Light, all-powerful and obliterating, seared through his mind, the sound of it louder than the battle that had raged for a few hours. He drove in a panic, trying to avoid it, trying to live, Castiel at his side, Sam and Rowena in the back seat.
They made it, just barely. Sickness had overcome him from it, and he was ready to collapse, but he still held himself up once he was out of the Impala. Sam came forward, facing the demons, and Dean watched, unable to do anything. He felt as if he’d seen this play out a thousand times, experiencing it over and over again, and each time he wanted to move, to do something to change it, but he was frozen. Completely frozen.
Sammy’s eyes were black.
“I am the new king of Hell!”
All the demons kneeled.
“Sam, what are you doing?”
His heart stopped when his brother turned and looked at him with those dark, dark eyes. He waved his hand in his direction, and then Dean could barely breathe, as if someone were strangling him.
“Sam… please,” he forced out, eyes stinging, tears already making their way down his face.
Castiel took a step towards him, and his brother held his other hand out in his direction, a warning. His friend paused, but there was still intent in his eyes.
“Let Dean go. You don’t want to do this.”
“You don’t know what I want,” Sam declared. “None of you do.”
Somehow when Sam said that Dean knew Rowena wasn’t included in that. She was smiling, as if this was what she’d wanted all along.
Maybe it had been.
Dean’s stomach dropped at that realization. It made sense. It made too much sense. Why hadn’t he seen it? Why hadn’t he been able to stop any of this?
Rowena put a hand on Sam’s arm, and he glanced at her, his features softening even as his eyes remained black.
“Sam, the battle’s over. You can let him go. He won’t harm you. Look at him. I wonder how much of that blood is his own.”
Sam tilted his head, contemplating Dean for a second or two, and Dean was seeing black again. He wondered how many times he could put up with getting strangled in a night before he died.
Sam let him go, and his knees started giving out, Castiel bracing him.
Rowena reached up and brushed her fingers against Sam’s chin, the gesture turning his stomach.
Sam turned back to the demons who were still kneeling. He didn’t tell them to get up, seemed to be enjoying this.
“The battle is over!” he declared. He then pointed back at what had been Kenesaw. “The angels may have done that! But we are still here. We won! And the way I see it, we’re going to keep winning no matter how many times they decide to go up against us because our numbers are larger. They can try, they willtry, but for now we’re the ones left still here, and they can’t take that away from us.Now, rise!”
They stood, some still bowing their heads, refusing to look at him. Dean could no longer see his brother’s face, but he knew somehow that he was smiling.
“Spread the word – the angels are defeated, three of them killed by my own hand.” He paused to let that sink in, and now Dean really started to feel like he was going to be sick. “Make sure that when you tell others of what happened here tonight they know who the new king is, that Sam Winchester is taking his rightful place on the throne. You will have no more of fake kings. You have me, the Boy King, Lucifer’s true vessel. Any who do not accept me or come to heel will suffer, and I am more than prepared to dole out punishment.”
The demons took this in, many of them bowing their heads to some degree, all of them seemingly too terrified, or perhaps too respectful, to look Sam in the face.
There was triumph in his voice as he continued, “Now, It’s Halloween, so I’d say it’s the perfect time to celebrate. Go. Wreak as much as havoc as you wish. You have till midnight.”
Cheering broke out amongst the remaining demons and then they started smoking out, probably to find new vessels. Sam pulled Rowena close against him and kissed her. Dean still couldn’t look away from his brother, not even then. He couldn’t breathe even though no one was strangling him and he found himself resting more and more of his weight on Cas.
Then Sam and Rowena were whispering, eyes only for each other, and she was holding his hands. Sam looked back at Dean, his eyes turning back to their natural hazel once more. Part of Dean had expected to see remorse there, but there was none of that, only malice, and darkness so overwhelming more tears began to track their way down his bloodied cheeks.
Sam and Rowena disappeared.
“Cas?” Dean questioned, his desperate voice holding all he was thinking: fear that had yet to be processed, pain, grief, helplessness, disbelief. It held everything, the utterance of his name completely heartbroken.
Castiel wrapped his arms around him and settled him to the ground. Dean’s chest hurt and he ended up looking up into the angel’s dirtied face as he held him.
“I’m here, Dean. I’m here.”
Dean struggled for breath, his head spinning. God, he was having a panic attack, and he felt like it was going to kill him.
His heart hurt, like it was being wrenched in two, and he cried, he sobbed, even as he couldn’t breathe.
That sickness from the blast still remained with him, and it was steadily growing worse. He couldn’t find the air to tell Castiel, but he frowned when he caressed his face, as if he’d felt it.
“I’ll get you out of here.”
Dean lost consciousness as Castiel began to help him up, and he felt himself falling. He knew his friend had him, but the feeling of falling never stopped. Falling, falling, till blackness swallowed him.
Dean woke up screaming.
He was thrashing against his sheets, clutching at them and then at his head. Terror ran through him so strongly he was hot and sweating, pain in his chest. It drilled through him, and there wasn’t anything he could do.
Oh god, Sam. He hadn’t been able to stop it, hadn’t been able to stop any of it, hadn’t foreseen it. Dean had been completely helpless, had almost died, had lost nearly everything.
Helpless, helpless, helpless.
His bedroom door opened, the light was switched on, and Castiel rushed to him, climbing on the bed to get behind him and hold him steady.
“Dean, I got you. I got you.”
His screams died down into panicked sobs and he gripped Cas’s arm, face turned into his bicep. His friend kept assuring him that he was there with him, but didn’t say anything else, didn’t say that it was going to be okay, that he was okay. They’d be lies. But he more than appreciated his presence, appreciated hearing his low voice, knowing that he wasn’t alone. It beat back the emptiness he felt inside.
They spent minutes like that till Dean was crying quietly, and then his tears stopped. He didn’t pull out of Castiel’s embrace, just gently ran one hand up and down his arm, and Cas’s thumb was working against his shoulder in soothing circles.
Usually Dean felt stupid for crying, felt weak, but never in front of Cas. With Cas it was easy. He didn’t show judgment, or contempt. When he was with Dean in those moments he was there to help him and nothing else.
Castiel hadn’t cried since Kenesaw, or he hadn’t seen him do so. He wanted him to, wanted his friend to know he could trust Dean and show him what he was feeling. But he bottled it up.
Dean was bottling it up whenever the nightmares allowed, when he didn’t wake up like this, when there was just cold sweat and a start, and then having to be awake and feeling the darkness in him. They didn’t always make him cry, not like tonight. Sometimes they weren’t even about losing Sam. Sometimes they were about getting handcuffed, getting beaten, nearly drowning, getting shot. Other times he was getting kissed, getting touched. He even dreamed about Cas, his friend getting kissed and beaten just as he had. Sometimes there was just random violence: stabbing, punching, kicking, biting, slashing, crushing, blood, screams. In all of them Dean was frozen, could only watch it happen. Each time he knew it was going to happen before it did. And there was never a way to escape it. Because he hadn’t escaped it. He’d lived through it, and though it’d been a little over three weeks he still couldn’t figure out how.
“Do you want to talk about it?” Castiel eventually asked.
Dean pulled away from him then, and wiped his face with his hands.
“No,” he murmured with a shake of his head. “No, I think I’m gonna drink.”
Castiel didn’t stop him from getting up, just stayed on his bed. Maybe he’d even be there when he got back. Sometimes he was. If Dean was going back to sleep usually his friend went over to the couch to watch over him. Dean was always too tired to argue with him about it and ask him to stop. He didn’t entirely hate it either.
He trudged into the kitchen, running a hand through his hair before scratching at his beard.
Dean groaned, but didn’t say anything, when he saw Crowley in the kitchen, sitting at the table, a beer in front of him. He had finally stopped wearing Dean’s pajamas, but only after he’d dragged him to a store to get some clothes. Crowley insisted on wearing a bright, purple onesie with lollipops and taffy on it at night, saying he wanted to be comfortable when he drank himself unconscious. He’d taken to wearing it during the day too, didn’t really get dressed. Dean couldn’t blame him; he didn’t want to get dressed or bother with the day-to-day minutiae of life either. He now tended to just do the bare minimum.
Thankfully there was still plenty of beer in the fridge, so he didn’t have to get mad at Crowley at the moment. Dean had stocked up since the two of them now seemed to be having a contest as to who could drink more, but since the world was now in a panic – seeing a half a mile wide light come out of the sky and obliterate an entire town could do that – alcohol was beginning to be hard to come by. People hardly went out anymore, but when they did it was to buy way too much food as if the apocalypse was coming, and to buy beer, scotch, wine, whatever there was. Everybody wanted to drink now.
He’d left the bunker a few days ago on a case, trying to follow up on a lead about Sam (it’d been a bust), but hadn’t stopped to pick anything up on his way back. He supposed he’d have to go shopping tomorrow though. They were running out of food. Crowley wasn’t helping since he ate, too, even though he didn’t need to – maybe it was a comfort thing.
Dean leaned against the fridge and took a sip of his blessedly cold beer.
“Rough night?” the former king asked him.
“Okay, Mr. Cranky. Sorry for having questions.” The demon gestured at Dean’s beer bottle with his own and added, “You know, you should quit drinking that stuff. It’s not good for you.” Ironically, Crowley then took a sip of his own.”
“What are you, my mother?” Dean grumbled before going over to sit down across from him.
“If your mother were alive we wouldn’t be having these problems.”
“If Sam and I hadn’t been born we wouldn’t be having these problems,” Dean said darkly.
Crowley raised his eyebrows in recognition.
“Guess that’s true. But life without you and Moose would be dull.”
Dean gave a cold laugh. “Dull. I’d take that over this.”
Crowley looked down at the table dejectedly, and murmured “S’pose you’re right.”
Dean continued drinking, and when he finished he went back to bed, finding that Castiel was still there.
His friend got up to move to the couch, and Dean waved his hand tiredly as he settled under the covers.
“Don’t bother,” he told him before yawning. “Stay.”
Castiel sat back down on the bed tentatively.
“Are you sure?”
“Mm…” was all Dean could answer with because then he was falling back to sleep.
“You’re sure you want to sign off on this?” the demon before Sam asked for the nth time.
Sam had a clipboard in his lap, the document on it one that would allow demons to whore themselves out for souls if they so chose, or even get humans to do it for them. It’d already been made known to him that Crowley hadn’t liked the idea, but he wasn’t Crowley. Whatever got more souls.
The official death toll from Kenesaw was nine-hundred-forty-seven, and though there were a few million demons, and more and more souls in Hell were being seduced over daily, Sam wanted their numbers up again. The angels were surely few now, but numbers weren’t all it took to win a battle. It took strategy, it took power, and the angels had power, something they’d shown all of humanity on Halloween. That night was still all over the news, and not just in America. It was big throughout the world, and some high up in the American government were pointing fingers at the Middle East, crying wolf about a nuclear attack. Scientists said it didn’t add up, but when had politicians ever understood science?
Humanity was left scared and the demons took advantage of it. Crossroads deals hadn’t been this high since 2009 when the Apocalypse was happening. Humans got scared, they got desperate, Sam sought to take advantage of it. Making Hell stronger was a priority, so really, having this demon question him was grating.
He breathed in deeply, tensing, and Rowena stroked his arm. She was by his side in the throne room they were in. It wasn’t the lair Crowley had had in Springfield, Massachusetts. It was in the mountains in upstate New York, an abandoned factory a mile or two away from a ghost town that’d been abandoned for decades, and with the dead roads that lead to it it would be nearly impossible to find. Sam had found the factory simply by stumbling upon it accidently while practicing teleporting with Rowena a few days after Halloween. He’d taken a liking to it and had ordered his demons to fix it up. The room he’d had set up as the throne room was large, reaching up at least three stories, the walls made of gray stone. There was a platform a foot off the ground that took up a fourth of the floor space, and it was curved. It wasn’t quite in set into the center of the far side of the room, but it was directly across from the door that led out to one of the main hallways. The platform, like the rest of the floor had been made of the same stone as the walls until his demons had redesigned it, covering it in glazed and polished golden tile. The walls were still plain, but he was planning on having massive curtains and tapestries added to bring more color to the room. Even without those decorations Sam particularly liked the throne room, especially when the sun was at its peak and light streamed through the high windows, shining down on the platform and the throne.
The throne. It was the only object he’d taken from Crowley’s lair. He hadn’t changed it, still wanted the symbol of power to remain the same, figuring it’d make the shift in power easier. So far hardly anyone had expressed having any issues with him as the new king and if they did no one ever saw or heard anything from them ever again. Rowena took care of the bodies for him while he cleaned the blood from his lips.
Sam gave – was it Melvin? Melvoron? – a wintry smile, nearly making his eyes turn black. He’d done that a lot the first week, mostly around Rowena, but he’d gotten over the novelty of it now, wanted it to seem as if this was how he’d always been.
He signed off on the document, and then he handed it to Rowena. She passed it off to, yes, it was Melvoron, liked to go by Melv, but still kept one hand on him, now running it through his hair.
Sam leaned into her touch.
She’d been good to him these past few weeks, had stuck by his side. Sam no longer cared to ask why. It was easy to tell. She had feelings for him, and was no longer in this for herself as she’d always been. She was in it for them, together, and Sam was fine with that. If anything, since becoming a demon he’d begun to find her a lot more attractive. Sometimes after he’d finished his duties she’d tease him about wanting to sit in the throne, and she always settled for sitting in his lap. Every once in awhile they’d make out, and Sam was really beginning to like it. The part of him that remembered being human questioned why he was okay with that, but she didn’t hurt him, and she wasn’t going to.
Melv bowed deeply and turned to leave. Once he’d crossed the large room and closed the door behind him, Rowena rested against Sam, two hands on him now, one of them against his chest, careful to avoid the amulet. He faced her as she placed some of his hair behind his ear.
“Have you given Dean and Castiel much thought?” she asked.
“Really, Rowena? This again?”
“Yes, darling,” – she’d taken to calling him that about a week ago, and Sam found he liked it. “They pose a threat, don’t they?”
“They don’t know where we are,” he told her, leaning in, brushing his nose against hers. “It’s fine.”
Really, Sam had been thinking about them. But not because they were a threat. He had other plans for them, ones that would take a lot of time and effort to work, and it was too early to set it into motion.
Rowena’s eyes met his, and he felt a grin turning up the corners of his lips. He took hold of her chin and pulled her mouth towards his.
There was a knock on the door, and Sam pulled away, a growl rumbling in his chest at the interruption. But he knew who this was.
“Enter!” he declared as Rowena straightened and placed her hand at his shoulder for now.
The demon who entered was a woman, barely reaching over five feet, and she had her dark hair cut short, almost looking boy-ish. She wore glasses, though Sam knew she didn’t need them, but from what he’d heard of her he wasn’t surprised. Sarah really liked her vessel and had taken on some attributes of her, even her name.
She came to stand before him and bowed.
He knew what she was here for, having sent for her that morning.
Sarah had returned to Kenesaw.
All the demons were under strict orders to not go there. Various scientists, government agents, and news stations had taken over once they’d been able to get close – anyone who had attempted to do so the first few days after Halloween had been left vomiting and some had even passed out. The place wasn’t safe for the demons since it was all locked down, and Sam didn’t want one of his own possibly getting interrogated. A lot of information could get out that way. Still, some demons still decided to go, hoping they’d find the entrance to Hell that had been there, though Sam was sure it was destroyed. He made a mental note to go in himself to search for it, knowing he could avoid capture.
“Is it true you went to Kenesaw?” he asked her.
“My lord, I had just wanted to-”
Sam interrupted her, speaking sharply, “Is it true you went to Kenesaw?”
“Yes, my lord.”
He stood, making his way over to the platform before stepping off. “Good. I just wanted to be sure.”
Sam withdrew the butterfly knife that he kept in his jacket, flicking his wrist to expose the blade. He used his left hand since it was one of the days his right wrist and hand had less sensation in it than usual, signals not making it all the way past the stone in his arm. Sarah heard the sound of metal and looked up, eyes widening when they settled on the weapon. Then she foolishly tried to run.
Sam grinned and threw out his hand, flattening her to the floor with hardly a thought.
Rowena’s heels clicked as she slowly came up behind him, and she followed as he went over to Sarah and straddled her.
“Don’t do this!” she cried.
“I have to do this. This is on you,” he explained, silencing her by simply willing her to stop breathing, as if she were suffering from asphyxiation.
Sarah had known the law he’d set and she’d broken it. He kept the punishment for breaking that law unclear, let rumors about being sent back down to suffer the rack run rampant, instilling fear, but really, his demons probably would’ve preferred that to what he was about to do.
He ran his fingers through her short hair, curled them, and yanked her head back, exposing her neck. He could see her pulse racing, hear her heart beating, even smell her. Sam wasn’t sure he needed demon blood anymore since he was now a demon himself, but he still craved it, still yearned for the rush it gave him. He sliced into her, not deep, wanting her to live through most of this since she’d taste fresh that way.
Sam licked up the trail of blood on her neck before sucking on the wound and beginning to drink. Rowena was by him now, and she ran her fingers through his hair, showing her continued acceptance and understanding of who he was, her care. With her by his side he felt more powerful, and he knew he wasn’t alone. Her touch made him think about what she’d said. Maybe it was time to jumpstart his plans.
Sam had to go after Dean.
His brother would never even know he was coming.