This was the last time she helped the Winchesters. Ever. “Go help out little sister on a hunt, they said.” Meg tugged at the ropes binding her wrists behind her. “It’ll be fun, they said. Bull fucking shit.”
Tied to the chair behind her, Charlie struggled against her own bonds. “Okay, for the record, this is so totally not my fault. I mean, you’re a demon, can’t you just—?”
“No, I can’t just, genius. That thing painted on the floor? That’s a Devil’s Trap. Which means I’m almost as pathetic as you are.” The ropes bit deep enough into her wrists to draw blood, and Meg stilled with the sting and grimaced.
“Hey!” Charlie twisted her neck to attempt a glare at Meg. “I’m not pathetic! I’m squishy! I’m a glass cannon. A mage of total badass awesomeness!”
Meg turned her head to examine the human from the corner of her eyes. Her pale face flushed pink, sweat slicking the hair against her face damply dark. That’s what Charlie got for donning Winchester chic. Layers were hot and not in the sexy way. “Sweetheart, you’re special all right, but not because of magic.”
With a huff, Charlie resumed struggling. She muttered, “I am so magical.”
It took all of Meg’s willpower not to roll her eyes. Humans were among the most melodramatic things ever. Made it easy to make deals though, what with the constant desperation of the human condition. Meg asked, “You have a knife or a nail file or something? Fucking witch took mine.”
Charlie stopped. “Uh. No. Nothing helpful. Sorry.” She twisted again, so Meg contorted to look back at her. “Can I ask you a question?”
“Chances are you’ll ask anyway,” said Meg dryly. Ten bucks said she knew where this was going.
Even given permission, or as close to it as she was getting, Charlie hesitated. Then, she asked, excitedly, “I thought the bodies demon’s possessed were in a state of limbo? So uh—do your nails even grow? What about your hair?”
“That’s your question?” Seriously, where did Sam and Dean even find these whack-a-doos? “They stay how they were. That’s part of the whole limbo thing, genius.”
“So what if you break a nail?” and the damn girl sounded so interested that Meg had to laugh at her.
Meg twisted to face front again. “They grow back to the original length—probably part of the whole healing party trick. Hair’s different. Cut it, it doesn’t grow back. Don’t know why, but them’s the breaks.”
That seemed to appease Charlie for awhile, and they sat in silence. Meg grimaced. They were seriously stuck, and every second they spent here was more time the witch had to do her rain ritual. Weather-changing shit never went well. That she knew from experience. Worse, if she didn’t get Charlie out of this unscathed, the Winchesters were going to put her on goddamn probation again. Like Hell she wanted to spend more time cuffed in their bunker while they argued over whether she could be trusted. You know, because letting them handcuff her for anything other than filthy sex wasn’t a tip that she was being straight and narrow. So she had to get Charlie back to them in one piece.
“So uh… Meg… The boys said you would help me, and I shouldn’t worry too much, but how does a demon make friends with… I mean, there was Ruby, but you were pretty mean, and you were working for Lucifer. So what happened?”
There it was. Honestly, Meg probably would have had to question Charlie’s sanity more if she hadn’t asked, annoying as the “blah blah demon die” thing was. “I was Team Sam before it was cool,” said Meg, voice even. When that didn’t seem to be enough for Charlie, Meg continued, “And I spent two years being tortured by Crowley. The first year for helping them gank the Chompers. The second because I gave the Winchesters an escape opportunity. Enemy of my enemy, and all that shit.”
Charlie’s feet tapped the concrete floor. She was lucky enough not to have her legs tied to the chair. “That’s it? You joined up with the Winchesters to escape Crowely? That’s… sort of anti-climatic.”
“I’ve got simple tastes. I like living, so I needed friends. By then, I’d spent almost two years running from Crowley on my own without anything to show for it.” Meg tilted her head back, till the crown of her head bumped Charlie’s. “And I met a magical unicorn who really liked sappy poetry. That more climatic?”
Charlie let them touch. Quietly, she asked, “A unicorn?”
“Or an angel. Whatever.”
Meg pulled away, to peer at where her ankles were tied to the chair legs. She tugged at the bindings, and they didn’t even budge. Just fantastic. Charlie piped up, incapable of letting anything drop, “So he opened that door for you? Changed it all?” She fell silent and Meg nearly dared hope that was the end of it. If one more person talked about how Clarence had saved her, she might go dark side again out of spite. She had saved him, when even the Winchesters had given up on him. “Yeah, I get that,” murmured Charlie.
Oh, good. Apparently they were supposed to be bonding now, or something. Meg blew out a sigh. “Yeah?”
“Dorothy,” there was something soft and wistful to her tone, “I got my adventure. But I… My place is here. And hers was there. Now? I don’t know. I’m better for going, absolutely, but I’m not really sure what’s next.”
“What’s next is we get out of here.” Meg had had enough unicorns and sad unicorn stories to last eternity.
Charlie said nothing, breath rising and falling evenly, and Meg tried one last futile pull at the ropes. “Got anything up your sleeve?”
“Um. My arm?” and then she laughed, wildly. Great. Scared human. Most of the time, Meg would have reveled in it, but she didn’t have the luxury today. Maybe tomorrow.
This time, the silence was tense as they both tried to figure out something, anything. Then, Charlie said, totally normal, like things weren’t looking increasingly dim, “You know there’s a trope that goes a lot like this. Two people with nothing in common are handcuffed together and—“
“We have something in common. Lame hunter friends who don’t show up when they’re supposed to, and unicorns, remember? Doesn’t work,” Meg snapped.
“But you’re a demon!” Charlie protested, wriggling against her bonds, “And I’m the mega-hot champion of Oz.”
Meg wasn’t even going to ask, though the fact Charlie’s friend was named Dorothy didn’t sound promising. Instead, she replied, “Right. Silly me. I forgot that my being a demon eradicated the whole touching unicorn rainbow farts part of the the bonding. Let’s talk about all the horrible things I’ve done and the undoubtably riveting and tragic backstory you’ve got going.”
“…You… really don’t have any friends, do you?” Charlie asked, quiet after a beat of silence.
“Uh,” Meg barely kept from laughing, “What do you think happens in Hell? Nail painting and pillow fights?”
Charlie huffed, but had no answer for her. In fact, Charlie flat out didn’t say anything for so long that Meg wondered if she had really blown it this time. Meg made a face. Humans were so sensitive about everything little thing, and Meg had to make sure this one liked her. Time to patch things up. Or, at least, try. “Tell me about the trope.”
For a moment, Charlie said nothing. Meg knew she was losing brownie points for this one, but then Charlie piped up brightly, “Two totally different people get bound together, and, while coming up with a plan or waiting to be rescued, they bond. And discover they actually like each other. And sometimes…”
Meg snorted her disbelief, both eyebrows rising and her mouth twisting. “Are you coming onto me?”
“Is it working?”
“Hi, I’m a demon?” Meg said, voice dry and low, “Also, thought you were burning a torch for that Dorothy chick. Was it Toto? Or did you really miss Kansas?” Seriously. First an angel, now this nerdy human? Meg was seriously on a roll.
Charlie was quiet again, which was about when Meg remembered she was supposed to be being nice. She twisted her head to look at Charlie, who continued staring straight ahead, so all Meg could see was the bright strands of her red hair. “Forget it,” Charlie eventually said, “Do you have a way to get us out of here or what?”
“I’m working on it,” snapped Meg as she turned to face the front again, and Charlie didn’t say anything after that, made no noise apart from her heavy mouth-breathing.
But every time she tried to hatch a plan, Meg found herself honing in on the rise and fall of Charlie’s breaths and the silence that otherwise hung over them. Meg glared at the Trap painted in nauseating purple on the floor. She said, finally, when she couldn’t outlast Charlie, “Tell me about Dorothy. You loved her?”
“Giving the bonding thing another try?” Her voice was desert dry. “…I did. Still do, not that that does me much good. I don’t think I’m ever going back to Oz, since I don’t have my own magic horn to call me back. You know, like Susan Penvesie? Anyway. Yeah.”
Meg had no idea who Susan was, but she pretended like she did. “Why did you come back, then?” Curious despite herself, Meg turned to look at her, and Charlie mirrored the action this time.
Charlie’s eyes met Meg’s, wide and blue and wet. Hell, Meg seriously hadn’t signed up for this. “Dorothy and I won the Revolution. Peace came to Oz, and I lived in the Emerald City with her—for more than one short day, let me tell you!” she waited a beat for Meg to react, and when Meg didn’t, she continued, more wistful, “I was there for like… a year? Two? I don’t really know. Time passed differently there, sort of like Hell. But I missed Earth. I missed Sam and Dean and my friends from Moondoor and computers. And the adventure was over, you know? I didn’t fit in. All I had was Dorothy, you know? I got restless. She tried to make me feel better, but I wasn’t happy. I thought I would be. But I wasn’t, and I couldn’t force myself to be. So she gave me the slippers.”
“Could you go back?”
“No. Not easily, anyway.”
Meg grimaced, and Charlie frowned at her. Shit, had Meg messed up on the sympathy thing again? She honestly felt bad for her this time—Meg knew what it was like to get the thing you wanted more than anything, only to realize it wasn’t what you had expected or wanted at all. Instead, Charlie asked, “Can demons love?”
“Depends on what you mean.” Meg swiveled to face front again, glaring at the paint that was the cause of all their problems. Or most of them, anyway. “If you mean love that’s selfless and kind, you’re barking up the wrong tree, sister. But the darker stuff? Lust, envy, passion? Oh, absolutely. Obsession. Think Neruda—I love you as certain dark things or whatever shit.”
She expelled a breath. Meg didn’t like this trope. But Charlie wasn’t exactly as bad as she expected. For one, she didn’t seem to have all the emotional baggage bullshit that the other Winchesters had, which was a nice change. Hunters thought demons were fucked up, but they were the ones with the vendettas and emotional baggage up the wazoo.“Wasn’t it selfless to let the Winchesters escape?”
“I was screwing over Crowley. It had nothing to do with selflessness.”
“What about your devotion to your family? To Lucifer?”
“You want to talk about my thing with Lucifer as a redeeming quality? Seriously? That’s twisted, even for me.” Charlie waited, so Meg answered the damn question, “That was helping me, genius. Nothing good or selfless about it. It was all about power.”
Charlie laughed. “I think you have some internalized demonophobia going on.”
“I think you don’t know shit.” Meg rocked her chair.
“Do you love your unicorn?” A pause. “Your angel?”
“He’s not my angel. Not anymore, okay? And love is shit, anyway. I’m done bonding. We need to figure something out. I…” Meg frowned, examining the paint. She couldn’t touch it. But Charlie could. “We’re going to knock over your chair, and you’re going to break the circle. Can you do that?”
Charlie was silent for so long, Meg wanted to shake her. But then, Charlie said, “I can try.”
Good enough. They rocked their chairs, Meg colliding the back of hers over and over with Charlie’s. Eventually, Charlie’s chair topped to the side, while Meg barely recovered to keep herself from following. Charlie groaned. “You so owe me.”
“I owe you?” Meg asked, raising her eyebrows even as she watched Charlie kick out her legs and propel her chair across the floor, wood scraping against the concrete. “We’re in this mess because of you, sweetheart, not me.”
She neared the circle, and her leg muscles shifted beneath the tight fit of her jeans. The sharp corner of the chair back dragged through the still-wet paint, smearing it. Once Charlie had passed through the whole line, she panted, “Good?”
It took way too long to get herself turned around, and Charlie glared when Meg laughed, fire red hair feathered about her face, slicked with the purple paint. “You look like a capsized turtle,” Meg told her.
“Maybe once we get out of here. If you’re lucky.”
Charlie appraised her from her spot on the floor. But she pushed herself and the chair through the smudged paint—and this time broke the sigil. Meg snapped the ropes.
She moved to Charlie, then lifted her and the chair without blinking. Wide-eyed, Charlie blinked up at her, blood-colored hair stained purple. “You’re… super strong. Like, Wonder Woman strong. Or… maybe Dinah Lance? I could totally be your Barbara Gordon. We could start a group of lady hunters together, or something cool? I mean, I saved you, so, fair damsel, I think I deserve a—“
Meg’s eyebrows furrowed. “Dinah Lance? Who the hell is that?”
“Superhero. Or—or Starfire and Reven, with the whole mysterious magic demon thing?” Charlie smiled, but her eyes flicked to Meg’s hands. “You gonna untie me?”
“Maybe I should gag you and keep you like this. You’re sorta cute. But… you did let me out of the Devil’s Trap…” Meg leaned down, near enough she could smell the salt of Charlie’s sweat and the chemical scent of the paint.
She brushed her lips against the corner of Charlie’s parted mouth, giving her a brief taste of fire. “This fit your trope?” she asked as she circled Charlie to carefully snap the ropes binding her.
Charlie sprung to her feet, then whirled to face her. Pink rose high in her cheeks, eyes blue (what was it about blue eyes Meg liked so much?) and wide. “Um, yeah. Yeah,” she cleared her throat, then looked at Meg through her lashes. “Sometimes, it’s more sexy.”
“Well, after we ice this witch, maybe I’ll tell you about the babysitter.”
Meg walked out of the room, Charlie close on her heels. Maybe helping Winchesters wasn’t so bad. Meg could stand a little more “bonding.”