I think my appetite’s back, now that we at least have a backup plan. I’m still hoping we can keep you alive though. Oh, that’s why I wanted to tell you about it this week. Gilda suggested maybe we could have Andy try talking with the baby. We know Jack’s already picked up language and we’ve been talking to the little squirt every day. He should have enough vocabulary to understand. Maybe. Hard to say. Charlie thinks it’s this pulse of grace the baby expels at the moment of birth that causes… anyway, she said it’s probably involuntary, so Jack wouldn’t be able to help it.”

“But either way, it wouldn’t hurt to try, right? I mean, I’ve already talked to him about what’s going to happen to me, so that he knows it’s not his fault and it’s a price I’m willing to pay to bring him into the world. Sorry, that’s something we should’ve talked to him about together, just… Like I said, I didn’t want to worry you about something we can’t change.”

“I get it, Samshine. I was doin’ the same thing. Now that we both know, and we both know we both know, how about we talk to Jack together, and then have Andy see how much he understands once they get here?” Gabriel suggested

“Yeah, sounds like a plan.”

“Well, either you’ve swallowed a watermelon whole or you’re the lad Gabriel has been goin’ on about,” a vibrant red-head commented in a lilting voice, giving Sam a smile as she entered his and Gabriel’s room.

“Sam, meet Rowena. Ro, this is Sam,” Gabriel said as he followed her in.

Sitting up in bed, Sam gave a smile of his own, ignoring the niggling bit of jealousy prowling the corners of his mind. “It’s nice to meet you. Thank you for agreeing to help us.”

“Think nothing of it, Samuel. Gabriel’s helped me out many times over the centuries. I’m more than happy to return the favor. Besides, I had to see what kind of person could tame his wild heart. An’ I must admit, I can see the appeal,” Rowena added with a wink.

Blushing, Sam glanced over at Gabriel, who was crossing his arms over his chest.

“He’s taken, Ro,” the archangel said, warning heavy in his tone.

“Quite obviously,” Rowena replied with a chuckle, putting a hand over Sam’s stomach as she sat on the bedside.

Sam hated people doing that, but it seemed to be everyone’s response to seeing his baby-filled belly.

“Oh, I think I felt the wee one move. Well, let’s get to it then, shall we?” Rowena seemed oblivious to Sam’s discomfort but removed her hand anyway, once she’d felt the movement.

Gabriel sat on Sam’s other side, taking his hand and squeezing lightly.

“Before we do anythin’, I must warn you. This spell has never been attempted between an angel and human before. It’s not recommended to be done while pregnant, either, though there’ve been some who’ve ignored that advice without ill effect to parents or baby. However, it is possible for the child’s soul to become entangled in the spell with unknown consequences. Knowin’ all that, are you both quite certain tha’ you want to try anyway?”

“Unless there’s another way to track Sam’s soul down when he reincarnates, I’m sure,” Gabriel replied.

“There are spells we can try after he’s—forgive the bluntness—dead, but none of them have a hundred percent chance of working. Eighty-five at best. This is the only one that’s absolute. Plus it has the added benefit of working both ways; Samuel will be able to find you wherever you are, Gabriel, just as easily as you can find him. It’s also permanent and will work through all reincarnations—neither of you will ever go to an afterlife; you’ll always be reborn on Earth. An’ it won’t work unless ye truly are soulmates.”

“What kinds of consequences could there be for Jack?” Sam asked.

“I cannae say for certain, tha’s what unknown means. My best guess would be that his soul would become linked with both of yours. But, as I’ve said, the human couples who’ve tried it found no effect on the babe. I’ve no reason to expect it’d be any different for you.”

Exchanging a look between them, Sam and Gabriel both took a deep breath and agreed to try. After all, what else could they do?

For all the buildup, the spell itself was actually fairly simple. Rowena had already mixed up a potion for each of them to drink. Then it was just a matter of her saying a few words, Sam and Gabriel repeating them, and it was done.

“Did it work?” Sam asked, brows furrowed. He didn’t feel any different.

“Only way to tell is to test it. Gabriel, leave the room and wander off. We’ll see if Samuel here can tell which way you’ve gone.” Rowena got up and held the door open then closed it after Gabriel left. They waited a few minutes. “Okay, think about Gabriel and see if you can feel which direction he’s gone,” the witch instructed.

Sam closed his eyes but knew before they were even shut. “That way,” he said, pointing left.

Rowena peeked out the door and called for Gabriel to return. He came from the left.

“Well, that’s my end of the bargain done,” Rowena said with a grin as Gabriel came back in.

“Bargain?” Sam asked. “I thought you were repaying a favor.”

“An’ I was, Samuel, but business is business. Don’t worry your handsome little head about it. It’s nothing bad or difficult.”

“Ignore her, Sam. She’s just trying to get a rise outta you. Ro got on a couple radars and needs a place to hide out. I said she could stay at the bunker until we got some laws in place to keep her safe,” Gabriel clarified.

“Not that I can’t take care of myself, mind. It just gets rather trying to be constantly looking over one’s shoulder.”

“Come on, I’ll show you where you’ll be staying,” Gabriel said, leading the witch out.

Left alone in bed, Sam reflected. The backup plan was in place, and Andy had talked with Jack. He’d understood, and promised to try not to hurt Sam, though he wasn’t sure how to do what they were asking. Still, he was going to try, and Andy would be present at the birth to keep communication going both ways. Anael was planning to attempt something called a Cesarean, which amounted to cutting Sam open and pulling Jack out, hopefully before the pulse of grace could fry Sam.

Charlie and Gilda were still researching, but it was doubtful any other ways of keeping Sam alive would come to light in the week or two remaining. Sam was just going to enjoy what time he had, talk to Jack often and spend every second with Gabriel that he could. Hopefully when the time came, by some miracle, he’d survive.

Sam was cuddled close with Gabriel, sound asleep when he woke with a whimper. Looking around in the darkness he tried to figure out what had pulled him from slumber. Everything was safe and secure; no danger. Just as he was about to nod back off, he felt a pain in his abdomen and couldn’t bite back the shocked cry that escaped his lips.

Gabriel was up in a flash, hand shooting out to turn on the light as he looked around for danger, the same as Sam had, only to realize it wasn’t external. “Sam, is it—”

“Yeah, it’s time,” Sam replied, tracking the minutes passing as he concentrated on remaining calm.

Jumping out of bed, Gabriel ran around to Sam’s side, propping him up haphazardly on pillows. “Right! Time! What do I… boil water and get clean sheets.”

Gabriel’s hand was already on the doorknob when Sam’s voice managed to stop him. “Gabriel, calm down! What the hell would you do with boiled water?”

Stunned, Gabriel blinked. What would he do with it? He had no idea, but that’s what they always said in the movies, right? Boil water and get clean sheets and towels?

“They just say that to get the dads out of the room,” Andy said with a grin as he pushed past Gabriel, Anael right behind him.

“How did you—”

“C’mon, man, you were thinking loud enough to wake the entire bunker; even those who can’t read minds. Calm down, ‘kay?” Andy clapped a hand on Gabriel’s shoulder, then went to Sam’s bedside. “How you doin’ there, Sam?”

Another wave of pain washed through Sam and he breathed through it. “A little over five minutes apart. Uncomfortable, but not too painful yet.”

“Jack says he doesn’t like being squeezed and wants to come out,” Andy informed Anael. “I’ve reminded him to try to keep his power contained, but he’s starting to get scared. We should extract him as soon as possible.”

Gabriel was back at Sam’s side, squeezing his hand tightly, which was kinda backwards but he couldn’t help it. He was anxious for Jack to arrive, but terrified for Sam. At least their essences were connected, so he’d be able to find Sam again if he had to, but he was much too young to die yet. It was all on Jack, though. He held a hand lightly against Sam’s stomach. “Try to stay calm, kiddo. We’re getting you out now, okay? No matter what happens though, we love you. If you can’t keep your power in, I understand. I’m asking a lot of you, asking you to do something that’s never been done before. And if you can’t, it’s okay.”

Sam placed his hand over Gabriel’s. “It’s okay either way, Jack. We just want you to come out safe and happy,” he said, resting his head against Gabriel’s. “I love you, Jack, no matter what. And Gabriel, I love you too. If… if I don’t survive this, I’m counting on you to find me. Even if we have to take brakes for me to be reborn and grow up, I want to spend the rest of eternity with you.”

Turning to plant a kiss on Sam’s sweating brow, Gabriel smiled softly. “No worries there, kiddo. Hate to break it to ya, but you’re stuck with me.”

Pressing into Gabriel as another contraction hit, Sam whimpered and tried to focus on his breathing.

“Okay, Sam, we’re gonna do the Cesarean after the next contraction,” Anael said. She was on Sam’s other side, Andy beside her with a tray of instruments and towels.

“Oka—aaaaah,” Sam cried out as he felt a sharp kick to his ribs. Jack had been so careful not to hurt him in the later months of the pregnancy that Sam was completely unprepared for the pain.

“Sam, what’s wrong?” Gabriel asked anxiously, squeezing his hand too tightly again.

Andy was the one who answered. “Something isn’t right. His oxygen’s been cut off.”

Anael’s grace shot out quickly, taking stock. “The umbilical cord has wrapped around his neck. Change of plan, Sam. We’re taking him now. If you feel another contraction come on, try to focus on relaxing your muscles. Don’t push,” she said quickly, scalpel flashing in her hand as she made a precise incision under his distended belly.

Sam cried out as his skin was sliced, but the pain was gone almost as soon as it started. So was the cut.

“The uterus is infused with grace.” Angel blade appearing in her hand, Anael moved to try making the incision again.

“Jack’s panicking. He can’t breathe,” Andy warned almost a second before luminescence built beneath the skin of Sam’s belly then burst outward.

“No! Sam!” Gabriel cried, covering Sam’s eyes protectively and throwing himself over his chest, ear pressed against firm muscles, listening for a heartbeat. He heard a thump-thump, thump-thump, and a stuttered, single thump, then nothing. “Sam! Don’t go!” he sobbed, pouring his grace into Sam’s chest and willing his heart to beat.

“Gabriel, he’s gone. If you burn your grace out, you won’t be able to find him again,” Anael cautioned, voice shaky as she wrapped Jack in a soft white blanket with trembling hands. She had managed to reopen the incision with her angel blade just in time to catch the baby as he burst forth, clean and smiling. It was nothing like a normal human birth, but then, no one had expected it to be.

“Sam! Sam!” Gabriel sobbed, pulling his love’s body into his arms, tears streaming down his face. He’d hoped so hard that Sam would survive. He knew he was likely to lose him, but hadn’t really prepared for it. Not that anything could prepare him for losing Sam.

“Your son needs you,” Anael said. The baby was leaning from her arms, reaching toward Gabriel.

Taking a shaky breath, Gabriel tucked Sam’s body against his side, one arm wrapped around him, then held his arms out. Maybe it was a bit morbid, but he wanted the first time he held Jack to be with Sam too, even if Sam wasn’t…

Understanding, Anael passed Jack over, placing him gently in Gabriel’s arms.

Jack smiled at Gabriel, reaching a hand up to touch his damp cheek.

“It’s okay, Jack. I’m not crying because of you. Don’t worry, we’ll find Sam when he reincarnates. We both love you, little guy.”

Staring up at Gabriel with moist eyes, Jack turned his gaze to Sam’s still form. With one tiny hand still resting on Gabriel’s cheek, he reached the other to Sam’s cheek, touching both of his fathers together. He blinked back and forth between the two, confusion shining from eyes that were far too wise for a newborn baby.

“Sorry, kiddo. You’re too young to be learning about death, but we knew this would probably happen. It’s not your fault.”

Wide eyes still blinking, Jack removed his hand from Gabriel’s cheek and placed it on Sam’s, cradling his cooling face between his hands. He must have thought something to Andy, because the human covered his eyes just before a glow flashed from Jack’s hands.

Gasping as air drew heavily into his lungs, Sam blinked open his eyes. The first thing he saw was the baby, staring up at him angelically, eyes glowing golden, a hand on either side of Sam’s face. The second thing he saw was a blur as Gabriel tackled him into the pillows, kissing him thoroughly and deeply, though careful of Jack.

“Sam! Sam, you’re back!” Gabriel cried, kissing him all over his face.

“Gabriel, calm down. What happened? How...?”

“Jack. He brought you back, Sam. Such a smart little ankle-biter.” Jack was cooing, tucked into the crook of Gabriel’s left arm and Sam extracted himself from Gabriel, sitting up and holding his arms out. Passing Jack over to Sam, Gabriel wrapped his arms around both, holding his family lovingly, protectively.

“Thank you Jack. I knew you were going to be amazing,” Sam said, hugging him close and nuzzling against his cheek. “I can’t even tell you how proud I am of you.”

“Me too,” Anael said as her grace retreated from Sam. “He brought you back completely healed. Even your old scars are gone.”

“Good to have you back with us, Sam,” Andy added, smiling. Since Anael had removed his chip, he’d been talking out loud a lot more. “I called Dean when you... Well, I didn’t tell him what happened, just told him to come. Knowing Dean, I figured he’d be pissed if we didn’t tell him right away, but that’s the kind of thing that has to be said in person. Anyways, he and Castiel are almost—”

Dean came rushing in, Castiel on his heels. “Why didn’t you tell me it was time?” he demanded, going over and giving Sam a noogie. He grinned down at his nephew, unaware of the drama that had transpired during his birth. Sam had insisted on not telling his brother that giving birth would probably kill him.

“It happened kinda fast,” Sam replied, shrugging his shoulders without disturbing Jack, who was starting to look sleepy.

“Hey, little man. I’m your uncle Dean,” he said, holding a finger out for Jack to grab. “I thought it’d take longer. Mom was in labor for hours with your moose-ass.”

“Yeah, well, Mom didn’t have Anael.”

“And Anael says her patients need to rest. Sam, Jack should sleep for a bit. When he wakes up, give a mental call to Andy and he’ll bring in a bottle of formula for him to try. Nephilim don’t require as much food as a human, but they do need some. Especially while he’s growing. He’ll probably age fairly quickly and that takes a lot of energy. Jack,” Anael added, rubbing his arm lightly to draw his attention, “you too. If you need something and don’t know how to tell your parents, just think Andy’s name loudly and he’ll come translate for you, understand?”

Jack cooed sleepily, releasing Dean’s finger to latch on to Anael’s.

“He understands,” Andy replied for Jack.

“Such a sweet, smart boy,” Anael said, smiling. “Okay, time to let the family have some privacy. I’m sure they all need some rest. Especially you, Sam. I know you’re all healed up, but no strenuous activity for at least the next few days.”

“Spoilsport,” Gabriel said, affecting a pout as the visitors moved toward the door. All except Dean, who was still smiling down at his nephew.

“Come on, Dean. We should go let everyone know Jack’s been born.” Castiel tugged at the sleeve of Dean’s white t-shirt that he’d worn to bed.

“Yeah, I’m comin’.” Dean grinned at Jack, giving him another finger to grab and reaching out with his other hand to ruffle Sam’s hair. “Glad you’re finally here, Jack. Sam was startin’ to look pretty damn ridiculous with you fillin’ out his stomach.”

“Hey, language,” Sam admonished. “And how many times do I have to tell you to lay off the hair?”

“Big brother privileges,” Dean quipped, squeezing Jack’s tiny hand lightly before reluctantly allowing Castiel to pull him away. “I’ll be back in the morning,” he promised—or threatened, depending on the point of view.

Once the door closed and they were left alone, Sam leaned into Gabriel. Physically, he felt great—much better than he ever even thought to expect—but mentally and emotionally he was drained.

“I don’t want to put him down,” Sam said, smiling down at the small miracle in his arms.

“I know how you feel,” Gabriel replied, squeezing lightly with his arms that were still wrapped around both Sam and Jack. “I have an idea.” He snapped his fingers and the bed was bigger, furniture rearranged to accommodate the wider frame. Built into the mattress was a baby bed, soft, pillowed edges high enough that Jack wouldn’t roll out, but low enough that Sam could wrap an arm over it and keep contact with their son.

“That’s perfect, Gabriel. Thank you,” Sam said, laying Jack in the bed and curling up around it.

Though smaller, Gabriel took the big spoon role, cuddling up against Sam’s back and throwing an arm over his waist, hand resting on the edge of Jack’s bed. “Goodnight Jack. Goodnight Sam. Love you both. So much.”

“Me too. I’m glad I’m still here. Or back. Whatever. The point is, I’m so happy right now, I can’t even say.” Sam smiled as Jack gurgled sleepily, like he was saying goodnight too. Though he was tired, Sam still lay awake for a long time, thoughts of the future drifting through his mind. He suspected Gabriel was awake too, probably doing the same thing, but they both remained quiet, wrapped in the warmth of their new family. Eventually Sam drifted into a peaceful slumber, Jack and Gabriel featuring in his dreams.

Chapter Text

The months following Jack’s birth were a whirlwind of growth and activity. He was talking—in full, complete sentences, no baby talk—at five days old and looked about nine months. Three days later he was walking and by the end of his first month, Jack was reading everything his parents gave him. To say he absorbed knowledge like a sponge would be a lie. Sponges could only hold so much. Jack’s capacity to learn and remember didn’t appear to have a limit. Comprehension was a different story.

By the end of his first month, Anael compared his physical age to that of a three-year-old human, comprehension that of a six-year-old, and capacity for memory immeasurable. In other words, he could repeat everything he’d ever heard, even in utero, but didn’t always know what it meant.

Gabriel had taken advantage of Jack’s eidetic memory by giving him extensive lessons in politics, government, and morality. His theory was that giving him the information now, when he was happy to sit and play while listening to his dad talk, would mean the knowledge was available for him to use later when he actually understood it.

Sam allowed it, knowing how important it was for Jack to be able to guide the council, but insisted on exposing Jack to literature too. While Gabriel was stuck in meetings, Sam read classic, well-loved books to Jack, until the brilliant kid started reading them to Sam instead. Uncle Dean, having discovered a very old genre of music called classic rock after they’d moved into the bunker, passed that newfound love on to his nephew, though Uncle Cas balanced it out by exposing Jack to various types of instrumental music. And every night, the whole family watched a movie together, Jack usually dozing through it but still remembering most of the film the next morning.

During his first four weeks, Jack outgrew his clothes several times a day and Sam was infinitely grateful for Gabriel’s angelic specialty, since he never could have kept Jack properly clothed otherwise. Gabriel just snapped his fingers and tight outfits were replaced with properly fitted ones. It worked great for changing diapers too, though Jack was done with those before he could even walk or talk. He just called for Andy mentally when he woke up, the morning of his fourth day, and asked to use the bathroom. Apparently, he found the diapers to be uncomfortable.

As he started his second month, Charlie began taking him in the afternoons, giving Sam and Gabriel some much-needed alone time as she taught him about computers. By the end of the month, he knew almost as much as Charlie and had taken control of his own learning. The size of a six-year-old with the comprehension of a twelve-year-old, everyone struggled to keep up with Jack’s questions, though they always answered truthfully. Even if the truth was ‘I’m not comfortable talking with you about that right now, ask again next week’. Jack quickly learned he could take those questions to Uncle Cas though, who had little-to-no concept of ‘age appropriate’ and always answered every question.

A few days after Jack turned four months old, he and his parents were eating dinner when he had a new question, a bit out of the blue.

“Who is Lucifer?” Jack asked as he took seconds of the cheesy casserole Sam had made. He looked twelve but mentally was closer to college age.

Exchanging a look with Gabriel, Sam fielded the question. “Why do you ask?”

“I heard he is a bad man who does bad things.”

“That’s true. A very long time ago, he was an archangel, but when God made humans he got mad and rebelled. He was thrown into Hell and became the Devil, twisting human souls stained in evil to create the demon race.” Sam glanced at Gabriel, raising an eyebrow to ask if there was anything he wanted to add.

“He has done a lot of bad things, but he’s not even on the council anymore. As far as we know, he’s in hiding. Who did you hear about him from?”

“If he created demons from evil souls, does that mean that demons are evil too?” Jack asked, ignoring the question.

“No, not anymore. You’ve learned about the expulsion, right?” Sam asked, and Jack nodded. “It’s different for them since they were expelled. Souls are never all good or all bad. They change and grow and learn. Demons’ souls are twisted to the point that most can’t feel emotions anymore, but they can still choose to do good things. Being on Earth instead of in Hell makes it easier for demons to be good, if they want to.”

“And souls can repair themselves over time, too. It all depends on how the demons act and what they want. I’m pretty sure Casey and Father Gil are able to feel now, and other demons like Meg and Crowley are probably close to being able to. So no, not all demons are bad.”

“Okay,” Jack said, going back to his food. A few minutes later, he paused again. “But Lucifer is bad, right?”

“He chooses to do bad things. Like Sam said, no one is all good or all bad. He could choose to do good things if he found the right motivation.”

“What is the right motivation?” Jack pressed.

“Good question, kiddo. Wish I had an answer. What say we go share the pie I made with your Uncles?” Gabriel suggested, putting an end to the conversation.

Nearly a week later, once more at dinner, Jack asked about Lucifer again. The question was even more disturbing this time, though.

“Is Lucifer my father?”

Sam dropped his fork and Gabriel’s eyebrows jumped.

“Why would you ask that, squirt?” Gabriel queried.

“I know where babies come from and how they are made. Sam is my mother, but Lucifer took him and—”

“Woah, Jack. I don’t know who’s telling you these things, but we don’t like to talk about that. Truth is, all we know for sure is that the seed that created you was from an archangel. It could have been Lucifer’s, but Sam had mine first, so it’s probably me. Either way, doesn’t matter whose seed did the deed. You’re my son and nothing will ever change that.” Gabriel put a hand on Jack’s shoulder, searching his eyes and hoping his son understood.

“Of course. I wasn’t questioning that. I just wondered if it was true that Lucifer could be my biological father.”

“It’s possible, but not likely,” Sam said, eyebrows scrunching together. “Jack, who said he was your father?” Not many people knew about Sam’s abduction.

Jack shrugged, gaze dropping to his plate as he pushed his food around with his fork. “Just a friend.”

Sam and Gabriel exchanged a worried look. They’d never known Jack to lie before, but he was definitely hiding something.

“Someone in the bunker?” Gabriel asked.

Jack shook his head.

“Someone on the computer?” Sam tried.

Jack shook his head.

“Vidphone?” Sam tried again.

Jack shook his head.

“How did you meet this friend?” Gabriel asked, not giving up.

“We haven’t met,” Jack said simply.

“If you haven’t met, then how’d he tell you things?” Gabriel pressed.

Jack gave another shrug. “I don’t know, we just talk.”

“Talk where?”

“Anywhere. Everywhere.”

Gabriel and Sam exchanged another look, even more worried.

“Jack, next time you talk to this friend, can you tell him we’d like to meet him?” Sam asked hesitantly.

“We’re talking right now. But you two can’t hear it, only I can.”

With another silent parental communication, Sam and Gabriel agreed to let it drop for now. Jack may have looked thirteen and been far smarter than his years—especially considering he didn’t have any years yet, only four and a half months—but he was still technically very young. If he had an imaginary friend, who could say that wasn’t normal? Other than Anael, of course, who they would consult as soon as she came back to the bunker.

“Well, tell your friend you’ll talk later. It’s almost time for movie night and you wanted to learn how to make popcorn, right?” Gabriel said as he stood and began gathering their empty dinner plates.

By the time Anael returned from San Francisco Jack was over five months old and looked fifteen or sixteen. It was disconcerting just how quickly Jack grew. He hadn’t mentioned his friend since that night almost three weeks ago, and had stopped asking about Lucifer. Anael said the imaginary friend was probably just a way his mind was using to tell him things he’d heard shortly after conception that he didn’t consciously remember, nothing to worry about.

As he neared maturity, Jack threw his focus into preparing for when he would join the council. Part of that involved learning from Gabriel how to better use and focus his power. Castiel taught him how to handle an angel blade and fight unarmed, though he wasn’t supposed to use that knowledge if he could avoid it.

Just a week shy of Jack reaching six months of age, there was an upset in the council. Raphael was found dead in his home. Only an archangel blade could kill an archangel, yet Raphael was found smited, his blackened eye sockets hollow and a burn in the shape of broken wings around his body. No one knew what had happened to him, but his death left a vacancy on the council that everyone scrambled to fill with someone of their own choosing.

Gabriel had been planning on creating a new seat for Jack, but getting him into an existing position proved easier. When Lucifer had disappeared, Crowley had taken his seat. Azazel was gone too, of course, so his vacancy was filled by Meg. With their votes, plus those of Gabriel and Joshua, they only needed one more to have Jack fill Raphael’s place. Surprisingly, the vote came from Ramiel. When Gabriel brought his son to introduce and nominate him to the council, Ramiel was charmed by his intelligence, so Jack’s seat on the council was secured. There were finally enough cooperative votes to get things done.

Supernatural beings were given rights. Humans were given more rights. Framework was put in place to finish research on synthetic blood and organs, and laws were made regarding interactions between all the different races. Things were finally looking up for everyone, demons and angels included. Having so many new races join society gave them plenty of things to keep them busy and alleviate the tedium of their immortal existences.

A month after Jack joined the council, he, Sam, and Gabriel were eating dinner together as usual when he jumped up, eyes glowing golden.

“He’s going to kill her!” Jack exclaimed, disappearing with the sound of a heavy wingbeat.

“Raspberries!” Gabriel said, grabbing Sam as he sprang to his own feet and pulling the human against his chest. There was another flap of wings and they appeared behind Jack, Gabriel having followed the trail he left in the ether.

“Who are you?” Lucifer demanded to know, eyes glowing red. He was standing in a doorway, hands fisted, looking like he’d just whipped around at Jack’s unexpected arrival. Gabriel noted in passing that they were in a decrepit apartment building in Old Detroit, according to his directional sense and the glimpse he’d gotten as they flew in.

“You’re hurting my friend.” Jacks eyes were glowing too, golden and angry.

“Jack, what are you doing?” Sam cried, terrified at being in Lucifer’s presence and worried for his son’s safety. He may look twenty—the age at which he’d stopped growing—but Jack wasn’t even a year old yet. There was no way he could take on the Devil and survive, let alone win.

“Oh, hey Sam. Baby Bro. Jack, huh? Is this my son?” Lucifer asked casually, ignoring Jack’s ire.

“He’s my son, Luci, not yours,” Gabriel retorted.

“Don’t talk about me like I’m not here. You can’t ignore me!” Jack yelled, a yellow pulse of power bursting from him and crashing into the Devil.

Lucifer just laughed. “You’re a chip off the ol’ block, Jack. All that rage. Power. Dump the wet blankets and I’ll show you what you’re really capable of. You can do so much more than these insignificant parlor tricks.”

Jack growled, a blade slipping into his hand as he launched himself at the Devil. Lucifer just laughed, making no move to block or avoid his strike.

“C’mon, son. You must know I’m an archangel, right? I can only be killed by a—” Lucifer’s voice cut off as a golden glow spilled forth from the blade embedded in his chest. Looking down, his eyes widened in surprise at the protruding archangel hilt. He just managed to drag his confused gaze back to Jack before he toppled backwards, wing-burns spread around him.

As his body fell, the room behind him came into view, the middle of which was occupied by a young girl, maybe six or seven years old. She had blonde, corkscrew curls pulled into pigtails, thick curly bangs falling over her forehead. Her dress was white, with lots of frills and lace, and a brown teddy bear was squeezed tightly in her arms. The angelic look of her pretty face was marred only by the gleeful grin she wore as she looked at Lucifer’s body. Then her gaze rose, resting on Jack. “You came! Oh, I knew you would! Thank you, Jack.”

Turning to his fathers, Jack smiled. “This is my friend. My cousin. She promised to help us make the world better. Her name is Lilith.”