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Pulling Out The Nails

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We are the angry and the desperate,
the hungry and the cold;
we are the ones who kept quiet
and always did what we were told.
But we've been sweating while you slept so calm
in the safety of your home.
We've been pulling out the nails that hold up
everything you've known.
"Prayer of the Refugee," Rise Against

The shadows clung to her like dew to the morning grass.

Down the hall, the fire burned—merry and bright, she thought with a smile. The smoke had not yet reached her, but it would soon if the growing snap, hiss, pop of the flames was any indication. The master bedroom was a death trap by now, and still, John Winchester had not woken up. The dimple in her cheek collected a pinprick of darkness. A silver lighter pressed, vaguely cold, into the palm of her hand.

"It's a shame," she cooed, tracing a manicured fingertip down the baby's soft cheek. "Snuffing out this Resistance before it even really goes. You would solve all our problems—let us live in peace." She tickled his stomach, and he gurgled happily. "If only he hadn't been so damned specific. I hate that little clause of his."

"Mommy?"

She paused, cocking her head to the side. "What is it, sweetie?" He was behind her, hesitating in the doorway; the toddler was barely past her knee. She looked enough like his mother from the back—the willowy form, the flowing golden hair, the long white nightgown. Perhaps—

"What happened to your face?" he asked, voice wavering.

Exposed by a four-year-old. I'm losing my edge. "Got the sight, little man?" she said, turning from the crib.

Dean's soft green eyes were wide, the white showing all the way around, and they weren't watching her face—not the woman she projected on seven planes—but her true face. Her burned mask, charred and flaking, would strike terror in even a grown man's heart. He didn't answer, just watched the mask move, frozen a step inside the threshold.

"Too bad," she sighed, kneeling down before him. "You shouldn't have come, darling. You'll only get yourself hurt."

"What're you doin' to Sammy?" he demanded, a little bolder now.

"Sammy's a problem for my boss," she said sweetly.

"Don't hurt him," he interrupted, toddling a step closer to her. "Sammy didn't do nothin'."

"Oh," she crooned, a secret smile stretching her soft pink lips, "he will, little man. He will."

The floorboards in the hallways creaked, giving way under heavy footsteps. "Get away from my son," a man's rough voice barked.

She rose, as fluidly as she'd knelt, and stepped back. John's eyes were watering, his sleeve over his nose and mouth to combat the smoke.

"Ah," she said softly. "The king awakes to find his castle burning."

He reached out to clasp a hand around Dean's shoulder; he pulled the boy back, safely into his shadow. "Move," he said.

"No," she replied, turning back toward the crib.

She heard the click of a safety being flicked off. "Now," he snarled from behind her.

"They get all their talent from mommy, then?" she remarked idly. "Shame."

She flicked open the lighter and struck the flint with a manicured thumbnail. It would be a relief to put the thing down; it was a minor discomfort. For the moment, though, she just held out the flame to a corner of the baby's blanket, already doused with lighter fluid. It caught with ease.

John cried out in anguish and fired. The silver from the chamber seared her essence, but she was no djinni; she could not be cowed by a single bullet. When she glanced over her shoulder to express her indignation, Dean was crying, struggling to get out of his father's hold.

"Stop," he begged, his eyes fixed on the swiftly burning crib. "Don't hurt him!"

"He's an inconvenience, little monster," she murmured. "I don't have a choice."

The crib was engulfed now, and her job was done. She took no pleasure in it, but her regrets were cursory—selfish. "A shame," she repeated. A world without magicians was one that she would never see, she was sure. A contradiction in itself. They always rose again, determined to spoil everything they touched.

She pulled herself together to take flight, lighter abandoned with the baby, when the rustle of wings roused her from her brooding.

"Lilith," a dark voice greeted.

She checked her sneer and turned to meet her challenger.