In a bar in Maine where the coasts of America dipped into the icy Atlantic Ocean, Shadow watched a God watching a boy from where he sat, sipping on a perfectly chilled beer.

This wasn't an unusual situation for him.

If one knew where and how to look, it would quickly become apparent exactly how many deities strolled among mankind, demanding adulations in whatever form they could receive. It made him uncomfortable at first, knowing that he possessed this ability to tell the mundane from the divine. Before, he had only sensed a difference in these beings. But the ability had become far sharper after his return from Europe. Like everything else that he couldn't change however, Shadow decided to let his misgivings go. If anything, this only meant that it was far easier to avoid situations he might otherwise become accidentally entangled with.

Nonetheless, it was an amusing scene before him, enough to keep his interest for once. For one thing, the God in question looked nervous. And the reason causing his anxiety was sitting directly across from Shadow, steadily drinking his way through a bottle of rye as he tapped on his laptop's keyboard. He would not have been a remarkable boy, but for the cold determination in his eyes. He was on a mission, and if Shadow was a betting man, he would put money on the fidgety entity being the prize, saved only by the cheap glamour he was wearing.

There was a loud flurry of movement, as two girls flocked into the bar, whispering excitedly. Shadow took another pull of his beer, catching odd phrases like "creature from the ocean", "body parts" and "old Mr. Tate." He wouldn't have paid them very much mind, if he didn't notice that the laptop opposite was suddenly shut, and the kid had stopped drinking. Instead, he appeared to be eavesdropping on the girls' conversation.

A minute later, the boy was gone. The sound of a car pulling away from the curb outside could be heard.

It would have been a good time to take his leave as well and to think nothing more of the night's events, but for the God sliding into the seat beside him.

"What's a nice boy like you doing in a place like this?" he drawled, and the world shifted almost imperceptibly. A pudgy, pale face became freckled and narrow; a familiar scarred mouth grinned at him.

Cliches were something every God seemed determined to proliferate.

"Just passing through," he replied, pulling his wallet out from his jeans. "Does your kind stay dead at all Low-key?"

"Your dead wife stabbed me, I do recall." The deity agreed amiably.

The man grunted in response.

"But. What kind of God would I be if I simply stayed dead?" he flashed the ex-convict a shit-eating grin.

"You can still be frightened though," Shadow stated, nodding towards the recently vacated spot.

"I don't frighten easy." The Trickster's expression turned almost satisfied. It discomfited the man. "I am merely irritated. Some humans don't understand a good lesson when they learn one."

Shadow tried to signal the bartender, who seemed determined to ignore him. Or perhaps, he had literally become invisible to the rest of the bar. He glanced again at the creature beside him.

"His family had a habit of sacrificing themselves for each other. I'm simply trying to show Sammy the futility of their actions. I can after all, be generous to those who worship me with every hustle they pull at the card table, every con they commit for some extra cash." the Trickster told him voluntarily, sounding as if he truly believed he was being magnanimous.

Wednesday's old bodyguard couldn't stop the wave of revulsion rising inside him. One could count on a God never understanding what it meant to be truly human.

"Does the boy thank me?" the God continued. "No. Instead, he begins to hunt me down and tries to stab me with wooden sticks."

He paused and winked at Shadow.

"Reminds you of good old Laura doesn't it?" he swallowed more beer and smacked his lips. "Well after tonight, he won't be my problem anymore. Unless of course…unless you went and rescued him."

The ex-convict resisted the urge to smack his own forehead in exasperation. How could he have been this stupid?

"This was your plan all along. You wanted me to see him, to see you. You want me to get involved in this," He stated.

"How could I not?" was the cold and sharp answer he received.

"Why should I?" Shadow asked.

"You don't like us, and you want nothing to do with us. But if I know you boy, and I do, you don't appreciate seeing innocents get caught in our games." The Trickster smirked lazily. "Me? I'm just hoping you get yourself killed while trying to save that worthless little fucker. You are going to aren't you? Try?"

Shadow pushed away from the bar, having given up on paying his bill at all and ignoring the mocking laughter that dogged his steps. Walking outside, he climbed into his car, and turned the ignition. You do your own time, the adage ran through his mind. But he wasn't in prison any longer, he reminded himself. His hands found the steering wheel and he began to drive, concentrating as hard as he could on finding what it was he was seeking.


"Hey there Missy, where's your karaoke machine?" the little black man asked, bright yellow gloves waving the waitress over.

"I'm afraid we wouldn't know what to do with it even if we did have one," the girl replied, smiling at the elderly gentleman.

"That's too bad 'cos I can think of a ditty or two I'd dedicate to you." he winked flirtatiously at her. Instead of being offended, the waitress found herself deeply charmed, and giggled in response. She flipped her long hair back and sashayed away. Somehow, she found herself meandering back later with a complimentary plate of sweet potato fries with spicy Dijon dip.

Of the scarred, pale stranger that had been sitting in that seat not long ago, there was not a sign.


When Shadow found Sammy, as the Trickster God had called him, the boy was beaten bloody by something he didn't see, and didn't want to meet. If the loud roar coming from the direction of the sea was anything to go by however, it was on its way back for a second round. The boy's long legs proved to make things awkward as the ex-con slung him over the shoulder. He picked up the shotgun that lay un-fired on the ground. Moving as fast as he could, he reached his car by the side of the road and shoved the boy into the backseat. The gun, he threw on the floor of the car. A few feet away, a black Impala was parked; it obviously belonged to Sam (Shadow had decided it was more appropriate to call him that), but seeing the amount of blood dribbling onto the car seat, it didn't make sense to think too much about dealing with that issue just yet.

Sam stirred in the backseat.

"I'm getting you to the hospital." Shadow assured him.

"No. No hospitals." he gasped. Now that he was much closer, it became obvious that Sam was more man than boy, a fact that was painfully clear even under the wan moonlight that betrayed the faint lines on his face.

Shadow frowned. As the young man in the backseat drifted off into blessed oblivion again, he made a decision.


The line at the drive-through was packed even in the pre-dawn hour, as fishermen lined up to get their fill of caffeine before their day started. Normally, he wouldn't have minded so much.

However, it was with great relief that he finally drove away from the breakfast stop with his precious cargo of donuts and coffee, back to the motel room where he had left the injured man. While most of the cuts seemed blessedly shallow and easy to clean, Sam was still unconscious when Shadow had gone out in search of food.

The man was re-thinking his decision of not taking him to the hospital. He was beginning to suspect that the latter might be suffering from a concussion.

His concerns were put to rest when he opened the door to his motel room, to find the other fellow sitting up in his bed, grasping the shotgun in his hands. While the gun wasn't pointed at Shadow, he had no doubt that Sam could easily remedy that situation at a split-second's notice.

"Normally I would thank you for saving my life. But see, I recognize you from the bar last night. You're not the type of guy people forget easily once they catch sight of you." His voice was calm. "So I'm assuming this wasn't just a lucky rescue. Now tell me where I am, and what you want. Or I swear to God, I will shoot you."

Unflinchingly, Shadow shut the door behind him and set his burden down on an end table.

"I was informed you were in danger. I'm not inclined to walk away from that," he replied, looking Sam in the eye.

"Who told you?" the seated figure demanded.

"God. A God, anyway," Shadow responded dryly.

"The Trickster was there?" Sam asked sharply, swinging his legs off the bed.

"He's probably long gone by now."

"Shit." Sam cursed with feeling.

"How do you feel?"

"Like I lost a fight with a giant sea monster. I'm still not sure where you fit in with all this." The younger man stated.

"It was a set-up. All of it. Low-key was trying to get you killed. Both of us actually." That was the short version, which was completely true.

"Low-key…Loki? The Norse God of Mischief? Here I figured he was Anansi." Sam looked bemused.

"Most certainly not Mr. Nancy." Shadow couldn't help but mutter.

"I'm sorry?"

"Look here. You can't go after him. He's a God. Even if you do catch up with him and somehow manage to kill him, he'll just come back. Trust me, I know." The former bodyguard said.

"You wouldn't understand." Sam stood up, trying to mask the fact that he was still in pain. "He killed my brother."

Shadow forced himself not to conjure images of Laura standing in another shabby motel room miles away, pale and dead as when he had buried her.

"Look Mister..."

Sam looked expectantly at him, but the ex-convict didn't offer his name. It was enough that he had gotten into the situation as far as he did. Now that the younger man was safe, his part, as far as Shadow was concerned, was over; Sam's life was his own to keep or lose.

"Is my car here?"

"I left it by the side of the road near where I found you. I'll give you a ride," Shadow offered.

"I'm not sure I'm comfortable enough to get into a car with you just yet." Sam cocked a dry smile, which didn't quite reach his eyes.

"It's a long walk. And you're hurt. Still, it's your choice." he shrugged, and added, "Also, I have coffee and donuts."

The latter's grin widened only slightly, but his shoulders relaxed. The shotgun in his hand was lowered just so.

Shadow released a breath he didn't know he had been holding.


They didn't talk. Sam drank his coffee and munched on his sticky breakfast pastry, occasionally glancing at the driver in suspicion. But otherwise, he seemed satisfied that Shadow posed no threat. When they found the Impala, Sam turned awkwardly to his rescuer.

"Thanks, I guess." He said uncomfortably.

Shadow nodded, and hesitated slightly. Sam quirked an eyebrow.

"The thing about Gods, and those that think they're Gods…they'll let you think you're playing their game. But they're just playing you. You have to understand that."

"All you have to do is walk away. Do nothing. And the game ends." Just like what he was doing.

In the silence that ensued, all that could be heard was the crashing of the waves not far away.

"I tried that once. I don't have that kind of privilege Mister. I can't afford to walk away," Sam said at last.

You do, Shadow thought. But you won't.

"It was nice meeting you," The younger man said quickly, and exited the car. He called through the rolled down window, "Thanks for saving my life."

Shadow nodded.

He didn't look back as he drove off into the morning.


Somewhere, He, who was also sometimes called Mr. Nancy, sighed. Sam simply wasn't listening, no matter what clever contrivance the God could come up with in an attempt to get his point across.

Even resorting to tricking ole' One-Eye's boy, which felt like a crass and distasteful thing to do when he liked the kid so much. Not that he had a choice; Shadow wouldn't have wanted to have any part in something like that even if he were asked nicely. The boy just wanted to be left alone.

Compé Anansi wasn't lying when he said he liked the Winchester brothers; they had a good knack at weaving stories, even leaving tales about themselves in their wake. The two skinny white boys understood the value of a good joke played on the big bad tough guys out to drag the world into darkness. He couldn't have asked for better acolytes, whether they realized that was what they were or not.

He had done all he could to try and save the kid, but Sammy didn't want to be saved.

No, it was time to end it.

The features on his face shifted, and his skin lightened; a week-old scruff appeared on his chin where there was none a moment ago. His green fedora was replaced with a battered baseball cap. One would not be faulted for seeing an image of a massive brown spider flickering as the glamour of Bobby Singer's form slid into place. That is, if anyone were watching.

It was well past time to meet Sam Winchester once again.