A Good Enough Reason

Summary: Sam ran from his problems and his past. He didn't run far enough. Futurefic.
Rating: T
Genre: Drama/Family
Characters: Sam, Mr. Oliver, the Devil, an OC

AN: This fic assumes that Sam managed to get out of his deal at some point. I also drew a lot of inspiration from what the creators of the show said would have happened in season 3.

Five years later.

Lying back at an odd angle to lean on his elbows, he tipped one finger over his shoulder and let it fly forward like an angled line. The tiny stone shot out of the long grass behind him and skidded past his shoes, across the water of the low dam and then sank out of sight when he released his hold on it. Shrugging, he tossed another stone with his telekinesis and then eased fully onto his back, watching the sky turn royal blue as night settled in.

Sam Oliver, fugitive from the realities of life, counted stars as they winked on in the sky above him. Of course, Ben would probably have reminded him that stars just don't appear ("You know that's not how stars work, right, Sam?"), and Sam had to agree. There were no lucky stars on his horizon, ahead or behind him.

The air was warm and the dying grass under his back itched. Summer had returned to Missouri. Sam shed his button-up shirt and tucked it under his head, relaxing. He smiled, imagining Sock beside him.

"Yep, Bert," Sam said casually, "we do look good. That's right. And no one will find it odd that us three dudes are lying out here half-naked and having a Brokeback moment."

Hearing the words in his own voice sounded wrong so Sam fell silent. He added the words to his Sock-o-matic voice generator and played them over. Better. God, he missed Sock and Ben. But it was also better for their phantoms to be with him instead of them actually finding him. He was as close as he could get to Buffalo, and that dream had been for Andi only.


Sam sat up and slipped the always-charged phone from his back pocket. He wiped his thumb across the dead screen, leaving a dirty smudge. He thought about turning it on, texting a high-five-I'm-alive message to his friends and his mother, but then someone could find him. What was worse, Sam wondered, being found by the Devil and being tricked back into servitude or being found by friends who only wanted to fill his life with cheerful banter, unicorns and werewolves and beer cramming sessions...?

"Because all of that worked out so well," Sam said idly, brushing grass off himself before walking past the statue-like horses dotting the slight rise of the ground up to the house.

He was still trying to figure out how he'd managed to button up his shirt two button-holes out of order when he freed one hand to knock on the front door. The deadbolt scraped back before nervous eyes, black as a crows, peered out.

"Is that you, boy?" whispered his employer.

Sam smiled assuringly. "Yes, Mrs. Ashwin. I'm all done and...yeah. I'd better leave. Don't want to oversleep and be late tomorrow because I know how you are with those time sheets."

"Oh you work so hard, you poor boy," Mrs. Ashwin crooned, perking up considerably at Sam's good humour. The forty-year-old hermit paid cash-in-hand for each day's work (as well as the occasional beer) and probably would not mind overly much if he was late. "And you're so skinny. I don't feed you enough. I just made a fresh batch of – "

"That sounds great, Mrs. Ashwin, but I'm..." Sam fished for a good excuse that didn't involve the words 'I don't want you to get hurt if the Prince of Darkness suddenly shows up'. "I'm really tired. I'll eat when I get home."

"You're not walking home in this darkness!" she exclaimed.

Sam smiled again, glad Mrs. Ashwin would not see that the smile did not reach his eyes in the shadows. "I'm fine. It's really not that far. I've got really good night vision. And besides, who'll want to get at me? They're more likely to come after you for that pie of yours."

Her laughter followed him down the drive. Sam tucked his hands into his pockets and dawdled.

"I know, I know," he muttered aside to thin air. "It's not exactly Buffalo. But I can get there in like two hours if I hitchhike. And anyway, it just wouldn't be the same, you know?"

Andi would never answer. Sam logically knew this. He'd not bothered speaking out loud to the memory of her back in Seattle, but his self-enforced exile gave him few options to exercise his voice. If he wasn't pouring barley out for the horses, he was sitting and nodding in Mrs. Ashwin's kitchen while she told him about the one man she'd ever loved and how he'd left her. She never spoke of what happened to her husband afterwards.

The Sock-toned voice in Sam's head always wondered if Mr. Ashwin was lying at the bottom of the larger dam in the centre of the property. Sam ignored that voice as best he could, but sometimes he just had to answer back.

Sam hadn't lied about the night vision. It had come to him the very night he'd lost Andi. It was the worst reminder that came after every sunset. A stupid, useless power that hadn't helped him catch the soul, or stopped the crazy guy from pelting shards of glass towards Sam. And his night vision hadn't seen it coming – Andi taking the hit meant for him, her body impaled, bloody, limp in his arms and...

Squinting until his vision turned grey, Sam swallowed the pain building at the back of his throat and walked. It took no more than ten minutes of deliberately half-blinding himself for Sam to come "home". The ramshackle one-roomed shed was still on Mrs. Ashwin's property and was serviced by one outhouse, but it had one working light and even a power socket which is pretty much all he needed.

Sam stumbled through the front door, found one of Mrs. Ashwin's preferred beers on his bed and downed it. He threw himself on the mattress and drew his hands back through his hair, flattening it. The sky was hidden by the corrugated iron that made up his roof.

"Happy birthday, Sam," he said to himself and closed his eyes.

Sam's right butt-check buzzed. He rolled onto one side, frowning in his sleep. The buzz continued, shaking loose his troubled dreams but not waking him entirely. Sam half-rolled off his bed and the buzzing pressed down hard. Opening the eye that wasn't smushed into the mattress, Sam stared at the roughly cemented floor and wondered why it stared back at him.

Then he whipped out the phone and threw it across the floor in panic. It hit the wall, but stayed solid. Sam held out a hand, aiming...then dropped it. The Devil. Had to be. The kind of call from your employer that didn't start with "so you missed your shift today...". Ex-employer, Sam reminded himself.

Annoyed, Sam flipped his hand so his palm was facing upwards and curled his fingers. The phone sailed back into his grip, unharmed. His eyes widened when he read the screen.

"Dad!" exclaimed Sam, holding it hard against his ear. "Dad, are you okay? Is – is this you?"

"Yes, Sam," said the tired tones of Mr. Oliver.

Sam hesitated. "What's the secret word?"

The Devil could imitate voices and Sam wasn't going to let that happen again. Bite the heads of chickens, ha...!

"Good thinking, son," his father agreed. "Prius."

"Wait, how is this even possible?"

"What do you mean?"

"I had my phone off, Dad."

"Maybe you slept on the on button?"

"Yeah. Sure. Whatever. Are you okay? Is Mum okay?"

"I'm not sure about your mother," his dad said, sounded guarded. "Of course she's okay, but she doesn't see me anymore. We need to talk, Sam. It's urgent. Where can we meet?"

Sam stayed quiet, thinking. Loneliness snuck past caution in his priorities. "Buffalo. There's a diner on the main route in town. Dad, be careful."

"Sam, it will be fine. The Devil doesn't own you anymore."

"Yeah. Well. Define 'own'. Bye Dad."

"Sam, wait – "

Sam waited.

"Happy birthday, son."

"Thanks," Sam said automatically, thinking of another birthday a handful of years ago. He hung up and made sure to switch the phone off. Eyeing it warily for a moment or two, he slipped his hand away from it, leaving it hanging in the air. He hurled it telekinetically against the wall several times until only jigsaw pieces remained, scattered on the ground.

It wasn't glass. The floor wasn't Andi. But it hurt and Sam hated himself for breaking the phone.

He headed outside for the secondary dam. Time for a wash, then a trip up the road to ask for some time off.

Three days later, the two Oliver men embraced awkwardly over a sparkling maroon table and Sam's half-eaten hamburger. Unfolding a bright red menu that peeled at the corners, Mr. Oliver lay it on the table and hummed as he scanned a finger down the options. Once he'd ordered three burgers of his own and two strawberry milkshakes, he seemed more at ease, smiling a little when Sam pushed his plate to the side to accommodate the extra food.

"Wow you look great, Dad," Sam said and meant it. Even the longer hair suited his father.

Face tightening in response to the suspicious look Sam was giving him, John queried, "Remember when your contract was terminated?"

"Kind of hard to forget."

"Good point," his father noted. He held up one of his glasses and sniffed at it. His smile returned. "Have you tried the shakes? They're to die for."

Sam winced. "Yeah, well, you're buying. So...about my contract? There wasn't like an extra clause or fine print we missed?"

"Oh! No. Nothing like that," John assured him, stirring his straw vigorously. "I'm alive again. I've been wanting to talk to you about this for months. About where your powers come from."

Fiddling with the cuffs on his shirt, and noticing a rim of soil caked on around the hem, Sam instead looked out the grimy window at the busy street outside. Nice, simple problems awaited the woman yelling into her cellphone. Ditto to the fat guy in sweats eating a hot dog as he tried to jog. Realising that he was party to an expectant silence, Sam said flatly, "I think we covered this one. The Devil is my father."

Mr. Oliver set down his shake so hard some slopped over the edge. "No! I'm your father."

"Dad, don't... not this again..." Sam pleaded.

"Listen, Sam, you have to hear this," John interrupted briskly. "When I met your mother, I didn't think we could ever be together because..."

Nodding along, Sam supplied, "You were sick. Really sick."

"In a manner of speaking. I was – am – a demon."

"Dad, a demon?" Sam said, his voice rising in disbelief. He smiled vaguely, but his lips turned when his father brushed aside his hair to reveal two tiny, but very real, stumps edging their way out of his forehead.

"DAD!" Sam exclaimed, reaching over to flatten hair over the offending area. "You – you've got – horns and why the hell didn't you say anything?"

Mr. Oliver shrugged helplessly. "If I'd said anything...anything the Devil might have heard...then your mother would have been in danger. You would have been in danger too. My pride isn't worth that. But the thing is...even though I wasn't a demon, I could still pass it on, you see..."

Sam leaned back abruptly, eyes widening. "You're saying I'm a... I'm half-demon."

"Half-human too, son," John pointed out firmly. "Don't forget that."

Their eyes met properly for the first time in minutes. Both sat, one straight-spined and agitated while the other slumped under the weight of it all. Mr. Oliver was the first one to look away.

"I'm a hybrid," Sam realised. "Is that why our codeword is Prius? I've got to hand it to you, Dad, that's actually pretty funny... but really, really inappropriate."

John looked back at his son, aghast, before explaining quickly, "No, it was just the first thing I saw before you left, Sam. It...reminded me of you. I don't know. Do you forgive me?"

Which part? Sam wondered. He reached across for the remaining shake and sipped at it.

"You said this was urgent," he reminded his father.

"Well, it was, Sam. It's also for your birthday and – well, I'm really worried about you, son."

Blinking light around his father's face warned Sam of an oncoming headache. "Any particular reason or is the Devil coming down to Buffalo?"

John hesitated.

"Damn it, Dad!" Sam snapped. "Does he know you're here?"

"What? Do you really believe that I would be so careless...the Devil probably knows where you are, but it wasn't from me!"

"Sorry!" Sam back-pedalled quickly, pitching his voice lower. "Sorry, okay. It's just... I've been really screwed over before. Pretty much ever since before I was born. I have to know. Is the Devil still gunning for me?"

"Well now, about that..." Mr. Oliver trailed off, diving back into intense examination of one of his many food plates.

Narrowing his eyes, Sam sent the plate skittering away with his powers. His father drew in a breath and the plate returned, slicing through Sam's attempt to block it. The plate wobbled a little. Neither watched it settle. Sam relaxed his left arm along the side of the table, picking at a tear in the linoleum surface. "Yes or no, Dad."

"Yeee..yes," his father admitted. "You're a threat, Sam."

"I must have forgotten to keep up with my human sacrifices, then."

Their awkward laughs mingled briefly. John leaned forward and waggled two fingers, indicating that Sam should do the same. When they were within a breath of each other, Mr. Oliver began to explain. "Hybrids...they're very rare and for good reason. They aren't destined to either path – good or evil – and nor are they bound to one. A portfolio in a fluctuating economy. Hybrids make really good politicians because they can do really great things for people, but for a really bad end-game. But it also works the other way..."

"Doing bad for a greater good," Sam cut in, eyes widening. "That's why the Devil wanted my soul. He wanted to make me swing the other way. I did some stuff that wasn't good, but even Ben's grandmother said it was God's work. But this doesn't help me, Dad."

"I... didn't really... think that far," John confessed. "I thought it might make you feel better and I wanted to see you. Your friends made a good case for it too. Ah, that reminds me... Sock wanted me to give you this..."

Dispassionately, Sam accepted the beer bong, coiled it up into a tight wad and stuffed it into his pocket. It hung out a little. He felt weird. He finished his burger in a three bites, but the feeling remained.

"Your friends also wanted me to tell you they're working on a self-sucking version of that," Mr. Oliver said, frowning a little. "I'm not sure I want to know how they think that will work."

The smile finally cracked onto Sam's face. He was working it up into a chuckle when the glass beside them shattered. Sam tossed himself to the ground two full seconds before his father shouted, "Get down, Sam!"

The wobbly wooden pole holding up the diner table crack in half as Mr. Oliver squinted at it, using his own telekinesis to throw it towards the oncoming demons. He looked down at Sam and he managed a wry, concerned smile. "I'd rather you didn't see me like this."

"I don't care as long as we get out of this!" Sam exclaimed.

His father's body shook out into something both very strange and very familiar to Sam. For long moments, they stared at each other, then the table came flying back in and clipped John, spiralling him off to the side. Sam rolled away from the impact zone of the table and felt something cold ooze into his side. Mentally cursing his father's need for that extra strawberry shake, he scrambled to his feet and told the waitress to get as many people out as she could.

"Go, go!" Sam finished, pushing her away and turning back to the gaping hole in the side of the diner, which was now ringed with fire thanks to one overenthusiastic attacker.

His father, retreating to Sam's position, held his gnarled grey hands out in front of him and shards of glass hurtled towards the three figures entering. One piece, as long as Sam's forearm, struck one in the chest and a dull ache flared in Sam's chest. I can't...watch this again...

"Uh, a little help here, son?" a gravelly voice asked from beside him.

Sam shook his head slightly and reminded himself this was his father. "What should I do?"

"Use your powers!"

Black gunk seeped from the wound of the very pissed off demon who leapt through the air, past John, to slam Sam back against the diner bar. Winded, back aching, Sam leaned as far back as he could, but the demon was quicker, locking a vice grip over a very human, very fragile throat. Sam's vision tunnelled, but his hearing was fine enough to pick up fleshy thuds and more glass breaking. Sam tried to reach up to slap the demon, but a sharp elbow pinned his arm. The demon did, however, lose concentration of killing Sam when a leg ripped off a stool at the bar table and staked through it like a vampire.

It didn't burst into flames. Sock's phantom voice was more disappointed than dismayed in its exclamation. The sharp wooden stake rendered a rough, sluggish cross-pattern through the demon until it lay still. Sam's head throbbed with either oxygen depravation or using his powers or something worse. Guilt maybe.

Sam looked towards the window, seeing one demon gone, retreating into the sky. The other had his father in a deadlock, shifting him closer and closer to the largest shard of glass remaining in the window frame. Sam held out his hand, but waited. He needed to see this.

A piece of the ceiling fell onto a horned skull, not enough to flatten the demon, but enough to confuse it. Mr. Oliver tackled it to the floor, latching his long fingers on either ear before twisting, but it was not enough to break the spine. John seized the nearest piece of glass and sliced so swiftly across the neck that Sam could not see blood for a very long second.

Two men in human form remained in the diner. One adjusted his tie, and expressed dismay over the blood on his shoes. The other saw the bodies, knew his part in it, and felt nothing but relief. A nail of doubt scratched away inside his skull somewhere, but Sam didn't care. He just didn't care.

"One got away, so more will be back," Mr. Oliver noted, then glanced over at his son. Horror entered his expression. "Sam? Are you okay?"

"Just bruised," wheezed Sam, massaging his throat.

"That's not what I..." John trailed off, and dropped the hand he had gestured towards Sam's victim.

His son swallowed and winced. "I think I'm better on my own."

"Okay," said John and moved over to hug him. He said no more. His tight squeeze spoke volumes.

Sam returned the embrace. For a moment.

His father released him and darted for the door, which Sam thought was a moot point considering the damage to the side of the diner. Mr. Oliver paused at the door and turned, promising, "I'll call you, Sam!"

"I lost my phone," Sam said hoarsely.

"Have mine!"

Mr. Oliver's phone soared then stopped an inch from Sam's nose. His father's telekinetic control was a hair better, Sam observed. He stowed the phone in his pocket, then left via a window, stepping delicately over pebbles of glass. His hands searched his pockets, but the gift from his friends was gone. Not bothering to go back for it, he started walking, thumb struck out, temples slamming inwards against his brain.

"There is something seriously wrong with me," Sam remarked.

The sirens roared closer.

Funny. He hadn't heard them before now.

Night had punched out by the time Sam found himself at the bottom of Mrs. Ashwin's drive. Since the thought of swallowing a cracked tongue down a tortured throat did not appeal, he was very tempted to ask for water and pie and maybe another day off. He didn't want to push it...

Are you kidding me, Sam, seriously? You don't want to scam a day off from the nice old lady alone in her house there? Huh? You're right, man. There is something wrong with you.

Sam tried to peel his lips of his teeth to smile, but it hurt. Sock, it's different when your employer isn't Ted. And since when could Ted make pie?

He had barely lifted his knuckles to the door when it opened. He turned the action into a wave, his fingers half-curled, too weak to straighten. "Uh, hey, Mrs. Ashwin. Do you mind if I come in... and have pie... ?"

The door seemed to be ripped from the door, and the surprisingly rounded for her six-feet (and half an inch, Mrs. Ashwin always reminded everyone) height hobby farmer appeared, waving him in with full swinging of her arms. The floral dress fell all the way to her thick ankles, unsupported by the white sandals she had opted for. Sam followed her into the kitchen, let her sit him down at a table with a cloth that matched her dress and mechanically alternated between a glass of icy water and a plate with two pieces of pie.

Mrs. Ashwin sat opposite him, chin nested in her two palms as she watched him eat. Occasionally, the strung back her shoulder-length black hair, revealing white patches behind her ears. Her eyebrows met in one, shivering line.

"This is good pie," Sam said awkwardly, meeting her stare.

"It's positively sinful," agreed Mrs. Ashwin.

He pushed away the plate, leaving one piece of pie alone. The feeling in his stomach was back. Sam lifted his eyes to her smooth, unblemished forehead. That didn't mean anything. He sipped from the water again, half-looking towards the door.

"Oh don't worry, young man," Mrs. Ashwin said, gathering up the plate and turning her back to Sam as she took it to the fridge. "I would never dream of attacking you while you're eating. Some demons have the worst manners!"

Sam did not budge from his seat. He leaned back and propped up his feet on the cushioned chair beside him. "Any reason you're not attacking me now? I'm kind of finished with my pie."

Mrs. Ashwin came back to the table and reclaimed her seat.

"I am sorry, Sam," she said with a deep sigh that rattled and hissed, reminding Sam of an ex-girlfriend's snores.

Sam shook his head and gave a smile-tipped grimace in response. "For keeping an eye on me for the Devil? For telling those demons where to find me?" For making them force me to use my powers to kill?

"And for giving you drugged beer so I could sneak in and turn your phone on," she added, winding her fingers together on the table.

"You did that? That's really creepy."

Mrs. Ashwin sighed again, this time lighter and whistling. "It was a favour to your father. I knew he would be worried about you."

"If you're watching me for the Devil, then how come you put me in touch with my Dad?" Sam demanded, leaning forward onto his forearms on the table.

"Oh a lot of reasons. One being that he was so sweet when we were working the same territory a century ago," she began, a broad smile warping her face. "I lost favour with the Devil so I had to promise I'd make sure you stayed here for when you were ripe. My punishment did not say what else I could do until that time. I like you, Sam. You are a lot like your father."

"What did you do to piss off the Devil?"

"I found out how to trap him in one place for all time – "

"What?" Sam demanded. "You – you know how to trap the Devil? Why haven't you tried this?"

Her hair flicked over her face as she shook her head, frowning. "Silly boy. I know how. I did not say I could do it. Only someone trapped by the Devil can trap him. And the Boss isn't about to let me trap myself, is he?"

"What does that even mean?" Sam muttered.

"Well, for example, a contracted soul is trapped, aren't they?"

Outside, a horse and its foal moseyed past the window. The mare lowered its nose to the grass and chewed leisurely, while the younger horse snapped its legs together as it bounded around, focused on the joy of movement. Sam's eyes drifted away from the bright, sunny scene unfolding beyond the glass dividing him from it. Mrs. Ashwin was back at the kitchen bench, wiping a cheery pink cloth over the surfaces and humming to herself. Sam was glad she had not resurrected her favourite mother-goose apron for their meeting.

"Will you tell me how to do it?" he asked.

She stiffened. "Why, what's in it for me? I am already in so much trouble as it is with him."

"Don't worry, Mrs. Ashwin," Sam placated, determination darkening his eyes. "If I do this right, then you won't have any trouble with the Boss."

The cloth was hung back over the tap and Mrs. Ashwin straightened it so that equal lengths were on either side. She smiled furtively at him. "Oh, Sam, you are too good to try something like this, aren't you, sweetheart?"

The uncomfortable tweaking on his lips alerted Sam to the fact that he was was actually trying to smile back at her. "That's kind of the point. It's for a good reason so it'll work."

"Would you like some more pie?" she offered. "This will take some time to explain."

The half-inch-thick wooden door, flimsy enough in a gale, catapulted across the five metres to the other wall and knocked its way clean out of the building. Sam, plastic cup in one hand and toothbrush in the other, threw himself back onto his mattress in case of any other projectiles and emptied his hands, holding them up in a weak imitation of a karate chop. It was the kind of stupid thing he would have done years ago with Sock, but it stilled the panic raising the hairs on his arms.

"Sam! What do you think you are doing?" shouted the angry demon in the door way.

"Uh, trying to brush my teeth," Sam replied, kneeling down to pick up his toothbrush. "So Mrs. Ashwin really is a good friend of yours, even if she does set your son up for a demon attack."

Mr. Oliver's face was still ashen, but very much human now. He strode over to Sam and hauled him so that he could eyeball his son. "An acquaintance is a little different from a friend. I don't trust her and wouldn't trust anything she tells you. Damn it, Sam, we worked so hard to get you our of your deal, especially after what happened with Andi – "

"Shut up!" Sam shouted.

"Sam, please, just think about what you're doing," John pressed, hands gripping Sam's shoulders. "A... a deal with the Devil is something you can't take back easily. You'll regret it."

"What do you care? I didn't choose it the first time!" Sam countered, shrugging violently to dislodge his father. "You were selfish and put all this shit on me. At least I'm doing this for a good reason!"

Mr. Oliver heaved out a short, sharp breath. "Good reason? There's never a good reason! It took me all your life to realise that, son."

"But you're a demon. I'm a hybrid. You said the Devil is threatened by me because I can do good work by doing some evil. The contract won't matter if it's me agreeing to it! I'm going to take out the ruler of Hell – that's better for everyone, right? – and I'll have Andi."

Sam turned away and placed the toothbrush and cup on the rough waist-high bedside table that he used for practically everything. It was chipped on one corner. He stayed there, glaring at the uneven wooden slats that still stood in their place as part of the walls. Hesitant footsteps crept up behind him, and again his father settled hands on his shoulders, but it was a gentler touch, the kind Sam had enjoyed as a child.

"Sam, please, you have to let her go. Andi would not want you to do this."

"How do you know!" Sam exploded, spinning to bodily shove his father away. "It's your fault she's dead! If you'd never...never...you screwed me! You screwed her! I get why Mum doesn't want to see you. I can't stand the sight of you either."

John took several shuffled steps back, his face falling under shadow. Yellowing eyes became disturbingly visible. "Sam..."

"Get out!" Sam hurled at him, advancing across the floor, an accusing finger pointed between them.

"No." Mr. Oliver's voice was only half-way to demon, but already sounded deeper and darker than Sam had ever heard it. "I let you get away with a lot of things when you were a kid, but this is where I draw the line. You're coming home with me. I can protect you there."

"I can protect myself!"

A jagged piece of the metal roof collapsed on top of Mr. Oliver but he batted it aside. Sam threw out both his hands and his father went flying back through the wall. He marched out after John and jumped down to the grass. Sam looked around quickly, trying to see where his father had gone. A scaled arm hooked around his neck and dragged him backwards. Sam's still recovering throat sparked with pain and his vision hollowed faster that it had in the diner.

Sam closed his eyes and pulled with his mind. Debris hammered onto the body behind him and his father loosened his grip. Sam bolted. He had made it down to the fence at the road by the time John soared after him and landed in his path. The ground suddenly found its way to Sam's back and he saw stars, then they faded into the outline of the demon above him. Sam rolled away just as his father lunged down and held out his hand. A fence post came obediently to his grasp, chafing a splinter or two into his skin. Sam grabbed his father's ankle and yanked, putting a telekinetic command behind the action. Holding down the demon with one foot, and his mind, Sam raised the post above his shoulder and – stopped.

He was about to stake a human. A human with tears in his eyes.

"I love you, son," Mr. Oliver whispered.

Sam threw the post away and fell to his knees. Then he was lying beside his father under the unobstructed stars, breathing hard and wondering how the Hell he'd come to this. Finally, Sam responded, "I know, Dad. I know. Please go. I don't want you in on this too."

"Okay," John said.

Sam suffered through another long hug and then was alone.

He went inside through a hole in one of the walls, brushed his teeth and lay on the mattress.

Light touched his face before he even managed to close his eyes.

Sam picked up his phone and dialled Mrs. Ashwin's house. "I'm done. Tell him I'm ready."

"Isn't that a bit too much forewarning for him?" she asked slowly.

Please. Like you even care. "No. It's exactly what he's expecting anyway."

Sam tossed the phone onto his mattress. The bedside table looked out of place in the middle of the floor, just shy of the wet patch directly underneath the gap in the roof. Sam sat on an up-ended milk crate and arranged a second one closer to him by hooking his ankle around one corner and giving a tug. Murky dusk shadows filtered through the holes in the walls and Sam imagined that's what was making the murmuring noise, rather than the light breeze.

Sam thought about his father's mistrust of Mrs. Ashin and it occurred to him, as he waited in the still warm air, that everything she had done in the past few days had led to this moment, the exact moment when he was vulnerable and very much ready to sell his soul voluntarily.

"Yeah, ripe," Sam muttered.

A chill drifted in through the two very noticeable craters in the walls. Sam sat up straight.

"Love what you've done with the place," that familiar voice sounded behind him. "Depressing minimalism. Suits you."

The milk crate scraped over the floor as Sam moved around to take in his new visitor. The suit, the blue tie and that tanned smirking face finally made their appearance. Sam stared hard at the Devil and did not bother to say anything in response, though inwardly he agreed. The hut suited him just fine.

The Devil, whether he caught Sam's mood or not, knew exactly where to twist the next barb. "Oh you're not still hung up on that piece of candy, are you, Sam? She was a terrible reaper."

One milk crate fell over as Sam shot to his feet, and the other he propelled out through one of the many artistic exits without even touching it. He snapped, "That wasn't even her job! She was just supposed to help Gladys with the vessels."

"Hey, Sammy, not my fault she decided to be a dart board for you," the Devil said smoothly, walking forward.

"That... you're a dick," Sam rasped, rubbing his throat as though being choked for the third time running. "And I want you to stop messing with me."

"Oh kiddo, you just don't get it."

Sam scowled and leaned against the table, crossing his arms. Calm. He had to play this right. "No, I do get it. And I'm not your 'kiddo'. I know, alright? I know."

"Oh, Sam. Shouldn't someone have told you where babies come from already?"

"I'm not your son."

"Hey, that hurts."

"Whatever," Sam grumbled, directing his gaze at the dented cement underneath his feet. "Look, I don't know why you think I'm such a big threat down here in Missouri. I'm half-demon, so what? I'm living in a hut without a toilet. I'm happy here. Whatever your beef is, just let it go. Let me go."

"Alright," the Devil acknowledged cheerfully, dusting off one of his suit's cuffs. "Hey, I got nothing on you, man. Oh wait... those little slacker friends of yours. Or maybe just the one. Yeaah. Bert Wysocki. Are you saying he wouldn't be at least a little bit tempted to cut a deal?"

Sam glared up at him. "I hate you. And don't even pretend that you care."

"Then why the meet and greet?"

"I want a deal," Sam replied, managing to lighten the lines on his face to pull off a self deprecatory smile.

Interest peaked the Devil's eyebrows. "What have you brought to the table? Your firstborn? Isn't that how you got into this mess?"

"No firstborn. Just me. I will personally work for you for the rest of my godawful life."

"And what do you get out of it?" the Devil asked.

This time the grin didn't hurt to display. "I want to be able to go to Hell whenever I want. A portal to Hell. At my command. It will make reaping much easier. And ditto to portals back out if I manage to get knocked down there."

The Devil snapped two fingers and a plush rounded seat appeared beside Sam, which he took in one glide. Sam rolled his eyes and retrieved a milk crate. He was used to looking up at the dickwad, so a few more minutes of it was not going to break his neck. Sifting his backside on the sharp webbing of plastic beneath him, Sam rested his left hand on the table, tapping rhythmically. He had to remember to keep at it, because inside his blood pumped no faster than usual.

"Surely even you know that you have to be dead before you go to Hell, or you'll fry like an egg on the sun," the Devil said. "Even if you get to see your girl, I warn you, Sammy, it's not a pretty sight."

Sam let the angle of his lips tip to reflect a smile. "Demons can go to Hell. I'm half-demon. I'll take my chances."

"You know the first taste is free, right? You could try it out first, see how it fits you," the Devil reminded him, leaning forward to study Sam with flinty eyes.

"I know what I'm doing. Just let me sign."

A pen perched between two fingers on Sam's hand and his fingers skidded to a stop on the innocuous pale piece of paper that appeared on the table between them. Sam curled one corner of the paper and flattened it back out. It acted the same way that any A4 sheet would. What did he expect? Signing on a rock with liquid magma as ink? The pen, though it appeared to be a standard blue biro, magnetised to the page when it sensed Sam's hesitation.

He curled another corner. This time the tip of the Devil's finger pressed it back into place. Sam curled his lip instead and grinned. He signed the first letter of his name, followed by his last name. The blue ink burned black, singing the surrounding white spaces on the paper. He waved away the tiny stream of smoke that erupted.

Physically, nothing had changed since he's signed. Inside, he felt... great. This could work. He only had to try it.

The paper slid from beneath the pads of his fingers and vanished as the Devil swiped a hand across it. His smile was all teeth and triumph. He shook his head, as though he couldn't quite believe it.

Sam swallowed hard. "And one more thing. I forgive you."

"You what?" The Devil eyed him again.

"I forgive you, because any sane person in your place would want to keep their grip on Hell. I get that."

The broad, tanned face relaxed and that charmingly repulsive grin returned. "Hey, be careful with that F word. Don't handle the tool if you haven't read the manual."

"No, I'm good. I had to get that bit over and done with." Sam resisted the urge to choke on the furry taste gathering at the back of his mouth. It was necessary. Necessary.

His pinky finger twitched and the ghost of his power shot out to wing the Devil, but did nothing. Expected.

"Tickles." The Devil smirked and left the table. Right into the spot he need to be.

Sam clawed through the air and the mirrors he'd kept on the roof fell through the hole. He closed his eyes and gathered the heat, the power in his palms, forcing the mirrors into a merry-go-round of reflections around his employer. Each panel was curved and fitted together into an unbroken circle. The floor vibrated as they swirled into the wood, then anchored with a protesting scrape-thud-squeal.

Sam let out the expired air from his lungs at last, falling back onto his milk crate. It dug into all the wrong places through his jeans, but the thick feeling of ease crept over him. He explained tiredly, "I'm doing it for the right reason and I forgave even you. I'm not completely bad. I'm not. This will work."

"And you think that going after your girl makes this alright? " the muffled, and somewhat distracted, voice retorted. "You're wrong, because I got you! I got you to do this! He won't have you now! You're all mine!"

Sam spat a laugh in the direction of the trap. "Like that even matters. Heaven put me in this position and I got myself out of it. I was supposed to do it this way."

He pushed himself up and snapped his fingers. The door frame sprang up beside him, filled in with roaring flames that welcomed more than they repelled. Sam dipped his fingers through it slowly, then nodded with a toothy grin of his own. Yes. His arm was submerged when the Devil's next words fled the trap. "I warned you about the girl. It's not a pretty sight!"

"I'm sure I can fix that," Sam said quietly. "I think I was meant to."

And it didn't matter that Mrs. Ashwin had done it all to ripen him, because it has been for a good reason.

He stepped through. The door vanished.

The room reverberated with a muted chuckle. "Enjoy your path of damnation. I was never able to swing you to it, but you did it all on your own. Congrats, Sammy."

AN: I'll get in first here and say that I do know the different between "peaking" and "piquing". We good? :)

I was very hesitant to post this fic because I haven't had much feedback from those who did give it a look over, so I'm kind of flying blind here. Let me know what you think. :D