Beneath the Hollow
This is an AU version of Season Two, diverging after Devil's Trap, set in the Strange Angels'verse. Centuries have passed since the sealing of the Grigori, and the children of the Nephilim walk the Earth. With the battle lines drawn between the Circle of Enoch and John's Hunters, Dean and Sam work to find the four remaining members of The Twelve.
Disclaimer: The Winchester boys aren't mine. The Colt isn't mine. Wish the car was mine. But I can only blame myself for the Circle of Enoch.
Rating: PG-13 ( Mild violence.)
Summary: Betrayal carries a high price.
Feedback: Absolutely! Concrit is always welcome!
Miscellaneous: As always, this would not have been possible without the brilliance of JMM0001, who rightly pointed out that this was a better prologue than an epilogue. Much thanks to wenchpixie, who is always there to console me during good times and bad – and to read every bloody word I revise and rewrite and resend the poor girl. The good parts are because of them. The bad parts are all me.
Prologue: Sympathy for the Devil
It was a ragged cry, torn from the throat of his son by touch – Azazeal's hand curled on Alex's chest, smoke rising from where their skin connected. The hand sunk within the flesh and squeezed.
"There is always a price for betrayal," the Grigori whispered in his daughter's voice, lips brushing the ear so like her own. "And you have failed us, boy."
Richard Masters closed his eyes, listening to it speak. He should have been used to it; Meg carried Azazeal's children within her often enough before she died – the only sign that she wasn't entirely his daughter was the color of her eyes, black as night. This was worse. When the Grigori was pleased, he could almost convince himself that it was his daughter returned to him; the way it moved, the way it wore her body as though it were its own from the day she was born. Even the way it laughed, deep from the belly. But when Azazeal was enraged, his daughter's body could barely contain its power; its fire always flickering around it, a cold reminder of the sides that were chosen – the lines that were drawn.
The Masters family had learned a long time ago that there was no purchase in believing the promises passed down through the Circle, understood the lie of the sacred trust. Only the old man believed, tried to tell Richard when he sat on his knee barely old enough to walk that honor and duty were everything – that devotion marked by love was the cornerstone of the world. That old man never realized the power of hatred and despair made manifest in the hearts of men.
There was no hope of love's triumph.
The old man believed in the lie. The lie told to the first of the Nephilim, centuries of mindless servitude all based on the belief that a Blessed Child's duty was to protect the world with gifts endowed by God; to protect the world from the Destroyer's Ascension.
No one ever told them how many would die to maintain that lie. No one remembered the scores of names and surrendered lives because no one took the time to remind themselves of their past. But Richard Masters could name them all, the Blessed Children who believed they were God's warriors – and every single one of them a needless sacrifice to the broken cause. Every name another line on the testament to the lie.
Even the prophecy believed their cause to be fact – the Rising of the Twelve, the precursor to Shemhezai's dominion. That little ragtag army of John Winchester's had no idea what they were really up against – fighting their little war for the memories of mothers and fathers, wives and husbands, burned as examples in Azazeal's fire. Mary Winchester had been the first, for defying the Council's wishes and marrying outside of the Circle, and Aaron Webb had been the last – for daring to Break it.
Webb's punishment should have been the end of it, but John Winchester was a stubborn man – and he raised his damnable sons to be just like him. Even the memory of Mary's face as she burned on the ceiling, her silent scream as Winchester bellowed his loss to the fire, was not enough to curb Richard's rage at being reduced to a puppet – watching his own son burn, bound backwards hand to feet over a stool the Grigori designed for the punishment, because of John Winchester's sons and the blood of a redheaded Betrayer.
Azazeal would leave no scars, but Alex would carry the memory of that burn until the Rising.
Alex screamed again, shuddering as Azazeal removed its hand from his chest with a moist pop. Several Councilors looked away at the noise, but Richard memorized his son's prone form, shivering against the chair as though the air itself was burning around him. He would hold remembrance for it next to his daughter's body in the morgue, broken and dead and her spark gone forever.
It should have been John Winchester's oldest son tied to that chair and Aaron Webb's jezebel of a daughter laying lifeless on a slab.
Not the heirs to the Circle of Enoch.
"What is your task?" Azazeal asked in Meg's sibilant whisper, kneeling beside his son with her hand upon Alex's throat. Nails ready to rip if Alex gave the wrong answer. His son sobbed, broken, and Richard knew he would kill as much of that feeble little militia he could find simply in recompense for that sound. "Answer me," the Grigori demanded, blood pooling in half moons where its fingers touched flesh.
"To – " Alex swallowed, voice so raspy it was unrecognizable. "To retrieve Sam Winchester."
"And what will you do to anyone who stands in your way?" Azazeal continued, fire still flickering across his daughter's cheekbones as her nostrils flared.
His son moaned, throat working, but he raised his head weakly. "Kill them," Alex whispered.
The Grigori's yellow eyes glared at the Council table, and then smiled at Richard. His daughter's smile, bound within a demon's visage. "And what is your task?" it asked. Cold fingers still pressed into his son's throat, but Richard could say nothing. His only task was to serve. And Azazeal knew that he would sacrifice his son's life if that is what was required.
He would sacrifice his own life.
Shemhezai promised an end – and from every ending, came a new beginning.
This is a sequel to Strange Angels, and is set in the Strange Angels 'verse.
The title is a song by The Rolling Stones.