He found him sitting on the floor, face pale, eyes firmly shut as his soft shaking rattled the chain that tied his hands to the same wall that his back was against.
“Tony…” and blinded by worry he almost got too close despite the unusual situation and his hunter's instincts that screamed at him to be careful.
“Stop!” came Tony's sharp cry, panic more than evident in his voice.
That's what made Stephen to look around more carefully and he took a step backwards when he realized that he almost stepped over the devil's trap drawn on the floor.
In an instant his blood ran cold at the implication and he quickly shuffled through his memory searching for the exorcism he had learned by heart, while at the same time hoping that he wouldn't need it.
“Tony, are you alright?”
When Tony turned to look at him, his eyes were pitch black and he was smirking, but it looked so out of place, a fake copy of his warm and teasing smirks that it froze him in place.
“Look who we have here, it's been a while, Stephen. How's your friend? Ohh right, he's dead.” and Tony…no, it wasn't him, the demon was laughing at him.
“Get out of him.” he growled, his protective instincts slowly taking over the panic, his mind calculating possible solutions.
“Why would I? I like this meat suit and by the looks of you, you do as well. Now, how about you let me out of this trap and I promise I will leave this bod…” but the talk was interrupted by a scream.
Stephen’s eyes quickly searched the source of it and found out that one of Tony's hand was gripping his thigh in what looked like a death grip, blood was slowly flowing through his fingers and familiar brown eyes greeted him when their gazes met. The hunter's heart clenched painfully at the sight.
“Gosh, he talks more than…me.” he shook his head and sent him a tired smile.
“Expel him Tony, or let me recite the words.”
“No!” a groan, “I'm holding it… trapped, demon trap bullet.” his jaw clenched “oh you son of a bitch, you're not going anywhere until I'm done with you” and it took Stephen a second to realize that those words were meant for the demon.
“You shot yourself?! Are you out of your mind?”
“Couldn't let him roam free…possess some poor unfortunate bastard. Now, I…can kill him…” a outraged demonic cry and Tony's eyes went to black before they returned to normal.
“Tough luck…I need…” he squeezed his thigh even harder and continued, “kill him.”
He couldn't take it, he couldn't believe that that crazy, self-sacrificing idiot would ask something like that from him, so he dropped on his knees to get closer without stepping on the lines.
“Don't, he might hurt…you.” he hissed at Stephen.
“Do you have any idea what you're asking for? If I kill it, you'll die as well, don't ask me to do that. Don't.”
The sole thought was too painful to process, let alone consider doing it, not after the terrible week he had, not when he knew that he'd never recover from that because unknown to the other hunter, Stephen was in love with him.
“Don't pay attention to Tony, I can give you what you desire, what you long for… Stephen, I can make Tony like you, say all those sappy words that you dream to hear, hear that laughter that makes your miserable existence bearable…” the demon purred, the voice he loved and it hurt how much his heart ached for it, for a little bit of light in his life surrounded by shadows. The worst thing was, he could almost see it in his mind and he hated to admit and acknowledge that one time when a witch offered him a love potion, only to stop himself on time, his free will kicking in. He just wanted his feelings to be noticed and returned without ruining their friendship, but both of them were broken and insecure, too many sharp edges, too much pain and will to protect and save as many people as they could.
A deep growl, pulled him out of his thoughts and he found himself staring at those soulful, warm eyes that were filled with both agony and understanding.
“We…lost too many good people…just take the blade and end it…please. I don't…” his back arched in pain and he bit his lip to stop himself from screaming.
It was blurry, his vision was blurry and only when he closed his eyes in order to come up with a better solution than killing his best friend, he realized that he'd been crying.
“If…I exorcize it, you might survive depending on the state you're in, but the impact of the angel blade, even if I don't pierce any vital organ will be too destructive, I don't think you can take it.” he sounded like the doctor he used to be, before the monsters, before the supernatural world slipped through the cracks of his life and dug its claws in him, but Tony smiled.
“That's my… doctor. No bullshit, no lies. Don't give him a…chance to fight. Swiftly…”
“I can't.” he stuttered helplessly, praying silently for whoever was watching to show some mercy on them.
“Don't cry…you're the only one…no one can.” and he stretched out his blood covered hand with the intention to wipe Stephen’s tears, but harshly pulled it back when he realized the danger.
It broke his heart in a way he didn't think was possible.
“No, no, please…” he begged.
“Please, Stephen…remember…remember.” he squeezed his eyes as his hand pounded at the wall while he was writhing in pain, the chains rattling, slightly restricting his movements as Stephen’s heart skipped a beat with each pound.
It ended faster than it was expected, but its echo lingered around as a reminder.
Tony's breath was ragged and heavy, but that didn't stop him from speaking,
“The story, when we were hunting that werewolf…when I was…”
“Stupid and refused to follow my lead.” he replied despite the stinging in his eyes.
“That's the one…one more time, please.” he was saying goodbye and Stephen wanted nothing more than to start reciting the exorcism,, but he couldn't focus.
Instead, unable to refuse Tony anything, he started talking,
“There was a black snake and a chicken, everyday…the snake would steal an egg, swallow it and crush it” he stopped and swallowed, his mouth dry, tears running down his face.
“It…happened a few times and when the chicken… “ to his surprise Tony continued, his face unnaturally peaceful.
“realized that there was only one egg left, it made a decision. The next… the next time the snake came, it swallowed the egg and choked on it, because the egg was boiled and the snake couldn't crush it, so it died.” he finished it, cold sweat running down his spine when he remembered the moral behind the story.
The chicken sacrificed what it loved the most to kill the thing it hated the most.
That time, Tony laughed at the story, claiming that he'd never sacrifice anything and he wouldn't, he would sacrifice himself instead. But Stephen would lose the one he loved the most and that wasn't something he could take. If only he could come up with another solution. He took one look at the other man and saw the open acceptance and just like that a new idea hit him, his heart beating fast at the possibility.
“There's a spell, it can kill a demon, without killing the host, but I don't know if you,”
“Not sure…I don't have much time, or strength, but I trust you. Just kill him.”
The hunter was overwhelmed by the trust shining behind those eyes and he swore to himself to give everything he could to save him.
“It's a bit longer than a exorcism, and I'll have to repeat it a few times, I can find the ingredients here, can you try to be still, not sure how the demon will react and you can't afford more physical injuries. It will hurt.”
“Do it. I can take it.” and he clenched his jaw in preparation.
So, the hunter got to work, he took out the book and in no time he was ready to begin.
It turned out to be the most excruciating thing he had ever experienced, his focus was entirely on the spell, but whenever Tony yelled in pain, or the demon begged in his voice for him to stop, he'd gripp the book tighter and continue. The other hunter, writhed and trashed, cursed and threatened and Stephen had no other choice than to hope that the way the demon smacked Tony's head on the wall wouldn't kill him, that both of his shoulders wouldn't get dislocated as the spell was slowly burning the demon from the inside. Finally after what felt like an eternity spent in hell, it ended with a glass-shattering scream.
Stephen quickly checked whether the demon was gone and once he was sure, he didn't allow himself to relax, he went into ‘doctor's mode’ and was frantically searching for pulse while trying to wake Tony up.
He had blood in his mouth and the hunter cringed at the thought of internal bleeding and the barely there pulse.
“Come on, come on, keep fighting you stubborn ass. Come on, don't leave me, don't go…”
As a last resort he started chanting some healing spell, even though he was more of a hunter than a warlock, cursing himself from not learning enough when he got the chance. With a final push, Tony's eyes opened and he croaked,
“Thanks, love…” before he lost consciousness. He was barely holding on and just when Stephen was desperately searching for his phone, his friend rushed in.
“Wong! Help me.” one look was enough and the actual warlock who stayed out of the hunters business, nodded in agreement and hope rushed through the hunter, refreshing him like a glass of cold water and he got back to work. He'd keep Tony alive even if that was the last thing he'd do.