Out of all the evil creatures they hunted, Sam sometimes hated humans the most. At least supernatural beings were predictable in what they were going to do—be evil—end of story. Humans, though, were tricky; some good, some bad, but on these reconnaissance missions, it was difficult for Sam to think anything beyond the small percentage of horrible that was contained in his genetic line.
A few years ago, angels had touched down on Earth, making themselves known to humans for the first time in over 2,000 years. They had mostly received a warm welcome, praises perfect for the divine spirits that they were, but the minority had reacted like some humans do—greed outweighing anything, and the need for power. If it hadn't been for those people, Sam and his brother wouldn't have to split hunting with rescue missions.
Angels were being captured, enslaved, traded on the black market for millions a piece. It had taken the underground a mere five months to come up with the technology to suppress their Grace, and once it was inserted into collar-form—codenamed 'Halos' for God's sake—the market took off disgustingly fast.
While Dean was halfway across town, taking out a poltergeist, Sam was infiltrating a rundown, brick building to find two angels before they could be moved to another location. Probably in the basement, it was always the basement.
Sam knocked out three guys before he found stairs leading down into a cellar. His fingers found the light switch as he hit the last step, his stance relaxing just a fraction as he took in the sight of two angels huddling in a corner. He stepped forward towards the pair and they shuffled further into the wall. Sam was used to it, humans hadn't exactly been treating those he rescued with kindness.
"Hey, asshole. About time you got your lard ass back down here. I'm still waiting for my candy. You better have brought something with caramel in it."
Sam's head snapped up quickly, his arm thrusting out to hold up his pistol. He hadn't seen anybody else down here, in fact... he still didn't see anybody else down here.
"Helllloooooo, am I talking to myself here? I can hear your fat mouth breathing, so stop ignoring me."
The voice was coming from under a sheet in the opposite corner of the room. It was covering something boxy that was taller than Sam himself. Gun at the ready, Sam stepped over and grabbed at the sheet, pulling it off whatever was under it.
An angel, another angel, but this one locked up in a cage, which was something Sam had never seen before. Usually the collars were enough for 'handlers' to keep them under control. This one didn't even have anything on his neck.
The blond angel quirked up an eyebrow, maybe in surprise—dark golden wings slightly cocking in a similar fashion, "Who the hell are you?"
Shit. He wasn't prepared to pick any sort of lock.
"Sam," the young Winchester supplied. His eyes darted distractedly around the cage, trying to find any sort of weak spot in the structure.
"Sam," the angel scoffed, "Maybe I should have been more specific because apparently, you humans are too stupid to answer unvoiced questions."
Double shit. The damn thing was looking pretty solid. He'd have to worry about it last because he had to get the other two, less mouthy, angels ready. He turned his back to the short blond, reaching the two huddled on the ground while he shoved his gun in the waist of his pants and pulled out a tiny screwdriver.
"If you're trying to have fun with those two, don't waste your breath. They're about as much entertainment as a shot in the ass."
Sam turned his head, a little stunned by the random comment, but he really took in what he saw in the short angel. His hands were clenching the bars in front of him until his knuckles turned white, his face pressed into his fingers, trying to see as much of what Sam was doing as possible. His chest was puffed up slightly, trying to look bigger than he really was, and doing a great job of it, really. Although the wings were an enormous help as they stretched up to the top of the cage that was obviously too small for any amount of comfort with such a large wingspan.
His expression was something else, though—hard to decipher, but Sam had seen the look more times than he could count on Dean's face, usually when Sam was injured. The angel was trying to seem like he was indifferent, but golden eyes were glowing with concern. He was trying to distract Sam's attention to himself.
And it was working. Sam was being distracted, and he didn't have the time. Any one of those guys he knocked out could be discovered, and then they would all be screwed.
Sam bent down slowly, trying to seem as less threatening as he could. He kept his voice soft, "Hey, I'm here to help."
As he reached for the first angel, she let out a small squeak of fear, huddling closer to her brother as he tried his best to shield her.
"Dammit, you gigantic douche nozzle, leave them the hell alone."
Sam snapped his head over his shoulder, letting a harsh hush of air force its way through his teeth.
The caged angel actually looked shocked, "Did you just shush me?"
"I'm trying to get all of you out of here, so could you kindly shut the hell up before you alert the entire house that I'm down here?"
"Well, excuse me, Mr. Superhero. I guess I could have just read your mind. Oh, that's right, I can't because of this damn thing on me."
Sam breathed in deeply to try and calm his nerves. He was anxious to get out of here. Angel Trappers were known to pack a lot of ammunition to protect their 'stock' and he really would just like to keep this a covert mission.
He relaxed as well as he could while focusing on the young-looking, brunet male angel of the two. His green eyes were slightly glazed over with constant fear, but he was trying to stare defiantly back at Sam, his brown-speckled wings only slightly fluttering in alarm.
"Please," Sam kept his voice soft and calm, "I really am here to help. I know some humans have been really cruel to your kind, but there are decent ones out there."
He held out the tiny screwdriver so the angels could see what he was holding, "If I can have access to the collar around your neck, I can disable it, and we can get out of here. You would be free to go home."
The female huddling behind her brother tucked her dark red hair behind her ear so she could clearly see Sam. Her hazel eyes glanced over Sam's shoulder causing him to look behind himself. The female angel and the one locked in the cage seemed to have a silent conversation, but Sam knew the Halo was preventing them from actually communicating telepathically. Still, a message seemed to cross between the angels because the blond gave a small nod.
Hushed shuffling sounds caused Sam to bring his attention back to the two angels in front of him. The girl had shifted to in front of her brother, although he kept his hand on the ground beside her waist and shifted as close to her as he could. Security measures installed into the hardware prevented them from touching to avoid tampering with each other's collars.
She outstretched her neck and Sam moved slowly, but deliberately, quickly unscrewing the six screws that kept the outer plate in place. He slid it off and placed it to the side before expertly digging his fingers into the wires and shifting, pulling, and reinserting them into different places.
"So, what's your name?" Sam smiled warmly, trying to distract the angel from the idea that he could really hurt her if he made a mistake. The thought made him sick, himself.
She looked shocked and more than wary, "Why would you ask such a thing?"
Sam shrugged his shoulders as if it meant nothing, "Just curious. I am Sam, by the way."
She must have been contemplating his motives because she remained silent while Sam continued to make seemingly random scratching noises in the device around her neck. He heard a sharp click of metal releasing and smirked smugly to himself.
"That's better," Sam slid it from her neck, snapped it in half with a satisfying crunch, and placed it beside its plate.
"Well, I'll be damned, kid. You're actually serious," came a smooth voice behind him.
The grin on Sam's lips widened slightly higher as he turned to the green-eyed male. He gestured toward his neck, "May I?"
He scooted closer towards Sam without hesitation and stretched his neck out. Sam hurriedly went to work on the second collar.
"I am Lailah," the female's quiet voice spoke. She stayed close to her brother, but did not seem as frightened of Sam as when he first appeared.
Sam smiled warmly, "The angel of the night, right?"
Her lips twitched upward, while her hazel eyes began to sparkle with tiny blue flecks, "Yes."
"I am Nuriel," the male angel said, watching Sam with a little more curiosity, "Do you know who I am?"
"I believe," Sam glanced up at him. The angel was displaying a rather childlike expression that lightened Sam's heart despite the situation, "Nuriel stands for... fire of the Lord. You bring about hailstorms."
Nuriel beamed, "That's me!"
Lailah laughed quietly.
A few seconds later, another sharp click was heard, and Sam was able to snap that collar in half, as well.
Sam rose to his feet, "Hang tight for just a minute."
"Hang tight?" Nuriel repeated while Lailah looked on in confusion.
"Just sit here," Sam reiterated as he moved across the room. He nodded at the angel in the cage before going about running his hands over the bars and joints, looking for any points in the structure that could be dismantled.
The blond leaned his shoulder against the wall and watched Sam work, "I gotta admit, kiddo, you are kind of surprising me over here. And I ain't surprised often."
"Is that so?" Sam replied distractedly.
The angel stuck his bottom lip out in a pout, slightly put out by Sam's reaction, "And you're not even gonna ask my name? Makes me feel kinda like a cheap hooker."
Sam paused because... what? Was 'hooker' even supposed to be in an angel's vocabulary? Or 'asshole' or 'douche nozzle', for that matter? Cas never strayed from his uptight terminology. This angel was odd, to say the least.
...how the hell did he even know what a cheap hooker felt like?
May as well voice his astonishment out loud, "What?"
The angel ignored Sam's outburst, "Well, Sammy, you can call me Loki."
Sam's eyes narrowed, "You are not the Norse trickster. And don't call me Sammy."
'Loki's' eyebrows rose and he laughed warmly, "You just never know, do ya, Sammy?"
If this angel wanted to play make-believe, Sam wasn't in the mood to dispute it; this damn cage was giving him a headache. It was rock solid and he had no tools on him that would be useful for taking it apart.
Sam let a growl of annoyance escape his throat, "So, why aren't you busting out of this thing? You haven't been collared."
The angel's golden eyes darkened and the smirk fell from his lips. Sam almost instantly regretted asking. Golden wings curled tightly against their owner's back, giving away no signs of emotion. Having interacted with dozens of angels and Castiel practically being their guide for the past year, Sam knew how difficult it was for angels to hide strong feelings when their wings usually reacted unconsciously—even with the limited control the Halos allowed.
"I might not be collared," Loki sneered. He unbuttoned the top three buttons of his shirt and pushed it and his jacket aside to show the left portion of his chest, "But that doesn't mean I'm not stuck in here."
Sam inhaled sharply through his nose. He hadn't expected... that—whatever that even was. He had never seen anything like it.
Sam stepped up to the door of the cage to get a better look. It was gold, a hunk of metal sticking into the angel's chest. Streams of dried blood ran down every point the thing attached to skin. He finally noticed the peculiar shape.
"Is that a dog?" Sam knew he looked as horrified as he felt. The metal had been crafted in the shape of a crouching canine, its paws anchoring itself into skin. Three necks protruded from the body and disappeared at the points of a triangle directly over where Loki's human heart resided.
"Yep," the angel smirked bitterly, "Damn thing hurts like a bitch."
"But, why? And where the hell are its heads?"
"As for why, I guess the humans who trapped me thought the guard dog of the Underworld was hilarious irony for decoration on an angel," he jerked his shirt closed and rebuttoned it, "As for the heads, come on, Sammy, you seem smart enough."
"They're buried in your chest," Sam stated flatly, the dinner in his stomach churning and rolling over sickly, "Why would they even do that?"
"Cause some humans are sick sons of bitches."
"Yeah, but that thing had to cost some money," Sam continued, not satisfied, "They wouldn't just craft something like that without reason. And I highly doubt they did it for the irony considering most of the trappers we run into don't read anything other than their contracts."
"What can I say," Loki gave a truly self-satisfying smirk, "They needed to bring out the heavy artillery to catch me."
A loud thud above their heads had Sam jumping in his skin, "Shit, shit!"
He was nowhere close to getting Loki out of the cage, let alone knowing how to remove that thing from his chest.
The angel's eyes hardened as he gestured towards his siblings behind Sam, "Go, get them out of here!"
A set of footsteps were landing heavily on the floor above their heads. One of the men Sam had knocked out must have regained consciousness. Sam nodded, he didn't have a choice. The guy was going to be bringing reinforcement and he had to get the others out while he could. He turned on his heels and started ushering the two angels up the stairs.
"We can't leave!" Nuriel insisted even as Sam pushed him.
"I'm ordering you to go," Loki's voice was different—deep, and old, and something made to be obeyed—a complete contrast to how he sounded just seconds before.
Nuriel looked crestfallen, but didn't argue, and Lailah was looking down at her feet.
"And, Sam," Loki's voice was still even, still deadly sounding despite being trapped, "If you hurt them, I will track you down and smite you painfully before I disintegrate your soul."
Sam turned back around, the danger in the angel's tone and the serious expression he wore sent icy chills up his spine, "I'll keep them safe. You have my word."
Loki scoffed loudly.
Sam stepped back to the cage, "And I'll also come back for you."
The angel laughed humorlessly, "Yeah, I'll only hold my breath because I don't have to breathe."
Sam frowned, a determined look in his eyes, "I promise."
Loki tried not to show how the bond in Sam's words affected him, but he could not hide the way his eyes softened ever so slightly or the glowing of the gold in his irises. For a moment, Sam could discern the fear the other angel had been hiding.
"Forgive me if I don't believe you considering, you know, human," the angel flippantly waved a hand in the air before rewrapping it around a bar on the door, "Now, get the hell out of here before you begin filling this dank prison with false hope."
They were words intended to deflect. Sam had become an expert in Dean-Speak and his unrivaled avoidance of emotions, and Loki's was shockingly similar, but there was no time to do anything. He slid his fingers softly against the back of a warm hand, the only comfort he could offer. Loki was startled at the gesture, glancing at the contact before looking back at Sam. The angel's eyes were so appreciative from something so small that it caused Sam's stomach to flutter.
He forced himself to turn back to the angels waiting for him on the stairs and ushered them to the top.
Sam pulled out his gun from his waistband, "You two stay behind me."
The angels nodded and Sam turned the knob to open the door.
The last words he heard from the room were a soft, "Good luck, Sam."