Actions

Work Header

Looking Over Your Shoulder

Work Text:

PAST

Sam and Dean went back in time to save the world. It should be simple – right?

Wrong. Because in the Winchester’s life, when was anything simple?

It started with their original time frame of Summer 2005 which turned out to be Autumn 2005. They awoke in a sleazy hotel somewhere, Castiel down for the count and Sam still shivering with remnants of a nightmare.

Dean lunged for his phone, flipping it open and checking the date. His shoulders sunk as he looked at his brother. “We’re too late,” he said simply, and Sam sunk back onto his bed, vision still lingering in his mind’s eye.

They were too late to save Jessica.

Still in time to save a lot of others.

**

Time-travel hadn’t exactly been on their list of things-to-do. Their current priority had been closing the hell gates; right up until it suddenly wasn’t any more. Crowley had been hunting them down like a hound chasing foxes, and they were pinned in their (admittedly very safe) bunker. Kevin had been running on caffeine and left-over burritos while Cas had been chatting up Metatron.

No-one was exactly sure who found it. Only that Castiel had agreed to help them with it, and Kevin had laughed, called them nuts and went to catch some much needed sleep. Sam, looking half-dead, must have decided that going back to fix everything was better than closing the gates of hell.

Dean thought anything was better than his brother slowly dying in front of his eyes.

None of the three really believed that it would work. They’d done time travel before. It had failed miserably and there were usually body doubles walking around.

Not this. Not them, looking eight years younger.

**

“I’m twenty-two.” Sam muttered to himself. “No psychic kid showdown. No Yellow-Eyes, no Lilith, no Lucifer. No demon blood… other than the original of course…”

“We can’t do it like that,” Dean shook his head. “It’s not going to be ‘let’s kill Lilith’ with no thoughts as to anything else. We have all our old hunts, all those people we saved…” his eyes widened, “That damn plane demon,” he cursed.

“Do you remember them all?” Sam had already grabbed a piece of paper, scribbling down wendigo, plane demon (flight 424 (284)), shifter (St Louis), hook man ghost, lake ghost… he paused, and Dean grabbed it, adding on killer truck, faith healer, meg, painting provenance sarah blake, bloody mary, scarecrow…

They continued to do that for most of the next week, making a note of any places that they have to be – over half the hunts will take less than a day since they know what they’re dealing with and how to kill it. Once Castiel woke from the stupor the time travel put him in, he could help them with transport, while they moved onto bigger things.

That had a separate list of its own, titled Apocalypse. Right on the top was listed Azazel, closely followed by dad and Righteous Man. Dean had then scribbled down Adam, and that left them with their current debate.

It was interrupted by the realisation they had somewhere to be – thankfully a guy phoned them up to remind them about the phone demon, and according to Sam, his college friend, Becky, would send him an e-mail about the shifter.

“We can send some other hunters to sort out some of these,” Dean gestured to a list of ghost salt-and-burns. “They should be able to handle that sort of stuff.”

Sam nodded as he filled a flask with holy water. “Once Cas is recovered we can see about the knife.”

“And the Colt…”

Sam grinned, “This is definitely one of the worst ideas we’ve ever had.”

“The demons are going to love it though,” Dean smirked, and he had never looked so confident, so happy and knowing what he was doing before.

“They better. This is a present just for Azazel after what he gave me.”

**

In between hunts, the pair did eventually find the time to stop by Wisdom. By now Castiel had recovered, and according to him ‘fused’ with his younger counterpart, which was a much more stressful job for an angel than it was for a human. He’d agreed to retrieve the knife for them, along with a bonus present for Dean to kill again.

But for the moment they had one hell of an awkward conversation ahead of them.

“Hello… Mrs Milligan…”

“Ms…” Kate looked stressed, “Is this important… now isn’t a good time…”

Dean cleared his throat. “My name is Dean Winchester, and this is my brother Sam.” Kate froze at the surname. “We’ve come to visit Adam – is he in?”

“Is this about… John? John’s your father right? Is he… oh god is he dead?”

The pair followed her in as Sam reassured her. “He’s on an extended work trip,” was used though, instead of ‘he’s running after Azazel and we have no idea where he is, but this time we don’t really care’.

“This is Adam,” Kate gestured to a lanky fifteen year old standing in the kitchen. “I guess… I guess you’re half-brothers then…” she looked a little hurt by that thought, that John had never told her, “I didn’t know John had other sons.” She murmured.

“Neither did we,” Dean assured her. “He doesn’t know we’re here but… family is important to us. We found out and we wanted to visit.”

“You’re my brothers?” Adam asked them.

“I’m Sam.” The tall Winchester held out a hand, “This is Dean.”

“John didn’t tell me about you.” Adam glared at them, voice slightly mutinous.

“If it’s any consolation he didn’t tell us about you either.” Dean’s annoyance tainted his tone.

“I haven’t seen him since my birthday.” Adam told them. “I’m fifteen.”

“Twenty-two,” Sam responded, “Dean’s twenty-six, twenty-seven next month.” He took a seat and turned to the Milligans, “I don’t know if Dad told you, but our mom, Mary, she died when I was six months old in a fire. It kind of… shook Dad up a lot. He travelled around and dragged us with him.”

“Not that we ever saw much of him,” Dean added, but the impression was gained that he was speaking to Adam, “He used to go away for work stuff all the time, leaving us in cheap motels or apartments for a couple of weeks before he’d get back and we’d move onto the next town. It’s always been just me and Sammy and once we discovered about you… well we just wanted to meet you.”

“I’m sorry,” Sam emphasised, “This must be really awkward for you, discovering this suddenly. I wish Dad was here to explain it, but he hasn’t exactly talked to any of us for ages.”

“Feels like years,” Dean muttered.

And for them, maybe it had been.

**

They left, and Adam definitely had a better impression of them than he had the previous time. The ghoul had been pretty good at impersonating the kid, and he was happy and relaxed, a lot like a ‘nicer Dean’ as Sam had put it.

And if the Milligan household contained traces of salt and the occasional hidden devil’s trap well… they should be safe. They’d made it a priority to hunt down the ghouls in question, but angels and demons were still major players in this game.

**

The New Year came crisp and fresh, and with it an old face.

“Hello,” the blonde smiled, “I’m Meg.”

“Nice to meet you,” Sam shook hands, grinning a little too widely. “Do you like my devil’s trap?”

“What?” the girl blinked, and followed Sam’s gaze upwards. “How the hell did you…?”

“We just want to talk,” Dean appeared behind her and she spun around. “About your dad.”

“I don’t know what you mean.” She played it dumb.

“About Azazel.” Sam said and her eyes flashed black in surprise, façade falling. “About Lucifer.” And whatever sassy thing she had been about to say died on her lips.

“So listen closely,” Dean stepped around to join Sam. “Because we’re only going to say this once. And if you don’t co-operate, we will kill you.”

“Well…” Sam shrugged, “Not us exactly. A friend of ours.”

And Castiel stepped forwards, trench coat shifting silently.

Meg’s eyes widened in fear. “I’m listening.” She swallowed.

The Winchester’s smirks were positively predatory.

**

“What do you want?” the crossroads demon sneered at them.

Sam grinned, and the red-eyes looked scared. “We want to talk to your boss.”

“Crowley, I believe he calls himself.”

The red-eyes smirked. “Do you really think he has time for the likes of you?”

“Oh we do.” Dean glanced at his brother. “Just tell him the Winchesters want to make a deal with him.”

“We know where he lives,” Sam added, as if he was some sort of crazy serial killer. The look the demon gave him suggested he probably was.

“I’ll see what I can do,” she says, stepping backwards.

They wait. She reappears with an address. “You can meet him here,” she told them. “Have a nice day boys.”

“You to,” Dean said, and they stroll away. The demon made as if to vanish, but looking down she spots that since she first appeared, red lines have materialised on the road.

“Hey!” she called out. “Winchesters! Come back and let me out of here!”

The car engine purred in response.

**

“Well, well: Sam and Dean Winchester. To what do I owe the pleasure?” the Crossroad King smirked.

“We need you to do us a favour.”

“I don’t do favours. I do deals.”

“Then we deal,” Sam leaned forwards. “You kill Lilith and Alistair for us. We kill Azazel. You’re free to take over Hell.”

The demon was gobsmacked for a moment, as he absorbed that. Then he laughed. "How the blazes do you think this is feasible?” he asked them. “And how do you even know about Lilith…?”

“Or what? The seals? The cage?” Sam leaned back smirking at the Crossroad demon’s bemused expression.

Dean took over. “We know you’re her right hand man. And we know you can get close to her. We know you don’t want Lucifer out because he’s an angel, and the first thing he’s going to do is kill all the humans, and the second thing he’s going to do is kill all the demons, because he’s an angel after all.”

“I’ll lose my head,” Crowley snapped. “How do you propose I kill Lilith? Not only are there armies of demons between here and her hidey-hole in Hell, but you have to actually get to Hell, while every other demon wants to do the opposite!”

Sam laid a gun on the table, drawing his hand away as the demon looked at it warily. “We figured this might help,” he said, the brothers settling down comfortably to watch Crowley think things through.

“So?” they ask eventually. “Deal or no deal?”

“Do I have to kiss you both?”

**

The signed paper lived in their warded trunk, with every other artefact and weapon they’ve collected. Sam also collected a picture on his phone of the Righteous Man and the Crossroad King for blackmail purposes. They’ve barely been back six months, but after swinging by to ‘get Sam laid’ with the chick and the haunted painting, they get a phone call from their dad.

“So Azazel?” Dean asked, spinning a familiar knife in his hand.

“Summon him?” Sam asked. “Sure that’s wise?”

“Tom and Meg will keep dad busy. When it comes down to it, they’re just power-hungry demons.”

“They’ll hate us when they discover we’re double-crossing them all.”

“And for Crowley of all things.”

“Azazel first. Check with the other Hell spawn later.”

They swung by their bunker that they’ve pretty much set up as a base. Their convenient dungeon provided the location of the summoning.

The meat suit stretched, neck cracking as he observed them with yellow eyes. “Sammy. Didn’t expect to see you yet. Where’s daddy?”

“This isn’t about our dad,” Dean drew attention away from his little brother. “This is about you.”

“Does daddy know you’re doing this?” yellow-eyes sneered at them.

“Don’t be like that,” Dean mocked. “We just wanted to talk about a few things Azazel. Like Lilith…”

“And Lucifer…” Sam adds, “And the demon blood and your psychic kids… hey, do you reckon if you die now they’ll go back to being normal?”

“We’ll test that,” Dean promised, the pair both far too happy as they watch Azazel spin, finally realising he was well as truly trapped in their dungeon. “Oh and daughter dearest isn’t coming,” the hunter added. “She’s got her aim set on higher sights now.”

“So you know…” Azazel shrugged. “Doesn’t matter. You can’t change anything. Lilith will free our father.”

“No?” Sam laughed. “So if Lilith and Alistair and you are dead, we can’t change anything? Tell me. What happens if she dies before the final seal breaks?”

The demon froze.

“We know about the last seal.” Dean told him. “About the vessels. We have a little feathery friend from above who helped us with a few aspects of this plan.”

“We were going to just kill you now and be done with it,” Sam shrugged. “But we kind of figured there is one person who deserves to be here.”

For the first time, Dean thought he might just have witnessed the sight of a speechless demon. Azazel was glaring at them, and he kept opening his mouth as if to start talking. Sam walked away at that point, unwilling to listen to the bastard and Dean lingered only a moment longer.

“Enjoy hanging around here with your thoughts,” Dean smirked, before backing out and slamming the entrance closed.

And for the first time, Azazel considered the Winchesters not as a plaything, nor as pawns in a game.

For the first time Azazel saw the brothers as hunters, and for the first time in a long time, the yellow-eyed demon felt fear.

 


 

PRESENT

John knew that lurking in his son's motel room was creepy. He should be out there, helping them fight the demon bitch, but he knew that he'd only make it worse.

The shadow demons were prowling the streets outside and this was a risk, meeting up, assuming Sam and Dean could take care of the demon… Meg she called herself.

He hadn’t seen Dean in over six months, Sam in over four years. He wondered for a moment how they were handling the hunting… how Sam handled the death of his girlfriend… and he reminded himself for the millionth time that he was getting closer and closer to the demon each day, and that soon this would be over.

The car pulled up, voices drifting up and after a pause he heard the door opening, handle turning. Taking a deep breath, he was about to turn to face the music when their conversation washed over him, the newcomers still in the doorway fiddling with something on the floor.

"Shadow demons are not 'fun', Meg. What were you thinking?"

"You think I don't know that now, dumbass?"

"You and that black-eyed brother of yours have one job. To keep the others demons off our back, keep feeding Azazel pretty little lies until we’re ready to deal with him, and instead we find you here playing about with shadow demons."

"Yet if that pet angel stopped trying to track down the runaway Trickster, then you guys would already know where Ruby and that nifty knife of yours, and yellow-eyes would be dead."

That's when John placed the voices, two belonging to his sons and the third to a woman. The voices paused and he spun around, the three staring at him. Sam was still stooped by a… was that a devil's trap on the floor? There was a thin line through the paint and Dean had kicked aside the salt line… for what?

"Well this is awkward," the brunette girl said.

"You have that effect on people," Dean quipped and receives a withering glare.

"Dad..." Sam stood - God he was so tall - and looked between John and the other two.

"Boys..." John said stiffly. "Who's this? A friend of yours..?" Had Sam picked up a girl in college? No wait… his girlfriend was killed. Another girl so quickly? Or was this Dean…?

"I'm Meg," the girl introduced herself huffily. "Skip me on the family introductions Johnny-Boy, I'll be off once I get what I was promised."

John blinked, frowning at the person, pretty, curly brown hair and rounded cheeks. Wasn't Meg the blonde demon that worked for yellow eyes?

"If you keep to your side..." Dean threatened, but there was no threat behind it as he strolled over to a duffel and ignoring John, pulled out a weird ass sword. It was a cylindrical silver blade which sharpened to a point.

"Wait," John said, frowning. "What's going on here?" he glanced to the broken devil's trap, the girl standing just on the edge. When she stalked into the room she avoided the salt… "Meg? The demon?" he was already reaching for the holy water when Sam and Dean moved in front of her. The latter handed her the blade.

"One angel blade," and she took it, smirking.

"Whose was it?"

"Zachariah," Sam sounded smug saying that as he glanced to her.

"Boys!" John snapped. "She's a demon!" he tried to move forward but couldn't as the brown eyes fell on him, flashing black and brown again.

"We know," Dean said, looking at his frozen position. "Meg let him go," he ordered gruffly. "Then get out of here and we'll phone you later and send Cas over, got it?"

John couldn't remember a hunter named Cas, but suddenly he could move again, and he was lunging for the demon as she danced towards the door. "Looking forward to seeing my unicorn again." she smirked at the brothers. "See you, Johnny," she added to him before spinning on her heels and vanishing. John slammed through the spot where she was and into the still open door. For a moment he paused, dizzy before slamming the offending door closed and spinning to see his sons packing, unbothered by her disappearance.

They didn't seem to care that she was a demon, or that she just vanished. Maybe, John considered, they were just used to it.

That left only one conclusion as his hand went for the holy water.

His sons were possessed.

“Woah, woah!” Sam held up on hand, “Relax…” whatever he had been about to say next was cut off by water. Sam blinked, spitting out the salty holy drink. “Thank you,” he said dryly.

Dean received the same treatment when he turned around to see what was going on. He wiped his brow, “That’s never going to get old is it?” he sighed, “Dad, we’re not possessed.”

John spluttered, but maintained his composure, “You were working with a demon?”

Sam sighed, “Look, there is a lot of stuff you don’t know. And don’t worry about Meg, she’s harmless.” Dean snorted and Sam rolled his eyes. “Relatively,” he corrected himself. “We’ve promised her something she wants more than what she used to want and we’ve got enough back-up mojo to back us up.”

John locked in on the term ‘mojo’. “It’s the demon powers isn’t it?” he stared at Sam.

His youngest son startled, “No. I don’t’… I’m not… Not after…” he shook his head. “I’m not a psychic kid. I got… purified.”

John vaguely noted the smug smile on Dean’s face and turned towards his oldest son, “That girl is a demon,” he snapped, “She’s possessing that poor girl and using her to get close to you!”

“Her host is dead,” Sam snapped, “She had terminal cancer.”

“Demons lie!”

“Yeah but sometimes,” And John startled at Dean arguing against him, “Sometimes they tell the truth. Especially when it hurts more…”

John glared at Dean, but his oldest son didn’t cower. “She’s working for the thing that killed your mother!” he threw out there. He had been wanting to hide it, to keep them away but the pair were stubborn.

Neither looked surprised. “We know,” Dean met his gaze squarely. “She’s his ‘daughter’.” He air quoted the word. “She’s also a backstabbing bitch who knows who’s gonna’ win, and that’s us, so she’s on our side.”

There was something terribly wrong with his sons, but they didn’t see it. John wanted to tie them up and exorcise them, but there were two of them and he was outnumbered.

Who was he kidding? Even at his age he could still kick both of his son’s asses to the curb.

**

He dabbed the ice pack onto his busted lip and resolved that if he ever became a monster with a desire to maim and kill he would never make the mistake of pulling a gun on Sam Winchester, unless he wanted Dean Winchester to come after him with a vengeance and scary ass fighting ability.

When had his son gotten that good? He had the odd feeling that he had trained Dean too well which conflicted with the thought that he hadn’t been responsible for teaching his twenty-six year old son any of that, which meant Dean must have picked it up the hard way: through experience.

His head was still ringing and he rubbed at the hand where he had been hand cuffed to the bed, in time for his sons to vanish and him to be left alone.

He kind of deserved it, he figured, after abandoning them, but he didn’t appreciate this kind of behaviour from them. He had raised them better than consorting with demons and running away from their own father.

He pulled out his phone and wondered if getting his ear chewed off was worth it to find his sons.

Screw it; his sons were worth more to him than anything Robert Singer could come up with as an insult.

**

Two months.

He’d started looking for his sons two months back and had of yet heard nothing but rumours.

He’d tried the phones, but they had either been disconnected or went unanswered, the GPS untraceable.

Bobby hadn’t seen them. He’d heard from them, the gruff hunter had readily (eventually) admitted that Sam phoned him regularly with various hunts, usually explaining in great detail the monster, the kills and how to kill it, making them easy pickings.

“They were scarily accurate though,” Bobby huffed, “Woman binding a reaper and switching lives to heal people. Tulpa symbol at haunted house in Texas. Freakin’ H.H. Holmes in an apartment building and I had to help Rufus steal a cement truck to seal him in the sewers. Oh, and even a poltergeist back in your old house in Lawrence. For some reason Sam and Dean refused to go near that one. Wonder why…”

“But Sam and Dean?” John pressed.

There was a huff, “From what I hear the other side of the country. I have no idea how they caught wind of those hunts, but they manage to save a lot of lives without even being there.”

John cursed and had said ‘goodbye’ to Bobby. He needed to get really drunk.

In desperation he had phoned around other hunters, including those who didn’t like him.

Ellen told him she had met the boys when they had passed through and visited Ash about something. Apparently they had stayed to help with some warding ("Some fancy shit you taught them, John.") and he worried because he had no idea where they had got some of that stuff.

“I approve of Dean’s boyfriend though,” Ellen had told him.

John had been taking a sip of water at that moment and had spat it out, “What?” he croaked, sounding worse than he thought.

“You didn’t know?” Ellen sounded nonchalant, but there was a band of steel in her voice which suggested that if he complained she really would shoot him. That possibly might have been why he was phoning instead of visiting in person… especially after Bill… “Nice guy, polite, the prettiest blue eyes I ever did see.”

John was speechless. Ellen then passed the phone to Ash. According to the guy (once he had been roused from the pool table) the pair were trying to track signs of electrical storms across the country. The genius had managed to compact it into a program which even as a map of America with dots popping up across it, it was a hunter holy grail.

John just felt cold and the knowledge that his boys knew how to track demons.

When did he ever tell them it was a demon?

He asked for the program but Ash shrugged and said the pair had copied the hardware and wiped his file. Then they had left, phoning in only once to give Jo a sneaky hunt which allowed her to escape her mother while still keeping her relatively safe, by introducing her to a man named Rufus Turner John hadn’t met.

John scrolled through his phone book. Pastor Jim gave him a negative response, but mentioned a girl who had come to him, asking if she could talk to him about demons. The girl’s name was ‘Meg Masters’ and she was a blonde who had vanished, and then returned after being missing for ages, much to the relief of a grieving family and a little sister who was close to committing suicide.

John wasn’t stupid. The girl was named ‘Meg’ and demons steal the name of their host. He had no idea though how his boys managed to persuade the demon to pick a different host and let the original blonde go.

Realising that the pair seemed to have their own demon trouble, John finally tracked down Daniel Elkins. The house was empty however, no gun, no Daniel, and no local vampires, but a lot of recent murders with the MO of the heads being separated from the body.

Sam and Dean were here. He could feel it.

And now it felt like he was chasing them, and he wondered if this was what it was like for them when they were chasing him.

He phoned up Caleb, three months later. The hunter admitted to seeing them on a hunt for a Trickster and had joined him, only to appear annoyed when the Trickster turned out to be the ‘wrong one’.

“I’ve got no idea,” the hunter had huffed, “But they asked the Trickster about ‘Loki’. The guy laughed and said ‘How do you know I’m not Loki?’ and Dean had growled something and said ‘Trust me, the dude is much more irritating than you are.’”

“Did you kill the monster?” John asked, slightly curious.

“No,” Caleb seemed resigned, “Dean and Sam managed to talk me out of it because the other guy promised to try and find them Loki.”

So now John had a new lead, looking for Loki, who he remembered was a Norse Trickster God.

Demons and Tricksters… he was really worried about his sons.

“They were also looking for a chick named Ruby,” Caleb had added, leaving John wondering how they went from demon hunting to girl hunting.

Walker managed to contact him, mid-way through his Trickster search. It took a few minutes before John had worked out what he was talking about. Apparently Gordon ran into Sam and Dean recently. "And that monster friend of theirs." he sneered over the phone. "I thought you raised your boys better than that! Consorting with monsters!"

"Monsters?" John asked, not surprised and strangely resigned.

Walker talked about the vampire nest he tried to take out. ‘Tried’ being the key word. "They wouldn't let me. Apparently they were vegan vamps." He'd then proceeded to stalk the pair across four states, until he found the pair in a nest of demons, with a friend.

"He wore a what?" John wondered how much Gordon had had to drink.

"A trench coat," Gordon enunciated. "Dark hair. Blue eyes. Tan trench coat. He just… appeared… and put his hands to the demons head’s and … flash… demon gone. Your boys are teaming up with monsters to kill monsters. What does that make them?"

John didn’t know.

**

Chasing the Trickster in question proved just as much as a failure as chasing his sons. He ran into another Trickster called Coyote, but the guy vanished on him without dying as he was meant to, or giving any helpful hints about this ‘Loki’ he was meant to be hunting.

In fact, he ended up running into the guy by accident, after what he thought was a cursed object killing people in humorous ways, but turned out to be the guy selling Pepsi at the local convenience store.

He cornered the guy in the storage out back of the store. He just smirked at him infuriatingly. “John Winchester,” the guy leaned forwards, “So I hear you’re looking for me.”

“You’re Loki?” John was disbelieving, “You?” he examined the scrawny guy, longish brown hair and brown eyes. He didn’t look like much.

The guy just spread out his arms with an infuriating smile of his face, “That’s right. Me.”

John gripped the wooden stake in his hand, blood glistening brown on the tip. “Well I don’t know what your game is, chuckles,” he growled, “But it ends. Now.”

That was the precise moment the door slammed open, and John spun in alarm, surprise growing as he spotted the two people he had been chasing for the past five months.

Sam brought his gun up, aiming it at John before he realised who it was, whereupon he lowered it, staring. Dean had a strange silver sword… similar, if not identical to the one they had given the demon.

“Hello boys,” the Trickster smirked, “Come to play?”

“We need to talk,” Sam said instead, “Dean,” he gestured to his brother.

“Why’ve I got to do it?” Dean snapped, “Guy seemed to take a liking to you…”

“Because there is no guarantee that I won’t stab him,” Sam hissed, “You’re better at talking sense into him. You’re too much alike.”

“Hey!” was echoed in stereo by Loki and Dean.

“Also I’ve got to deal with dad,” Sam added, glancing at John.

Dean huffed but stalked around towards the Trickster. “So if you don’t mind,” the sword is lowered, hanging loosely in his one hand, “Can we?” he jerks his thumb towards the doors they just busted open.

“I can’t imagine what you want to talk to me about.” Loki didn’t move, but he was staring warily at the silver sword.

“Can’t you, Gabe?” Dean’s head tilted to one side, sneering the name that made the guy freeze, glaring at Dean.

“If you think you are going anywhere with him…” John started forwards towards Dean but Sam moved to intercept.

He missed Loki’s reply, but heard Dean laugh hollowly. “How about you come and chat with me now and I don’t shout up a ‘yes’ to your big brother right this instant so he can kick your ass back home.”

The Trickster looked torn between being shocked and angry, “Fine,” he snapped, and he clicked his fingers.

Loki and Dean vanished.

“What the… Sam, how could you?” Again John made an attempt to get past to where they had been.

“Leave it,” Sam snapped, “You don’t know anything, and it’s safer for all involved if you continue not to know anything.”

And try as he might that was the best he got out of his youngest son.

**

He wondered, later, once Sam and Dean had split on him leaving him without even a phone number, when exactly he had begun to lose his boys to whatever supernatural presence had so affected their life. Dean had reappeared, but he hadn’t seen the Trickster, although Dean had nodded triumphantly at Sam, suggesting they had gotten what they had come for.

Once again John was left in the dark, and so he once again tried to track down his two sons.

He wasn’t sure when, but the hunt for his sons had eclipsed his hunt for the demon.

He wished it hadn’t taken him so long to realise his priorities.

 

 

FUTURE

John Winchester didn’t find Sam or Dean. The boys were raised too well, Castiel noted, and had had too much practise from hiding from people who were looking for them, both the good and bad.

Instead they contacted John, and gave him co-ordinates. Castiel stayed with the brothers, as they waited at the crossroads for John.

Castiel could see the irony in choosing this meeting place, and he didn’t appreciate it. Sam and Dean however were oblivious, dealing with other matters.

From over where Crowley was assuring the pair that ‘yes, Lilith is dead’ the demon glared at him in a mix between fear and confusion.

“Daddy’s early,” the demon noted, gazing past where Castiel leant against the Impala to watch as a truck drove up, parking the other side of the Impala, between Castiel and the boys.

The man who got out was definitely John Winchester. He glared at Castiel and then turned to where the brothers were still talking to Crowley.

“Look, just work with Meg,” Sam was stating. Castiel wondered at the non-so-subtle accident which had killed her brother, “And then when Abaddon turns up we’ll kill her for you.”

Crowley looked disbelieving, “First thing, Abaddon is dead. Secondly, even if another knight of hell does turn up, how are you going to kill her?”

“Trust me,” Dean looked about ready to stab Crowley any minute, “We’ve got archangels on our side.”

The red-eyed demon blanched, before glancing over to where John was watching, jaw clenched. Crowley grinned, “Morning,” he said chirpily, composure regained. “Be seeing you, boys,” he nodded at the brothers, “Feathers,” he glanced to Castiel, and then there was the usual stench of sulphur and twist as the demon vanished into thin air.

John startled over by the car, “Another demon?” he hissed, taking his cue and stalking towards the pair, “What are you thinking?” he stopped two metres away, as Sam and Dean turned to face him measuredly. “Who are you and what have you done with my sons?” he sounded slightly broken, “I raised you better than this.”

Sam scoffed, “You didn’t raise us at all,” he said, but there was no anger in the words. “We’ve got the demon,” he said instead, “Azazel is locked up and he’s there for you to kill.”

The change of subject froze John. “Azazel?” he asked, stupidly.

“You didn’t really think he was called ‘yellow-eyes’ did you?” Dean gave his father a weak grin, “Come on… we… we know we’ve got some ‘splaining to do but you have to hear us out, okay? But first, let’s kill Azazel.”

The fight seemed to leave John all of a sudden. “Who’s he?” he jabbed a finger towards Castiel. “Ellen seemed convinced he was your boyfriend or something.”

Castiel merely frowned at the term, while Sam smirked and Dean spluttered. “He’s a friend,” he snapped, “His name is Castiel.”

John curled his lip, “According to Gordon Walker he can kill vampires with a single thought.”

“He’s a friend,” Dean growled, stepping closer to his father. There was defiance in his eyes, and the only thing Castiel could think was that Michael would be disappointed to see his vessel now.

John made a noise of disgust but stood down.

Castiel slid into the backseat, but after exchanging a word or two with Dean vanished in a flutter of wings.

Human transport was so slow… and cramped.

**

The bunker was impressive, and Castiel felt glad that things had gone right with the Winchesters for once. He busied himself with examining several of the unknown artefacts, trying to determine their use for Sam’s meticulous records. On the large table paper and journals were scattered everywhere, mostly records of hunts the boys had to remember to send people on or deal with themselves. A laptop also sat there, with computer monitoring of several people, one Charlie Bradbury, Kevin Tran, Jo Harvelle and Adam Milligan a few of many who were being looked out for from a distance.

It made Castiel sad, that many of them would not meet the Winchesters in this timeline, if only because the pair were convinced that they were poison and dangerous to know.

He heard the cars pulling up outside and spread his wings, appearing in the back seat of the car. Neither brother jumped, with gave credit to how many times he had appeared without warning around them.

Their argument carried on in a low voice. “We can’t just tell him Cas is an angel!” Dean hissed.

"Why not?” Sam argued. “There's a million times more lore on angels than anything else. Of course that doesn't really prove anything because there’s a tonne of lore on unicorns and I haven't met one of those. Yet," he added. Considering their lives, anything was possible.

Castiel pondered the existence of unicorns for a second before leaning forwards. “Are you sure?” was all he asked. “This could go badly wrong…”

Sam and Dean exchanged one of those looks which suggested that they had been talking about this for ages. “Yes,” Sam eventually nodded. “We have to do this.”

The car door of John’s truck slammed and there was the sound of footsteps which stopped and paused as he stared up at the bunker. Dean and Sam opened their own doors, and Castiel wondered if they knew that they were moving in perfect sync.

“Welcome to the Men of Letters bunker,” Sam was the one to say it, and Castiel could hear the pride in his voice as he climbed awkwardly out of the car. “Our new base.”

John opened his mouth as if to ask a question and then closed it again.

Castiel wondered if this was the first time Sam and Dean had seen their father speechless, for they both looked a bit alarmed at his silence.

**

The silence did not last.

“How the hell did you find this place? What is it? What the hell is the ‘men of letters’.”

Sam and Dean thankfully ignored him, taking him straight to Azazel, as Castiel had suggested. The quicker the demon was dead and his link to the children with his blood the better.

The janitor Yellow-Eyes was possessing flinched slightly at the light which streamed in through the open exit. He was bound, chained to the floor, but at their arrival stood with a fluid grace that was almost eerie.

“Heya kids,” he grinned, taking in the sight of John with them. “I see daddy’s home,” he crooned.

Then his gaze found Castiel. His eyes narrowed, flaring yellow. It made Castiel sick to see the gold twisted into sulphur stained pit essence.

“Hello brother,” Azazel whistled, “Which one are you?”

Sam leaned nonchalantly against one of the walls while Dean paced forwards. “Any last words?” he asked the demon, “Before we kill you?”

John was silent, watching, assessing…

Azazel laughed, “You can’t kill me,” he sneered, “Don’t try and bluff me boy, you won’t win. You don’t have the Colt, do you?” he turned his yellow-eyes to John.

“You have the Colt?” John demanded, turning to Sam.

Had the Colt.” Yellow-eye corrected, “They traded it to the King of the Crossroads.”

“You what?” John hissed.

Dean paused in his pacing, “Yeah, we had the Colt.” He shrugged, “Then we gave it the Crossroads King so he could kill Lilith.”

In the circular devil’s trap, Azazel stiffened.

“And now,” Sam stepped forwards, looking relieved, and Castiel knew that Lilith’s death had taken a weight off his shoulder that the younger Winchester hadn’t even known he’d been carrying. “Now she’s dead,” he mocked, grinning.

Azazel turned his gaze back to Castiel, “Does Heaven know about this, little brother?” he hid his panic behind disgust, “Do the archangels allow this sort of thing? What happened to the place?”

“It’s been a long time since you fell, Azazael,” Castiel used his old name on purpose, and to see the demon flinch was worth it, “Things have changed a lot. But the one thing that won’t change is that you will die. Today.”

“You’re the demon that killed Mary!” John stepped forwards suddenly, finding his footing. “You’re the one that ruined our lives!”

“Yes,” Azazel looked proud, “I’m also the one who dripped demon blood into little Sammy’s mouth. Made him into one of my kids. You know all about that, right?” he grinned, baring his teeth.

Sam scoffed, “My system is clean,” he shrugged one shoulder, “Shame, huh, what with me being Lucifer’s vessel and all.”

What?” John and Azazel both sounded surprised, but while one was confused the other was angry. “How did you know?” the demon hissed.

“Experience,” the corner of Sam’s lip twitched.

“So tell us…” Dean said, “If Lilith dies before those pretty locks are broken… well the cage is going to stay closed, huh?”

And now Azazel looked panicked. "How did you…" he glanced at Castiel in his trench coat. "Oh come on. You… Little brother… what did you do?"

Castiel tilted his head on one side. "Nothing," he said, shrugging. "We came back. Father let us. And my name is Castiel.”

God, Cassie?” already Azazel twisted his name, “God left the building!”

"He checks in from time to time." Sam corrected.

The Yellow-Eyed demon looked scared. "That still doesn't explain how you… only Lilith and I knew…"

"About your plan to pop Lucifer?" Dean taunted. "Your psychic kid breaking the last seal? Trying to get one of us to break the first?" Azazel's face was getting paler. "Oh and the vessel thing… I almost forgot about that…"

For the first time Azazel looked scared. "You don't have the Colt. You sold it to the King of the Crossroads. You can only send me back to hell."

"Which is why…" Sam pulled out a knife, bone handled… nothing special. "We went looking for this." He held it out to John and silently, grimly, their father took it, stepping forwards.

"Stole it off a bitch named Ruby." Dean stepped backwards as his father moved towards where Azazel was bound. "Lilith's little whore. Then we stabbed her with it."

Azazel took in the sight of the knife. "Oh crap," he cursed, just before John stepped forwards and stabbed him in the gut.

Castiel watched with satisfaction as the demon’s body lit up once, then twice, and then John twisted the knife in deeper. As the demon inside the meatsuit flashed once more, John stepped backwards, taking the knife with him. "That was for Mary," he said, swallowing thickly.

“And Jess,” Sam said quietly, “All those psychic kids whose lives you fucked up. And most of all that was for us.”

“Enjoy oblivion,” Dean turned away, not even bothering to watch as the body fell to the floor, lifeless.

**

Castiel disposed of the corpse with a single touch.

John looked confused, but triumphant, as if relieved his quest of vengeance was over, but suddenly realising that it was about more than Mary, about more than killing evil, but he didn’t yet know what.

Sam and Dean had a tale riddled with lies and truths to tell him. It was barely believable but John would accept, in the wake of this success. Later there would be questions, but that was for another day.

Today however was for not John, but for Sam and Dean. They might not have been the ones to kill the demon, but there was still something therapeutic about watching the monster that had plagued their lives thus far die (again).

John didn’t understand the journey the pair of souls had come on, but Castiel did, and Castiel mentally turned off his angel radio, ignoring the hums and prayers of Heaven, in favour of observing Sam and Dean moving silently around the bunker kitchen as they attempted to make a meal.

It would always be Sam and Dean he realised. Castiel knew that, from where he watched from the doorway, and John sat slumped at the table, warily watching his sons.

Then again John never really had much of a look in from the moment he shoved Sammy at Dean and told him to look after his little brother; he'd effectively blocked himself out of the picture.

Castiel should return to Heaven now, but he knew he wasn’t going to. Instead he vanished in a flutter of wings, in search of Gabriel to tell him the good news of the lack of an impending Apocalypse, leaving the Winchesters alone.

It was just Sam and Dean and saving the world again with a little bit of angelic help.

But mostly it was just Sam and Dean.

Maybe that's how it was meant to be.