"Crowley?" Dean asked.
Chuck looked incredulous. "Didn't you read Time Is On My Side?"
"No, Chuck," Dean said bitterly. "I lived it."
"Oh, right... yeah." Chuck laughed nervously. "Well, Bela said she gave the Colt to Lilith, right?"
Dean scowled as he remembered. "Yeah."
"Well, she lied. She gave it to a demon called Crowley."
"And you didn't think to mention this before?" Bobby asked in a strained voice.
Chuck shrugged. "It never came up."
Dean bit back his anger and tried to speak in a level tone. "So, tell us about Crowley. Who is he?"
"He is the King of the Crossroads. He was Lilith's right hand man before Sam… you know."
"Iced the bitch?" Dean offered.
Chuck nodded. "Yeah, that."
"So this Crowley has the Colt?" Bobby asked.
"I think so. He was the last person to have it that I know about."
Dean clapped his hands together. "This is awesome. We have a weapon."
"We have the possibility of a weapon," Castiel said. "And no definite idea of whether or not it will work."
"Way to be a buzz kill, Cas," Dean said. "This is the first bit of good news we've had in weeks and you go and steal all the fun out of it."
Castiel looked apologetic.
"You know where to find this Crowley, Chuck?" Dean asked.
Chuck shook his head. "Sorry, no."
"Not a problem," Dean said confidently. "He is King of the Crossroads, right? All we gotta do is find ourselves a crossroads."
Bobby looked reluctant. "I don't know, Dean…"
"Relax. I'm not planning on making a deal. I'll go, take Castiel with me, he can shazam us back here, and I can get the demon talking. From there, it'll be easy."
He was excited at the prospect. With Castiel on side, it would be positively easy. They could get the demon talking, and find out where Crowley was. Then it was just a case of getting hold of him and squeezing till he handed over the Colt. Then, finally, they would have a weapon against Lucifer. They could ice him, get Sam back, and all would be good again. No more reading pages and panicking, no more apocalypse, no more vessels. It would all be over.
"Don't go getting away from yourself," Bobby said soberly. "We've got to find this Crowley first, and then persuade him to give up the Colt, which, as it can kill him, he is unlikely to do."
"If he doesn't want to hand over the gun, I'll make him," Dean said simply.
Bobby nodded, and Dean knew he understood that Dean would torture the location of the Colt out of Crowley. He didn't want to do it but desperate times called for desperate measures. It was the end of the world that they were facing and Sam was slipping away.
"You good for this, Cas?" Dean asked, raising his brows.
Castiel nodded. "I will aid you in whatever way I can."
"You guys best get the panic room set up then," Bobby said. "Sounds like we're going to have company."
Dean clapped Chuck on the shoulder. "Thanks for this, Chuck. You've came through for us yet again."
Chuck nodded. "I just hope it works."
"Don't worry, it will," Dean said, walking out of the room and down to the basement.
Dean crouched in the dirt at the crossroads and buried the small tin in the ground. He'd never thought he would be there again, summoning a crossroads demon, but he had no regrets; it was worth it to get the Colt back.
He stamped down the dirt and stepped back, waiting for the demon to arrive. The first sign of its coming was soft footsteps and then a feminine laugh. "Dean Winchester, you cannot be serious."
Dean turned and saw the demon. It was a woman with long, dark hair. She would be beautiful if not for her crimson eyes. He nodded at her. "I'm deadly serious."
"You want to make a deal? You? After what happened last time..." She shook her head. "What's the matter, Dean, you missing the hellfire of home already?"
"Something like that," Dean said.
"Well too bad. We're all sworn off making deals with Winchesters after your dramatic rescue. So, unless there's anything else I can do for you, I'm going to have to say goodbye."
"Actually," Dean said, "there is something you can do for me. You can scream really loud. Cas!"
The demon looked puzzled and then Castiel was there. He gripped her around the arm, and a moment later, they were back in Bobby's panic room. Castiel manhandled the demon into the chair Dean had set in the center of the room and Dean wrapped rope around her, binding her to the chair.
"What are you doing?" the demon growled, bucking and testing the restraints.
"Relax," Dean said. "We're not going to hurt you. Unless you refuse to tell us what we want to know, of course, then we'll hurt you a lot."
The demon tilted her head to the side. "What do you want to know?"
"It's more a need really," Dean said conversationally. "You see, we're looking for your boss." He walked in a circle around her.
She looked over her shoulder at him. "I have no boss."
"That's not what we hear. Word has it that your boss is a guy called Crowley. We need to speak to him." Dean walked over to stand in front of her.
"Crowley? Never heard of him." She shrugged.
"Now that's a real shame," Dean said, crossing the room and picking up a bottle of holy water. He uncapped the bottle and raised it above the demon's head. "I didn't want to do this." He tipped his hand and the demon was showered in the water. Her skin hissed and sizzled and smoke rose around her. She threw back her head and shrieked.
Dean stepped back. "So, I'm going to ask again, where is Crowley?"
"I don't know," the demon said.
Dean stepped back to the table and picked up the demon blade. "Do you know what this is?"
The demon nodded jerkily.
"Then you know what it will do. Unless you tell me what I want to know, I am going to drive this knife into your leg. It won't kill you, but it sure will hurt."
The demon smirked. "You wouldn't dare. You wouldn't want to hurt this meat suit. She is a good girl, a librarian, you know. Her name's Lucy."
Dean stepped forward and leaned into the demon's face. "That's where you are wrong."
He slammed his hand down, driving the knife deep into the demon's leg. She screamed out.
Dean stalked in a circle around the newly bound demon, his lip curled with disgust. It was wearing a young girl, pretty and blonde, innocent looking, which he guessed was probably why she was chosen. Who would distrust this face?
"Tell us where Crowley is," Dean said for what felt like the hundredth time.
"I don't know!" the demon said again.
"Bullshit!" Dean snapped. "You're one of his demons. You have to know."
"It's not like he throws cocktails parties for us," the demon said. "He is the boss. When he wants us, he finds us. We don't get to call on him."
Dean took the flask of holy water from his pocket and splashed a few drops onto her exposed skin. She shrieked in pain. He reached for the knife when Castiel stepped forward and cleared his throat.
"I don't believe she knows, Dean."
Dean sighed and stepped back from the demon, wiping his bloodied hands on his jeans. "You're right. Take her back where we found her and work your mojo on her."
Castiel nodded and reached for the demon. With a soft fluttering sound, they were both gone.
Dean kicked at the chair in frustration. It was the third demon they had interrogated, and they were no closer to finding Crowley. He was exhausted and hungry. He had been at it for eighteen hours now, refusing to sleep until he found the right demon.
He left the panic room and plodded up the stairs to the study. Chuck's computer was dark and silent; its owner was doing the sensible thing, sleeping. Bobby was awake, though. He was sitting at the desk with a book open in front of him and a tumbler of whiskey.
He looked up as Dean entered. "How's it going down there?"
"Nothing doing yet. We'll find him though. Someone has to know where he is."
Bobby nodded. "I know you will." He glanced at the clock. "You going to get some sleep or are you still laboring under the delusion that you're superhuman?"
Dean raked a hand over his face, rubbing at his tired eyes. "I'll sleep when we find Crowley."
"Really, that's nice and dramatic and all, but how exactly are you going to find me?" a dry voice said behind him.
Dean spun on his heel and came face to face with an average-height man with short, dark hair. He was wearing a black suit and overcoat, and he was smirking. He opened his mouth to speak again, but suddenly, the room began to quake; the pictures on the wall rattled and the books began to shake from the shelves.
"That's my cue to leave," the man said. "I'll be right back." Then Crowley was gone.
The room continued to quake and the lights flickered.
"What's going on?" Bobby shouted over the rumble of the room.
"I have a feeling we're about to have another visitor," Dean called back.
There was movement at the door, and Chuck stumbled in, rubbing at his eyes. "What's happening?"
In answer, the room quaked even harder, and a man entered. Dean recognized him at once, and he was glad Castiel wasn't there. It was Raphael, and he looked pissed.
"Prophet," he said addressing Chuck, "we are leaving."
"What? No!" Chuck said breathlessly.
"I have borne the fallen angel and the other humans, as they have been dedicated to protecting you, but demons! This place is not safe for you anymore. We are leaving."
Chuck shook his head jerkily. "No! I'm not ready!"
"I am making the choice for you," Raphael said. "You must be protected."
"But wait! There's something I need to tell them."
It apparently didn't matter to Raphael. He stepped forward and gripped Chuck's arm, and with a fluttering sound, they were gone.
Dean stared at the spot Chuck had been standing, his mouth agape. He couldn't believe that had just happened. Damn Raphael and his timing. Why couldn't he have waited five more minutes? Then they could have heard what was so important. Was Sam okay? Had something happened to him? Dean had a hundred questions but no way of answering them. His fear for Sam was dominant.
"Has he gone?"
Dean turned and saw the man he assumed was Crowley.
"That was close," he said tugging at his collar. "Damn archangels, they make my skin crawl."
"So, you're Crowley," Bobby said.
"I am indeed. Smart one, aren't ya. Now, I hear you boys have been looking for me."
Dean nodded. He stepped back, hoping Crowley would come forward. There was a devil's trap on the ceiling and if he could just get him to take one more step forward...
Crowley's eyes moved slowly to the ceiling, and he smirked at Dean. "Nice try, petal, but I'm not an idiot."
Dean sighed. They were screwed. Castiel wasn't there to wrestle him down to the panic room, and Dean might as well throw pillows at him as try to do it himself.
"Now, now, don't be getting downhearted. I'm here of my own free will, aren't I? There's no need to go trapping me."
"Why are you here?" Bobby asked.
"Because I want to help, you blithering idiot." He reached into the pocket of his coat and pulled out the Colt. "This is it, right? This is what it's all about. Do you know how deep I could have buried this thing? There's no reason you or anyone should know this even exists, except that I told you."
"You told us?" Bobby said skeptically.
Crowley rolled his eyes. "Rumors, innuendo, sent out on the grapevine."
"Why?" Dean asked. "Why tell us anything?"
Crowley raised the gun and pointed it directly at Dean. "I want you to take this thing to Lucifer and empty it into his face."
Dean didn't betray the fear he felt having the gun pointing at him "Uh-huh, okay, and why exactly would you want the Devil dead?"
Crowley lowered the gun. "It's called survival."
"Lucifer isn't a demon, remember? He is an angel. An angel famous for his hatred of humankind. To him, you're just filthy bags of pus. If that's the way he feels about you, what can he think about us?"
"But he created you," Bobby said.
"To him, we're just servants, cannon fodder. If Lucifer manages to exterminate humankind, we're next. So, help me, huh? Let's all go back to simpler, better times, back to when we could all follow our natures. I'm in sales, dammit! So, what do you say I give you this thing, and you go kill the Devil?"
He turned the gun and held it by the barrel. Dean stepped forward hesitantly and took the handle. "Great," he said.
Crowley grinned. "Great."
"You wouldn't happen to know where the Devil was, by chance, would you?"
Crowley sighed. "Do I have to do everything for you? Don't answer that. It was a rhetorical question. He is holed up at the Townsend Hotel in Birmingham, Michigan. I hear him and your brother have a suite there."
Bobby and Dean exchanged a look and nodded.
"Great," Bobby said.
Dean raised the gun and pointed the barrel between Crowley's eyes. He pulled the trigger but it snapped on an empty barrel.
Crowley didn't look at all surprised at their attempt on his life. "Oh, yeah, right, you'll probably need some more ammunition." He reached into his coat and pulled out a leather case. He tossed it to Bobby who snapped it opened. It was full of bullets.
Dean cleared his throat. "Oh, uh, excuse me for asking, but aren't you kind of signing your own death warrant? I mean, what happens to you if we go up against the Devil and lose?"
"Number one, he is going to wipe us all out anyway. Two, after I leave here, I go on an extended vacation to all points nowhere. And three, how about you don't miss, okay! Moron!"
That said, he cast them one last scathing look and disappeared.