Episode 10 – Part 1

'Trip On Love'

x-x-x

Story, Iowa

November 13th 2011

The bar was warm and dimly lit, easing the patrons through varying degrees of drunkenness with minimal embarrassment.

A juke box played softly in the corner, the beat of the old soul songs setting a wanton rhythm for the couples on the dance floor.

The bartenders glanced up only on occasion; too busy snapping the caps from beer bottles, or flirting with pretty young patrons to even notice the activities of their other customers.

Sam Winchester sat in a booth at the back, squinting to read the print on the papers laid out before him.

Tapping the end of a highlighter pen against his lip, he cast a brief glance toward the dance floor and smiled at the sight that greeted him.

Dean and Jo swayed to the music, her arms around his neck, as he held her tight against his chest, and his hands rested possessively on her hips. They laughed and whispered to each other, for once looking like the cares of the world were not upon them; instead, they looked like any of the other couples assembled around them, and the normality of the scene was refreshing for Sam to behold. Dean whispered into her ear, and Jo threw her head back in laughter, before resting her cheek once more against his chest. They remained happily caught up in each other.

Sam's attention was suddenly focused on the angel beside him, as Castiel let out a heavy hearted sigh.

"I think I am perhaps bored," the celestial being stated, causing Sam to raise an eyebrow in confusion.

"You think you're bored?"

Cas nodded, as he explained, "I have little experience with human emotions, but from what I have read on the subject, I believe I am currently experiencing mild to moderate boredom. I would like to remedy this as soon as possible."

Sam laughed, producing a wad of papers from the booth seat beside him.

"Knock yourself out, Cas."

Castiel skimmed the top paper with little real interest, "You have yet to find a bar manager?"

Sam's gaze remained trained on the resume before him, and he highlighted a pertinent line.

"I guess we haven't really had time. Hunting has kept us pretty busy lately, and it turns out that serving drinks and breaking up fights in a roadhouse isn't on many people's 'dream job' list. It's taken weeks just to get these applicants."

Sam noted Castiel's attention had been drawn away from the papers, and he followed his gaze across the bar to where Dean and Jo were now caught up in a languid yet passionate clinch.

Sam shook his head and smiled at the antics of his amorous sibling, but Castiel appeared deep in thought.

"Is this the correct occasion to say..." Cas winced as he tried to recall the exact words he had heard uttered by humans, particularly of the teenaged variety, "get a room?"

Sam laughed, clicking the lid of the highlighter pen on and off as he averted his gaze, knowing exactly the path Dean's hands were destined to take, "Yeah."

"Do you wish me to go tell them?" Castiel inquired, his tone as eager as a permanently impassive angel could get.

Sam let out a guffaw and shook his head.

"God, no!" he replied, pausing to drain his beer bottle before replacing it on the table with his now impressive collection of empties. The sad fact was that Sam and Dean had chugged beers over the years the way some people did orange juice, and the alcohol now had little to no effect on either brother.

Castiel merely frowned, his eyes sweeping the bar as he obviously searched for something to occupy his attention. Sam couldn't help but feel a stab of pity for the angel, who was hardwired not to be content unless saving the world from something particularly nasty. Whilst Sam, Dean and Jo were able to enjoy and revel in the relative quiet that followed in the wake of a successful hunt, the lull until the next job arose only seemed to make Castiel more irritable and antsy.

"I must do something," Cas insisted, leaning towards Sam and removing one of the papers from his hands almost forcibly. Sam relaxed back in his seat, amused, waiting for Castiel to make good on his threat of action.

He seemed to concentrate intently for a moment on the paper, before his features contorted into a frown, and he wadded up the application without so much as reading a single word.

"Hey!" Sam objected, glaring at Castiel with unchecked irritation, "what did you do that for?"

"You do not wish to hire that man," Cas merely stated, his expression still as impassive as it had been five seconds before, whilst apparently concentrating on the document that was now sitting on the edge of the table.

"How would you know that when you didn't even read it?" demanded Sam, reaching for the paper, only to have his hand swatted away by the angel. He chided sternly, "Cas! Quit it."

In a monotone voice that reflected the true level of boredom he had reported, Castiel stated, "Thomas Rohickney, 23 years old, of 219 Gull Heights, is a highschool drop-out with an IQ of 87, a pregnant 17 year old girlfriend, and a dependency on over the counter flu medicine. He spends his weekends having sexual intercourse with his first cousin in the basement of his best friend's mother's home, before returning to the apartment he shares with his girlfriend and smoking his own body weight in reefer. His applications have been rejected by Walmart, Taco Bell, and McDonalds. When he eventually finds gainful employment, Thomas intends to steal from the register, spit in any open food produce, and fail to wash his hands when returning from the bathroom."

Sam stared, unblinking, at the angel, beer bottle poised at his lips and an incredulous expression on his face.

"Wow. I mean... That's..." Sam began, watching as Cas leafed through the remaining pile of applicants.

"Aging adult movie star, racist, gambling addiction..." Castiel let the three resumes flutter to the ground, and he swept the pads of his fingers over the remaining resume with his interest clearly peaked.

"I cannot read this one," he stated, brows furrowed as he read the name over and over without so much as the shoe size of the applicant clear in his mind.

"Is that good or bad?" Sam asked, both eyebrows raised as he patiently waited for a reply.

Castiel stared long and hard at the paper.

"This one," he declared, "you should hire this young woman."

Sam plucked the paper from the table top and read the name aloud, "Sophia Bell? Okay, I guess I'll give her a call tomorrow to set up an interview."

Castiel flashed what constituted for a smile, before he once again began to shift restlessly in his seat.

"Something up, Cas? You've been kind of unsettled tonight?" Sam enquired with slight trepidation. The hunters had come to view the angel as something of a supernatural weather vain, and when Cas' spidey senses started tingling, all hell was usually about to break loose; sometimes literally.

"I'm not sure," he began, a faraway expression suddenly settling on his features, and he closed his eyes as if assessing the very air around them.

Sam turned to keep an eye on Dean and Jo, noting with a disbelieving shake of his head that the couple were still happily using the pretence of dancing to well and truly feel each other up.

From the far edges of the dance floor, Sam watched as a woman suddenly got up from a table, barely using two strides to cross the room before she grabbed a startled man by the sides of his face, and claimed his lips in a frenzied kiss.

The table of friends she had been sitting with all whooped and hollered their amusement and surprise, whilst one particularly drunk woman shouted her encouragement with words that made the tips of Sam's ears burn.

As the couple drew apart, both gasping for air, the man's lips twisted into a shocked but satisfied grin. He allowed the woman to seize his hand, his eyes locked completely on hers and nothing else, as she led him towards the exit wordlessly. Their arms strained as they walked, she a few steps in front, and the overhead lights caught the orange flames emanating from the mouth of the skull tattoo that decorated the man's upper left bicep.

Sam shook his head, returning his attention to Castiel, who was watching the exit swing back and forth with an almost perplexed expression upon his face.

"Earth to Cas," Sam attempted, waving his palm in front of Castiel's face. The angel did not so much as blink, but eventually turned to regard Sam.

"There is something wrong," Castiel announced, his brows now dipped into a deep frown, as his eyes swept the bar with mounting concern.

Sam followed the path of his gaze and shook his head, "No, that's just what drunk people do sometimes, Cas. They act like idiots. Horny idiots."

Castiel's lips were set into a grimace, and he was clearly not going to be deterred from his stance.

Sam smiled tightly, glancing down at his watch and stifling a yawn. The angel remained stoic, folding his arms across his chest as he stared long and hard at the bar.

"Okay, then..." Sam breathed, sighing as he resigned himself to Castiel's less than entertaining company for the remainder of the evening.

x-x-x

Jo was the very definition of content, almost purring with satisfaction as Dean's hands swept over her back and he nuzzled his lips against her neck.

"This is nice," she murmured, and her brown eyes shone with a deep happiness that made Dean's heart skip a beat.

"Uh-huh," he replied in agreement, stroking his fingertips over her jaw as he busied himself with brushing feather-light kisses along her cheekbone and finally, the corner of her lips.

Jo ran her fingers across the back of his neck, dipping into the collar of his t-shirt and running gently along the tip of his spine. The smell of cheap aftershave, leather, and gun powder awakened every nerve ending in her body, and the scent that surrounded her was at once arousing and comforting.

Her head came to rest on his shoulder and Jo hugged him impossibly closer. It felt like home, like they were a perfect fit in every way imaginable, and Jo felt her stomach dip at the realisation that she so often felt in his embrace.

"Big day next month," Dean said softly, his eyes creasing with a genuine smile as she lifted her head to meet his gaze. "You and me- a whole year, sweetheart. Who'd have thought, huh?"

"Not me, that's for sure," she giggled as he shot her an indignant frown, and pulled her closer, "right place, right time, I guess."

"Eventually," agreed Dean, brushing aside the last lingering traces of regret at having not acted sooner on his attraction to Jo. It had taken being on the verge of losing her to finally prompt Dean into revealing his feelings for Jo Harvelle and, at the time, in the wake of her mother's death, he had been half afraid that he would do little other than push her further away. Dean knew from experience that grief made people behave in odd ways, such as smashing up their prized classic car after busting their balls for days restoring it to its former glory.

Dean hesitated, reluctant to voice his concerns, but knowing that it had to be done nonetheless.

"It's also been a year since…" he began, his voice soft and his hands now wandering to a more respectful rest stop on the curve of her hip. Jo sucked in a breath and her eyes misted over for just a moment, before she peered up at Dean.

"I know," she replied, swallowing down the sudden lump in her throat with more difficulty than she had anticipated. Sometimes, the longing for her mother and the sadness of her loss were just a dull ache in the back of Jo's mind and heart, but at other times, usually when she least expected, they whirled around inside her like a tornado, threatening to tip her over the edge at any given second. Grief was unpredictable, and Jo had had her fill of it in her young life. Her grip tightened subconsciously on Dean's arm and she returned her head to his shoulder.

Dean thought over his next words carefully and he held her closer as he began, "I think we should do something..." at Jo's questioning glance, he continued, "for you and me, and... something for your Mom."

Jo sighed and simply returned her cheek to his chest, "Maybe. Let's not talk about it now, okay?"

"Whatever you want."

She closed her eyes, relaxing into his embrace, content not to dwell on the upcoming event any further. The couple of beers she had already consumed were acting to pleasantly dull her senses, and she was grateful for the distraction of the music and the ever present sweep of Dean's hands across her back.

Suddenly inhaling deeply, Jo lifted her gaze to his, and for several long moments she was simply content to peer up at him. His green eyes held her in an equally unwavering gaze, and a smile tugged at Dean's lips.

His fingertips danced across the curve of her cheek, the pad of his thumb brushing her lips, as she leant into his touch.

Jo blushed under such scrutiny, and Dean shook his head as if not quite believing his luck.

"So beautiful," he murmured, craning his neck to plant a succession of kisses against her lips that quickly become more and more urgent.

Dean grinned, panting breathlessly as he pulled her flush against him, "I'm one lucky son of a bitch."

Jo laughed and arched an eyebrow, bobbing her head in agreement, "Uh-huh... play your cards right Winchester and you might get a whole lot luckier later on."

"That so?" Dean smirked as he contemplated the hundred and one excuses they could utilise to head back to their room. Not that Sam wouldn't see through any of them for even a moment.

Jo was about to retort with a suitably suggestive proposition when the antics of their fellow patrons suddenly caught her attention.

The air around them suddenly felt warm and smothering, and as Jo's dark eyes swept across the room, a frown settled on her pretty face.

"Dean... You want to focus for a second?" she patted him gently on the back, trying to ignore the sensation of his lips against her skin, as he busied himself with dragging kisses down her neck.

"I am," came his muffled reply. Jo's teeth grazed her bottom lip as his tongue swirled against a particularly sensitive spot, and her knees began to feel weak.

"Seriously, Dean-o," Jo scolded, sliding her palm down Dean's arm and squeezing his elbow gently but insistently. With a hearty sigh, Dean removed his lips from her warm skin and lifted his head, his eyes scanning the bar with feigned interest. Although he was determined to find nothing amiss in the near vicinity, and return to his ministrations, he squinted as he took in the scene before him.

Couples were dotted around the bar, all in various steamy clinches, bodies locked together, and tongues working overtime. Dean grimaced as a woman shrugged out of the leather jacket she was wearing, never once breaking her own lips away from the man who was busily raking his hands through her hair. Her fingers began working at the buttons of her lace blouse, and Dean's eyebrows rocketed upwards as he watched her partner fling her roughly against the bar, before her legs locked around his waist.

"Are they…?" Jo began, glancing around the bar to see if anyone else had noticed the x-rated scene unfolding in front of them.

"Uh-huh," admonished Dean, his features contorting into a horrified expression, which Jo found mildly comical given the steamy embrace they had only just stepped away from.

Scouting the bar for his brother and Cas, Dean reached blindly for Jo's hand and began to lead her over toward the booth, where Sam was also now taking in the scene in abject horror.

Jo's mouth dropped open as they passed a couple who were sprawled across one of the tables.

"What's your name, again?" the brunette panted, clawing at her companion's back as he planted sloppy kisses against her throat.

"Jake," he rasped, not missing a beat before he shrugged off his shirt.

"I love you, Jake," the woman said breathlessly, knocking a glass off the table top as she threw her arms above her head in abandon.

Reaching Sam and Castiel, the latter of whom was staring thoughtfully through the crowd of revellers, Dean and Jo drew to a halt.

"Someone spike the beer with catnip?!" Dean said incredulously.

"I have no idea," Sam choked out, suddenly jumping out of his seat as a woman used her entire arm to sweep his collection of beer bottles off the tabletop. She grabbed the hand of a blonde woman and wasted little time in pushing her forcefully onto the surface, her eyes dark with lust. The other woman reciprocated in turn, groaning as her new friend straddled her and lowered her mouth to her cleavage.

"Oh God…" Sam spluttered, stumbling back from the table as Castiel cocked his head in an almost analytical manner to watch the two women. Dean stared, his mouth open wide, and Jo quickly positioned her hand over his eyes.

"Is this still the effects of alcohol?" Cas inquired, his tone genuinely curious, "are these people… horny?"

"Sammy, I think it's time you sat Cas down and gave him 'the talk'," Dean quipped, playfully wrestling Jo's hand away from his eyes as the moans and groans of the two women seemed almost too good to miss.

Castiel's expression remained impassive, and he glanced between Dean and Jo, and the room around him. "I believe my assumption is correct, I have witnessed this kind of behaviour before."

"They got pay-per-view up there?" Dean grinned, nodding toward the heavens.

"This is so gross," Jo pinched the bridge of her nose between her fingers and averted her gaze to the floor, "should we maybe do something?"

"Like what? Hand out condoms and pamphlets on safe sex?" Dean retorted, mirth ever present in his eyes.

Jo started as a couple jostled past her, and they barely made it to the door before their lips met in a frenzied kiss.

"Couldn't hurt," Sam replied wryly, feeling his cheeks turn an embarrassing shade of red.

"My eyeballs feel violated," Jo grumbled, turning and hiding her face in Dean's shoulder.

Sam snorted, his gaze now resting in a wholly accusatory manner on Dean and Jo. "Seriously guys, maybe now you know how we feel."

Dean scowled at his brother, before he allowed his eyes to scan the room for any signs as to what could be causing the hormonal mayhem that had ensued. Even the barman was now busily shedding his t-shirt with a rotund redhead working at unbuttoning his pants. Dean swallowed hard and looked away as, for all his bravado and talk, the handful of good manners his father had managed to instil in him finally reared their head.

"Is this a spell, maybe?" asked Jo, her eyes following a lone woman who was making a break for the exit, her gaze darting uncomfortably around the bar and her expression mildly alarmed. The woman seemed to have escaped whatever charm or perhaps curse had claimed the other patrons of the bar, and was evidently eager to reach the sanctity of the parking lot. The door swung closed behind her and Jo thoughtfully returned her attention to their group. Castiel was standing in the midst of the mayhem now, hardly drawing a breath despite the fact that clothing was being tossed literally in the air around him. A neon pink bra struck the side of his head and dropped onto his shoulder, dangling there comically, but Castiel stood stock still, his eyes closed and his arms resting at his sides.

"What kind of witch puts a hot monkey sex spell on a bar?" Dean demanded, both disturbed and amused by the idea, although it admittedly was the only theory they had amounted so far. Jo shook her head, at a loss for words or an explanation.

"They seem unaffected," Sam said, pointing towards the opposite end of the room, where a man and woman stood, arm in arm, both shaking their heads in disbelief as they surveyed the couples, several of whom had almost shed all of their clothing.

"Can we please get out of here?" Jo demanded, tugging on Dean's sleeve insistently like a child.

Finally, Castiel's eyes snapped open, and he crossed the room in a couple of strides, drawing to a halt in front of Dean, Jo and Sam.

"I believe I may have an idea as to what is going on here," Cas stated, his tone as level and serious as always. "These people are not merely 'just horny'."

Castiel noted the expectant faces of his friends as he swept the pink bra from his shoulder and cleared his throat. "Though I doubt whether any of these... matches... have been pre-ordained or even approved by the powers that be, this is the work of a Cupid."

Dean winced, "A flying baby with a bow and arrow?"

"They do not adhere to the cultural stereotypes you humans seem intent to have bestowed upon them," Castiel said dismissively, "they appear to all intents and purposes just like you or I. But yes, as I said... a Cupid."

Sam's eyebrows rose, "Okay, so who is it?" he asked, hurriedly seeking out a guilty looking face in the bar.

"I'm afraid he or she has already left," Cas stated ruefully.

"Great, so we've got a rogue Cupid on the loose," Dean griped, envisioning already the issues this hunt was about to present them with. Not least of all appeared to be the trail of super-amorous humans and torn clothing.

Jo pursed her lips, "Okay, but... I saw a couple leaving before who seemed fine, and..."

Castiel shrugged, jamming his hands in the pockets of his trench coat as if the wisdom he was about to impart was trivial.

"A Cupid's magic cannot break the bonds of true love. If a couple's union is fated, that bond cannot be destroyed and their souls cannot be parted."

Dean stole a glance at Jo and his Adam's apple bobbed as he swallowed hard. Jo too appeared to be mulling over Castiel's words, and a small smile slowly settled on her lips.

"Well... we're okay, I mean, we're... so we... we're uh..." Dean began, as if requiring Cas to confirm his suspicions as to why that should be the case. The angel simply stared back at the pair.

"Relax, Dean," Sam assuaged his brother, "for once, the rest of the room makes you guys look like a PG-13."

Dean appeared momentarily disappointed by this, before realisation dawned upon him and he had to stop himself at the last moment from puffing his own chest out with pride. He pulled Jo tighter into his side, and she rolled her eyes good naturedly at his display.

"Guys, before I gauge out my own eyes, what do we do?" Jo demanded, averting her gaze to the ceiling, which now appeared to be the only safe place to look.

"We track down the Cupid, of course," Castiel stated as though the solution to the problem had been evident all along, and Jo was simply slow on the uptake.

"And we do that how?" Sam demanded, sidestepping a man and woman who were walking backwards towards the bar with intent, throwing clothing behind them as they went, lips locked.

Castiel's eyes were narrowed to slits, as he contemplated the hunter's question and simply folded his arms across his chest.

"I will attempt to track it...although our current location is somewhat... distracting." His irritable glare landed on a passing couple and he glowered disapprovingly.

"I am totally fine with getting the hell out of here!" Jo stated, holding her hands up in an act of surrender.

Dean laughed softly and gestured around them, "Shouldn't we break this little orgy up first, before someone gets hurt... or, you know... pregnant?"

Sam and Jo nodded in agreement, but a stunted silence fell upon the trio as they glanced around and debated just how to go about snapping everyone out of their hormone fuelled daze.

"We could set the sprinklers off?" Jo suggested, peering up at the ceiling and shrugging absently.

Sam mulled over the suggestion and fumbled in his pocket for a lighter. His mouth gaping as if contemplating his confession, Dean placed his hand over his brother's arm and shook his head firmly.

"Whoah, whoah, wait a second. At the risk of sounding like the resident pervert around here..."

Sam arched an eyebrow and practically snorted in response, "Dean, you are the resident pervert."

"Okay, but all I'm saying is, you got folks feeling up strangers, hyped up on Cupid juice, and we're gonna throw wet t-shirts into the mix?" he held his hands up and pulled his lips into a tight smile, "far be it from me to point out the fly in the edible body paint, but... I don't think that's gonna dampen their mood, dude."

"The sleaze has a point," Jo agreed grudgingly, planting her hand on her hip as she stared up expectantly at her now grinning boyfriend. "Alright, genius, so what do we do?"

"Beats me," Dean answered, shrugging and jamming his hands into his pockets. "I create the problems, I don't solve them."

"Amen to that," Sam retorted, rolling his eyes and dropping his lighter back into his pocket.

"Fire alarm?" Jo suggested, shielding her eyes partially with her palm as she attempted to scout out the nearest fire alarm. Across the room, with a plethora of writhing bodies positioned beneath it, was a wall mounted glass case containing a handle.

"You want to risk it setting the sprinklers off?" Dean inquired, shaking his head pointedly at Jo, who glowered back at him in response. She threw up her hands and turned away from Dean, her frustration evident.

"Hey, I have an idea," Sam said, slapping Castiel on the bicep gently, "Cas, why don't you sing us a little song?"

Castiel blinked as he regarded Sam, his brow furrowing.

"Contrary to popular belief and ancient myth, angels do not sing," he chided, his tone suitably stern. A smile flickered upon his lips as he added, "Except for the one time in Japan when Zachariah discovered karaoke."

Sam, Dean and Jo merely stared back at the angel, their mouths hanging slightly open as their minds were filled with the disturbing image of Zachariah taking to the stage in front of a room full of Japanese businessmen. Sometimes, their lives were too surreal for even them to believe.

"No, I meant… with your real voice," Sam insisted, motioning towards the exit to Dean and Jo as Castiel finally bobbed his head in understanding. Dean winced and bent down to whisper in Jo's ear.

"Cover your ears and head for the door," he instructed, grabbing Jo's elbow and beginning to steer her through the throngs of half-naked customers. Sam turned around momentarily and pointed a warning finger at Cas.

"Just a chorus, Cas," he instructed, "let's keep the exploding eyeballs to a minimum."

"As you wish," Castiel agreed, striding into the centre of the bar as Dean, Jo, and Sam all clamoured for the exit. They spilled out into the alleyway at the side of the building together, Jo and Dean with their hands interlaced, and Sam bringing up the rear. He paused to close the door temporarily behind them so as to block out as much of Castiel's impending vocals as possible.

The heavy fire door of the bar slammed closed only moments before the ground began to tremble, and a high pitched, unearthly shriek caused the glass in the windows to fracture in protest.

Dean, Jo, and Sam crouched down beside a dumpster, their hands against their ears as the door suddenly swung open and a steady line of scantily clad patrons ran from the building in terror.

One girl dabbed at her bleeding nose with the sleeve of the shirt hanging from one shoulder, whilst others staggered through the alley under the influence of alcohol and Cupid's misguided arrows.

"My Mom could've used him at the Roadhouse," Jo remarked, slowly climbing to her feet and dusting down the legs of her jeans as she watched the patrons flee.

Dean laughed as he recalled the Harvelle matriarch with obvious affection, "Something tells me Ellen holding a shotgun worked just fine."

Jo shrugged and nodded, ignoring the brief pang of grief that tugged at her heart as she mustered a sentimental smile.

"Everyone okay?" Dean checked, glancing between his brother and girlfriend.

Sam, however, was busy staring off into what appeared to be the shadows of the alleyway, his eyes crinkled as he concentrated. He slapped Dean once in the centre of the chest before he took off running, leaving Dean and Jo blinking in confusion. Dean watched Sam disappear into the alley, and was tearing after him seconds later.

"Wait for Cas," Dean called over his shoulder, turning for just long enough to see Jo nod her head in agreement and withdraw her handgun from its holster as she awaited the appearance of the angel from the club.

Sam rounded the corner of the alleyway moments before Dean, skidding in the puddles on the ground left from the evenings heavy rain.

"Sam, what the hell?" Dean demanded, falling silent as Sam shushed him and dragged him behind a line of trashcans by the sleeve of his jacket. His gaze intense, Sam turned to Dean and then pointed towards a corner of the dead end they had reached, sandwiched between the club and a pizza place.

Dean's face immediately fell into a horrified grimace, and he eyed the creature looming in the darkened alley with obvious surprise.

"What the hell is that thing?"

Sam shook his head, his eyes never once leaving the bulbous headed, snarling, spitting monster for even a moment.

"I guess that's our Cupid?"

Dean swallowed hard and cast a brief glance up at his sibling, "Think I liked the flying baby thing better."

Sam nodded in agreement, and the brothers simultaneously ducked as the creature's enormous head whipped around, and its eyes appeared to focus upon them. The Cupid stomped angrily around, lashing out at dumpsters and trashcans, and destroying an overhanging fire escape ladder with one single swipe of its clawed hands.

The monster was lobster red from head to toe, and it's torso was a mass of taut muscle that could make a WWF wrestler envious. It's bald head was occupied by two stubby horns, and it's pointed ears curled over slightly at the tops from their position on the side of its head. As the creature threw back it's head, it's plump lips parted and a series of infuriated roars filled the night air. It wheeled around to face Dean, who swallowed hard as a pointed tail whipped in his direction. He jumped over the appendage like a child jumping rope, and had no sooner landed on his feet than he had withdrawn his gun from its holster.

"This… this is the chubby harbinger of love?" Dean yelled, firing a shot into the monster's chest and wincing as the bullet seemed to bounce off its thick hide.

"Aim for the head," Sam directed, approaching the thing with his hunting knife drawn.

Dean did a double take of the creature and glowered at Sam, "You aim for the head!"

A gunshot rang out through the night air, followed by a furious shriek, and the creature turned sharply in the hunter's direction as the bullet flattened against it's skin and clattered to the ground.

"Aww, sh..." Dean began, eyes wide as the monster stomped toward then, nostrils blazing with each exaggerated breath.

The sound of rushed footfalls caused both hunters to turn toward the entrance to the alley, and Jo and Cas ran into view just as the creature unsheathed an arrow from the quiver on it's back, and launched it with expert precision at the blonde.

Dean's heart stopped dead in his chest as Jo desperately tried to avoid the path of the oncoming missile. Castiel watched the arrow head whistle through the air, drifting on a trail of strange red orbs that bobbed and weaved in the air.

The angel seemed unconcerned by the threat to his friend, and he merely stood still as it came within an inch of the hunter's body, then disintegrated into black dust.

"Jo!" Dean yelled, almost choking on the breath that had been forced from his body.

Jo stared up at the angel in confusion, but Castiel shook his head, and answered her silent query in an infuriatingly calm tone of voice.

"The creature's magic cannot harm you," he stated, striding ahead as Jo stared down at her unharmed body before hastily following after him.

"Would have been good to know before my life flashed before my eyes," Jo growled, holstering her gun now that it had been unequivocally proven that bullets were no use against the creature.

"This is not a Cupid," Cas stated, ducking nonchalantly as the creature swiped a claw at his head, narrowly missing taking his scalp. He straightened up and surveyed the monster, his brain clearly ticking over.

"Can we do this later?" Dean shouted, seizing a nearby trashcan and slamming it into the thing's body. The metal shrieked as it yielded and moulded into the shape of the monster's body instead of wreaking any real damage to it's flesh.

"We don't care what it is, Cas," Sam snapped, slashing at the creature with his knife and noting with some satisfaction that the blade succeeded at least in drawing a thin line of blood, "how do we kill it?"

Castiel glanced at the three hunters, before shrugging his shoulders, and then disappearing with a familiar fluttering sound.

"Did he just…" Jo began, her eyes wide as she peered from Dean to Sam and back again.

"Son of a bitch!" Dean growled, desperately searching the alley for anything that could potentially be used as a weapon and that the monster could not shatter in one fell swoop of its mighty claws. The creature fired a succession of arrows at the hunters and, despite Castiel's cryptic reassurance that they could cause no harm, the trio ducked and rolled to avoid them.

"Anyone got any ideas?" Dean yelled, climbing to his feet and peering from behind the side of the dumpster to where the creature stood, red eyes blazing with fury as it surveyed the humans with apparent interest.

Sheathing the arrow it held in it's hand, the monster suddenly halted it's attack, and disappeared from view with the same ease and speed the angel had deserted them with.

"What the..." Jo began, brow furrowed as she stepped out from behind a host of upturned trash cans and began to walk uncertainly over toward the spot the creature had occupied.

Sam glanced up to watch momentarily as his brother followed close behind, but the younger Winchester soon looked away, concerned with more pressing issues.

Glancing down at his chest, Sam stared at the faint black scorch mark of the creature's arrow that burned a hole into the fabric of his shirt. He searched his skin, only to find no trace of any injury or wound.

"It just disappeared," Jo stated, her head whipping around and her eyes narrowing as she scanned every dark corner of the alley. "Why would it do that?"

"Trap," Dean growled, ushering Sam over towards them – the hole in his brother's shirt, for the moment, escaping his notice. Sam wandered over to where Jo and Dean stood, his skin tingling inexplicably and his mind whirring as he attempted to make sense of the situation. Monsters did not usually just bail when they had gained the upper hand in the fight.

Several minutes passed, during which the three hunters moved cautiously throughout the alley, searching for the creature, and yet finding no trace of either it or Castiel.

"Do we just get out of here?" Sam inquired, his tone somewhat hesitant as he weighed up the pros and cons of his suggested course of action. Equally confused, Dean nodded slowly.

At the moment, Castiel appeared once again in the mouth of the alley with a flutter of wings and a decidedly proud expression.

"You must…." He began, his voice raised as though he expected to find himself shouting above a fray. He drank in the scene before him, and Dean noticed his shoulders sag a little in disappointment

"Never mind," Cas finally muttered, "it seems that you have dealt with the problem."

Jabbing his finger at the errant angel, Dean shook his head, "I'll deal with you later."

Jo hugged her arms around herself, and she shivered with an inexplicable sense of unease, "Let's go."

For once, all three hunters were in ready agreement.


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