Warnings: (For complete, whole story) Torture, swearing, blood play, knife play, sex, noncon, dubcon, fighting, monster death, character death
Disclaimer: I don't own Supernatural or any related characters. They belong to Kripke. No money made here.
Author's Notes: Written for the spn-hardcorebang. OMG, I so didn't expect this story to be as long as it turned out to be. Just a quick note on the rating: yes, there are some scenes that definitely require that rating. Granted, there are also several scenes that are of a much softer nature. A nice balance I would say. Also, huge thanks to my awesome friend and beta Kimmi! And to Twisted_slinky for cheering me on as I outlined and helping bounce the many issues I encountered off her. Also, that thanks extends to my artist, Casper-san, who was just super awesome. I know she was just as busy as I was trying to do other challenges while doing my art, so yes, huge thanks! Drop by my livejournal at (remove spaces) patriciatepes. Livejournal. com and give the art some love! Hope you enjoy! Also, I'd like to add that I've gotten really behind on review replies, so what I'll do is on the very last chapter, I'll reply to everyone who reviews it. Thanks, however, for the great reviews thus far!
The blade sliced through the Alpha Shifter's neck, its head—which was exactly Crowley's meatsuit's head—rolling away across the floor.
"Guess I kinda lost my head," Crowley—the real, white-bloodstained-apron wearing Crowley—said.
"Are you serious?" Jo said, stepping farther into the room.
The King of Hell turned, one brow arched. "Joanna, to what do I owe this pleasure?"
"And not only is the last alpha you had a lead on—the one you used me as bait on—now dead, you just had to crack that cheesy-ass pun," she ranted.
Crowley cocked his head to the side. "And, again, why are you here? I didn't send for you."
Jo shrugged, shoving he hands into the pockets of her jeans. "I know. I find that strange too, but here I am. Oh, and I'll also have you know that I don't appreciate you nonchalantly chopping of the alpha's head after I went through so much to help catch his ass. Not really a good motivator for an employee, your highness."
Crowley smiled, nodding his head in the direction of Jo's necklace. "Oh, but I know something that is a good motivator."
Jo raised a hand to the pendant as Crowley took off the bloody apron, balling it up and tossing it carelessly on top of his torture tools.
"Besides," he continued, "he wasn't giving up Purgatory any time soon. Honestly, I rather doubt he knew how to access it either."
Well, if for nothing else, that bit of good news made the brisk walk from the manor to the prison worth it. If Crowley was obviously frustrated with the lack of information on Purgatory, then that was fine by Jo. The longer he went without, the longer Castiel went without—which meant more time for Jo to try and figure out what was within her power to do about it all.
Crowley put his back to her, waving her off.
"Go home, Jo. I've no need for you today," he said.
Jo managed to keep down her retort, that she wasn't some damn maid service to be dismissed when the work was done, by telling herself that she really, really didn't feel like getting the necklace today. It had been weeks since the last time Crowley had turned the pretty thing on her, and she was okay with that streak.
"Really? No hunts?" she pressed, turning for the door.
"No. No bloody hunts. Believe me, dearest, if you're that bored, I'm sure I can find some use for you," he snarled.
Okay, so Crowley was upset. So Jo only nodded and made her way out of the prison, down the still sunlight streets—which was quite a change of scenery for her—and into the manor. She made it all the way inside her room before she paused. She pulled out the rolling chair, taking a seat but not pulling it back toward the desk. Instead, she pulled up her left leg, catching the heel of her foot just on the edge of the seat, and wrapping one arm around her knee. Purgatory plagued her thoughts, as it seemed to be doing to everyone these days. It almost made Jo want to laugh to think about the days when Hell and demons were her biggest worries. Now, she had to contend with the idea that the one angel they—she, her mother, Sam, Dean, Bobby—had been able to trust was now trying to crack open a place that she knew very little about. In fact, all she knew was that it held monsters' souls—which had been news to her. She had always assumed the monsters she killed to be soulless killing machines, which was a disturbing theological pondering for another time.
She pursed her lips, using her right foot to push herself back and forth in the chair, her eyes unfocused on any one object in her room. Questions about Purgatory raced through her mind. Questions like, if this place was such an untapped resource for power, then why did no one seem to know how to get to it? And exactly how many monster souls were even in there? Jo figured on a lot, like a number big enough to make her mind boggle. But, were monster souls even as powerful as human souls? And could they be used in the same way? She didn't have the answer to any of those questions… but she had a deep feeling that Crowley and Castiel did.
She sat up, putting both feet on the floor as she turned to gaze over her shoulder at her room's door. Crowley and Castiel must know more about Purgatory than what they've shared with her… and something that they knew must have led them to believing that it could be opened and drained. But Jo had been up and down Crowley's library, with nothing pertaining to Purgatory to be found. But then, it clicked. She stood, an image flashing in her mind of two book shelves around a door. But not hers… the ones in Crowley's room. Yes. If Crowley was going to keep the information on Purgatory hidden from her, then he would put it in the one place she would least want to go. She grinned. Crowley was at the prison, no doubt busy torturing any other monster he still had for additional information.
She left the room, trying her best to look like she wasn't up to anything mischievous. After all, if there was something that was a sure way to get herself tortured, it would be going into Crowley's room without an invitation… like the last "invitation" she had received. Her mind flew back to the night she had rescued the shifter baby the moment her eyes saw the weapons mounted on the wall. A chill ran down her spine, and she had to force her feet farther into the room. She closed the door behind her with a soft click, her eyes falling on the two bookshelves immediately. She stepped to the right, her fingertips dancing down the spines as she trying to best to read the markings on them. Finally, her eyes lit up. One of them clearly announced itself as a discourse on Purgatory, and she snatched it up. She made her way over to a small coffee table, not unlike the one in her room, and took a seat upon it—utterly ignoring the club chairs that surrounded it. She hunched over, cracking the book open. It was handwritten, all of it, in a very tightly scripted hand. Hard to read didn't even begin to cover it, but after staring at it for a moment, she began to make some headway.
The books began by telling Jo what she already knew. Purgatory was full of monster souls, and none had accessed it since the beginning of time. However, the further she pushed on into the book, the more it made her stomach feel a bit queasy. The author of the book—whoever they were—seemed to believe that there was more in Purgatory than just monster souls. That there were powerful, powerful beings there that had not walked the earth since… well, since the last time the place had been cracked open. Jo's eyes hurt from straining to read the words, and she closed her eyes for a moment, resting them as she digested what she had just read. Did Crowley know of these creatures? Did he have an ulterior motive to opening up Purgatory, as Jo feared he did? And did Castiel know any of this, or was he simply a pawn?
Jo sighed, her eyes fluttering open, prepared to read on. However, a hand came down on her shoulder, and she gasped, her gaze flying upward. A demon, one of the many bulky bodyguards that roamed Crowley's manor, grinned down at her, his eyes black.
"Crowley's not going to like this," he said.
He jerked her to her feet, the book falling from her hands.
"Let me go!" she demanded.
In a flash, they were no longer in Crowley's bedroom. Instead, they were back in the room that Jo had seen the King of Hell behead the Alpha Shifter in. Crowley was, as she had suspected, laying into the lamia that Jo had captured so long ago, as he turned. Annoyance, and a touch of anger, flashed across his features as he took in the new arrivals. The demon shoved Jo forward a step.
"This better be bloody important!" Crowley shouted.
"She was in your room. Reading," the demon said.
Crowley eyed the two of them. After a long moment of silence, he rolled his hand, urging the demon to explain.
"It was a book from your very private collection, sir," the demon said.
Crowley arched a brow, a smirk playing about his lips. However, as the joke seemed to ebb by, realization set in. He locked eyes with the demon, nodding once.
"Go," he said.
The demon nodded back and left in a flash. Jo glanced over her shoulder, turning back to see that Crowley had edged closer to her.
"Was that true? Were you reading about Purgatory in my bedroom, you naughty girl?"
Jo crossed her arms, nibbling on her lip for a moment as she weighed her options. Finally, she sighed, nodding.
"Yes," she whispered.
Crowley put a hand to his ear, moving ever closer. "What was that?"
"I said, yes," Jo said, raising her voice.
He laughed, and closed the distance so that only a sliver of light could come between them. He grinned down at her, hooking an index finger underneath the pendant of the necklace. He lifted it just off her chest, and Jo sucked in a breath as she felt his finger graze her skin.
"Oh, Jo, Jo, Jo. You must be getting to like this," he said, tugging a little on the necklace for emphasis. "I mean, with what you do to make me activate this, one must wonder."
Jo glared up at him, biting down the tidal wave of hateful things she desired to spout. Crowley chuckled at her.
"I mean, really, girl. Does this turn you on? Is that it? You get off on the pain? It wouldn't be the first time I've come across this in my time torturing. But I never figured you as one. Or maybe it's me. Maybe you like it when I hurt you."
Jo bit down on her lip, her face twisting with the urge to tell Crowley just where to get off.
"Oh," Crowley continued, enjoying every minute of her self-imposed restraint, "I wonder what mommy dearest would think of that, of her little girl getting off when the King of Hell punishes her for being a very bad girl."
Jo couldn't take it anymore. Before she could think, before she could tell herself to stop, she threw out the hardest right hook she had ever done in her life. It connected squarely on Crowley's jaw, knocking him back a bit. He brought his hand up to rub the spot, spitting a bit of blood onto the floor.
"Bad move, duckie," he said, lifting his hand.
Jo braced for it, waiting for the snap to come, the pain that would inevitably follow. However, it never did. Just at that moment, a fluttering of wings filled the room, and Castiel appeared just behind Crowley. Crowley turned, intent on pinning the angel's arrival on Jo, when Castiel cut him off.
"I don't have much time, but we have a problem," he said.
Crowley huffed, rolling his eyes and moving away from both Castiel and Jo.
"And whatever could that be?" he said, idly rubbing at his jaw.
It pleased Jo throughout no end to know that she had left such an effect on him.
"The Winchesters. They're here, outside the prison right now. I'm meant to let them in. Meg's with them, and they're hunting for you, Crowley," Castiel explained.
Jo was sure that her heart had stopped. After all, she knew what that actually felt like. Panic welled up inside her as Crowley grinned, triumphant, over at her.
"Why, my fine, feathered friend, that's no problem at all. Joanna here can finally play her part. I'll just truss her up real nice, and we'll have a gay ol' time," Crowley said, moving to stand just behind the huntress.
Jo's eyes widened, and she whirled, retreating from Crowley until she bumped right into Cas. She turned again, pleading up at the angel.
"No," she said. "Cas, please. Sam and Dean can't know about me. It's… it's too much."
"Ah, but it was your idea, after all. If they ever became too much trouble, then I could use you as I originally intended," Crowley practically sing-songed at her. "And now it's come to pass. Sam and Dean are outside, ready to cause me a world of trouble. Time to fall in line, dear."
Jo's eyes never left Castiel's. "Please, Cas. Please, there's got to be another way. They can't know. You've got to see why, more than anybody! Please!"
But Castiel was silent, and Jo grabbed onto the lapels of his overcoat. She tugged on them, pleading once more.
"Oh, my dear, honestly. You're making a spectacle of yourself," Crowley said.
Jo whirled on him, breathing like she had just run a marathon. She willed her mind to work, to find some other way. Meanwhile, Crowley was talking on and on about how he'd like to have her tied for the boys to see. Castiel was still oddly quiet, and Jo had to stop herself from wondering just how much of this he was agreeing to. Finally, however, as Crowley approached her, she held up a hand.
"Wait… wait. I have a better idea," she said.
Crowley shook his head. "Do tell."
"Fake your death."
Crowley blinked. "Come again?"
"Fake your death. Between you and Castiel, there's got to be a way to do it. Let Sam and Dean see you die, only you don't really die. It'll serve you better in the long run. If they see me here, they'll stop at nothing to save me. But, if you die, then you get left alone, because, well, you're dead."
She held her breath, her eyes darting back and forth between Crowley and Castiel as the demon and angel eyed one another. Finally, Crowley huffed.
"Well, I'll be. I do believe our darling girl is right. Can you do it, Cas? Help me fake my death?" Crowley asked.
Castiel nodded, once. "Easily."
"Fine, then. Take Jo back to the manor, then," Crowley said. As Castiel reached out to touch her, to fly her away, Crowley grinned at her, adding, "Kisses."
Jo felt Cas's hand on her shoulder, and then she was in her room. And before she could turn to face the angel, he was gone once more. She part-sighed, part-gasped to realize that she was out of the woods. Crowley wasn't going to reveal her to Sam and Dean tonight. He might still, in the future, she realized… but not tonight. Jo made her way over to her four poster, leaning on one of the posts heavily. Had she really just aided Crowley? No, she reasoned. No, that was more about aiding herself—which she was fine with. But now she had left Sam, Dean, and Meg—of all demons, Meg, with Sam and Dean—in a prison filled with monsters and Crowley. And Castiel… although, the Winchesters didn't know to be worried with him.
Her mind flew, momentarily, back to the idea of Meg. Why would the Winchesters ever be working with her? After all, Meg was the one responsible for Jo and her mother's death. She had been the demon that had sent those hellhounds after them. But Jo shook her head. There were bigger worries at the moment—like the "prison full of monsters" thing. Jo was sure that Sam and Dean had a good reason—or, at least, she hoped, otherwise the world really had gone to shit while she had been dead.
Jo pushed herself off of the post, beginning to pace back and forth over and over again in the same stretch of about three or so feet. She wrung her hands together in front of her, finally freeing one of them to rise up and fiddle with the damned necklace that was, truly, at the root of all of her problems. She lifted it up, sliding it back and forth along the chain, listening to the grating noise that it made. Then she dropped it, feeling the weighty pendant collide with her chest, only to repeat the actions again. And all the while, she paced, her mind racing. What was going on? Were Sam and Dean all right? And what was Crowley doing? After all, he couldn't go down without a fight. That would be too suspicious.
She didn't know how long she had been pacing there. The heavy curtains on her windows really didn't help with knowing the time of day, and she couldn't seem to tear herself away from her nervous pacing to go look. But her legs were kind of achy, as well as her feet, and her fingers seemed to be getting a little sensitive from rubbing the raised design over the ruby heart of the necklace.
Suddenly, a roaring noise filled the room. Jo stopped dead in her tracks, whirling to face the center space where a pillar of fire seemed to be forming. After a moment, she could make out a skeletal form that seemed to be burning in reverse. More of the skeleton was becoming visible, until it was finally covered with muscle, skin, a suit, and the flamed faded away. Crowley coughed once, dusting off his clothes.
"Well, that was fun," he muttered.
"How did it go? How are Sam and Dean?" Jo asked.
Crowley shook his head. "You just see me materialize in your room in a pillar of bloody fire, and you want to know how the Hardy Boys are doing? I feel loved."
Jo chose not to reply to that, simply continuing to glare down the demon. Finally, he smiled at her.
"Yes, yes, the Winchesters are fine. And your plan went off without a hitch. I am now, effectively, dead. Which means I'm free to conduct my business as I see fit."
Jo smiled as a relieved sigh seeped out. Crowley arched a brow at her.
"I'm surprised to see you so happy, you know."
Now it was Jo that looked confused. "And why's that?"
Crowley shrugged. "Well, you were just so quick to think of such a wonderful idea. A wonderful idea that, might I add, frees up some of my time. And you must know what that means."
Jo's brow furrowed, her stomach knotting as the worst feeling of dread began to descend over her. Crowley nodded.
"That's right, m'dear. More quality time for me and you!"
Jo's heart sank. She had no idea what exactly Crowley meant by that, but she knew that it was nothing good.