Adam Milligan stretched as he woke up. Truthfully, he wasn’t sure if he needed to sleep anymore, but he enjoyed it anyway. Plus, it got him away from dealing with demons for a little while. That was probably why Sam Winchester slept too.
Adam grinned and selected a suit and tie. Today wasn’t a big day, but Sam did have a meeting with his council, and Adam was part of that council. Adam had no idea what was on the agenda today, and he wasn’t sure he was going to like it too much. Sam had been stomping around since late yesterday afternoon, when he’d told Adam about the meeting.
After Adam dressed, selected his tie, and finished tying his shoes, he headed out to the kitchen. He tripped over Zig, the Hellhound that slept outside his door. The thing had apparently adopted him and followed him around everywhere. Adam was getting used to it, and he scratched the hound’s ears before heading down the hall and into the kitchen.
“Good morning, Adam,” Crowley said as he appeared right behind Adam. Adam didn’t even startle. He was too used to Crowley doing that by now.
Adam rolled his eyes and headed for the coffee pot. He poured himself a cup and took a long drink before heading for the cupboard for some cereal. “Good morning, Crowley,” Adam finally said. “You know, I found this very interesting book last week. One of the main characters was named Crowley.” Finally, he’d found a way to make fun of Crowley. If he didn’t already know about the book, but Adam could hope, anyway.
“Ah, the magician?” Crowley asked. “He took his name from me, you know.”
Adam grinned. “Nope,” he said. “It was a demon, actually. He was best friends with an angel, and the two of them helped stop the apocalypse. It was sweet.”
Crowley started to sputter. Adam grinned and returned to his breakfast. Sam took that moment to wander in, dressed in a suit just like Adam. He glanced at the crossroads demon for a moment before grinning. “I probably don’t want to know,” he said as he poured a cup of coffee pulled out some cereal. There was something in his manner that suggested he was determined not to blow up about something. That was probably why he was grinning even before he had his coffee. Smiling so he didn’t kill someone or something.
“Probably not,” Adam said cheerfully. If Sam wanted to act cheerful, Adam could too. “But I’ve got a new book Prattchet I want to loan you. Unless Crowley wants to read it first.”
Sam grinned, a real grin this time. “I think I know the book,” he said. “Good Omens?”
Adam nodded. “It’s fun. And Crowley and Aziraphle were so funny.”
Sam nodded. “Yep. I thought the authors nailed the characters pretty well.”
Adam glanced at Crowley, who had stopped sputtering and was currently trying to drill a hole through Adam with the force of his glare.
“I think I might want to read it again,” Sam said. “Later.”
“Anything big on the agenda?” Crowley asked, clearly trying to recover his dignity.
Sam shrugged. “Yes, there is something. It can wait, though.” For a second, his gaze darkened, and he frowned.
“No work at breakfast,” Adam said when it looked like Crowley might try to say more. He didn’t want Sam going homicidal yet.
Crowley nodded. He glanced warily at Sam.
Sam nodded. “Sounds good to me,” he said.
Sam pulled open a newspaper and handed Adam the business section. If Sam hadn’t nearly ripped the edges of the paper as he opened it, Adam would think he was calm.
Council meetings were never dull; Adam had to admit to himself. They were a bit pointless, since Hell was most definitely not a democracy, but Sam still insisted on them.
Sam frowned as soon as everyone was there. “Crowley, you’re the King of the Crossroads. Why did you allow a deal where the dealmaker didn’t forfit their soul? Not even a loan. Someone else’s soul is on the line.”
Crowley jolted. “What?” he asked.
“It comes due in a month, Crowley.” Sam spat out. “And the dealmaker sold her two year old son for life-long beauty.”
“WHAT!” Adam shouted. Every glass in the room shattered, spraying everyone with water and shards of glass.
Sam blinked at his half brother. “Well, you have the Winchester temper,” he said.
“That’s… let me go deal with her,” Adam sputtered. “I’ll put the fear of Hell in her.”
Sam shook his head. “Not yet,” he said, though he sounded tempted.
“I want her dead,” Bela snarled.
“I don’t see what the problem is, Bela,” Meg said. “Women do all sorts of things for beauty.”
“Her son,” Bela snapped. “She sold her son! Why didn’t she just sell herself?”
“That’s what I want to know,” Sam snapped out. “How did the crossroads demon take another person’s soul?”
“That, I don’t know,” Crowley said. “I’d need to look into the deal.”
“I don’t care,” Adam said. “Can I just take Zig up and rip her to pieces?”
“Not yet, Adam,” Sam said. He narrowed his eyes. “But when you can, I’ll tell you.”
“I’ll help,” Bela said viciously.
“Aw, is Bela feeling a bit neglected?” Meg asked sweetly. “Remembering all the times with your parents?”
Bela sniffed. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Bela said. She tossed her hair . “No kid should be used by their parents like that. You, obviously, were sent to hell because…”
Meg’s eyes flashed and she shot to her feet. Hell was a bit like prison- child molesters were at the bottom of the social pile. In other words, Bela had just said Meg was worth less than the newest of the human souls.
Bela stood up as well.
Adam wasn’t sure which one would win if Bela and Meg ended up in a physical fight, but they were going to make a mess of the council room if they did. Meg was older, a lot older, but Bela was tricky.
“Enough.” Sam said calmly.
Meg and Bela stopped and turned to look at him. “Let me see if I have this right. Meg, you feel that we should keep the deal as made, and drag a twelve year old into Hell for something his mother did. Bela, you think we should break the deal. Adam, you want to turn the hounds loose on the mother. Crowley?”
“It’s an irregular deal,” Crowley said. “Most of the time, we only take the dealmaker’s soul. And the demon that made this deal died a few years ago, or you could talk to her.”
Sam blinked. “Oh?”
“Yeah, mate. You shot her. She made another irregular deal, one that only promised one year…”
“I see,” Sam murmured. “And I’m sure this one was at Lilith’s behest as well.”
“Probably, mate,” Crowley replied.
“Then we’ll stop it,” Sam snarled. “I want to know how.”
“What do you think?” Adam asked Crowley.”
Crowley sat back, thinking. “I don’t like irregular deals. The last time one came due, we ended up with an apocalypse.”
“That was a special case,” Meg said. “We cannot free Lord Lucifer the same way again.”
Sam rolled his eyes. “I’m aware of both facts,” he said. He sighed. “What happens if we break the deal?” he asked Crowley.
“It’s hard to break deals,” he said. “There could be a backlash. Major backlash. I’m talking the destruction of whatever demon attempts it. Or demonic leader. Contracts are ironclad, and there’s a reason they can only be broken with a different contract.”
Sam nodded. “What about modifying it? This boy- Evan- has done nothing to deserve Hell. He wasn’t even the one who made the deal. And we all know what a bad idea bringing in someone who doesn’t deserve Hell is.”
Crowley frowned. “That’s easier. You know it can be done. But the price of a deal is a soul, and you know it.”
Sam nodded. “I think I need to pay Elizabeth Cory a visit,” he said. “Adam, you’ll be coming with me. Meg, Bela, stop arguing about this. I’ll handle it. I wanted advice, and I didn’t get anything useful.”
He stood up, making it clear that this meeting was over. Adam stood as well and followed his older brother out the door. “Sam?” he asked.
“I don’t like this,” Sam muttered. “I want you with me when we talk to Elizabeth. There’s something about this deal that isn’t right.”
“Besides the obvious?”
“Yes,” Sam answered. He took a deep breath and vanished. Adam rolled his eyes and followed.
He reappeared next to Sam in a small suburban neighborhood. He glanced around, but couldn’t tell which house they wanted to go to.
“Sam?” he asked.
“This way,” Sam replied.
“No that’s not what I wanted to ask, actually. Why did you want me to come with you?”
Sam sighed. “Because I trust you,” Sam said. “I know you won’t try to mess this up like a demon would.”
They walked down the street in tandem. Adam glanced over at Sam, and Sam was smiling sadly. “Hey, Adam, I told you about those books, right?”
“Yeah,” Adam said. “Whatever happened to that prophet?”
Sam shrugged. “I don’t know. Chuck vanished just after we fell into the Pit.”
“Why bring them up?” Adam asked.
Sam frowned. “I don’t know.” He shook his head. “Anyway, we’re here.”
He stopped just to the side of a house where a boy was throwing a basketball into the hoop mounted on the garage door.
“Him?” Adam asked.
Sam nodded. “I can see the marks on his soul.”
“Geez,” Adam said. “What mother would sell her own child for beauty?” he asked again.
“A selfish one.”
They walked up to the house. The boy stopped to watch them warily. “Hey, is this the Cory residence?” Sam asked.
“Yeah,” the boy said.
“Is your Mom home, kiddo?” Sam asked.
The boy scowled. “Yeah,” he said. He didn’t move from blocking the door.
Sam glanced at Adam, amused. “Alright, then. We need to talk to her. It’s important.”
“Who are you talking to, Evan?” A stunningly beautiful woman appeared at the door and eyed Sam and Adam for a moment. Adam’s eyes widened, but after a moment, he could see the spell- powered by darkness and hate- that had made her beautiful, and suddenly, he wasn’t attracted to her at all.
“Ms. Cory?” Sam asked.
“Can I help you gentlemen?” she asked. She smiled at them both.
Sam nodded, not smiling in return. “Ms. Cory, I am the leader of a group you dealt with about ten years ago. I need to speak with you about that deal.” He glanced at Evan and then back at her.
She paled. “Yes, please, come in. Evan, why don’t you see if any of your friends are done with their homework? I’m sure they’d like to head to the corner store with you.” She pulled a wallet out of the purse hanging by the door and handed her son a twenty. “Get a milkshake or soda. Just bring home a loaf of bread when you’re done.”
Evan’s eyes lit up and he tossed the basketball into a bin on the side of the house and took off down the street. Sam watched him go with a sad smile on his face.
Elizabeth Cory led them into a simple living room. Adam glanced around as Sam sat on the couch. Adam stood to one side for a moment before sitting down next to his brother.
Elizabeth sat across from them uneasily. “Ms. Cory, I am Sam Winchester. This is my brother, Adam Milligan. We’ve come to talk to you about the deal you made at a crossroads nine years and eleven months ago.”
She swallowed. “What about it?”
“Do you regret it?” Sam asked bluntly.
She paused, and then shook her head. “No,” she said. “I’ve been able to provide my son with everything the past ten years. He’s never wanted for anything. If I hadn’t done this…”
Sam nodded slowly. “Why did you sell him?”
She looked down. To Adam’s eyes, however, she was acting. “The bargainer wouldn’t accept me,” she said.
Adam snorted. “You’re lying,” he said. “She was going to take your soul. But you were too scared. And you suggested your son’s soul. Sam, we’re not going to change her mind.”
“That’s not what happened!” Elizabeth protested. “I swear, that’s not what happened!”
Adam heard a low growl to his left. He and Sam both looked over. Adam grinned. Zig had followed them. Elizabeth looked over as well, but she didn’t seem to see the hound.
Sam scowled at Elizabeth. “Why don’t you tell me what did happen?” he said. “The Crossroads demons never hesitate to take a soul. Why would they hesitate to take yours?”
Elizabeth shook her head. “But… I don’t understand…”
“Tell me,” Sam snarled. “Or I will make you regret it.” Sam’s eyes were burning yellow. He was clearly holding on to his temper by a thread.
Elizabeth shrank back. “I… I didn’t make the deal!” she blurted out. “She didn’t take my soul because I wasn’t the one to make the deal!”
Adam blinked. Sam leaned forward. “Explain, now,” he barked out.
She shuddered. “Evan told her that he wanted his mommy to be pretty.”
Sam glared at her. “Are you trying to tell me that a two year old made a deal?”
Sam stood up and lifted his hand. “You have a minute to tell me how a two year old managed to summon a demon and make a deal, or I kill you right now and take your son somewhere where he’ll be safe.”
His eyes were edging away from yellow, and toward some other color. Adam had never seen them do that before.
Elizabeth burst into tears. “I couldn’t help him,” she said. “The only reason I had him was because… that man thought that I had to be punished. It took me nearly three years to find a way to keep people from staring at me after what he did to me, the scars he left. And Evan… Evan was his.”
“I’m not interested in your tale of self-pity,” Sam snarled. Adam was sure if this had been any other woman, Sam would have been sympathetic. “What did you do to him?”
“I promised him that if he told the lady that he wanted his Mommy to be beautiful, I’d give him a new toy.”
The vase next to Adam shattered. Zig snarled and braced to attack.
“No, Zig,” Adam said. Someone had to remain calm. Even if Adam felt like ripping the woman apart himself, someone had to stay calm.
Sam jumped to his feet.
“You…” Sam choked on his words. “You…” he took a deep breath. “We are going to make a new deal, Ms. Cory.
Elizabeth looked up, hopeful.
“In one month’s time, the Hounds will come for you, not your son. You benefited from the deal, not your son, and he doesn’t deserve to go to Hell.”
“I’m not going to Hell!” she snapped.
Sam eyed her coldly. “Do you think that you’d go anywhere else after the way you used your son? And even if you somehow got to Heaven, I know the regent wouldn’t let you stay there.”
“It’s not an option, Ms. Cory. Take the deal, or I send you down right now, not in a month.” He closed his hand into a fist and Elizabeth started to choke.
Adam didn’t say anything. If Sam killed her now, he wouldn’t complain.
After a few seconds, Sam let her go. “I can draw this out,” he said softly. “I can choke you, and then release you, for hours. Your son is distracted. He won’t be home for a while, and there’s no one else to help you. You will make this deal.”
Adam stood up and walked around behind her. “I’ve spent more time in the Pits, brother,” he said lightly. “I could take care of her for you.” He was a Prince of Hell, after all.
Sam blinked at him. His eyes were a strange, brilliant green. “No, Adam, I will deal with her.” He returned his attention to the quivering, sobbing woman sitting in the chair in front of him. “Do we have a deal, Ms. Cory?”
“I don’t want to go to Hell.”
“Too late. You either go now, or you go in a month’s time,” Sam snarled. “And if you don’t make this deal, your son will know what you did to him, and he’ll spend the last month of his life hating you. And he’ll hate you when you see him again in Hell. If you make the deal, I promise that I will never tell him and he’ll always love you.”
He smiled softly, his eyes suddenly returning to their normal green-hazel. “That’s all you want, is it not?” he purred. “To be loved? I’m offering you a chance, Ms. Cory, to be loved for all eternity. Just make this deal, and you will be loved, I assure you.”
She nodded, tears tracking down her face. “Good,” Sam continued, still in the soft, coaxing voice. “Do you know what we need to do to seal the deal?”
“The woman who made the deal with Evan kissed him.”
“That’s correct,” Sam said as he knelt down in front of her. “You made the right choice, Ms. Cory, and now we need to make sure this deal keeps.”
She looked up at him. Sam looked as innocent and attentive as Adam had ever seen him, all traces of his fury gone. He leaned forward and gently kissed her. Adam stood witness to the change in the deal.
Sam stood up as soon as he was done, suddenly all business. “Don’t try to weasel out of this, Ms. Cory,” he warned. “And you should wash your face. Your son might ask you why you were crying.”
Adam followed Sam to the door, and Zig followed Adam. As soon as they were out the door, Sam twisted his hand. Adam felt some magic fall away from the house. “Come on,” he said. We need to go before Evan gets back. He’s going to remember that he left his mom at home with strangers and she looked frightened, in just about a minute.”
He grabbed Adam’s shoulder and teleported them away.
Adam kept his balance as they rematerialized in an alley somewhere. “I could have just followed you,” he said mildly.
“I know,” Sam said. Zig ran up behind him.
“Zig, go home,” Adam said. “I’ll be fine here.” The hound whined but disappeared.
“So, where are we?” Adam asked.
“Just… away,” Sam said. “I couldn’t stand to be close to her any longer.”
“I don’t blame you,” Adam said.
Sam sighed and began to walk out of the alleyway. Adam hurried to catch up to his taller brother. “I hate that I had to make a deal,” he said. “I swore I’d never do it, I know what happens to those who make deals, I know…”
“Why don’t we ask Dean what he thinks?” Adam asked.
Sam brightened slightly. “I’d like that,” he said.
Adam grinned at his older brother. “Race you there!” he said as he teleported out.
Sam appeared next to him just a second later, in Dean’s backyard, right next to their older brother.
Dean jumped. “Warn me next time!” he snapped when he realized who it was.
“Sorry, Dean,” Adam said. He had been the first one to get here, after all.
Dean just sighed, opened a nearby cooler, and handed them both beers. “So, what’s going on?” he asked. “Sammy’s looking like the world is ending again.” He paused. “It’s not, is it?”
Adam laughed. “No, it’s not,” he said.
Sam took a long drink before sighing and staring off into space. “It’s a deal, Dean. I had to make a deal.”
“Can you break it?” Dean asked.
“No,” Sam said. “It’s… bad. This woman didn’t sell her own soul ten years ago; she sold her then two year old’s son’s soul. The deal was up in a month, Dean. He’s twelve, and…”
“Son of a bitch!” Dean snapped. “How could she do that to her own son?”
“I don’t know,” Sam said quietly. He sat down on the back porch steps. Dean sat next to him. Sam swallowed. “I lost my temper and forced her to renegotiate the deal. She’s the one going to Hell next month, not her son.”
Adam sighed and leaned against the railing next to them. “There’s more,” he said. “Something else about this deal is bothering you,” he said. “What?”
Sam grimaced. “This is worse then what Mom did. At least she didn’t know she was selling me for Dad.”
Adam and Dean were both silent for a long time. “Damnit Sammy,” Dean finally sighed.
“Wow,” Adam said. “I never knew you felt like that.”
Sam laughed hollowly. “Most of the time, I don’t. But I guess this just brought the memories up. I don’t know, Adam.”
Dean frowned. “Sammy, Mom wasn’t selling you.”
“She didn’t know she was selling me. And yeah, it worked out in the end,” Sam said. “I just…”
“I know,” Dean said.
“Sam, what are we going to do about the kid? He’s going to be, well, pretty much an orphan next month,” Adam said. “If what Elizabeth Cory said was right, Evan’s father isn’t in the picture.”
Sam sighed. “The kid’s twelve,” he said. “I don’t want to expose him to Hunting, or anything supernatural, or he’ll know how his Mom died. Better if he stays ignorant. I guess he’ll go into the system, but we can keep an eye on him.”
“Can I help?” Dean asked.
Sam sighed. “Probably. I just hate this whole thing. How could she do this to her son?”
“It’s done now,” Adam said. “And there’s nothing we can do about it. Let’s just enjoy some time together.”
“I’ve got more beer in the fridge,” Dean said.
Sam smiled slightly.
When Lisa came home, she found the three brothers well on their way to being drunk. Sam’s coat was hanging from the kitchen door handle, and Adam’s was draped over his chair. Dean was trying to get Sam’s tie off, since it seemed like the knot was too much for their drunken coordination. Adam’s tie was just hanging from his neck, unknotted. There was a small collection of beer and whisky bottles on the counter. She eyed them for a moment. “I don’t want to know, do I?” she asked.
“Just trying to get Sammy to relax, he had a rough day at the office,” Dean slurred slightly. “Don’t worry, sweetheart.”
Lisa shook her head. “Be careful.”
“Don’t worry, Lisa, we will,” Sam said, his dictation overly precise in the way that told anyone that he was drunk.
“Good,” Lisa said. “If you destroy something in town, I don’t want to know.”
Adam laughed. “It’ll be fine, Lisa,” he said. “We won’t destroy anything in town.” He sprawled in his seat, watching his older brothers fondly.
“How about Devil’s Tower?” Dean asked. “I always hated that name. And it’s not in town.”
Sam grinned. “Not today. I couldn’t get us there safely.”
“Ok, that’s it,” Lisa said. “You’re spending the night here and sleeping it off. No teleporting while drunk.”
Sam pouted slightly. “But I really do have to make sure all the paperwork is taken care of.”
“In the morning, Sam,” Lisa said. She collected the shot glasses from them. “Time to get some sleep.”