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Divide The Blackened Sky

Chapter Text

It’s a cell, she knows it is because the only way out is with the blue hands. The cell is safe. Its quiet and it doesn’t hurt. But the blue hands always hurt. And they always come. Its no use fighting because they always get what they want. They hurt her until she doesn’t know what she is, or if she even is.

… she dreams deep. Every single time. Of the fire and flames and its so hot she can't breathe because the air burns too. And the stench… But just when she's about to wake, when it’s the sun lighting the sky… it’s a different kind of flame. White hot and cold, blinding and suffocating. And they're the most beautiful dreams… made of light and sparks and energy. But they're angry too. Wrathful and deadly… They hurt too.

Death.

That’s what they are. Its what she will be.

One more weapon…

 

Chapter Text

Mal is confused and not a little bit wary. The last time he dealt with Badger, the húndàn held his crew at gun point.

"Zàishuō - Say again?" Mal's frown is no deterrent, unfortunately. "You offering me a job? Why?"

"Why not?' Badger demands with his most annoyed expression yet. He rolls his eyes, emits a long suffered sigh and throws his hands up. "Because I'm offering to pay you an indecent amount of money. You lot are in dire need of it these days." He points out, rather unnecessarily, Mal thinks.

The coin certainly has Mal thinking twice about saying 'No', which is exactly the answer he should give. Right away.

But he's thinking of the gaunt faces on his boat. The haggard look they all bear, the constant worry the Alliance will catch them. One Operative has been enough warning to see the Alliance isn't about to let them get away with Miranda.

"What's the job?" Mal almost sighs. He knows this job is going to get him in some rè shuǐ, somehow its gonna hurt.

FF

Pacing only makes the waiting worse. He's very annoyed by the waiting he has to endure but he's looking forward to reclaiming his place.

Badger's henchmen are nervous. Their eyes following his every move. They're expecting some sort of violence and if they weren't so f-ing fragile maybe he'd indulge. But a broken human draws attention and he's not in the mood for that.

Still, this is how he's going to get back what's his, what he shouldn’t have been so quick to help loose.

"Sad little King on his sad little hill."

Oh, he knew it then.  It just took a little longer to find her.

FF

Mal's still not sure this is a job for them but the coin is good and they are in serious need of coin. The problem his crew has is the fact this coin is coming from Badger and their history with the little rat.

"How's it lookin'?"

River hasn't said a word. Now all eyes turn to her, waiting for the answer to the Capts question.

She could tell them it ends badly and they'll believe her. She's a reader and knows these sorts of things. They wouldn't know if she lied...  But she can't see it clearly. Not all of it but she knows where and how and when. She's not sure how it ends…

"You can save her from the dark." She looks at her brother because he's the one. Its his part to play. "The light wants her too. They'll break her.... " she looks at Mal and feels sad for her. "She belongs with him."

Silence. They don't get what she means but that's alright. They don't have to understand because they have the answer they want.

"Right." Mal sighs and turns to Simon. "Nín shì dá."

FF

The 2 crates arrived the same day Simon turned over his list. Indispensable items if this plan is going to work. At least he hopes they won't be caught right away. He remembers clearly how close it had been when he rescued River. Things are different now, they'll know his face everywhere.

"So this is gonna fix it so they don't know it's you?" Jayne tosses the silver canister from one hand to the other. It makes Simon nervous because what's inside is fragile and he doesn't think Badger is going to like having to get them a second batch.

"Yes." He holds up a hand and waits for Jayne to hand over their disguises. "Its painful and temporary."

"Why's it got to hurt for?" Jayne scowls. He doesn’t like the hurting bit at all.

"The formula is basically rearranging your DNA, shifting cells to form a different pattern than it has." Simon always has difficulty simplifying his explanations but he's become used to it now. "It hurts because your cells have been programmed for the face you have now. Its like forcing a square peg into a round hole. "

Jayne has his 'Hell No, you're crazy' face.

"Sort of." Simon amends because the square peg wouldn't ever fit but their faces are definitely getting rearranged for a few hours.

"I ain't going." Jayne turns on his heel and mutters about liking his face just fine and how no job is worth getting disfigured on purpose. "And what if it don't wear off?" What he's gonna look like then? The thought makes him even more adamant about staying far from the doc.

FF

Wash keeps reaching towards his face and stopping halfway. It definitely feels strange, like he's … tilting, sort of.

Zoë's staring at him too. She's got her thinking face and then a slight twinkle in her dark eyes, Wash is very familiar with that particular expression.

"What's the name of this, Símon." Zoë glances at him over her shoulder. "I might have need of some more. For… special… occasions." She smiles at Wash and he's not sure if the twitch in his pants is worth the pain.

"Honey, that’s not the kind of pain I like." Wash is trying not to whine because he kinda likes the pain she inflicts when they're all alone.

"Oh, no. No, no. I don’t need to hear anymore." Mal shakes his head and shudders. "Méiyŏu. Not another word." He orders walking past them and into the shuttle. "River," he finds her perched on a crate. "You don’t go out. Stay in the shuttle. Nǐ míngbái?"

River replies with a roll of her eyes. He's having second thoughts about her going but she's the only warning they'll have when things start going bad.

"Leave the kidnapping to your brother and Wash." Mal orders.

"I thought it was a rescue." Wash frowns his new face at Mal.

"It’s a job." Mal states firmly. "We got coin to get this girl for Badger and that’s what he's gonna get."

"We still don’t know what he wants her for." Wash grumbles as he moves towards the cockpit. "Are we into the slavin' business now? Because if we-."

"You just get my shuttle back in one piece." Mal cuts in with a scowl. "And don’t forget to bring the girl. Got paid for her already." He grumbles under his breath and heads out of the shuttle.

FF

Its time

She startles awake, wide eyes flitting around the sterile room. "Its time." Her voice is but a whisper. Softer than the clink of metal that keeps her in the chair. She breathes and stares straight ahead. The voices all jumbled in her ears and she starts to pick them out. Its easier once they're closer.

The way she smiles…

FF

"What's that?" Wash glances over to where River is hidden in the hatchway. He's trying not to scratch but his face itches something fierce.

"The quiet things that no one ever knows… the way she smiles… there's beauty in the broken…" River steps into the cockpit and tucks herself into the corner wearing a soft smile as she stares out the window.

"Right… okay." Wash gives her the thumbs up and turns back to the controls. He's got a job to do and no time to screw it up.

"We need to go!"

"Go?!" Wash squaks, sits up all startled to hear the urgency in Simon's voice. "Oh please, please. Tell me you're clear. Please!" he begs as the shuttle powers on.

"I am."

"You? What do you mean you?" Wash winces and swats at his face but his left side is puffing up strangely. "Símon? How long was this face supposed to last?"

"Longer than it has." Símon grunts and then his voice wobbles. "We really need to go. Now!"

"Then get here!" Wash' voice breaks and both hands slap on his face as the skin starts to slip. "Before my face falls off! Argh!"

FF

Chapter Text

"…where in the gorram… ship ha…Wash!"

They can't make anything out of the static coming through the Comm. and he doesn’t have the time to figure it out.

"Get strapped in!" Wash calls over his shoulder. He can't help but look at the girl refusing to get in the cryo chamber. She looks confused and lost but strangely, she doesn’t look scared at all. Her dark hair reaches past her waist. Her white suit is smudged with blood he doesn’t even want to speculate as to how it got on her.

"Please, you have to lie down-." Símon doesn’t have any luck as she backs away from him and River is just watching them.

"She's talking to angels." There's a soft whisper, like a buzzing in her head. River can hear just a whisper of what they're saying but can't make out the words.

Símon frowns but River's words draw the girls attention.

"…Angels…" she echoes, gray eyes studying River who slowly approaches her. They reach out as the shuttle lifts off and hold on, never breaking eye contact. "Shadows…and light. They are warriors meant to protect but they want to destroy."

Símon lurches over to the girls, his arms going around them both. "Let's take our seats-."

"Wot's this?"

Símon is shocked by the appearance of Badger. He looks around, trying to figure out where he came from. "How did you-? Where-?"

"You were supposed to get the girl." Crowley scowls at Símon. "Not fly about the city getting shot at." He looks at her and smiles. "Not bad." She's a pretty thing; especially covered in blood and the prospect of what she'll do for him… oh. "No… not at all."

"Badger-."

"He isn't." River cuts in, her eyes narrowed on the King of Hell.

"Time to go." Crowley rubs his hands together. "Wasn’t planning on the extra weight but this'll work out."

The girl draws back, she pulls out of River's grasp and shoves Simon's arm off her. The temperature drops and their breaths puff out in little white clouds. A scream is torn from her and the black fog spewing from Crowley slowly fills the shuttle. They all panic; Símon ordering Crowley to stop whatever he's doing and River backs off, babbling about monsters and hell.

That’s exactly where Crowley wants to go. He's on his way to take back his throne.

FF

It’s the boom that reverberates through the house making it rattle and groan that has them grabbing weapons.

"Where's it comin' from?"

"That was outside."

The back door screeches as they hurry. All eyes turned to the sky and the black smoke following the bright burn streaking through the clouds right over their heads.

"What the…hell?"

"Uh… spaceship?"

The ground shakes and a larger cloud of black smoke billows up from behind the tree line in the distance.

"I don’t want to say what I saw but," Bobby turns to the brothers. "That aint normal."

"We all saw it." Sam nods his head as if assuring them all they aren't crazy. "That … was a space ship."

"Whoever's flying it… they might need help." Dean still hesitates. He's been going after monsters his whole life but this… aliens?

SPN

It’s a jarring and painful experience. He can feel himself tearing and stretching and fighting being pulled apart. There's nothing.  Not a single glimmer of light or sound. That’s the eerie bit, the lack of sound. Because he can't hear himself screaming and he is. Screaming from the pain and it wasn’t supposed to hurt. Was it?

"Sir?"

Crowley blinks. He drags in a breath and the familiar sulfuric air envelopes him.

"Sir."

He looks around, the moist brick and stone hall. He runs his hands over the smooth wood of his throne and down at his shiny black leather shoes.

"Sir."

"What?!" he glares at the demon insistently calling for his attention. He wants to smile as it takes a hurried step away from him.

"I'm back."

SPN

Bobby just stares at the wreckage pretty much in his back yard. The little valley where the ship came to …'land' has caught fire here and there. Sam is the first one out, the extinguisher put to use on those fires while Dean makes his way towards the metal wreck.

Bobby gets his own extinguisher and works his way behind Dean, putting out fires and sparking wires. He's trying not to think about how a space ship crashed near his home and why the government hasn’t come to stop them from 'disturbing' the crash.

"You see anything…?" he wants to say anything that looks like a little green alien but just can't.

"Got a door." Dean calls over his shoulder. "Sort of." He amends and starts to kick at the tear in the metal. There's a threatening groan and shudder under his feet. Dean pauses, waiting for the ship to settle. He grabs his flashlight when it does and gets to his knees, peering into the darkness inside. There's sparks of lights but nothing else he can see. "I'm going in." he calls to Bobby who nods.

Bobby watches Dean disappear inside.

"Don’t think there's any fires left." Sam says as he jogs towards the ship. "Dean?"

"He's inside." Bobby juts his chin in the direction of the ship. He watches Sam hurry and get caught  trying to squeeze through.

"Dean?" Sam calls softly. He stumbles over a crate and smacks his head on a sharp edge. "Ah!"

"What?" Dean's light bounces as he makes his way to Sam. "Watch your head, sasquatch." He growls and there's a trail of blood running down from Sam's temple.

"You find any… thing?" Sam ignores the verbal jab.

"Not yet, try not to bleed all over the place and help me look." Dean gives Sam one more look before moving towards the back of the ship. He stumbles over a large crate. It beeps and sparks short out the circuit that emits spirals of white smoke. His light catches something brightly colored and goes back. It’s a flower print and the higher the light goes the more he can see the shape of the girl. She's half hidden under someone else and Dean calls for Sam.

"Found someone!" Sam calls back and he's struggling to drag the blond man from the tangle of wires and circuits. He hefts him up and gets him on his shoulder. Sam makes his way slowly towards the shaft of light coming through the crack they used as a door. "Bobby!"

Outside, the echo of boots thunk on the metal and his shadow blocks the light. "I'm here."

"I found someone. I think Dean found someone else too."

"Aliens?" Bobby sounds incredulous as well as hesitant to even use the word.

"Uh, no." Sam kinda wants to laugh but he'd been thinking the same thing. "They're hurt, Bobby. I need a rope, to lift this guy out."

"Alright. Hold on."

Sam can hear him moving off and glances to the flicker of Dean's flashlight at the other end. "Dean?"

"I've got two more. Girl and a guy." Dean's voice echoes. He doesn’t see any marks on them, nothing to suggest they’ve been hurt. But they aren't responsive either. So far he hasn’t found anything strange about them as in 3rd limbs or green skin… He's careful lifting the guy off the girl, checking for a pulse on both of them.

At the other end, Sam ties the rope around the guys torso and helps Bobby pull him out of the wreck. Once clear, Sam heads over to Dean and then his light is skimming over them both.

"Anyone else?" Sam breathes.

"Don’t know. Take the girl. I'll look at the end." Dean moves towards the back of the ship but he doesn't go more than a few steps before the entire thing groans and shudders. Something loosens and a moment later metal dings and sparks shoot out from his left over his head. Dean hunches down, arm raised to cover his face but nothing else falls.

"You ok?" Sam calls. He's got the girl in his lap, half covering her from the sparks that zip and sprinkle over them.

"Yeah, get them out." Dean keeps to the wall, he gets snagged twice but the second time he yanks himself lose he stumbles. That groaning rumbles the length of the ship and Dean feels it jump up then drop.

Bobby stops his forward dash as the tail end detaches and throws up a cloud of dirt. The boys are still inside. "Sam! Dean!" Something else pops loudly and the wing thunks into the ground.

Dean can hear them. Sam assuring Bobby they're both ok after he gets a reply from Dean. They don’t need the flashlights, not when the sun is pouring in through the broken halves. It catches a shimmer of white not far from Dean's spot. There are more wires and a crate obstructing his view but he's pretty sure that’s a leg.

He crawls forward, careful not to put pressure on anything that might be on top of whoever is stuck underneath. The wires he yanks on are dead, the crate is some plastic bin, thankfully empty so its easy to shove aside. What he finds … Dean carefully picks his way over the girl. She's laid out on her side, face covered by her bent arm. She's in a shimmering white suit and it feels soft, when he runs his hand over the material its smooth. He grabs her arm and carefully lifts it from her head. He checks for a pulse and finds it strong, like the other two he found.

"Hey, Dean." Sam calls, he's outside peering in from the open end.

"Got a girl." He calls over his shoulder and turns back to her. He smoothes the dark strands out of her face and there's not a scratch on her.

She looks so perfect. Like some statue in those fancy books of Sam's from school. She could've been … he's not sure what but when he touches her face there's a spark of electricity. It doesn’t hurt but he sees the soft glow and feels it.

SPN

Zoë has no luck locating the shuttle.

"What do you mean; not there." Mal demands. "My shuttle aint just gone."

"I mean there's no signal. There's nothing." Zoë scowls, anger in her words and she's worried. Wash wasn’t supposed to be on that shuttle.

"Wash!" He yells into the Comm. "Where the hell is my shuttle? Wash!"

He can clearly see where his shuttle was last on the screen and that its not anymore. The Comm. is only static, dead air.

"They're fine." Kaylee's soft voiced assurance is tentative. "They are, you'll see."

Mal drops the Comm. He's gonna find out what the dìyù happened to his crew and his shuttle. And he's gonna ask Badger.

FF

Chapter Text

Bobby hasn’t said a word since they put the four strangers in cots. They could smell it. The stench was all over the ship and neither of them is able to explain what a demon was doing with a spaceship.

"I mean," Sam breathes out a heavy sigh. "Demons in space?" he sounds ridiculous and knows it but no one is laughing.

"We checked." Dean shakes his head, eyes scowling at the floor. "They didn’t react. Not one of 'em." But they're all staying in the panic room in the basement.

"You idjits notice how they aint dressed like no astronauts?" Bobby demands. "Don’t remember there being any girls in the space program either." And he's not being a chauvinists because he's got no problem with women taking on careers others might say can only be had by men. But those two girls … they just don’t look old enough.

"Jail bait 1 & 2." Dean snarks though he's lacking humor. "No space suits," though the girl in white isn't dressed like the other one. "Nothing in the ship either but some crates… the one in the suit." He looks at Sam who nods agreement.

"Some sort of military… maybe from a foreign country?" he shrugs, none of the markings popped up on the net when he searched. And none of them have ID's so…

"Where's the damn suits?" Dean glares at them. "A ship just crashed in your back yard, Bobby. How come there's no men in black comin' to take it away and cover up the whole thing?"

"Demons." Bobby doesn’t know what else explains the lack of activity. They know it’s the only explanation that makes sense.

"Occam's Razor." Sam mutters.

SPN

When the smoke is gone all she can see is the black and the stars and the infinite verse. She's floating through it, the endless silence, the cold brushing over her skin and through her hair.

She's unaware of time, she doesn’t care. Its nice in the dark, quiet and calm… Better than the constant noise from before.

The before; the sterile white walls, the cold floors, the heavy smell of antiseptic and ammonia, the clink of metal and the beeping and whirring of machines…

There are bright flashes in the distance. Sporadic bursts that echo in the black. It brings their voices, louder and clearer than they'd been before. She can recognize them, the anger that sparks as bright as their light. It burns but there's nowhere to go, to get away or hide.

She makes herself small, curls into a ball and focuses on her next breath. She pushes their insistent voices out of her head but they're so loud… everything hurts.

FF

Wash is moaning in the corner where he slipped off the cot and landed on the cold floor. He can barely see, everything is blurry and multiplied. "Ahh, shén yàng, this is worse than Jayne's fire water."

He twists around slowly, careful not to open his eyes completely or move his head in any way that will make the pounding drums get louder. "Símon?"

The doctor is only a few feet away, laid out close to River and their stolen cargo. Its River who sits up suddenly, wide eyed and gasping.

"Its alright…" Wash tries to focus on where they are, which he can tell is no longer in the shuttle. "Nantekotta wǒ… doesn’t look like any jail I've seen. Not that I've seen that many. Could ask Zoë and Mal…" he drops his head into the cot and utters a colorful string of curses.

River slips off her cot and lightly rests her palm on Símon's chest and then on his head. He shifts under her touch, eyes fluttering open only to close on a groan.

"Wake up." She orders standing back as he starts to focus on where they are. "They'll come down soon."

"They?" Wash looks up then winces as his head starts to hurt again.

River ignores them both and moves towards the corner and the girl they stole from the blue hands. She pauses, stares. Her eyes skim over the white suit stained in blood. Its an echo of the suit they made her wear. She slips into the cot, sitting with her feet tucked beneath her and stares, ignoring the others.

Símon slowly sits up, he tests his limbs before sitting on the edge and taking a look around the room. "Is this jail?" he wonders. Considering the company he's been keeping, it wouldn’t be surprising.

Wash just shrugs. "Woke up here, same as you." He picks his head up from the cot and blearily squints at Símon. "Don’t suppose you have anything for my head…." That’s enough to get Símon on his feet, hands reaching to examine the other man.

The screech of metal draws their attention to the door that opens. The man standing on the other side is flanked by two others. Símon straightens up, his hands falling away from Wash.

"Nín hǎo." There's a slight tilt of his head in greeting, its then he notices the weapon in the older man's hand come up. "We mean no harm."

There's a derisive snort as all three men step into the room. Sam sets the tray down on the table and looks around, his eyes rest on River for a long moment.

It’s the faint echo of memories she can hear rattling in his head that gets her attention and she glances at him.

"We…" Símon has to force himself not to move, to block River from their view. "…uhm."

Dean notices the fidgeting and follows the sidelong glance to the girl in the flower dress they pulled from the wreck. Her dark eyes are resting on Sam and the fool is staring at her too, this slightly confused expression on his face.

"You gonna tell us what the hell kind of space ship crashed in my back yard?" Bobby demands in his gruffest, grumpy-old man tone.

"Crashed?" Wash scowls from his position on the floor. "I don’t 'crash'." He fumbles his way into a sitting position on the cot with Símon's help.

"We're sorry if there's been any damage to your property." Símon keeps a careful eye on the guns both men hold in plain sight.

"Right." The third man scoffs. "Start talking. And I don’t mean some story about aliens and spaceships."

Símon frowns. His glance straying to River who gracefully stands up and makes her way towards the trio.

"Stop." Dean orders, his colt aimed at her head. "Not another step, sweet heart."

"Dean." Sam reproaches and his look says he's being a jerk not to mention over reacting.

Símon has a moment of panic seeing the slight tilt of his little sisters head as she studies the blond man.

"The dead don’t stay dead here." Rivers eyes lock onto Sam again, completely ignoring Dean. And his gun.

"Please!" Símon takes an aborted step forward seeing the tension in Dean's face. "She doesn’t mean any harm."

"River's just a little wonky in the brain." Wash adds as he flops onto his side with groan. "Is the ship spinning?" he mutters. "Whole place feels off. Hey Doc? Símon?"

"Its fine, Wash. Just lie still." Símon turns him onto his back and makes a quick examination, wishing he had the med kit and looks up. "I had a red bag. In the shuttle. Were you able to retrieve it?"

"Dude," Dean is scowling, upset they don’t seem to be taking the threat of a bullet seriously. "I'm not your fucking bell hop."

"They're hurt." Sam frowns at Dean. He moves around and grabs the first aid kit he then holds out to Símon. It’s the confused expression on Símon's face that makes them glance at each other in question.

"First Aid kit." Bobby says with a nod at the box Símon hasn’t taken. "We cleaned you up best we know how."

"Yes, well…" Símon offers a smile and takes the banged up metal box, still unsure of what he's going to with it. "If I could just get my med bag…"

"You're a doctor?" Sam looks at Wash, laid out with his eyes scrunched shut.

"Yes." Símon answers with a hint of hesitation. He hasn’t forgotten the time he was taken because of it. He doesn’t want that happening again and so far, by the looks of the men… well, what else is he to believe?

"Brilliant doctor." River pipes up. "A bright future. If only…" she trails off seeing his sad look and wishing it could have been different for him.

"If only." Dean scoffs. "You get caught using? Or writing prescriptions to rich ladies for pills they don’t need? You one of those quaks likes cutting into people?"

"That's barbaric." Símon frowns.

"Don’t care." Bobby cuts in. "Who the hell are you?"

"What are you?" Dean corrects.

SPN

The first thing mal notices is the lack of movement. there’s a stillness that makes him antsy and not in the good way. Its a faint echo of his time in the war, so he's slow going forward, hand resting on his weapon. Zoë picks up on it too. Her shotgun in hand, she walks a pace beside mal as Jayne brings up the rear.

The first body is broken, like a marionette, limbs askew, all at odd angles.

“How’s that happen?” Jayne wonders as he spots the body, tilts his head trying to figure out how to get someone to look that way.

“There’s another body.” Mal frowns, he steps past and really looks around but nothing is out of place. He stares at the two bodies, broken and twisted up like someone grabbed them and decided to rearrange their limbs.

“This ...Sir?” Zoë scowls, fear threads her tone and she knows he can hear it. They can't get answers from Badger if he isn’t there and right now, Zoë is happy they didn’t find him.

“What the dìyù happened here?” Mal mutters under his breath.

“Maybe it aint smart to stay and find out.” Jayne motions to the exit, Vera gripped in his hands.

“This place reeks.” Zoe sniffs delicately but the rotten smell persists.

“Lets go.” Jayne commands. He doesn’t wait, just moves towards the exit and if they stay well…

“Badger aint concerned with keeping a clean house.” Mal looks to the bodies one last time, confused as to how the human body can be made to bend like that. “Come on.” he starts after Jayne. “There’s more than one rock he’s hiding at. I  aim to find it.”

FF

She's found some peace, a quiet corner in the dark to call her own. She can hear them like far off whispers and ignores them. Its become an insistent buzz she can pretend not to hear.

You don’t belong here.

This light isn't so bright nor does it burn. She wonders why and quickly gets her answer; a series of pictures, each a gory nightmare of blood and pain.

Yeah, my brother can be a jerk.

The apology feels somewhat sincere but mostly there's a sense of amusement to it. She doesn’t understand. All she knows is what they’ve taught her. Killing isn't supposed to be fun.

Of course its not. There should be a purpose… in our case, mine anyway, I was following orders. Until I didn’t want to anymore.

There's another image, a man standing in a crowd but alone. It’s a lonely image that feels sad. A contradiction of the soft light slowly enveloping her.

You're not supposed to be here. This place… you have purpose and power. That’s what they need. You're what he needs.

The dark becomes gray. The whispers become voices and the girl is waiting. She's been patient long enough.

SPN

Chapter Text

He's not at all pleased with the way things are happening. The Leviathans have come and been dispatched by the Winchesters so Purgatory is no longer an option. All of that hard work and effort into twisting the angel to his side and for what?

"This aint the way, no, no." he mutters under his breath as he walks the empty halls of his castle. He looks around with disgust and doesn't understand why he's in Hell.

"…King of Hell…"

Yes.

He is.

But Crowley doesn't like being in Hell. Which is why he'd always had a base topside.

"Yet here I am." He scowls at his surroundings. "In Hell!" he can barely refrain from kicking at the wall.

SPN

Space.

Yup, that's the story and all three of them were sticking to it. No deviation-well, aside from their own personal stories, it was all pretty much the same.

"So…" Dean has this look on his face, like he's not sure what he's supposed to think and annoyed by all of them.

"Ó yé," Wash sighs, just slightly annoyed himself. He's not seeing what's so difficult about a spaceship, or in this case, a shuttle.

Símon is still trying to figure out what sort of people they're dealing with. What he's seen of the domicile, its all so… "Your…library." He hesitates to even call the disarray of books and papers by that but he doesn't know what else to use. "Its…"

"I've got my own system." Bobby snaps.

"Uh-huh." Wash eyes the room with its old fashioned desk by the fireplace and the antique shelves spewing books and documents. "Its like some tónghuà bǎnběn of Earth-That-Was."

"A what from where?" Dean's eyes narrow on the weirdo says he didn't crash a spaceship into their backyard.

"He meant no disrespect." Símon quickly jumps in. "He's still unwell. From the crash." He adds.

"Gāisǐ de, how many times do I need to say it?" Wash scowls. "I don't crash."

Dean snorts at that statement which makes Wash even more defensive.

"Earth that was…?" Sam cuts in before they can start arguing.

"Uh, yes." Símon eyes the group, unsure of his next move but asks them anyway. "Where are we?" he sees Dean's look of annoyance and clarifies. "I mean, what planet?"

Bobby frowns, the Winchesters look at each other and the question the Hunters have is pretty much the same.

"This is Earth That Was." River looks away from the window and turns to Símon. "The snake wants his throne."

Símon shakes his head 'No' and moves towards her.

"This is Earth." Dean states. "Not was. It still is."

"Méimén." Wash sits up with a sort of laugh that dies when he sees the serious expression on their faces. "Earth…?"

"I'm damn sure the government can't hide people in space," Bobby scowls at Wash and then Símon and River. "Aint no how it wasn't gonna be leaked."

"So, what?" Dean frowns. "You're gonna believe this load of bull?"

"Do you have another explanation?" Sam didn't know what to believe but he couldn't deny what they'd seen.

"…yeah!" Dean exclaimed. "Demons. What else?" because hadn't they smelled it? The whole crashed spaceship reeked of it.

"Uh, demons?" Wash looked skeptical. "Shì tāmen suǒwèi de Reavers?" he turned to Símon.

"Hey, Crash & Burn." Dean snapped. "Wanna say it in English?"

Wash scowled. "I don't crash."

"There's some type of space ship in my back yard says otherwise." Bobby pointed out. "Now, what happened in that space ship 'afore you crashed." He pointedly looks at Wash who narrows his eyes but otherwise refrains from denying it. Again.

"Badger was there." Símon looks at the men from Earth-That-Was. He doesn't know if they're telling the truth, doesn't know where they are but he knows that what happened in the shuttle just…couldn't. He doesn't know how to rationalize Badger just appearing in the shuttle or anything that happened from that point. Símon needs an explanation. Anything he can use to rationalized what just couldn't have happened.

"Listen," Dean doesn't bother masking his annoyance with them. He has other things to worry about, as in locating the First Blade but he's now stuck with the aliens that apparently don't crash. "I don't care about your friggin pet. Who keeps a badger anyway?"

"Not a pet." River drops the skirt of her dress and moves to sit on the arm of the couch, head slightly tilted as she stares at Dean and then looks at Sam.

"Uh, Badger," Símon jumps in when he sees them paying too much attention to his sister. "He's the one who- uhm." He thinks better of saying they got paid to break-out the girl still locked in the basement. "Someone Mal, the Capt. of our ship, has on occasion taken jobs for."

"Uh-huh." Dean has a pretty good idea of what kinds of jobs they are but he's going to wait on calling their shit. Again.

"He wanted the girl." Wash blurts out. "He paid Mal to get her for 'im."

Símon glares and Wash shrugs his shoulders. "What, wǒmen bùshì guǎnggào wǒmen de fànzuì shēnghuó fāngshì?"

"You kidnapped the girl?" Bobby's quiet tone draws their attention and Wash looks nervous.

"No." he shakes his head and sort of laughs. "We…"

"She didn't belong to them." River answers and again draws their attention.

"So you…rescued her?" Sam ignores the eye-roll and scowl from his brother. River doesn't bother to answer, just stares at him and it makes Sam nervous.

"He could've used some tech to get on-board." Símon is still trying to figure out how to explain what he saw.

"Dude," Dean snaps at him. "You had a demon in your space-ship."

Wash rolls his eyes again and plops on the couch then looks to Símon. "Rúguǒ zhè shì tāmen suǒwèi de Reavers zài zhège xīngqiú shàng wǒ shuō wǒmen dédào dìyù hé kuài."

"There aren't any." River assures. "They wont make them, not yet."

"Enough with your funny talk." Dean orders.

"Chinese." Bobby glares back at the expressions on the boys. "What." He barks. "Far's I can tell, its some variation."

"They don't look Chinese." Dean frowns eyeing them. "Nothing Chinese in the space-ship. Or those boxes-."

"You scavenged our shuttle?" Wash looks affronted.

"That piece of shit that's now scrap metal since you crashed?" Dean hooks a finger over his shoulder. "Yeah. What are you gonna do about it, Crash & Burn?"

"Look," Sam moves towards Bobby, ignoring his brother and the funny little man having a fit. "There's no way the government isn't going to show up here. I mean…" he lets out a huff of breath and runs both hands through his hair. "Dean's right. There should be government SUV's and men in black suits. We can't just assume demons are going to cover this up. And what for? I mean-." He frowns at River's slightly scared expression.

"Crowley." Bobby shrugs at their disbelief. "He don't want it found." He looks at the 'aliens'. "Or its some other sum'bitch with the mojo, wants somethin' from 'em."

"Angels?" Sam wonders.

"Tiānshǐ?" Wash laughs and drops back into the couch. "That face shift thing." He shakes his head. "It shifted my brain too, didn't it Símon?"

"That's not possible." Símon assures.

"Like spaceships." Dean interjects. "Cus those are just ready to hop into at any space-ship rental. You just fly them out there…"

"Yes, that's what space-ships do." Wash stands up. "We flew our shuttle, that's the one in your back yard, and no! I didn't crash!"

It's River who gracefully gets off her perch on the arm of the couch and stands quietly staring towards the basement door, who draws them from the conversation about how spaceship's don't just crash in someone's back yard without someone crashing them.

Simon walks towards. "River?" He lays a gentle hand tentatively on her shoulder.

"She's awake." There's a soft smile on her face as she glances up at her brother.

"The… you mean the girl?" Simon gets a nod of confirmation and then River heads towards the door with Dean loudly demanding she stop and Sam right behind him telling Dean to calm down.

"Don't mind me." Wash calls to them and lays back on the couch to close his eyes. "Wǒ huì zài zhèlǐ xiūxí."

SPN

There's a quiet buzz when she wakes. The light stings just a bit and as she turns her head feels the aches in her body protesting movement. She grips the blanket she's laying on, the fibers scratchy under her fingers. The creak of metal from the springs makes her wince, it's so loud and then its quiet again. She takes a breath and slowly exhales, fingers loosening their grip on the blanket. She blinks and focuses on the slowly turning blades of the fan, the flicker of light and the steady beat of her heart.

She remembers what he said, the golden glow of light that had once been an angel.

'Angels?'

She knows exactly what they are. Like she knows this place is not where they had been. It's not the same time but the war is still the same. It's a race to change what is, at least what was from where they came.

She struggles to sit since the room spins slowly and she closes her eyes trying to keep her insides from spilling outside. With a deep breath she stares straight ahead and listens. There's a soft murmur of voices. All muffled by the metal and screech of the fan. She knows there's 3 from here and the 3 from where they came. There's no sign of the 4th. The one of smoke ad sulfur, the snake with wings…

She finds the door is locked.

Open it

She places her palm flat on the door and slowly moves it over, accompanied by the screech of metal until it clangs. With a light shove the door swings open and the dirty hall is empty but their voices are louder now.

That first step scares her.

She knows what she is and why she's been 'taken'. There's a purpose for her creation, a war to fight… She moves towards the stairs trying to decide if it's better to leave than it is to do what she's meant to do? It's all there, the things she knows have to be but she can see all the things that were that no longer are.

'It has already changed.'

"This is Earth That Was."

She knows the girls voice, heard it when they came to get her. She'd said they'd all go on a trip together and then he'd been there, right in front of her asking if she could walk. Could she understand him?

"The winged snake wants his throne but he wants what was to be something different."

"It's already something else." River's tone has a sadness to it. It's obvious she knows that if the past changes then the future they've just left will no longer be.

The door opens and the stairs creak with the stomp of heavy steps. The first one she sees stops and scowls at her. He's upset she's out of the locked cage that's no longer locked.

"Who opened the door?" Sam comes down the stairs but stops beside his brother. The girl they carried out of the crash stares back at them. Her dark hair mostly out of the messy braid, strands she slowly brushes out of her face. They notice the color of her eyes and the delicate features of her face, the barely there blush to her cheeks and lips. To the smudges of blood on her white suit.

"Who do you think?" Dean snaps because they all know who had let Sam out of the same room. He forces his scowl toward Sam with some difficulty and decides not to acknowledge his attraction to jail bait 2. She's just the right combination of delicate and innocent, only he knows there's gotta be a lot more to the girl. It's the more that he finds himself interested in.

"I opened it." She doesn't look afraid but inside she has this knot of tension just standing there. She doesn't have to tell them about the angel in the black. She doesn't have to say anything at all…but… She wants to help him. The one hiding behind anger…

"You." Dean doesn't like that one bit. "And what are you, then?"

Sam gives him that look; You're being a jerk.

Which earns the replying expression of; Bite me, Sasquatch.

They notice her soft smile, eyes bouncing from Dean to Sam and back.

"Uhm," Sam looks uncomfortable but they're saved by River and Simon.

"River, méiyǒu. Wǒmen bù zhīdào shìfǒu Tāmen kěyǐ xìnrèn."

"It's alright, Simon." She skips down to the basement and smiles when she's almost to the bottom.

"What…" Dean scowl's at River, completely ignored as she holds out her hand. "…?" He startles when their uncaged bird slips between him and Sam and takes River's hand. "Where the hell do you think you're going?"

River looks at him like he's supposed to know the answer, which only makes them even more distrusting of the strangers from the crashed spaceship.

"Boys!"

SPN

Crowley hides the surprise at finding the house still up, not charred and its owner still upright and on both legs.

'Things are not how I left them.'

"Bobby!" he smiles and strides into the living room. He ignores Wash and Símon coming back from the kitchen area.

"What are you doing here?" Wash jerks upright and points. "Nǐ zěnme zhīdào wǒmen bèi kùn? What are you wearing?" He looks over Badgers new threads, very clean and black and shiny-. "Méiguānxì, we need to contact Mal. These crazy-."

"Crowley!" Sam's yell draws their attention.

"Moose!" he grins, he's actually happy to see Sam. "You're still alive. Does this mean-?"

"What are you doing here?" Sam demands, he's ready to kill the King of Hell and damn the First Blade.

"Now, now, Moosie." Crowley tisks. "Your brother wouldn't be too happy if anything… permanent happened to me." He's pretty sure there's been some quality time spent with Dean, travelling the country, pit stops at dive bars, just two guys on the road… After all, the Leviathans have been dispatched. He casts another glance at Bobby clearly still breathing and walking.

"Oh, that explains the stench fowling up Bobby's place." Dean steps past Sam and grabs the demon knife from his back.

"Dean!" Crowley's smile falters and he looks around. "So nice to see you're still breathing. In one piece…" Maybe he got the timing off just a little bit. But then he spots the barely there peek at Dean's arm. "So, still wearing the Mark of Cain? Wonderful!"

Dean takes another step forward and Crowley backs up.

"How'd you get in?" Dean's hand grips the demon knife and it draws Crowley's eyes. "Because then I'm going to kill me the King of Hell and demon proof this place again."

"King?" Wash squawks and points to Badger. "You're a King?" he can't help but laugh which seems to annoy the Hunters and Demon King.

"Yes." Crowley turns to Wash and shows his red eyes. "Dìyù zhī wáng." It makes the human stop and stare.

"Nǐ shì shé."

Crowley turns to River and spots his little surprise standing beside her, both girls still holding hands and smiles.

"Zhǐyǒu zài tèshū chǎnghé." He takes a few steps towards them when Sam and Dean get in the way. "Oh come on. I done paid for the girl." He sorta winces and clears his throat but it doesn't change he's still not quite rid of his… uh… 'accent'.

"You?" Sam glances at Wash then to Símon, because they'd said 'Badger' had paid for the girl. "He's 'Badger'."

"Yes." Símon nods, standing beside River protectively.

"What is she?" Dean catches the slight shift in Crowley that makes him nervous. "What do you want with her? What's so important?"

"Oh now." Crowley turns and finds Bobby standing in his way so he turns right back and shrugs. "She's the best of both, boys." He's really pleased its worked out so far, even with the changes. He hasn't entirely figured out everything that's changed but he's hoping its been enough that the future he's just come from wont be happening. Again.

"Of what?" Bobby snaps at his back.

"She's got some grace." Crowley smiles at their looks of surprise but he's looking forward to this next part; "A little Demon too…"

'Oh that's just perfect! Hah!'

"Only one of her in the verse." And again, Crowley winces but shrugs. "Agh, don't mind the colloquialism. It'll be gone soon enough. Now," he takes a breath and claps his hands together. "You make sure there's no damage to my Lady Knight-."

"The what?!"

"Demon and Angel?"

Crowley grows annoyed with the questions flying at him from all directions very quickly but the only reason he doesn't just leave is because he still needs the Winchesters to keep watch over his ace.

"Oy! Does it look as though I'm a damn Cortex?" he rolls his eyes because the Hunters wont know what the hell he means. "Wikipedia. Listen," he orders and jabs a finger towards Dean. "I've only just gotten back and there are things I need to fig-." he bites his tongue on that and starts over. "Important things I need to do. So while I'm busy working. You two, keep an eye on my little winged knight."

"In what Twilight episode are you living in?" Dean scoffs. "I don't take orders, not from a black eyed bitch and not from the supposed King of Hell."

Crowley smiles. "Oh come on, Dean. You've been my bitch…" he backs up at Dean's lunge and appears in the kitchen, safely away from the angry Hunter.

"Son of a bitch!"

"There are ladies present." Crowley tisks as he smiles at the girls. "Sam too." He likes the clenched jaw and silence from Moose, he's feeling happy. Extremely happy to be back, to be there with them. "I want you safe and ready to kick some ass. Winged or black eyed, I'm not picky."

"Protect her from who?" Sam moves in front of River again but she steps over and keeps staring at Crowley.

"That, well…" he laughs and stretches again, red eyes flashing and sighs. "Its does feel good. Being back. This is great. Really."

"…lenses." Símon mutters with a shake of his head. "Some sort of lenses that refract light and change the color…"

"Oh look." Crowley chortles, he's mildly amused by Símon. "I'm a demon. King of Hell. And this is Earth That Was. Before it all went to shit and what's left of the human race went into the verse, terra forming new homes and lived out of spaceships, not worthy of even that title."

"That's…not…possible." Símon shakes his head, frowning. "How is that possible?"

"That's more of a complicated explanation." Crowley shrugs. "You don't need to know."

"How?! Earth That Was…"

"A spell." Crowley rolls his eyes seeing the incredulous expression on Simon's face. He points to River. " Ask her. Am I lying?"

"He needed all of us." River understood, she'd thought it was best to just go along, that's how it was supposed to have been. And so it had.

"Pieces to the spell. Moonbrain to make the bridge from there to here. And … Of course, I'd have preferred Mal but you did just fine."

"Mal?" Wash echoes with some surprise.

"Well, he's very self-sacrificing when it comes to his crew. But Símon did just fine." Crowley shrugs. "And you."

"Me?" Wash squacks. He's not sure he likes the attention he's getting from Badger.

"I needed a pilot." Crowley tisks, finger wagging, then smiles. "Too bad you crashed. Hey, at least its not the one that kills you."

River gasps. "Ó shàngdì ràng wǒ yīkuài shítou."

"No, no. It's not time for that. Not here. Maybe not ever again, hmm?" Crowley waits a beat to see that River understands him and nods. "I knew what you were…"

"She's just a girl." Símon places both hands on River's shoulders pulling her closer to him.

"A crazy girl, yes. And I should be thanking you." Crowley smiles at her, ignoring the others. "For chiming the hour, of course. It was time I picked up my little knight-."

The shot startles them all. River covers her ears and allows Símon to cover her, Wash just squacks in shock but the Hunters rush into the kitchen, too late to catch the King of Hell.

"Oy! You two should be more hospitable." Crowley yells from the living room. "After all, we haven't had the pleasure of each others company in a… well, its been ages."

"Are you all crazy?!" Símon exclaims. He's looking at all of them, angry and confused but he knows these men are not safe to be around. "You. Take us back." He demands of Badger. "This was not part of the job, I never agreed to… to - time travel! No, you take us back. I want my life-."

"Which one?" Crowley cuts in. "Which life, Doc? You want your fancy house and social standing, everything perfectly organized before you tossed it away looking for your little sister? Or the one after? Hiding on that boat that somehow still flies with the lot of you, following Mal. Running from the Alliance, hoping they just leave you be… Patching up Jayne, or Mal or Zoë. Can't do anything about your little moonbrain. There's nothing to put back and you know it. So what's so great about that life?"

There's a moment of silence and Símon tries to hide his feelings but shame is very clearly written all over him.

"It's the one he's supposed to have." River's soft voice draws Simon's attention. She can see it on his face, the shame and sorrow because he knows there's nothing more he can do for her, to change what was done. But he's angry too and though he tries not to be resentful, Símon knows he could have lived a very different life.

"If only…" River whispers.

"And you," Crowley points to the silent girl. "Behave." He looks at Dean and Sam. "You keep my girl safe. I want her back as I leave her. Undamaged."

"I'm not your lackey." Dean protests. "Take them back. All of 'em."

"Dean." Sam protests.

"What?" he snaps. "You heard 'im, didn't you?"

"Which part?" Bobby walks over to the quiet girl Crowley says is a bit of both and stares at her. The King of Hell … says she's both; demon and angel… he can't say much about the angels, guesses they could be as bad as demons but there's the fact an angel brought Dean back. An angel pulled him out of Hell and, yeah, they've been yanking on their strings ever since but, well… it was angel who brought back the only other idjit he's ever loved like a son.

"They don't belong." She can see it, what the Father wont say, even though the sons will. She knows they wont understand her, what she is or what she can be… She doesn't know it herself. The things the angel told her, what she saw and what she knows but doesn't know she knows… there's a lot to do, more than she wants to think of. She hasn't figured out her exact place, what she can't tell them and what she should…

Crowley's patience has run out. "I have things to do-."

"Don't care." Dean snaps. "You aint leaving them with us. I'm not taking care of your… whatever." He glares.

"Rågnå." And that's all Crowley manages to get out before he has a small hand clamped like a vice on his throat.

Dean is surprised, as much as everyone else. They hadn't seen her move, she was just… there. And Bobby's wondering how the hell she did it, if he'd actually seen the faint glimmer of light before she'd just disappeared.

"Don't think she likes that name." Dean notes, though he's staring intently, the gun in his hand gripped tightly and ready. If it even works on her…

"No." she says before letting go.

Crowley stumbles away from her, surprised and just a bit angry with her. The first words he tries to speak hurt so bad he coughs and there's no mistaking the puff of ice that comes out of him. He glares and that's it.

The King of Hell leaves.

SPN

Chapter Text

She knows the name, as soon as he said it… everything after is hazy.

Everyone else saw the puff of iced breath, and Crowley disappear… the flash of something they don't want to name and will pretend River didn't say out loud. That faint shimmer of light as her wings peeked in for just an instant.

Dean caught her. Something made him move towards her, had him reaching to catch her when she just dropped. She made no sound, not a breath but she felt cold in his arms, chilled and her face had paled…

Símon still wanted to examine her but she just brushed his hands away from her face and stared at the floor. Thank fully, River pulled him away quietly. That had been a half hour ago, they hadn't asked her anything.

Yet.

She heard them, all of them were so very loud. It wasn't like before, with the angels… after they'd been locked out of Heaven, when they had to find a human host… most of them had died on Earth. The Darkness had taken them all…

"Rågnå…" they look at her kinda confused when she speaks up. "Its the name from the… Rågnå; Warrior…"

She closes her eyes and hunches over, she's bombarded with images of them; all those dead, the dying, their pain, the agony… and the silence.

River hurries across the room and sits on the couch beside her. "They named the program… The Blue Hands took her away… didn't like it." River is staring at Rågnå, she leans closer and gently trails her fingers through the girls dark hair.

Símon can see River's effect on the men of Earth-That-Was, she's unnerving them but his concern is with the anger barely hidden by Dean. There's something dangerous about him, something Símon hasn't seen or felt before and that scares him.

"…made her dead … then made her kill."

Sam is sort of … enthralled? He doesn't know what to make of them or what Crowley's left them with. He's got questions about the ship and where they come from. What its like in the future and what happened to get the human race colonizing planets…

"River…?" Símon carefully moves towards the girls on the couch. "Mei-Mei-."

"She's not theirs." River assures him. She knows they're afraid of her, of whose side she's on because they don't know and Badger made sure to leave things all twisted up in knots.

"Then whose?" Dean wants to know if she's friend or foe. He'll know what to do about it then. He doesn't allow himself to think of either option because if he did that, then he'd want to kill. That part of him is there, but more recently its been the only part of him asserting control.

"Yours." River's simple answer leaves Dean confused but then he's also shocked.

"They don't know."

"You shouldn't tell them." River replies to the soft words echoing in her head.

"...its all changed, its still changing…" she shakes her head and scoots back into the couch, her feet tucked under her and rests her head on River's shoulder. Its not done yet. Things haven't set. Not yet, there's still time to put it back, not like it was but close enough.

"They wont understand." River peeks at Dean arguing with Sam."He wont listen, not yet. He doesn't want to understand, to know… He needs more time."

"They don't have it. … I cant give that to them, to him. I don't know how." She closes her eyes and drags in a heavy breath.

"They do. The angels know. So you know too." River's smile draws both Dean and Símon's attention but she doesn't say anything to them.

SPN

Wash is very clear about how he feels.

"Wǒ bù xǐhuan tā." He scowls at Dean walking through the kitchen towards the back door and outside.

"Mínshì." Símon warns. He doesn't know how they're getting home or if they can without Badger. 'Its Crowley, here. The King of Hell…' His eyes wander over the living room and he's still in disbelief that they are actually there, Earth-That-Was.

"Hey," Bobby calls from the kitchen. "I aint your maid. You want food, then come get." He gives them one last look before turning away with his bowl and a cup.

Wash barely gives Símon a look before he's up and heading into the kitchen. Símon hesitates, but he walks after the pilot hoping they aren't going to piss someone off. He glances upstairs, where River has taken.. 'the girl'. He's been wondering what they'll call her, they can't just say 'girl' anytime they refer to her… And she's made it clear the name given to her project by the Blue Sun is not what they should call her.

"Ugh!" the clatter of the spoon dropping into the pot draws Simon's attention back to Wash.

"What?" Símon moves towards the stove and peers into the pot and the mash of something that looks kind of like tiny peas mashed up in a red sauce.

"Chili Beans." Sam says from behind them. "Bobby likes them spicy. Its not bad if you drop some sour cream in…" he trails off seeing their looks of confusion. He realizes they might not know what he's talking about so he takes a bowl and serves them.

"Xièxiè." Símon takes the bowl and looks around for a spoon.

"You want a beer?" Sam offers them each a bottle he takes from the fridge and sits with them at the small table.

"Tā bùshì nàme huài." Wash mutters through the food in his mouth.

Sam tries to hide the smile but the faces Wash keeps making as he eats are funny.

"This is…"

"Different than space food?" Sam can't help wondering what else is different and without Dean glaring at them or focused on what Crowley wants with these strangers, Sam can ask his geeky questions in peace.

Upstairs, Bobby stops in the hallway and clears his throat before taking another step and standing in the door way of the room he's told the girls they can use. He spots River laying on the bed, staring at the ceiling with her feet dangling over the side. The other one, the girl Crowley bought… she doesn't look away from the window she's staring out of.

"Xièxiè." River smiles at the slightly startled expression on Bobby's face that quickly turns into a scowl. He reminds her of Mal, his gruff manner that hides how he's really feeling. She looks away, thinking… Mall will be worried. He'll search, he'll try to find them… And Zoë… Kaylee… Jayne too. Even if he says he doesn't care for any of them… they'll worry.

"Brought some food." He steps in and gives her the bowl. "Don't be getting used to me bringing you food. One time deal. Next time you girls get it yourselves." He looks towards the window where the other one still hasn't moved or said a word.

"You should thank him."

"That requires that I speak aloud and I'd rather not." She did enough of it before, every time they told her to…

"Its polite. He brought food."

"I'm not hungry."

River giggles at the sound of her stomach growling. "Your stomach disagrees." She skips over and offers the bowl Bobby just gave them. "You still have time to eat."

"There is no time. Its coming. … Once he has it, events will fall into place and how it ends…" she doesn't want to go there again, to hear the silence of the dead. To feel the pain of the dying. She doesn't want to see their lights snuff out… all those souls… every angel…..

SPN

Kaylee can't concentrate. It's obvious when the wrench slips out of her hand and the engine shoots a stream of fluid accompanied by the puff of smoke.

"What the gorrams goin' on here?" Mal's yelling startled her into a yelp as he storms into the engine room.

"It's shiny Capt."

"Fluids and smoke… that ain't shiny, Kaylee." Mal points at the mess and looks around but he doesn't know where to start.

"I can fix it!" Kaylee jumps into action, cleaning up and setting to rights what she didn't before. "Capt, did you find them?"

"No, now get my ship fixed." Mal scowls but seeing the concern he softens just a bit. "We ain't done looking, Kaylee. We'll find 'em." He pats her shoulder on the way out and scowls. He doesn't like when his crew is taken captive and that's what he's going with because the alternative, that the Alliance or some other Operative has killed them… He doesn't want to believe that.

But they've seen the bodies. Badgers henchmen… and no Badger. So maybe… his crew are just hiding out somewhere.

FF

The crunch of gravel and the slam of a door have Dean heading outside, his colt in hand. They hadn't been expecting anyone but the sight of red hair only puts him at ease for a second before he's questioning what she's doing there.

"Well its nice to see you too." Charlie mutters 'grumpy' under her breath just as she walks past him and into the kitchen where she stops. "Hello."

Dean let's the door slam behind him, he's not going to fall into the childish response, and that scares him. What he wants is to tear something apart. What he should feel like doing is snapping back something equally juvenile and move on…

"So, new faces. Hunters?" Charlie looks to Sam, still at the table, then back at Dean but neither is given the chance to speak before Wash does.

"Nothing so àn. We're just … what'd he call us again?"He asks Símon, only he doesn't wait for the answer before glaring at Dean. "Oh, aliens."

"Cool." Charlie grins and moves to sit between Simon and Wash. "I was queen of-."

"Nope. Not now, Charlie." Dean has her arm and is forcibly dragging her away from the aliens.

"Whoa, what's with the grabby hands, Dean?" Charlie's already felt the pain those hands can deliver and she doesn't much want a refresher. "You know they're not my type, right?"

"Why are you here?" Dean has to force his hands down to his sides and its pissing him off he feels guilty about what he did to Charlie before. He doubts it's the homecoming she had expected upon returning from OZ.

"Because I asked her to come." Sam's chair scrapes as he leaves the table and stands behind Charlie. "She can help us get rid of the Mark-."

"No! Damn it, Sam." Dean looks to Charlie and he's scared she's gonna get hurt trying to help him and he doesn't want to be the reason she's hurt again. His hands clench at the memory and he feels bad for the beating he gave but he feels bad because he liked it.

"Hey, I'm a big girl. I'll go where I want, when I want." She's already gone and stolen the one thing she's found with even the slightest chance of working.

"She can help, Dean." Sam takes a step towards his brother, just hoping this time he's right and Dean will see this as a good thing.

"And I want to help you. So quit your bitching." Charlie adds a smile to mitigate the sting of her words. "I've got something-. Ahh!"

Out of nowhere, the girl Crowley bought, is standing in front of Charlie, blocking Dean and then she grabs the back pack.

"Hey, that's mine!" Charlie tugs back but the half angel, with one hand, pushes her off and into the table on top of Simon and Wash.

From behind Dean and the girl still in her white suit, is River. "Uh-oh." She can see from their expressions the situation is going to escalate fast. "That was an accident."

"You're supposed to apologize now." River can see the anger and surprise on their faces as they look at her. She hopes the apology will calm them just enough they'll listen.

"Why?" She is upset about hurting the mortal. Its what she does, what she is. She was made to do more than just hurt, but this time, there was no one giving the order…

"So they won't be upset. You've hurt their human." River points out.

"What she has will cause more harm than good." She grips the back pack harder. "The girl is running to her death. I'm preventing that."

"But they don't know. And you're not going to tell them so you should apologize." River points out yet again.

With a heavy sigh, she decides to follow River's advice. "I didn't intend to use that much force. I apologize "

It's a moment before anyone speaks. Then its more than one person but the gist of it is they're upset and don't trust her to behave.

Dean grabs the back pack and watches her but when he tugs she lets him have it. What he doesn't understand is the expression on her face, she hides the fear mixed with grief and drops her hands down to her sides but she doesn't look away from him.

Dean feels like he's making a mistake, he's just not sure what.

SPN

Bobby has a half dozen boxes on his front step, which he doesn't remember requesting, let alone paying for. After the incident with their guest and Charlie, he doesn't want to rock the boat more than its been. Still…

"Overnight is not efficient here." River pops up behind Bobby who startles. He backs into his door and watches River grab a couple boxes before she turns to him smiling. "You're arms are empty."

"Yeah-hey." Bobby frowns when she shoves the boxes at him. "You ordered all of this?"

"More on the way." River has her own boxes, which she uses to push Bobby back into the house.

Sam looks up from his lap top and stares at Bobby, or the bits of him not obstructed by boxes. When he sees River and the rest of the boxes… there's that 'Uh-Oh' he says to himself. It doesn't take long to find out River bought them clothes. Its all scattered on the living room floor when Dean walks in from the back porch and demands to know what the hell is going on.

River spares them a glance, that's all it takes for her to figure out how best to explain what she did; modify the screen capture to work as a tablet and then surf the net to find the things they'd need because they hadn't brought anything from the future except what had been on the shuttle, which wasn't much anyway. A couple bolts of cloth that Inara had left behind, some empty crates, assorted tools and tech. That was something River could use later on. And then the question of payment was brought up, which was the simplest part of her explanation.

She created an account.

"Just like that, huh?" Dean scoffed, he was still angry and worried they'd somehow get caught and all because the girl wanted some new threads. And he didn't like the next part of her explanation either. That River had somehow earned the cash from trading stocks.

"Yes." River nodded, though she could see it just pissed him off more. "I can explain the details but it wouldn't help you understand. The system is complex and you're not interested in specifics."

Símon drew in a deep breath. He knew how River came off; she was either crazy or too smart for her own good. Lately, she'd been having more of those genius moments which had led him to believe, she was somehow getting better.

"No more." Dean is very clear he's putting his foot down. He's about to add more when he feels a hard shove and then he's stumbling forward a couple steps.

The startled expression on Crowley's Lady Knight gets a giggle from River.

"What the hell are you doing?" Dean turns with his scowl. The girl looks annoyed and confused, which makes her that much more attractive and Dean has to tell himself she's somehow working with the King of Hell and that's not something he wants any part of. Only Dean is still trying to get his hands on the First Blade…

She points upstairs then looks towards the window in the living room with a slight frown and huffs with some frustration. "I meant to go there." She points outside and looks back at Dean. That scowl doesn't diminish and he looks at both girls.

"No shopping." He glares at River. "No … flitting." He orders the half angel.

"He's upset about the clothes."

"Why?" she turns her attention to River, brow slightly furrowed.

"Hey!" Dean snaps a finger at them. "Quit talking to yourselves and stop your hacking, trading, whatever." He's seen that look between the girls, it's the same one Sam and he have been accused of having. Entire conversations with just a couple of looks, but they're brothers, they've grown up together in close quarters, they know each other.

Dean knows that's not the case with these girls. Its weird, how they understand each other without actually talking- and its always River doing their talking.

"Dean," Sam doesn't let the glare his brother turns on him shut him up. "Trading stock makes sense and if she can make enough -."

"What part of 'No', does no one get here?" Dean glares at all of them, including Bobby who just narrows his eyes on the young Hunter.

"You gonna hustle pool for the cash to get them dressed and fed?" Bobby doesn't see that happening. He figures if River is as smart as Símon says she is, and they really do come from a future where the tech is just… well, trading some stocks should be the easiest thing for the girl.

That argument ends with Dean outnumbered. The girls get a new wardrobe. Símon and Wash both get styled by Charlie who got a kick out of River's stock trading, which also earned her cash and that was never a bad thing.

The ground rules were set; there'd be no surfing the net without supervision and that's where Bobby played the role of watch dog. He didn't find it very amusing so when Charlie offered to take over, he didn't argue. And neither one told Dean.

Símon was left to entertain himself; learning from videos and books left him frustrated with what he considered barbaric and cruel methods of practicing medicine. He was living what he'd once believed would only ever be history.

Wash had nothing to do but watch TV, which he found rather amusing. He liked eating too and since he missed his wife… food was a comfort.

And that was how the first week with Team Free Will and the Serenity crew went. Until…

SPN

Crowley's met with the angels on his side. A little reconnaissance, to get the lay of the land as it is now because its certainly not how it was before. He's rather annoyed by all the inconsistencies but its still worth all the trouble and effort he put into getting back with the girl.

He scowls just thinking about her. The girl owes her current freedom to him, Crowley, King of Hell. And what does she do to thank him for the trouble?

"Ungrateful…"

The groveling demon scurrying a pace behind the King of Hell stammers; "S-sir?"

The King has forgotten he's not alone. He draws an exasperated breath and forces himself to hide his frustration. Crowley hasn't exactly been his usual self and the demons around him have been… questioning, the King of Hell. Crowley likes that even less than the girls behavior.

SPN

He's standing in the hallway staring at the girl standing by the window in the bedroom. She's discarded the white suit in favor of a knitted dress just long enough to reach her thighs. There's white lace frill peeking from the hem and gray suede boots that lace up the back of her legs tied in a neat bow.

She looks normal.

There's nothing about her that would make him suspicious … if it was just a girl he happened to pass by. Dean is frowning, there's a part of him that's drawn to her. With everything they know about her, everything that Crowley told them about this girl… the so called King of Hell is laying claim to the girl. But the nutty girl from the space ship says this one belongs to him. The girl that Crowley bought…

She turns her head; just a glance in his direction and Dean is taking the first step into the bedroom. She's not afraid; there are much worse things to fear than his anger.

"No." she frowns just a little. "He wont hurt me." Still, River keeps heading towards the stairs. "I'll be alright." With another hesitant step, River pauses at the bottom of the stairs and its Simon who draws her back to the living room with the others. Even now, with the realization that they are far from the Alliance, essentially free… Simon hasn't stopped protecting his little sister. She knows they don't belong here, but this verse has given them another chance to build a life. She wonders if the ties the Tam's have in the future will be forgotten, or if it only makes it that much harder for them to assimilate.

Dean realizes she's not really paying attention to him. He's standing right in front of her, looking down into her face and her eyes have that far off look she gets sometimes… He doesn't even realize when it is he's cupped his hand to her face; he almost wants to pull away… almost. Instead, he runs his finger over her face, lightly caressing her features, taps the tip of her nose and feels this little burst of pleasure seeing the way she scrunches her face at him for that. He likes the feel of her skin, likes the sizzle of energy that feels warm and comforting and… 'Mine.'

He drops his hand and takes a step away from her, anger etched into the tiny lines of his face. She knows what he's just realized; that darkness in him, that burning need that builds up and drowns out everything else, is from The Mark, that's what's drawn to her. She knows why and knows that he's not going to delve any deeper to figure out why he's feeling like this. He's not going to ask her anything…

And she cant tell him anything… not yet.

SPN

Mal's not sure where to look next. The Alliance didn't leave them many allies and the ones they do have, cant help him find his missing crew. Its not like he can explain losing a shuttle, nor is he willing to admit he was doing a job for Badger when said shuttle went missing.

"Captain."

Mal already knows what she's going ask him and he doesn't have a different answer this time around, either.

"We'll find them."

"We've asked everyone we know." Zoë snaps. She's growing more and more frustrated each day. A frustration that Mal shares.

"Then we keep looking." Mal scowls. "They have to be somewhere and I aint stopping 'till I have my crew."

Zoë takes a breath, tries to calm this panic that's set in since Wash and the others just disappeared. The worst is feeling helpless, because she cant beat any information out of Badger and their missing crew is all that little weasels fault.

"… shuttle too." Mal mutters as he heads towards the bridge. He hasn't been too hungry the past few days; noticed Zoë hasn't been much for eating. Although Kaylee… his mechanic seems to have an insatiable appetite.

Mal stops mid step at his next thought, even opens his mouth to yell out Kaylee's name…

But then, well… Simon wouldn't be so careless so there's no way Kaylee's appetite has anything to do with other than nerves.

FF

She makes it outside without bumping into anyone. 'Flitting' like Dean calls it… Sometimes its easier than at others, she's noticed it has to do with her mood. When she's just here, with no thoughts or voices making noise… its as easy as thinking of the where. But then, there are all these voices… The angels are much louder in this verse than they'd been before. She hadn't had time to make up a plan, to figure out how to change events, but then the girl brought it. She gave them the map to their very destruction.

What do I do now?

The soft flutter of wings alerts her to his presence on Bobby's roof. He doesn't say anything, neither does she, not with voices the others would understand. She can hear the glass in the windows rattle as the angel asks his questions, demands answers of her… about where she's come from, what she's doing, who's side is she on?

Dean runs out, with Bobby and Wash on his heels. Sam has River and Símon has Charlie. They all have their ears covered, they're in pain…

She stands up, looking at the angel. "Stop." This is the norm for them, angels. She's beginning to see they don't concern themselves with things that have nothing to do with Heaven.

The glass stops rattling, and they can both hear Dean yelling at them to get off the damn roof. She kinda wants to smile, but the fact he's upset and he bears the Mark of Cain and what that does to him… that desire is gone immediately. Things are different, things that shouldn't have happened yet, have. She looks at Dean and the others and she still feels when the angel moves towards her. She takes a step off the roof, just before Castiel can grab her, and she's gone.

"What the hell are you doing up there?" he's scowling at her, when she appears at his side, then looks to Cas when he appears beside them. He's still angry about Purgatory. "And you? Why the hell are you using your angel voice?"

"I was speaking to her." Castiel takes a step towards her, intent on finding out what she is and where she'd come from.

"Hey," Dean steps in between them, but he never gets to ask how she's able to hear an angels voice. He knows she's tapped into angel radio but its just another thing on the list of things he doesn't know about this girl. Things he's been avoiding, along with her.

"What is she?" Castiel demands once more.

"Uhh," Sam can tell this is not a social visit. They haven't been able to make the angel show up and Dean hasn't exactly been happy to see the angel when he does, but now that Crowley's brought the girl… "She's-."

"Why?" Dean glares over his shoulder at Sam, a silent Shut up is conveyed with just a look.

"They know she's here." River pipes up. "The angels have felt her presence. They just don't know its her."

Símon moves to shush her, anxious she's drawing attention she shouldn't. They're in the middle of a story he doesn't know the end to. And Símon is pretty sure his little sister doesn't either.

"Why are you here, Cas?" Dean hasn't had much luck getting the angel to show up when he's called him for help. The few times they needed the angel and Dean just couldn't put off Bobby and Sam's bitching. "What do you want?"

The angel looks at Dean. After everything they've gone through since he pulled the human from hell… trying to keep the seals closed and failing. Lying to Dean because he believed the orders from Heaven came from God. He lied again, and rebelled and now there's this war in Heaven. A war he began because he doesn't believe in the apocalypse. This … final battle… God wouldn't want it. Castiel has to believe, of everything he's learned from the Winchesters and of humans in the past few years on Earth… He erred, terribly and has tried to apologize, but how can the angel ever apologize for releasing the Leviathans from Purgatory? For dragging Dean to that same place and then leaving him to fend for himself? He did it to protect Dean, to keep his grace from drawing more attention to Dean's soul… He wasn't able to stop Dean from taking the Mark of Cain…

"For her." Castiel can see the effect of his words on Dean immediately. He doesn't want to fight, he's tired of it… "The angels know she's here. They will come for her, as well."

"Right, and what? You're here to protect her?" Dean scoffs. "You have this habit of running off when it gets too rough."

"Dean…" Castiel stops the apology because it hasn't made a difference any time before. He sighs and turns to the girl. "You are in danger."

"They're at war." River murmurs, she's admiring the play of light surrounding the angel. The flash of muted shadows when his wings flutter due to his emotions. "Both sides still trying to finish the battle to end it all."

"They wont take me." She says it with a calm voice, very certain about her statement. "I'm not here for them." She stares at Castiel, a bit curious about the angel that still has a part to play. She feels his sadness for the rift between he and Dean. Coming back, the changes her presence and that of the Serenity crew, have made is even more clear. Events have been skewed, out of order and quickly approaching the event she most wants to avoid. "The civil war in Heaven must end."

"Yes," Castiel completely agrees, he just doesn't know how to accomplish that. Its no longer Michael leading the other angels to the apocalypse but its still on course. The angels still want it to happen, they want the end their Father had planned for the humans. And why? Castiel has tried to convince them there is another way, another path and all they have to do is choose. But angels don't know what to do with Free Will. And Castiel, no matter that he claimed himself the new God when he'd taken those souls from Purgatory, hasn't a clue how to show those angels the way. He's fought and killed so many of his brothers and sisters… he's tired of it. "Your grace… I have not felt another such as yours." He reaches towards her throat, slightly frowning.

"Back off, Cas." Dean takes a step forward and blocks the angel before he has a chance to touch the girl. He's afraid Castiel will find out what else makes her so different. As angry as he is with the angel, Dean still doesn't want to make him an enemy.

"I am not here to harm her." Castiel assures with just a little bit of hurt in his tone. Curiosity had his attention and the rumblings from the warring angels in Heaven sent him to Dean with a warning. "I only came to see… and to warn you of the angels."

"Too late for that." Dean snaps. He has fresh memories of unspoken 'warnings' he could've used, had the angel thought to spare him some pain.

"I can help end it." She tugs on Dean's shirt sleeve to get his attention. But the moment she offers to help the angel, Dean is infuriated.

"NO!" he has to take a breath to calm himself, but it doesn't do much. He drops his gaze to the ground because he doesn't want them to see what he's struggling to hide. Its then he sees the tight grip he's got of her small wrist, can feel her bones-. She hasn't uttered a sound but it has to be painful. "No, she's not getting involved with you or any other angels. NO." he forces his hand to let go of her wrist but the girl just slips her small hand into his, fingers entwined and gives a small squeeze.

She steps around Dean, still holding his hand and places her palm on the angels chest. Dean can't explain how it happened. He could see and feel Castiel. His remorse and guilt, the anguish and worry, but mostly it's the sad loneliness the angel suffers. Dean wont admit it, but he feels the loss of the angel he'd begun to consider more than an ally. Castiel had become a friend, part of their dysfunctional family.

All it takes is a breath. She's the bridge that lets them both communicate what they wont put into words.

"What did you do?" Sam exclaims. He looks but Castiel is nowhere to be seen, there was no flutter of wings…

"I sent him away." She's unperturbed by their shock, which makes River giggle.

"They think you've killed the angel."

"I have no reason to do so."

She turns to Dean, but he's staring at the spot where Castiel had stood just a moment ago. She showed him what the angel was feeling, hoping Dean will soften and maybe that relationship between the angel and the Hunter can grow into what it should have been, had Crowley not interfered.

"What are we gonna do about the angels coming here?" Bobby demands. "He did just warn us them angels are gonna want the girl."

"Is there something… to do?" Símon isn't sure what they can do about angels. Everything is so outdated, what weapons would stop a holy being? And then he wonders that any of it can be real.

"You're on Earth-That-Was. Badger is Crowley, the demon King of Hell. And that was an angel." River just smiles while her brother still tries to rationalize what's happening.

"Huì yŏu zhàn dòu?" Wash just blinks his eyes at the group in general. The past few days, he's been the only one without something to do. All that has done, is give him plenty of time to think about Zoë and miss her. No amount of TV can block that.

"You guys didn't tell me she was an angel." Charlie frowns as they start to file into the house.

Dean looks around. The half-angel can tell he's getting angry and that's the last thing she wants. Instead of following the others into the house to prepare for an angelic attack, she tugs on Dean until he follows her into the trees. There's a path, past the junk yard and she takes him through there.

"He's done the best he knows how." She looks up at him with dark gray eyes. "He broke away, Dean. Let him be at your side when the time comes."

"Why?" he sounds like a petulant child and knows it. He hasn't spoken to her, the girl Crowley bought and left in his care… He doesn't want anything to do with her, doesn't want any part of Crowley.

But he's watched her, the past week… learning to 'flit'. Watching her bump into things, into Sam- he almost laughs at the memory of Sam almost dunking his face into a bowl of soup. Still, Dean's made an effort to keep his distance from the girl.

"You're allowed to feel that way." She smiles at him. "And yes, I can hear you thinking, Dean."

He pulls away, frowning but she takes a step to close the distance between them, her small hand reaching out for his.

"I don't want you in my head." He snaps, but he's afraid too. That she's going to see all of him, the things he's done and every awful thing he hides, even from himself. That she knows why he's avoided her, the thoughts he can't keep locked away because its getting harder and somehow its all tied to the Mark.

"You wouldn't like it in mine, either." She shakes her head and takes his hands. "I was made for war. I am a weapon. My purpose is death…"

Dean frowns. River said the girl was his, Crowley said the girl belonged to Hell… Now, Heaven wants her too.

"I don't know any other way." Her soft whisper floats in the silence that follows. They don't say anything else, not for a few minutes. He just stares at her, trying to figure out if her demon part is what draws him to her… does she have some sort of sway? Is it because of the Demon Knight she's made from?

Dean starts down the path, her hand still in his. He doesn't know why he starts talking about John. Or why he tells her about Adam… they have a bother still in the cage. But he tells her anyway and makes damn sure to stay away from anything to do with demons or angels.

"Your Mother, she was part of the plan in Heaven." She can feel him tense and sighs. "I've been listening to angel radio, Dean." She tugs him to a stop and looks up at him, she wants to tell him its all making sense, angel radio filling in the gaps she was having trouble piecing together. "I'm sorry-."

"Sorry?" Dean scowls. "Darlin', I don't do pity." He drops her hand and turns away, starts heading back to the house. He tells himself he's an idiot for thinking he could go five minutes without talking about angels or demons or hell or heaven-!

She lets him alone, following, until they can see the junk yard. "Dean." But he ignores her. "Dean." That gets his immediate attention and she almost bumps into him when he turns on her. "What is my name?"

Her question throws him and the angry words he was going to yell at her for talking in his head fumble on his tongue, because what?

"A name… you want a name."

She nods. "That other… its not my name." she doesn't want them to have another piece of her. The Alliance and the Blue Hands took enough, made her and molded her… it was all part of the plan. But she doesn't have to like it.

"Okay," Dean frowns. He's not sure why he's even doing it but he's going along with the distraction. "Well… what about, Angel?"

"Is that not a word?" she frowns at him.

"Fine, no words." He says with annoyance. "What about Angela? Angie? Angeline? Angelica?"

She frowns at him and walks past. "Adding syllables doesn't remove the root of a word. And I am not an angel." She throws over her shoulder. The thought of them choosing to think that is all she is makes her feel angry. They know that's not all she is, and ignoring the other part of her… its as though they are ashamed for her.

"Cus Crowley says?" Dean scoffs. "Screw that ass-hat. Don't you have a choice? Free will and all that bull shit Cas keeps yapping about." He waves a hand in dismissal because he doesn't really believe the angels can be without a leader. Its like they all want someone in charge, telling them what to do, what to think…

"Castiel." She turns to Dean. "The angel that pulled you from hell… who used to follow orders-."

"Used to?" Dean is pissed just thinking about the shit Castiel has pulled and the many times he's been let down by the angel.

"You have a choice." She touches his arm with the Mark. The arm Dean is holding and he pulls away fast when he feels her hand over his. "What you feel…you can drown in it." She looks at him, hoping he has it in him to bear this just a little more. "If that's what you want. Or you keep fighting what the Mark wants from you." She knows one version of his choice… "Either way, you decide if you'll give in."

"That easy?" he's furious with all of them. "You've got the answers, so tell me how I get rid of it?" because everyone has an opinion. Everyone thinks they know how they could have done it better.

"If you didn't mean to keep it, then why ask for it?"

"Because …" he's thrown off again. He's come to see she gets straight to the point, she asks or says exactly what she thinks.

"It was your only option at the time?" she knows that's what he's thinking, she can see it on his face and it makes her sad.

"Yes!"

"No." she says it with quiet assurance.

"What?"

"It was not the only choice." He clenches his jaw at her words but keeps quiet. "But it was the only choice right in front of you, so you took it because it was easiest."

"What do you know about it?" he snaps and starts towards the house.

"More than I should. More than I want…" She looks away sad and hurries after him. "Your Mother wanted more than the life her Father could give her. That's what made your Father so appealing."

"Don't." he turns on her again just at the edge of the yard.

"What you feel is natural. The life that should have been yours was ripped away. You've had to live this one instead. … because of someone up there, or someone down there… HE chose you for this." She looks up at him, her voice a soft whisper when she tells him again; "I'm sorry. They've made you carry this burden."

"Don't be sorry for me, darlin'."

"I am on your side, Dean."

"Right." He scoffs. "Crowley paid for you."

"And I am here for you." She can tell him that much. "No matter what, you are the only one I am going to help."

Dean doesn't know if he can trust her or believe her but he really wants to. He said she couldn't help Cas end the war in Heaven and she sent the angel away. She didn't go, and its not like Dean can stop her, if that's what she wants to do.

"You're a little rebel, then…" he doesn't understand. And then he gets an idea for her name, which has him smiling. "Rhèbell. Rolls off the tongue…"

"It's a word." she frowns. He can tell she doesn't like it and then she's walking towards the house.

"Wha-, come on! I've never named anyone before!" he grumbles about it but really, there's a little voice at the back of his mind whispering… He's just not ready to listen.

SPN

Chapter Text

 

He made them an offer they wouldn’t refuse. All he needed was a willing sacrifice and that’s been taken care of. Gadreel is all in and full of guilty repentance for his part. The rest of the angels will either follow suit or be left out in the cold. And once Metatron has Heaven all to himself… well, then, they can continue with the cleaning of the humans left on Earth.

But first… there's a little blip in the cosmic plan that needs to be taken care of. He wasn’t sure what had changed, not at first, or that there was anything different. Only he wasn't alone, other angels were also feeling a slight change in the universe. They just didn’t know where it was coming from or even why…

Until the so called King of Hell started acting…weird. Asking questions about things that have already happened and things that Crowley shouldn’t even have an inkling of. Which is why Metatron placed a tail on the demon and while it took some time, it was Castiel who led them right to the source.

"Curiosity…" Metraton shook his head, a gloating smile showing off yellowed teeth and the twinkle of madness in his vessels eyes.

SPN

The sigils warding Bobby's place from any angelic presence  aren't completed by the time the first angels show up. Angel Warding Sigils 101 isn't as easy for some as it is the other geniuses from the future.

"You should pack." River tells Simon when he mucks up a second attempt on paper. "Now." She says when he just stares at her. He finally hurries upstairs because he knows River can see how it ends. And its most likely they'll be leaving the Hunters, or at the very least be leaving the domicile. River packed some necessary items into a pack the night before and snuck out to stash it in the

car.  She moves to help Charlie with the living room window. Her sigil is easy and halfway through the last line, River stops, eyes focused on the man in the pristine suit standing on the pebbled drive. The man that had not been there a second ago…

She doesn’t dare breathe when a 2nd appears next to the first. The sight of them sends a cold panic through her, a reminder of the future that awaits.

“Be calm, River.”

“…the Blue Hands… this is how they become…” they aren’t any different, not really. Still clean and crisp, like marble statues-

“Only if The Darkness wins.”

River knows it did. The Darkness won and the Blue Hands cut out pieces until they made her the crazy killer that Simon stole away from them. And Simon… well, he gave up a future in medicine, a normal life, a family of his own…for her.

“He loves you.”

“… I love him too…” there’s nothing River wont do for him. Anything at all… because there’s no price that will ever be enough to make up for what he gave up to save her.

“Its not about what you feel you owe him. Or what he gave up to save you. River, you are his family… he is yours, and family is supposed to stand by you in the good and the bad. Family will come to your aid when you're in need. Family will love you in spite of everything…”

“…he doesn’t say it, but I know…” there’s a part of her brother that has regrets.  A part of him that wonders what his life could have been like if he hadn’t risked it all to save her. There’s a part of Simon that is angry with their parents for just giving up. They were supposed to keep River safe; they should have been the ones to save her. She was their responsibility, after all and they just washed their hands of her. And because he wouldn’t fall in line, they washed their hands of him as well.

“River, this is the one thing that doesn’t change. No matter how many times I look… Simon will always choose you.”

“Aah! Will you let a girl know?” Charlie frowns but she doesn’t get a response from the half angel who offers a soft smile to River before gently pulling her away from the window.

“We should go now.” River says without looking away from the half-angel.

“Uhm, where are you going?” Sam asks from the hallway.

“Those sigils better be finished.” Bobby warns as he stomps away from the front door and joins Sam in the living room entrance. “Got some suits out front and they aint look like the government types.”

Sam automatically looks at the half-angel but she disappears and from upstairs they can all hear a thunk and Wash’ startled yelp is cut off midway.

“Hey! Wash!” Sam runs into the hallway and heads for the stairs when River calls his name.

“They wont be there.” River stands just in front of Bobby in the hallway and watches Sam pause on the first step. “She’s taken them-.”

“You should all go.”

They turn to the girl in the kitchen; she’s alone for just a moment before there’s a winged suit standing just behind her.

“Do it.” She flits, just like Dean says he hates when they do. River has a bloody palm in the center of the angel banishing sigil on the wall in the hallway. The flash of light blinds them all for a moment but the angels in the house are all gone.

“Alright, lets go!” Sam grabs River and pulls her towards the basement but she slips out of his hold and runs towards the back door. “River!”

“Not safe here.” She pauses and there’s something in her expression that kinda scares Sam. It’s a look he's only seen on Dean when he's about to do something stupid and self-sacrificing. That’s why he’s moving towards her even as River runs out into the yard.

SPN

River Tam is what the Alliance had considered top of the line, their best work to date. No expense was spared to complete what had promised to be their most perfect weapon. Time, planning, credits... none of that had mattered while River Tam had been in their possession.

The moment Simon Tam broke in and stole her away... Well, the asset River Tam had become to the Alliance, and liability to some Parliament members, was too priceless just to let go of.

Two Operatives were sent to retrieve her.

 The first never returned. 

The second Operative somehow managed to lose the rabble crew of a firefly class spaceship. More than once. The Operative did manage to cleanse the verse of some rebels, brown coats and other undesirables. But, in the end, still could not retrieve River Tam. And, in a spectacular fail, allowed the release into the verse a record of Miranda. The entire verse was now aware of the Alliance’s tampering. Those who actually believed that Reavers weren’t just some fairytale-boogeyman imagined to keep children in line, but a very real danger… now have someone to blame.

And an enemy to fight.

To the Alliance; Serenity, its Captain and crew… they were #1 enemy, the symbol of the brewing rebellion and Parliament had decreed, the firefly and its crew could not be allowed to fan any rebellious rumblings into a full on uprising.

Or worse… War.

The verse was full of possible brown coats and a few originals that still wanted a fight. They just didn’t have enough willing recruits. But Miranda was changing all of that.

FF

Baby roared up the familiar gravel drive. What Dean saw, immediately brought The Mark to life. It was like a roaring in his ears and he was out of the Impala without realizing and moving towards the fight.  Part of him is able to admire the deadly ballerinas facing off against a dozen angels.

“You need to protect the others.”

He focuses on her, foregoing the usual order not to talk in his head or even go in there. For a moment, the sound of her voice… makes him pause. But then, he's moving with purpose right to her and the angels trying to slice her to pieces.

“Dean, they need you.”

But Dean only sees her in danger, she is the one under attack and that is not ok, not at all-.

“Focus, Dean.” She’s beside him, her hand on his arm, palm flat right over The Mark. And its like a blanket of calm and quiet envelopes them.

“What…?” he likes this quiet, it’s a relief to feel…normal again. Dean hadn’t realized how much The Mark had changed him.

“You need to go. Take them far away-.”

“What-, no!” he grabs her arms and that relief her touch had given him is gone. The Mark pours rage and that hunger, insatiable need for blood-.

“Dean!” she has to yell, to get him to stop walking to where River is keeping the angels occupied. His grip on her arms doesn’t slip, unwilling to let go and she knows he must. “I need your help.” She reaches up, one hand touching his face. “Get the others away from here, please… I was only waiting for you.”

Dean stumbles, hands empty because she flits into the path of the angel rushing towards him. She knocks the angel blade from his hand and slaps her palm on his face. There’s a blinding flash of light and the angel is burned out of the host. She’s moving to the next one while Dean is momentarily surprised she can even do that. The next moment, Dean is picking up the angel blade from the ground and takes on the angel reaching for River.

“I’ll clear the path to Baby.”

River nods once. She evades the angel swinging at her head and kicks him in the face before coming up behind him and breaks its leg with another kick.

Sam comes out, he's got a shotgun even though he knows it wont do much against angels.

“Get to Baby. Go now.”

There’s urgency in the voice in his head. Sam is shocked; he's never had the half-angel talk to him, out loud or in his head.

“Sam!” River is frowning at him, she has two angel blades and then she only has one as the second is thrown at the approaching angel. Another flash of bright light draws Sam’s eyes to Dean and the body at his brother’s feet.

Charlie stumbles and smacks into Sam’s back. “Sorry! Ooh!” she covers her mouth as Sam stumbles down the steps and right into River. “Sorry! I didn’t know we were waiting-.”

“No waiting.” River turns and swings the angel blade. Before she can strike again, the angel has been lit up and Dean is standing there. “Now we can go.” River moves past him, one more glance shows her the angels converging on her friend.

“Don’t be too long. I don’t think Dean can handle your absence.”

The angels have her surrounded. Angel blades swinging and yet they cant seem to get her. She flits between them, buying time for Dean to get farther away. And when an angel tries to flit, to stop them from leaving, she pulls him back and slams him into another angel blade and uses the one she takes from him to kill the one standing there. They try to smite her, but she doesn’t give them a chance to lay a hand on her.

She flits, ends up on the roof staring down at the angels. She can hear them coming… the ones sent to kill her…

SPN

“She’ll be alright.” River says to Dean’s back as he tears down the road. But her words barely register as anything more than a buzz in his ear.

He can see her fighting them…

"What are you doing-?" Sam grabs the dash as Baby skids to an almost stop in the middle of the road. Not a word from Dean, who pulls the steering wheel and starts to turn back. "River!"

She slaps Sam in the face long enough she can keep Dean in the proper choke hold, not to hurt him, but to put him to sleep for just a little while. "She doesn’t want Dean to get hurt."

"You are hurting him!" Charlie exclaims but River somehow blocks Charlie's forward lunge with her leg until Dean finally slumps in his seat.

"He'll sleep for a little bit." River smiles at them while checking Dean's pulse.

"Go on then." Bobby orders in the shocked silence that follows as he reaches towards the front driver seat. "Move him over and drive, idjit."

"She doesn't want us in danger." River points behind them when they just stare at her. "We need to get further away."

"You just choked out the driver!" Charlie exclaims and points to where Dean is partially laid up on Sam's lap.

"Now, Sam. Let's go…" River nods encouragement but there's still mostly confused shock in Sam's face.

"Move it, boy!" Bobby smacks Sam and that finally gets him moving.

Once on the road again, Bobby turns to River. "Mind telling us where the hell we're supposed to be going?"

"Your cabin…" and Bobby looks at her confused because he doesn't own a cabin. Not in this version, anyway.

"You have a cabin, Bobby?" Sam glances into the rearview mirror and gets a scowl.

"Ain't got a cabin." He scowls at River.

"You have a friend who does." That's all she can say and it's not like they'll question her. They all think she's nuts…

SPN

"Who the hell are you?"

Simon turns to find a shotgun aimed at him. And Wash drops the half eaten sandwich as he raises both hands.

"…Nǐ hǎo…" Simon sort of waves his hand but that makes the man cock the shotgun.

"Who sent you? How'd you get in? How'd you even find my place?" Because he sure as hell doesn't advertise.

"Uh we …uh…" Wash looks over to Simon hoping he'll be able to explain because he's not even certain he knows what happened.

"We were dropped off…" Simon just shrugs at Wash's incredulous look.

"Yeah, by who?"

"Whom."

"Simon! Shénme tā mā de? Lǎorén with a loaded barrel aimed at us."

"Hey, you quit that yip-yapping and speak so I can understand it." And that’s followed by the shotgun being reposition.

"Uh well… she….doesn't actually have a name…" Simon takes a hasty step away when the man steps towards them scowling.

"It's a she and you don’t know her name. Boy…."

Wash yelps, eyes widening and says “Don’t shoot, we come in peace!”

SPN