Title: The Tiend
Characters: Dean, Sam
Spoilers: Through In My Time of Dying. Episode one of season two.
Summary: Ever seven years fairies are forced to pay a tiend, and send seven of their own to Hell. One of them has no wish to spend eternity burning, and he'll do anything to escape the selection.
Disclaimer: I do not own Supernatural or any of its characters. That right belongs to the CW and Eric Kripke. However, everyone else who shows up here does belong to me.
Author's Notes: Christie has once again provided her wonderfully big anime eyes and betaed this for me.
And pleasant is the fairy land
But an eerie tale to tell
Ay at the end of seven years
We pay a tiend to hell
-Tam Lin; as retold by Jane Yolen
When Sam was four, the Winchesters stayed with a nun for a week and three days. Her name was Sister Cecile and she was a friend of Pastor Jim's. Sam doesn't remember much about her, just that she smelled like cherries and had a deep baritone voice that was perfect for telling stories, something she did often. He developed a crush on her, the way small boys develop crushes on pretty teachers or the mothers of friends, and it made John smile thinly and Dean tease him mercilessly.
The first night, after John had said his goodnights and gone back to pouring over books on water spirits, she'd pull Sam into her lap and told him about Ruth, Leah, Miriam, Zipporha, Rizpah and dozens of other women that Pastor Jim hadn't left out of his sermons exactly, but who he hadn't focused on either. The next night, when Sam told Dean he wanted Sister Cecile to tell him his bedtime story his older brother had agreed, but sulked and stayed on his own bed flipping through dog eared comic books, doing his best to ignore the nun and his younger brother.
"Dean." In Sam's memory, there are no lines on the hand that runs through his hair, and the Sister Cecile's skin is smooth and the color of caramel. "Would you like to pick tonight's story?"
"I wanna hear-"
"Let your brother pick this one, Sam."
"Just tell whatever."
"Are you sure you don't have a preference?"
"Alright then." And then she began.
Once there was a good man. He was of aid to all those who asked of it, and even those who didn't. He asked for nothing in return, and kept little for himself.
One day, the Lord God looked down upon the Earth and took notice of the Good Man.
"That is indeed a Good Man," God told one of his closest angels. "And for his work we shall reward him. Go down to Earth and offer him whatever he asks."
The angel obeyed, and by sunset that night she was rapping her knuckles against the Good Man's front door.
Because she was worried that her wings might knock over the furniture she asked the Good Man to join her for a walk through his garden, and the Good Man (who was not surprised to see an angel on his doorstep since in those days angels could often be seen on Earth) agreed.
"The Lord God," the angel began as the pair passed under the Good Man's apple tree, and the tips of her wings caused the branches to rustle. "Has looked upon you, and is pleased by the life you are leading. So pleased, in fact, that he has sent me to grant you one request. If you wish for anything, simply tell me and it shall be done."
The Good Man thought for a moment. "Actually, there is one thing I desire."
"Name it," said the angel.
"I wish to see Hell and I wish to see Heaven. If I could see both of these places I would truly be a happy man."
"Done," said the angel. "Keep your eyes closed, and hold fast to my hand."
The Good Man complied, and shut his eyes tight. A warm breeze blew across his face and then the angel spoke.
"Open your eyes. We are in Hell."
The Good Man obeyed and was shocked at what he saw. There was no fire. There was no brimstone. There were no demons. The Good Man had opened his eyes, and been greeted by a large beautiful field. The grass was soft under the Good Man's feet, and the breeze that blew by his face was warm and comforting. In front of the Good Man was a table so long that he could see neither its beginning nor its end. The table was piled high was food and hundreds, thousands, millions of people sat in beautiful chairs around the table ready to dine.
"This must be a mistake," said the Good Man to the angel.
"There has been no mistake," said the angel. "Walk with me."
As they drew near, the Good Man saw that the people were pale and thin, their skin drawn tight around their faces and their bones nearly poking out of their skin.
"Why will they not eat?" the Good Man asked the angel and at the sound of his voice a great ululation went up from the people.
"Look closer and you will see."
The Good Man did as he was told, and saw that the people of Hell were bound to their beautiful chairs with bands of iron. The iron formed sleeves that swallowed their arms from wrist to shoulder. It was impossible for the people to bend their arms to lift the food to their mouths. They could only reach to the left and right.
"Enough, enough!" cried to Good Man. "I can take no more of Hell."
"Then hold fast to my hand and keep your eyes closed," said the angel.
The Good Man obeyed, and the cries of the damned faded. A warm breeze blew across his face and then the angel spoke.
"Open your eyes," said the angel. "We are in Heaven."
The Good Man obeyed and was shocked at what he saw. There were no clouds. There were no shining lights. There were no other angels besides his own. The Good Man had opened his eyes, and been greeted with the sight of a large beautiful field. The grass was soft under the Good Man's feet, and the breeze that blew by his face was warm and comforting. In front of the Good Man was a table so long that he could see neither its beginning nor its end. The table was piled high was food and hundreds, thousands, millions of people sat in beautiful chairs around the table ready to dine.
"You told me we would leave Hell," wept the Good Man who did not think he could stand the sight of the starving damned again.
"We have," said the angel. "Look closer and you will see."
The Good Man obeyed the angel, and saw that the people of Heaven were also bound to their beautiful chairs with bands of iron. The iron formed sleeves that swallowed their arms from wrist to shoulder. It was impossible for the people to bend their arms to lift the food to their mouths. They could only reach to the left and right.
However, these people were well fed and seemed to glow in the sunshine. They laughed and joked, complimented their host the Lord God and sang his praises.
"I do not understand," said the Good Man. "What is different?"
"Look closer still," said the angel.
The Good Man obeyed, and saw a wondrous sight. Each person reached out with the iron sleeved arm to grab a piece of food from the table, but instead of howling at their inability to feed themselves, they simply reached to the left or to the right and fed their neighbors.
The Good Man saw this, and knew that for the rest of his life he would be completely happy.
Sam has only small memories of Sister Cecile. The way her voice rose, a gentle crescendo, when the heroine or hero of her stories was about to do battle, the way her brown eyes would smile at him when he asked questions during them and how very tiny her feet had been. If asked he could still recite every story she ever told him, but it's the story of the Good Man and the Angel that stands out in his mind, even at the age of 23, because while Dean had loved it, the story had terrified Sam.