Days off are good for something, especially the wet ones where I can only go as far as the local supermarket without drowning. This is the final part of the Hand of Sorrow verse so some things will be cleared up and the way will be paved for the next arc. If you don't recognise the song then I am disappointed, it is Hallelujah although I can never remember who the original was by, I believe it was Jeff Buckley.

Disclaimer: Seriously? Do you really think that I own them given the circumstances or the hell that I am putting them all through (Although Mr. Kripke, if you're listening, can you please give Cas to me, for keeps, I promise I'll treat him well) Likewise I don't own the song, which has been covered so much since it was released but I have only heard one other version that has moved me as much as the original did. At the Asylum convention in May this year, Jason Manns performed it, it was incredible.

Hallelujah.

I heard there was a secret chord
That David played and it pleased the lord
But you don't really care for music, do you
Well it goes like this the fourth, the fifth
The minor fall and the major lift
The baffled king composing hallelujah

Hallelujah...

They have holed up at Bobby's place, the older hunter less than impressed with the news that the three of them have brought his way, but there is little else that they can do. The general lack of angelic stalkers recently seems to indicate that they have lost interest in Dean and Castiel for the moment, their interest in Sam seems to simply be in the sense of using him to get to Dean and in turn to Castiel.

Dean is outside, because right now, he needs some space, what with their desperate search for Lucifer the last few days, Sam's major guilt complex, Castiel on edge again and Bobby watching them all like a hawk and keeping the alcohol and cutlery locked away for good measure, Dean is feeling more than a little stifled.

There is nothing about this situation that is easy, even in comparison to all the stuff that they have gone through in the last few years. Defeating Lucifer is perhaps the most difficult thing that they have ever been told to do and now Castiel has pulled the rug out from under him. Now that the Lightbringer has Katie, now that he is in the position where he has little other choice than to take her for his vessel, there is no way for them to just lock Lucifer up.

Lucifer has to die, which means that Katie has to die, her life another one taken because the Winchester brothers just cannot seem to get anything right these days. Dean stares up at the stars outside Bobby's place, wondering when and where things went so wrong for them, what happened to the simple life as hunters that they once had, why they are the ones so touched by a destiny that they neither wanted nor craved.

The fall of quiet feet tells him that Sam has joined him, makes Dean want to say that if he apologises one more time there will be an impromptu smack down in Bobby's yard. The youngest does not speak, not at first, and when he does he does not talk about what happened to him, about the things that Lucifer did, he simply asks after Dean, asks if he is alright. After everything that Dean had to go through without Sam at his side, everything that he had to go through because of Sam and miraculously, Dean is, he really is, alright.

Thing about all of this, about trying to stop Katie going after Lucifer, trying to find Lucifer and find a way to kill him, is that Dean has not really had time to think. Has not had time to dwell on Hell or his bizarre angel blood addiction, has not had to deal with any of it and he knows that the day is rapidly approaching when he will have to deal with it all, when all of this is over and he and Sam can go back to their lives. Right now, however, he is remarkably fine, and that is just the way that he wants to be. So he shrugs off Sam's concern and they head back inside.

Bobby is still pouring over the book that Castiel gave him, the one that the angel said had been tampered with, trying to figure out it's origins, because Bobby has never seen this book before, never even heard of it, though he has heard of the original owner and, as it turns out, Katie's father. Which just makes it worse, that her father was a hunter killed on the job six years ago who tried his best to keep his daughter ignorant and his wife safe. Wasted no time in telling Dean and Castiel, both, that they should have just come to him in the first place instead of trying to keep him out of it, out of the crossfire between demons and angels that the Winchesters are right in the middle of, because Bobby would have made sure that Peter's daughter did not go out there and get herself killed. The kicker is that they all know that he is right.

Castiel is researching as well, dark hair stuck up all at odd angles where he has taken to running his fingers through it as he reads, trying to find clues to things that he would never have been told about in Heaven. It is not easy going. There is little in human lore that speaks of the most likely course that Lucifer will take now that he is free.

It is a strange sight, the angel sat behind one of Bobby's desks, books all around him, brow furrowed as he reads. Dean knows that he will find something, that if any of them can it will be Castiel, because he knows what he is looking for, knows what they need to find, hopes that the answers comes soon, because people are still dying, and it seems that the angels are still being lead around by the demons, going where the forces are concentrated and not where Lucifer is most likely to be.

Dean is on the verge of asking Castiel if it would be worth contacting them, the other angels, to see if maybe they could help more, rather than just threatening to lock Dean away and kill Cas. He does not, knows that the angel will tell him that it is a bad idea, knows that anyway. Some part of him just wants it said out loud.

"Dean," the gravel of Castiel's voice breaks through his train of thought and what he sees in the angel's face does not fill him with confidence, blue eyes haunted, face scrunched up in a scowl as he rereads the page he has stopped at. "I know what Lucifer is planning."

SPN

Katie has been locked in this room for three days, she thinks, at least, she has slept three times but that is the only way to measure the passage of time, she has been fed a few times, just enough to keep her lucid, just enough to keep her strong for what ever use they have for her. She does not see anyone, not human, not demon, not fallen angel. She knows that they are out there, biding their time, and there is little more for her to do than to wait.

She spends her days curled in the corner of the room, jacket and weapons taken from her by Astaroth when she was grabbed from the mausoleum. She spends her time staring at blank walls, sometimes she sings, when the silence and solitude gets too much, and she wonders when she managed to make so many monumentally bad mistakes in her life.

Finally she wakes one day, or night, she has no way to tell which, to find the that the door to the room is open and a figure is stood there, illuminated by light from the hallway behind and red eyes that seem to almost glow in the darkness. It is Astaroth and Katie feels herself shrink closer to the wall.

The fallen angel sniffs the air, wrinkles her nose at the smell and gestures behind her, summoning two demons to the room with instructions to get her cleaned up. Her lackeys are not gentle, dragging Katie from the room forcefully enough that the young woman knows that there will be bruises. She fights them, all her instincts scream for her to do so, and they laugh at her attempts as they rip the clothes from her body and shove her under a cold shower, handing her soap and shampoo and telling her to scrub.

Humiliated and defeated, frightened, Katie does as she is told, washing hair and skin rapidly, flinching when she catches the cuts left in her skin by the nails of the demon's hosts. It is enough to make her sob, all too much after everything else that has happened to her over the last few months. At the sound of the first strangled moan from her lips the demons are there again, pulling her from the cold water and throwing a towel at her. She works on auto pilot now, drying herself and then slipping into the simple white summer dress that they toss her way.

There is an irony there, in the white dress, the way that she has been forced to wash, like she is a sacrifice to the devil. In a way, she knows that she is, she knows that she will be forced to become a vessel for Lucifer and that this is most likely the first step in preparing her.

When they lead her from the room, Astaroth is waiting for her, takes her to another room, this one clean and light, airy, a mirror on one wall and the fallen angel leads her there, standing behind her and trailing a finger across the brand which is now exposed for the first time since the sword wound had healed, the brand which lies unbroken even though the blade passed straight through it.

"There was a time," Astaroth purrs, "when this was a sign of our love for humans, a sign that we chose to bind ourselves to a vessel for all of time so that we could act upon our love, our carnal desires with a mortal body and soul. Those of my brethren who did that sickened me and it earned them their rightful places in Hell. It would amuse them to find that it has become a punishment, a deterrent. It amuses me that it will be the method by which Lucifer will become invincible against every method of defeating him that Dean Winchester has access too. That by making you into a sealed vessel, Seraphiel and Zachariah have handed us the world."

"Dean can still kill me," Katie insists and hears Astaroth laugh as she steps away, the room filling with light, does not hear the answer as an overwhelming presence, more so that Seraphiel, fills her mind and thoughts and body. The laugh is the last thing that she hears before her mind shuts down against the onslaught of Lucifer, her last thought is that she hopes that Dean does find a way to kill her.

Well your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew you
She tied you to her kitchen chair
She broke your throne and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the hallelujah

Hallelujah...

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