A bit shorter than usual, but out earlier so I think it's a fair trade off. I wanted to end it where I did event wise so there was only so much to be written..
Harry paced from side to side as everyone sat silently just waiting for him to stop. A nervous tension had filled the room when Anna had arrived with Tefnut and it hadn't let up since.
Sam shook his head vigorously when Dean opened his mouth to say something. Harry was clearly thinking. There was no telling what thought they might interrupt by speaking now. Considering he'd just lost what Sam assumed to be a close friend Dean was asking for a smack down if he spoke up.
Finally Harry came to a standstill in front of Tefnut and turned his attention to her with a sigh. She gazed back at him determinedly. She had still been shaken when she'd shown up but now her resolve was back in place and she was calm and composed. She met his eyes with her own and gave him a nod.
"It's up to you…" he said not turning his attention. "You can either go with Shu, or you can stay here and help Bobby."
Tefnut sat waiting as if she figured there would be more to his speech but that was all he said. She tilted her head to the side curiously. "You give me the option between returning to my husband's side or staying with a stranger…"
"I'm giving you the option between continuing to help despite what happened or going where you feel most comfortable." Harry deflected.
"I hardly feel most comfortable on the battlefield." She said with a smile. "And I very much doubt Shu would be willing to leave the job half done."
Harry offered her a genuine smile at that announcement.
"We would still be able to find the things you need from here?" she asked curiously glancing about the room.
"You guys already did the physical searching, and what little you did turn up is now in enemy hands…" Harry sighed. "So that really only leaves the archives. And you're in a better spot to access that information here anyway."
She nodded. "Then I will stay."
"Great, drinks all around." Dean said with false cheer. Harry shot him an irritated glance.
"Anna…" Harry said standing and nodding toward the doorway. She nodded and followed him out of the room.
She worried her lip as they stopped in the hallway furthest from the sitting room.
"Things just got a lot more complicated." Harry rubbed his face. "If they're already on the lookout for us specifically we're going to face a lot more road blocks."
"We'll need to be more careful, but it's not impossible."
Harry nodded in agreement though he didn't feel nearly as optimistic as those words were.
"I'm worried…" Anna told him eyes avoiding his.
"You'd be an idiot not to be…" Harry said with a shake of his head.
"Not about all this." She gestured around them. "About Jesse."
"Jesse?" Harry repeated with confusion. "What about him?"
"He showed up earlier. He wanted to help Harry…"
"He's a bit young…" Harry said with a frown.
"I know… I told him to go home. It's just… Harry, one day that excuse isn't going to work. He's going to get fed up with being redirected."
"We'll just have to pray that day comes a long time from now Anna. I'd love for my biggest problem right now to be a kid's abandonment issues, but it's not."
"I know…" she said with a great heaving sigh. "I'm just… worried."
Harry nodded knowingly.
"I'm going to head back before the others start worrying." She said turning. "We need to be careful with him Harry."
"We need to be careful with all of this Anna."
She nodded hesitantly, but she shot him a look that clearly said she disapproved of his redirecting. "Do we continue?"
Harry thought on that for a second. Then he nodded slowly. "Extra caution though. Stick together, if anything seems suspicious you need to get them and yourself out immediately."
"Right…" she sounded doubtful.
"And Anna…" She glanced up. "When you guys get done go see Jesse. I wish we could spare him more time, but we really don't have the resources to spare at the moment.
She offered a grateful look and was gone in the next second with a rush of wings.
Harry shoved back the sigh that was fighting to escape. He needed a minute to cope but he knew he wasn't getting it yet. He'd have to deal with Ganesh's death later.
He made his way back into the living room where the hunters plus one were still gathered. Bobby had pulled out the laptop Harry had given him and was showing Tefnut how to use it. He kept shooting suspicious looks to the goddess as if expecting her to change demeanor and suddenly decide to eat his face.
"Anna's left again." Harry announced as he took a seat. "They're going to continue their assaults."
"After everything that happened?" Sam asked incredulously.
Harry glanced over but Dean beat him to the punch line. "That's kinda what they're there for isn't it?" the elder Winchester said sounding surprisingly level headed.
Sam sent his brother a harsh glare. "They're not puppets Dean."
"No, they're not." Harry agreed, interrupting before a fight could break out. "But the team was formed to attack the demons. They're expecting to fight them. It was the research team that was caught unaware."
"But they know we're coming now." Sam said trying to reason with Harry.
Harry shrugged. "They were always going to know we were coming at some point. I just didn't expect them to launch a counter strike so soon, and against the wrong people. We can only hope they don't know that we're trying to distract them."
Sam nodded seeing his point.
"You've gotta teach me how you do that." Dean said glancing between Harry and his brother.
"Do what?" Harry asked genuinely confused.
"Make him stop bitching."
Harry's surprised face went unnoticed compared to Sam's suddenly malevolent expression. Dean offered his brother a roguish grin.
Harry snorted then burst out laughing taking the whole room by surprise. Dean even looked mildly horrified.
Harry stood, still laughing, and left the room.
Tense silence was left in his wake.
Dean broke it with a declaration of, "Well… that was weird."
Harry took a full two minutes up stairs to get rid of his bout of laughter. There'd been so much adrenaline pumping through him that they just kept coming in droves and just when he'd thought he'd gotten them under control the fact that he'd just broken out laughing in front of the Winchesters would set him off again. Particularly when he pictured Dean's nonplussed face.
He didn't really like losing his composure in front of others though, so he'd left the room.
He was sure Dean would say something when he went back down.
When, finally, he had his emotions back under control he sat on the edge of his bed and gave a wistful sigh. He hadn't laughed that hard in a very long time, but the high was slowly fading into reality and Ganesh's death was weighing heavy.
He rubbed his eyes and let out a groan. He would miss the man, dearly, but he was pretty sure he'd see him again one day. The only question was, would he be the same Ganesh when next they met?
Sure, some day this world would end and supposing the pattern continued a new one would take its place. The question was which people would remain the same, and which ones would change? Would there even be people in the next version of Earth?
The uncertainty of all of it was what really kept Harry from mourning the death properly. And without the ability to mourn he was unable to really put it behind him.
He glanced over to the door and a comment he wasn't expecting popped out at him, 'after that it should be simple enough for you to break the binding magic'. Perhaps it had been his thoughts turning toward death that had prompted memories of his meeting with the being himself.
He twisted toward the bedside table where his suit jacket lay harmlessly. He picked up the cloth and retrieved the ring Death had given him. Death didn't need this ring to carry on his duties, unlike the other horsemen he existed beyond the physical embodiments that Lucifer had created. It was strange, in fact, that Death had any attachment to the thing at all.
Death was the be all and end all of everything. When it all came crashing down Death would be the one to take them all. He had taken Ganesh easily. He had taken everyone Harry grew to love at some point. So why was he asking Harry to break the curse for him?
Harry let the ring slide into the center of his hand. Was it because he was the only person Death couldn't kill?
No, probably not. It would be presumptuous to think Death was incapable of laying hand on him. No, more likely it was because he knew something Harry didn't… something Harry probably needed to know but hadn't asked when they'd met… but what?
Was Death unable to say?
Yes, maybe. If Death was unable to say why Harry was the best choice chances were it was linked to the spell that bound him. Some sort of fealty that forced his silence.
If so, it probably bound his actions too. And he definitely couldn't break the spell himself as that's the opposite of what Lucifer would want.
Harry balled the ring in his hand. He needed to talk with someone who knew the more modern working of spells.
Sam's eyes kept darting to the stairs that were just visible from his spot on the sofa.
Dean was reclining on the larger portion of the chair and Bobby and Tefnut had decided to use the sudden reprieve to look through the archives. Dean looked about two seconds from sleep when Sam spoke up.
"Should someone… I don't know… check on him or something?" he said uncertainly.
Dean gave a huge exasperated sigh at the sound of his brother's voice. "Just leave him alone. He'll come down when he's ready."
"But…" Sam argued.
"The idjit's right." Bobby cut in.
"Hey!" Dean protested. Sam wasn't sure how Dean knew Bobby was talking about him.
"He probably went up there to be alone. Interrupting him would be a bad idea." Tefnut supplied with a wistful look toward the roof. "He had quite a nasty temper when he stayed with us in Egypt all those years ago. He hides it better now, but I am not sure it is not still there."
Dean grumbled something unintelligible as he flipped on the couch, but Sam was sure it was an insult he just wasn't sure who it was directed at.
Tefnut stared at the prone hunter disapprovingly.
Footsteps could be heard slowly moving down the stairs. A slightly disheveled Harry was revealed as he rounded the corner. His suit jacket was slung across one arm. He gazed at each figure in the room for a few seconds. "Can I trust you all to hold down the fort for a few hours?"
The question took every one of them by surprise.
"Wha… but where…?" Sam said incoherently in confusion.
"I think what he's trying to ask is where you suddenly need to go in the middle of the day on a whim right after our reinforcements were attacked?" Bobby supplied grimly.
"I second that question." Dean said raising his hand and earning himself an annoyed glare from Bobby.
"I need to look into something Death mentioned. It shouldn't take too long."
"Whoa, Death…" Sam said with surprise. "That can't be good."
"No, it never really is, is it?" Harry said with a shake of his head. "I'll be back soon."
"Wait!" Sam called and Harry turned back with a curious look making Sam feel a bit odd for yelling. "It's just… I was wondering… where is Gabriel?"
Harry blinked twice then turned back to the room.
"It's a good question." Tefnut said with a nod as if surprised Sam had brought it up before she did. "He dropped us off and then he was gone."
"He hasn't phoned in so I'm not sure where he is at the moment." Harry said with a shake of his head.
"But what is he doing?" Sam asked standing up with a worried look. "It's just… the demons knew where the research team was somehow, you know."
Harry looked immediately irritated. "Are you trying to suggest the demons locating our team was Gabriel's fault?"
Sam flinched at the ice cold tone.
"He's got a point." Dean interjected. "The guy is a class A douche bag most of the time."
"Except those times that he's saving your ass, right?" Harry snapped.
"Why are you so sure it's not him?" Dean snapped back. "It sounds like you're covering for your boyfriend!"
Harry's eyes were hard as ice and his voice was so cold Sam felt a shiver rip through him when Harry spoke his first word. "Because, Winchester, he's out doing two very important jobs for me. Two very hard jobs, I might add."
"And those are?"
"He's killing other angels." Harry said with a glare. "So that you bunch aren't being constantly hounded by heavenly bigots."
Sam swallowed past the lump in his throat. The angels were like brothers to each other. He couldn't imagine how hard it was for Gabriel to pick up an angel blade and fight his own siblings. "A-and the other thing?" he asked shakily.
"He's looking for your brother." Harry said harshly meeting Sam's gaze.
Harry switched his gaze between the two Winchesters and then quite suddenly said, "Call for Castiel. You might need his help while I'm gone." And without another beat he disappeared leaving two stunned brothers standing next to each other feeling like assholes.
"You've been fidgeting since you got back." Bela pointed out with annoyance.
Anna glanced over at her then to her own hands that were restlessly pulling at the fabric of her own pants. "I'm worried."
"Then go." Bela said with a sigh. "We're big boys and girls. We can take care of ourselves."
Anna looked unsure.
"She's right." Ares butted in. He made his way over from the table he'd been occupying. "We're more than capable of taking care of ourselves. We don't need a guardian."
"Still…" Anna disagreed. "You might need a quick get away and I'm the only one of us that can do that."
"I'm sure we'll manage for a few minutes mom." Bela said impetuously.
Anna tried not to wince at the viscous tone of Bela's insult. She swallowed the lump in her throat and nodded. It would only take a few minutes after all. They'd be fine. She'd just pop in to Jesse's cover house, check on him and apologize, make sure he didn't need anything, and then pop back. "Alright."
She stood, brushing off her indecision.
She extended her wings and was gone a moment later landing in front of the safe house quietly.
Every light in the place was turned off making her even more nervous. She swallowed back the lump forming in her throat and made for the front door. It opened easily and swung inward to reveal the empty hall.
"Jesse?" she called uncertainly moving first towards the kitchen and then towards his room when she found it empty.
No response came. The house was completely, desolately empty. She brushed past the now open door to his room and glanced about the room. It was immaculately clean, as usual. Jesse had very few childish tendencies even if he had the rationality of a ten year old.
A single comic book laid next to the bed and she knelt to pick it up. Iron Man leered back at her from the cover a single fist extended as if he were punching through the thin paper. There was no denying her worry now that she had found the house empty.
She had told him to go home. He should have been here already. What if the demons had found him like they'd found the research group? She'd led them right to him. She'd left him there, alone. She was nearing panic.
A creak sounded behind her and suddenly a strong arm wrapped around her. She barely caught the hand that was trying to drive a blade through her. She drove her free elbow back into the ribs of her attacker and took advantage of his momentary stunning to flip him over her shoulder and onto the bed at an awkward angle. The frame collapsed.
She reeled back to gain distance and met the eyes of the man sprawled on the bed.
"Demon…" she said with wide eyes.
He gritted his teeth and started to force himself into a standing position. Anna disappeared before he made it to his knees.
Somehow Harry knew he'd find the man here of all places. Patrick never could stay away from Vegas when he was in one of his bad moods.
"Hitched a ride back across the pond I see." He said having approached from behind the witch.
He saw Patrick's shoulders rise and fall with an exaggerated sigh. His poker partner just looked thoroughly confused.
"Let's end it here for today, eh Sal?" Patrick said sliding the pot in the middle of the table in 'Sal's' direction. 'Up twenty five years, that's quite a profit."
Sal grinned happily as Patrick turned his back on the man that was rapidly de-aging.
"What can I do for you today then?" Patrick asked glanced up and down Harry's figure and frowning. Clearly whatever he'd seen in the set on Harry's stance wasn't good. Patrick turned back to the table and patted it appreciatively. Harry waited for the rejuvenating Sal to vacate his seat before he slid in.
"I need a bit of help with spell work." Harry said with a frown.
"You can do anything I can do, times ten." Patrick scoffed. "Never seen a more powerful witch… er wizard." He amended the last bit at Harry's heated glare.
"I don't need a spell performed Patrick." Harry shook his head and ruffled through his inner pocket for a moment. "I need one identified, and you have a lot more experience in current spell forms than I do."
"Well, there's no denying that." Patrick said with an overconfident grin. "What sort of spell did you have in mind? Blindness hex? Love spell? Curse that makes the target unable to speak anything but gibberish?"
"A binding curse actually." Harry finally withdrew his hand from his pocket and slowly placed a ring on the table in front of him.
Patrick's eyes glanced that way momentarily then went back to Harry. "Don't tell me you've gone and got yourself bound."
"No, not me." Harry shook his head again. "But I do need to break the spell so identifying it would be beneficial."
"There're quite a few binding spells in existence." Patrick said leaning back in his chair and looking disinterested. "I'm not sure it'll be so easy to find the right one."
"No, this one would have to be specific. And very, very powerful."
Patrick leant forward becoming a bit more interested when Harry's tone became darker. "Powerful and specific, well, perhaps there's a lead there somewhere. Who's been bound?"
"Death?" Patrick said incredulously. "The Death?"
"No, his brother." Harry deadpanned.
"No need to get snotty." Patrick bit back. "That does limit the choices quite drastically though. You can't use a common binding spell on someone like Death. It'd have to be pretty complex spell work. You'd need a physical embodiment of the bind to make the spell last and…"
He stopped when Harry slid the ring closer.
"Always one step ahead." Patrick said picking up the ring to examine it closely. "That is quite specific isn't it?" he muttered to himself as he twisted the small metal band between his fingers.
"I suppose you know how to break it then?"
"With a bit more time I could tell you the day the spell was placed." Patrick said slapping the ring back on the table. "But somehow I doubt that's what interests you. So breaking the spell it is."
Through the living room window Harry could see the Winchesters talking with Castiel who stood stoically in the middle of the room. He sighed. He didn't much like the thought of Castiel having been around the Winchesters while he hadn't been there to steer the conversation. The angel was a terrible liar and if he felt it might be relevant to the conversation he would spill Harry's plan to get the two hunters out in an instant.
He opened the door and instantly the conversation in the living room died. He rounded the corner and Sam's shoulders relaxed. His hand drifted from near his hip where there was more than likely a weapon.
"You finally decided to show back up." Dean bit out, but Harry could see he was tense. Castiel had divulged something big while Harry was gone.
"I came as quickly as possible." Harry shot back.
"Lucifer's in Detroit." Sam spoke up.
Harry's head snapped his way and he gave him a measuring look.
"It's true." Castiel supplied. "I've been keeping a close eye on my brother's actions. As close as I could. He's been staying in Detroit for several days now."
"Has he built up defenses around him?"
Castiel shook his head. "He keeps several demons with him but there is no army."
Was it a trap? Something to draw them in and give them false hope?
"It could be a trap. We need to take things slowly." Harry finally said. "We'll proceed with the plan. Cautiously. But we withdraw if there are any signs that it's a trap. We may not be able to fight on equal ground with Lucifer but we're not going to take more hits than necessary."
A bang sounded from the kitchen followed by the loud crash of breaking dishes. A rather feminine voice let out a stream of curses and Harry recognized it, but he couldn't figure out why Anna was in his kitchen, let alone crashing into things.
She staggered into the doorway of the room looking disheveled and absolutely terrified. "They have Jesse." She said immediately.
The room rang silent for a moment as everyone processed what she'd just said. The lights flickered.
"Who has Jesse?" Harry asked deathly calm.
"Demons." Anna looked on the verge of crying.
"How do you know?" Sam butted in looking between the two.
"I was attacked by one when I went to check on him. They knew where the safe house was Harry. They were inside."
Harry was flat out scowling now.
"Maybe he got away." Tefnut suggested.
"He has the power to have." Harry agreed. "But he didn't."
"How do you know?" Sam asked sending worried glances between him and Anna.
"He knows where the other safe houses are. If one was compromised he'd have gone to another." Harry shook his head and the scowl disappeared. "None of the wards have been tripped. No one's been to the houses."
"This is bad." Dean spoke up. "Cas said that kid was a weapon."
"In the hands of my brother, he is." Castiel agreed.
"Alright, we don't have an option anymore. We move forward with the plan tonight." Harry moved past the hunters towards the staircase.
"We've lost half the things we agreed we should have during this fight before it even started." Bobby argued. "You're really gonna jump in there half cocked and hope this whole thing doesn't blow up in our faces?"
"We don't have a choice." Harry snapped surprising the old hunter. "If Lucifer gains total control over Jesse's actions our chances of ending this plummet. He stronger than the angels Mr. Singer. Take a moment to put that into perspective in your mind. I can't be everywhere at once. Where do you think you stand fighting someone stronger than an angel?"
Bella wasn't expecting a call. And she definitely wasn't expecting a call from Harry before Anna made it back. She listened intently as Harry briefly explained what they'd now be doing, because the plan was moving forward again.
She stood and hung up the phone before she started explaining what she'd just been told to the others.
They were going to Detroit.
The truck rolled to a stop in front of the rickety green house. The engine died and the door slowly opened so that the woman inside could step out into the fresh air for the first time in days. She was exhausted.
The house was anything but inviting. Its paint was peeling, the front door hung loosely from a single hinge, and almost every window was broken. She'd bought the place up cheap. No one wanted it. She grabbed the old door and gave it a sharp pull until it came loose. She set it to the side and wandered in, her blanket in tow.
The interior was no better off than the outside. A few ratty pieces of furniture remained but otherwise the scuffed wooden floors were bare but for some debris and dry leaves. She laid the blanket in the largest patch of nothing she could find and then fell on top of it. She balled the top into a makeshift pillow and Ellen fell asleep like that in her new home.
I wanted to go ahead and get this out now. Next week is my birthday and I didn't want to spend my only day off work worrying over this. And I do worry, it's in my nature.
That said, we're very, very close to the end now. I'm headin to work, so no long AN this time. Hope you enjoyed.
'til next time!