Title: Disposable Heroes
Fandom: Criminal Minds/Supernatural
Universe: Demon Days (Part 2)
Characters/Pairing: Dean Winchester, Emily Prentiss, Castiel
Summary: The past just can't stay in the past. Just another day in the wonderful world of Winchester.
The bar was by no means full, but all the same, Dean was glad to have snagged a booth in the back corner. It wasn't exactly a hunter bar, and he wasn't in the mood to explain to the locals exactly why he was talking about cannibalistic werewolves.
'Just give me the bottle,' he said wearily, and the bartender passed over the bottle that Dean had been gesturing to, as well as two shot glasses. In return, Dean passed over a couple of notes. 'Keep the change.'
He returned to the booth to find Emily staring at the photo she kept in the wallet. He'd never met any of the people in the photo, but he saw the wistfulness in her eyes as she looked into that window of the past.
'Usually we flew straight back to Quantico, from wherever we were working, but this time, the plane had some engine problems, so we ended up going to a local bar. Rossi kicked my ass at pool, and I had the worst hangover in the morning, but it was a good night.'
He didn't know "Rossi" from Adam, but there were tears in her eyes, so he didn't press the issue. God knows he'd spent his own share of tears thinking about the past.
'We've hunted animals before,' she told him matter-of-factly, 'But that's mostly a descriptive term – guys raping and murdering little girls, or slaughtering entire families. None of them actually had sharp claws, or teeth, or mangy fur.'
'Sometimes the line is kind of blurred,' Dean shrugged. 'Drink up. You killed your first monster. Werewolves are pretty small beans compared to some of what's out there.'
'Gee, thanks for the vote of confidence.' Her voice held no hint of humor, which was unsurprising – at every time of month bar the full moon, a werewolf was as human as either of them. It sucked big time to have to kill them for something they couldn't control.
That was the job, though. A great big pile of suckage.
Hence, the copious amount of alcohol.
Dean heard a faint ringing sound, that was followed up by a groan from Emily. She pulled the phone out of her pocket, and pressed the 'Ignore' button.
'That's the third time you've let a call go through in the past day,' he observed. 'Someone you don't want to talk to?'
'My mother.' She rolled her eyes. 'It's not so much that I don't want to talk to her as the fact that I don't want to talk to her while I'm busy hunting werewolves.'
'You're not hunting werewolves now,' Dean pointed out, gesturing with the whiskey bottle as he poured himself out another shot.
'No,' Emily conceded. 'But I've always made a point of not getting into lengthy conversations with her when I've been drinking. The alcohol can't mask the disappointment in her voice.'
Dean gave a bitter laugh. 'I hear that.'
'My parents are Ambassadors,' Emily revealed, fingers twisting the empty glass in front of her. 'I grew up in half a dozen different countries without a lot of parental supervision. I've done things that would make her faint in horror, and yet the worst thing I could have ever possibly done was join the FBI.'
It wasn't the "worst" thing that she could have possibly done, but Dean wasn't about to bring that up as a topic of casual conversation, in the same way that she didn't bring up Sam's deal with the devil.
'Most of my childhood was spent driving across the country in the Impala,' Dean offered. 'Every time there was a new monster on Dad's radar, we would pack everything up and leave. I did everything I could to make him proud of me, but…I was never going to be that son.'
Drinking with a beautiful woman was cheaper than therapy. More fun, too, even if they hadn't actually done anything since that night in Emily's apartment. He wouldn't, of course, say no to another night of passion – in terms of stress relief, it was much better than ruining your liver – however, Emily had given no indication that that night had been anything other than a one time thing. She didn't seem like the kind of woman to be in a casual, no-strings relationship, but then, she didn't seem like the kind of woman for cross-country demon hunting, either.
A dark shadow fell over the booth. Dean looks up to see the tall, leather clad man staring down at them.
'Booth's taken, man,' Dean grunted, seriously not in the mood for the local townsfolk getting territorial. Still, he felt the slightest bit of suspicion burning a hole in the back of his mind, even if it was dulled somewhat by the alcohol. Danger, Will Robinson.
The man's eyes flashed black.
Dean felt like swearing. All things considered, it was a terrible place for a demon attack; there were no defenses set up, and there were civilians everywhere. On top of that, he didn't even have his shotgun with him. There was a salt-shaker on the table, but he couldn't draw a line quick enough for it to do the slightest bit of good.
What he did have, though, was the demon-killing knife, sheathed inside his boot. He was pretty sure he could draw it out, before-
The demon grabbed him by the lapel of his jacket and threw him across the bar. The knife slipped against his fingers and slid across the room.
Note to self: drinking and demon fighting do not mix.
Dean had been tossed around by all manner of creatures more times than he would care to admit. Even after being resurrected at least three times, by his own count, he would bear the scars of every single one of those encounters to the end of his days. But it still hurt like a freaking bitch.
He was vaguely aware of the sound of gunshots as he reoriented himself to the real world. The shoulder was definitely dislocated, and the head didn't feel too crash hot either. Dean had about a split second to assess the situation before Emily crashed into him with a loud grunt.
'Demon?' she breathed.
'Yeah. Can you get to the knife?' he breathed softly.
Her head turned towards the knife, a good six feet away. The demon was bearing down upon them once more, two bloody holes in his chest from where Emily had shot him. Dean wasn't sure what his motives were, but he was a demon, so it wasn't exactly puppies and sunshine.
'Sure, just avoid the demon that's trying to kill us. Easy.'
'I got the demon,' he assured her, which, really, was something of an overstatement. At best, he might be able to distract the demon for a few seconds while Emily went for the knife. How the hell the demon had found him, he didn't know. Those hex bags were supposed to be good for something.
It was fortunate – if unsurprising – that the demon seemed to be after him, rather than Emily. He dismissed her as no threat, pushing past her to grab Dean again. Pretty dumb, as far as demons went.
'Winchester,' the demon sneered, holding Dean up against the wall by his neck. Dean awaited the inevitable death; wondering if someone would bother to bring him back this time.
It didn't come.
The demon did not seem interested in killing him, which was just plain weird. Too late, he realized that the same courtesy did not extend towards Emily, who was about the thrust the knife into the demon's side.
He turned and swung his arm in the one movement, knocking into the opposite wall. Dean was hyperaware of her closed eyes, and the blood that was starting to trickle from the wound on her head. The knife was still impossibly far away, and there were black spots starting to form in the corner of Dean's vision. It was almost embarrassing to get taken out by a creature like this, when he and Sam had stopped the apocalypse.
Well…Sam had stopped the apocalypse. Dean had just provided the soundtrack.
Out of the corner of his eye, Dean saw something – someone – and at first he thought it was his concussed mind playing tricks on him. He'd heard stories of people witnessing salvation at the hands of an angel, but after actually meeting an angel, he knew that in most cases, their holiness was severely overstated.
This angel, though…He liked this angel.
Castiel stepped forward, and the demon swung, stopping as the angel's hand touched his forehead. A white light shone from the demon, and he started to scream.
The newly emptied vessel fell to the floor.
Dean pulled himself to his feet, shaking off the flashes of darkness that were still persisting. He turned towards the angel, patting him on the shoulder with his good arm.
'Damnit, Cas – you sure as hell know how to make an entrance.' He moved right past Castiel, to Emily, who was stirring from her brief period of unconsciousness.
'What the fuck was that?' she muttered, taking the hand that Dean held out, and grabbing his shoulder as he pulled her to her feet. Dean tried to ignore the pain that accompanied the movement.
'That was a demon,' Dean provided, to which Emily rolled her eyes.
'I know that – why did it attack us?' Dean wasn't exactly able to answer the question, but apparently, Castiel could.
'The forces of heaven and hell are working together to fix what was broken.'
'I'm sorry,' Emily interjected. 'Dean – who is this guy?'
Dean grimaced. He'd been trying to work her in slowly, and this was the complete opposite of slow. Demons were easy to accept if you believed in evil, but angels…'This is Castiel,' he told her. 'He's an angel.'
Her eyes widened substantially. 'An angel? You have got to be fucking kidding me.'
Dean almost laughed. His reaction had been about the same.
'You gonna pay for the damage?' the bartender asked them angrily, apparently unconcerned with any injuries inflicted. Dean found it almost amusing that he'd stayed out of the fight when people were getting thrown into walls. He looked around: the damage amounted to a few dents in the drywall, and some broken glasses. He pulled a couple of fifties out of his pocket; the result of a fairly successful poker game in the last town they'd hit. Apparently being in the Behavioral Analysis Unit gave you good bluffing skills.
'We should depart,' Castiel tells them. 'You are in danger.'
'We're always in danger,' scoffed Dean, but apparently that wasn't good enough for Castiel. He took them both by the arm – Emily, with some resistance – and there was a blinding flash of light.
Dean found himself standing next to the Impala, feeling like he was going to throw up. Emily didn't look too much better. 'Dude.' He gave Castiel an angry look. 'The car was two blocks away – why did you have to use the angel beam?'
'Time is of the essence,' was the only answer given. He held a hand to Dean's forehead, and Dean felt his injuries healing themselves, as though they had never even existed in the first place. Castiel repeated the process with Emily, who was at first resistant, and then pleasantly surprised.
'I should keep you on retainer, or something,' she said with a half laugh, as though she was torn between trusting him and running far, far away.
Dean frowned. 'Wait a minute – when did you get your mojo back? Last time I saw you, you were practically human.'
Castiel looked awkward – at least, as awkward as it was possible for an angel to look. 'I have…renewed contact with my Father.'
'You found God?' Dean asked, incredulous. Last he'd heard, the Lord Almighty didn't want a damn thing to do with the apocalypse.
'I did not find the Lord,' Castiel explained, though it was evident he was having trouble explaining the situation. 'He found me, and told me that I had done his will.'
Dean scoffed. 'Right. He's not ready to pick sides until we defeat the Devil, and then he's suddenly all buddy-buddy? Give me a break.'
If Castiel was insulted by the slight to his Father, he didn't show it. 'I have come to find you because there are those who seek to realign destiny. They wish to free the Morningstar, and ensure that the fated battle between Lucifer and the Archangel Michael takes place – within their respective vessels.'
'You said the forces of heaven and hell were working together,' Dean recalled.
'Many are not happy with the continued existence of the human race. It was prophesized to become theirs to claim after the Apocalypse, but you and Sam managed to avert that prophecy.'
At the cost of Sam's freedom, Dean added to himself. 'So how did they find us? We had the hex bags.' At his words, he realized just what the problem was. 'But she doesn't have the Sigil.'
Castiel nodded. He turned to Emily, who still had a look of sheer confusion on her face. Dean hadn't exactly had the chance to explain everything in detail when they'd first met. 'Dean has Enochian Sigil carved into his ribs to hide him from angelic powers. If we are to continue in the fight against the apocalypse, I must give them to you, too.'
'So how do you do that?' she frowned. Castiel put a hand against her chest.
Emily staggered backwards, startled. She put a hand to the spot where Castiel's had been just a moment before.
'I also gave you the mark that prevents demon possession,' he said matter-of-factly. Dean winced. He'd been meaning to take her to a tattoo parlor.
Emily's eyes widened. She looked almost hurt, and that was something Dean would have to deal with later. 'That is just…weird,' she said finally.
'Welcome to the wonderful world of Winchester,' Dean said, in an almost lamenting tone. To Castiel, he added. 'I guess this means we need to keep moving?'
The answer was a resounding "yes," which was followed by a silent discussion of who got the back seat, ending with Castiel dutifully sliding in behind the driver's seat. Dean ran inside to grab the last of their gear, and left the key in the lock as he slammed the door shut. It was somebody else's problem now.
It was fairly late, but Dean cranked up the stereo anyway; Castiel's touch had removed any traces of inebriation, but he didn't want to risk falling asleep at the wheel.
'So tell me about the apocalypse,' Emily said, in a voice that didn't allow any room for argument. He wondered how many times she'd used that voice on serial killers, or rapists.
'There's not much to tell. The "powers that be" prophesized that Michael and Lucifer would have a mega-showdown and pretty much destroy the Earth in the process, only they had to be in their proper vessels.' At her frown, he added. 'The meatsuit that they "borrow" to house their earthly presence. Anyway – Sam was destined to be Lucifer's vessel. The only way Lucifer could possess him was if he said yes.'
'And he did,' Emily surmised.
There was a long pause. 'Yeah,' Dean said eventually. 'Michael was supposed to convince me, only he decided to go for my half-brother Adam instead. So the battle didn't exactly go like it was supposed to. Sam managed to overcome Lucifer's possession and drag Michael down into his cage, the world is safe…'
'And you lost Sam.'
'Pretty much sums it up. Only now, apparently, there are people that don't like the fact that Michael and Lucifer didn't get to duke it out on the battlefield like they were supposed to.'
'Determinists,' said Emily drily, and Dean shrugged.
'I guess. Stubborn assholes is what I'd prefer to call them.'
He didn't say anything more; the hunting lifestyle, the apocalypse, everything he had been through – none of it was just something you could explain to someone in hour long sessions while they took notes, and sipped on a coke. It wasn't something that could be explained in a book, or a movie, or a Discovery Channel documentary. At the same time though, Emily did understand it – she had lived it. The monsters were just a little different.
The tape that was in the player came to its end, and they were overcome with an almost awkward silence. Castiel had left most of the talking to Dean, which was a little strange – usually he was the Patron Saint of Exposition. To kill the silence, Dean scrabbled one-handedly for a tape, and pushed it into the player. Sam's iPod was still in the glove box, and some days Dean would hook it up, and listen to his brother's weird music tastes, just for the hell of it.
Emily wrinkled her nose. 'Metallica? Seriously?'
'What's wrong with Metallica?' Dean demanded.
'Nothing.' She shook her head. 'Just that they haven't made anything good since 1996.'
Dean gave a chuckle – she had a point. Out of the blue, he made a turnoff; if the forces of douchebaggery were trying to predict where they were going, he didn't want to make it easy. The car was filled with hex bags, and the Enochian Sigils were doing their part too.
Emily's phone rang for the second time that night, and she gave a startled jump. The jump was followed by a half-smile as she looked at the display. Not mommy dearest, then, apparently.
'Hey PG,' she answered, and Dean fiddled with the volume dial. 'Things are good. There are angels, and apparently a close call on the apocalypse, but we're working through it.'
The smile turned to a frown. 'She's been calling you? Shit. Sorry, Garcia – there was a werewolf hanging around, and I didn't want to…Yeah, I'll call her. Thanks for telling me. I'll give you a call later – we're driving now.' Emily gave a tired laugh. 'Love you too.'
She sighed as she hung up. 'Looks like my mother moved on to harassing the only person she knew whose calls I'd always answer.'
'You gonna call her?' Dean queried. This was the problem when you had family; there were phone calls, and visits, and whatnot. Below the surface, he saw Emily's mother as another person he'd have to call when Emily died.
If, he reminded himself, but of course, in this business, the question wasn't whether or not you would die, but rather, if anyone would go to the trouble of resurrecting you.
Not everyone got to be resurrected.
'Tomorrow,' Emily rolled her eyes. 'There has already been way too much drama tonight.'
'You don't really get along?' The nature of the relationship had been implied when the first call had come through, but he wanted to hear her say it.
'It's complicated,' was the answer given; that in itself said so much, and yet nothing at all.
They kept driving, and it wasn't long before Dean started feeling weary. Emily had nodded off in the passenger's seat, and Castiel didn't sleep, period, but he figured that it was time to find somewhere to hole up for the night, if only so they could regroup and assess the situation.
Things were a little different this time around. Angels and demons and apocalypses, he'd only ever faced with Sam by his side.
He pulled into a motel, the neon sign flickering between alternate states of red and dark. Leaving Castiel and Emily in the car, he found reception. The manager seemed a little pissed that his softcore porn habits were being interrupted, but handed over the key to Room 12 without much hesitation when Dean slid over the wad of bills. He booked them in for two nights – enough time to clear their heads and sort out what was going on, but not so long that they might be found.
Emily was pulling their bags out of the back as he returned, and she chucked him the salt.
'Just in case, right?'
'Yeah.' He wondered about the feasibility of using sharpie to draw a sigil on the door, but he didn't want to exclude Castiel from their discussions. They'd have to risk the angels. Not the most optimal of choices, but if worst came to worst, then he figured that Cas could zap them out of there, even if it would kill him to leave the Impala behind.
That damn car was the last thing he had left.
He poured out a line of salt across the doorway, and the single window.
'There are some people that say salt in folklore is a common representation of semen,' Emily said, and Dean frowned.
'Where'd you hear that?'
She paused. 'A friend told me.' The tone of voice told Dean that this friend was dead, and moreover, that Emily had killed him. Maybe one day he would ask her about it. 'Something about purity and fertility.' She shook her head, and dumped their bags inside. 'You didn't see a McDonald's or something on your way into town?' she asked, changing the subject abruptly. 'I'm starving.'
At the sound of her words, Dean realized that he was pretty damn hungry too. They'd been so focused on the demon attack, and getting the hell out of dodge that he hadn't really paid attention to the matter. It was almost midnight, but a burger sounded damn good.
'Stay here,' Castiel commanded. 'I will go in search of food.'
Dean shrugged. Technically, they were safer in the motel room, and if Castiel were attacked, he could simply zap himself out of there, but it didn't make him feel any better about the situation. Once upon a time he might have yearned for a normal life, but he'd tried that after Sam's death, and it hadn't turned out so well.
Between himself and Emily, they managed to give Castiel a list of food that could feed some people for a week. Breakfast and lunch had been spent hunting werewolves, and their maudlin drinking session had been so rudely interrupted by the demon attack, causing them to miss the chance for dinner. It was little wonder they'd been halfway to wasted when Cas showed up.
'So,' Emily started, with a raised eyebrow, and a look could have burnt a hole in any demon. 'What else do I need to know? Every time I ask, you keep skipping things.'
'It's not something I can just sum up in a few words,' he told her matter-of-factly. 'Everything I know is based on years of hunting, and even then, I still come across things I have no idea how to handle. It's like me asking you to list everything you know about human behavior.'
'Point taken,' she conceded. 'But the apocalypse? Kind of a big deal. And there's some stuff that would have been nice to know about. Like a tattoo that prevents demon possession, for example.'
Dean winced. 'I was going to take you to a tattoo parlor, next time we got to a town that actually had one.'
Emily shook her head. 'It's not that.' She seemed angry, but not angry at him, exactly. 'It's just…there are these creatures out there, and there's this way of keeping people relatively safe from them, and yet if you say anything, they're going to think you're batshit insane.' She gave him a look. 'I know I did, at first.'
Dean hesitated. 'If there's one inevitability in this business,' he told her, 'It's death. Most hunters die before they hit forty, and the ones that don't are never really normal. Both of my parents were killed because of demons. My brother's trapped in a cage with Lucifer himself. I have friends that died pointless deaths, because of this lifestyle.'
He paused. 'After Sam…did his thing, I stopped. For a while. I went to see a girl that I'm pretty sure I could have loved, given the chance, and her son, who she keeps telling me isn't mine, but deep down I think he his…and I couldn't stay. I tried to stay, but if it wasn't something in the paper, it was something on the news, or a phone call from an unknown number. After a while, she told me that I needed to leave. For my own sake. And I know that she wasn't wrong. Some people like to live in their two-storey houses, with their labs and their white picket fences, and even if we told them "hey, there are demons out there, make sure you put a line of salt across your door," they'd still be fucked when the shit hit the fan. We can't save everyone; all we can do is just…keep fighting.'
The impact of his own words surprised Dean. He wasn't usually one for long, inspiring speeches. Usually, they left that to the people that weren't going to drive out of town covered in blood. He was just the muscle.
Emily seemed to accept his words, but she wasn't particularly happy about it. Part of that was the fact that neither of them had eaten in at least twenty-four hours, and there were demons trying to catch them, and part of it was the fact that really, it was a pretty shitty deal. While Zachariah had apparently "proved" that hunting was in his blood, rather than his upbringing, the fact was, Zachariah was a complete douche, and Dean had trusted the angel's words as much as he trusted a vampire not to drink his blood.
Castiel returned with food, and both Dean and Emily ate as though they had been confined in hell for forty years. He knew firsthand about how that felt. Once they'd finished, there was enough left over that they could probably have breakfast without stopping.
'You don't eat or sleep?' Emily asked the angel, half incredulous, after he turned down her offer of fries. 'It must be pretty boring being an angel.'
'I do not do it for the excitement,' Castiel said, and unless Dean was mistaken, the angel had just cracked a joke. It was hard to tell, considering his tone hadn't changed at all.
Not sleeping meant that the angel was free to keep watch over them while they slept, which Dean was almost thankful for. He didn't want anyone crashing the party in the middle of the night.
Once morning came, he didn't know what they would do, or where they would go. If both angels and demons were seeking to free Lucifer once more, then it was going to be one hell of a party. A party that he probably wouldn't survive.
Just another day in the wonderful world of Winchester.