Gift Recipient: whithertits
Pairing/Characters: gen; Sam, Dean, Andy Gallagher, Naomi
Rating: R for disturbing imagery
Warnings / Features: blood, violence, (demonic)animal-transformation, disturbing imagery
Summary: Andy had spent the last few hours watching Sam Winchester —King of Hell, God of the Abyss, Bane of Heaven— kill nearly two dozen souls, and feed them all to his pet — the biggest, scariest looking hellhound of them all.
Notes: Written for the 2013 sammessiah Antichristmas-exchange! I loved the prompts I got to work with, but I really seem to be having a hellhound-phase this year so I focused on prompt # 3; thanks to my beta, kazluvsbooks ! This is a stand-alone, but could very easily be set in the same universe as Counteroffer
"Stand up," Sam said, after everyone else had left. His voice was quiet, but it filled the entirety of the large throne room anyway.
Andy stood up, but kept his head down, waiting for further instructions. Put your head on this block. Stand still while I bash your skull in. Have a seat in this chair while I give you a real close shave, don't squirm it'll just make it worse. He'd seen Sam Winchester —King of Hell, God of the Abyss, Bane of Heaven— kill nearly two dozen souls over the course of the last few hours. A chunk of…something fell from Andy's hair as he stood, landing on the floor with a soft splat. Andy made a distinct effort not to try to figure out whose flesh it was. He had a bad feeling it was Jake Talley's though. The Hound had been particularly savage with Jake.
Sam could've killed them all with a thought, of course — could've incinerated them all just by wanting it. But that wasn't the point. He'd brought them in to feed his pet — the largest, scariest looking hellhound Andy had ever seen. Not that he'd seen many. Rumor had it that Sam had killed them all when he'd claimed his throne, that he'd developed a taste for their blood, and then their souls, swallowing them all down one by one. Which in theory was impossible.
Hell had its own set of natural laws — incontrovertible things like physics — completely different from what applied on earth, but unchangeable by anyone— not even the King. One of the oldest laws, in place since Lucifer's first rule, was that Hell always had six Lords, six Knights and six hellhounds. Kill one and another came into being. That's just how it worked. Yet even in Hell, the power for a new Lord, Knight or Hound had to come from somewhere. So when one was killed, another damned soul was pulled from the pit and remolded into what it needed to be.
The first night of Sam's reign, which Andy would never forget no matter how hard he tried, Hell crumbled and was remade in fire. The last King, Crowley, had remodeled Hell from its original design, making level after level of prison cells: some like old dungeons, some modern and sterile with the occasional padded or spiked cell, and some that looked exactly like self-storage units — the kind without air-conditioning or lighting. According to chatter, he'd done this to cut down on labor, because apparently torturing souls to make them stronger faster just took way too much effort. Boredom was all they deserved, or something to that effect. Andy thought that maybe Crowley was just too afraid of competition. Better to keep the masses weak than ornery.
Sam didn't exactly overthrow Crowley. He didn't even throw him. He just appeared one day, stuck his hand straight inside of Crowley's chest, and pulled out his soul. Andy still remembered the exact pitch and sound of Crowley's screams. They were broadcast through the air on every level, loud enough to drown out even the elevator music in the endless waiting room section Andy had been in for the last 8 years. Or maybe it had been 960? He didn't know anymore. He'd had a book once, a journal where he'd worked out the math, but then some asshole with a lighter and pyromancy issues had burned it, sticking his hands in the flames to 'stay warm.' The muzak being piped through the halls cut off at the same time Crowley's screams did and then everything around them just…dissolved. Andy floated in an absolute blackness, all of them did, clutching at each other when they could, just to try to find something else — something to convince them that they still existed.
When Hell reformed around them again, it looked and felt a lot more like it had when Andy had first woken up there, except it was quieter, colder and cleaner. It was one enormous pit, with tiers of massive circles stretching out so far up, down and wide that he couldn't see anyone directly opposite him. He could see plenty closer to him though. Some souls were chained, some had barred cells, and some, like him, were just sitting on the cold hard floor of their tier, shivering. Just like the last time there'd been a power-shift, everybody knew who the new King was. The walls themselves whispered it, over and over "Lucifer's true vessel, the Boy King, Azazel's chosen, son of Mary Campbell and John Winchester, brother of the Righteous Man, Sam Winchester now reigns." Sam held court that night, meaning everyone in Hell saw him speak, whether they wanted to or not, no matter where they were or if they even had eyes with which to see. Sam had only had one thing to say: "The doors are closed: nobody gets in, nobody gets out."
As it turned out, the population of Hell wasn't too happy about that. Screams echoed through the halls from the lowest soul, to the highest ranking of the Knights. Sam's eyes lit up flash-bang white, and all the protesting voices fell silent. Hell had been quieter for days afterwards. Andy had taken the time to tour his new surroundings, since his cell was open, and he had nothing tethering him there. He recognized some of his neighbors — Ava Wilson was ten cells down from him, but her cell was sealed. She looked worse than last time Andy had seen her. Less human. That was the thing about Hell — it affected everyone a different way. People didn't really have bodies down here, they were just souls, but Hell had a way of making everything feel like flesh and blood. Most people looked like they had when they'd been alive, for a little while, anyway. But then Hell got to them, and they started to forget what being human meant, or they just stopped caring. More often than not he saw souls start to change after the first few years — little things, like their faces shifting into something less human, and more demonic — sharper teeth, and long serpentine tongues were pretty common. Ava had gone the full nine just months after she got there. By the time Sam took over, she was over ten feet tall, and her hands and fingers were enormous— big enough to grasp other demons by the waist. Of course she couldn't grab anyone now, her cell made sure of that. All she could do was watch, and press herself against the transparent barrier, straining against it day after day, trying to get out and howling in frustration when she failed.
Andy had made it nearly three miles around the ring he was on when the center of the pit came to life, lighting up all of Hell from below. There was a procession of some sort, leading straight towards Sam's throne. Normally, the throne room was hidden from view, but tonight it was on display for all to see, and every soul that could crept towards the edge of their floors, looking down like it was New Year's Eve and they were waiting for fireworks to go off.
There were two rows headed slowly, regally, towards the throne — demons, shining with so much power they had to be the highest ranking ones there. Andy counted twelve altogether. After them came 6 huge shadows with glowing red eyes that growled loud enough to make the walls rumble. All six hellhounds. The party of demons assembled around Sam's throne in a half circle and all fell to their knees when their King stood. Sam spoke for a while, but only to those kneeling before him. They couldn't hear a word up in the nosebleed section where Andy had ended up. Sam wanted the curious to watch, not listen. So Andy watched, trying to figure out what was going on based on body language alone. About ten minutes into what looked like non-stop grandstanding by the Lords, somebody slid next to Andy and handed him a joint. How that was possible in Hell, Andy had no idea, but he thanked his new friend, a scrawny man that looked like he'd died right around the time of Woodstock.
Andy noticed the shift in mood down below about ten seconds after it happened. Everyone else around him, except for his neighbor had already backed away. Sam was yelling now, pointing angrily down at something — someone male, and ragged-looking — laying by his feet. Whoever it was, hadn't been there a moment before. Probably. Andy was pretty sure he hadn't been there. But he was there now, and the Hounds were all snarling, with their teeth bared as the rest of the assembled Lords and Knights started to rise to their feet. Sam raised both of his arms high and the throne room vanished from view again, the endless, swirling abyss taking its place. It had been silent for the rest of the night, except for the murmurs from all the other spectators. Andy liked the quiet, and fell asleep right on the edge of the tier, surprised he could even still do that in Hell. He hadn't been able to sleep in years, or probably even centuries. He dreamt of Tracy and his old van, and Sam and Dean back when they'd first met. He woke up with his arm hanging off of the edge of the cold stone floor, fingers dangling down towards the Pit, groggy enough to be pleasantly surprised that everything was still so silent.
Right now though, the silence in the throne room was deafening. Andy swallowed nervously as he tried to stand straighter and keep his knees from shaking. He kept looking down at the floor, not quite ready to face Sam's pale yellow eyes.
"I said…stand," Sam repeated, his voice dangerously low.
And not directed at Andy.
Confused, Andy looked up to find Sam glaring at his hellhound. The beast was standing, right on the dais in front of Sam's throne, his back haunches tight, like he was expecting to run, or fight.
"Dean," Sam said, an edge of weariness to his tone. "I won't ask again. You know how much it hurts when I do it."
Sam had named his pet 'Dean' — after his brother. Andy's gut coiled tight when he remembered his own brother, Ansem, and how 'Dean,' the hound, had torn him to shreds before devouring him whole.
The hellhound sat back down, its wide head angled up to Sam. They were having a staring contest.
"Fine," Sam said, and snapped his fingers.
The hound barked sharply and then its body started to convulse. Its grey skin rippled and became paler, its massive body shrank until it was only half the size it had been seconds earlier. It was a withered sad-looking thing, its long hairless body huddling down low to the ground as it made a soft whining noise entirely unlike the terror-inspiring monster it had been just moments before. With one final whimper, it's spine seemed to retract deeper into its skin, its snout shortened and there laying on the floor of the dais, where the hound had stood, was a very angry-looking and very naked Dean Winchester.
"Dammit, Sam," Dean said as he stood, his back turned to Andy. "I would've done it, I just didn't want to do it here."
Sam's lips curved as he settled back into his throne. The air around his right hand shimmered slightly and a long piece of dark blue fabric appeared. It looked soft— micro-fleece maybe, or velour.
Dean's hand reached out towards the blue fabric and yanked it from Sam's hand. He slipped the long blue bathrobe on within less than a second. A practiced motion, like he'd done it so often he didn't even have to think about where to put his arms to slide them in. By the time he turned back around to face Andy he'd closed the robe and tied it shut. "You enjoying the show there, buddy?"
Andy staggered back a few steps in confusion and tripped over his own feet, landing on his ass. "I— uh…" Andy blinked and looked away from Dean, trying to find something else to stare at: the bone-white probably made of actual bone dais the throne stood on, or the throne itself, carved from ebony and bloodwood probably stained with actual blood, or maybe the floor, which shifted depending on Sam's mood from painfully sharp metal grating, to wood, stone, flesh or whatever he damn well felt like. Right now it was black and white marble that swirled when you touched it. Andy opted for the floor as a focal point and touched his right pointer finger to the surface, watching as a streak of black swam towards his finger and circled it, like a tiny eel. "No. I wasn't— um…why am I here?" He looked up again, at Dean and then at Sam, expecting to be incinerated, but not really capable of caring anymore. He'd lived— well, he'd existed way longer than most people. He'd seen things nobody should have to see, and if it was going to end, then this was as good a time as any.
"I'm not going to kill you, Andy," Sam said. He rolled his head in a half-circle slowly, like he was working out tension in his neck. Maybe being the King of Hell was stressful. It probably was.
"Yeah, sorry, it's just that I watched you…" Andy gestured at Dean, his hand still way shakier than he would've liked. "…rip dozens of people to shreds and eat them. All morning, or afternoon or whatever time it is."
Sam stood and walked to stand next to Dean. They both looked just as tall as they had when they were alive, which was pretty damn tall, but there was something off about it. For one thing, Andy knew that size here was all a matter of perception and had little to do with power. He'd seen demons as small as mice, and as big as dinosaurs, but you could usually tell just by being near them if they were going to be trouble. One of the little mouse-sized demons had spent three days trying to bite Andy's toes, and everything he'd used to try and crush it had melted, like the thing was made of fire. It ended up burning a hole right through one of the dinosaur-demons. By all rights, Sam and Dean should be radiating so much power, Andy shouldn't even be able to look at them straight on without his eyes boiling, but instead, he felt nothing. They looked like they always had — maybe a little older, and Sam's hair had gotten a little longer, but that was it. They looked human, and they were anything but. Somehow that was infinitely more terrifying.
Sam put his arm over Dean's shoulders. "Dean was hungry. He's got quite the appetite." Sam's eyes narrowed. "I do too, but we've got different tastes."
"Oh— okay that makes me feel so much better," Andy's voice cracked with borderline hysteria. "So…you're not going to eat me because twenty-five—"
"Twenty-seven," Dean interjected, smirking.
"—twenty-seven people a day is your limit?"
"We don't really have limits anymore," Dean said. "No, see, you're alive because we have plans for you."
Andy tried to say something else, but his mouth had gone completely dry.
"You've been here a while," Sam said. "And you're one of the few souls who doesn't really deserve to be here." He smiled in what Andy thought was probably supposed to be a reassuring way, but all it did was send prickles of ice running up the center of his spine.
"I deserve to be here. I killed my brother," Andy swallowed remembering Ansem — the twin he'd barely known.
"You killed him to save Dean," Sam said, inclining his head. "Don't think we've forgotten."
Andy didn't know what he was supposed to say. It almost sounded like the King of Hell was about to reward him for something.
"Here's the deal, Andy," Dean said. "I have to go on a milk run upstairs. You're coming with me."
"What? Why?" Andy's brain tried to think of what Dean could possibly want from Earth but came up empty. "What do you need me for?"
Dean's smile was slow and it never quite reached his eyes. "Company."
"You're going with Dean because I can't," Sam said. "And he wants someone…else to talk to. Don't you, Dean?" Sam didn't look the least bit annoyed or insulted. His face was absolutely calm.
"Yeah. It's been a while. Plus you seemed like a cool guy back when we were all still living topside. Have good taste in cars." Dean winked at him and Andy's heart started pounding in his chest. He only had a heartbeat when he was terrified, lately.
Andy laughed nervously. "Yeah, you had that sweet '67 Impala."
"I have that sweet '67 Impala." Dean stepped down off the dais and crossed the floor, the marble swirling under his bare feet with every step. "You and me, we're going for a drive."
The Impala was still as beautiful as Andy remembered it. Dean had brushed Andy on the shoulder and suddenly they were outside — they were outside on Earth, standing in a parking lot completely empty except for one perfect, glistening, black car. Dean was wearing jeans and a grey t-shirt and Andy was wearing…the same outfit he'd had on the day he died. Probably. He wasn't 100% sure, but it didn't really matter.
He walked towards Dean, feeling the sun on his face and couldn't help but smile at the smells and sounds around him. He felt alive. Really alive. His steps suddenly faltered and he pinched his skin, then let out a wince.
"It's all real. You're here. You have a body."
"But…how?" My body would've been—"
"I made you a new one. Just for today. No big." Dean spun a key-ring around his finger, the silver metal of the keys catching the sunlight. "Hellhounds can grab hold of anybody in any dimension. Did you know that?"
Andy shook his head.
Pointing towards the passenger side, Dean unlocked the driver's seat door and slid in.
By the time Andy got to the other side of the car, the engine was already running. He sat down next to Dean, patting the hot leather of the seat in open admiration. "She sounds beautiful."
Dean grinned. "Yes she does."
They drove in silence for a few minutes, with the windows down. Andy closed his eyes a few times, just relishing the feeling of being alive again. He had a sense, deep in his gut, that it wouldn't last, but that didn't mean he couldn't make the best out of it.
"What happened?" Andy asked when he turned back to look at Dean. He looked so human. So normal.
"How'd Sam end up as king of Hell?" Andy shrugged. "I mean, I knew you guys. I know it was a long time ago, but Sam seemed like the last guy on Earth that would've wanted that."
Dean nodded. "You're right." He shifted lanes, the endless road ahead of them looking even wider. They were still driving past endless empty stretches of land. Grass growing two-feet high in some patches. "We spent years doing what we had to do. What we thought was the right thing to do."
The sky had started filling with clouds and thunder rumbled in the distance. Andy turned to look at Dean again and thought his eyes looked a little less green and little more red.
"We fought demons and angels, Lucifer, the horsemen, leviathans…and then finally we found these tablets. Magic stones with God's knowledge chiseled right into them. One of them told us how to close Hell for good."
Andy remembered hearing demons whisper about the tablets a few month-years ago. "Sam had to take over Hell to close it?"
Dean scoffed. "No. The tablets had instructions for these trials. God's obstacle course. It would've killed Sam in the end, from the sound of it."
"I don't understand."
"I didn't either. Not at first." Dean turned onto an unmarked off-ramp.
Come to think of it, there hadn't been any road-signs. Not a single one for miles.
"Sam's a smart guy," Dean said. "Always has been. He figured out another way to close Hell for good. One that wouldn't kill him, and one that wouldn't give Heaven the upper hand either."
Andy's half-second of surprise and vague relief at hearing that there was a Heaven was overlapped instantly by confusion. "You don't want Heaven to have the upper hand?"
"You ever met an angel?" Dean asked, his eyes darkening until they were the shade of blood.
"No," Andy said, his throat closing in fear.
"They're assholes. You don't want them running the show, trust me." Dean's eyes flipped back to his own particular shade of green and he focused on the road ahead of him.
The scenery changed from empty grassland to empty sections of a long-since abandoned town.
"Why didn't Sam go with you? Really?" Andy asked after a few more minutes, not even sure why he voiced that particular thought. "He said he couldn't, but…I mean he's stronger than you, right?"
"You two, you don't seem like the type who get sick of each other."
Dean chuckled softly and the sun seemed to shine just a little brighter, like Dean's mood was reflected in the sky. "It's not that Sam can't come up here. He can. It's what happens when he does that he's trying to avoid."
"What happens?" Andy started imagining typical apocalyptic-like things. Fire from the sky, seas of red, dragons and things. Dragons would be cool. Unless they were the people-eating kind, and all things considered, they probably would be the people-eating kind.
"Hell on Earth."
"So…the Apocalypse?" Andy shrugged, wondering if there was a difference.
"No, we stopped the Apocalypse. It sucked for a while though." Dean reached over to the stereo knob and turned it on. AC/DC's "Highway to Hell," came on and Dean sang along so loudly and enthusiastically Andy couldn't help but laugh and then eventually join in.
The song ended and after the first few beats of "Girls Got Rhythm," the volume lowered, all on its own.
"No, see the thing is: Sam sets foot on Earth and wherever he is, whatever he touches, becomes part of Hell."
"What?" Andy's good mood vanished instantly as what Dean said sank in. The sky had gotten darker around them, and thick drops of rain had started to fall. They passed an old gas station, with no pumps. Its sign was old and broken, so it read 'Amoc,' instead of 'Amoco.'
"Sam didn't close Hell, he became Hell." Dean turned the windshield wipers on, but even at high speed they didn't help much against the heavy downpour.
"I don't understand," Andy said, because it was true.
"Of course you don't." Dean tapped the dashboard with his right hand. "Show him, baby."
The windshield wipers froze where they were and the rain came down even heavier. Andy's stomach felt like it was going to fly out of his throat as the angle of the street plummeted so steeply, so quickly he was sure they'd driven half a mile straight down. His eyes were drawn towards the patterns on the wet windshield and he started to see colors there — red and black and yellow and bone-white. The rivulets of water mixed with soil and solidified, showing him one single image with startling clarity. A massive eye, parallel to where the sun had shone palely above them. The sun-eye blinked, and Andy felt himself being yanked straight back out of the safety of the Impala, the earth around him becoming transparent until he could see the rest of the face that held the sun. He could see its head, the neck and finally the entire torso. It was Sam, his legs stretching so far into the distance that Andy couldn't even see his feet. From somewhere deep below, Sam lifted his right arm and brought his hand — fingers a mile long — to his chest. He dug his nails deep into his own skin, right by the upper edge of his tattoo and pulled down, peeling back layers of flesh until Andy could see his rib cage. The stuffy air around Andy flooded with sound as billions of voices cried out in agony, sorrow, fury and pain. Amidst the cacophony there were two voices, so much louder than the rest— inhuman sounds of rage so painfully loud that Andy's ears felt like they were bursting. His eyes struggled to stay open as he saw two twin lights vibrating in time with those two voices.
The image vanished from one moment to the next and Andy found himself back in the Impala's passenger-seat, watching as the windshield wipers began to move again. He wiped at the trickle of blood running down from his right ear and stared at Dean.
"Archangels." Dean said, maneuvering the car back up the inter-dimensional roller-coaster at an even steeper angle than the one they'd gone down. "Lucifer and Michael are trapped in the cage, and the cage is in Sam's heart."
Andy's ears popped painfully at the change in pressure and his eyes teared. He rubbed the back of his hand against them, trying to see. "He has two archangels in his heart?"
"And our half-brother. It's complicated."
"Is that…what I just saw. Is that Sam's actual size?"
"What? No." Dean grinned at him. "Don't be silly."
"Oh, for a minute there, I thought—"
"No, that was a scale model — so you'd get the picture. Each of the archangels is roughly the size of the moon."
Andy looked out the passenger window again, watching the road even out, as he tried to figure out how many times he'd have to multiply 78 inches by to figure out Sam's real height. The car came to a sudden halt seconds before lightning lit up everything around them, like it was coming from all sides.
"There we go," Dean said, pulling the key out of the ignition. "Was starting to think they'd be too chicken-shit to show up."
"Who?" Andy asked, climbing out of the car after Dean. The air smelled like ozone, and there were big patches of asphalt smoldering where the lightning had hit. One bolt had touched down right next to Andy's door, and as he stepped over the black mark carefully he thought he saw a letter of some sort — a curvy sort of m-shape. When he walked around to the front of the Impala he saw Dean standing across from a prim-looking woman in a business suit. Her hair was tied up in a bun, and she was holding a wooden box. It looked almost like a miniature treasure chest — latch and everything.
"You sure took your time, sweet-heart," Dean said, smiling at the woman.
"Your request was…difficult to fulfill," she said. Taking a step forward she held the box up and then turned from Dean to Andy. "Hello, Andrew. Don't worry, this will all be over soon."
"How did you know my name?" Andy asked. A tenth of a second later, he kicked himself for it. He'd been escorted from Hell back to Earth by the brother of the king of Hell, who, as it turned out, was also actually Hell. Nothing should surprise him anymore. At least not today.
"I am an angel," the woman said. "My name is Naomi. After Dean and I finish our business, I'm going to bring you to Heaven."
"Heaven? But I— I killed my brother," Andy said, incredulously.
Naomi smiled sadly. "Sometimes those closest to us are the most dangerous of all. You did what you had to. We won't hold that against you." She turned back to Dean. "This payment will do, despite Azazel's stain."
Andy saw Dean flash him a half-smile and tried to figure out what that meant.
The angel held out the box as she walked closer to Dean. "They're all there, even the Milligan woman." Her lips pursed. "Odd requests, your brother made."
"Yeah? Seemed pretty straightforward to me." Dean took the box from Naomi and showed teeth.
"If he cares about them so much, why not leave them with us for safe-keeping? Is it really fair to sentence them to Hell just for their allegiances?"
"Wait—" A revelation hit Andy and he couldn't help himself from voicing it. "This is— some kind of prisoner exchange, is that it?" He turned from the angel to Dean and then stared at the small wooden box.
As Dean flipped open the lid of the box, a brilliant light spilled out of it, hiding his face from Andy's view for a few seconds. Something about the box was urging Andy closer, making him want to peek inside. He took a step forward and then another. Naomi grabbed him by the arm. "It's not for you to see. But don't worry, you will see far greater things in Heaven soon."
Dean slammed the lid shut and the light cut off. "About that. Where are you bringing Andy, exactly?"
"You understand, we can't just leave him unattended. But we do have…places where we can keep him safe." Naomi's smile looked stiff.
"No. Send him up coach. Regular room, just like everybody else," Dean looked over to Andy and gave him a nod. "He's got a grandma up there waiting for him to weed the garden."
"Dean, this one is…tainted. We can't just give him free range," The angel's lips were pressed thin.
"You can, and you will, and we're going to stay here until you've convinced me that's exactly what's going to happen."
Naomi's eyes filled with quiet rage, and she looked at Andy, sending him stumbling a few steps back, right into somebody else's arms. "Take him to admissions. Regular processing. He has relatives in quadrants G6 and R2."
The man behind him didn't loosen his grip once. Andy struggled to turn around, finally craning his neck enough to see bits of a stern jaw and cold eyes. Another angel then, probably. Today was extra weird.
"Are we done here?" Naomi asked.
"Sure," Dean set the box on the ground and tapped it. The box sunk into the earth as though somebody had reached up and grabbed it. Dean raised his eyes back up to the angel. "Sam says thank you."
Naomi nodded, her shoulders relaxing with relief. "My pleasure." She turned to the angel holding Andy. "Time to go."
"Sam also wants to know which of you is coming with me," Dean said, brushing a stray pebble off his knee as he stood up again.
Naomi's face paled. "I'm sorry?"
Andy could feel his captor's hands tighten their hold on him.
"You want me to ask him to repeat the question? I'm sure he could speak up so you can hear him." Dean bit the corner of his lip, holding back a laugh.
"No!" Naomi held up her hand.
"So, which of you is it?" Dean looked from Naomi to the other angel. "I don't know, your lackey looks awfully scrawny."
"We already gave you our…candidate this cycle," Naomi said, her mask of calm slipping.
Dean did laugh then, sharp and loud. "Yeah. You gave us a cherub. How long did you think that was gonna hold him over, honestly?"
"We paid our dues. That was the arrangement. One angel every celestial month."
"The arrangement's changed," Dean said, shrugging. "Sam's a growing boy."
Naomi opened her mouth as though to speak, paused, and then said, "Our numbers are finite."
"We know. So are ours, now." Dean hopped back on top of the Impala's hood. "You want us to reopen the gates? I know you're having a hard time fitting all those new arrivals in. All those souls, and so many of them the kind you're just not used to handling."
Naomi didn't answer, but her eyes shifted from fury to something bordering on panic.
"Do I have to go with her?" Andy asked.
The angel holding Andy loosened his grip and stared down at him as Naomi turned, her expression so stunned it almost made Andy laugh. "You are being offered a chance at redemption here, you ungrateful little—"
"It's just I never really thought there was a Heaven, you know? Until I learned about the whole demon army thing…" Andy gestured at Dean. "But I mean, other than that— Dean and Sam are good guys. Or…they were. Now they eat people."
"And you'd rather stay with them?" Naomi asked, her eyebrows creeping higher.
Andy held up his hands the little he could, which wasn't much. "I'm just trying to figure out what you do with people. You gave Dean a cigar box full of souls, right? That's what those were? So..if you can fit us into little boxes and treat us like 'Magic the Gathering,' cards, then how's Heaven going to be any better than Hell?"
"You'll be at peace," said the angel holding Andy. "Your family, your friends who passed on. Your happiest memories. An eternity of bliss. That's what we have to offer you."
"Look man, I'll take you back down if you want, I don't really care," Dean said. "But we've gotta get a move on."
"Excuse me?" said Naomi. "You can't take him back. He was our payment. You promised us—"
"He wasn't payment," Dean said. "He was bait."
The hands holding Andy's arms disappeared, and for a second, Andy thought he heard the rustling of feathers. Then something huge and grey leapt across his field of vision. There was a cry from behind him, and Andy turned to see the younger, male angel pinned underneath the hellhound. Dean shifted his paw until it was positioned right over the center of the angel's chest and pushed. A low growl rumbled deep in the beast's chest and the highway under the angel cracked open, wider and wider, until with one last, long scream, the angel fell straight down.
Andy turned away from the hole in the world to find Naomi still standing exactly where she'd been. "I thought you'd be running."
"I don't run," she said, straightening. "I'm a warrior. And if this is how I'm meant to— if this is where I'm meant to stand my ground, then so be it."
Dean's large frame turned and he loped back towards the car slowly. When he sat back on his haunches facing Naomi, his head was level with the top of the car. A small pile of tattered cloth lay near his tail — all that was left of his clothes.
"What do you want?" Naomi asked Dean. "You've already taken another of my brethren. If you want Andrew back, fine. But let me go."
Dean kept watching her, motionless except for his breathing.
The sky around them lit up solid white and filled with the horrible drone Andy had heard from the cage in Hell's heart. When it died down, Naomi was holding a shining, metal sword.
"Fine," she said, holding up her weapon. She took a step closer to Dean, who made no move to respond.
"I've killed thousands of Hell's legions!" she yelled, and Andy watched, fascinated as huge shadows unfurled behind her — wings so large they blocked out the sun. "I've killed Hell's Lords, Hell's Knights. You think I can't hold myself against the king's dog?" She lunged forward, her sword aimed right at Dean's head.
The hound remained still, watching Naomi's course. When she was only a few feet away, Dean's eyes flashed a brilliant bright green and everything stopped.
Naomi froze in midair, the clouds in the sky stopped moving, and Andy felt his own body lock down along with everything else. He wasn't scared, exactly. He'd passed that point ages ago. He was just curious.
The Impala's windshield stuttered from clear to opaque and started playing back a vaguely familiar scene, in black and white, like an old silent movie. It was the procession Andy had watched in Hell. The last time he'd seen the throne room from up above. Sam was standing in front of his throne on the dais, all six Knights, all six Lords and all six hellhounds were kneeling in front of him in a half-circle. Sam raised his head and they all stood, just as Dean appeared by Sam's feet — unconscious, dressed in rags, and human. He was covered in large gashes, bleeding from his torso, his legs, and his face. He looked like he'd been mauled.
Those assembled around Sam stayed where they were, but one of them spoke, pointing at Dean.
Whatever he said, Sam didn't like the answer. His eyes filled with liquid fire, and the one who'd spoken simply turned to dust. The other demons moved away from where the Knight had stood and waited. The air around the empty space moved, swirling the ashes of the demon around. A humanoid shape started to form again, but Sam closed his hand into a fist, and the dust flew into his hand. He kneeled down and placed his hand on Dean's forehead. One of the long gashes on Dean's legs closed.
The mood in the room changed drastically as the other demons clued in on what Sam was doing. They started backing away, and then running, but within a tenth of a second the air was filled with nothing but demonic ash, and Sam was channeling it — all of it, right into Dean.
The world unfroze again, and Dean moved, leaping up and twisting in the air until his jaws snapped closed around Naomi's body. He dove right into the open crevasse in the road, and vanished.
Andy was alone on Earth, with the Impala. After a few breathless seconds, he walked up to the car carefully, reached his hand out for the door-handle, and touched nothing but air.