Title: Angel in Exile
Author: morkhan
Warnings: Cursing (including horrible insults that should not be repeated), violence, nasty bugs, and reprehensible behavior by humans.
Characters: Adam, OCs (some from mythology), Castiel.
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: 7979
Summary: After disobeying orders in a disastrous battle in the Civil War, Adam is sent to Earth to eliminate demons. He must prove to himself and his superiors that he is a good soldier… no matter what the cost. Spoilers to 6.03, Angel!Adam 'verse.
Disclaimer: I wish I owned something as compelling and nice as Supernatural. Or at least something as good looking as half the cast. :D

Author's Notes: This is another Angel!Adam story, set in the same 'verse as Lift Me Up and Worth a Thousand Words. (Out of Ashes is pretty much over at this point, but I'll leave it up for now. :P) It was written as a reaction to 'The Third Man' and, like many of my stories, it was originally intended to be short. XD Oh well.

For reference purposes, I imagine Adam's Angel!Suit to be the same one that Jake Abel wore to the Nightmare on Elm Street premiere. Google it, or head to the adamwinchester lj community for an actual link, since this site hates those. :P As always, I love (and crave) reviews and feedback. Enjoy!

He looks awesome.

Yeah, yeah, vanity is a sin, whatever. But like most sins, the devil is in the degree—there is no harm in taking some pride in your appearance, and if he is being forced to wear a suit, at least he gets to wear a nice one. Apparently, Cas had just enough residual guilt about kicking him downstairs for Adam to get to pick out his own G-Man outfit. It's funny, because he basically is a G-Man… just with a slightly different G.

"You will wear a suit and tie at all times. I am allowing you a certain amount of freedom in picking the exact outfit you wear, but within reason. You are a soldier in Heaven's Army, and you will be expected to dress in uniform."

It's a little stuffy.

Whatever. A little discomfort is a small price to pay for style. He is, literally, dressed to kill here.

Besides, he thinks as he adjusts his tie. This is better than I deserve. A little stuffiness is pretty low on the list of things that merit complaint at this point. He should be thankful that his punishment is temporary exile rather than something decidedly more permanent.

"You will remain on Earth for a period of three months. Your sole purpose during this time is to seek out and eliminate any and all demonic activity. Find and stop anyone who summons them, and send the demons back to Hell, if possible; otherwise, destroy them outright. Under no circumstances are you to hunt for monsters or intervene in any hunts. You are forbidden from acting in human matters at all, save those that involve demons in some way."

He turns to the side for a second, looking in the mirror and managing to like and hate what he sees at once (easier than it sounds). He knows this is a test. A test, a punishment, and a lesson, wrapped up in one assignment that could take anywhere from a few weeks to a few years. It is not a test of his efficiency (he's already proven that), his power (not what it used to be, but nothing to scoff at), his skill (he's good, real good) or his will (there is always a way).

No… this is a test of restraint. Control. Discipline. It is a test of his ability to follow strict orders and maintain parameters while he gets the job done.

It is a test of obedience… the only quality of his that he has ever given Castiel reason to doubt.

Disobeying orders is no longer quite as serious an offense as it used to be, which makes sense given the circumstances… but it is still an offense. Even human soldiers are punished for going against their orders. And while Cas didn't say it directly, he knows that this is the reason for his sudden 'deployment' to Earth. He is being exiled because Castiel can no longer trust him like he once did, and he has no one to blame but himself. So he will pass this test. He will prove to himself, his heavenly brothers, and his commanding officer that he is a good angel. A good soldier. He'll carry out his mission as it was assigned…

"…and most importantly; under no circumstances whatsoever are you to have any contact with Sam and Dean."

…no matter how hard it will be.

"First day on the job?" Adam's elevator-mate asks after a few awkward moments.

"You could say that," Adam shrugs. "Just got transferred. New assignment, new location… same boss."

"Ah," the woman says. "Promotion?"

Adam winces slightly. "Demotion."

"Ouch," she replies. "I can sympathize, honey. What's your name?"

"Adam," he nods, offering his hand.

"Casey," says the woman. She's dressed in a significantly less snazzy pant suit. Dark brown hair cut short, slightly stocky, but she's got a warm smile and a surprisingly strong handshake. You know, for a human. "Nice to meet you, Adam."

"Likewise," Adam replies.

"So what'd you do to get booted downstairs?" Casey asks. "If you don't mind my asking."

"Nah," Adam says. "It's fine. My bosses are pretty strict. You do what you're told, when you're told, how you're told. I took a big risk, went against their orders, and it didn't pay off. I'm lucky I didn't get fired." Literally.

"Ah. The big wigs always need to have it their way," Casey sighs. "But what can you do? You at least had the stones to try it. I know a lot of guys who wouldn't even think of going with their gut like that. It takes courage."

Adam offers his compatriot a small smile. "Thanks. I appreciate that." Casey might not be so supportive if she knew the whole story, but he takes comfort in her reassurance nonetheless. Little things like this make him glad he's half-human, no matter how much grief it's caused him.

"You seem pretty zen about the whole thing," Casey comments.

The angel shrugs. "Hey, I like this job. I'm just happy I get to keep it."

"It's all a matter of perspective," she says with a smile. "There you go. With an attitude like that, I bet you'll do fine."

The elevator stops at the ground floor, and the nice woman gets off, before she notices Adam isn't with her. "Hey, aren't you coming?"

Adam shakes his head. "I'm headed to the basement."

"Oh," Casey says, giving him a fish-eye. "What department are you in?"

"Human resources," Adam kind-of-sort-of lies.

"Ah," Casey nods, though the look on her face tells him that nothing was actually clarified there. "Well, good luck, Adam. I'll see you around!" she says as the doors close.

The angel just smiles as Casey vanishes from view. "No, you won't," he says to no one.

It doesn't take him two seconds to find the demon once the elevator reaches the basement. He's wearing an IT worker's meatsuit, setting everybody up the bomb in the server room. He allows himself a grin as he steps forward. "You have no chance to survive, make your time."

The demon takes one look at him and blanches. "Shit!" He turns from the angel and bolts… only to clothesline himself on Adam's outstretched arm. Teleportation is awesome.

A black dress shoe presses down on the demon's throat. "Hey!" Adam says as he looks down at his quarry, his mood brightening inexplicably. "I recognize you! You're the first demon whose ass I ever kicked," he says, still remembering that warm day in Georgia when he finally started to feel like something besides a burden to his brothers. "Long time, no see, man! How've you been?"

"Fuck you, featherbrain!" the demon snarls.

Adam rolls his eyes. "Yeah, I figured as much." He places a hand on the demon's forehead. "Happy trails!" he says with a smile, as the demon is banished in a flood of light.

The unfortunate meatsuit soon recovers it's faculties, and comes too coughing and sputtering and freaking the Hell out, which isn't really helping the first two. "WHO… YOU… I… IT…THEY—"

"Breathe," Adam commands, smiling when the guy manages a few deep breaths.

"I couldn't… he wouldn't… they didn't… what did… you?" the guy says. Adam knows what this feels like. His brothers and he used to call it a thought train-wreck—too many cars going too fast, piling on top of one another and pulling everything off the track. Sam was always happy to help him put his thoughts in order again, and eventually, he figured out how to assemble Adam's question fragments into workable pieces without even asking him. He wonders if he could try the same with this guy.

"You were possessed by a demon," Adam says. "You had no control over what you were doing. It's gone now, though, so don't worry. I'll take care of the bomb. You just go home and… uhhh… I don't know. Be thankful, I guess." He finishes with an awkward shoulder pat, before heading over to the ticking stick of major-league demon dynamite. In terms of dirty bombs, terrorists have nothing on the forces of Hell.

"W-wait!" the guy says, finally scrambling to his feet. "Who are you?"

"Name's Adam. Angel of the Lord," he replies, placing the bomb under his arm.

"Well, uhh… thanks, Adam," the IT worker finishes lamely, still looking a little shell-shocked.

"Don't mention it," Adam says with a smile, before taking a second to think. "…seriously. To anyone."

With that, he leaves the twitchy techie in the building's basement, poofing over to drop the bomb off at a North Korean nuclear test site, before bamfing back to America… and lamenting how easy it was. Demons are a lot more scattered and a lot less confident without Lucifer around to back them up. And… there it goes. All it takes is the thought of the name, and Adam finds himself missing the Devil. Which, of course, leads to him missing the Devil's Vessel, which leads to him missing his brothers.

He pushes the thought to the back of his mind. If he dwells on it, he's just going to be tempted to disobey. Besides, he's still got work to do.

Lesser demons are easy pickings. Small potatoes. Barrel fish, baby candy, et cetera, et cetera. Greater demons… now those are a bit trickier. Your average angel can take your average demon no problem, but the big names in Hell, the ones with enough clout to actually have followers and lead demon armies… those guys have juice enough to give even angels pause.

Plus, they're total assholes and they totally fight dirty. Literally, in some cases.

See, Beelzebub isn't called 'Lord of the Flies' for nothing, but flies are hardly the only thing he Lords over. "Lord of All Things Creepy and Crawly and Gross" just doesn't have the same ring to it. He pukes bugs. Seriously. He pukes bugs. Or rather, his vessel does, as long as Beelzebub is nestled cozy in their core. Ants, flies, spiders, hornets, pedes of both the centi and milli variety, spiders, scorpions, worms… basically, anything with more than four legs, or less than two. Adam cannot imagine a more unpleasant possession (except for Archangel possession, a voice in his mind seems to sneer) and he seriously wants to help this guy, both to get rid of a powerful demon and to hopefully limit the amount of therapy the kid will need in future years.

See, Beelzebub is kind of like Lilith on opposite day. Whereas Lilith liked to possess adorable little girls and be a creepy, smiling Stepford Child, Beelzebub likes to possess fat kids and be a tremendous dick. Not just any fat kids, either—these are the truly tremendous, appear-several-years-older-than-they-actually-are fat kids. The kind you look at and just get kind of sad about, because you wonder if it's some kind of medical thing or if their parents just really, really suck at their jobs. So, really, any way you look at it, the poor kid hardly deserves the horrible disorders this will inevitably cause, and he really doesn't deserve to die, which puts Adam in a conundrum.

An even bigger conundrum than being trapped by a swarm of Japanese Giant Hornets with nothing but a wooden refrigerator box between him and some pretty horrific pain (because apparently demon-puked insects have no trouble troubling angels). The wooden box is, of course, rapidly losing its effectiveness as cover due to being eaten from the outside by about a kajillion or so termites. He feels like an idiot. "I don't want Beelzy to get away! Oooh, I know! I'll use a ritual that prevents him from teleporting out of this warehouse. Who cares if it works on me, too? I can't imagine a situation where I would desperately need to teleport! DURRRRRR."

Whatever. Who cares if the Giant Hornets spray him with flesh-melting acid? That can't possibly be any worse than being bitten by those fucking bullet ants. There's a good reason they call them bullet ants. Hell, it's almost too kind—most gunshots probably hurt less than those little motherfuckers…

Taking a moment to size up the box, Adam gets as far away from the door as he can (which isn't very far), and launches into a flying kick, knocking away the door and using his feet to maneuver it into a surfboard, which takes him for a surprisingly long distance across a small sea of squishy insects. The giant hornets are on his tail pretty fast, but a well-placed mojo burst manages to blast most of them into crunchy bits. Now, all he has to do is avoid the spiders, the bees, the flies, the ants, and everything else, and get to…

Shit. Where is the stupid demon?

His enhanced ears pick up the sound of a door being pulled open too fast and hitting a wall. A quick twinkle-toed wade through the bugs allows him to see that Beel-vis has left the building, and is currently engaging in a furious waddle towards the perimeter of the anti-disappearing circle. Double shit! Adam launches into a full sprint, no longer caring what winds up crawling in his skin—his wounds, they would definitely heal. This kid might not be so lucky. The greater demon isn't exactly moving quickly—his chosen meatsuit can only waddle so fast, after all, but he's already got a massive head-start. At full sprint, Adam just manages to tackle the Fly-Lord from behind before he escapes the circle.

Unfortunately, the force of his tackle sends the meatsuit's head just outside the perimeter. Which means…

"FUCK," Adam shouts, as the poor boy's mouth opens and spews pitch black smoke into the early morning fog. The angel tries in vain to reach his hand into the smoke, as if he can grab the demon's tail and wrangle it to the ground, but it just sifts through his fingers (and burns them a little, he might add). With a miserable sigh, Adam lets his head fall on his surprisingly soft human cushion… which reminds him of his goal in the first place. "Hey, little kid, are you okay?" he says, looking at his face.

The boy wibbles wretchedly before breaking into a full cry. "I WANT MY MAMA," he moans.

Adam sighs, patting him on the head awkwardly. "You and me, both," he offers. Suddenly, the boy's sobs come to a halt. He is staring at Adam. "What is it?" the angel asks.

The boy points to Adam's hair. "You've got a… you've got a thing…"

At that point, a centipede crawls down Adam's face and tries to enter his nose.

He plays stop, drop and roll for hours before he finally gets all the nasties off of him.

Month 3 of his exile. He's been doing well for himself, if he does say so, but things are getting trickier now. The demons know he is after them, and are scattering even further. Their moves are getting subtler and their trouble is quieter, harder to track. If he could get Sam and Dean in to help him, he knows he'd have no trouble finding the bastards wherever they tried to hide, but…

No. He has to obey his orders. He is a soldier. He is a good soldier.

So he chooses not to think about that. He decides instead to go for a walk to clear his head.

His condition is unique in a number of ways. A soul half-human, half-angel, with imprints and instincts of both of the individuals he used to be. His body is his vessel, but it is also his body. Castiel warned him to be careful, because unlike other angels, Adam would likely not survive his vessel's death, since his angelic essence is inextricably linked to it. He is more vulnerable than other angels, but no less powerful (though certainly nowhere close to archangel strength). And he is the only being other than certain prophets to ascend into Heaven with his physical body, and almost certainly the only one who can do so at will. He doesn't have to eat, but he still enjoys food. He doesn't have to sleep, but he can if he chooses to. And he often does—since he isn't allowed to hunt monsters, when he isn't on some demon's trail, nights tend to be pretty dull, so he occasionally decides to skip them.

Tonight, however, he is out and about, walking in the cooler air and basking in the relative peacefulness of a city that does sleep. It's one of many, many nice things about Earth… the contrast of day and night, warm and cool, light and dark, each enabling you to appreciate the other in turn. Without contrast, life would be boring. Chocolate is great, but if it's all you eat, it gets old fast. Unfortunately, contrast also exists in humans. There are the bad, and while they help you appreciate the good, Adam isn't entirely sure the service is worth the price to be paid for it.

His ears pick up the sounds of the beating long before he sees it. Six people standing in an alleyway, and one person lying down. Six on one, completely unfair odds, especially when the one is ambushed, and the six are armed with baseball bats and crowbars. The characteristic fury as the cowardice, the dishonor of it all boils within his stomach, and he feels sick with the need to help.

"Faggot," one of them sneers.

"Pussy little bitch," another adds.

He knows they are not possessed. Not under any spells, not shapeshifters, or ghouls, or djinn… no, these are just humans, brutally attacking and torturing another human for a reason that deserves a word stronger than stupid or asinine. But he knows his orders. He knows his orders, and he can't. He can't. He has to obey. He is a good soldier. He is a good soldier. He is a good sold

"God hates little faggot bitches like you."

That tears it. No one talks trash about his Father like that.

In a second, he is standing in the middle of the circle of thugs, just in time to intercept a swing from a wooden bat, which he crushes into splinters with one hand. "Leave," he says; his voice is utterly deadpan, a promise not to be questioned. "I will not ask twice."

"Who the fuck are you?" a particularly burly one sneers. He exceeds even Adam's six feet in height, and his frame is almost grotesquely muscular, probably chemically enhanced.

Adam says nothing. He simply stands, still as a marble statue, staring the brute directly in the eyes.

"Fuck you!" one of them shouts from behind, swinging a crowbar at Adam's head. He intercepts the weapon and wrenches it out of the young thug's hand without ever breaking eye contact with the big one.

The others back off at this, but Tiny the Giant Prick is probably suffering from residual roid rage and not thinking clearly enough to back down. "You a fairy too?" he sneers, closing the distance between them until Adam can feel his rancid breath. "You want some of this action?"

Adam says nothing.

"You too good to talk to me, bitch boy?" Tiny continues. Adam can hear his heart rate going up as he prepares for a fight.

Adam. Says. Nothing.

Tiny's punch comes quick. If Adam were less disgusted with the whole situation, he might be impressed by it. But Adam is faster by far, and Tiny's fist is captured in Adam's hand with zero effect on the angel.

"I," Adam growls, "am an Angel of the Lord. And I am here to tell you that if you honestly think any of that bullshit you just said is true, you don't know my Father."

"Oh, bullshit," Tiny snorts. "Angel. What a fucking—"

"If I am not an angel," Adam says, "then take back your hand."

Tiny's bloodshot eyes widen at this.

"You're much bigger than I am. It should be easy, right?" Adam says. His expression is the same stoic edifice it was when he first greeted them.

As his gang cowers behind him, the enormous brute scoffs and attempts to yank his hand free.

Nothing happens. Tiny's hand remains captured. Adam's arm does not move.

He tries again, mild symptoms of fear beginning to appear. His heart rate is picking up even more, his pores open up to release sweat. He pulls and yanks with every ounce of strength his ridiculous frame can muster.

Tiny's hand makes no progress towards freedom. Adam's arm gives not even a micron. He is a monolith, titanium alloy, attached to the Earth with roots that go miles beneath the surface. The planet itself is his strength, and the thug cannot move him any more than he could move the Earth from its orbit.

The brute finally reaches full fight-or-flight mode, and his choice is obvious. "Fight me, you little gRAAAAAA—" the scream comes from Adam compacting his hand, crumpling it like it is origami. The bones shatter and the pieces grind dust off of each other. Tiny falls to his knees, but still his hand remains in Adam's, and still Adam's arm doesn't move.

"This hand will never heal," Adam informs him. "Not completely. For the rest of your life, it will ache, and shudder. Every time that happens, remember this: My Father hates none of His creations." At this, Adam releases the ruined appendage. "Not even you."

Like leaves in a hurricane, their fear picks them up and carries them out of the alley with unparalleled speed. Adam turns now to the broken figure who was their victim, cowering, bleeding, bruised and barely conscious, looking up at him with wide, terrified eyes. Now, Adam finally allows his expression to soften, looking at the poor boy as gently as possible. Kneeling next to him, Adam places a gentle hand on his forehead, and heals him instantly, before getting back to his feet.

The boy continues to stare at him, unable to form words.

"God doesn't hate you," Adam says. "No matter who tells you otherwise. Know that."

He vanishes quickly, but only to the roof of a nearby building. He watches over the young man until he gets home, before vanishing back to his temporary base of operations to resume his work. There will be consequences for that, he knows, and he tries his best to prepare for them.

But when a letter materializes near him in a parking deck three days later, he cannot hold in his fury.

Your deployment has been extended by three months.

For years, the people who come to the parking deck will wonder what could have possibly caused the small crater in the back wall, finding no reasonable explanation as to what could have made such a unique shape. No one will suggest that it was an angel who lost control of his emotions and punched the concrete in a fit of rage.

What kind of crazy person would think something like that?

His work becomes routine after that.

Before, he is willing to admit to himself, he kind of enjoyed playing with the demons from time-to-time. Big Kahunas like Beelzebub (who he still hasn't managed to track down) notwithstanding, demons usually don't present much of a challenge. He occasionally allowed himself a little fun when he found them—not like torture, just… things to make it more interesting for him. He'd fight with one hand tied behind his back. He'd hop on one leg. He'd forego all of his angelic abilities and fight them with only the strength he possessed as a human. And he'd still win with little-to-no collateral damage, so all-in-all, he felt it was okay.

No more. Now, he lives the Spark Notes version of his life, cutting straight to the meat of the matter and bothering with nothing else. He exorcises demons as soon as he gets his hands on them. Most of the time, he doesn't even speak to them—a few, he is ashamed to admit, he even snuck up on. Honor be damned to Hell alongside them, he tells himself, even though it feels like it goes against his very nature. He is quick, brutal, and direct—everything a soldier should be. He gets in, gets the job done, and gets out. It proves him as an efficient operator. It shows his maturity in that he acknowledges that his own feelings are to be disregarded in the face of the mission.

It also bores him utterly.

Which is why he is… not exactly happy, but maybe just a little bit excited when he finds Legion.

Legion is very unique among demonic entities, the Hellish equivalent of a Hive Mind. Many bodies, but one overall consciousness that guides and controls them. Legion can possess as many as three dozen bodies at the same time, and they work in perfect unison with each other, making it hellaciously dangerous. What's worse, the damn thing is set up so that unless you exorcise every piece of it at the same time, any left on Earth will run away to summon the rest back up again. Essentially, this means that Adam has to find the 36 people Legion has possessed, gather them all in one place without letting any get away, trap them and exorcise them without getting his ass kicked from every direction by a perfectly coordinated multi-man-and-woman assault. In other words, it means that it's actually challenging.

Boy is it ever.

All of Legion's meatsuits are already technically dead by the time he gets there, so he doesn't really have to worry about saving them. This lets him pull out all the stops on his angel powers and pull no punches, which is definitely a good thing, because Legion certainly isn't pulling any.

He tries to use his sleeve to wipe the blood out of his eyes, but the gash just bleeds right back into them again. The distraction leads to him taking a haymaker to the face from a 90lb teenage girl who floats like a butterfly and punches like Mike Tyson. Try as he might, he can't quite recover his balance before a foot from an old man in fuzzy cat sweater kicks him to the ground and begins brutally stomping on his neck, with about eight others joining in. Suddenly, Adam is the stage to a live performance of Riverdance.

"Don't tread on me," Adam grunts as he unleashes a burst of angelic might, tossing the closest bodies away from him as he attempts to escape rabid crowd. An abandoned construction site is the venue for this knock-down, drag-out brawl, (with Adam getting most of the knocking and dragging, to be quite frank). There is a trap, of course. But Legion is no fool, and is undoubtedly using his many eyes to search for it already. All it takes is one victim to alert the others, and the trap is rendered pointless.

Stumbling further into the sight, he tears off a piece of his shirtsleeve (deeply saddened by the demise of his awesome suit, even though he's probably just going to buy another one) and wraps it around his forehead as he runs to stop the damn blood from blinding him again. After he accomplishes this, he runs and dives into a circle of iron beams he set up to provide him with a safe zone.

Legion catches up with him in no time, 72 black eyeballs staring him down and laughing at him. "Do you truly think the One can defeat the Many?" thirty-six mouths sneer in unison.

"Happens all the time," Adam says, in between catching his breath and spitting blood. "Don't you guys watch movies?"

"We have more important matters to attend to," Legion replies, and it sounds so fucking weird coming to him in surround sound from so many different voices.

"Oh, yeah, yeah," Adam says. "Lots of mouths to feed. How exactly do you go to the bathroom, anyway? Do you do like one meatsuit at a time, or do you just find somewhere secluded and let 'er rip?"

"The One jokes, because he knows he is outmatched," Legion laughs.

"Outmatched, maybe…" Adam says as he subtly tries to do a headcount. "But not outwitted. And definitely not outlasted." Upon reaching thirty six, he smiles, bringing up his watch and wiping the blood off of it to get a better look. "Alright, ladies and gentlemen. Handbasket to Hell departing in two minutes. All aboard!" With that, he stomps his foot as hard as he can… and smiles at the panicked look on Legion's multitude of faces as the floor gives way under all of them, plunging them into the basement.

The flooded basement, with a conveniently blessed and constantly growing pool of Holy Water that Adam started a good hour before he started luring all the pieces together. Preparedness is the name of the game. In a flash, Adam is out of the pool and sitting in a chair he parked just at the edge of the weakened floor, wielding a megaphone like some kind of twisted life guard. Turning the thing on, he takes just a second to adjust it for feedback before beginning the ritual, loud and clear, so that those who had ears could hear…

"Exorcizamus te, omnis immundus spiritus…" he begins, continuing the ritual even as Legion's many bodies begin to writhe and scream in unison. The only real event after that are a few bodies trying to claw their way out of the basement by climbing up the walls. Adam makes a gun-shape with his hand and picks them off one by one, knocking them back into the pit until the ritual is completed, and there is nothing to do but get rid of the three dozen dead people in a pool of what is likely to be some very unsanitary Holy Water.

Later that evening, after getting a replacement suit and taking a little time to heal, Adam goes out, buys himself twelve ice cream sundaes, and feels happy to be alive again.

Then he ruins the moment by wishing he had someone to share the story with. And the ice cream. Because apparently, he isn't immune to brain freeze, either.

Five months into his exile, an angel tries to kill him, and for a second, it is just like old times.

Hadraniel is his would-be assassin. Great guy, everyone told him. Real smart, good with kids. Yeah, 'great guy' Adam's ass. Here he comes metaphysically moseying along to investigate a demon summoning, only to find an already-exorcised host on the floor and Hadraniel waiting for him with the standard-issue angel knife just aching to air out his insides. Naturally, the attempted murder failed miserably—that someone even thought a single agent would be enough to take him down is frankly insulting to Adam. In the old days, the ex-archangel would have turned Hadraniel into another name on a long list of pretty sparkles and light shows that used to be celestials, but now that he better understands his (extremely odd and somewhat uncomfortable but still vaguely awesome) place in the universe, he has adopted a kinder, gentler approach.

Thus, all he did was disarm the enemy combatant, beat him senseless, and then proceed to take the hapless haloed hellion over to an iron construction pillar to use as a human-shaped hammer. He's been hammering for a while now—there's perfectly shaped, almost cartoonish imprint of Hadraniel's face getting a little deeper with each slam. It's interesting because he wasn't even trying to do that—it just kind of happened. Brutal, efficient, and precise. He's been slamming the angel into this exact same spot for… hmmm…

He checks his watch.

Two and a half hours? That's it?

Dad, this job can be boring.

"Repent," Adam says for like the billionth time. "You know you want to." Unwilling to kill the angel, Adam's only other option is to extract a promise that he will never try something like this again. Angels can break promises, but they usually don't.

"Never!" the angel spits. Literally, spits. With actual gobs of saliva soaring through the air, which Adam dodges without missing a beat.

"We can do this for as long as you want, dude. I've got about a month left down here before Castiel comes to fetch me," Adam comments offhand as he continues.

"Eventually—" Slam. "—the beam—" Wham. "—will break."

"Good point," Adam concedes, halting the hammering in order to get in Hadraniel's face and give his next line the emphasis it deserves. "When that happens, we'll just move on to my fist."

"Brute!" Hadraniel accuses. "Such base methods. You shame your predecessor! Michael would never—" BAM. Adam's next slam is enhanced with a little extra oomph for emphasis.

"You talk too much," Adam says.

"How dare—" KLANG. Hadraniel goes into his head hole so hard that he is momentarily stuck there.

"Look, dude; unless you're saying 'I'm sorry, I'll never do it again,' I don't want to hear from you, got it?" Adam punctuates the question with a couple of back pats before pulling the angel out of the socket (with an audible schluck of suction) and resuming the rhythmic beatdown. Seriously, why is it so hard for angels to apologize? Are they really so prideful? Hadraniel friggin' ambushes him, Adam kicks his ass and doesn't even kill him and now he is offering to let him off scott-free if he'll just offer a little mea culpa. It's exceptionally generous, far more than the angel gave him. And still Adam is getting grief from the guy. There is just no winning with these people.

His senses pick up a new arrival, and Adam's hackles are raised. He remembers Sam and Dean practically leaping out of their boots whenever Castiel poofed into their presence. Having seen the trick from both sides of the celestial fence, he now understands why Castiel has such a hard time remembering not to frighten them; an angel almost always knows when another angel is coming. With a semi-careless shove, Adam embeds Hadraniel so deep into the piece of iron that he practically fuses with it, punctuating the temporary prison by bending a couple of iron rods around his head to fasten him to the beam. He even ties them off in a little bunny-ears knot, like giant robot shoelaces. "Hold that thought," Adam says, "I'll be right back." With that, he slowly begins stalking through the darkened hallways of the unfinished building, not knowing whether this newcomer wants to be his new BFF or his newest punching bag. It's generally either one or the other.

Abandoned construction sites are depressingly common, no small thanks to the lowercase-a apocalypse and its effect on the economy. Even more depressing, they are commonly used for all sorts of occult bullshit. This particular site smelled of fire, brimstone, and sulfur, which Adam immediately recognized as the odor of Hell's open sphincter, farting out more demons into the atmosphere. That an angel was summoning the demons was just too much delicious irony on the pie. Taking care of Hadraniel offered some much-needed variety to his endless demon days. His stint on earth has been stunningly dull since Legion, but seeing as how exile is generally intended as a punishment and not a vacation, he can't really complain. Hopefully, this time he will pass the test and be allowed to rejoin the fight in Heaven, battling alongside Castiel again. He wonders how the angel has been doing without him… if Cas needed him, Adam is pretty sure he'd have no problem with recalling him, so Adam can only assume that things are okay—

Well, speak of the angel… "Hello, Adam," Castiel says, with a small smile.

Adam looks down, scratching at the back of his neck. It's partly because he is still a bit chagrinned at being reminded of the incident that got him sent down here… and partly to hide his smile. As much of a hard-ass as the angel can be, Adam still considers him his best and most trusted friend in Heaven. "Hey, Cas," he says, stepping forward and wrapping the body of Jimmy Novak in a hug, which he semi-awkwardly returns. "Good to see you. How's it going?" Adam says as he releases him.

Castiel looks troubled. He shakes his head. "Things have been… hectic since you were sent down." A pause. "Well, more so than they already were."

Adam gets a little bug-eyed at that. "How so?" It's hard to imagine things escalating from, you know, full-scale civil war.

Castiel just runs a hand over his face and sighs. "Raphael's faction has grown bolder, and we have lost several large territories in the Heavens to them."

Adam's jaw drops. "Seriously?" he says. "What happened? Why didn't you call me back up? I could have helped, I could have—"

"The territories can be reclaimed," Castiel says, his rough voice cutting through Adam's tirade as neatly as a surgeon's knife. "To tell the truth, that is not what really worries me…" At this, two pairs of incredibly blue eyes meet and lock onto each other. "The size of both of our factions has decreased. There is a growing number of the Host who refuse to answer to anyone."

"You mean… angels rebelling against both of you?" Adam asks. "Going full-rogue?"

"It would appear so. And that is just the ones that are accounted for. Many angels have gone OWL…"

"AWOL," Adam gently corrects.

"That's what I said," Castiel brushes him off. "Several angels have vanished, and I fear to learn where they are or what they are doing. I am greatly distressed. I am also disappointed, disgusted, disillusioned… I am many words that begin with the prefix 'dis.'"

Adam sighs. "Sounds like a disaster."

"Indeed," Castiel nods.

Adam lets silence reign for a few seconds before daring to hope. "So… does this mean my exile is over?"

The answer is in the angel's eyes before it ever leaves his lips. "I am extending your deployment for—"

Adam turns away. He knew it. He freaking knew it. "Cas," he half-whines.

"Adam," Castiel responds in kind. "I am your superior. Do not interrupt me."

"Cas, please," Adam says. "I know why you sent me down here, but…"

"Do you?" Castiel asks.

"I promise you can trust me, from now on—"

"I know that I can trust you."

"Really? Because the way you were acting after Second Gate, I never would've guessed," Adam challenges, finally bringing them to the heart of the matter.

Castiel fixes him with a glare. "You nearly died, Adam."

"Nearly dead and actually dead aren't the same things. It's a pretty important distinction, actually."

"They destroyed you. I have never seen an angel in worse condition, and that is coming from someone who has endured his share of beatings."

"I got better," Adam says, his voice ending the phrase weakly, as it's a pretty weak response. "Cas, I know what I did was stupid—"


"—and I'm sorry, but I learn from my mistakes!"


"I already told you, I won't do anything like that again. I promise. No more disobeying orders. I swear, I'll be a good soldier (if Castiel flinches at this, Adam does not notice) but I can't sit down here and piddle with demons while my brothers need me in Heaven—"

"Adam! That's not why I sent you down here."

Well, if that doesn't bring Adam's rant to a gut-squishing stop… "…then, why?" Adam asks, suddenly feeling much less angry. Anger turned upside down just becomes confusion, and suddenly, he doesn't know which way is up anymore. He's spent this entire time assuming his exile was intended to punish his disobedience. "…I don't understand. I don't… I can't learn from my punishment if I don't even know what it's for."

Castiel is taken aback. "…punishment? Is that what you think this is?"

Adam shrugs. "What else could it be? Was it because I was setting a bad example? Did I disappoint the others? I'm sorry, I tried to—"

"That," Castiel says, suddenly pointing his finger from the hip, like a gunfighter. "That is why I sent you here."

"…I still don't get it. I just… I wanted… I thought…" Adam says, experiencing a thought train-wreck for the first time in quite a while.

The older angel approaches Adam, breaching his personal space as is his customary method of emphasizing his point. "Adam, I sent you away from Heaven because you were miserable. Much of the flock hated you outright, and the rest continually expected you to miraculously transform into the Michael they knew before. You were being crushed beneath the weight of their expectations. And now I realize that you yourself were not even aware of how their thoughts and wishes drove you. I am ninety-nine-point-eight-five percent certain that your actions at Second Gate were a direct result of such, but I ignored the signs for far too long because I valued you as a soldier. And it nearly cost you your life. It was that which made me realize… you reminded me of Dean. So much so, at times, that it nearly translated to actual, physical pain at what you were doing to yourself—trying constantly to be all things to all people, all the time. Adam, a being can only be pulled in different directions for so long before he comes apart entirely."

There's a word for Adam's feelings at the moment, but he can't quite—flabbergasted, there it is. "Cas… I wasn't trying to—"

"You were, even if you don't realize it. You held no fear of battle, or death, or pain. The only fear you held was the fear of disappointing those who believed in you. The only way to be certain you would be free of that was to send you away; to a place where the war would not find you. That is why I sent you here."

His thought train is a flaming mass of twisted metal and demolished tracks. "Cas… I thought you exiled me because you couldn't trust me."

Castiel shakes his head. "No, Adam. It was never intended to be exile, and I am sorry that I did not make that clear. I wanted you to have some time away. I gave you a task only because I knew you would not take kindly to being forced to idle. And with the Civil War continuing, I feared that Sam and Dean would once again be drawn into the fray if an angel got too near to them, and I believe you will agree with me that is the last thing they need."

Adam didn't think about that. Apparently, he didn't think about a lot of things. A soggy laugh bubbles up from his lungs. "I am so stupid… all this time, I thought…"

This time, it is Castiel who initiates the hug, and there is not a hint of awkwardness in it. "You are one of the few I trust unconditionally, Adam. Never doubt that. And you are not stupid," he says, releasing him. "Merely wrong. It happens to all of us, from time to time," he finishes with a smile.

Adam mirrors his grin, unable to contain it, because suddenly, being a good soldier is nowhere near as awesome as being a good friend, and he has one of the best. "Thanks, Cas," he says, his emotions finally overloading and his defense mechanisms kicking in. "So, why are you here?"

At this, Castiel's smile vanishes. "I would like your help with something. Several of Heaven's most powerful weapons have been stolen, and I know who is responsible. His name is Balthazar, and he is here, on Earth. I am extending your deployment for an indefinite period of time, because I would like for you to work with me to find him."

The ex-archangel tries to keep his grin under control, but it just gets wider. "Really?"

"I do not often attempt sarcasm," Castiel says seriously. "I am apparently quite bad at it. We will work together to track Balthazar and recover the weapons he took before they can cause any more trouble… or worse, fall into the hands of Raphael."

"So, it's just me and you, alone on the trail, hunting things, saving people?" Adam asks, his grin getting just a little wider.

Castiel, for once, seems to understand the reference. "I would say we will be acting more like detectives than hunters."

"Cas and Adam: Angel Detectives." Adam says, trying out the phrase. "I like it. You kind of look like a PI."

"What does that mean?" Castiel asks.

"Private Eye," Adam clarifies.

"But what does the I stand for?" Castiel says.

"No, dude, eye," Adam says, pointing to one of his own to illustrate. "Private Eye. Or… actually, I guess it stands for 'private investigator…' basically another way of saying 'detective.'"

"Ah," Castiel says. "Phonetic Language is a fickle mistress."

"You're getting better, though," Adam reassures him. "You just used a metaphor. And a colloquialism. I'm impressed." A thought occurs to him, and he snaps his fingers. "Oh, yeah! I almost forgot—I've got one of the rogues right here, actually. Hadraniel. Tried to go all 'knife in the dark' on me after summoning a few demons to get my attention. He seriously thought he could just sneak up and shank me. It was kind of insulting."

Castiel gives him an odd look. "That is strange. Hadraniel is a guardian, not a warrior. He should know well that he is no match for you."

Huh. Adam didn't think about that. He doesn't know Hadraniel well enough to suss that sort of thing out. "You think it's a trick?" Adam says.

"We should find out as quickly as possible," Castiel replies, and they head to the room where Adam left the angel gagged and bound with industrial-strength bonds. Contrary to what Sam and Dean thought, angels don't just will themselves from place to place, and by securing their vessels in a certain way, one can prevent them from moving as surely as any fire circle.

Or, you know, not, as the two of them enter the room to find the iron rods bent outwards and Hadraniel nowhere to be found. An angel can tell when another is coming, but they don't always hear each other leave. Speaking of coming. "Oh, crap," Adam says.

"I concur," Castiel sighs. "It appears I arrived just in time."

Adam scoffs. "I could've handled this little ambush. There's only… what, eight of them?"

"Nine, counting Hadraniel," Castiel replies.

"Yeah, but he sucks, so he doesn't count."

"He does count."

"Fine. But only as, like, half a combatant. So 8.5 angels. I could have totally soloed that."

"Well, now you won't have to," Castiel says, drawing his Angel Blade as the angels bamf into the room one-by-one.

"Well, isn't this a nice surprise? Today, we can wipe out two stains with one stroke," one of them comments.

Adam shakes his head, thrusting out his hand and summoning his own blade. He'd rather not kill them, of course, but like so many others, they don't look like they're intent on giving him a choice.

Standing back to back with his best friend and heavenly brother, he knows the others stand no chance. It almost seems unsporting to imply otherwise. So he decides to give them at least one chance…

"Leave," Adam says. "I will not ask twice."

No one listens.

Ah, well. He's sure they'll get the message soon enough, one way or another. Adam has never been particularly good at negotiations. He prefers to let his fists do the talking.

Besides, actions speak louder than words, right?