Veronica asked Sam to drive, she was too nervous. They had passed the Impala as it sped back to Veronica's, and Sam had been sure Dean would spot them. He felt a little guilty for lying to Dean, but Dean didn't need to be the goddamn hero all the time. This was the best way to save Veronica's dad, and Dean was disqualified from doing it because he'd already sold his soul for Sam. And, dammit, wasn't that heroic enough? Wasn't that enough of a sacrifice for Dean to make? Why was he already trying to put his soul- his life- in more jeopardy? Sam glanced at Veronica with a sigh.
"I don't know for sure if this will work." He said. He was obligated to tell her, obligated to let her know what the full consequences would be. "If the demon figures out our plan, we're screwed. It might force a deal on you, or…" He paused, glancing over at her again. Her blue eyes shone in the dark as she waited. "It could take Dean." And this was the real reason Sam hadn't wanted Dean at the cross roads. If something went wrong, if the demon got angry enough, it was just possible that it could take Dean early. "Or it could cancel Dean's deal." That was the scariest prospect of all. Not that he could die again, but what his death- permanent this time- would do to Dean. Veronica let out a humourless laugh.
"Yeah. No pressure or anything." She said. Sam laughed, equally humorless. "I memorized the incantation. I memorized everything I'd need to do a summoning. I'm prepared." She said. Sam glanced at her, this time amused and curious.
"About that." He said, and then waited for her to explain.
"Just in case. I looked some stuff up. I was pretty sure you'd have all the stuff I needed." She said. He considered that.
"In the Impala." He said. "You didn't know I'd help you."
"I…" She trailed off. Sam let out a laugh, amused.
"Jesus. You weren't going to break into the Impala? Dean would kill you." He said. She shrugged, but she smiled conspiratorially at him.
"You've got grit." He said approvingly. "Actually, you kind of remind me of Jo."
"Who's Jo?" She asked, glad to keep talking. If she thought too much about what she was about to do, she might lose her courage.
"A friend of ours, her and her mom Ellen. She grew up in a roadhouse around hunters. Her dad was in the life." He laughed again. "The first time we met them? Ellen got the best of me and had a gun on me before I could think. Jo punched Dean right in the face. And she's not much bigger than you." Veronica smiled, but it was strained. Sam glanced at her, curious, and then he realized. The smile faded from his face. "They weren't anything to each other. Honestly. She's more like a sister we never had." Which wasn't entirely the truth; clearly Jo had feelings for Dean, and Dean had felt attracted as well. But Dean hadn't acted on it, and the way Jo had left things after Philly, Sam was pretty sure there wouldn't be anything between them.
"You don't have to explain anything." Veronica said, trying to keep the anger out of her voice. "I know you'll leave as soon as this is finished." Sam was surprised. He could see Veronica was more than some random hook up to Dean; the way his eyes lingered her, the soft smile when he looked at her, his utter determination to spare her any pain, showed that Dean felt more for her than his usual one night stands. He'd thought Veronica was smart enough to see that.
"It's not like that." Sam said, pulling onto a small road leading away from the PCH. They were getting close to the cross roads, he should be making sure she knew what she had to do, not having this conversation about Dean.
"Oh." She said, unconvinced. "I'm special. Like he's never said that before." Sam glanced at her but she avoided his eyes.
"He didn't say, Veronica, that's the point. He didn't say anything to me about you." He answered.
"Comforting." She answered. Sam sighed.
"He doesn't talk about stuff he cares about. He didn't talk to you about me, did he?" Sam said. Veronica was momentarily silenced. She hadn't expected that. "He wouldn't. Because I matter too much to him. And apparently you do, too. Or at least he thinks you could."
"As if that matters." She said, but there was no anger in her now. Sam didn't reply, and they watched the road, trying not to think about why it wouldn't matter. "Stop. Here." She said. They'd gotten to the cross roads. Sam felt fear roil in his stomach as he turned the car off.
"You don't have to do this. We can find another way." He said. She shook her head.
"You know this is our best shot." She said, but she felt afraid too. "Sam, I… I'm sorry. About last night. I shouldn't have…" now he shook his head and offered a small smile.
"It's okay." He said. "I get it." And she knew he did. It was weird how well they understood each other. If things were different maybe they could have been friends. She thought of Stanford and a whole slew of maybes inundated her, but she pushed them away. She'd learned not to think of what might have been. It was painful and useless and she had work to do.
"Okay. Let's do this." She said, her voice little shaky. Sam nodded. He grabbed the bag of supplies he'd prepared earlier and got out of the car a moment later, Veronica followed. She went to take the bag from him when his phone rang. He answered it, knowing it would be Dean.
"You stupid son of a bitch. I'm coming to get you and you are going to be so fucking dead when I get there." Dean growled at him. "What are you thinking? If she gets hurt, I'm gonna-"
"Shut up! This is all kinds of stupid, what's wrong with you?" Dean yelled. Sam hung up on him and went to Veronica.
"Dean's coming. Let's do this." He said. She looked up in him, fear in her eyes. "I'm here, you can do this." He said, his voice low.
"I'm more scared it won't work." She said, her voice small. It had to work, she couldn't take much more of Keith lying in that hospital bed. She understood completely why Dean had sold his soul for Sam. The desperation he must have felt, the loneliness. Keith was her rock, the solid foundation her entire life was built on. Even when she'd disappointed him, even when she worried him and scared him and fought with him, she knew he loved her. His love was the one constant good in her life. And when it came down to it, he was the one person she couldn't do without. Of course she knew one day she'd lose him, but she wasn't prepared to lose him yet. So this had to work. One way or another.
Sam watched her face, saw everything she was feeling. He did the only thing he could think of. He reached out and pulled her into a hug. Because words would be inadequate, and there was nothing left to say anyway. She leaned against him, his solidity and size a comfort. After a moment, she pulled away from him and offered him a forlorn smile.
"Thanks Sam." He nodded. "Let's get this evil son of a bitch."
Dean raced back to their room at the Camelot, hoping there would be some clue, something that would help him find Sam and Veronica. It was a long shot; Sam could be a sneaky little fucker. As he expected, there was nothing. Frustrated, he kicked a chair. It fell over with an unsatisfying rattle. He glared at it, willing it to give him some attitude so he could work out some anger. He couldn't think clearly, he was too pissed at Sam and worried for Veronica. The idea of her putting herself directly in danger, and Sam letting her do it, made his stomach clench. He tried to tell himself he barely knew her, that they'd be roaring out of town as soon as this was over and would probably never see her again, but he knew that wasn't true. He'd come back if he could. If she'd let him. If she didn't think it was a waste of time because he was going to hell.
Why couldn't I meet her before all of this… this? He thought, but he knew that was futile. Of course he'd meet Veronica only after he'd sold his soul. He was a Winchester, that was how life was for him. He had nothing to offer her and knew it would be unfair to ask anything of her, but he couldn't help the way he felt. He wanted to be a part of her life, wanted more of her than he knew he should.
He kicked the chair again just for good measure. It had looked like it was trying to get uppity with him. While he had a staring match with the chair, the door to the motel opened quietly. He felt the prickling on his neck that told him someone was watching him, and he looked up, reaching for his gun. Which wasn't there because he'd been at Veronica's all day. Logan Echolls looked back at him from the doorway, his eyes flashing with anger.
"What the fuck do you want?" Dean snarled, spoiling for a fight. Logan laughed at him.
"Where's Veronica?" He replied. Dean clenched his jaw. "Putting herself in danger. Doing something stupid. Because you told her her dad was taken by a demon." Logan took a step into the room. Dean tensed, judging the space between them. "She's always been reckless. Especially when Keith is involved." Dean nodded, he got that. "Did you know that she thought she lost him once before? She was wrecked. She was… broken. And she thinks she's losing him again. Then you tell her some crazy story about demons and witches and now she's gone." Logan's voice was rising.
"I didn't tell her anything!" Dean defended himself. "I mean, yeah, I told her that a demon was tied to her dad's sickness because a witch-"
"Do you hear how crazy that sounds?" Logan said, taking another step into the room. "Shit. She could get hurt or killed because of you." The fight went out of Dean.
"I know. But I don't know where they went." He said. "I'll… I'll try to stop her, if I knew where they were I could make it on time, but… I don't know where they are."
"So what, we just wait until they come back? If they come back?" Logan demanded.
"Is there a cross roads around here?" Dean asked.
"What, like an intersection? Pick a corner, precious." Logan scoffed.
"No." Dean said, gathering his thoughts. Logan's anger had focused him. "Somewhere off the highway, but near a bar. It'll be kind of… deserted and if you come on across you'll think it's a little weird how perfect it looks, like cross. There will be plants growing all around the edges too." Logan's face changed slightly, some of the anger going out. A look of recognition flashed across his face. "Where?" Dean demanded. "We might still have time."
"I'll tell you how to get there." Logan answered. "If you take me with you." Dean looked at him. "I have to know she's okay. I have to see her. I… she means a lot to me." And Dean couldn't say no to the vulnerable look that fell over Logan's face. When Sam Winchester was your little brother, you became susceptible to puppy eyes, especially when those eyes were full of pain and pleading.
"Fine. Don't get in the way, though." Dean said reluctantly. "And we're taking my car." Logan didn't protest, and Dean left the room. When they got in the car, he pulled out his cell phone and dialed Sam.
"You stupid son of a bitch. I'm coming to get you and you're going to be so fucking dead when I get there. What are you thinking? If she gets hurt, I'm gonna-"
"Shut up! This is all kinds of stupid, what's wrong with you?" Dean yelled. "Sam, you have no right-" but it was useless, Sammy had hung up on him. He hit the steering wheel in frustration. Logan watched him.
"Trouble in paradise?" Logan said with a smirk.
"Shut up." Dean started the car. "Which way?" Logan started giving him directions, and with a churning in the pit of stomach, Dean hoped they'd get there in time.
Veronica finished the incantation and waited. She looked around, nervous, but nothing happened. She licked her lips. More nothing. Her eyes went to Sam.
"Did I do it right?" She asked him. He nodded. She saw his face change and she turned around. She saw Vinnie Van Lowe with his stupid grin. Her eyes met his and she went cold. His eyes were red. Not weekend in Tijuana red, but completely, frighteningly blood red.
"Veronica Mars. I wondered how long it would take you to summon me. Especially after those two assholes with shotguns rolled into town." He said. His eyes flicked to Sam. "Ah. Thing Two." He chuckled. Veronica had never particularly liked Vinnie- he was sleazy and underhanded and vulgar- but this Vinnie made her skin crawl. His voice sounded like Vinnie, but not quite. There was a slight hissing in the back of his throat. All her courage drained out of her as she listened to him talk. "Sam Winchester. Elected leader of the Armies of Hell. I don't know why Azazel chose you, honestly. You're too good for hell. And that isn't a compliment."
"I'm so hurt by that." Sam said, keeping his voice even. Veronica turned her eyes to him. Leader of the Armies of Hell? Sam? She thought. Vinnie turned to her.
"Oh yeah. Sammy here had a whole destiny. He was chosen." The demon sneered. "As if he was worthy. I was rooting for Jake."
"can we… can we talk?" Veronica asked, reeling from the information. "I didn't summon you here so you could flirt with Sam." The demon grinned, and it was grotesque parody of the real Vinnie.
"All business. I like it." He said. "What can I do for you, girly?" Veronica swallowed hard, her eyes flickering to Sam again.
"My dad." She said. "Release him." The demon made a sympathetic face. Veronica closed her eyes. She couldn't look at him.
"I would, but… I don't want to." He said. "See, Daddy has given me so much more power than I had before. His life is feeding me. If I keep him alive and unconscious, I'll have power until.. .well, he'll die sometime. But it won't be for a long time, Veronica. I could keep him alive like that for years."
"No." She said, tears in her eyes.
"You knew I wouldn't release him." The demon said gently. Veronica turned her head to him. "You had to know that. Sam lied to you. He tricked you."
"No, Veronica, I-" Sam said desperately.
"He's a liar. He wanted you to summon me so he could trap me and get me to release Dean."
"Demons lie! He's lying, Veronica, I didn't-" The demon raised his hand towards Sam. Sam flew backwards, knocked off his feet. Veronica looked at him flat on the ground. The demon's argument was compelling, there was a timber of truth in his words. And she knew Sam wanted to get Dean out of his deal. But… he was a demon. If they didn't tell believable lies, they'd have no power. She sucked in a breath, wiping the tears from her face.
"You won't give me back my dad?" She asked, her voice trembling. "Even for my soul?" Sam scrambled to his feet. The demon cocked his head to the side.
"Now that's interesting." The demon considered. "Imagine you in the pit. They'd devour you. They'd love it. They'd turn you into one of us. Eventually." He laughed.
"Exorcizamus te, omnis immundus spiritus." Sam began unwilling to wait any longer. "Omnis satanica potestas, omnis incursio-" He was slammed back by another flick of the demons hand. He got to his feet again. "Infernalis adversarii, omnis legio, omnis congregatio et-" This time the demon let out a roar and raised its other hand. Sam stopped talking, his hands clawing at his throat as the demon cut off his air supply. He sank to his knees, tying to breathe. His eyes watered and he looked at Veronica, helpless.
"Stop!" She screamed, her voice hitching.
"Ah. Was that your plan? To summon me here and have little Sammy exorcize me?" He turned to her but released Sam. Sam fell forward, sucking air into his lungs.
"No." She said. Sam looked up at her. "I came to bargain for my dad." In the distance, they heard the roar of an engine, and it was music it Sam's ears. Dean was coming.
"You're serious? Your soul for your dad?" The demon asked. She nodded. "Well. Dean Winchester certainly rubbed off on you, didn't he?" He gave her a lewd grin. She looked at him, hoping he couldn't see her trembling hands.
"Veronica…" Sam said.
"Shut up, Sam." She said, still watching the demon.
"Do you know how this works?" The demon asked her. She nodded.
"We make the deal, we seal it with a kiss." She said.
"Well, usually. If you work for the King of the Cross Roads. But I'm more powerful than that now, thanks to your dad." He said. If it was possible, his grin got more lewd. "You'll have to seal it in a more elaborate way." Revolted, she took a step back. He took a step towards her, enjoying her reaction. Sam watched, hoping this was part of Veronica's plan. She took another step back, the demon keeping pace. "Ooh, Vinnie wants this. He's always had a thing for you, Veronica. Creepy, I know. But your sassy back talk and your cute little ass… he can't resist." Another step back. Sam got back to his feet, eyes sweeping the ground. He saw what he was looking for. His respect for her notched up. A moment later, he saw the lights of the Impala. Veronica and the demon turned towards it. Dean slammed on the brakes and jumped out and Logan followed. Relief flickered over her face briefly, but long enough for the demon to hear her thoughts.
"Oh. This is the cavalry?" he said, the hiss becoming more pronounced.
"Sammy!" Dean shouted, his voice hoarse. Yes, I'm fine too, Dean, she thought resentfully. The demon laughed.
"I see. Well, let's make this interesting. I'm going to call your bluff, girly. I'll release your Dad… and Dean. For your soul." Cold horror swept Sam. She wouldn't… she couldn't. He looked at Dean, who was standing completely still. His face was pale and he couldn't take his eyes off the demon.
"You can't-" He started. The Demon flicked it's eyes to him.
"I can." It said. "I can break your deal. Sammy, Keith, you, all alive and well. It's practically a bargain."
"No!" Dean said, his eyes going to Sam. "I'm not going to break my deal." He said. Anger washed over Sam. If Veronica was willing to sell her soul and save all of them, Dean couldn't refuse.
"I get 10 years?" Veronica pressed. The demon grinned.
"You can have the rest of Dean's year." It said. "I can transfer it. Think about it, Veronica." It stepped closer to her and she took an instinctive step back. "Your dad and the Winchesters. A year with them. You can fuck Dean until you're cross eyed, you get to see your dad again. You and Sam can talk about all your feelings. For a year. That's a lot. And they get to live. You can take Dean's place, you can go to hell for him."
"No. I'm not a part of this deal." Dean said. He began to move towards Veronica. The Demon looked at him, and Dean flew backwards towards the Impala. He slammed into the ground. Logan went to him and offered him a hand but Dean waved him off. "You evil fucker, you can't break my deal."
"I can. With this power, I can." The demon answered. Moving towards him, Logan's eyes went to Veronica. He couldn't stand to see her face so horrified, the pain so clearly etched there. But the worst thing was the desperate hope he saw rising in her. She was actually considering the demon's offer. He couldn't let her do it.
"Me." He said, looking at the demon. "My soul. For... them. And for her. " he said, his voice quite. She turned sharply to him, surprise on her face.
"Logan, no. No." She said, unable to suppress the sob. He went to her and brushed the hair off her face. He cupped her chin and made her look at him. Her eyes, wet with tears and dull with shock met his, full of sadness and love.
"Madison Sinclair meant nothing to me. If I could go back to that moment and change it, I would." He said. "It was always you, Veronica. Epic, remember? Bloodshed and continents?" She smiled at that.
"How touching." The demon sneered. Logan ignored him and pressed his lips to Veronica's. He pulled away and looked directly into her eyes, and Veronica saw the farewell there. Then he turned to the demon.
"How do we do this?" He said. "Sam and Dean and Keith, and what… a year? Let's seal this." Logan said, squaring his shoulders in that cocky rich-boy gesture Veronica used to hate. She put a hand on his wrist and pulled him back, away from the demon. The demon followed. Sam watched, counting the steps. Two more, he though. Just two more, come on, Veronica. And then he pushed the thought away, hoping the demon wouldn't pick up on it. But he preoccupied with Veronica and Logan.
"You know she won't be with you. You know she'll chase Dean. She's not built for forgiveness." The demon told him. "Really think about this. You won't get what you want by doing this." The demon moved so he was face to face with Logan, and Veronica pulled Logan back another step. Agonized, Dean looked at Sam. Sam flicked his eyes down, then back to Dean, and gave a little nod. Dean nodded back. They both tensed, watching for their moment.
"Yes I will." He said "I just want her to be happy." The demon laughed, leaning closer to Logan.
"Humans. So sentimental." He said. "Hang on to that warm fuzzy love, Logan. We're going to make you scream her name in hell. We'll make you weep for her, and finally curse her name for doing this to you. When we get done with you in the pit, you'll be a fearsome creature."
"Enough foreplay. Let's do this." Logan said, managing to sound bored. The demon grinned. Veronica threw a quick glance at Sam, and he leapt at the demon. At the same time, Logan grabbed Veronica and tumbled to the ground, shielding her with his body. Sam and the demon went sprawling and Dean came running, screaming Latin at the demon. The demon threw Sam off and lunged at Sam, but was thrown back.
"Devil's trap, you son of a bitch." Sam said, getting to his feet. He kicked at the dirt, revealing a line of the trap. Logan grinned at Sam.
"When we get you in the pit, Dean, the things we're going to do you… well, you'll wish you'd left Sam dead. You'll weep, just like your father." Dean faltered at the demon's words. "In the end, he cursed the day you were born, Dean. You were a burden, he said." Dean tried to resume the exorcism, but couldn't find the words. The demon laughed. Sam picked up where Dean had left off; his memory for Latin had always been better than Dean's. The demon screamed and fought against the trap, but it was useless. Veronica had copied it perfectly and Logan had followed her instructions to the letter. It was safe to let her up now, but he didn't. He just wanted to be close to her for a moment, wanted to feel the rhythm of her breathing one last time. He closed his eyes, feeling the warmth of her, the completeness of being near her. He opened his eyes and met hers. He sighed after a moment and let her up. She started to go to Dean, but turned to him. He gave a little nod. She smiled, and then turned to Dean.
"Benedictus deus. Gloria patri." Sam finished the exorcism. Dean grinned fiercely.
"Goodbye, you fucking evil bastard." He said. Vinnie's head went back and his mouth opened. He screamed as the demon smoke left him in swirling cloud. His body collapsed as the demon smoke disappeared. Sam and Logan went to check on him. Veronica pressed herself against Dean, unable to stop herself crying. He his arms went around her, trying to comfort her, but he knew it was more than she could deal with right now. Your first brush with the supernatural… how did you recover? She was shaking, couldn't control herself. Her ragged breath came in shuddering sobs, though she tried not to draw attention to herself. He stroked her hair, pressing her against himself, trying to give her strength. She pressed her face against his chest, needing his solidity.
"He's still alive." Sam said. "We've got to get him to the hospital." He glanced at Logan. Logan was staring at Vinnie, who was unconscious. He was still coming to terms with what he'd seen.
"You okay, man?" Sam asked softly. Logan nodded, and then shook his head and laughed.
"I don't know. It's… different up close." He said. Sam let out a small laugh; he knew that feeling. He glanced at Veronica and Dean. "Look, can you help me get him to the hospital? Dean and Veronica…" He stopped. Tact was not his strong point. Logan turned to look at Veronica and Dean for a long moment. He felt a pain twit in his chest at the sight of her seeking comfort from someone else, then turned to Sam.
"Yeah, dude. Let's get Vinnie out of here." He said, a touch of sadness in his voice.