"Sam!" Dean's voice boomed hot and quick through the storage unit like a gunshot. It was all he could do. Firing his trusty ivory-handled Colt wasn't an option. Though if he'd had the legendary Colt he might risk it.
One bullet from that beauty would put down the beast holding his brother by the throat, but that was a special gun. It could kill just about any creepy crawly, slimy bastard, human munching asshat on the planet. The M1911A1 he was currently holding might put down a few or slow down some others, but a vampire like the one holding Sam? It would just piss the bloodsucker off more.
"Drop it!" the vamp snarled from around its fangs while simultaneously yanking Sam backward, bending the taller Winchester brother over his knees, and pulling his throat dangerously near the gleaming daggers.
"Don't do it, Dean!" Sam barked.
Fuck! Dean locked his green eyes with the yellow eyes of the monster holding his baby brother. What? Is it like the more evil a bag of dicks you are, the yellower your eyes get? Golden-eyed monsters had always cost the Winchesters starting with their mother Mary.
"Let him go," Dean snapped, his gun remained level. His aim focused dead center of the vampire's forehead. He sunk every ounce of authority and cold rage into those three little words he had. He was Dean Winchester, and before and after The Fall, that was enough to send many creatures cowering.
The vampire lowered it's mouth over Sam's throat, scraping the tips of fangs over his carotid artery while tightening his grip at the base of the other Winchester's throat. Sam kicked and bucked, but his fight was useless.
Any leverage Sam might have gotten with his superior height was useless. While he could get his feet under him, the vampire had the superior strength. There was simply no way the thing would let Sam rise up. There was no way, Sam was breaking free.
"Stop!" Dean roared suddenly letting the gun spin in his hands and drop. The vampire had called his bluff.
"Dean, no! He'll kill us both!" Sam yelled.
"Don't," Dean pleaded holding up his hands in surrender. He shot his brother a look. We'll find a way, Sammy. We also do.
Except they hadn't. During The Fall, they hadn't. They'd been separated. Things had happened. Things they didn’t talk about. Things Dean didn’t talk about. It was only after The Fall that they'd started being good again. They'd started hunting again. They'd started bei-
"Kick the gun over here," the vampire ordered lifting its face from Sam's neck.
"You're dead, you know that?" Sam asked the thing holding him as Dean sent the gun skittering and skipping across the concrete floor.
Dean glanced around the unit again. Somewhere in this small room, lost in the shadows was Sam's demon blade. It had wounded the bloodsucker earlier. Maybe if Dean could find it he could finish the damn job.
"Pretty much a prerequisite to being a vampire," the monster chuckled dryly.
Dean growled and focused back on the thing holding his brother. He'd heard this vamp had a weird sense of humor. Bad's more like it. "Now let him go."
"And have you rush me while Andre the Giant here attempts another body drop?" The vampire shook his head before suddenly sending a boot to the back of one Sam's knees.
Sam cried out as his leg buckled and he collapsed.
The vampire jerked him closer, solidifying his hold.
"You son of a bitch!" Dean yelled. He vibrated with the need to rush to Sam, but a warning glance from the bloodsucker held him still.
"It was just a tap. No permanent damage..." The vampire let his words trail off to an unspoken threat.
Yet. The golden-eyed fucker means 'yet.' Dean clenched his jaw and looked at Sammy.
His brother nodded. "I'm okay, Dean."
"What do you want?" Dean asked watching his enemy. He was a reader of people and things. It was just one of the skills Sammy and he depended upon for survival.
Something in the vampire's stance shifted at Dean's question. It wasn't that it loosened its hold on the other Winchester, so much as if part of the tension in its body shifted and bled into something else.
"I want not to have a six-inch gash in my right side about now," it said, "but I'll settle for you and your brother to take a hiatus on my trail. Say a month?"
"No." Sam's answer was swift and definitive before Dean even had a chance to open his mouth. "You think we are just going to let you walk? You who've tortured and killed hundreds? You're at least responsible for that number and more. You think we are just gonna let the one behind The Fa-"
"I know what I did boy!" the vampire snarled against Sam's ear, a hint of an Irish accent bleeding through.
"Then you know why we won't let you go," Dean said backing his brother's play. He didn't understand what it was. He had no idea how they were going to get the upper hand, but part of finding each other again was learning to trust each other. If Sam said they weren't letting this monster go, then they weren't letting this monster go.
Though why was fangface making the offer? Exactly what was his play? Torture and murder were his MO, not timeouts.
"Can't blame a guy for trying," the vampire sighed, the brogue gone.
"We can blame you for many things," Sam said. "And we do."
Sam! Are you trying to provoke it? Dean shot his brother a look then paled as he realized that's exactly what his baby brother was trying to do. It was a classic Winchester move. The one would offer themselves up as a distraction, letting the big bad tear into them while the moved into to finish the monster off. Only I'm supposed to be the one torn into! That's my job!
"Don't listen to him," Dean said. "He's judgmental. Me, I think you have issues. I mean who wouldn't when they go around looking like the butt end of a Sharpei."
"Dean!" Sam barked.
The vampire opened up its eyes wide then shook its head. "Okay, we do this the hard way."
Hard way? Dean began to rush forward when suddenly he was knocked to the side slamming into the wall of the unit. His body hit with a painful and meaty thud before falling to the hard floor. A heavy weight landed on his torso knocking what was left of his breath out of him.
Something hot and fetid like a breath from a reanimated corpse blew in his face. Yet Dean didn’t see anything. He tried to wiggle free. Sharp burning pain lanced his side. He looked down. Claw marks tore through his shirt and under them his skin was split open revealing red raw meat. He'd been sliced, but by what.
"Dean!" Sam yelled again.
The older Winchester twisted his head around looking for his brother. He was on the ground now, behind the vampire who looked like it was doing some strange pantomime routine. It had hands cupped in the air like it was holding on to something. It bellowed, then twisted its hand in opposite directions. There was a loud yelp and then the vampire made a throwing motion before it swiveled its head toward the gaping entrance of the storage unit.
Dean glanced at the entrance but didn't see anything. Of course he didn't see anything sitting on top of him either. He struggled to sit up and screamed. Three fresh lines ripped open across his upper chest. Panic flutter through him for a second. The tattoo! However, the moment passed. The pain was on his right side, not his left.
I might bleed to death, but at least I won't be some demon's tux to the prom.
"Sam," Dean whispered glancing back at his brother. The vampire was still in front of him, one arm back behind it gesturing down almost protectively. Claiming his dinner? Making sure some other bad doesn't steal it?
Sam looked at the vampire then Dean. Sam started to scramble toward him when the vampire caught him up by the throat and threw him back on the ground behind him.
A howl tore through the unit drawing the Winchesters' focus. As the sound faded a short man in a tailored suit with a sleek black overcoat sauntered inside. He had short dark hair and a well groomed black beard. He bobbed his head slightly to the left and smiled at the vampire. "Angelus."
ANGEL HAD THOUGHT the worst of his night was over when the Winchester brothers had finally cornered him in the storage unit. They had chased him across three states over the last five months culminating in an attack in Evanston, Wyoming.
Things hadn't gone exactly as he planned. While he'd heard the younger Winchester was tall, he'd hadn't expected him to have nearly four inches on him! Sam Winchester had the height and reach of a Fyarl demon with a demon blade to boot.
So while Angel had lured the famous hunters onto the battleground of his choosing, he'd been left with an open stab wound on the left side that wasn't about to heal without some fresh blood. Blood he wasn't about to get anytime soon.
This had left him weaker and slower. The older Winchester, Dean, had nearly taken his head off with a machete before Angel had blocked his swing and wrenched the weapon out of his hand. Then Angel had flung it out the entrance, into the black night to bounce somewhere with a dull clang of the asphalt.
That's when Sam had closed in with another swipe of the cursed blade, Angel had ducked down, using the Winchester's height against him. The younger man's momentum had him sailing over the vampire and before he could climb to his feet, Angel had seized his opportunity and his throat.
Things had just been simmering down to a good old-fashioned standoff. A showdown ending where Angel was going to choke out one brother, drag the no doubt enraged other to a second unit, lock them both up, and then drive off in their car putting as many miles and states behind him before sunrise as possible.
It wasn't a good plan, but he'd worked with less.
Yet, he was Angel and he was cursed. He was cursed with more than just a soul, guilt for crimes for which he could never atone, and a reputation that would forever leave him hunted. Angel was also plagued with a strange kind of luck. Bad luck.
Just as he'd started to get an upper hand with the Winchesters, hellhounds had burst into the unit. One had charged in attacking Dean Winchester sending him first into the wall and then to the floor. The other had charged toward Sam.
Angel had dropped Sam and caught the beast mid-charge. He'd always hated these things, but in the moment his demon surges forward with a bolt of something like joy. Finally, it could kill something! As it snapped the hound's neck, there was a brief sense of elation followed by a more pronounced feeling of regret. The death had been too swift and too easy.
The soul within the vampire had ignored the demon twisted alongside it and focused on the hunter it was trying to protect. Sam Winchester was crawling toward his brother. Angel had grabbed him by the neck and threw him back on the ground behind him. There were more hounds pouring into the unit, and he could only protect one brother at a time.
That's when one of the hounds had heralded the arrival of their master. Angel had curled his lip into a silent snarl as he saw him stride into the room. The familiar demon, wearing its favorite human vessel, nodded it's head and smiled at him. "Angelus."
"Crowley," Angel replied keeping his vampire visage up. He never understood why the demon always used a British accent. He knew the corrupted creature had originally been a poor sod from Scotland, but then who knew how jocks think? They ate haggis! That had to leave a man, or demon, twisted in the head.
"Sorry ta interrupt your dinner," the demon said stepping further into the room.
"Dean," Sam called out behind the vampire.
A hellhound growled.
Angel slammed his boot behind him into Sam's chest just hard enough to wind and warn the other Winchester. Angel could already smell the thick iron scent of blood coming off of Dean, he didn't need to smell it coming off of Sam. Not when he was surrounded by hellhounds, facing a powerful demon, and was still badly wounded from his earlier fight.
"Leave him alon-!" Dean started to yell and was cut off mid-scream by another rake of claws.
Yum! The smell of Dean's blood and his painful cried were a treat Angel's demon, Angelus.
Crowley looked toward Dean and gave a curt whistle. "That's enough."
The hound on top of Dean gave a whine but went still.
Crowley looked back at Angel. "Pups, so full of energy. They get excited, but they're so adorable. Hard ta say no to. Am I right?"
"Can we skip to the part where you explain why you interrupted me? Or am I going to have to tear apart that lovely suit your wearing, and I'm not talking the Armani." It was easy for Angel to keep the menace in his voice.
"Angelus, always the charmer." Crowley smiled as he did a slow turn before pausing and settling a hand down on the top of one the hounds by his side. "The thing is, I know you've fallen on hard times. What with the world no longer in a hell dimension and you no longer...well the king..."
Angel couldn’t stop the growl emanating from his demon. "Point?"
"But for some of us, the world goes on pretty much as it always did. Deals to make souls to collect."
"The Winchesters brothers made a deal? With you?" A sick feeling twisted inside of Angel. He didn't believe it, but humans had done desperate things during The Fall to survive. The Winchesters wouldn't have been the first one to sell the soul for safety. If it were true, keeping the brothers from Crowley just got a whole lot more difficult.
"Well not exactly." Crowley scratched behind the hound's left ear.
"Exactly what are you talking about then?" Angel said stepping toward the demon ignoring the hound's warning growl.
"Someone else holds a contract with Dean-O over there," Crowley said using his forefinger to point in the older Winchester's direction. "As for the moose in the corner..."
Angel turned to look back at Sam, he was curled up around his chest inching his way back to the darkest corner in the room. Angel furrowed his brow. Retreat wasn't in the Winchester's reputation, then something clicked. Back toward the blade. That's the corner where Sam's knife had disappeared. The vampire turned back to look at Crowley.
"...he's got a bounty on him."
"So what? You're playing debt collector?" Angel demanded.
"Know anyone more qualified? King of the Crossroads demons here. Collecting on debts is what I do," Crowley smiled as he gave a small bow. "Plus, I get a percentage."
"Of their souls?"
"Well of some souls anyway." Crowley stopped petting the hound and then slapped his hands together. "So, what's it going ta take for you to let these boys go? I'm in a good mood. I'll make you a fair deal. I hear you have a taste for blondes. I can have a pair of bubbly sorority sisters here at the snap of my fingers. Or brothers if you prefer. No judgment."
How about both? Angelus's desire was voice was almost too much to ignore. Angel needed blood and Crowley was offering him an easy meal. No!
"Who holds the contract?" Angel focused on the issue at hand using it as a distraction to hold to the humanity his soul afforded him.
"Now that would be breaking client confidentiality. I have standards you know," Crowley sniffed down his nose.
There was a sound. It was slight, like the slide of metal of metal across concrete. Angel suppressed a smile. Sam must have found the blade.
"If the Winchesters are so valuable, maybe I want a piece of the action. After all, as you said, times aren't what they used to be," Angel crossed his arms over his chest.
"Listen, love, of the two of us standing here, only one of us has a rank in hell. There was a time was when you had something called leverage," Crowley chided. "But right now you got a hole for your intestines to drip out of, a room full of hellhounds looking for a new chew toy, and the only prospects for dinner are about to be as gone as your rule. So either take the deal I'm offering, or I'll remove your head and leave you a pile of ash and dust!"
"Oh but that would require ya ta get yer hands dirty," Angel said letting his demon have a little freedom which meant his accent came out. "And yer not one fer dirtin' them dainty little hands are ya?"
The hound to Crowley's left growled.
Angel leaped forward, wrapping his hands around its throat before digging his nails deep and tearing flesh. Thick hot blood sprayed over Angel's face. Reflexively, he snaked his tongue out licking at it. It was bitter and unappetizing. It wouldn’t do anything to help him heal, but the Angelus side of himself howled with lust for it just the same.
"Kill him!" Crowley yelled stepping back away from the vampire.
Two hounds charged Angel. One locked it's massive jaws around his arm pulling down to the left, while the other slammed into his torso.
Angel laughed as he fell to the ground. He let the one hound tear at his arm even as he wrapped his other arm around the back of the one on top of him. He jerked it close and sank his fangs into its side. More blood washed over him. The scent of death and the rush of violence rolled through him like and aphrodisiac.
It had been months since his demon had been let loose. It had been ages since Angel had allowed his dark side to feast on what it craved more than blood. He easily ignored the pain of the hound tearing at his arm as he rolled over, the other hound still locked in his tight grip. He angled his head to rip at the beast soft underbelly. He tore muscle and sinew until he tasted sweatmeats. Maybe haggis isn't so bad!
The hound howled in agony, the sound dying to a whimper in its throat. Angel shoved it's carcass away before grabbing the other one by the scruff of its neck. Again he rolled until he could use his free hand to begin to pry open the jaws of the other hound locked onto his tattered arm.
There was another howl. This time from behind Angel. Sam!
Angel wrapped his legs around the hounds back and twisted. There was a grunt of pain and the pressure on his arm eased a little. He pried at the jaws while sinking fang into snout.
The hound yelped, letting loose of Angel.
Angel wrapped his good arm underneath the hounds neck yanking it back. There was a quick burst of gunfire to his right.
"Bollocks! I just picked this up from the cleaners," Crowley whined fingering the bullet holes in his coat.
Angel gave another yank on the hound and the things neck snapped. He looked toward the direction of the gunfire. A badly wounded and bloodied Dean Winchester was standing, barely, with his ivory-handled gun pointed at Crowley.
There was another yelp behind Angel. He stood, turning around as he did. Sam stood waving his demon blade as two hounds circled him. His movements were erratic and random. He can't see them! Angel forgot humans can't see hellhounds.
He whipped around and stared at Crowley. "Call 'em off. Or do ya want to lose yer whole pack tonight?"
"Right. No more need for violence," Crowley said smoothing his hands down his lapels as he walked towards his pets. "I know when I'm beaten."
"Then take yer dogs and go!" Angel ordered.
"Of course," Crowley said bobbing his head as he lay one hand one of the hounds near Sam.
Sam rounded toward the crossroads demon his blade held out defensively.
"But even you, Angelus, can't expect me to leave empty handed."
Under normal circumstances, Angel might have been quicker. On a better night, he might have been able to catch Crowley. Yet, it had to be his cursed luck again because even as he was moving with all the speed of master vampire he wasn't fast enough.
One moment Sam Winchester was standing in a ring of hellhounds brandishing his blade toward Crowley, the next one of the hounds had leaped forward grabbing the wrist of Sam's weapon hand while the crossroads demon casually reached over and laid his other arm on the younger Winchester.
There was a slight whiff of sulfur and Crowley, the hounds, and Sam Winchester were gone.
Dean didn't wake up slowly like a man who passed out concussed from a hit to the head, or too much blood loss. He woke with a start, like a man who'd lost everything and had to get it back now. He jerked up, and pain flared through his side and his chest. Pain was good. While to most people, pain was a bad sign, a warning something was wrong, to a Winchester it was hope. Most of the time.
"Damnit, you're bleeding again," a voice growled.
Sam? No, that wasn't right. Dean shook his head trying to clear it. He focused. A familiar dashboard was in front of him, it was Baby's. However, he was sitting on the wrong side of the Impala. Where's the steering wheel?
He tried to sit straighter and he felt not only the pull of the wound in his chest but a strain in his arms. They were bound behind them. As the pain subsided he became aware of cool metal pressing tight against his wrists. He was handcuffed.
Who was driving? Dean whipped his head to the left.
"Get your hands off Baby!" Dean shouted his focus suddenly narrowed down to the overriding indignity that a vampire was driving his car.
"Who's Baby?" it said glancing back him.
"My car," Dean growled shaking his head again. Where was Sam?
"You named your car...Baby?"
"You're one to talk Angelus. What the hell kind of name is that?" Dean closed his eyes to think for a moment and suddenly the memories came rushing back. After months, Sam and he had finally cornered Angelus, the big enchilada and the Holy Grail of hunters.
He was the vampire who'd caused The Fall plummeting the whole world into hell and then run it. He was the reason Sam and Dean had gone from hunters to resistance fighters to...
Dean pushed those thoughts aside. That was the past. The world was no longer in hell. Some part of the resistance had managed to not only overthrow Angelus but reversed whatever he'd done. Dean focused on recent events.
"Actually it's just Angel," the vampire said.
"I don't care if it's Mon-el, where the hell is Sam!" Dean stared at the vampire. He remembered. After Sam had disappeared, Dean had fired everything he'd had left into the bloodsucker. It was futile and useless but Dean was beyond caring.
The last thing Dean remembered as he fell to his knees was the slick feel of blood oozing out his side and chest and the swing of Angelus' right hook.
"You tell me," Angelus...Angel said.
"How the hell am I supposed to know?"
"I'm assuming Crowley took your brother to whoever has a bounty on him. Maybe the same demon you have a contract with?" Angel glanced away from the road to fix a piercing gaze on Dean.
No. It can't be. Not.... Dean swallowed and turned his head away from the vampire. There were things he didn’t talk about. Times during The Fall he didn't think about. This was dangerously close.
"I don't know," Dean insisted. "I don't have a deal with any demon." And he didn't. He wouldn't. He couldn't. He...Focus! Think about Sam.
"Where do I find this Crowley?" Dean looked back at the vampire.
"Well, theoretically, any crossroads," Angel said. "However, you summon him right now all that's going to happen is that we are both going to get a lot more bloody and he's more than likely going to collect on you too."
"Fine, I'll take my chances. Pull up at the next intersection," Dean ordered.
"No," Angel said pressing on the accelerator. There was a slight lag in the engine as if Baby were resisting.
That's my girl. Dean snorted. "No?"
"I'm riddled with bullets, sunrise is in six hours, and I have a tear in my side that isn't healing until I get some blood...human blood."
Dean couldn't help but slide a little farther to the right. It hurt, but he knew he had to be smelling like an all night diner to a frat boy at three AM on a Saturday night; quick, easy, and unreasonably delicious.
"Relax, I think I can hold out for another five hours," the vampire said without looking at Dean.
"What's happens in five hours?" Dean asked.
"We reach Vegas," Angel explained.
"Vegas!" Dean paled, and not from blood loss. Vegas was the one city on the continent, maybe on earth that was still demon run. The resistance had made some sort of deal with another vampire, Spike, who ran it. Why the hell would anyone trust a monster?
Sam and Dean had talked about hunting there, but they'd had enough clean-up outside of Vegas to worry about the city. There were plenty of things that went bump in the night all over the country that weren't willing to let the world go back to human rule. Plenty of things for Sam and Dean to put down.
"Believe it or not, I wish I had a better option myself."
"What's a matter, the great Angelus not welcome there?"
"Not exactly," the vampire said glancing away from the road to look at Dean again. "However, if you want help finding your brother that's the best place to start."
"And what's that gonna cost me?" Dean snapped.
"Probably a song," the vampire said before focusing back on I-15.
Notes: Jocks – slang word for Scotsmen.