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“You need to go to Chicago,” Castiel announced in his usual, this-is-how-it-must-be manner. Behind the brothers, Bobby sputtered out the drink he’d just taken and glared at Castiel.
“You can’t fucking send them to Chicago!!” he exclaimed, red in the face.
“Why not?” Sam asked curiously.
“There’s a fucking wizard there, that’s why not!”
“The wizard Dresden is on the side of my Father; he is a good and loyal man,” Castiel argued calmly.
“He’s dangerous, is what he is,” Bobby glared. “Last anyone heard of him, he sent out a spell what killed every Red Court vamp on earth.” Dean frowned, he didn’t think that was possible.
“They need to speak with the Knight,” Castiel pointed out. “The Knight is the only one able to defeat Lucifer now that we know the gun does not work.”
“Bobby, cool it,” Dean held up a hand as Bobby opened his mouth to argue more. “We should at least listen to what Cas has got to say. What Knight?” he asked Castiel.
“There are traditionally three Knights of the Cross,” Castiel explained, clarifying absolutely nothing. “They each carry a Sword with a nail from the Cross worked into its hilt.” Dean nodded; something as holy and spiritual as a nail from the actual Cross would be pretty damn powerful.
“And?” Sam urged.
“Now there is only one.”
“And we need to find him?” Dean surmised.
“He’s in Russia.”
“What’s so important about Chicago then?” Sam asked.
“There is another with the potential to become a Knight who resides in Chicago as its protector.”
“And how do we get this guy to become a Knight?”
“He must take up the Sword of his position to serve God and all that is good in this world. To protect the innocent.”
“And where is this sword?” Dean asked. This was starting to seem like a lot more work than it had in the beginning.
“Well that’s good,” Sam commented, shooting Dean his maybe-we-should-consider-this look.
“In possession of the wizard Dresden,” Castiel continued.
“I knew it wouldn’t be that easy,” Dean complained, looking less than infatuated with the plan.
“You aren’t going,” Bobby said with an air of finality.
“Bobby, if there’s a chance-” Sam started, turning his puppy dog eyes on the older hunter.
Sam looked like a kicked puppy now, his eyes wide and hurt.
“No,” Bobby said again, but with much less conviction.
Sam’s lower lip trembled and his eyes went shiny with unshed tears.
“Fine,” Bobby sighed. Dean tried not to grin; he knew how potent Sam’s kicked puppy face could be. There was no shame in caving to it. “But don’t you go stirring up trouble. That wizard doesn't like trouble in his city and I’m telling you, he’s more dangerous than any monster in the dark.”
“Can’t you talk to him?” Sam asked Castiel. “Surely he’d listen to an angel of the Lord.”
“It is unlikely. Dresden does not trust angels after encountering the Order of the Blackened Denarius.”
“Denarius?” Sam looked confused. “That’s a Roman coin.” Dean rolled his eyes; of course Sam would know that.
“The Denarians are Fallen angels bound to these coins and they corrupt whoever lets them in. they lure their prey with offers of power beyond measure before destroying their conscious entirely, though some prefer to torture the poor soul, and they take the victim’s body to use as they will.”
“And he faced them?” Dean asked, suspicious.
“He carried the shadow of one of my sisters in his mind for over a year and did not succumb.” There was a little awe in Castiel’s voice.
“And you want them to convince him to give up a holy sword?!” Bobby shouted. “When even a fucking Fallen angel couldn’t convince him to do anything?”
“It is the only way,” Castiel assured them. Sam looked persuaded, but Dean gave Castiel a suspicious look.
“And why would this Dresden guy give us the sword?” he asked.
“To halt the Apocalypse,” Castiel said, giving Dean a hard look before vanishing.
“Fucking angel mojo,” Dean grumbled under his voice. “Pack your bags, Sammy; we’re going to Chicago.”

“You’re kidding me, right?” Dean asked with the small smile that meant he actually thought it may be a joke. “This terrifying wizard, the one Bobby seemed to think was going to incinerate us, lives in a basement?”
“I’m sure it’s a very nice basement,” Sam pointed out. It was true the building looked brand new.
“This is the residence of the wizard Dresden,” Castiel confirmed. “He’s in the Yellow Pages.”
“Okay~,” Dean frown a little, but approached the door. Before he could knock, it was flung open and Dean was face-to-chest with a wizard.
“Who’re you?”
Dean looked up at the puzzled face of a lean, hawkish man who looked like he hadn’t shaved in a couple days and who had just leapt out of bed. His dark hair was ruffled and he wore a pair of old jeans and a shirt with Darth Vader on it and the words, “Who’s your daddy?” Dean stepped back.
“I’m Dean Winchester and this is my brother Sam. Tax accountant back there is Castiel,” Dean jerked a thumb at the angel trying to go unnoticed behind him.
Dresden frowned. “Uriel mentioned a brother named Castiel once,” he said, examining Castiel. “But usually the angels like to mojo themselves up some fancy suits.”
“Have you met a lot of angels then?” Sam asked carefully.
“Not many of the good ones,” Dresden grinned. “Now what do you want. I assume you aren’t here to spray paint “Go back to Hell, you zombie” on my house.”
“Why would anyone do that?” Sam wondered. Dean wondered just how crazy this man was.
“Maybe because I was pronounced dead last year?” Dresden replied. “You didn’t really do your research, huh?” Dean decided he was more than a little nuts, but he didn’t really have much room to talk, resurrection-wise.
“Did my brother bring you back?” Castiel asked. He was examining Dresden right back, that expression on his face that meant he felt something funny.
“Never mind that; what do you guys want? I do have an office, you know. And reasonable rates. No love potions, endless purses, or other entertainment.”
“Look, all we want is to talk to you about the Sword of the Cross,” Dean said. Dresden’s face immediately shut down; he took a step back towards his basement and grabbed a staff with some sigils carved in it from just inside the door.
“Continue with care,” he warned them.
“Where do I start? See, Sammy here started the Apocalypse and now we need a Knight of the Cross to kill the Devil.” Sam, Castiel, and Dresden all stared at Dean.
“Sanya is in Russia. Get your angel to zap you to him,” Dresden said when he regained his voice and suspicious look.
“There is a Knight in Chicago who only needs to pick up the Sword,” Castiel reiterated. Dresden’s eyes narrowed even further and Dean got the impression he knew who Cas was talking about. Which was bad, if the protective, defensive stance was anything to go by.
“Let’s say I believed you...” the wizard started.
“You have the touch of Winter in you!” Cas exclaimed, understanding dawning on his face. “Harry Dresden, the rumours were true,” he said more softly.
“The fuck, Cas? We were getting somewhere!” Dean was exasperated. “Wait up, what do you mean “the touch of Winter”?”
“It was rumoured in Heaven that Harry Dresden took up the mantle of Winter Knight for Mab.”
“He’s working for a FAERIE QUEEN?” Dean shouted. “And you didn’t warn us why?”
“Oh shit!” Dresden yelled, his eyes wide, but he wasn’t looking at them, he was looking behind them. Dean, Sam, and Cas turned.
“Are those zombies?!” Sam gaped.
“Get in the basement, morons!” Dresden got between them and the zombies and Cas herded the brothers into the basement. Dresden followed, getting off potshots of a few balls of fire, before shutting the heavy, steel-reinforced door behind them and muttering some hocus-pocus words.
“Dude,” Dean breathed carefully. “How do you have a fucking bear for a pet?”
“That’s Mouse, and you can call me Harry,” the wizard said. “ Murphy, we have company!” he shouted as he pulled aside a rug, revealing a trap door. He tugged the thing open and vanished down the ladder. “Bob, Mavra is moving early, how are the things surviving in the sun?”
“Well how would I know, Harry?” a voice snarked back. “I must not have told you Mavra was a pretty powerful sorceress, huh? And since she had the Book...”
“Oh shut up, Mr Grumpy Face.”
“Oh, he’s resorting to name calling now. Do you not remember the last time a horde of zombies attacked your place? You might want to get the hell outta dodge, Harry.”
“You think I don’t know that? They’re right outside though, Murphy stayed the night, and I’ve got a couple of Hunters, I think, and a freaking angel in my living room!”
“The hot, blond cop stayed the night?” Bob leered. Dean and Sam were trying to peer into the sub-basement, but they couldn’t get a good look at who the wizard was talking to. It was a much larger sub-basement than they had expected.
“Numb-skull,” the wizard muttered as he grabbed a sports bottle, a box of chalk, and a carved rod, smaller and more intricate than his staff, before climbing back up the ladder and slamming the door shut. Dean and Sam scrambled out of the way.
“Freeze.” Dean felt the cold, hard muzzle of a gun press against the base of his skull. Sam started edging towards Dean. “What’s going on, Harry?” a strong, female voice asked. “Don’t move, Bigfoot.” Sam froze.
“Leave the man alone, Murph. The zombies are outside.”
“Oh, just the zombies?” the woman asked sarcastically, but she removed the gun and Dean took a couple steps away before turning to look. She was a small woman, blond and attractive. She was wearing a blanket, tied around her chest, and holding a gun in each hand. Presumably she’d had the other pointed at Sam.
“Mavra is moving quicker than we thought she would.”
“This wouldn’t be possible right now if you hadn’t caved to her blackmail.”
“She was threatening you, Murph, what was I going to do?” This sounded like a well hashed-out argument, one they’d had a thousand times. Murphy (the cop, Dean’s brain supplied) vanished back into what they presumed was the bedroom before coming back out, clothed.
“What can we do to help?” Sam asked.
“Just sit tight,” Harry answered. “Leave the explosions to the professionals.”
“Look, no offense Dresden, but we have plenty of experience with this type of shit, so tell us how to kill these bastards. I’m guess they aren’t normal zombies,” Dean said loudly. The wizard sized them up quickly before looking to Cas.
“How good at smiting is your angel?” he asked Dean.

“THIS WAS A REALLY BAD FUCKING IDEA!” Dean shouted as he, Sam, Dresden, and Murphy ran through the streets.
“THEY USUALLY ARE!” Harry shouted back, sending a blast of fire behind him at the last few zombies. Stupid things were insanely fast. Cas had managed to smite most of them but he had zapped off to recover from the energy drain. He had a lot less angel mojo lately.
“This is YOUR fault, Harry Dresden!” Murphy looked pissed and the Winchesters were very glad she had no real reason to look at them like that. Unless she had heard about the Winchesters. Most cops had. Probably safe not to mention their names after all.
“I know! RUN FASTER!”

“So, is it true?” Sam asked as they sat in a brightly light kitchen done up in muted tones of green with lacy white curtains fluttering in the window.
“Is what true?” Harry asked.
“Did you kill all the vampires?”
“Only the Red Court ones, “ he grimaced. “I don’t want to talk about it.”
“There’s more than one kind?”
“Three actually. Red, White, and Black. Those zombies chasing us? Black Court.”
“So not really zombies?”
“In a different way, yes. Regular zombies are more of a necromancer’s schtick.”
“What about the fairies? Cas said you made a deal.”
“I did, and if someone like you has the gall to berate me for it - “
“What do you mean ‘someone like me’?”
“You’ve got the stink of demons all over you. Talk about making a deal with the devil. At least Mab isn’t a homicidal freak bent on the destruction of all human life.”
“Hey!” Murphy and Dean shouted from where they had finished reloading their guns. “Can it. Where’d Michael go, Harry,” Murphy asked. “We kinda need him on this one.”
“What’s a carpenter gonna do?” Dean argued. “We need to get the hell out of dodge before those freaks kill everyone on the block.”
“That will not happen,” Michael said, standing tall in the doorway despite his bum leg. “We will prevail.”
“Yeah? Says who?” Dean snarked.
“The Lord. He will not let us fail at the cost of a single human life.”
Harry pressed his lips together, unwilling to rock the boat while Michael did his thing, but he couldn’t help thinking about Shiro, a single human life, who had died to save him. Where had the Lord been then?
“Hate to break it to you, but the Lord has been conspicuously absent while we’ve been down here fighting and dying,” Dean snarled. “Where was He when all our friends died? Our family? Every innocent we failed to save?”
“Maybe you should be asking why you have no faith. Was it because you had no faith that you failed?”
“Even Cas says God is gone,” Sam broke in. “He’s left the building.”
“I would believe you but for the way my faith fills me. It is my faith that let me fight against the forces of evil for so long. I will show you that our Lord has not forsaken us tonight.”
And he strode to the front door, the four following behind him, and out into his front yard. Black Court vampires had surrounded the property, just outside the white picket fence, waiting for something. For what? As Michael limped onto the lawn, they saw something, a kind of shimmer in the air around the property. It was a wall of power protecting the Carpenter house.
“Do you see it?” Harry asked the Winchesters quietly. “Fighting with me against all those bad things out there cost Michael his leg. He’ll never fight again. he can barely walk without a care. But being a Knight of the Cross come with a great benefit package. There are angels protecting this house. As long as we stay within the bounds of the property, they can’t get to us.”
“But they’ll soon start trying to draw us out,” Murphy said grimly. “By killing civilians.”
“Yeah,” Harry agreed. “So we’ll do the right thing - Michael, what are you doing?” the Knight had opened the gate and stepped out. The vamps hovered around him, confused and unsure. His hand rested on the hilt of something at his side, and he drew out - not a sword. It was the hilt of a sword, fashioned out of wood. The vampires laughed and pounced, and suddenly there was a beam of light cutting a swath through their ranks. Michael was enveloped in a halo of white light, and he made short work of the vampires.
“He’s got a fucking lightsaber,” Sam said. Dean was silent. “What kind of power is that?” Sam asked.
“That’s faith,” Harry said. “Whether God is up there or not, the power of faith is a powerful thing, right Murph?”
“Right. Now let’s get out there before the Knight falls flat on his face.”