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!

Chapter Eight

There was a list of things Jo never wanted to experience again. The torture that Crowley had put her through a few weeks ago was on it, but she knew that that wasn't really realistic. Crowley was a demon. A demon who was now the King of Hell. She knew that there would be more to come. But it still made the list. Otherwise, she had bigger problems than a cursed necklace. But one of the other things on this list was never hunting solo with Samuel Campbell again. But he had sent his group off on some other hunt, and, on Crowley's orders of course, had went on a hunt for a vampire who might know the location of the Alpha Vampire. And as many things as Samuel Campbell was—from what Jo could surmise—he wasn't stupid. At least, not where a hunt was concerned. He knew he still needed back-up, and had called on Jo.

So now, they dragged the knocked-out vampire into the prison, hurling his sorry ass into the nearest empty cell—which was in between two filled cells as the number of monsters inside only continued to grow. They slammed the door shut, and Samuel turn to Jo, smiling—an odd expression on his face, she realized. Smiling was just too… joyous for his stony features.

"So, you followed this vampire from what nest? One you said that Dean had infiltrated?" she asked, shoving her hands into the pockets of her jeans.

Samuel nodded. "Yeah, it was a nest in Illinois. Dean had gotten bitten and turned by a vampire. But I had an old family recipe for a cure that I used to fix him."

Jo's eyes doubled in size. "He was turning? How did that happen? Where the hell was Sam during all of this?"

Samuel shrugged, shaking his head. "You know, though, that's the damnedest thing. Sam saw it happen and didn't stop it. And then, later, I just knew. I knew that Sam had wanted a man on the inside… one that could get us more information on the alpha. Honestly, I wouldn't taken Sam for that type—based on what I've heard of his past self—but it happened. Something's off, I think. Real bad."

Jo's eyes narrowed, glaring at Samuel. She shook her head.

"You're wrong. I mean, did Sam say that's why he did it?"

"No. Of course not. Would you admit to sending your brother to the lions?"

Jo bit her lip, continuing to shake her head at the older man. "You're wrong. I know that Sam's off or whatever… but he can't be that bad off to do something like risk Dean's life like that."

Before Samuel could say anything in reply, Nell appeared beside Jo. She looked very annoyed, and she tossed a set of keys to the huntress. Jo arched a brow at her.

"Crowley wants the vamp in the operation room. Now," the demon said.

Jo grinned. "What's the matter, Nell? Boyfriend not givin' you any lovin'?"

Nell smirked back, crossing her arms. "No, to be honest. But I heard he gave you plenty a couple of weeks ago. Had to get your angel buddy to save you, like the scared little girl you are."

Nell didn't give Jo a chance to reply. With a shake of her red head, she vanished. Jo gripped the keys, growling and shoving one into the lock of the recently filled cell. She slid the door open, not caring for the loud clang it made that echoed throughout the hall. She and Samuel dragged the vampire back out, each with an arm under each of the vampire's shoulders, and headed in the direction of the operation room.

"Nell really hit your buttons, didn't she?" Samuel asked as they dragged the vampire along. "What did Crowley do to you?"

Jo jerked a little harder than necessary on the unconscious creature, forcing Samuel to match her speedy pace.

"So, where's your goon squad at, Samuel? What red herring hunt are they on? And, more importantly, do they know yet that you're Crowley's willing bitch?" Jo asked, desperate to change the subject without seeming too obvious.

To her great surprise, Samuel laughed. Jo stared at him like he had lost his mind.

"I didn't think what I had said was funny," she said.

Samuel sighed. "It wasn't. It's just… you sort of remind me of Dean. What little I know of him, that sounds like something he would've said."

As the operation room came into sight, Jo felt her stomach curl in on itself. She was suddenly struck with the overwhelming need to sit on the floor and cry. She missed her friends—Sam, Dean, Bobby—more than she would ever willingly admit aloud, lest Crowley have another weapon against her. But being told by someone that barely knew Dean that she sounded like the eldest Winchester—and to know, deep in her heart, that Samuel was right about that assessment—hurt a lot worse than any torture that Crowley had bestowed upon her yet. She stopped, pulling Samuel to a stop as well.

"I can take it from here," she said, her voice barely a whisper.

"Are you sure?"

Samuel nodded as Jo assured him it was fine, and he let go of the vampire and helped Jo to get a better grip on the monster. With another, single nod, he made his goodbyes and turned around. Jo watched as he disappeared around the nearest corner, marveling at the fact that this was the only time the two of them had parted amiably. She sighed, dragging the monster the rest of the way into the operation room.

Crowley was there, his plastic white apron already pulled over his suit—coat and jacket missing. His tray of tools—all of the tools shining clean—pulled beside a gurney fitted with leather straps and a foot hold that was leveled vertically. The King of Hell jerked his head in the direction of the table.

"Strap him in," he ordered, turning around to examine his various medical blades, obviously trying to decide which one he would like to start with.

Jo didn't protest, managing—without any help—to get the lolling vampire on the foot hold and strap him in, as tightly as she could manage. Of course, it might have been useful, even a little funny, had she not tightened the straps and left the monster to get loose and attack Crowley. Perhaps he might've even released the other monsters in the prison, and perhaps they would've turned on their captor. But that only led to bad places, since most of them had a reason to include Jo on their list of "To Kill." So she strapped him in, and stepped back, crossing her arms.

"Done," she announced, as Crowley didn't bother to turn from his tool examination. "Got any other jobs for me tonight?"

That got a stare from him. He turned, eyeing Jo, surveying her from head to toe and back again. It made her feel terribly uncomfortable, considering how much the demon had seen of her body, but she kept it hidden.

"You're doing that oddly cooperative again thing you've been doing for a while now," he noted, putting his back to her.

And he was right. This wasn't the first time she had asked for more work. And it wasn't even that she was asking. It was that she was asking without it sounding like a huge burden. She didn't know what that was about, and, honestly, she wasn't ready to examine that fact about herself any time soon.

"You know what I wonder?" Crowley asked from over his shoulder.

Jo scoffed. "Yes, because I do spend my days just dying to know what the King of Hell is thinking about."

She could almost feel the sardonic grin on the demon's face, without even seeing it. She frowned, knowing that that meant she was getting to know him way more than she would ever like to.

"I wonder," Crowley picked up flawlessly, "if you think that if you're good, if you play your part, that I'll not punish you for calling Cas down and stopping our fun?"

Jo pursed her lips. "I didn't mean to, okay? I was in pain, and I prayed for it to stop. It's a reflex. Is it really my fault that I happen to know an angel that will actually answer?"

She heard Crowley set down the blade he had picked up, heard it clink softly amongst its fellows, but the demon still didn't turn. A moment passed in silence, with Crowley still not turning to look her in the eye. Finally, he spoke.

"Beg me," he said.

Jo curled up her nose, her arms falling limply to her sides. "Beg you for what?"

Now he turned, walking toward her. And something told Jo that if she backed away, he would only follow. But she'd done enough balking recently, and she was through with it for the moment.

"Well, I so enjoyed hearing you beg the other night, that I thought it might be fun to hear you beg me not to angel-proof the house. So beg me, darling. Beg me not to do it."

He was as close to her now as he had been in the kitchen, running the knife down her body. As close as he was the night he tortured her. But the only weapon he had was himself, and Jo knew well enough that that was all he truly needed. She bit her bottom lip, every fiber of her being telling her to argue. To tell him to go fuck himself. Not to beg against the angel-proofing. But his threats weren't idle. She knew that, now better than ever. Her body trembling, fighting against herself, she locked her brown eyes with Crowley's green ones.

"Please don't do it. Don't angel-proof the house," she said.

She kept her tone even. No pleading. Just a couple of statements. And Crowley grinned, leaning in to brush his lips against her ear.

"I know you can do better than that," he whispered. "One more shot. Beg for it, Joanna."

Jo sucked in a breath. She wetted her lips, noting on how Crowley had not pulled back. She summoned all the fear inside of her, all the fear of losing her one connection to something remotely good and helpful to her. And she released it.

"Please," she whispered. "Please, Crowley. Don't do it. Please."

She put everything into it, and Crowley finally backed away, satisfied.

"Much better," he said, turning back to his tray. "And, as a matter of fact, I do have a job for you."

Jo released a shuddering breath, the last unstable move in her body, as she took a step forward, eyeing the weapons in front of the demon.

"What is it?"

"I want the Alpha Shifter that got away from Sam and Dean. He's one of the more powerful alphas, but the only way we're gonna get him is bait."

Jo barely managed to hold in the groan. Her thoughts, however, escaped.

"I don't like where this is going," she murmured.

Crowley turned, smiling. "I want you to keep hunting shifters, bringing them in. We've already seen how he goes after his own kind, protects them like a bloody mother hen. Keep bringing the shifters in, and either he'll come to us… or one of them will send us in the right direction."

Simple enough. Jo nodded, aware that this now meant her night was to be filled with shifter research. She knew that Crowley had meant that last order to be a dismissal, but Jo pointed in the direction of the vampire that was now slowly coming to.

"And the vampires? You seem to be sending me and Samuel after them a lot. Should I keep on with that?"

Crowley shook his head. "No. Focus on shifters. I'll let Chromdome keep on with the vampires. I need their alpha too, but he's so deep in hiding that not many of the ones that have been brought in could ever dream of knowing his location. But one must."

The vampire was finally, fully awake, tugging at his too-tight restraints. Jo nodded, turning toward the doors.

"Then I'll get on it. See you," she said, exiting the room.

She made her way to the manor, finding her walk almost disappearing in her memory as she entered her bedroom. She stretched, taking a seat immediately at the desk and loading up the laptop. But, before she could even pull up a browser, she heard that fluttering sound that announced Castiel's arrive.

She turned in the chair, shocked at the angel's appearance. Had he been human, he would look like he hadn't slept in a hundred years, which, on a creature that required no sleep, this look seemed a million times worse. He was just so weary. So worn. It immediately made Jo's heart skip a beat in the oh-God-I'm-gonna-have-a-heart-attack way.

"Cas… what's wrong?" she asked.

He sighed, putting his back to her. He shuffled—actually, shuffled—his way over to her bed, taking a seat on the very edge of the foot of it.

"There was a battle today. In Heaven, amongst the angels. Many were lost, on both sides," he said.

"Oh," Jo said.

There wasn't too much she could say to follow. The outpouring, the tangible grief, exuding from Castiel was enough. The two sat in silence for a moment with Castiel looking dejectedly down at the floor and Jo staring at him as if he might suddenly erupt into emotion. Finally, he sighed again, raising his gaze to match hers.

"I spoke to Dean today," he said.

Jo's face lit up, and she almost jumped to her feet.


Castiel nodded. "He called me down, thinking that they might be looking for Gabriel's Horn of Truth. Honestly, I believe he really wanted my opinion of Sam's condition."

Jo nodded. "Is it really that bad? I've been hearing from… I just, I've heard."

She felt her heart break a little as the angel nodded. Another moment of silence passed before Jo finally shook her head.

"So, Horn of Truth? That's a weapon of Heaven, right? Was it there? Was Dean right?" she asked.

"No. The effects were… similar, but the Horn was nowhere to be found. I searched," Castiel answered.

"Well, what's happening? What is that they're dealing with?"

"People sharing the truth, for good or for ill. As soon as a person is cursed and asks for the truth, everyone begins to share it with them. Other than the Horn, I've no idea what the problem could be."

Suddenly, Jo laughed.

"It's Veritas," she said.

Castiel raised a brow.

"She's a goddess of truth. Dangerous if invoked, as that town's probably seeing now."

"How do you know?" Castiel asked.

Jo shrugged. "Honestly? Years ago, in high school, I did an English paper on her."

Castiel looked confused, for just a second, before he smiled. But the look faded as he shook his head.

"Well, I'm sure, given the time, that the problem is close to being rectified now. If it hasn't been already. And I'm sure I'll be hearing from Dean again soon. I promised I would look in on the problem with Sam."

Jo leaned back in her chair, crossing her arms. "Will you? Look in on what's wrong with Sam, that is? Or is Sam more useful as the cold hunter that he is now?"

She had never seen Castiel angry. But she was seeing it now. He rose to his feet, his eyes flashing.

"Of course I will. Sam is my friend. But my priorities in Heaven must come first. The war must be won," he growled.

Jo's brow furrowed. She nodded. "Of course."

There was no sarcasm in those words. She meant it. She knew that the war was important. That Castiel had to come out the victor. She just didn't agree that it should be by "any means necessary." This seemed to relax him, as he leaned back against one of the bed posts. He looked up at her, concern on his face now.

"I haven't asked. Are you… all right? After Crowley's torturing?"

Jo shifted in her seat, aware that Crowley was not the only one who got a full view of her body. But, for some reason, she felt a little better about Castiel's visual, than she did Crowley's. She laughed, shrugging.

"Honestly, you healed most of my problems that night. All that's left is a little bit of aching."

He moved toward her, hand out, and Jo knew that he meant to heal the ache. But she put her hand up, batting his gently away.

"Save your strength. Believe me, I can handle soreness. Focus yourself on more important things, like winning that war."

He looked surprised, flabbergasted even. Jo sighed.

"Don't misunderstand me," she explained. "I hate that you're teamed up with Crowley. Maybe even more after that bastard's little torture session with me. But no matter how pissed I am at you for all that, I still want you on your toes. I know you're still my friend, just like you are with Sam and Dean. I saw that when you saved me. So, I still want you to be safe. Use your power for that."

Castiel smiled, wide and genuine.

"You might never know how much those words mean to me," he admitted quietly.

He left before Jo could say anything more, and Jo felt a small smile grace her lips. She turned back around in her chair, resting her hands on the laptop's keyboard. Her heart decidedly lighter than it had been in a while, she set about searching for shifter sightings.