Satan threw back his head, calling out a challenge to any who would hear him. After his race against his sire, it was as if his blood was alight with the flames they'd run from.
While it was true that Satan had befriended Henry and Alec had managed to gain his respect, the large stallion still viewed the world as rightfully his. This, of course, meant that any intrusion of his land was an open invitation to fight.
Snorting loudly in disgust, Satan kicked at the door to his stall. He would find the intruder and beat him into submission, or death, whichever came first.
His battle-cry was answered and bloodlust rose in his veins. He roared back in anger and beat at the door, causing the latch to groan under his assault, and finally crack and break open beneath his furious hooves.
Satan leapt forward, heading out of the barn toward his challenger. Coming up to the main pasture, he leapt over the fence as if they weren't there. He paused momentarily, scenting the air, trying to find the other who'd answered his call.
Hoof beats thundered behind him and Satan whirled to meet the other, but there was nothing there. He quivered with suppressed rage. Turning his head from side to side, Satan scanned his surroundings, wondering where his challenger hid.
A terrible cry tore through the night air and Satan's blood cooled in his veins. This was not the cry of an earthly being.
He was about to turn back to the stable when a brush of searing heat swept over him. Satan turned slowly, coming face-to-face with what can only be described as a demon-horse.
The stallion stood at 20 hands at the withers and was staring into Satan's eyes as if the battle had already been won. His coat was a sickly color, looking almost green in the moonlight, and he was emaciated to the point that his ribs could be counted one by one if you so-desired.
As one, Satan and the challenging stallion reared back on their hind legs and the fight began. While Satan knew he could defeat most challengers, this stallion was beyond his realm and as such, it was all Satan could do to stay alive.
So, he threw himself wholeheartedly into the fight, pounding his hooves against the larger stallion and snapping his sharp teeth at the other's neck. Blood flowed freely from both stallions as they clashed time and time again and for the first time in his life, Satan felt the stirrings of uncertainty creep up on him.
The sun's first rays lit the pasture, causing a sickly glow to appear around the challenging stallion as he stood on the blood-stained grass. Even as Satan breathed in his next lungful of crisp morning air, the stallion moved to attack once more.
A shot rang out, loud and shocking, in the light of dawn.
Both stallions froze, Satan trembling slightly in exhaustion and the challenger towering menacingly over him.
Bickering voices could be heard, as three men walked towards the two horses. Satan recognized Alec's voice, but the other voices were unfamiliar.
"I told you it was a specter, Dean." One man said.
"Three words, Sammy; Shut up, bitch." Dean responded.
"Jerk!" Sammy retorted. Alec laughed softly as the two men badgered each other.
"Shit!" he cursed, racing to Satan's side and placing a comforting hand on the stallion's heaving ribs. "I thought you said it couldn't hurt anything," he accused.
"It shouldn't have been able to. What do you think, Dean? Dean?" Sammy asked. The uncertainty in his voice caught Alec and Satan's attention and they both turned their eyes to where Dean stood, transfixed by the challenging stallion.
"Mortifer," Dean gasped out.
The challenger, Mortifer, looked down at Dean. Ignoring the others, Mortifer stepped up to Dean and placed his muzzle against the man's chest.
"You are no longer a ward of the underworld," a voice rasped. "Why do you still seek death?"
"I… I don't know what you mean." Dean stammered.
"And yet, in your mind, you realize that walking this path once more will lead you back into darkness." Mortifer turned to look at Sammy. "Would you sacrifice that which you hold dear, in order to continue running?" His eyes met Dean's, "Tell him and you may live; remain silent and your memories will drag you both into hell."
With those parting words, Mortifer turned away and walked towards the rising sun; fading away the farther he went until he disappeared completely.
Alec and Sam shared a look of understanding before turning to their respective charges; Alec leading Satan and Sam wrapping an arm around Dean and steering him to follow. With a hand on the big horse's shoulder, Alec lead them all back into the stable.
"You can wait for me here." Alec told the Winchesters, pointing to an empty office as he picked up the first-aid kit.
Sam nodded, sitting Dean down on the cot and encouraging him to lie down. It was obvious that Dean was still in shock from seeing the demon-horse, Mortifer, but Sam had no idea why. "Dean? I'm going to give Alec a hand with Satan. Will you be ok here for a little while?" he asked.
When Dean nodded, Sam tucked his own jacket around his brother's shoulders and went back out into the stable.
"Hey," Alec greeted as Sam picked up a cloth and began helping clean out the wounds on Satan's body. Other than exhaustion from the prolonged fight, the stallion had fared quite well, coming out of the fight with mostly superficial cuts, scrapes, and bites. Alec and Sam seemed comfortable working in silence.
It didn't take long to clean and bandage Satan's wounds and as they lead the stallion back to his stall, Sam spoke.
"I heard about Pam," he began. "How're you doing?"
"Fine," Alec said, not looking Sam in the eye. "It was like she was there one minute and just gone the next. We were going to plan the wedding when she got back from her trip." He stopped talking; Pam's death was still too fresh in his mind to discuss.
"I know you've probably heard it before, but I really do understand. And, if you need someone to talk to, I'm just a phone call away." Sam offered, thinking back to Jess' death and its impact on his life.
Alec pulled the stall door shut; he didn't bother with the bolt. He met Sam's eyes as he answered. "Yeah, I just might do that. If you want, there's a free room upstairs," he offered. "You guys can hole up there until Dean's ready to hit the road. He looked pretty bad."
"Not a problem," Alec replied. "The room is already furnished and there's a little stove if you want to cook, just dig around in the cupboards. There's only one bed, but you guys have probably had to deal with worse, right?" he sighed. "If you need anything else, I'm going to bed down in Satan's stall. Keep an eye on him."
"Thanks again, Alec. Goodnight," Sam said, pulling Dean's sleeping body up into his arms and carrying his brother up the stairs. It was times like this when Sam was thankful that he was larger than his brother.
It was late afternoon when Dean woke up and turned to Sam. They lay next to each other, just looking for a moment, content to be still and quiet.
"I know I've told you a lot about what happened after Lilith collected on my debt," Dean began, his voice barely above a whisper, "But there's so much more…"
And as Dean told Sam everything he had left out in their previous conversations about his time in hell, the world around them moved on. Downstairs, Alec and Henry worked with the horses; states away, Bobby changed the oil in his little car; and in another realm, Castiel and Mortifer agreed that it had all worked out for the best.