Calling All Angels
The Brothers Grim
Adam curled in on himself as the plume of fire swept over him, hissing violently like a pissed-off snake and leaving a hot cloud in its wake. The heat wave brushed his skin, and he cried out; but as soon as he did, the sensation switched from burning to freezing, and he could have sworn that ice was forming on his skin. Suddenly shaking uncontrollably, he couldn't prevent a pathetic whimper from leaving his lips. Above him, the fire laughed. Lucifer didn't normally use fire, but when he did… Well, let's just say he would take Michael's accidental scalding over this any day.
As Lucifer prepared the next onslaught, Adam tried to crawl away, but something was blocking his progress – it was as if he was wrapped in something, a material that bound his legs and clung to his torso. Panicked, he glanced back up into the fire, watching as it descended towards him, already anticipating the pain of ice on fresh burns.
But it never came. Peeking out from beneath his raised arm, Adam was shocked to see Michael meeting fire with fire – literally. The archangel, apparently in the form of his younger father, held back the writhing element, glaring back into his rebel brother's furious face. Adam was aghast. Lucifer had just beaten the shit out of Michael – what was he doing?
I'm here to protect you, Adam! You can escape – go!
"Oh, hello pretty boy."
Adam's heart skipped a beat. He really, really didn't want to turn around, but his neck muscles betrayed him (or maybe he was forced to), and he was staring into the face of a rancid, middle-aged man with bad breath and missing teeth. Scars decorated his face, and his sparse hair was thin, wiry and oily looking. A flash of something from the warring archangels behind him lit up this face, and just for a second he could see what a demon truly looked like. It sent him into terror overdrive.
He tried to get up and run. "No, no, don't do that," Duncan shushed him, raking a calloused hand down the side of his face. He chuckled as Adam turned his head at the touch, then hauled him up by his clothes onto the rack, patting his shoulder like a father placing his son on a merry-go-round. "I have something new to show you today, Adam," he said as he turned to reach for his tools. Adam hated the way he said his name, tongue sliding over the sounds as if it was amusing. He probably thought it was. "It's a poison," he continued, "one designed to infect the blood and penetrate the heart."
Adam wanted to reply that that's what most poison did, but he could already see Duncan approaching, holding a tool he invented himself – and Adam knew it too well. It looks like a toothbrush, but the bristles are hundreds of stiff, sharp needles. Duncan would trail it along his skin, pressing just hard enough to tear the thin membrane protecting his sensitive nerves – and this time, he realised, he'd coat it in poison. Maybe he'd cut him just the once, let the venom take its time inside him, or perhaps he'd trace his skeleton, quickening the vile liquid's effects and letting him bleed. Either way, his sickening grin promised Adam that it would hurt and that he, Duncan, would enjoy it.
Without warning, the grin is wiped from Duncan's face, and he recoiled as holy fire engulfed him. When Adam opened his eyes, he saw Michael standing in front of him, arms outstretched and directing the fire to where the demon had stood moments earlier. Adam was speechless.
He can't hurt you, Adam. I'm not going to let him. Now go!
Go? Go where? If he ran from here, Lucifer would be waiting for him. And besides, he couldn't run anyway.
You don't have to be here!
What was he on about? If he was going to go off on one of his regretful I-promise-to-make-amends-for-your-sacrifice speeches, Adam was not in the mood.
Go Adam! Sam is waiting for you.
Sam? But Sam wasn't here. Someone took him.
"Dam? Cme on, u cn do ths – js figh. ht it, Adm!"
Adam frowned. The voice was familiar… it sounded like Sam. What was he trying to say? And why couldn't Adam hear him properly?
"S ju a drm, Ada. A ream, yor nt reay ther. Ow cme n, opn yr ys!"
He wanted to scream. What was his brother saying?!
Open your eyes!
Adam closed his eyes.
The relief Sam felt when his writhing brother finally opened his eyes nearly made him fall off the bed. Luckily he managed to stay on as he waited for Adam to squash the last remains of panic the nightmare had drowned him in, not satisfied until his head dropped back onto the pillow with a breathless gasp. "You need a minute?"
Adam nodded, covering his eyes. "Yeah…" He spent a very long minute just breathing, and as much as Sam wanted to know what he was thinking and how he could help he knew to give him time to re-adjust his memories and perspective. After the nightmares, it was even harder to tell memory from reality. Finally, Adam's hand went back to lying by his side, and he frowned. "What time is it?"
"It's nearly lunchtime," Sam told him. "We were going to wake you up for breakfast, but Lily insisted we left you alone. Apparently you don't sleep much."
He snorted. "Try never."
"Yeah, I hear you."
The Milligan boy sat up, casting a thoughtful look over his older half-brother. "What was it like for you?" he asked slowly.
Running a hand through his hair, Sam remembered trying to sleep once his wall had been levelled. "Uh… Honestly? Nothing like what you're going through." And with that, Sam quickly filled him in on life after Hell, only choosing to avoid the details of his soulless period. Adam listened with an unchanging expression, taking it all in but offering no comment as Sam's story passed. "Not being able to sleep is just one side effect," he finished. "The other one is that sometimes I see…" He shrugged, figuring Adam could work out what was left unsaid.
Sam twitched at the voice in his ear. Telling himself he'd imagined it, he blinked slowly – and suddenly Lucifer was behind Adam, grinning madly. Adam, completely oblivious, frowned as Sam's facial muscles went slack. "Sam? Everything okay?"
"Well go on, Sam, answer him," Lucifer said. "I mean, I went to so much effort to bring him here. Shame to make him feel unwanted now." He sighed, looking down at the second-hand vessel pityingly. "Poor boy doesn't even realise where he is."
"Hey Sam, snap out of it." Adam leaned forward, clicking his fingers in front of Sam's face.
He blinked. "Uh –"
"All that stuff about Michael throwing him out and giving him this little girl to play Prince Charming for? Have to admit – I was pleased with how hard he fell for it!" the Devil giggled. "But then again, so did you."
"Sam, what is this?"
"And despite what you think, I made the Dean you see here, as well as all the other important people in your life; which means, technically, that I can't actually hurt them."
"Hey man, come on! Talk to me."
"But Adam here, well…" And with that, Lucifer reached out a hand towards the boy's head.
"No!" Sam yelled, leaping forward. "Don't touch him!"
As if someone had flicked a switch, he stopped. After a couple of seconds he started to think again, and actually took in the situation: Lucifer was gone, and he was leant protectively over a confused and mildly scared Adam, who he just remembered had woken up from a nightmare and needed reassurance. He now probably wanted an explanation too. So, with a sigh, Sam began –
The door was shoved open, probably harder than necessary. Dean skidded to a stop at the end of the bed, followed a short way by Lily and Cas, concern and confusion on all their faces (they could probably start a Confusion Committee, Sam thinks dryly). After a deathly quiet moment of shared looks and twitching, Dean straightened up. "Can you guys give us a moment?" he said, still looking hard at Sam. Sam maintained the eye contact, aware of Cas, Lily and Adam moving in the background. But then Dean broke the stare and held out his hand. "Not you, Adam."
Frowning, Adam resumed a more comfortable position on his bed, and Sam moved back to give him some more room. There was a gentle bang from the closing wooden door, and then the usual rally of angry-demand-for-explanation and resigned-explanation-giving began. "Dean –"
"I want an explanation and I want it now, Sam. And no bullshitting." Dean folded his arms, scowling furiously and leaving no room for escape.
"Wait," Adam said before anything could be explained. "Why am I here? I mean, this seems like a Winchester Bros thing, and I'm –"
"Adam, I couldn't care if your surname was Milligan or Schmidt – you're our brother, so you have as much a right to know what goes on in the company as either of us do," the eldest Winchester snapped, then refocused back on Sam. "So come on, Sam. Spill!"
Seeing there was no escaping this, Sam gave in, and told his brothers about the hallucinations. He told them how Lucifer had started appearing in the real world, claiming to still be holding him down in the Cage; how he sometimes doubted whether Dean or Castiel or Bobby were real; how whenever he tried to deny it, to tell himself it was all in his mind, the Devil would unleash a sensation of pain that made his nerves scream like he had in Hell, and his resolve would waver. And he watched as their faces grew paler, their expressions changed to horror and sympathy, and they finally began to understand what he was going through. Because, as different as their experiences might have been, Dean and Adam did understand; knowing that made him feel better. When at last he finished, he looked to Dean to wait for his brother's reaction.
After a long time staring into space, arms folded, chin on his chest, Dean sucked in a breath and stuck his hands on his hips. "Well aren't we three the century's biggest screw-ups?" Adam huffed out a laugh, and even Sam couldn't help but smile. Wearily, Dean sat himself down on the corner of the unoccupied bed, rubbing his hand over his face. "But seriously, Sam, you didn't think to tell me about all of this sooner?"
Sam could tell he was a little hurt – and yes, he did feel a bit guilty, but he'd had his reasons. "I didn't want to worry you," he said. "And you always refused to tell me and Bobby what your problems were."
"That's different." (Of course it was – Sam hadn't been expecting any other answer.) "You were trapped in Hell with the Devil, Sam, both of you were. Now from what I can tell, your wonderwalls haven't done much in helping with that."
"So what do you propose?" Adam asked.
Dean shrugged. "I'm not. At the minute I'm saying deal; but maybe once this whole mess is sorted… I dunno, Cas might be able to do something."
"Dean, no offence to your angel buddy or anything, but I've got Michael."
"Well at the very least he can help Sam," he said, looking pointedly at him. "Stupid son of a bitch owes it to you, anyway."
The Winchesters turned to Adam. "I just explained all that Adam," Sam said.
"No, I mean why does Castiel owe you guys anything?" When neither of them answered, surprised as they were by the question, he continued: "As far as I can tell he does a lot for, and has done since you met. And Dean's managed without a 'wall' –"
"Yeah but I wasn't trapped in the Cage –"
"But you tortured people for ten years. You get nightmares too, so don't try and claim that you're not scarred as well." Dean shut up. "Castiel rescued both of you from Hell, disobeyed God for you, has died a few times too, right? And you're saying he's… 'obliged' to give Sam a band-aid?"
"Do you know why you've been given a wall, Adam?" Dean asked sharply.
"To stem the flow of memories. Michael told me."
"And do you know what happens if those memories get through?" No answer. "Well it's a hell of a lot more than nightmares and hallucinations. Now I may have suffered in Hell in my own way, but I was there for a fraction of the time that you two were, and if this shit's happening to Sam…" He shook his head. "Let's just say I think it'd be three times as worse for you."
Adam looked down at the bed sheets unhappily. "All I'm saying is it's not fair that you guys are forcing him to do this."
Sam blinked. "We're not." When Adam looked confused, he elaborated. "Cas feels bad for what he did to me – he wants to make amends. He's an angel, Adam, and although he's disobeyed and been punished for what he did, he doesn't think he'll ever be forgiven. And we had nothing to do with that."
He held up his hands. "Okay, I get it," he said. He shook his head. "Damn angels and their sense of –"
From across the hall there was a scream. As the three of them leapt for the door, they heard a crash as something was thrown or knocked over, and their hearts lurched. It took them seconds to reach the opposite room, but it felt like a few seconds too many. Dean was the first in, and he quickly found the source of the crash: Castiel lay, somewhat dazed, beside the upturned table and chairs the motel supplied, a trickle of blood running from his temple. He lifted his head sluggishly, expression saying 'I can't quite work out what just happened'.
"Cas!" Dean wasted no time in rushing over to his friend, Sam hot on his heels. "You okay man?"
"Take it easy," Sam advised.
"Dude, what –"
All three of them stopped and stared as Adam ran to the window. Frantically, he spun back to face them with wide eyes, asking Castiel, "Where's Lily?" It was a good question – one Dean kicked himself for not asking sooner.
Frowning, Cas allowed himself to be hauled up. "It was the Priest," he said. "It… got the jump on us." He touched his fingertips to the blood trail running down the side of his face, staring at it confusedly.
Normally Dean might have found the angel's attempts to imitate their hunter speak hilarious, but this was a very un-hilarious matter. "What do you mean?"
"It took her?" Adam cut in, stepping closer. Dean noticed how on edge his younger brother suddenly seemed, and quietly admitted that he was a good choice as prophet guardian.
Cas nodded, still frowning. "It overpowered me, I…" He blinked. "I'm sorry."
"That's okay, Cas," Sam assured him. "Do you know how we can find her?"
"She's in an abandoned farmhouse twenty miles from here," Adam said. "Can you take us there?"
"Whoa, hold up – how do you know that?" Dean asked incredulously.
"Michael told me, now can we –"
His eyebrows rose. "Michael told you?" he echoed.
Adam's jaw twitched. "Yes."
"And how does he know?"
"Because he's a fucking archangel, now can we please just go?" he shouted.
Dean reacted just as explosively. "Oh, sure, yeah. Hop in the car and we'll drive as the crow flies to a freaking farm twenty miles away in the middle of Michael-knows-where!"
Ignoring him, Adam turned to Cas. "If I show you what it looks like, can you angel-zap us all there?"
Castiel nodded, and reached out to touch his forehead. They both closed their eyes for a second, and when they re-opened them, Cas turned to the clueless brothers. "Hold on," was the only warning he gave before Dean felt himself being pulled out of the second floor motel room and into a cold, empty stone room. Swallowing back his discomfort (the sensation of angel-zapping, as Adam called it, never ceased to leave his organs muddled up, he was sure of it), he took stock of their surroundings.
"Is this it?" he heard Sam ask, and turned to Adam, who looked like he was listening intently.
"Yeah," their brother breathed. "It's here."
"This is Dean. Leave a message."
As the phone went to voicemail again, Bobby growled through his teeth. "Dean, you idjit, pick up your goddamn phone!" he started after the tone. "It's important – I got some info on Enochian Priests and what they could do – they're grace eaters, Dean, it's how they punished angels in the past. My guess is it's trying to use souls to power up again, but not just any souls: souls of prophets, of psychics, of anyone who's a little different to Joe Bloggs. You have to protect that girl!" He shuddered involuntarily. "I don't wanna think about what the angels might try and do if we lose their new forecaster, but it won't be good for any of us." He blew out a breath, dragging out the action to try and calm his nerves. "We still don't know this thing, boy. You and your brothers stay safe, you hear?" He rolled his eyes, mentally smacking himself. No, of course he couldn't hear, otherwise he wouldn't be talking to a goddamned answer machine! Always there when he needed to contact them, Dean and Sam. "Bleedin' Winchesters," he muttered as he ended the call, tossing the phone back onto his desk. No way were they blaming him if one of them came back soulless. No friggin' way.
Lily had never given much thought to how she was going to die. She'd contemplated it occasionally with friends, each one of them taking delight in expanding the gory details of their 'murders' to sometimes obscene levels. Really, she expected to die in a hospital, possibly riddled with cancer, or in a home somewhere struck by some mental deficiency. Never had she expected to die, aged fifteen, in a random, earth-worn house in the middle of nowhere, killed by a giant skeleton wizard with a ridiculous outfit. If someone had told her that was the way she was going to die, she'd have laughed – and then died as a result.
Regardless, she was here, as was the Enochian Priest. It had snatched her right out from underneath Castiel's guard (she spared a thought for the battered angel, hoping he was okay) as easily as if she was a lamb taken from its ewe. Adam would be furious, she thought, and the fear pounding in her chest increased. He wasn't here, he couldn't protect her – hell, they probably wouldn't find her until it was too late! What would he think? What would he do?
So when she heard his echoing voice desperately calling out her name from beyond the stone walls, turning the head of the Priest even as it reached to cup her face in its bony fingers, Lily couldn't have been more delighted.