"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 wasn'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.
Sam tested his bonds for the umpteenth time, they held fast. His left wrist was manacled and chained high above his head forcing his arm into an uncomfortable stretch. His ankles also had manacles circling them tightly with a short heavy chain hanging between them. He could stand to give his arm some relief, but he could take only a step or two. For now, it was easier to just sit.
Sam was the hopeful Winchester. He was the one who had faith even when things were at their worst like being held by demons and being chained to a wall. Must be Thursday. He let his head fall back against the stone wall behind him and raised his right wrist. I suppose I should be grateful the demons hadn’t put a manacle around it too.
Pain radiated through his injured arm in a rhythmic pulse like a second heartbeat. It was badly mangled and still oozed blood from where the hellhound had wrapped its jaws around it and shook until he dropped his demon blade leaving him defenseless before the demon Crowley had somehow teleported him away from the warehouse. Away from Dean.
Having faith didn’t mean he didn’t worry. Who was this demon Crowley? Who was he collecting Sam and Dean for? Where was Dean?
Dread filled Sam causing his skin to break out into a cool sweat. The last image he had of his brother wasn’t a good one. Dean had been bloodied with several angry claw marks along his side and chest. He been on his feet and emptying his clip into the well-dressed demon, who’d just ignored it.
Then the warehouse had simply disappeared as he found himself suddenly in another place surrounded by black-eyed people, more demons, and Crowley. Dean was nowhere in sight. Sam’s stomach had clenched tighter than the hound’s grip on his wrist as he realized his brother had been left behind. Dean had been left with the worst monster in existence, the vampire Angelus.
Dean. Sam tried to quell his inner panic. Under normal circumstances, his brother was the most capable hunter Sam knew. Dean had been trained by their father, had embraced the life when Sam had fought against and eventually left it. There was no one better. Yet, Dean had been badly hurt and left alone with a thing that was known for its cruelty.
Angelus didn’t just kill, he tortured. He delighted in the suffering of his victims in every way imaginable from sexual to psychological. The vampire relished agony in a way the Winchester hadn’t heard of any other monster they’d hunted. The creature had even plunged the entire world into a Hell dimension for seven years.
A loud sound of tumblers turning in a lock drew Sam’s attention to the door on the far side of his small cell. It appeared to be a heavy wooden door, with a small window at eye-level. The window had thick iron bars inside of it wide enough to keep a hand from slipping between them while leaving plenty of room for the demon stationed outside to peer inside at regular intervals.
Sam wasn’t sure what the demon had been watching him for, it wasn’t like he was going anywhere. Still, maybe the Winchester reputation had made them nervous. After all, their Dad had fought his way out of Hell just before The Fall. That had to make any hellspawn nervous.
The door swung open and a petite brunette slipped inside. She had a duffle bag with her, a bottle of water, and a sandwich wrapped in cellophane. She smiled at him. Under normal circumstances, he might have found her attractive. Hell, he might have found her hot. She may have been on the short side for his tastes, but she had curves in all the right places and a mouth that curved into a sinful smile. She walked with a graceful confidence that said she knew who she was. However, that was the problem, she wasn’t who she was because while she was smiling at him flashing big brown eyes that promised a wicked sense of humor, they weren’t her eyes.
Sam had seen this woman in the big throne room, for like of a better phrase, where he’d suddenly materialized. She was many of the people standing, waiting to heed Crowley’s barked commands. Every single one of them had solid black eyes, void of any iris; the telltale sign of demons.
The woman sauntered over to him, dropped the bag by his side, and slowly straddled him. She grinned. She wore a poured on black tank top tucked into jeans which were a tight enough to be a second skin. Her knees were on either side of Sam’s thighs and to anyone else it might look like Sam had just hit the jackpot.
Sam scooted back, trying to shift her off him. He could hear a lewd muttered, “Have fun!” from the other side of the door as it swung shut followed by steps shuffling away.
“Get off me,” Sam ordered the demon wrapping his free hand around her throat and squeezing as hard as his mangled wrists would allow, which unfortunately wasn’t much.
The demon ground her pelvis into his as she leaned forward, pressing her bosom into his chest and whispering into his left ear, “Sam, is that any way to treat an old friend?”
Sam growled and shoved her back ignoring the agonizing pain bolting up his arm. She fell back laughing and shaking her head slightly. She licked her lips.
“C’mon Sam.” Her voice was husky and low, just above a whisper. “What? You don’t like the new model? Was I that much better as a blonde?”
“What?” Sam narrowed his eyes and cradled his hand back to his chest. What game was this bitch playing?
She let her head fall back for a moment. Let out a small laugh then raised it back up and looked at him. “Sam, we don’t have much time here. My orders are to feed and bandage puppy. So quit trying to be big brother here and listen to me. You are in way deeper shit than during The Fall and it’s going to take more than a demon blade to help you get out. Oh, thanks for losing that, by the way.”
Sam leaned forward and stared at the demon. Studying her, looking for anything he might recognize. He’d never told anyone where he’d gotten his special demon killing knife, not even Dean. There’s no way his brother would have approved.
The demon opened the duffle bag and pulled out some tape, gauze, scissors, and some antiseptic cream and set them on the floor. She turned around and looked back at Sam’s wrist. “Okay, tiger, you wanna let me take a look at that? The supplies I have will do about jack and shit, but it will look pretty for the bosses until we can get you out of here.”
“Ruby?” Sam let the name pass between his lips almost as an exhale, not even a whisper.
“Always said you were the smart one,” she replied as she reached out for his wrist.
“Is that really you?” Sam didn’t want to get his hopes up. Things to be good to be true usually weren’t. He couldn’t believe he was that lucky that the one demon who’d ever been on a Winchester side, his side, would find him once again when demons had managed to separate him from his brother. Especially when I thought she was dead…or worse.
“Hey I told you, I’d make it through. It wasn’t easy. The torture, the groveling, the...” she paused as she gently turned his wrist to get a better look at the bite. “You get the picture. However, I’m a team player again. Back up top in a new meat suit and ready to go.”
Sam narrowed his eyes. He owed Ruby. She’d helped him out while Dean was lost during The Fall. She’d kept him together, and yes she’d given him the blade to boot. However, he knew she had her own agenda.
Ruby snapped her fingers. “Sam, you paying attention?”
“What do you want?” Sam asked.
“Look just because Angelus’ apocalypse is over doesn’t mean the world is safe. There are bigger players out there. Other apocalypse cards to play.” She took a cotton pad from out of the duffle bag and then a bottle of alcohol. She opened the bottle and poured some of the contents on the pad.
“Lilith?” That had been Ruby’s agenda, stopping a demon named Lilith.
“Shhh!” Ruby hissed as she swiped the alcohol soaked pad across Sam’s torn wrist.
Raw fiery pain blazed through his arm. Sam arched and his back and screamed. “Fuck!”
“Maybe later,” Ruby retorted as she continued cleaning Sam’s wound, “but only if I’m on top. Now pay attention. Don’t speak her name, and don’t even think of it. Not while you are here. You are in a world of trouble, Sam. A bigger game is being played and you are a part of. Right now they need you alive and semi-healthy so we have a little time, but if you want to get out of here you are going to have to start listening to me.”
“I don’t understand. What game?” Sam bit out through clenched teeth.
“I can’t explain now, but I want you to think about your options. You are in the heart of a demon strong hold. You are the guest of Crowley, the King of the Crossroads demons, but not for long. Sooner or later he’s going to turn you over to the one he’s collecting you for…the one…we’re not talking about.”
Lilith? Sam’s eyebrows shot up. Why would Lilith...why would she want him?
“You are surrounded, your brother is who knows where, and you don’t have any weapons.” Ruby paused, keeping the pad pressed tight to Sam’s bleeding wrist. “But you do have options.”
Sam breathed through the pain and stared at Ruby. What options? What was she trying to say? He shook his head.
“Remember what we talked about when we were hunting on our own? Back when you were trying to find Dean? Back during The Fall?”
“No,” Sam whispered as his skin grew clammy again. Suddenly he knew what she meant. He remembered. It wasn’t an option then and it wasn’t an option now. He couldn’t, wouldn’t!
She gripped his chin lightly and forced his gaze on her. “Sam, you are a prisoner. I can’t get you out of here, not in any Winchester way, but I can help. I can’t force you though. It has to be your choice.”
“Why? What do you get out of it?” Sam snapped. He couldn’t do this now any more than he could then. Could he?
“I told you. I was human once and I have enough of humanity left that I don’t want to see the world burn.”
Sam closed his eyes. Dean would never forgive him. “No.”
Ruby sighed and began swabbing his wrist again. “Think on it, Sam, but don’t take too long. I don’t know how much time you have.”
“You brought a hunter, here? To my town?” Spike roared. He turned and looked at Xander, “Be a good pet, and fetch me a railroad spike. Time ta reacquaint my grandsire here with how I got my name in the first place.”
Xander smiled, wrapping his bare arms around Spike’s leather clad shoulders. “Nothing would please me more, master, but shouldn’t we hear Broody McBroody out first? I’m sure he wouldn’t be lurching back our way if he didn’t have a good…well at least a reason.”
“Master? You one of those?” the blood-crusted flannel draped hunter said leaning against the black impala parked out back of the Slayer’s End.
Spike didn’t need to hear Xander’s sharp intake of breath. His pet had agreed to live by demon-run rules, to live in a demon world, to be with Spike even if it mean other humans looked down on him. Having Xander’s love, having him by Spike’s side, meant more to the blonde, Billy Idol looking vampire, than having his soul did. He wouldn’t have Xander hurt because of hunter’s ignorant attitude!
“Oi, I’ll take the bit of metal to you, pull out your entrails, and stake yer whole stinkin’ carcass out for the coyotes if you even think one more condescending thought towards my Claimant!” Spike barked at the hunter.
“While I appreciate the romantic gesture, master,” Xander said, “uh…ew not a pretty, nor especially hot picture.” He looked at the wounded man barely standing. “Look, can we at least bandage him up, give him a chance to tell us why deadboy gave him the Transporter treatment, before proceeding with the obligatory threats of death and dismemberment in all its Technicolor glory?”
Angel pinched the bridge of his nose.
The hunter shook his head limping forward and nearly falling over. He caught himself clutching the hood of the car. “Look, I get it. Vegas is crazy town. Great. Just uncuff me, give me the keys to Baby, and I’m gone.”
“Baby?” Spike looked at Angel.
“His car,” the older vampire answered.
Spike shivered. Bloody Americans. He focused back on the hunter. This was one of the Winchester brothers Lorne had been telling him so much about. They were good, better than good. From all accounts, Spike had been beginning to wonder if they weren’t somehow slayers.
Dean said this was the oldest one, Dean Winchester. Supposedly the better of the two. Wished we could have danced in the old days. His demon almost purred with that thought.
“The hunter’s impending bleed out aside, what’s so bloody important ya got dump his corpse and yer bag of flesh on my door?” Spike asked.
“Crowley’s trying to collect him…and his brother.” Angel shifted, pressing a hand to an oozing wound at his side.
“Crowley! That wanker! Oi..what’s he still doing topside?” Spike growled and focused his gaze back on Dean. “You make a deal with him?”
“For the last time, no! I did not make a deal with Crowley! I don’t know this Crowley!” Dean snarled.
Spike fished into the pockets of his long trench coat, then sighed. When would he ever remember he doesn't smoke anymore? Maybe when he stopped having the cravings. “Ya wouldn’t be the first twit ta make a deal during The Fall and it wouldn’t have had ta been with Crowley. Could have been any one of his minions. Sure ya didn’t meet up with some nice bint with tits nearly falling out of her dress offering ya a good toss fer yer soul?”
Dean blinked at Spike then looked at Xander. “Does he even speak English?”
“That’s the problem.” Xander rolled his eyes.
“Oi!” Spike flashed Xander a look, the one that said someone one wasn’t sitting down for a week.
Xander batted his eyelashes.
“No, the answer is still 'no.' I did…I don’t make deals with demons and I’ve never had to offer my soul to get laid,” Dean snapped.
“But you did do something,” Angel replied.
Dean whipped his head around to look at Angel. “I don’t kn—”
“You’re heart rate speeds up and your breath hitches whenever you talk about making deals. You may not have had dealt with any crossroads demons, but there’s something you’re hiding.”Angel interrupted the hunter in that flat superior, but still somehow drowning in angst, tone Spike remembered.
“Why does this even matter to you? Huh? You’re the big bad? Is this like some sort of territorial thing? You got to Sam and me first, so you get dibs on ganking us?” Dean evaded Angel's point.
Angel looked at his feet.
“It’s a redemption thing,” Xander said.
“Redemption! Him?” Dean nearly spit looking back and forth between Angel and Xander. “Buddy there ain’t no amount of helping little old ladies across the street, or saving kittens from a tree that can redeem his sorry ass.”
“I know,” Angel said quietly before looking back at the hunter. “That doesn’t mean I can’t help you.”
“Well I don’t want your help!” Dean sagged against the hood.
“That’s seems to settle it then,” Spike started to turn away.
“Spike,” Xander said softly into the blonde vampire’s ear. Xander’s chocolate brown eyes fixed on Spike’s cerulean blue.
“Pet, I got a bad feeling about this,” Spike answered just as softly. He really did. They’d just come through literal seven years of hell. He and Xander had been through more than their fair share of it, somehow coming out together. All Spike wanted was to spend his days dreaming about his pet and nights making them come true. He had no interested in saving a world that hadn’t ever given a farthing about saving him.
Xander entwined his hands around Spike’s neck and pulled the vampire close. Warm human lips, tasting of cedar and cinnamon covered Spike’s cool undead ones.
Spike let himself get lost in the kiss until his demon was nearly begging to strip Xander and take the human fast and hard over the hood of the hunter’s sleek black car. Oi, he may wear the collar but I’m the one whose bloody well leashed!
Xander broke the kiss and sucked in some air along with his bottom lip.
“Don’t suppose yer gonna change yer mind on this, eh?” Spike asked his pet.
Xander shook his head. “White knight here. Wanna see my sword?”
Cheeky git. Spike reached around and slapped Xander on the ass eliciting a satisfying yelp. Then he turned around and looked at the hunter and his grandsire.
Dean’s legs were beginning to shake with the effort to stay upright. Angel looked like he wasn’t fairing much better.
“Right, Peaches, grab the hunter. I’ll get ya a suite and have Lorne send up some Pocklas and some blood.”
“Wai—” Dean started to object, pushing against Angel as the vampire moved forward and wrapped an arm around the hunter’s torso. “I can walk on my own!”
“Master of Vegas says I grab you,” Angel smiled softly helping the man who could barely stand let alone walk. “I grab you.”
“Well fuck the master of vegas,” Dean snarled.
“Sorry, dance card’s full,” Spike said suddenly sweeping Xander up into his arms. He slipped into his vampire visage and growled against his pet’s neck. “Don’t think I didn’t notice someone forgot ta call me Master.”
Spike grinned around his fangs. He could hear the sudden skip in Xander’s heartbeat and could smell the start of his arousal. Oh yes, Xander knew he was going to be punished and he was looking forward to it.