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.
It's All in the Details
"I don't suppose I could talk you two morons into giving up this little fantasy and getting the hell out of here?"
Sam's glare had Crowley suspecting that if they weren't in the middle of a police station he would now be sporting a certain magical knife between his third and fourth ribs.
"Guess that's a no." He sighed. "Meg's in town, she's looking for Dean."
Both the hunter and the demon jumped slightly when an older human with grey hair stepped up and held out a hand to them.
"I'm Chief Lambert, pleased to meet you."
The ritual of hand shaking took place and then the Chief walked them over to his office.
"Now, what can I do for you?"
"Damage control?" Cas asked.
Dean rolled his eyes and shook his head for a moment. "Only way Kate would leave."
Cas frowned. He remembered Kate, Sam and Dean having a quiet argument while she was packing. At the time, he'd been paying more attention to the wards than to them.
Dean ran a hand through his hair. "Sam's pulling an FBI at the police station, trying to convince them to stay out of anything …weird that may happen in the next few hours. I also promised to chase away the neighbours if they come home before this is finished."
"That may complicate matters."
Dean shrugged. "Yeah, but you know, Kate insisted. Besides, I get sick and tired of losing bystanders. If a little extra work will make a difference, well…"
Castiel clamped down on any complaints he might have made about the delays this would cause. Despite the current modern literature, angels weren't all that patient and Cas less than some, especially when events were moving. Standing back to watch over the Earth for the last two millennium had done little to teach him the virtue and may have actually worsened the flaw. He knew the defect was responsible for some of the bad choices he'd made in the past and he would not compound his error further by grumbling about things he couldn't change now.
Crowley walked out of the police station, already a couple of steps behind the moose and his stupidly long moose legs.
"I cannot believe they actually bought that."
Sam shrugged. "The government's run a lot of terrorist drills over the years."
"Sure, in the larger cities. Washington, New York, those kinds of places. Terrorists don't usually try to take over small towns." A thoughtful look crossed the demon's face. "Of course, when you think about it…"
Crowley gave him a smirk.
"I mean it Crowley. If demons start taking over towns…"
"Every hunter in the state will show up for the exorcism. I know."
Sam narrowed his eyes at the demon and Crowley countered with an innocent expression. With a sigh, Sam shook his head and let the argument go. There were more important things to worry about at the moment.
"What did you mean earlier, when you said Meg was in town and looking for Dean?"
Demons might see better in the dark than humans did, but that didn't mean a flashlight wasn't a good idea, especially when crawling around mausoleums.
Meg used he Mag-lite to check the seal on one of the stone coffins next to her. A minion gave another an experimental shove, grunting and giving her a shake of his head when the lid failed to move.
"Wonderful." She gestured for him to leave, looked around one more time before following him out. They had to be somewhere and the cemetery was the best bet, especially as Windom actually had several above ground tombs for them to hide in. Enough in fact that her demons were spread a bit thin, searching them all.
"Boss." One of her people waved her over from the next mausoleum. This one slept eight and at least four of the resting places had been disturbed. Meg pulled out her cell phone.
"Crowley, I need you to check some obituaries. See if you can get some pictures to go with these names."
Crowley had just finished explaining the 'round about' tracking spell he'd used, that had ultimately brought them to Windom looking for two ghouls, that according to the spell, were somehow suppose to lead them to the Righteous Man. He was still trying to parse out why Sam had tried to hide a startled reaction to the mentions of ghouls, when both their phones went off.
Crowley sighed when he heard his new orders. "Didn't any of the lugs you brought with you have enough brain cells between them to make one semi-intelligent person?"
He winced and pulled the phone away from his ear. Meg's voice carried, even over the tiny speaker
"Just get it done Crowley!"
Sam, who had stepped away and was listening to Dean warn him about the ghouls, smirked at the demon's discomfort before murmuring a quiet acknowledgement to what his brother was telling him.
"Sam… Do I hear Crowley in the background?"
"Crap. He's why the wards went off?"
Crowley gave the younger Winchester a wicked grin, and promptly disappeared.
"It's okay, but Crowley just pulled a vanishing act."
"And double crap. Get back here Sammy, now."
As Crowley would have mentioned in another timeline, he was in sales. A good salesman did research. A busy and successful salesman, hired personal assistants to do it for them.
Bela might still be trapped in Hell as a human soul, but she fit in very well working for Crowley and knew how to delegate to get a job done. Five minutes Earth time later (longer Hell time of course), Bela sent the obituaries and a collection of pictures on each person to Crowley's mobile. It had almost literally been Hell getting magic and electronics to work together when he set up the phone and computer lines to his offices in Hell, but times like these it was worth every frustrating moment and blood sacrifice it had taken to pull it off.
He read the obits and flipped through the photos before popping off and dropping the cell phone in Meg's lap.
"I'm going for a drink." He disappeared again before the she-bitch even had time to look pissed off.
The bar he stopped in didn't have a hope of carrying a bottle of Craig, but it did have a few top shelf brands. Crowley was just taking his first sip when an older man and a young woman of questionable legal drinking age came in. Given the family resemblance, almost anyone would take them for a grandfather and granddaughter.
Crowley wasn't anyone. The demon choked slightly on his drink as he recognised the matches to two of the photos he'd been looking at just a few minutes earlier.
He quickly turned his back to them, keeping an eye on them in the mirror. The Grandfather and granddaughter settled in and ordered drinks. Either the ghouls hadn't spotted him, didn't remember him from Blue Earth, or they were confident that he wouldn't recognize them.
Along with the mirror, the wall behind the bar was covered in memorabilia from the owner's life. After a few minutes of the ghouls not doing anything interesting, he glanced up at the photos. He almost choked on his drink a second time as he spotted the article about the police recovering a whack load of stolen bodies.
"Bollocks." The demon said quietly, as he stared at an old newspaper photo, containing one John Winchester, half-hidden by a tree and a crowd of onlookers as the police dealt with seventeen recovered corpses.
It now occurred to him that he hadn't asked Sam Winchester exactly why they were in Windom, having assumed that a large number of demons landing on the place had set off the pet angel they seemed to be dragging around with them ever since Niveus.
He was beginning to think there was more to it than that.
"So, Crowley and Meg started tracking the ghouls as a way to get to me?"
Sam shrugged while Castiel stood off to the side, frowning.
"In what universe does that make any sense?"
"This one, apparently." Castiel said, answering Dean's mostly rhetorical question. "You and the ghouls are in the same town at the same time, so the spell has done its job. And from the sound of it, the casting was general enough that Adam might have been the intended target."
"You think they could use Adam the way they were trying to use Dean?" Sam asked.
Cas nodded. "Yes, I believe it is possible. What you or Dean would sacrifice for each other, Adam would sacrifice for his mother. The ghouls could lead them to him. Not only that, they could cause the situation wherein Adam might sacrifice his soul to save her."
Castiel nodded, completely in agreement with Dean. The situation was indeed crap.
So, to sum up, he'd found the ghouls. The bloody Winchesters, past and present were somehow involved with them, creating a mess that they were already sunk into up to their armpits and he now had to figure out what to do about it.
Well, he could call Meg.
The mental laughter was almost painful and once Crowley had recovered from it, he ordered a second glass of whiskey, sipping it slowly as he considered his other options.
Note to self, never snort while drinking, because Scotch up your nose, hurts.
Recovering from the assault on his nasal cavities, he returned to watching the carnivore couple in the mirror. It didn't take long to realize that despite an attempt at subtlety, the two of them had a real hard on for the bartender. They took turns watching him, and were always looking somewhere else when Barton turned towards them, but they weren't worrying much about the other customers noticing what they were doing.
It then occurred to him, if he wanted to know what was going on, there was someone he could ask.
Two someone's in fact.
"This isn't the time Sis."
The young woman glowered at the drink in her hand.
"Then when will it be time? We're here, we've talked about this for months and I'm tired of living like this. Of hiding and scrounging when the cop and the hunter that killed our father are still alive when he isn't." She glanced over at the bartender. "We can take him tonight and go after Winchester's whore and spawn in a few days."
"And what about the demons? "
She shrugged and took a sip of her drink. "They're flukes. We probably screwed up something they were doing and they're pissed about it. Give them a few more hours and they'll stop looking for us."
"Mind if I join you?" They both jerked in surprise as a 'man' seemed to appear next to them. Crowley smiled and didn't bother to wait for an answer before sitting down in an empty chair at their table.
"So, which one of you was the real-estate agent?" He asked, his smile turning into a smirk at the shocked expressions on their faces.
Crowley shook his head at the two ghouls. "What, you really thought that us chasing you across the country was a coincidence?
Grandpa gave him a glare, speaking more to defend his sister than because he'd agreed with her. "Why wouldn't we? We have no dealings with your kind. "
Crowley nodded. "Normally I would agree with you, but it seems we currently have something in common."
At the ghoul's frown, the demon tilted his head towards the bar. "Noticed that old papa Winchester was in town a few years back. From the newspaper article I saw, I'd say he messed up your plans, big time."
The female ghoul growled and lashed out at him, a knife he wasn't surprised she had extending her reach. Crowley mentally slammed her arm down on the table before it made it half way to him, and held it there while he plucked the knife out of her hand. The other ghoul glowered at him, but did nothing.
"I take it that papa Winchester messed up more than just plans."
"He killed our Father." The blonde ghoul spat the words out and jerked back as Crowley let her go. "We've been hiding ever since. Spent years being careful. Even left Windom when the hunter started visiting." Rubbing her sore arm, she glared at him. "He smashed our world and we're done hiding from him.
That bit of news had Crowley looking thoughtful. Somehow, these two were supposed to lead them to the righteous man, so…
"Planning on going after his whelps then?"
"Yes, we'll take his little bastard and the slut that gave birth to him. Then we'll use their forms to destroy him."
Crowley opened his mouth in shock but managed to snap it shut before he could say anything about John Winchester being dead. Besides, he had other things to worry about.
"When you say bastard and slut…"
Grandpa answered this time, a sneer in his voice. "Kate and Adam, mother and son." He picked up a peanut out of the complimentary bowl on the table and cracked open the shell noisily. "The hunter knocked her up and then left town. We didn't know about them until Winchester started visiting his kid a few years ago. "He popped the freed peanut into his mouth and chewed. "We hit the road when that started. Staying here became too dangerous."
Crowley's head was spinning. There was another Winchester, one no one had known about. The possibilities that conjured.
Maybe, maybe Dean Winchester wasn't the one and only Righteous Man. After all, John Winchester himself had seemed a likely candidate for that role at one time. He sacrificed for his son, his son sacrificed for his brother. What might this Winchester sacrifice himself for? If the boy had someone he loved more than his own life…
He realised he'd been thinking a little too hard as both ghouls were looking at him uncertainly.
"When did you decide you were coming back here?" His very obscure spell identified them as something that could help them find the Righteous Man. When the two tall morons showed up, it seemed that it had worked. But, if it wasn't tracking Dean, then he needed to know. If the ghouls were just running back to familiar ground after being attacked then this Adam might not have anything to do with the mess.
In fact, please let him not have anything to do with it. The last thing anyone needed was another Winchester out there muddying up the waters.
The two ghouls looked at each other and shrugged.
"We decided a few days ago. Being back here now is just a little sooner than we'd intended."
The demon almost groaned. A few days ago was about when he'd cast his spell. If they'd put off that decision a few more days then maybe his spell wouldn't have picked up on them.
He snorted. Right.
He didn't know what it was, but every now and then, he got the feeling that something was trying to make him its bitch. And no, he wasn't talking about Meg.
Dean looked out the window for the umpteenth time, checking to make sure that Kate's neighbours hadn't made it home. With any luck, they'd be gone before he'd have to talk with any of them. He paced back to where Castiel was chalking out a sigil on Kate's dinner table and stared at the Angel for a few moments. Cas ignored him and Dean didn't bother trying to talk with him, as distracting him would just make this take longer. Tiring of watching the spell prep, he was stalking back to the window as Sam came in, carrying supplies from the car.
His brother walked over to the angel and handed him the small bowl he was carrying.
"Here, there was still some stuck to the shovels from the last salt and burn."
"Thank you." Cas took the grave dirt, centered a large copper bowl on the sigil he'd just finished and poured the dirt into it.
"Did you have any of the coins?"
"Oh, right." Sam pulled out a couple of old tarnished coins and handed then to Cas. The angel dropped them into the bowl and looked over at Dean.
Dean sighed and joined Cas at his makeshift altar, holding out his arm. He hissed slightly when Cas took his hand and quickly cut him, holding his bleeding appendage over the bowl for several seconds before healing him and letting him go.
"You sure this is going to work?"
Cas nodded as he added herbs and poured a small amount of oil into the bowl. With a thought, he set in on fire. Closing his eyes and breathing in the smoke, using it to ground himself as he sent his mind out to find the ghouls.
"I've found them." His eyes snapped open and he frowned slightly. "They're in a bar." His frown deepened. "Barton's."
That had Dean frowning as well. "I think I've been there…" His eyes widened. "Oh crap. The deputy."
Dean gave Sam a partially amused, partially annoyed look. "The guy who helped dad with the ghouls back in the day." Sam continued to look confused and Dean sighed. "He owns that bar now."
"Oh…" Eyes widening. "Oh, crap."
As one, they turned to talk with Castiel…
To find that the angel was already long gone.
The stink of angel was always hard to miss, even when it was still outside the bar. Either the Winchester's pet celestial was giving them a hand, or this many demons in one area had some of the less than bright angels looking for a fight. Either way, it was time to leave. Crowley knocked back the rest of his drink and stood up from the table.
"I believe that's my cue."
Not surprisingly, his two companions appeared confused.
"Good luck with your Winchester hunt… and all that. Oh, and try to stay away from the other demons in town. They're not as 'nice' as I am." Actually, he'd kill these two now if he thought Meg wouldn't find out about it, but he couldn't risk it.
As he headed out, the bar door opened and a 'man' in a rumpled overcoat came in. Crowley stiffened, but remained hopeful. While he'd only seen him in passing, this was definitely the angel he'd seen with the Winchesters back at Niveus.
Of course, the angel had to go and recognize him as well. From the look on birdbrain's face the only thing stopping him from delivering a Crowley beat down were the human that would be witnesses to the event.
Raising his hands up in mock surrender he moved past the feathered pest, hoping the semi truce he had with the Winchesters would hold. The angel didn't say anything, his glower becoming impossibly more intense for a moment before he obviously dismissed the demon and focused on the ghouls.
Interesting. It appeared that the moose's failed attempt to hide his interest in the happy couple was more than just a coincidence.
Crowley paused at the door to watch as the angel made his way to the bar and order a drink. He was a little surprised that one of the choirboys knew enough about humans to realize that he would look out of place in the bar without one. He watched for another minute, once again struck by a sense of déjà vu when it came to the angel in the trench coat. He might have stayed even longer to puzzle the feeling out, but he was certain that he'd let Meg stew in her own annoyance long enough and if he wanted to keep some semblance of control over his afterlife then he needed to go placate her now.
Besides, she still had his phone.