Sam hunched over the table and stared at the bowl of soup in front of him without any appetite. Yesterday had been the first day since signing the contract that he had been able to keep anything down, but he still wasn't hungry. Though he knew he should at least try to eat something or Cas would get angry. Or angrier, anyway. The angel was mad at both of them right now for making this decision in the first place. But…well, it was too late to turn back now, and Sam at least didn't feel any different. Nauseous, maybe, plagued by a constant headache, but not evil, and that was all that he cared about.
Dean slumped on the couch with his own bowl of soup. Sam was at least grateful to Crowley for setting them up with their own quarters in Hell. At least that meant they'd had a place to recuperate in private.
Neither of them had expected that the conditions of the contract would kick their asses like it had. Crowley had spelled out what would happen in the contract, but he hadn't mentioned anything about how those promised changes would take effect. Apparently, it was three days of agonizing fever like the worst flu, or case of food poisoning ever. But they'd gotten through it, and the change was complete. Sam could sense demons now, and Cas for that matter. He had known it worked when he woke up and he was able to see the angel's halo and wings if he concentrated hard enough. Unfortunately, the effort had just given him a splitting headache that made him sick to his stomach and he'd nearly thrown up on the angel's shoes. He hadn't even bothered trying to use his powers yet, sure that would only be ten times worse.
But today he actually was starting to feel better, and took a small, cautious spoonful of the soup to prove it. When his stomach didn't instantly rebel, he took another.
Speaking of sensing demons, he could tell another one was coming toward their suite. Dean was also able to sense the presence because he groaned and set his bowl aside, propping his head up with his fist.
"What the hell now?" he wondered.
There was a knock on the door, and Sam wanted to groan himself as it opened and admitted Wheatly, the Steward of Hell, who Crowley had put in charge while waiting for Sam and Dean to sign the contract.
"What the hell do you want, Jeeves?" Dean growled.
Cas had appeared from his task of changing their bedsheets now that they were over their sickness, and glowered at the demon, folding his arms over his chest.
Wheatly seemed to choose to ignore him, instead addressing Sam. "Pardon me, your majesty, but I was wondering if you felt up to discussing a few things? I understand you are still convalescing, but I thought this an apt time to go over what some of your duties will be."
The door opened further behind him, and Wheatly looked down with a hiss, snapping his fingers at the dark shadow that came in at his heels. It stopped at his side.
"What the hell!" Dean demanded, instantly on alert, looking around for a weapon. "Get that out of here!"
Sam too froze when he saw the hellhound that had accompanied Wheatly, but it didn't seem to be going further now that the demon had told it to heel, just staring around curiously.
"I apologize, my lord," Wheatly said with a sigh. "This is the hellhound that Lord Crowley bequeathed to you. Her name is Juliet. I thought it best to make your acquaintance."
"Um, what?" Sam asked, confused, then remembered something in Crowley's note he'd left with the suit mentioning something about his hellhound Juliet. Sam reached up and rubbed his head. "Um, yeah, no; no hellhounds. I'm not…I'm not gonna do that."
Wheatly narrowed his brows. "With respect, your majesty, another guard dog may not be a bad idea while you come to power." He glanced over at Cas who glowered even more furiously at the demon.
"No, I said no," Sam said, glancing at his brother. Some tension released from Dean's shoulders and Sam pressed his lips together. "Can you just…keep her in the kennel or something?"
For a moment, Wheatly almost looked upset, but he covered that up quickly with a small sigh. "Of course, my lord. She will be there if you require her."
Sam glanced at the hellhound once more, seeing its glowing eyes resting on him unnervingly. A small sound came from the hound's throat that, if Sam didn't know better, he would have said was a very dog-like whine. But he was definitely not interested in keeping a hellhound anywhere near him or his family, thank you very much.
In fact, right now, he just really wanted to go back to sleep.
But apparently, he had duties to see to, and he knew Wheatly would leave him alone sooner if he at least agreed to discuss a few things.
He pushed his bowl of soup aside and motioned for Wheatly the join him at the table.
"Okay, what do I need to know?"
The next few days were tough, but better now that Sam was over the nausea and most of the headaches as long as he didn't overtax himself working on his powers. He found it was the same sort of mental mechanism as when he'd been drinking demon blood, except for the important part being he didn't need to drink the blood to access his powers. He simply had to concentrate, reach for his powers and use them. Wheatly had been helping him train a little, and the demon had assured him he would get stronger after a few poor attempts. Right now, all Sam could do was knock a glass off the table before he got a blinding headache, and sometimes a nosebleed if he practiced too much but he could tell he was getting better. He may be able to concentrate more if Cas and Dean weren't both watching him like a hawk.
Dean hadn't gotten psychic powers, but he was extra strong and fast, like when he had the Mark of Cain, except, like Sam, there was no corrupting power to go along with it. Cas was shocked to find that Dean could match him in strength while sparring—the angel not even having to hold back. Coupled with the new katana Crowley had left for Dean, Sam's brother was a formidable opponent—exactly what was needing in a Knight of Hell.
Now that Sam was better, he decided to put on the suit Crowley had given him and allow Wheatly to show them around.
He looked in the full-length mirror that was in his room, seeing himself for the first time in the well-tailored suit. He still looked a little pale and his eyes had dark circles under them, but he supposed he could do worse.
Dean knocked and came in. "Hey, you ready…seriously? You're wearing the suit?"
Sam shrugged. "I don't see why not. Besides, I don't know, it feels…right."
Dean rolled his eyes. "Alright, well, come on, Jeeves is here for our tour."
Sam smiled slightly at Dean's nickname for Wheatly and followed him out.
Wheatly took them around the different areas. This part of Hell was actually not too terrible. It was pretty much just like an underground palace. Sam decided that Crowley must have done a little interior decoration during his time here. The suite he'd left for them at least was really nice, and Dean was quite happy with the fact that there was a fridge, and a fully stocked bar.
Wheatly showed Sam into the throne room where the heads of all the different departments waited to make his acquaintance.
"This is Steven, head of soul statistics," Wheatly told Sam, then turned to another demon. "This is Winston, the armorer and captain of the guard, and that is Sean, who runs the kennels."
Sam looked up at the demon who had a couple hellhounds at his side. Dean grunted incoherently, hand twitching as if he wanted to reach for a weapon.
One of the hellhounds pricked up its ears as Sam passed by and he saw it was Crowley's hound again. He pressed his lips into a line and continued to the next demons.
He'd been taking notes as they went, but as he went to shake the next demon's hand, he dropped his pen. He was about to reach for it, when he heard a panting sound and looked down, seeing that Juliet had picked it up for him, and sat there just staring at him. Sam hesitated a long moment but felt all the other demons watching, and steeled himself before he took the pen gingerly out of the hound's slobbery jaws. Juliet's tail wagged once, but Sam backed away quickly as Wheatly quietly handed him a handkerchief to wipe off the hellhound spit.
"Good girl, Juliet," Sam heard the kennel keeper tell her quietly. He narrowed his eyes, but kept up with the meet and greet. He would stand by what he said before—he did not need a hellhound.
It was later that week at a council meeting that Sam had another run in with the hellhound.
Sam and Dean had been having discussions for the last couple hours about their new rules for crossroads deals and possession, which the demons did not like to say the least. Sam was exhausted and getting a headache that had nothing to do with overtaxing himself with his powers. He really wanted a cup of coffee and was about to ask Wheatly if he could bring him one, when Dean made a sound of alarm and drew his katana.
"Whoa, stay back!" Dean snapped, brandishing his blade.
Sam flinched and looked down to see Juliet bounding up to his throne, a bone in her mouth, which she deposited proudly at his feet before stepping back and sitting down, looking like she was waiting for something. Sam just stared at her blankly. Did the hellhound…actually want to play fetch?
Dean raised his blade and Cas also looked wary, but Sam held up his hands to stop them.
"Don't," he said, then called to Wheatly who had an unreadable expression on his face.
"Can you tell Sean to make sure all the hellhounds stay in their kennels?" Sam asked quietly. There were murmurs running through the gathered demons and Sam heard several talking about how the new king was scared of hellhounds. Sam clenched his jaw, but stuck to his guns.
"I apologize, your majesty," Wheatly said stiffly. "Only, Lord Crowley gave his favorites free range of movement in the palace."
"Well, I'm not Crowley. Please try to keep the hounds out of my way," Sam snapped, glancing down at Juliet who was still staring at him expectantly, hesitantly wagging her tail across the floor as he met her unwavering gaze.
Sean had obviously been called and he stepped forward, bowing slightly to Sam in apology. "I'm sorry, my lord. But Juliet is well-behaved, she won't cause any trouble like some of the other hounds might."
Sam nodded sharply and simply went back to his discussion. Sean picked up the bone Juliet had dropped and whistled to her. She gave a soft ruff and padded after him.
Later Sam and Dean were going around, doing some inspections with Cas, seeing where they might be able to improve in different departments. Sam decided he would really like to set up some computers and utilize a task manager for soul collection, but he wasn't sure how well that would go over. While some of the demons, especially the ones who had spent time topside, had embraced modern technology, others didn't even understand the concept of a corded phone. He'd actually found a seriously old Windows computer in one of the offices, which did not give him any confidence.
"I'm not sure how well your new policy on crossroads deals will go over," Cas said grimly as they continued their walk. "Some of those demons looked furious."
"Well, let them be furious," Dean said. "If they have a problem they can come through me."
"And I agree," Cas said. "I just want you to watch your backs."
Sam nodded and stepped into a boardroom where the crossroads demons were sitting at a table, looking through paperwork. They all looked up when Sam came in and there were quite a few glowers.
"This is absurd," one said, slamming the new form down on the table. "You expect us to fill one of these out every time we make a deal, and then wait around for you to decide to sign it or not before we benefit from our work?"
"That's how I'm running the ship," Sam told him firmly. "You don't like it, you can work in another department. There's plenty of jobs open."
The demon snarled and got up to leave. Dean whipped his blade up quickly. "Hey, you bow to your king, and address him as 'your majesty' or 'my lord', Do you understand me?"
The demon stared at him. Sam felt a little embarrassed, really not used to all the titles, but at the same time, he understood the need to assert dominance. Otherwise, the demons would walk all over them. As Crowley had written in his journal of instruction, Hell was like a wolfpack and the one on top was the one willing to fight to stay there.
The demon lowered his eyes finally and gave a small bow. "Your majesty," he mumbled, and turned back to the table.
Later they were walking back to their suite when they were passing a group of demons who sneered at them even as they said mocking 'your majestys'. Sam frowned and Dean and Cas hemmed him in on either side.
"I should take out all those sons of bitches," Dean growled.
"Ignore them," Sam said. "They're just sulking."
"It's a dangerous sulking," Cas admitted.
Sam pressed his lips together but continued on past the hellhound kennels. He glanced in to see Sean training with some of the hounds and Juliet sitting by his side, tongue lolling, and tail wagging. Sam hesitated slightly, surprised to see her acting more or less like a normal dog, but he cleared his throat and continued on as Cas glanced at him.
But a flurry of angry barking had him turning around to see Juliet flying out of the kennel area to growl at a demon who was walking a few steps behind the Winchesters.
"Get back, mutt!" the demon sneered and Sam saw it was the same demon who had challenged him earlier about the deals. "What the hell, Sean? Control the bitch!"
Sean ran out and whistled. "Juliet, down! Come on girl."
Juliet reluctantly backed off, but continued to growl at the demon before turning her head toward Sam.
Dean grabbed him by the elbow and tugged. "Freaking hellhounds. Come on, man. Let's go have lunch."
They went back to their suite for a break, but when they went back to work later, Dean shouted as he opened the door.
"Holy crap, the guy really can't control his hounds!"
Sam joined Dean and saw Juliet sitting in front of the entrance to their suite. She glanced up at him with a bark. Dean watched her warily.
"Just ignore it, Dean," Sam said and pushed forward. He was disgruntled to find that Juliet trailed them on the rest of their circuit, though she stayed far enough away not to make trouble. Sam wasn't entirely sure what to think about it, but knew it made Dean and Cas nervous—or trigger happy, which to them was pretty much the same thing.
When they came to the throne room where they were supposed to meet with Wheatly and the other head demons again to discuss things, they found a much larger group than Sam had anticipated. Dean and Cas instantly started to carve a path for Sam to the throne, as the demons muttered and tried to get his attention, waving papers around.
Wheatly stood to one side of the dais, trying to keep the peace, but it wasn't really working.
"Hey, your majesty!"
Sam turned just in time to see a demon—the same one who had challenged him earlier—lunge at him with a blade.
"Sam!" Dean yelled, but both he and Cas were now cut off from him as more demons hemmed Sam in.
It all happened in a flash, the blade came down as Sam turned, feeling it bite into his arm, but a horrible growl sounded out and a dark blur shot toward the demon, taking him down.
The demon screamed in horror, the sound turning to a gurgle and Sam watched in fascinated horror as Juliet tore his throat out.
"Sammy," Dean called, grabbing Sam's shoulder, finally forcing his way to him. He pulled the younger Winchester back as Sam clutched his bleeding arm.
"She…she saved me," he said.
"Come on, let's get out of here," Dean dragged him away through the hole Cas and Wheatly had made and Sam glanced back one more time to see Juliet's head turned toward him, an almost disappointed look on her face.
The wound wasn't serious but Dean was still seriously pissed, fussing over Sam like a mother hen.
"We need to get rid of all the demons who could possibly be traitors. I think we should hold a couple public executions to send a message."
Sam sighed and shoved him aside as he stood from the chair and pulled his shirt on again with a small wince. "We will, Dean, but you can't just start an inquisition. Crowley gave us names of the demons that would most likely cause trouble and he was on there. We just have to be more careful."
He grabbed his coat and headed to the door.
"Where do you think you're going?" Dean demanded.
Sam rolled his eyes. "I'll be right back, don't worry."
He headed through the back passages to the kennels and slipped inside. He didn't see Sean for the moment, but he did see Juliet lying in one of the cages. She was curled up, chin resting on her paws and looking rather dejected. Sam bit his lip and strode over to her cautiously, crouching down by the cage.
Juliet perked up instantly and raised her head, tail wagging hesitantly. Sam smiled.
"Hey, look. Thanks for saving me back there," he told her. "I guess I wasn't really fair to you. Truth is, I've always wanted a dog, and… I guess I never realized that's what hellhounds really are."
Juliet whined slightly, tail still wagging. Sam hesitated a moment then sighed. "Okay, look, Dean's not gonna like it, and Cas probably isn't either, but as long as you promise to be good, I guess I can let you hang around."
Juliet was on her feet, tongue lolling in a dog-like smile, tail wagging in earnest.
A footstep sounded and Sam turned to see Sean who looked surprised to see him there.
"Oh, your majesty, I didn't know you were coming," he said with a bow.
Sam smiled. "Yeah, well, I guess I've decided having Juliet around was a good idea after all. Looks like I could use the extra protection."
Sean smiled and instantly went to unlock the kennel. "You won't regret it, your majesty. She's a good hound, and well trained. Lord Crowley made sure of that." He looked down at Juliet as she bounded out, smiling slightly. "She's been…I haven't seen her like this for a while. She was really depressed after Crowley died, she needs a new master."
Sam looked down at the hellhound and couldn't help smiling. He reached down and hesitantly scratched behind her ears. Juliet barked and nudged her nose into his hand. "Okay, girl, you win," Sam relented. Dean was gonna be so pissed.
"Seriously?" his older brother demanded as Sam came back into the suite with Juliet trotting at his heels. She started to roam around, sniffing things. Cas looked disgruntled as she sniffed him too and sneezed.
"You saw what she did back there, Dean," Sam said in defense. "She pegged that demon before he even attacked me and she was obviously waiting for it to happen."
"You have me and Cas, you don't need an attack dog! Hey no!" Dean snapped as Juliet eyed his half-eaten sandwich on the table. He turned to glower at his brother. "Come on, Sam, admit it, this isn't about protection, this is about your dog thing."
"No, it's not," Sam protested half-heartedly as he watched Juliet search under the table for crumbs.
Dean rolled his eyes. "Okay, whatever. Hell, I knew you wanted a dog, but a hellhound. Really Sam?"
"In case you haven't noticed, Dean, I am the King of Hell now. It seems rather appropriate." Juliet came over and sat by his side, looking up at him. Sam reached down and scratched her ears again.
Dean groaned, folding his arms over his chest. "Fine. But keep it out of my stuff, you hear?"
"Of course, Dean," Sam said.
That night when Sam got ready for bed, the door opened and Juliet came in.
Sam sighed, but decided it was probably better than leaving her outside unattended. Even if she was well trained he didn't quite trust her not to get into Dean's stuff.
"Okay fine, you can stay in here but…"
She padded over to the bed as he got in and looked up at him expectantly.
"No," Sam warned. "You are not sleeping on the bed."
Juliet's ears drooped and she whined slightly. Sam watched her glowing eyes for a long second, before he broke and sighed.
"Okay, fine, but only at the foot of the bed, I do not want hellhound breath in my face."
Juliet gave a soft bark and leapt up onto the bed, laying across Sam's feet. She was heavy and warmer than a normal dog but Sam found her presence almost comforting. He huffed a laugh and reached over to turn off the light.
"Goodnight, girl," he whispered.
Juliet gave a low throaty rumble as she put her head on her paws and closed her eyes.
Sam closed his eyes too and slept well for the first time since he had come to Hell.