A/N: Written for the lovely Devon99 as the last of her Sweet Charity fics.
Standing in the line of fire it's gonna shoot ya
Standing in the line of fire it's comin to ya
"Line of Fire" - Journey
It was almost cute, watching John dash around like a hero. If circumstances were different he'd jump down and shake his hand, tell him what a fine citizen he was. What fine, fine boys he had.
Unfortunately, there was the problem of having yellow eyes involved which would make John reach for the holy water. Wouldn't do him a lick of good, but it'd still be amusing to watch.
The baby whimpered in the crib until he reached down to shush it. He didn't really have any plans for this little one, not like he did for John's little boy. He had enough kids to play for his major league team, and he wanted Sammy as the captain. Sam seemed the best candidate so far, and the hunting rate with which John was going only made it sweeter. Kid would have to grow up, but Azazel could wait. He'd waited this long, hadn't he? He could stand to wait a little longer. Patience of a saint. Minus the saint, but he'd killed one, once. Maybe he'd learned something from it.
He could hear the car door slamming now, hero John on his way, and he smiled. John had gotten cockier lately, and it was time to show him who was running this circus. He turned his golden eyes to the blonde woman against the wall, her petrified eyes locked on her baby. Oh, how sweet. Really. "Up you go," he told her, and she began to slide up the wall. Predictably, she began to shriek. And she was high pitched, too. He found himself wincing a little as she went. No doubt the baby was going to start crying any-
The bedroom door almost flew off its hinges, startling him, and John immediately ran for him. Faster than he'd expected. He winked out of existence and tossed his hands towards the woman. Little barbeque wouldn't hurt. Hadn't quite gotten her to the ceiling, thanks to Speeding Bullet, but she was close enough.
Except she didn't catch on fire. Nothing did but the wall she'd been on. John had gotten her down, pulled her away to safety, and had grabbed a fire extinguisher from his bag. Unbelievable. Azazel was tempted to toss the nearest cat into the tree and wait for the ladder John was sure to have in his bag.
The fire was extinguished, the woman ever so grateful, the baby shushed in his mommy's arms, and John looked satisfied. Almost damn near a smirk to where Azazel had been. But hey, Azazel was a big demon now, he could take it like a grown-up sonuvabitch that he was.
Okay, no he couldn't. This had been his operation, his game show, and then the hero had taken it over. He glared from his unseen place outside the window. Not that it was doing any good; John was still smiling and talking with the woman. The woman that wasn't in the deep fryer, timer set to extra crispy. The baby even looked like it was gurgling, and happily at that.
Oh god, he was going to be sick. This wasn't how it was supposed to go down. At all. John was going to pay for tonight, and pay dearly. He'd thought this would be the best way to strike, but it hadn't worked. He could find another woman, another blonde with long hair and curls-
Or he could sacrifice a little of his own plan for maximum devastation on John's part. He could feel a smile growing, overtaking the glare from moments earlier. This he wouldn't see coming. It was a break from pattern, not something demons did.
Azazel wasn't your average demon.
"Played your hand well, Johnny-boy," he whispered through his grin. "But I'm still dealer, and I'm playing the ace."
He could do this. This would be fun, maybe even more fun than finding random women to use as the ultimate pin-ups. He'd be forced to change his own plans to do it, but. Well.
He could always find a new kid. Sammy was expendable.
John walked in and shut the door behind him without a slam. He was bone weary, he smelled like smoke, and his eyes still burned from seeing the blonde on the ceiling. Well, almost the ceiling.
And that was what made it all worth it. She hadn't been another victim. He'd saved her from being set on fire, saved her baby from having to endure the same fate as his children. Tonight...tonight had been a victory.
He let a small smirk tug at his lips. I'm onto you, you sonuvabitch, he thought, and he hoped to hell that damnable thing could hear his thoughts. Because he'd finally caught onto a pattern, found a track he could trace, and it'd gotten careless. And that made it easy pickings to kill.
"Dad? What happened?"
His eyes swept over to his oldest, wide awake and fully clothed. Dean looked nearly as tired as John was, but damn if he wasn't up and waiting anxiously. John hadn't told him what he was hunting tonight, but Dean wasn't stupid: he'd pieced it together from John's notes. He knew.
Unlike his older brother, Sam was dressed in his pajamas and shaking himself awake from his seated perch on the bed. "D'd?" he asked, voice rough from sleep. He was shaking himself as awake as he could, and John felt a pang shoot through his heart. Fourteen and starting to grow, but he still looked like the baby Mary had seen last.
"Dad?" Sam asked again, more awake now. Dean looked even more anxious, and John shook his head slowly.
"M'all right," he whispered, coughing once to dispel the taste of smoke. "Girl's safe."
Sam nodded like he'd expected nothing less. Dean's shoulders cam down a full inch. He'd figured it out all right. "What about her baby?" Sam continued asking. Boy seemed to have an eternal storage of questions, but this one John hadn't expected. His eyes shot to Dean, who pursed his lips and looked away.
"Dean said she had a baby," Sam said, as if to clarify. "Is the baby...?"
"Okay," John said. "Infant's fine." He gave Dean a look that wasn't mistakable. "Don't think I told you the details of the hunt."
He hadn't minded Dean knowing, but Sammy knowing was different. From the way Dean gave a small wince, he obviously knew how John felt. Slip of the tongue, probably. "Sorry sir," Dean said softly. "Didn't mean to say anything." Bingo.
"Why?" Sam asked, just like John knew he would. "Why can't I know? I get trained and stuff, but I can't know about a hunt?"
"This one's different, Sam," John said, and hoped his tone would end any further discussions. This was a hunt he wanted to spare his children from ever getting involved in. This was his battle, his fight. They weren't as personally involved as John was. Little hunts they could handle, but not this one. He sincerely hoped they both got that, especially tonight. He couldn't really handle an argument tonight.
Sam, mercifully, let it go for once. Kid was like a terrier these days, wouldn't let go of anything. That much he'd gotten from his mother, and the additional, unexpected thought of Mary made John shut his eyes. This woman's husband had been on a business trip. On his way home now, after the events of tonight, but he would have a wife to return to. He wouldn't know John's pain.
"Let's get some shut eye," John told them both. "Dean, go get dressed quick: I'm gonna need the shower." There wasn't going to be any sleeping when smoke lingered on his clothes, his skin, his mind.
Despite the parallels to Mary and that night fourteen years ago, the bastard hadn't won tonight, and the glimmer of a smile rose again. John was getting closer every day, and he hoped the thing was cowering knowing it. It would die: John would make sure of it.
The damn mattress was lumpy. He knew, logically, that they were only sleeping for the night, just one more night, and then they'd be off. He was eighteen and the Impala was a lover of the open road, and if he actually got some sleep tonight, he was pretty certain that his dad would let him drive. He'd looked haggard coming back, but not sad. It'd been a quiet victory of sorts, and Dean knew why.
And he shouldn't have blabbed to Sammy, but god, he'd been so freakin' worried about his dad. It'd come back to bite him in the ass with Sam asking question after question, and couldn't the kid shut up for once in his life?
Dean shifted again, feeling the lumps in his side more than before. Sam usually weighed those down, so where the hell was the kid sleeping? On the far end? Dean bounced enough to test his theory, but no gasp or sleepy sound of confusion was heard, no thump as a certain little brother hit the floor. Dean opened his eyes and frowned into the darkness. Sam wasn't weighing down the lumps because he wasn't on the bed at all. What the...?
He shifted to sit up and let his eyes adjust before looking towards the bathroom. The door was wide open, the room dark and empty. Sam wasn't there. Was he already on the floor, or-
A small, rasped breath caught his attention, and he knew without a doubt it was his little brother's. "Sam?" he whispered into the room, risking waking his father. Dean sat himself all the way up now, looking around for Sam. His stomach was clenching in anxious knots, and leaving him feeling sick. "Sam?" he called again, a little louder.
Rustling to his left told him his dad was awake. "What's the matter?" Dad asked, sounding sleepy and exhausted still. "Dean?"
Another inhaled gasp came, this one shaking. Dean turned to look up without really truly thinking about why the sound was coming from there. He simply followed the sound, head tilting back to look.
And stared, frozen, his own breath punched out of his lungs. Sam was plastered to the ceiling, his long hair slightly fanned out as if from static electricity. His arms were bent, left palm against the ceiling, right palm open as if reaching for help. His left leg was bent crookedly at the knee and looked painful.
But it was the look of fear, terror, on Sam's face that made him freeze. That and the fact that he was spread out on the ceiling just like their mom had been. Sam was shivering, his fingers reaching down in a plea, tears falling from his eyes. His shuddered another gasp, and Dean tried to move, tried to do anything except stare at his brother.
Then the ceiling erupted into flames.