This is my entry for the dc_everafter challenge at LiveJournal, round#2. I made a fusion of Supernatural and the Russian fairy tale "The Firebird" (can be found on Wiki).

Disclaimer: Not mine, which is a pity.

The Quest of the Golden Feather - Not Your Average Fairy Tale

Once upon a time, there was an empire called Johnny-land. It was ruled by Tsar John XLIII, a man spending a bigger part of his time at the royal shooting range than ruling the empire, thus causing a lot of mumbling and grumbling amongst his counsellors. But since this story doesn't cover any possible uprisings or overthrowing of governments, that's not of import.

Anyway, the tsar had three sons; Dean, Sam and Adam. Like all people born into publicity, they had their own kinds of inferiority complex. Dean had separation anxiety issues but tried to make up for it with a macho kind of attitude. Sam had some complex for his abnormal height and his forehead, which was the size of a soccer field. And Adam was just having inferiority complex in general, as well as his head in the clouds.

Tsar John also owned a magical apple tree, which really wasn't growing apples at all, but golden ammunition to load his guns with. The tree was well-known throughout the country and people went "oohhh" and "aahhh" whenever it was brought up in conversation. So when the golden bullets suddenly started disappearing from the magical tree before the tsar could pick them, he went into royal rage.

"Where the fucking hell is my golden ammo?" he roared, almost giving his advisor Chuck a heart attack in the process. Little did Chuck, or anyone else, know that Tsar John was secretly pleased with the situation. He had long ago realized that gold simply wasn't a suiting material for bullets, though being tsar he figured that using it was the best choice anyway, for appearance's sake. But now, with the golden ammunition repeatedly disappearing, maybe he would be able to start using iron or steel or whatever the ordinary peasants put in their barrels.

However, something had to be done. It was the principle of the thing. So Tsar John asked Chuck for advice.

"I suggest you let your sons keep guard at the tree and catch the ammunition thief by surprise, your majesty," Chuck said. "That's what happens in all fairy tales, and that many stories can't be wrong."

Tsar John, being surprisingly suspicious of his closest advisor, demanded to read all these fairy tales personally. After days of searching, the door to the royal library was found behind a pile of shooting trophies, and the servants came back with a HUGE (and very dusty) book containing every fairy tale ever known to mankind. It took the tsar three weeks getting through it, but when he finally finished, he had realized that Chuck was right – sending his sons out to catch the thief would be the only logical thing to do.

The problem was that he didn't want the thief to be caught. As has already been established, the tsar enjoyed shooting with bullets that weren't squished by the target, to make a difference from the other way around. I know! he thought, I'll only send Sam and Adam to guard the tree. They're too incompetent to succeed. Dean, on the other hand, might be able to actually accomplish something. I better keep him out of it.

So that very night, Prince Dean was grounded and sent to his room for smoking secretly. Prince Sam and Prince Adam were summoned before their father.

"My sons," the tsar started, "as you know, golden ammunition has been stolen from my magical apple tree. I need you two to stand guard and get that greedy son of a bitch when he returns! The one of you who succeeds to catch him will receive half of my empire and my oldest rifle." He ignored Chuck, who was making an attempt to rush forward and hiss that, even as a tsar, you couldn't split a country in two just like that. And besides, what would happen to the other half when John died?

"But I don't want half of your empire," Prince Adam said, a nervous frown forming on his forehead.

"Well, you're not getting all of it, son," Tsar John said in a tone between fatherly and scolding. "You'll have to do with half."

"I don't want any part of the kingdom at all," Adam said. "I'd rather…"

"Rather what?" the tsar scoffed, his eyes widening when he heard music starting to play in the background. As Prince Adam opened his mouth to take the first tone, Tsar John threw himself forward and covered his mouth with his hand. "Stop that, stop that! You're not going to do a song while I'm here. Now listen, lads, tonight you will keep guard in the garden whether you like it or not, so you'd better get used to the idea!" Then he stormed off, muttering about how contraceptives would've made his life so much easier.


That night, Prince Sam and Prince Adam went out into the garden, Sam carrying a cloth bag of necessities. As they reached the magical apple tree, he pulled out a .45 Magnum, which Tsar John had given him "just in case". Adam was already carrying a slingshot in his belt (after thirteen injured people, two explosions and 220,000 rubles in damages, their father had declared him a lost cause when it came to handguns).

"So, now what?"

"We wait, I guess," Sam answered while making himself comfortable on the ground, leaning back against the tree. Adam tentatively sat down beside him. "What if we fall asleep?"

"We won't."

Ten minutes later, they were both sound asleep.


"So, boys, do you have any good news? Did you catch the thieving asshole and give him a good beating?" as Tsar John put it so nicely the next morning, when he sat down at the head of the royal breakfast table.

Prince Adam and Prince Sam threw each other quick looks over their eggs and bacon. "Uh… no," Sam said hesitantly. "He never showed."

The tsar frowned. "Never showed? Really?"

"Yeah," Sam nodded. "We were awake all night." He looked hard at his brother. "Weren't we, Adam?"

The youngest prince hissed, as if his leg had mysteriously been kicked under the table. "Ouch! I mean, yes, we were. Didn't even close our eyes." He nodded frenetically.

In that moment, Prince Dean walked, or rather stumbled, into the room. Rubbing the sleep out of his eyes, he slumped down on a chair and reached for the cornflakes.

"Good morning, my son," Tsar John said sternly.

Dean blinked in his direction. "Mornin', dad," he mumbled, starting to shovel down his breakfast. His father scowled at his bad manners, but didn't comment. After a while, when the sugary cornflakes had started having some effect on the oldest prince, he looked up, throwing quick looks between his brothers. "So, did you catch the thief?" His tone was a little bitter, since he was still angry about unfairly being sent to his room the night before. (In fact, he had been smoking, so that's not what he was upset about. What made him angry was that he knew for a fact that there hadn't been any witnesses, so it was obvious that Tsar John had grounded him because he wanted him out of the way and not for actually punishing him.)

"No," Prince Sam said, swallowing down some bacon. "We didn't even see him."

"Huh." For a moment, there was silence. "Can I do it then?"

The tsar raised his eyebrows. "Do what?"

"Stand guard, I mean. Maybe I could get him."

Tsar John was about to say no, but then remembered the book he had read. Apparently, it was standard in fairy tales that if one son got a task, the others must as well. You had to be fair. He didn't like it, but who was he to disagree with fairy tales?

"Oh, all right then."


Prince Dean prepared for the night by hoarding Red Bull and toilet paper like it was made of gold. He stuffed it all into a plastic bag (since he wasn't as concerned about the environment as Sam was) and went out to the garden, where he set down camp. He refused to let himself fall asleep, gulping down enough Red Bull to give the National Food Administration a collective stroke. (So much liquid had to end up somewhere, of course – thus the toilet paper.)

But no matter what Dean never let down his guard, and at 04:17:32 in the morning he heard a flapping sound. As he looked up, he saw a firebird sitting on one of the branches, happily eating the golden bullets. After a few moments' contemplation on how effective the bird's gastric juices must be he slowly started climbing, grabbing the bird by its tail.

Of course, the firebird spread its wings and flew away. But our hero managed to hold on, resulting in one of the golden tail feathers suddenly switching owner.

After swearing a little about losing the actual bird, Dean comforted himself by remembering how his brothers hadn't noticed anything at all. Even a single feather was better than nothing. Dad's gonna pour me with praise!


"So, Dean? How did it go?" the tsar asked the following morning, almost apprehensively. "It's all right if you failed to catch the thief. I won't have you make another attempt."

"Another attempt won't be needed, dad!" Prince Dean triumphantly held up his prize. "I caught that son of a bitch red-handed!"

"Oh, did you?" Tsar John said with a faint smile. Adam and Sam glared but didn't add to the conversation.

"Yeah, it was a firebird! I almost caught it but it got away. Now all we've got to do is find that feathered freak and we can have a chicken barbeque!"

"That's brilliant," his father said and gave a thumbs-up. "Excuse me one moment, my son." He hurriedly left the table, for the purpose of chasing down his advisor.

He found him in the hallway. "All this is your fault!" he hissed, grabbing Chuck's collar and pushing him up against the wall.

"What is?" Chuck gasped.

"Dean actually managed to reveal the thief! I didn't want him to! If you hadn't come with your stupid fairy tale ideas none of this would've happened!"

"I apologize, your majesty," the advisor wheezed out, frantically panting for air. Tsar John finally got the hint as Chuck's face started taking on a purplish-blue colour, and let him down.

"Now what?" the tsar grumbled, crossing his arms.

It took a few seconds before his advisor had gathered enough air to answer. "I'm sorry, your majesty, but I'm afraid you have to send your sons out on a quest to find the antagonist."

"Dean too?" Tsar John whined.

"Yes, your majesty. You've already picked the fairy tale way, so to say, so you better follow it to the end."

The tsar swore under his breath. "Fucking hell."


And so, the three princes got into their cars and set out on their travels. (Adam tagged along with Sam, since his driving talents pretty much matched his shooting talents.) Prince Dean was driving his silver-coloured Aston Martin V8 Vantage from 1987.

They started by following the freeway for about fifty miles, until Adam realized that it was rather illogical for both the cars to go in the same direction. He informed Sam of this, who agreed, and they then called Dean's cell phone and told him about it. So they went their separate ways.

Dean drove near and far, high and low, until he finally admitted to himself that installing a GPS navigator from the beginning would've been a good idea. After buying one, he finally managed to stay in one direction and stop getting lost. After days of driving, greasy diners, and sleazy motels – for speedily a tale is spun, but with less speed a deed is done – he finally came to a crossroad with a strange road sign:

Whoever goes from this sign on the road straight before him will suffer from starvation and pneumonia.

Whoever goes to the right side will be safe and sound, but his car will get royally screwed.

Whoever goes to the left side will meet certain death, but his car will make it without a scratch.

"Huh," Dean said to himself. "That's interesting." Since his streak of ambivalence had just kicked in, he decided to play rock-paper-scissors with himself to decide on which way he was going to take. He ended up going to the right side, which was a little sad, since his Aston Martin made him feel like James Bond. On the other hand, he'd apparently make it out in one piece, which was always something to be grateful for.

He drove for a few hours, and when nothing happened, he started suspecting that maybe the inscription on the road sign had been bull crap after all.

He really shouldn't have thought that.

All of a sudden, something grey and hairy emerged from the brushwood to Dean's right and ran up unto the road. Its jaws snapped right outside the car window, only a few inches from Dean's elbow, and the prince shrieked a very unmanly shriek (which he would deny until his dying days) and swerved off the road.

CRASH!

It took a few moments before Prince Dean had gathered enough strength to say "ouch". And anyhow, it wasn't needed, since the airbag – which was surprisingly 21st century for a car being made in 1987 – had caught him and he hadn't the slightest bruise.

With a groan, which was mostly for effect, he managed to open the door and stumble out. He turned back to the car, only to discover that his beloved Aston Martin now was more fitted for a junkyard than a Bond movie. "Fuck!"

Then he heard a throat being cleared. A huge, grey wolf sat on the ground a few yards away, a strangely guilty look upon its furry face. It said in a deep, gravely voice: "Um, my apologies about your vehicle. My canine nature makes chasing cars irresistible. This never would've happened a few hundred years ago."

Dean blinked at the animal. "Because there were no cars back then?"

"Well, no. Because I wasn't a wolf back then." The wolf looked anywhere but at Dean. It seemed very uncomfortable. "Never mind. Anyway, I'd like to offer my services. It's the least I could do, really… although, you did choose to go to the right. You can't blame me for that one," it added defensively.

Dean wanted to argue, but realized that the wolf's last statement was absolutely correct. And as a prince, he'd had some sort of honour code installed in him, even though it wasn't always easy to see. "Yeah, sure. So, what services are you offering me, anyway?"

The wolf looked at him directly for the first time, and the prince was stunned by the intense blue colour of its eyes. "That depends on your mission, really. Tell me why you have travelled so far, and where you are going."

"My dad has sent me to journey the world until I find the firebird, whereupon we'll fry that feathery jerk."

The wolf raised a furry eyebrow. "Well, you could've been driving your nice automobile for years and never found the firebird. I'm the only one who knows where it lives." It paused. "All right, maybe not the only one, but one of very few. I destroyed your Ferrari –"

"Aston Martin."

"– Aston Martin, so now I will serve you faithfully and well. Get on my back and hold on tight."

Dean frowned. "You're kidding, right?"

"Why would I jest?"

"This is the 21st century, dude. I don't know how to ride a horse."

"How lucky then that I am no horse. And I'm sorry, but you don't really have much of a choice. I don't have a Porsche –"

"Aston Martin."

"– Aston Martin of my own lying around in the bushes, and walking would take too long."

So the hero of our story climbed the wolf's back, only to fall down on the other side. "Oomph!"

The wolf frowned. "Try again."

It took twenty-four minutes for Dean to finally get a good enough grip, and the wolf set off, not running, but rather falling into a slow trot. "Are you aware that this would've gone so much faster if you had been a bit more classic and learned horseback-riding, Prince Dean?"

Dean scowled. "Yeah, whatever." Something occurred to him. "Wait, how do you know my name, anyway?"

"I read the script beforehand. I take it you didn't."

"Nope."

"Ah. I guess I have to tell you my story manually, then?"

"Uh-huh."

The wolf rolled his eyes, though Dean couldn't see it. "My name is Castiel. I was originally a human, but I disagreed with my family on certain matters, and it ended up with my brother Raphael turning me into a wolf, for the single purpose of annoying me. I really don't agree this is a suiting punishment for what I did. I mean, there are no actual laws for which spices to use in a chicken casserole, is there? That's where a little original thinking gets you. Anyway, he turned me into a wolf, and I can transform into a few other shapes as well, but I'm unable to retain my true form until I receive True Love's Kiss, with capitals."

Dean disbelievingly raised an eyebrow. "'True Love's Kiss'? Are you serious?"

Castiel shrugged, almost making Dean fall off. "He's been reading too many fairy tales."

"What a weirdo."

"I most certainly agree with you."

"So you won't turn human until someone lays a big smooch on you?"

"That's one way to put it, but yes."

"Huh."


They travelled for ages and ages and ages and ages, and Dean's royal tailbone was aching, and who insisted on Russia being so damn big anyway? If this had been happening in Belgium, this story would've been over with at least a thousand words ago – when at last they came to a very high fortress. Dean slipped down from Castiel's back and massaged his poor butt, as Castiel said: "Listen to me, Prince Dean, and remember what I say. Tsar Crowley lives in this castle, and he's in possession of the firebird. Climb over the wall and sneak in through the back door. Take the stairs all the way to the attic; there you'll find a cage with the firebird inside. Take the bird, but do not touch its bag of birdseed."

"How am I getting over the wall?"

Castiel gave him a look that said: "duh, what are you, stupid?" and nodded to a practical ladder standing a few feet away.

"Ah."

With some help from the practical ladder, Prince Dean climbed the wall. While humming the theme to Mission Impossible he sneaked through the garden, past the guards who were sitting in an arbour playing cards, and silently got in through the back door. He climbed the stairs up to the attic, and just like Castiel had said, there was a cage in which the firebird was hanging out. Dean took the bird, put it under his leather jacket and was about to turn around and leave, when he noticed the bag of birdseed.

It was spun out of silver thread and the seeds inside were made of gold. I see now where this chicken got its taste for golden ammo, Prince Dean thought. He had a (very bad) idea. Maybe, if I bring the birdseed home with me, dad can use it to make some new bullets? He completely forgot what Castiel had said and reached for the bag. But as soon as he touched it, the alarm went off. Spotlights zoomed in on him from nowhere and people started screaming all over the castle. Before Dean knew it, the guards were there (in various levels of undress after their game of strip poker), captured him and took him to the throne room.

Tsar Crowley lay on a divan, being fed grapes and wine by two pretty girls. His advisor, Alastair (Dean figured that must be his identity because of the name badge on his shirt with the text: Alastair, Royal Advisor on it), sat in a big armchair gulping down wine at a pace that would make Alcoholics Anonymous force their way in, had they known.

Tsar Crowley glared at Dean. "Trying to steal my firebird, eh? Who are you, and where are you from?" he said in an accent that sounded strangely British for being Russian.

"I'm Prince Dean, son of Tsar John," Dean answered.

Tsar Crowley's frown deepened. "Meg, Ruby, leave us," he said and waved the girls off in a very annoying and male chauvinistic way. He then turned back to Dean. "What makes the son of a tsar coming here to steal? That's shameful!"

"Maybe," Dean answered, "but your bird flew to our garden and stole the golden bullets from my dad's magical apple tree."

"In that case you should've just told me about it, and I would've given you the firebird, if for no other reason that your dad might shoot me otherwise." He made a face. "But what you have done is disgraceful, and you certainly deserve my letting all of Russia know about it!" He paused. "I just might be willing to let it slide though. For a price. To business."

Alastair, the advisor, raised his glass and shouted: "To business!"

Tsar Crowley gave him a strange look.

Alastair lowered his glass and looked embarrassed. "I'm sorry, sir, I thought you were proposing a toast."

The tsar shook his head and turned back to Prince Dean. "In order to earn my forgiveness, you must do something for me. A certain Tsar Zachariah owns a 1967 Chevrolet Impala. Bring me that car, and I'll give you the firebird and the birdseed. You may leave."

Prince Dean felt a little bit ashamed as he left the grounds and met up with Castiel. The wolf didn't look too impressed. "You didn't succeed, am I right?"

"What gave it away?"

"The alarms and lights and shouting of 'Come on, quickly, someone's stealing the firebird' were rather valid clues."

"Ah."

And so Prince Dean told Castiel about all that had happened and the task Tsar Crowley had given him. The wolf sighed, but didn't say anything. Apparently he had the patience of a rock.

If this was a normal fairy tale, Dean would've climbed onto Castiel's back and raced off without rest or sleep. But since it isn't, they both decided to take a break for one friggin' time's sake because they had travelled more than enough for one day already. They spent a good hour looking for a good place to set up camp, before they came to the conclusion that they had better set down where they were from the beginning. Dean lit a fire and they sat down for a miserable attempt at dinner. Castiel had never tasted s'mores before, and after this first try he resolved to never taste them again. The prince was a bit disappointed, but on the other hand, more s'mores for him.

Prince Dean lay back on the ground, gazing up at the stars above him. "So, tell me more about yourself."

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Castiel doing the head-tilt thing. "What do you wish to know?"

"I dunno. Everything. Anything. Feels weird to travel around the whole stupid country on the back of a guy whom I know absolutely nothing about, except the fact that he used to be human but has turned grey and hairy because of a family row. What's with that mess anyway?"

Castiel frowned in a rather human way. "Well, I used to work as an accountant."

Dean snorted and raised his head, staring at the wolf. "An accountant? Seriously?"

"Yes, why wouldn't I be?"

"Difficult to imagine you in a suit, that's all. Sorry, carry on."

His hairy companion sighed. "So, I was an accountant at the family company. A publishing house for self-help books such as 'You're Different And That's Bad', 'Originality Will Get You Nowhere' and 'Who Do You Think You Are? Haven't You Heard About The Jante Law?'" He held up a paw at Dean's expression. "Don't say it. Don't."

Dean sank back with a frown, but didn't comment.

"I never questioned anything. Why should I? I come from a large family and practically everyone does the family business. It was all I knew." He sighed. "Then I did something that was different, and poof! here I am."

"Dude, that sucks," Dean said sympathetically.

Castiel shrugged his shoulders. "I've had four hundred years getting used to it."

Silence fell. The only thing making a sound was an owl hooting on a branch, occasionally treating Dean's royal backpack to its droppings.

Dean pulled his jacket on top of him, a pile of moss under his head, and tried to sleep. He didn't manage to, though, until a warm body snuggled up next to his.


Dean woke up at something soft nudging him. He rolled over and, without opening his eyes, threw an arm around and pulled close what obviously was a pretty girl (or boy, or hermaphrodite) sharing his bed.

"Dean?" came a deep growl. "You seem to be… embracing me."

"JESUS FUCKING CHRIST AND MAID MARY!" Dean scrambled away, bumping into a tree and being hit in the head by a squirrel. Castiel didn't move from his spot but raised his head and stared evenly at Dean with his blue eyes. "Is something wrong?"

Dean blinked for a while, and then shook his head. It was difficult feeling awkward when the other person involved in the situation didn't seem to feel awkward at all. "No."

"Good. We have a lot to do today, so get on my back."

This time, it only took seventeen minutes before Dean managed to get up.


So they travelled on and on and yadda yadda, until they reached another castle. "This is where Tsar Zachariah lives," Castiel told him. "The Rolls Royce –"

"1967 Chevrolet Impala."

"– 1967 Chevrolet Impala is in the garage. Climb over the wall and steal it, but be careful, and do not touch the extra rims. And I know what you're going to ask me about – there's a practical ladder over there."

Prince Dean climbed over the wall using the practical ladder. He didn't have to go far until he saw the garage. He sneaked into the garage and saw the most incredible car he'd ever laid his eyes upon – even more amazing than his late Aston Martin! Damn, he thought, she's a beauty. He got into the car and hotwired it (the fact you're a prince doesn't necessarily mean you don't learn some useful activities), but just as he was going to slowly drive away, he spotted the extra silver rims lying on the garage floor next to the wall. Wow, those are gorgeous! And of course, of course he reached for them, resulting in lights flashing, guards yelling and helicopters flapping.

Tsar Zachariah's throne room looked very different from Tsar Crowley's. It was much smaller, for instance. The walls were painted green and white and a harp stood in a corner. There were neither grapes nor wine, but on the table in the centre of the room there were plates with piles of cheeseburgers, making Prince Dean's mouth water.

"Who are you, and where are you from?" Tsar Zachariah asked in a sharp voice, crossing his arms.

"My, is that the first phrase in 'Tsar-ing for Dummies' or something?" Dean muttered. As the tsar frowned, he raised his voice. "I said, I'm Prince Dean, son of Tsar John."

"Oh, really? And I take it you have a great reason for stealing my Impala? Otherwise, such an act shows very little wisdom. Even a simple peasant wouldn't do such a thing." Suddenly the tsar smirked, in a very scary way. If he'd been seen close to a playground, the parents would've called the police. "But I will let you off easily, Prince Dean, if you do me a little favour."

Story of my life, Dean thought.

"Tsarina Ellen has a daughter, the lovely Princess Jo. I desire her for my bride. Fetch her and bring her to me, and I'll give you the Impala and the extra silver rims."

And Prince Dean agreed, because what else could he do?

When he left the grounds and met up with Castiel, the wolf looked resigned. "Succeeding at quests such as this one isn't one of your greatest talents, is it, Prince Dean?"

"Rub it in, why don't you?" Dean growled, and then proceeded to tell the wolf about the task Tsar Zachariah had given him.

Castiel sighed in a rather chastened way. "It seems we have to take care of that as well."

He looked so down that Dean felt a little bad for him. "Hey… I'm sorry. If I'd done what you told me to, then we would've been over with this mission… quest… thing already. You don't need to go with me, really. If you'd just point me in the right direction I'll take it from there. Don't worry, I can handle it."

Castiel tilted his hairy head and gazed at him. "Thank you, but no. I promised to serve you and I will until this is all over." He paused, and there was a glint in his blue eyes. "And besides, you can't handle it. Your actions so far have proven it."

"Hey!"


When the time came to sleep, the prince lay down next to the wolf – close enough to feel Castiel's warmth, but far enough for it not to be inappropriate. (Or at least what Dean guessed would count as inappropriate when you're sleeping close to a wild animal.) After all, they were two different species.

Dean couldn't help thinking that was a little sad.


Dean got better and better at climbing Castiel's back. The morning after, he managed to get up and stay there at the twenty-first attempt, with the wolf congratulating him to his progress. Then they set off, but I'm not gonna describe that to you, since you all know how this part of the story goes anyways.

When they finally reached the fortress of Tsarina Ellen, Castiel had a different plan than before. "I don't want you to fail again –"

"Gee, thanks for that."

"– so this time, I'm taking care of matters. You can begin going back to Tsar Zachariah; I'll catch up with you."

Prince Dean was about to turn his back and leave, when he realized: "Wait. If you were going to send me back anyway, why did you bring me here in the first place? Couldn't I just have stayed outside Tsar Zachariah's place and waited for you? That would've saved time."

"I'm aware of that. Blame the people who wrote down this ridiculous folktale in the first place."

After agreeing that said people had been stupid, the two companions parted ways. Dean set off for Tsar Zachariah's castle while rubbing his butt, and Castiel climbed the place's practical ladder – quite remarkable for a canine – and sneaked into the royal garden, where he hid behind a shrubbery.

Princess Jo, Tsarina Ellen's daughter, was walking back and forth with her ladies-in-waiting, Becky and Sarah. They were discussing the latest episode of House, M.D., and arguing about who the most attractive person on the show was. Becky praised Robert Chase, Sarah put her vote on Foreman, and the princess had just revealed that she preferred Allison, a statement that made Becky squeal and Sarah raise her eyebrows.

"Oh my god, why didn't you say something?" Becky screeched. "I love gays! You would've made my day! Oh, I'm so happy for you!"

"Uh, okay," Jo said, scratching her head – the crown was itching. (She had begged her mother for permission to wear a trucker's cap, like the court mechanic Bobby, but Ellen insisted that a crown was the only headwear suiting a princess. Jo thought that was a rather hypocrite thing to say as she knew that her mother, too, hated wearing a crown, but that's parents for you.)

Sarah frowned. "Not that I disapprove or anything, mistress, but you could've told us."

"Why?" Jo asked, throwing her hands up in the air. "It's not a big deal! So what if I want to bed girls instead of guys?"

"Well, it IS a big deal now, isn't it? I mean, since your mum's about to give you away to that Duke Henriksen or whatever."

Princess Jo scowled. "Yeah, I guess." She sighed. "It bothers the crap out of me. I just wish there was a way for me to get away from this place, swiftly and silently…"

Two seconds later, she found herself flung over the back of a huge, grey animal, the ground rushing past under her. Before she could say: "What the fucking hell," they had flown over the wall and were down on the other side. (Of course, they didn't fly literally. It's a matter of speech. Or, in this case, writing.) Princess Jo clung onto whatever-she-was-sitting-on with both hands and prayed to God that she wouldn't fall off.

At last, they stopped. Jo tumbled down and found herself on the forest floor, sitting next to what seemed to be the biggest and greyest German shepherd she had ever seen in her entire life. "Nice doggie," she said, holding out her hand for the animal to sniff.

It looked at her like someone would look at a person with the IQ of a goldfish. "I am most certainly not a 'doggie'," it said in a deep voice, and then added, "And some people wouldn't call me 'nice' either, but that's beside the point. I happen to be a wolf. An enchanted wolf, to be precise. And I'm at least four hundred years older than you, so please stop patronizing me."

Princess Jo choked on her own breath and almost passed out, but she remembered that she was supposed to be tough and managed not to. Before she could say anything, the wolf spoke again. "My name is Castiel. I have come to take you away from your home, because –"

The princess brightened. "Really? That's awesome! Let's go!" She climbed his back, managing to get up on her first try, and kicked his flanks with her heels. Castiel growled. "Stop that." And then he ran off.


Prince Dean hadn't come very far, since he'd stopped at the first bar he saw and had had a few beers. But thanks to Castiel's excellent sense of smell, he was easily found, and the two humans greeted each other with surprisingly little respect considering they were both royalty (or maybe that's just why).

"So you're the loser that needs a furry assistant to save me," said Princess Jo with a smirk.

"And you're the stupid little princess who believes that we came for her sake," Prince Dean retorted.

Jo raised an eyebrow. "You didn't?"

Despite Castiel making furious gestures and faces behind Jo's back, Dean continued (he would later blame the alcohol). "No, we're actually going to dump you with a middle-aged creepy guy in exchange for a car."

Silence.

"You WHAT?"

It took Castiel several minutes to calm down Jo enough to cease her attempts to strangle Dean. She tried to turn on him instead, but found it considerably harder to fight a wolf the size of a Shetland pony. A wolf which easily dragged her off and then promptly sat on her legs until her breathing had slowed down and her face was no longer red with rage.

"I can assure you, Princess Jo, that we will not force you into marrying Tsar Zachariah." ("As if you could," Jo muttered.) "In fact, I do have a plan to deceive him into giving Prince Dean the Jaguar –"

"1967 Chevrolet Impala," Dean corrected him. Cars really aren't his thing.

"– 1967 Chevrolet Impala, without you being bothered."

"Seriously?" Dean asked, raising his eyebrows. "How? Why didn't you tell me?"

"You never asked."

Dean glared at Castiel, but Jo beat him to talking. "What's your plan?"

"As I have already informed Prince Dean, I have the ability to take other shapes than this one. I will take your shape, Princess Jo, and then the prince can take me to Tsar Zachariah's castle. After a while, I will take my leave and catch up with you."

"You could do that?"

As an answer, there was a pop! and in front of Dean and Jo stood… Jo.

"Son of a bitch," Dean breathed out, as the well-mannered prince he was. Jo gulped. "That is so freaky."

"My apologies," said Castiel-Jo, in a tone that was deeper than Jo-Jo's. "I didn't mean to make you uncomfortable."

Pop!

The wolf was back. Castiel sat on his butt and started using one of his back paws to scratch his ear, abruptly evicting a flea family in the process.

Jo and Dean looked at him, then at each other, and then back to Castiel. Jo raised her voice: "Listen, not that I'm complaining, but if you've had the ability to take my shape the whole time, then why did you bother coming to get me in the first place?"

The wolf tilted his head. "I must confess that I am not sure. This story seems to suffer from an unfortunate lack of logic."


Prince Dean was carefully holding Castiel-Jo's arm like a true gentleman as he escorted him (her?) through the entry gate at Tsar Zachariah's castle. "You know what to do?"

Castiel-Jo gave him a dry look. "You may be the one of us who is actual royalty, but judging from previous experience, I do have reason to believe that I will be able to handle upper-class behaviour even better than you would."

That utterance earned her (him?) a scowl, but Dean didn't really find it in him to start fighting about it – he had a suspicion that Castiel was right.

A guard who looked like he had constipation and wore a name badge with the text: Uriel, Royal Guard on it, went to show them the way. They entered the throne room and were greeted by a creepy smile with a tsar attached to it.

"Ah, Prince Dean," Tsar Zachariah grinned, "I see you have brought me my bride. It's a pleasure to meet you, Princess Jo." He leaned forward to kiss Castiel-Jo's hand and Dean forced a smile, fighting down the impulse to place a fist in the tsar's face. Castiel-Jo curtsied. "I am most honoured that your majesty finds me worthy as a spouse," she said.

If the tsar was surprised by the princess's deep voice, he didn't show it. In fact, his eyes were shining with delight as he thanked Dean for his service. "You have my gratitude, Prince Dean. You may take the Impala and the extra silver rims."

Dean reluctantly let go of Castiel-Jo's forearm, but not before giving his friend a look that meant: Are you sure about this? 'Cause if not, I could totally give him a good beating, and his Urinal friend too. Just say the word and I'm there.

Castiel-Jo raised a perfectly plucked eyebrow at him. "Thank you, Prince Dean, for bringing me to my extraordinary husband-to-be." Then she gave a little wave and stepped back, Dean's shoulders dropping.

"Uriel, show the prince the way to the royal garage," Tsar Zachariah ordered, then turning to Dean and winking. "Not that you really need a guide, am I right?"

"Ha-ha," the prince said half-heartedly, before being escorted out of the room.

Turning the key in the Impala's ignition and rolling out of the garage made him feel a little better, but only just. He drove a few kilometres until he reached the gay bar where they'd left the real Princess Jo. He was about to go and talk to her, but discovered that her tongue was currently down the throat of a woman in pyjamas called Jess (the woman, not the pyjamas) and decided to go sit in a corner instead. He tried to order a beer, but apparently the bartender only knew how to make purplish, fruity drinks with umbrellas and pineapple. Dean ordered one of those and then sat nursing it, occasionally beating off approaching (male) admirers with a rolled up newspaper, while wondering how Castiel was doing.


The mock-princess was, in that very moment, about to marry the sleaziest tsar in all of Russia. The local priest, Father Gabriel, stood before them. "Tsar Zachariah, do you promise to take Princess Jo for your wife, to love her forever and ever, even when she hits menopause and will be a pain in your royal ass?"

"I do," said Tsar Zachariah and grinned his creepy grin.

"And do you, Princess Jo, promise to do all that stuff?" The priest hesitated. "Well, except for the menopause thing, 'cause that'd be weird since he's a man, at least that's the impression I've been given and I have no reason to believe otherwise and even if I did, which I don't, I wouldn't be talking about it right here 'cause that would be inappropriate and OW! Why are you kicking me?" He turned around and glared at Uriel, the guard, who backed away to his corner while glaring back. Father Gabriel turned to the happy (?) couple again. "So anyway. Princess Jo, are you up for marrying this man or not?"

"I most certainly am," said Castiel-Jo with dignity.

"Right! Awesome. You may kiss."

The tsar grabbed his spouse, pulled her close and gave her a big, wet, sloppy kiss on the mouth – it was more like well-aimed drool, really. Moreover, it wasn't True Love's Kiss, which meant Castiel didn't suddenly regain his true shape (which was probably just as well – it would be kind of an anticlimax if it actually happened that way, am I right?).

After the wedding ball – which included the recently become tsarina accidentally stepping on everybody's feet, even those she wasn't dancing with – Tsar Zachariah led his new wife into his bedroom. But when he lay down beside her, there was a pop! and he was suddenly sharing bed with a member of the species Canis Lupus. He was about to scream something that would've made Father Gabriel gasp out: "Blasphemy!" but found his throat too dry (and his trousers wet).

Castiel didn't stay for a chat, but ran out of the castle as fast as he could. He wasn't discovered since the party was still going on, and he didn't stop running until he came to the gay bar where the prince and the princess were occupying themselves, but in different ways. The wolf turned himself into a human male and went in to look for them.

He found Dean in a corner, surrounded by glasses and sobbing against the shoulder of a young woman who was stroking his hair and mumbling soothing noises. But Dean wouldn't let himself get comforted. "An' I really… really… (sob) worry 'bout 'im, y'know, 'cause he's off all on 'is own an' (sob) he might need 'elp an' (blow nose) that creepy SOB that's got 'im (sniffle) might be mean to 'im. An' I know he can take care of 'imself (sob) but I just worry anyway (blow nose) sorry, gettin' snot all over you…" He clumsily tried to wipe his nasal fluids off the woman's shirt but only managed to smear it out and make it worse.

"Um… Prince Dean?"

The prince swirled around, almost falling over. "Cas? That you?"

"It's me, Castiel, if that is what you're trying to ask me."

"Cas!" Dean stumbled down from his bar stool and crashed into his friend. "So glad you're okay, dude. Really worried 'bout you." He tried to pat Castiel's hair but missed, settling for clinging to him hard. Castiel hesitantly brought his arms around him and raised an eyebrow at the woman, who was climbing down from her own bar stool and nodded at him. "Are you going to look after him now?"

"I guess I am," Castiel conceded. "Thank you for… assisting him."

"You're welcome, honey. Hey, you should show him how you really feel. For both of your sakes." She flashed a quick smile and disappeared into the crowd.

Castiel stared after her. Show him how I really feel? Right now, I only feel bewildered. He looked down at Dean, who was nuzzling his neck. "Dean? Dean, can you hear me?"

"'f course I can hear you, Cas. Always listenin' to what you say."

"That's good to hear. Where's the princess?"

"Whassit?"

"Princess Jo, where is she?"

Dean made a vague gesture. "She's right inna back. Got 'erself invited to a threesome, lucky bitch."

"I see," Castiel said, though he clearly didn't. "Well, why don't you and I go out to the Bentley –"

"1967 Chevrolet Impala," Dean mumbled into his chest.

"– 1967 Chevrolet Impala, and wait for her until she gets back?"

"M'kay."

Castiel half supported, half carried the prince out to the car, and managed to place him in the backseat. Unfortunately, Dean had such a strong grip on his shirt that Castiel tumbled in beside him, as well. Their legs tangled up together and Castiel figured it might get easier to get out if he took his wolf form, but that didn't work either, and finally he resigned himself to sleeping in the backseat of an Alfa Romeo – sorry, 1967 Chevrolet Impala – together with the son of a tsar.


"Well, this is awkward."

Dean's eyes snapped open. The first thing he noticed was Castiel lying half on top of him, snoring away without a care in the world. The second was Jo, staring at them through the open door. "It's not what it looks like!"

"I certainly hope so," the princess said with conviction. She slid into the passenger's seat. "So, are we off or what?"

"Aren't you a ray of sunshine," Dean grumbled without looking at her. "Castiel! Wake up!"

The wolf stretched and yawned, going straight into business-mode. "I suggest we immediately begin our journey towards Tsar Crowley's castle."

"Yeah, whatever," Dean said, climbing over to the driver's seat while trying to forget the night before.

Driving such a long distance with a wolf in the backseat proved to be complicated. Not because the car wasn't fast, but because Castiel clearly didn't like being closed up in such a small space.

"Would you stop shifting around like that? You're annoying me! Besides, you're shedding fur all over the upholstery."

The blue eyes looked at him sarcastically. "I am very sorry for being a wolf, Dean," he said. "Maybe you should take it up with my brother, who made me this way in the first place?"

That made Dean feel like a jerk (also, the practically toxic look Jo shot at him contributed). "Sorry," he muttered.

The princess, in an attempt to ease the tension, started describing her sexual adventures the night before in detail. And wouldn't stop. By the time they were approaching Tsar Crowley's fortress, Dean and Castiel had learnt more than they had ever wanted to about female gay sex. Not that any of them were judging, but there were some things about Jo's and her partners' anatomy and sensitivity to touch that they Really. Didn't. Want. To know.

They both fled the car, as soon as Dean had parked it. Dean, desperate to change the subject, immediately turned to the wolf, all awkwardness forgotten. "So I guess I'm just getting it over with. I hate to leave this darling to Crowley, but I guess you can't exactly turn yourself into a car…"

Pop!

In front of the prince stood a shiny new Chrysler 300B.

Dean was barely even surprised anymore. He sighed. "A 1967 Chevrolet Impala, Castiel."

Pop!


Tsar Crowley was delighted when Dean parked the Castiel-Impala in the royal driveway. As the prince stepped out, he couldn't keep himself from scowling as the tsar practically eye-fucked the car. "Well done, Prince Dean! You may take the firebird and the birdseed."

"Thanks," Dean said in a gruff voice, and patted the Castiel-Impala's roof gently. "Take care of yourself, buddy," he mumbled.

"What was that?"

"Uh, nothing. You might have to fill her up, though."

"I certainly will. Alastair, go and get the firebird for the prince."

The royal advisor, hiccupping and with his nose red from all the wine, stumbled off, zigzagging in the general direction of the tower where the firebird was held. It took several minutes before he returned, the cage irretrievably dented and the firebird hysterical after being dropped down the stairs.

"You forgot the birdseed," Tsar Crowley began, but held up his hand as Alastair started to turn back. "No, not you. Azazel, you go and get the birdseed."

A guard with coloured contact lenses (And who the hell wants yellow eyes anyway? Dean wondered) set off, eager to show that only because some of the tsar's servants were alcoholics didn't mean they all were. Unfortunately, he was high on LSD and got lost on the way, so it all ended up with Tsar Crowley sending his niece, a scary little girl called Lilith. When she returned with the bag of birdseed and handed it over to Dean, it felt considerably lighter than before and something in Lilith's fist was glittering. He didn't dare ask though, since she gave the impression of being able to rip out his heart if he breathed wrong. So he politely thanked the girl and the tsar, and left the royal grounds with one last, longing look at the Castiel-Impala.

When the prince had left, Tsar Crowley ordered the court mechanic Lucifer to bring some gas. He came back with a big can and the tsar opened the lid to the tank (of course, he normally would've set a peasant on such a simple task, but all nearby peasants had been killed off because they disturbed him by existing).

Pop!

The tsar suddenly found himself holding the ear of a wolf and about to pour gas into it. "HOLY –"

Castiel didn't stay to hear the rest. He took off, running through the garden and out through the gates, Tsar Crowley swearing and screaming all over the place and Lilith demanding a pretty doggie.

Dean hadn't gone far. If he had been a more typical sort of fairytale prince, Castiel would've been able to sneak between his legs and lift him up onto his back without even slowing down, whereupon they would've set off towards the sunset at ludicrous speed. But since he wasn't, he fell sideways and hit the ground with a thud when Castiel made the attempt. (And even if they had succeeded, the time was two o'clock in the afternoon and it would be hours until sunset anyway.)

"Ouch! What the fucking – Cas? You're okay!" He embraced his friend's hairy neck and held on for several seconds before he let go.

"I am unharmed, yes. Although, if I had waited two seconds longer to transform, my brain would be filled with gasoline by now."

"… if you say so."

They picked up the princess, whom they hadn't left at a gay bar this time but at a rest stop next to the road, and took off, Dean no longer complaining about the fur on the upholstery.

They drove until they reached the border of Johnny-land, where Castiel asked Dean to stop. The prince did, believing that his friend needed to relieve himself. But that wasn't the case. As they all stepped out of the car, the wolf turned to Dean and said: "Now I must say goodbye. I cannot come any farther."

Dean frowned. "Why not?"

"I'm just not supposed to. If you'd read the script, you'd know."

"So what? Screw the script. Why don't you come home with me? – Not like that!" The last words were meant for Jo, who had collapsed with giggles.

"My apologies, Dean, but I cannot," Castiel said, seeming genuinely sorry. "But this is not goodbye forever. I will be of service to you again."

The prince seemed to understand that this was the best he would get. "You mean that?"

"I do."

"All right." For a while, there was silence. "Well… thanks for helping me out and stuff."

"It's been a pleasure." And Castiel was gone.


During all of this, Prince Sam and Prince Adam had accomplished a grand total of Nothing At All. Nothing that had to do with the quest, in any case. Knowing their limitations, they had given up pretty early into said quest and headed for Disneyland. They were now on their way back home to Johnny-land, trunk full of stuffed animals that Adam had won by hitting ninepins with very small rocks. He might not be very good at other stuff, but he was a master with his slingshot.

So there they were, both wearing fake Mickey Mouse ears, when they spotted their brother at a rest stop next to the road, close to a deep ravine. At first, they weren't sure it was him, since his Aston Martin apparently had transformed into a 1967 Chevrolet Impala, but there was no mistaking that moody look anywhere. Sam pulled his own car to a stop, and the two brothers stepped out. "Hey, Dean!"

The oldest brother threw them a quick look. "Oh, hi."

Sam and Adam looked at each other. "Yeah, it's nice to meet you as well, Dean. How are things? Did you find the firebird?"

"Huh? Oh yeah, the firebird. It's in the backseat."

In that moment, a pretty girl opened one of the car doors and came out. "Hey guys!" She marched up to them and shook their hands with a strong grip. "I'm Princess Jo. Nice ears you've got."

"Uh, thanks," Sam said, feeling puzzled, before he remembered the Mickey Mouse ears and ripped them off. Adam just smiled goofily at Jo.

"So, what brings you here?"

"Well, your big brother here went on a quest and I was sort of accidentally picked up along the way, together with the firebird and this awesome car."

Sam looked at Adam. Adam looked at Sam. "Uh, Jo? Would you excuse us for a moment?"

"Sure," Jo said, turning around and starting to count ladybugs. Sam and Adam huddled together in a not-at-all-suspicious way.

"Shall we?"

"Not sure. I'd feel bad about it."

"Let's do it anyway."

"Okay."

"Hey Adam," Sam said in a tone far too innocent to be genuine, "why don't you and Jo get into the Impala for a bit? I need to exchange a few words with Dean."

"All right," said Adam, helping Jo get back into the car in a very gentlemanly way, even though she was perfectly able of getting in on her own.

Sam wrapped his arm around Dean's shoulders and subtly started steering him away from the car, in the direction of the ravine. "You seem a little blue, bro. Why don't you tell me about all your adventures? Maybe that will cheer you up – oops!" He covered his mouth with his hand to express shock as Dean tumbled over the edge with some help from his brother and an "AAAHHHH!"

When Sam leaned forward to peer down, he saw Dean lying on a shelf thirty feet down. "I am so very sorry, Dean!" he called out, his face showing that no, he wasn't sorry at all. "Are you okay?"

Dean turned his face upwards and answered his brother with a few well-chosen words that cannot be repeated here in order to maintain the PG-13 rating.

"I'm glad you're okay. You just hold on to the shelf and we'll go and get some help." Then Prince Sam rushed back to the Impala and took place in the driver's seat. "So, uh, Dean decided to stay here and be one with nature or whatever. We'll pick him up later."

Jo raised an eyebrow, but didn't object. After all, what could one expect from a guy who had a crush on a wolf?

Adam leaned sideways and whispered in his brother's ear: "Is he okay?"

"Relax, he'll make it," Sam hissed back. "I made sure he ended up on a shelf. As long as he stays where he is until the rescue party comes along, he'll be fine. He's not stupid enough to try to climb away from there. And by the time he's rescued and comes back home, dad will have awarded us for finding the firebird!"

Meanwhile, Dean was just about to leave the shelf. Climbing upwards proved to be futile, since it was next to impossible to find any grips, but downwards might not be so difficult.

Right?

Oh, who was he kidding? There was no way he'd be able to make it out of there in one piece. Several pieces, maybe, but certainly not in one. The prince furiously tried to get back to the shelf, but he didn't reach much success, especially not after a voice started chanting: "Fall! Fall! Fall!" from below.

The woman shouting turned out to be Tessa, a grim reaper. She was standing there, scythe ready, hoping for Dean to lose grip and fall so she could wrap up for the day. What she hadn't counted on was the sudden presence of a big grey wolf glaring at her. "If you don't leave this place immediately, you are going to regret it," Castiel threatened.

"It's his time. There's nothing you can do to change it, wolf-boy."

"I beg to differ."

And by that, the wolf charged the reaper. He couldn't kill her, since the author has resolved not to make this story too violent, but he did break her scythe in two, chase her off, and act as a shock absorber when Dean finally lost his grip and plunged down. "OOMPH!"

Dean came to his feet first (not surprising, since he was lying on top of Castiel). "Cas?"

"Yes," groaned the wolf. "I told you we would meet again. Are you all right, Dean?"

"Just fine, thanks to you. Are you okay?"

"If I didn't know better, I'd say my back was broken," Castiel began. "But since I DO know better, I'm going to say that I am still unhurt."

"Glad to hear it," Dean grinned. Then his face darkened. "My own brother pushed me down!"

"I realize that, and we must take action immediately."

"You… you're not gonna leave again afterwards, are you?"

The big, blue eyes looked sad. "I'm afraid I have to."

"No!" Dean wanted to kick something. "That's not right! And I know what you're gonna say; 'it's in the script'. Well, I don't care. I don't want you to prance off into the forest and spend another four hundred years on your own, doing nothing but hunt rabbits or whatever you're up to when you don't play rescuer for mission-failing princes. I want to be with you, and the script could go to hell." And with that, he pressed a kiss to the wolf's snout (in a completely non-sexual way, honestly).

Pop!

And then there was no wolf anymore, but a dark-haired man in his thirties, a little shorter than Dean, wearing a trench-coat and a flabbergasted expression. He raised a hand and stared at it in the usual cliché way, before gently touching his own face. He looked up. "Dean?"

The prince's eyes were wide enough to soon roll out of his head. "Cas?" he said hesitantly.

"True Love's Kiss," Castiel whispered.

"True Love's Kiss," Dean echoed.

Then the atmosphere was ruined by a frog croaking nearby, somehow reminding them that they had a mission and they could be romantic and sappy later. Castiel showed Dean the easy way out of the ravine, and they took place in Sam's car. It was neither an Aston Martin nor an Impala – in fact, it was a yellow Lamborghini – but it sufficed.

And if Dean had troubles handling the gearshift because he was holding Castiel's hand, well, who are you to complain?


They caught up with the Impala at the very royal driveway. Tsar John stood at the stairs, ready to welcome his sons. He was confused, though, when Prince Sam's Lamborghini and another car, which he had never seen before, seemed to be racing the last two hundred yards, desperate to beat the other.

They both screeched to a halt and the tsar frowned in confusion as his sons flew out of the cars and began a wrestling match of epic proportions. Shouts along the lines of "back-stabbing bastard", "daddy's boy", "Mickey Mouse wimp", "I'm sorry", "see if I care", and "aarghh" were flying through the air.

A bit aside stood a young woman and a man. They seemed to know each other – at least the man seemed to know the woman, if their body language was anything to go after. But a few moments later, the woman shrieked in joy and threw her arms around the man's neck, proceeding to squeeze the stuffing out of him and squealing in his ear. The man managed to get loose whereupon he approached the pile of princely limbs. He studied the pile for a bit before taking a deep breath, reaching in, grabbing an arm and pulling. The arm turned out to be attached to Prince Dean, who popped out of the pile decorated with a number of bruises and a black eye. The man raised a hand and softly touched the prince's cheek, and the prince flinched. The young woman came up to them with a grin and said something that made them both turn and look at her with surprise. And on the ground, the two youngest princes were still fighting, apparently not having noticed that their brother literally wasn't into it anymore.

The tsar didn't stop staring at the scene, trying to make sense of it, but he turned his head to the side. "Chuck?"

"Yes, your majesty?" the advisor answered.

"Tell me what is going on here."

"Well, from the looks of it, the mission you sent out your sons on has been accomplished. The firebird has been found, along with an American car from the sixties, a lesbian princess, and a man-turned-wolf-turned-man which has apparently initiated a love story with your oldest son. In fact, what we have in front of us seems to be a typical Happily Ever After."

Tsar John looked at his advisor with a disbelieving frown. "I'm going to take back the key I gave you to the wine cellar, Chuck. That's a ridiculous assumption."

He'd eat those words later.


So, it seems about time to start rounding things off, by telling you about the fates of the people participating in this story.

Tsar Zachariah decided to go into celibacy after the fiasco with the mock-princess. Though a few months later, he answered a personal ad in the paper, and started exchanging letters with a nice lady in Devonshire (don't ask). He was planning on visiting her the summer after and bringing a Fabergé egg as a gift. Uriel, the guard, got a huge raise after the federation of labour unions dropped by to check up on his working environment. Father Gabriel took leave of absence and went to Bali, just because he could.

Tsar Crowley had wanted to get a new car after the fake Impala disappeared, but Lilith proved to be an obstacle. His niece was darn set on getting a dog of her own, and the tsar got no rest before he had found a suiting one – the biggest St Bernard there ever was. Lilith named the dog "Pookie" and started training him to do tricks, like eating people on demand. Tsar Crowley put his dream career as an auto racer on ice, as his doctor ordered, instead taking up gardening. Alastair and Azazel were sent to a rehabilitation facility to, hopefully, defeat their cravings for alcohol and drugs once and for all.

Jess and Cassie, the two women Jo had been spending the night with at the gay bar, hooked up together and went into the writing business. They wrote books with titles like 'Girls Should Go Fuck Themselves, Because It's Awesome', 'The Complete Guide To Female Pleasure', and 'Soon, We'll Be Able To Make Babies Using Only DNA And Then We Won't Have Any Use For Men Anymore'. Coincidentally, Lisa, the woman against whose shoulder Dean had been crying became a psychiatrist and set down right next door to the others' bookstore. Lisa specialised in men who had run into problems with their love lives and/or their self esteem (usually after reading Jess and Cassie's books). They went to her for advice and comfort and as soon as they felt better they started re-buying and reading the books, resulting in them mentally crashing, whereupon they went to Lisa again… All three women were making tons of money.

Princess Jo found her soul mate in Pamela, the court psychic, and they became very happy together. In fact, they were so happy that Tsar John had to have them move into the West Wing, where no-one else was staying, just so they wouldn't give innocent people mental scars for life. Jo's ladies-in-waiting, Becky and Sarah, came to visit along with Tsarina Ellen. The latter didn't get along very well with Tsar John (though, as Chuck said; "Love always starts with a quarrel"), but Becky and Chuck found one another. Sarah didn't find anyone, but that was all right, because she was aiming for a career in telemarketing and no love interest would've been able to stand that anyway.

Tsar John was about to kill the firebird, but didn't have the heart to as its eyes widened and it tilted its head à la Castiel. Instead he made friends with it and the two became a well-known pair. The firebird used to sit on the tsar's shoulder at the royal shooting range, happily chewing down golden bullets from the tree, since the tsar had said "fuck this" and decided to keep using lead bullets, golden ammunition available or not.

Prince Adam was disheartened to realize that Jo had no interest in pursuing a relationship with him, other than a strangely protective and patronizing one. (He couldn't understand what it was about him that made females treat him like a lost puppy. He would've asked someone, but each time he tried to strike up a conversation with a lady she went: "aww" and he lost control of the situation and didn't achieve anything at all.) He took up singing again and became the castle's own Luciano Pavarotti, which led to the tsar having his room sound-proofed, for better and for worse.

Prince Sam was grounded for a week, as punishment for pushing Dean down a cliff. While locked up, he saw the light in two different ways – the ceiling lamp lit up when he pressed the button, and he found salvation (the latter because of the former – the electricity had been out since a thunderstorm three months back). When Sam was finally let out, he immediately went to his older brother and begged forgiveness, because that was what God would have wanted. Possibly.

Prince Dean forgave him, since his new relationship with Castiel made him so busy that he simply didn't have the time to hold a grudge. Castiel admitted that Dean had been right in his utterance of: "the script could go to hell", and the couple started making out in all possible and impossible locations they could find; particularly the impossible ones. In only a few weeks time there was not one room – or wardrobe, or broom cupboard – which they hadn't happily christened, leading to the other inhabitants of the castle beginning to open doors by throwing them open and then quickly stepping back, just in case the prince and the former enchanted wolf would literally fall out. But the two didn't care, because they loved each other and never went more than ten steps apart, which proved to be problematic at bathroom visits, although they couldn't care less.

And they lived Happily Ever After.

THE END

End note: In the original tale, the prince marries the princess (obviously). But since the princess has such a tiny role compared to the Grey Wolf, I decided to put Cas in as the wolf instead of the princess, and take my liberties with the end. Though isn't that what fanfiction's for? ;)

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