Disclaimer: Supernatural belongs to Erik Kripke, Warner Brothers and quite possibly others who are not mentioned here. No money will be made from this fan fiction.
Summary: When Dean goes to sell his soul at the crossroads to bring Sam back, someone else steps in to negotiate the deal. Cas did get a sign and it sent him off into the past to change things. AU from The Man Who Would be King and All Hell Breaks Loose.
Just to remind, Adam's roommate, Cooper Hayden, is an original character. Don't panic, he's not playing a major part in the story. In fact, given recent cannon events, he'll probably be doing less than I intended.
It's All in the Details
After Disneyland, (and a ride on the flying elephants that had Jimmy renew his laughing bout) Cas visited two cathedrals and a healing spring. It was while he was at the spring that he noticed the other angel following him. They were stealthy enough that he didn't know who it was and he had just decided that ignoring them and allowing them to waste their time fruitlessly stalking him across the planet was the best course of action, when he felt the wards he'd set up in Windom MN scream warnings as several demons crossed them.
Castiel was heading to the top of Mount Everest at the time. Muttering swear words in Sumerian, he dropped back into visual view at base camp and took a moment to think. After a quick check for the angel following him he started for the top of the mountain again, before abruptly changing directions. Flying to Egypt, he appeared between the feet of the Sphinx just long enough to take a breath and let the monument's natural power obscure his own. He moved again, dropping himself into the middle of Stonehenge for the same purpose, startling a group of tourist in the process, before travelling on to the United States.
The safe house in Colorado wasn't technically all that safe these days, but it still stood and the warding held. Cas took enough time to make sure he'd lost the angel before shifting his personal wards, effectively disguising himself as Kaseva. That done, he flew once more, this time to the safe house in North Dakota.
Only then did he pull out his cell phone and made a call.
Dean glanced at his brooding brother and shook his head. This, this was why he was glad they'd never stayed in one place long enough to end up on a high school reunion list. Even going back to hunt a ghost at a school they'd only attended for a month had brought back more old crap than he'd wanted to think about and it obviously hadn't been any better for Sam.
Sam stared straight ahead, and yes, the younger Winchester knew he was brooding. Fighting a ghost he felt partially responsible for creating… Well, he was still trying to wrap his brain around it. Other than stopping the ghost, the only good that had come of the hunt was being able to cross a teacher off his, 'was he a demon?' list. The English teacher that had inspired him to go to college was human, but the question the man had asked at the end of their conversation felt off. Like it was meant to push him in the wrong direction.
Was he happy?
He glanced at Dean and remembered the other timeline Cas had told them of. In that one he would by this time be sneaking around behind his brother's back to shack up with a demon, drink her blood and lose himself in an addiction he would think of as power.
A shudder travelled through his body and he gave himself a shake. No, maybe he wasn't happy, but he'd take this over that. He sighed. The real question was, would he have been happy with Jess?
But, that was over now and there was nothing that could change that, apparently not even time travel. This was his life, and surprisingly he'd come to find that the Family Business suited him better than he'd ever thought possible. Maybe he'd change his mind again in a few years but for now… well, he wasn't happy all of the time, nobody was. However, he was happy enough of the time.
Dean's phone went off giving both brothers a break from the introspection that had dogged them for the last hundred miles.
One hand on the steering wheel, Dean dug his phone out of his pocket with the other, flipping it open once he'd given the display a quick glance.
"Hey Cas, what's up?"
Sam got worried the moment Dean straightened up in his seat.
"Can you pick us up on the way?"
Dean's eyes went to the rear-view mirror and Sam twisted around to find a shadow wrapped Castiel sitting in the back seat.
"Wha?" Was all Sam got out before Dean slammed on the brakes. Turning to catch himself on the dashboard with both hands, Sam looked out the front windshield and allowed himself a second of surprise when he found they were parked in front of Kate Milligan's house in Windom MN. That second was long enough that he had to scramble to keep up. Dean and Cas were already half way out of the car before he even reached for the door handle.
"The ghouls?" Sam asked as he closed the passenger side door and joined them on the sidewalk.
Cas shook his head. "No. A few minutes ago several demons entered the town."
"Just here?" Dean asked as his eyes searched the neighbourhood. Sam had his attention on the house, a frown creasing his forehead as he looked it over.
"Yes." Cas answered, understanding the short question. "The wards at Adam's school have not been crossed." Cas looked the area over, his brow puckering. "I'm going to check on something." He disappeared with a blink.
Dean snorted. "Wow, he actually warned us that time."
Sam smirked. "Give it another decade or two and you might actually teach him to say goodbye before he does that, though I kinda doubt it." He waved a hand towards the house. "I don't think Kate's home. Her car isn't here."
Dean's face scrunched up in annoyance. "Must be at the hospital."
Sam nodded, already scrolling through the numbers on his cell phone for the hospital.
"Hi. Could I speak with Kate Milligan please?"
While Sam was busy on the phone, Dean went up and rang the doorbell, listening for any sounds inside the house. Hearing nothing, he turned back to his brother and almost ran into Cas.
"Son of a…" He took a calming breath and let it out. "Find anything?"
"Yes. There are four demons in town and they have aligned themselves along one of the highways into and out of town. I believe they are waiting for someone to get here."
A map unfurled itself in Dean head. He had driven so much of the United States that he doubted it was even possible for him to get lost when it came to the major roadways.
"So, whatever's coming is either travelling out of Jackson or coming off the I-90."
"What is on the I-90?"
Dean shrugged. "Lots of things on it. Off it as well. I've driven it plenty of times. Bobby's place is a short ways off it. Pastor Jim's place was too."
Dean's head dropped down with a sigh as Cas disappeared once more.
It turned out that demons were camped out on the highways to every city and town both on and off the I-90. Cas tracked them as far West as the Minnesota state line and as far East as Rochester NY. When he couldn't find any of them further East than that, he returned to Rochester and was just in time to see the demons receive a call and pack up. Being lower-level demons, they were using an SUV rather than teleporting and the four of them piled into the vehicle and started driving West.
The demons at the next town had also already left. When Cas checked from the other end of the gauntlet, he found the demons still waiting.
So whatever it was they were looking for, it was moving and it was heading West.
Sam and Dean both shifted nervously as Kate Milligan glared at them. She wasn't their Mom, she wasn't even Ellen, but like her they'd quickly come to realize that she had a Mom's ability to make them feel like little boys that had been caught doing something stupid.
Which was silly, since it wasn't their fault that she'd had to cut her shift at the hospital short because demons had invaded her town.
Frowning, Dean gave that some thought and then dismissed it. He was certain none of them had done anything that would point the other side at Windom.
Dean tried his best smile on her. "Uh, yeah?"
Adam's mom took a deep breath and let it out. "Okay. That's what the salt lines are for, right?" She waved her hand towards one of the windows and its salty protection.
Dean nodded. "Works on ghosts too, but yeah, demon's hate the stuff."
"Good. Good." She nodded and then stiffened. "Does Adam have the same protections in his dorm room?"
Dean grimaced. "Yeah, yeah he does."
She narrowed her eyes at him. "Only you haven't told him about any of this yet."
Dean suspected he would have been in serious trouble about then if Cas hadn't shown up and joined in the conversation.
"The demons appear to be searching for something."
Kate jerked when he appeared and took a moment to swallow her surprise. "Do you think they're looking for me and Adam?"
Cas frowned, and then shook his head. "No. I believe that whatever it is, it is currently on the move."
Dean closed his eyes and groaned. "Anyone want to take bets on whether or not it's coming here."
Sam snorted. And that was pretty much a no.
Adam let out a startled yelp when Castiel appeared in the dorm room with his mother beside him. Loki popping in and out had made him extra jumpy about people appearing suddenly out of thin air. Still, he didn't let his surprise slow him down. That mom was with Kaseva meant something bad had to be up. The fact that she was carrying an overnight bag and looked anything but happy was just the kicker that guaranteed something supernatural had dropped in at home.
"The ghouls?" Sure, they were early, but who knows how long they were hanging around before they'd gone after him and mom?
Cas shook his head. "Demons. They appear to be searching for something and your hometown is in the path of that search. We thought it best to warn you and move your mother until they leave."
Wow, Adam thought, so that's what it feels like to have your bones turn to water. He shook the weakness off a moment later. He'd keep his mom safe first and freak out about the whole demon thing when he actually had the time.
"I need to return to your brothers and …"
Adam's roommate chose that moment to enter the room, his face in a book.
"Hey man." He greeted perfunctorily as he walked across the small room and sat down on his bed, without noticing the extra people.
Adam shook his head. "Hey Coop. Can I introduce you to my mom and a friend of my brothers?"
"Huh?" Cooper looked up and blinked. "Oh, hey, sorry. Didn't notice you there." He squinted a little, giving his eyes a rub when he couldn't seem to focus on Cas' shadow obscured features. "Man, I need to cut back on the reading."
Kate smiled at him. "It's nice to meet you… Coop?"
Since his mom and his roommate where looking at each other, Adam was the only one who saw Castiel react to the name. He wasn't sure how Coop didn't notice as the hard blue gaze drilled into him. He could feel it and he was only on the edge of it.
Thankfully, the angel blinked before turning his eyes towards Adam.
"I have to get back to your brothers." He looked at Cooper and gave him a nod. "It was good to meet you."
For a moment, Adam feared that Cas would simply disappear as usual. Instead he left by the door, apparently waiting until he was in the hall to vanish.
"So," Kate said. "Want to help me find a motel for the night? And then I'll take you guys out for dinner?"
"Oh, well..." Cooper started, obviously feeling awkward about joining them.
Adam quickly over rode the objections his roommate was about to make.
"We'd love to mom." A grin broke out on his face. Sure, the situation was crappy, but getting to see his mom was a gift and he'd make the most of it while she was here.
As much as he might hate the bastard for a lot of things, including the sodding apocalypse countdown, Crowley had to admit that Azazel had done a good job training his 'daughter.' Getting demons to co-operate long enough to coordinate the search for the missing ghouls was a tricky balance of threat and bribery. More the first than the second of course, but those that forgot to sweeten the pot now and again eventually ended up on the menu.
Naturally, that made getting rid of her both more difficult and more necessary. Even if they never got Lucifer's cage open, she would always be there, messing up his plans. And that was too bad; she would have had a place as his lieutenant. Bella was a great personal assistant and he fully expected her to take over running the crossroads when he moved on the bigger things, but Meg would have been the perfect second in command to the King of Hell. It wouldn't work though, she would never give him the loyalty she'd given Azazel. She'd always be trying to stab him in the back.
Dean frowned when Cas returned to the Milligan house. The angel's expression had that constipated look that meant he was thinking something over harder than he ought too.
"Hey man, you okay?"
Cas' frown deepened, but he nodded. "Yes."
Dean gave him a moment, sighing when the angel continued to think without saying anything.
"Wanna share with the class?"
"We are not in school." Castiel replied automatically, still frowning.
There was a nice wall beside him. Dean was sure that hitting his head against it would be less painful than trying to peel Cas out of whatever blue funk he'd fallen into, but he had to try. He wasn't too keen on having a distracted angel at his back during a demon attack.
The hunter took a step back as the angel visibly started and looked around.
"You all here now Cas?"
He gave the room another look and then nodded. "Yes, I apologise. I came across something that I hadn't noticed during the last timeline. I'm not sure where it fits in, or if it even does."
Great, and the only places he'd been in the last few minutes were here and Adam's school. "A dangerous something?"
"No, just… unexpected." He aborted the frown that was starting to reform. "I will think on it later. The demons and whatever it is they are chasing are the more important problem. The other is probably nothing more than a curiosity."
"If you're sure."
In Dean's opinion, the nod Cas gave him was buried under the most indecisive bit of body language he'd ever seen the angel express. He'd have called him on it, but they just didn't have the time.
Cas stiffened suddenly, his eyes going wide.
"Or maybe not okay." Dean said, taking a small step towards the angel.
Cas breathed out, and then said something short and explosive in Latin. Something Dean had no trouble translating. After the exorcisms, swearwords were the next thing Dean had learned in that language.
Meg was not happy. Somehow, after turning off the I90, her quarry had vanished. Only the fact that one of her less than bright people had stopped at a supermarket for a six pack and munchies in the town they were staking out and had noticed the car they were looking for pull into the lot had saved the situation. Unfortunately the idiot hadn't been fast enough to stop the two people in the car from disappearing.
Meg glared at the abandoned vehicle, and then with one swift kick, caved the driver's side door in.
"Crowley, check with the police and any car lots or rental places. I want to know if anything with wheels has been stolen, bought or rented in the last hour." She ignored the sour expression on his face. Yes, sending him to do that was a waste of his abilities, but she had planned more for brawn than intelligence when picking people for this. Any other demon she sent would just make a mess of it. Probably quite literally.
Castiel's shoulders tensed in an almost shrug.
"Ghouls for certain, I made the wards extra sensitive when it came to that creature. However, I can not tell if they are the right ghouls." Cas looked around, realizing for the first time that something was missing. "Where is Sam?"
Crowley almost groaned as he stepped into the police station and found a 6'4" moose with a bad suit and an expertly done FBI badge standing at the counter. He'd have disappeared right then, the humans noticing be damned, but in the time it took to think about it Sam had already turned and spotted him.
Crowley held up a hand, stopping the hunter before he could say anything.
"Agent…? It's been a while, I'm afraid I've forgotten your name."
The much taller man gave him a 'you are a fungus' look, that the demon returned with interest as well as an annoying smirk.
"It's Winter." Sam told him through gritted teeth.
"Ah, right. Edgar, I believe."
Sam winced, because yep, Dean had struck again when it came to creating their IDs.
The police officer who stood behind the desk gave both of them a wary look. "You FBI too?"
Crowley snorted and pulled out his own ID flip case. "Interpol, actually."
Sam's eyebrows went up into his hairline, but he recovered quickly. "They're co-ordinating with us. It's sort of a joint exercise."
"Okay… well, I'll go see if the Chief is available yet."
Sam gave him a friendly nod, turning to glare at Crowley as soon as the officer had left them.
Crowley shrugged. "Not like I could pass for FBI with this accent." He raised one of his eyebrows in a question. "So, joint exercise?"
When the moose explained what they were trying to do, it was all he could do not to groan.
A crowbar gouged into the doors of the mausoleum, the sound of metal and wood screaming as they tore apart was ignored for haste. A heave and a grunt later and the two were inside.
Eyes scanned the dates on the walls. One of them moved to a niche that had been filled in the last few months.
"Go older. Last thing we need is for someone local to recognize us."
His sister nodded and moved further into the space, looking for someone to eat.