Teddy watched the ghostly glow of Harry’s brain float above his head from where he sat between the two surgical beds. On the other side of Sam’s body, Nate sat with his feet up. He had a notebook open on his lap in which he seemed to be drawing random doodles between occasional sighs.
It had been over a half hour since Harry and Sam had gone under. Teddy was torn, because he felt like he should keep a continuous monitor to make sure all was well, but he was also bored out of his tree and fancied heading back into the library and perusing the available reading material. He glanced at Nate again, and then the two bodies.
“We could draw penises on their faces,” Teddy observed.
Nate looked at him with wide eyes.
“Don’t you dare!” Nate said. “They’ll kill us – Harry will figuratively kill us, and Sam will literally kill us!”
“Sam won’t kill us,” Teddy said. “It would be hilarious. Dean would agree with me and the laughter alone will cure him of his murdering ways...”
Nate rocked out of his seat, and put his hands on Sam’s face protectively.
“I’ll protect this beautiful face with my life if I have to!”
Teddy laughed. “I’m joking, Tiger. Calm down.”
Nate shook his head, but then huffed out a laugh. He removed his hands from Sam’s face, and then lightly stroked Sam’s cheekbones as if in apology or reassurance.
“He can feel that, you know,” Teddy indicated Sam with a nod of his head.
“You touching his face like that,” Teddy replied. “Like... butterfly wings. It’s hard to explain. I only did this once myself.”
Nate blushed, and shifted on his feet. Then he ducked next to Sam’s ear and said, “uh, sorry, about that.”
Teddy laughed, and was about to poke fun at Nate’s blushing, when suddenly there was a noise from outside the room.
Teddy and Nate both turned to look at the door. There was another noise, as though someone were out there moving around...
Teddy stood, his wand in hand. Nate motioned him to stay with Harry and Sam and then he disappeared through the open door.
There was only one other person in the Bunker and he was supposed to be locked up.
Nate crept towards the entry way to the library, where he could hear someone moving. He had his wand in his hand and was already mentally preparing what spell he might need. He didn’t get a chance to use it though, because just as he reached the bottom of the stairs up to the library, force hit him from behind. Not a person, an energy – it felt like dark magic. Nate’s heart leapt into this throat as he was lifted, spun and slammed up against the wall by the library door. His back hit a chalkboard and his wand flew out of his hand, clattering across the old radio consoles and down to the ground. Instead of allowing him to fall, the magic held him there, his feet dangling, like a great weight was pinning him in place.
“Hello, who’s this?” a deep voice asked, the accent unmistakably British.
“Leave him alone, Crowley,” Dean’s voice came from the library. Nate stared at the demon in front of him – the King of Hell. The King of Hell was in front of him and Nate was wandless and pinned to a wall.
“You didn’t tell me you had recruited a new teenager,” Crowley continued, peering at Nate. “A little Wizard. He kind of looks like Kevin – is that why you got him? The ethnicity is all wrong, of course, but I suppose you make do with what-“
“I said leave him alone!” Dean cut the demon off, coming out of the library and into Nate’s field of vision. “Let him go.”
“As you wish,” Crowley said. Suddenly the dark energy holding Nate in place was gone and he fell to the ground, hitting the edge of the control boards on his way and ending up bruised in a heap on the concrete steps.
His first instinct was to reach for his wand, and he stretched an arm out-
There was a blade at his throat.
“Don’t,” Dean voice was hard. Nate dropped his arm, slowly, as to not accidentally move his neck further into the edge that teased at his skin.
“Dean,” Nate said. He could see the knife at the bottom of his vision – it was huge, it had teeth – animal teeth.
“Just stay down and listen,” Dean replied. “I’m not going to hurt you.”
“You’ve got the First Blade at my neck,” Nate stated.
The knife was gone then, but just as quick, Nate had a gun pointing at him.
Nate took a deep breath. “Marginally.”
“I’m not going to hurt you. I’m just going to leave. You understand?” Dean asked. “You let me leave without a fuss and we’re all good.”
Nate looked at Dean, and then looked over at Crowley. “Where are you going?”
“I’m going to kill Metatron,” Dean stated.
“That’s what Sam-”
“That ain’t how this is going to go down and he knows it,” Dean said. “I’m the best shot we have and I’m going to take it. Now, we good?”
“Do I have a choice?” Nate asked.
“No,” Dean lowered the gun, but he didn’t put it away. The First Blade was still clenched in his other fist, the mark on his arm angry against the otherwise pale skin. Dean nodded towards Crowley. “Let’s go.”
“I like him,” Crowley said to Dean. “He’s a cute little thing.”
“Shut your mouth and stay the hell away from him or I’ll kill you,” Dean growled.
“So touchy,” Crowley muttered, but he turned and walked towards the door without a backwards glance. “There’s another one in the hallway who thinks he’s sneaky. Do you want me to do something about him?”
Dean paused, and Nate held his breath. “No, he’s got other priorities,” Dean said, purposefully loud, Nate was sure.
Dean turned and walked away, keeping his eye on both Nate and the doorway that lead towards the infirmary as long as he could. It felt like an age before Nate heard the large outer steel door slam closed.
This King’s Cross was cleaner than reality, but not quite as white as the last time Harry had been to this version of it. There were no other people – Voldemort’s mutated soul was gone, there was no Dumbledore to greet him. It was just Harry, Sam, and rows of empty train platforms.
“Okay,” Sam said. “So, this is your waiting room?”
“Apparently,” Harry replied.
“And you’ve been here before?” Sam asked.
“When I died, yeah,” Harry replied. “This is where Dumbledore gave me the choice.”
“Hm,” Sam said in acknowledgement. “Train station – very... symbolic.”
Harry glanced around. There were no platform numbers, no signs at all really. No schedules. No security notices.
“Cas said something would look out of place,” Sam said. “You know this place better than I do.”
“Uh, yeah, but... it’s already different, I’m not sure...” Harry sighed. “I mean, probably your guess is as good as mine.”
“Great,” Sam said in a dry tone. “Let’s start looking then.”
Harry nodded and they made their way methodically around the platform they were standing on, before venturing off of it. They poked a few things, pulled on a few others, but nothing seemed to open any secret doors or reveal any hidden passageways.
“Maybe we have to wait for a train?” Sam said, looking down at the tracks.
“I’m pretty sure the trains only go one direction in this place, and that might alert people to our presence,” Harry replied.
“But it might get us somewhere that you know a little better,” Sam said.
“Well, if one comes in, we’ll consider it.”
They walked onto the second platform to see if there was anything different from the first. It was a quiet few minutes, before Sam spoke up again.
“Are you and Teddy okay?”
“Yes,” Harry said on reflex, before he actually considered the question. “I don’t know,” he admitted.
“You want to talk about it?” Sam asked, looking at what Harry was sure should be a map of the London Underground, but instead was just a blank white space.
“I don’t know... he’s on drugs?” Harry replied. He couldn’t believe those words were leaving his mouth – about one of his kids, well, almost his kid. It always felt like these kinds of things were what happened to other parents. He wondered if Andromeda knew. Harry poked at a spot on the floor with his shoe.
“You mean his anxiety meds?” Sam asked, now pulling himself up the sign to try to reach what looked like a discoloured brick on the wall.
“His... what?” Harry asked.
“You know, that tea he has to drink,” Sam clarified. “Because of the anxiety problem – he told me all about it on the drive back from New York. It’s really interesting stuff. I’d never read anything about that side-effect before, but I told him when we were done with all this stuff, I’d take a look in the library – or, I got this friend who’s a werewolf now and he’s married to-”
“What?” Harry cut Sam off.
“Sorry, off topic,” Sam said. “I didn’t think he was on anything except the anxiety meds. You think there’s something else? He’s a good kid, Harry. If it’s anything, I’m sure it’s just pot. I mean, that would probably help with the anxiety too.”
“Teddy told you he has anxiety?” Harry asked slowly, his search of King’s Cross entirely forgotten.
“Yeah,” Sam said, walking towards the next platform. “Sounds like the kid had a tough time of it until Neville and him found a tea that worked.”
Sam paused in his inspection of the wall and turned towards Harry, his brow furrowed for a moment before his eyes widened.
“He didn’t tell you any of that,” Sam said.
“No. He did not,” Harry replied.
“Shit,” Sam cursed. “Shit. I thought you knew.”
“Why didn’t he tell you?” Sam asked, genuinely bewildered.
“I don’t know!” Harry threw his arms in the air. And then he realized that he did know – Teddy had told him. “Wait, he said... he said he didn’t want his dad to know. But that doesn’t make any sense – his dad is dead! It’s not like I can just pop ‘round to the afterlife and say, ‘Remus, old friend, I’ve news on Teddy for you-‘”
“Uh, I mean, technically right now you could-,” Sam interrupted.
“That’s not my point!!” Harry exclaimed, and then paused. “Wait – I COULD.”
“Harry, no,” Sam said. “We’re here for a very specific reason and we don’t have time...”
But Harry was already casting his eyes around the station frantically – somewhere there was a door that led to Remus – or Sirius – or his parents. They’d know what to do. They could help.
“Harry, are you even listening to me?! We are on an unknown time frame here, but it is definitely an ‘as soon as possible’ time frame.”
“But, it’s his father, Sam,” Harry said. “He’ll know what to do. He can tell me where I went wrong and how to fix it-”
And then Harry saw it, on the far wall of the station, only a little small distance from the platforms. Harry saw it and knew that he had found their exit.
“But he isn’t,” Sam argued, as he jogged behind Harry. “Not really. Harry, I don’t think -”
“Look,” Harry interrupted. “I found it.”
“What?” Sam asked, coming to a stop. He looked at what Harry had found, “Are you kidding me?”
In front of them was a door clearly labeled STAFF ONLY.
“All the other words in this station are missing, no numbers on the platforms, no map of the Underground, no station signs... everything is missing except this sign,” Harry declared.
“Seems a bit... uh, too easy,” Sam said.
“Well, we won’t know until we try,” Harry replied, and then he opened the door.
White light, pure and blinding, spilled into the station.
Harry thought for a moment they had been found by angels, but when his eyes adjusted, he saw Sam smiling. Before them was an empty white corridor filled with doorways.
“Wow, good job. Let’s go,” Sam said, and they entered the corridor, softly shutting the door behind them. It was labeled “Waiting Room.” The door next to it was labeled “Nursery.” Harry’s heart dropped into his stomach.
“Did you feel that?” Sam asked, stopping a few paces in front of Harry.
“Feel what?” Harry asked.
“It felt like something touched my face,” Sam said. “Is something on my face?!”
“No,” Harry replied, looking at Sam’s face. “Your face is fine.”
Sam flinched and moved his head like he was trying to dislodge something. Then brought his own hand up to swat at his cheekbones, as though he thought he could brush something off.
“Are you okay?” Harry asked.
“Something is on my-” Sam started, then cut himself off. “It’s gone. That was-... Nate?”
“That was Nate?” Harry repeated, completely confused.
“He just apologized,” Sam said.
“Sam, are you on drugs?” Harry asked. “Nate’s not here.”
“He apologized. In my ear,” Sam said. “Dude, they can talk to us! He must have touched my face!”
Harry’s stood stunned for a moment. “Can they hear us? Teddy?”
There was just the silence of the corridor. Sam shook his head.
“What kind of potion did Teddy brew?” Harry asked. “This isn’t the Draught of Living Death. It can’t be.”
“He said it was a variation,” Sam shrugged. “Come on, you can grill him about it later – we gotta find that door.”
Harry nodded and followed Sam as they ran down the corridor. They turned a series of corners, following signs to what seemed to point towards administration. Harry wondered how the signs and corridors looked to angels – unfathomable, Gadreel had said – really, Harry had no way of ever knowing.
All of a sudden, Sam stopped in the middle of the corridor, his face pale. Harry read the doors nearby, but none of them seemed to be what they were looking for.
“What is it?” Harry asked. Sam held up a finger, angling his head as though he were listening to something with only one ear. Harry realized that it was probably because he was.
Sam swallowed. “Dean’s escaped.”
Harry took a breath in, wanting to ask more, but Sam was obviously still listening. He didn’t look happy.
“Nate’s okay,” Sam said on a whisper.
Harry’s heart thudded in his chest. If they felt the need to tell Sam that Nate was okay, it meant that he hadn’t been – or almost hadn’t been. If Dean had done something to Nate-
“He has the First Blade,” Sam related. “He’s gone after Metatron with Crowley.”
“Bloody hell,” Harry muttered.
Sam bit his lip and nodded, then his gaze was solely on Harry.
“I have to go after him,” Sam said. “He’s not himself. If he... if he hurts somebody-”
Harry nodded. “But how do we get back?”
“You don’t, I do,” Sam said. “You stick with the plan, if you’re willing.”
“Whatever you need,” Harry said.
“Cas might need backup,” Sam said. “I don’t know if we can trust Gadreel.”
“Okay, uh, sorry about this,” Sam said. “It’s what Teddy told me to do if I wanted the antidote.”
“Sorry about what?” Harry asked.
Sam just reached forward and scraped his fingernail, hard, down Harry’s cheek.
“Ow! What the bloody hell?!” Harry exclaimed, but even as he clapped a hand to his sore face, he felt the familiar sensation of soothing healing magic. “What?” He looked over at Sam, only to find Sam licking his lips.
“Hm, tastes a bit like cherry-” Sam started to say, and then was gone.
Harry was alone in Heaven.
Sam woke in the infirmary. Nate and Teddy were both hovering over him, along with a mess of blue light that Sam realized was an image of his own brain.
“Hey Sam,” Nate said. “How’re you feeling?”
“Good. How long has Dean been gone?”
Teddy gazed at the image of Sam’s brain while he spoke and nodded, but didn’t answer.
“Less than ten minutes,” Nate replied. “Do you feel like you have a soul?”
“What? Yes!” Sam asked. “Was that a danger?!”
Teddy shrugged, vanishing the image of Sam’s brain with a flick of his wand.
“I wasn’t sure,” Teddy admitted. “When I experimented with this spell before, I didn’t have a Reaper take me to heaven. This is new territory. There was a slight change to your neuro-patterns about a half hour ago that suggested that wherever your spirit had gone, it was a great distance away. I wanted to confirm that the antidote still called you back rather than only waking what remained.”
“Jesus,” Sam muttered. “I don’t want to go through that again.” He levered himself up on his elbows. His body felt like he had been asleep, though his mind did not. It was a very odd mixture of signals – where he felt like he should be drowsy, but wasn’t, and felt that he shouldn’t be stiff, but was.
“Easy,” Nate said, placing a hand on Sam’s arm as though to steady him.
“I’m fine,” Sam shook him off, as he sat up completely and hopped off the bed. “I need my laptop.”
“Does Harry want to come back too, or...” Teddy asked. Sam turned back to see Harry’s prone figure, the same blue image of Harry’s brain and nervous system hovering above his body. Teddy shifted on his feet beside the bed, glancing at the readings as though they might be able to answer his question.
“He’s staying,” Sam answered, as he left the room. He heard more than saw Nate follow him.
“Do you need help with anything?” Nate asked.
“Can you use a laptop?” Sam asked, heading into the library.
“Of course,” Nate replied.
Sam passed his laptop over to the teenager. “Look for any unusual occurrences – deaths, miracles, magic, anything out of the ordinary. Corpses with their eyes burnt out, or stabbed, but also burnt out on the inside – those are angel kills. If Dean’s looking for Metatron, that’s what he’ll be looking for, and we just have to find it first and beat him there.”
Nate nodded, already opening a search.
Sam took out his phone to call around and make sure some hapless hunter wasn’t already on the trail.
Half an hour and half a dozen calls later, Sam had come up with nothing, and Nate didn’t seem to be faring much better. Sam was starting to think that he should have taken Nate on the road with him and just done a tracking spell, but he knew that in order to reason with Dean, he’d have to get ahead of him somehow – obtain information that Dean needed, and use it to force Dean to listen to him for two seconds.
“I think I found him,” Nate suddenly said. “There’s a viral video – from this morning. He fits Kevin’s description of Metatron and he’s performing miracles, so-”
“Where?” Sam asked, pocketing his phone and coming around to look at the video as Nate presses play.
“Muncie, Indiana,” Nate replied.
Sam nodded as soon as the video ended. “Call me if there’s any change to Harry.” He snapped the laptop closed and put it in his bag.
Sam paused. “And thanks – I really appreciate the help.”
“Good luck, Sam,” Nate said.
“Oh and uh,” Sam paused. “Tell Teddy that I’m sorry if I let the cat out of the bag, but I kind of thought that Harry knew all that stuff about his anxiety, and...well...”
“Shit,” Nate whispered. Sam winced. Nate shook his head. “I told him he should’ve been honest from the start, but then, it’s part of it, isn’t it – the worst case scenarios are sometimes all he sees.”
Sam nodded and left without saying goodbye to Teddy. He peaked into the infirmary, but decided that Teddy looked too focused on monitoring Harry, and Sam didn’t want to screw that up. He needed everyone’s head in the game, if they were going to bring down Metatron and figure out how to save Dean.
Harry wasn’t sure how long he had been walking down white corridors. Part of him still wanted to see if he could find Remus, Sirius, or his own parents – but now that Sam was gone, Harry knew that the mission was down to him. If Castiel and Gadreel needed back-up, then Harry was the only one that could provide it. It would be unprofessional to get waylaid by an attempt to solve his own personal problems.
He was just about to double back and try a different corridor when the sign caught his eye. It was a door like any other, except that as he approached, he could have sworn that it had said “Office” but when he stopped in front of it, it had changed to “Prison.”
He wondered if maybe his mind was playing tricks on him. It’s true, that on a bad day, an office could feel like a prison – but then, you were always free to leave, even if the consequences of doing so would be your financial ruin. Also, when it came down to it, Harry quite liked his job and a typical day, while not very exciting, did tend to go by rather quickly as there were always different things to do and meetings that tended to break up the monotony.
Still, he had been sure that it had said “Office” a moment before. Perhaps, instead of a trick of his own mind, this was a trick of heaven. The signs might have been spelled to change if a soul got loose – perhaps it was all a trick and the first sign had been correct and then it had altered in order to confuse him.
He could open the door and see. If it were a prison, there might be guards who would spot him, that was a danger – however, if that were the case, he could simply make a run for it. At the very worst, he could signal for Teddy to bring him back to earth, now that he knew how to do it, and that it was in fact possible. Or, at least, he hoped it was possible and that Sam hadn’t merely disappeared.
Cautiously, Harry turned the door handle and opened the door just a half inch.
He could see white brick and not much else. He opened the door a little wider. There was a short white corridor that then turned a corner. He could hear voices, but they were coming from a distance.
“Okay, so you’re telling me Metatron set you up – arranged those suicide bombers to make himself look like the victim,” a woman’s voice said.
It certainly looked like a prison, not an office, and Harry was about to shut the door and move on, when he heard someone familiar.
“Gadreel was his second in command. For what other reason than the truth would he turn against Metatron.”
It was unmistakably Castiel. Harry slipped into the corridor and crept as slightly as he could to the corner. He found his wand in his hand before he had even considered whether he could use magic on angels or not. He hadn’t been prepared for a jail break, but he was willing to try if need be. Castiel was still trying to convince the guard, who seemed to be a friend, to free him – but she remained absolute.
Just as Harry reached the corner and was able to peer into the joining corridor, Gadreel’s distinct voice broke the silence.
“I stayed in this hole for thousands of years, thinking of nothing but redemption, of reclaiming my good name.” Gadreel announced. “I thought of nobody, no cause, other than my own.”
Gadreel’s back was to the corridor, but Harry could see that he was doing something with his hand close to his chest.
“You’ve been redeemed, my friend,” Castiel replied.
“The only thing that matters in the end is the mission – protecting those who would not or could not protect themselves – the humans,” Gadreel continued as though Castiel hadn’t spoken. “None of us are bigger than that. We will not let our fears, our self-absorption, prevent us from seeing it through. Not anymore.”
“No, of course not,” Castiel answered, his voice more obviously concerned.
“Move to the other side of the cell, Castiel, and keep your head down,” Gadreel commanded, and Harry’s breath caught.
“What are you doing?” Castiel asked, but Harry could already see as Gadreel turned that his chest had been carved crudely with symbols and he had a jagged stone held tight in his grip. They had been speaking of suicide-bombers who had worked for Metatron. Gadreel himself had worked for Metatron.
Their jailer seemed to have come to the same conclusion as Harry, because she rushed forward to his cell, fumbling with keys to unlock it.
“When they say my name, perhaps I won’t just be the one who let the serpent in, but one of many-”
“Gadreel!” Castiel called, and Harry found himself running into the hallway, as though it had been a command to him specifically.
“-who gave Heaven a second chance. Run-”
“Petrificus Totalis!” Harry yelled and put every single ounce of his intention behind the spell.
It didn’t work, at least not completely. They were angels, even weakened; they could resist most magic if they put their mind to it. But it was enough that Gadreel paused for a moment to shake off the spell as it tried to seize him, giving Harry time to shift to plan B – apparation.
Harry was through the bars and appearing in front of Gadreel with a pop before the jailer had recovered from her shock. He dropped his wand and then knocked the sharpened stone out of the angels grip. Without thinking about it, Harry put his hand to the bloody chest in front of him. Gadreel towered over him, angry and still, but Harry could feel the angel’s muscles unlocking as the spell was pushed off his body.
“No,” Harry said. “That’s not the answer.”
On the other side of the wall, Castiel was yelling their names frantically. The jailer recovered, and Harry could hear her keys rattling in the lock while she demanded to know who he was.
Harry kept his eyes locked with Gadreel’s.
“I won’t stay here. I won’t,” Gadreel said desperately. “Not again.”
“You won’t,” Harry nodded. Blood dripped over his hand where it rested against the angel’s chest.
He heard the jail door open behind him. With one movement, he pivoted on his feet, called his wand back into his hand with a thought, and turned so that Gadreel was behind him.
The jailer froze where she stood. The spell seemed to have more success with the her than with Gadreel, and it gave Harry enough time to pull Gadreel past the frozen jailer and out of the cell. He yanked the ring of keys from her hand as he ran by.
He swung the jail cell closed behind them, the jailer still inside. At any moment she could throw off the spell. Castiel was waiting by the bars, his eyes frantic as he got his first look at what Gadreel had done to his chest.
“Heal yourself,” Castiel commanded angrily. Gadreel eyes went to the ground, his head bowed, like a chastised child.
Harry started working his way through the keys, trying to find the one that would open Castiel’s cell door.
“There’s no need for violence,” Castiel said softly. “Not even to yourself.”
Harry glanced back at Gadreel and saw that his eyes were closed in concentration and the cuts on his chest were healing. Finally, a key turned and the cell door opened.
Castiel stepped out into the hallway. “Where’s Hannah?”
“I’m here,” Hannah replied, just as Gadreel and Harry both indicated what had been Gadreel’s cell. “Let me out, Castiel.”
“No,” Cas replied. “You must listen to us. We need your help Hannah.”
“You’re traitors,” Hannah replied.
“No, Hannah,” Cas sighed, then he turned to Gadreel. “Gadreel, tell Hannah everything.”
“We’ve already told her, she did not believe-”
“No, begin at the beginning this time,” Castiel ordered.
“Cas, we don’t have time-” Harry started to say.
“Metatron has anticipated our plan and hidden his office,” Castiel interrupted. “Hannah knows where it is. We need her cooperation if we’re to succeed at all.”
Harry sighed. He could only hope that Dean wouldn’t track down Metatron for a while yet.