So this is it, the final chapter in this installment of the Verse. Next up within the week will be What Have You Done. One day I will work my way to a happy ending and do away with all this angst, until then I'm afraid I will continue to depress you all and myself, darn. Again, thanks to all my readers and reviewers and alerters and hopefully I'll see you all at the next one.

The smile when you tore me apart.
You took my heart,
Deceived me right from the start.

Lucifer looks at the girl he has brought to this place, the girl who had unknowingly sought him out. As with all humans he sees little beauty about her, little to give him any indication of his Father's reasoning behind declaring Man the favourite and His angels, His most loyal children nothing more than emotionless shells, and even by human standards there is nothing overly special about her, though his unwilling host had some form of tender feeling towards her that Lucifer is finding it hard to identify.

She is clad in a black robe now, one that is too large for her small body but it is better than the towel, because if Lucifer finds the clothed humans distasteful, he sees even less beauty and feels even more disgust in the presence of naked ones. He ponders the differences between these two forms, these two bodies. The female is small, slight, almost fragile, even though to Lucifer all humans are fragile. The male, this Sam, is tall, well built and strong, far stronger than he had credited him to be and there is a small part of him that will be sorry to lose the intimidating power that this vessel holds, the way that it's very size can be used to Lucifer's advantage without his evening having to touch his blackened grace.

While he enjoys the sheer size of Sam, the way that his body moves fluid under Lucifer's command, it is still a vessel, a shell that he can be flung out of at anytime and such an action would weaken him, would leave him open and vulnerable and he cannot allow that, cannot allow himself to be cast out and forced to take an unsuitable body again until he can find another strong enough. This girl is already marked, is already a closed vessel, once he is in, he will only be able to leave if he choses it and all of his strength shall remain his own. Really, he should make the switch now, while the girl is unconscious and firmly within his grasp, just as he should kill Dean now, should destroy Castiel and begin to concentrate more fully on releasing the full might of his army from Hell and allowing the chaos of it to sooth his troubled being and petulant anger at his Father.

Except that there is something very satisfying about all of this, about letting the demons currently free race around and kill and maim and destroy because they are so easy to control at the moment, there is so few of them top side and he does not have to devote energy and thought to tens of thousands of them, simply focuses on a few doing a great deal of damage. He needs more, though, needs more to be done and more of the humans who took his Father's eyes from him to be punished, that does not mean that he cannot enjoy himself in the process and part of that will be in forcing Dean and Castiel to watch as he takes control of this girl and uses Sam's blood to crack open one of the sealed gates that this warehouse sits above so that his lieutenants may join him.

"Soon," he breathes to her, soon but he has other things to deal with before conditions are right to open the gateway and release a little more of Hell. "Soon."

SPN

Getting Dean to come closer to the circle is far easier that Castiel had imagined it would be, even with the angel blood in his veins making him more pliable, at this point he is even meek, moving slowly until he is on the edge of the trap, staring across it at Castiel with eyes that, though blank, are not completely vacant. They need to move quickly now, Castiel has control of Dean, control that he had longed to have the whole time that he had been unquestioningly serving Heaven, control that Zachariah had almost turned to using burgers laced with the very same agent that is used now.

Dean reaches for the knife when Castiel holds it up to him, instincts still strong enough in him that despite the angel blood he still takes the offered weapon which will be utterly useless against demon, angel and fallen angel alike. Castiel only hopes that the bow, his bow, is still where they hid it in the Impala, not under the false bottom in the trunk, but under the back seat, in a compartment that Dean had taken valuable time on the run to install in the safety of Bobby's junkyard. Castiel cannot even recall whether or not they actually did tell Sam about it.

The barrier created by the sigils hurts Castiel when he touches it, something that he avoids doing at all costs, has already suffered more pain in his existence than anyone should ever have to and he is trying so hard not to let the despair take him, these sigils that confine him being similar to the ones that kept him powerless when he was tortured. It is almost enough to paralyse him, enough to make him panic, for the first few days he had, had pulled himself together by telling himself that he needed to for Dean's sake. It comes as a relief, therefore, when Dean scrapes the knife through the marks on the floor, hard enough to mark the concrete underneath, the power around him evaporates and for the second time that day Castiel feels the tattered remnants of his grace come back to him. It is quicker this time, but still only a trickle of power, not enough for Castiel to have a hope of defeating Lucifer, just enough that if he can focus it he can get them to the car.

Unfortunately before they can make good on their escape, they need to find Katie and finding her in this place will be problematic, with demons roaming the halls and the risk of running into Lucifer. Still, they have to try it and their luck is working for them because the door is not locked, Lucifer's pride on their side because he believes Dean under his control and Castiel unable to escape from his trap and they are able to walk out with little more than a quick glance to either side of them, trying to decide which direction to take and with Dean in his current predicament they cannot split up to find her. He tilts his head, listens for sound of other approaching them, too many demons in the building for him to be able to sense them coming, his fractured grace overwhelmed by their numbers.

There is no one coming so he takes advantage of the moment, tells Dean to keep watch and with a muttered half prayer draws gently on his grace, touches it briefly and feels the ragged edges of it cut and stab at him and he almost sobs at how hard this is, how difficult it is to do something that once came so easily. It all brings closer to home just how much he has given up, how much he has sacrificed for Dean and for a brief moment he wishes that he could take it all back. He renews his grip on his grace, grapples with it until he manages to do what he wants to, to find the faint pulse of the only soul in the building other than Dean's that is even remotely close to human.

It would seem that her time as a vessel, the death of an angel inside her has materially altered Katie in a way that Castiel had never before realised, there is still an element of Seraphiel in her, and element that makes it all that much more important to get her away from Lucifer, so that he never has the opportunity to combine that power with his own. For Castiel, however, this might just be the thing that he needs to get them out, provided that he gets to her before Lucifer does, before Lucifer gets to them. It hurts to do this, makes a sweat break out on the forehead of the body that was once a vessel, the body that is now his, but he holds onto it, holds onto the sense of her, pushes himself to move through the pain, to get Dean to follow him as he makes his way towards Katie and his only hope of freeing them.

She is alone when he reaches her prison, a large room with a high ceiling, alone and tied on top of a table, a heavy black robe similar to the ones that Castiel and Dean wear covers her and her face is pale, her eyes dull. Dried blood is caked into her still damp hair and streaks down her cheeks, looking disturbingly like tear tracks. The wound on her head from the impact with the sink has stopped bleeding, but there is an ugly bruise there, raised in purples and blacks. When she sees them she whimpers, her eyes sharpening for a fraction of a second before they fade out into despair again.

Castiel orders Dean to cut her free, to help her stand, knows that she will be concussed, probably seriously, that she needs a hospital and that they have no way of getting her there, will have to ask Dean how to deal with it once they have escaped, if they can escape. There is the sound of a footstep behind them and Castiel turns, sees one of Lucifer's demons behind him, can feel the age of her, sees scarlet slide over the iris of her kidnapped body's eyes. They all freeze, a smirk slides across the demon's face and Katie trembles in Dean's arms, Castiel feels desperation grip him, they are so close, so very close to gaining their freedom and in a moment of blind faith he grabs hold of both of them, draws on the spark of grace that he feels lingering within the human woman and pulls, drags them all from the room and from the demon. Drops them outside and close enough to the Impala that when Katie collapses in Dean's arms and Castiel feels his legs begin to slide from under him, he can drag himself to the car, the door unlocked, the keys in the ignition almost as if Lucifer was expecting this, almost as though he wanted this. Castiel does not question it, merely orders Dean to drive, to take them away from this place, take them somewhere that they can hole up, away from Lucifer, quiet, alone, to heal, to rest, to plan.

The book that feels so ancient and tingles with grace pokes into Castiel's side as he shifts in the front seat. That book is their last hope, hope to save Sam, hope to stop Lucifer and hope to save the world.

You showed me dreams,
I wished they'd turn into real.
You broke a promise and made me realize.
It was all just a lie.
Could have been forever.
Now we have reached the end.

Reviews are little Castiels that fly above our heads and mini Deans under the bed. A small Sam in hand and a tiny John by the chair, a review that can show how much you care.

Artemis