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24 September 2011 @ 02:53 pm
the fifth element - part II  
“The stones are on Titan,” Meg says across the line, and at least it only took her two hours to scrounge up the information. “You know that actor who only does Shakespeare who’s on tour there right now? Balthazar? He has them.”

“Well, go get them then. You can name the price, I already –”

“Not so fast, Crowley. His show is sold out and a guy won a contest for the last two tickets. Apparently a Dean Winchester.”

“For real.” Crowley glances at his screen. He’ll be damned if the owner of the car into which the fifth element fell doesn’t belong to a Dean Winchester. “The ticket is valid for two, though.”

“I can’t exactly afford to go shopping for another meatsuit when it took me ages to find the right one. Like I have time for meatsuit shopping. I can come up with a fake ID, but I need you to send me someone else and we can pretend we’re Mr. Winchester and his lovely new wife.”

“Fine, fine, I’m sending Tom over at your place. Don’t fuck this up, all right?”

“Sure, sure, you can trust me. Four stones, why all this hassle,” Meg mutters before hanging up on him. Crowley sighs before sending a message to one of his associates that he more or less trusts telling him to go to Meg’s without asking questions, then leans back in his seat, feeling a headache coming. One would think that the more money you have the easier your life gets, but he’d be glad to prove all those buggers wrong if only he could.

And then clearly his landline phone rings.

Only one client uses his landline number. Crowley’s hands aren’t exactly steady as he picks up the receiver.

“Yes? Oh, hello. Yes, there has been a small, uhm, miscalculation, and we don’t have the stones, but I’m working on – yes, yes, I located them, I’m positive I will find them before… yes, I know. Of course. You can be sure that this will go according to plans.”

When he puts the receiver back in place, his hands are sweating and there’s blood running from his nose and from his right ear.

If only he was in charge. But he isn’t, yet.

--

What?” Dean asks as Sam hands him and Castiel the newly printed papers in the back of the government car they’re currently in. (And thankfully the driver has no idea of who Cas is.) “Since when did I said you could make us married?”

The look Sam gives him makes Dean suddenly nostalgic for their childhood. It’s the same frown that used to appear on Sam's face whenever Dean did things that he found Absolutely And Utterly Wrong, at least for his eight year old logic.

“He couldn’t be a family member since, as I’m sure you know, no one from Mom’s family has ever shown their face after she died, and on Dad’s side everyone is dead. Saying that you were going with your best friend sounded utterly lame. At least you won’t have to justify anything.”

“Right,” Dean concedes. “I guess we’re married then.”

Cas doesn’t look particularly annoyed by the circumstance – maybe slightly amused because of Dean’s reaction, but that’s it. Dean hands Sam and Andy their tickets, keeping the envelope with their spaceship and theater tickets in the inside pocket of his jacket.

When they get to the airport, he grabs a backpack where he put enough of a change for him and Castiel both and a suit which, according to Bobby’s instructions, was mandatory for the show. Then he takes Cas’s arm and heads for the gate.

“All right,” he says, “I’m – uh, I’ll try to act the part. Don’t freak out and if I touch you in places you’d rather keep… not touched, tell me, okay?”

“Very well. I will follow your lead, then.”

I hope you do, Dean thinks as they reach the gate. He slips an arm around Cas’s waist and hands over his tickets to the receptionist.

“Hello,” he says. “I, uh, this is the gate for Titan, right?”

“Indeed!” she answers, sounding way too cheerful for her own good. Her tag reads Becky. “So, let’s see… Mr. Dean Winchester, yes, of course. A cabin for two. May I see your ID?”

“Oh. Of course.” Castiel hands her his multi-pass and Dean hopes that she doesn’t notice that it was upside down and that Castiel seems to have no idea that it is.

“Mr. Castiel Winchester. Oh, how lovely! Is this your honeymoon?” she asks, apparently forgetting that it isn’t her job to pry into this kind of thing. Her eyes actually light up as she notices Dean’s arm around Castiel’s waist; for a second, Dean is afraid that rainbows might appear from her mouth or her ears or her damned eyes.

“Actually, yes,” Castiel tries, obviously overwhelmed by all that attention.

“Titan is such a lovely place,” Becky says, as she types in Cas’s information. It all goes smooth at least – Dean can be thankful for that. “I’m sure you’ll love it. And I’ll make sure that the cabin is to your liking. Have a great flight!” she says, winking. Dean decides that the smart thing to do is run like hell, and considering the flabbergasted expression on Cas’s face, he agrees.

--

“He took the ship a minute before we got there.”

“He did what?” Crowley screams into the phone, wishing that he could exorcize demons at a distance. Obviously it never goes as smooth as it could.

“He was in front of the line when we got there, and do not say that we should have killed him first, because it’s not as if you had the grace of sending me a picture when you know I’m too busy printing fake IDs. Also, he was with another guy with dark hair and pretending they were married – it was obviously a lie. And that’s where I’m done. I’m sick of this and I’m sick of you. You’re on your own. I’ll send you a check for the time I wasted up until now.”

She closes the call and Crowley punches the desk so hard that it cracks.

Fine, fine. If everyone is so incompetent, he might as well go himself to check things. And use the last resort. It’s not as if he’ll have to pay the fees, considering that the world is ending in a day. He picks up his phone, goes to the A on his contact list and presses Alistair. Knowing someone who leads a serious demon mercenary task force is always useful, when you really need them.

“Yes?” the voice answers, and damn, Crowley would like it better if Alistair wasn’t a human with a sadistic streak that’d put any demon to shame. At least he could drop the meatsuit and the insufferable voice that goes with it.

“Crowley. I have a job for you.”

“How nice. Consisting in?”

“I need you to kill everyone in Titan’s main opera house tomorrow evening and to retrieve a couple of objects from the target’s room. Do you think you can do it?”

“I guess we could work with it. It depends on how much you’re willing to pay.”

“How many people you need?”

“Thirty. Maybe forty, at most. I will make you a special fee.”

“Fine. But I also need to come with you, so we’ll be using my spaceship.”

“I wouldn’t charge you for the ride, too. I’m a professional, I don’t ask for scraps.”

“Good. Then I’ll be heading over. Be ready to leave shortly.”

“When am I not ready?”

The call is over at that. Crowley figures it could have gone worse. Now he only needs to find some cash, since Alistair will want half paid up front, and then he’ll be ready to go.

And he intends to see this through, personally.

--

“… is this even real?” Dean almost shouts as he sees their cabin.

“Of course it is,” the hostess behind him answers. “It’s the nicest honeymoon suit in this ship, and Becky said to reserve the best for you. Luckily no one has booked it first. We will made sure that you aren’t disturbed for the next ten hours. I hope your flight is absolutely pleasant.” Then she’s gone and Dean is left in a cabin where there isn’t a single object that isn’t pink.

“This is rather puzzling,” Cas says, dropping Dean’s backpack on the ground. “I had no idea that human customs required pink rooms for newlyweds.”

“My customs definitely don’t require one, but hey, that’s what we get. At least the bed looks comfortable,” Dean sighs before standing up and taking a good look at the annexed bathroom. And fine, it’s completely pink, too, but at least it’s huge and there’s a pretty inviting thermal bathtub in it. Could have been worse.

He gets back to the cabin and grabs a paper bag sporting the logo of one of the spaceport’s shops; he takes out a pair of pajamas and hands it over to Cas. “I realized that I only brought mine along and I’m not sure you should sleep in jeans, so I bought it before when you were checking books at the newsstand. It’s, uh, more comfortable.”

“Oh,” Cas says, taking the plastic bag containing the clothes. “Thank you. That was… very thoughtful of you.”

Dean swallows and doesn’t answer. When Castiel comes back from the bathroom wearing them, Dean realizes that he wasn’t wrong – he picked the same shade of blue of Cas’s eyes, and he should be ashamed of himself for having even thought such a thing but fact is, it doesn’t bother him half as much as it should. He figures he should go to bed, so that at least he doesn’t have to be awake when the ship takes flight. Also, when they get to Titan it’ll be mid-afternoon for them, and he has to get some sleep at some point. He closes his eyes surrounded by all that horrible pinkness, and Castiel takes the other side of the bed, turning his back on Dean. They don’t touch when Dean turns out the lights.

--

“Dean! Dean!”

Dean wakes with cold sweat breaking all over his face as Cas shakes him hard enough that his grip on Dean’s shoulder is starting to hurt; he’s taking deep breaths when he meets Cas’s eyes, and damn, the guy looks scared out of his mind. Right, Dean thinks; in the midst of this entire mess, he had forgotten to tell Cas that he isn’t the best person in this solar system to share a bed with.

“Shit – sorry, just – I need a moment,” he manages, trying not to hyperventilate, but whenever you dream about a bomb exploding in your face and doing a lot more damage than it did in reality, you can’t exactly control your reactions. It’s been four years, but it hasn’t gotten better at all.

“You can take more than one,” Cas says seriously, sounding at least a bit relieved, and Dean isn’t so far gone not to notice that there’s heat coming from the hand Cas is keeping on his back, and that it’s soothing heat. If it’s fifth element/angel/whatever-related, Dean doesn’t give a shit. It actually makes him feel slightly better, and he won’t say no to anything that might make him feel more coherent.

“Thanks,” he manages when he’s together enough to talk. “I hope I didn’t wake you up.”

“I don’t need to sleep,” Cas replies. “How bad was that?”

For some reason Dean feels too tired to lie. “Enough. I mean, you saw what’s on my chest, right? It was about how it happened. If you never get a grenade thrown in your face, consider yourself lucky.” He’s glad that he sounds detached enough – maybe it’s whatever Cas is doing, but he feels considerably more together than he usually does whenever he has nightmares. Which would be almost every night, but it’s not what he wants to think about right now.

“Thanks,” he says after a minute. “I don’t know what the hell you’re doing, but thanks.”

“You’re welcome. It’s not as if I still don’t owe you.”

“Again? Come on, I already told you. You don’t owe me shit.”

“But –”

“Don’t beat yourself up about it. I hated my job so if I lost it… I’ll find another. I’d have avoided going for it in the first place, but when the only useful thing you can put in your references is your driving license, that’s what you get. And I can fix the car, when we’re back.”

“I think I still owe you,” Cas replies, his voice barely a whisper. His hand moves from shoulder to waist, and Dean should tell him that Castiel doesn’t need to press his frame against Dean’s back, or to keep his arm there, but Cas’s presence next to him feels nicer, and he’s still so warm, and Dean hasn’t shared a bed with anyone in ages. He can’t find a single reason to move, and he doesn’t. Damn, it’d be really hard not to believe that whatever Cas is made of, is supposed to be unmarred goodness.

He doesn’t dream, and he only wakes up when a voice that sounds dangerously close to Becky’s says that they’re supposed to land in twenty minutes.

--

“Since when you need to wear fucking suits while at a recital?”

“You look quite handsome,” Cas replies, and Dean would like to scowl at that, but Castiel doesn’t sound like he’s making fun of him, at least.

“Thanks,” Dean huffs as he fixes his tie. “It’s not that, though. I hate how restraining these things are. Can’t we just switch places?”

“Since you are the winner, it would be an horrible idea. Also, Andy cares about seeing the performance a lot more than I do, and it’s better that me and Sam go… behind the scenes.”

That’s definitely a point. Dean doesn’t like this plan – after all, why not just telling the guy that they need the stones? Balthazar should know about the plan, so there’s not really any reason for Cas to go perching in his hotel room while Sam perches in the dressing room and he and Andy get to see the show. Then again Dean can’t escape the performance, and Cas is right – he and Sam more useful either searching for the stones or waiting for this Balthazar guy to get back from the performance and talk to him.

“Well then,” Dean says, moving closer and putting a hand on Castiel’s shoulder, squeezing slightly, “good luck. We’re meeting here again half an hour after it’s done if nothing else happens, all right?”

Cas nods once, and Dean leaves, sparing a moment to glance at the room again. He’s sure that in normal circumstances he’d have needed three of his paychecks to afford a week-end in this kind of resort, but then again the hotel being over the theater is only convenient. Andy is waiting outside and Dean is only glad that he has switched his ridiculous priest attire for a suit, too. They move into the elevator and Dean presses the button for the ground floor.

“What does Sam say?”

“He’s about to go backstage. He says he’ll do it as soon as the recital starts. Oh, also, he says to pay attention – there’s a guy from a radio station that wants to interview you.”

“What? Couldn’t he have told me –”

Dean has no time to finish that sentence; as soon as the elevator doors open, he finds himself surrounded by at least fifteen people taking pictures of him, all with flashes obviously, and the seconds he steps out of said elevator, a guy dressed like a goddamn roadie and whose hair is styled in a mullet – seriously? – steps in front of him with a microphone and starts blathering.

“Aaand, dear listeners, here we have Dean Winchester, winner of the Lucky Charms contest that we have hosted for the last four weeks on Dr. Badass represents!”

Dean has an idea that it’s a pretty popular radio program, but he hasn’t heard it once and the guy conducting it seems insane enough for Dean to wish he could run away as fast as possible.

What happens is that the crowd of photographers literally pushes him in the entrance’s direction while Mullet Guy pushes a microphone in front of his face.

“So, Dean, say hi for our listeners!”

“Er, hi everyone?” he manages, sounding fake even to his own ears.

“Good, that’s a start! We have a shy one, don’t we? But I’m sure you’ll loosen up fast enough – no one keeps their tongue tied when around Ash – pardon, Dr. Badass. And I’m sure that if our audience could see you they would be so envying me right now!”

Dean is almost tempted to take out the gun he has hidden inside the suit jacket, but he forces himself not to and gives the guy a tight smile.

“Nice name,” he says as he tries to walk faster until they can reach their places.

“Why, thanks, but why don’t you tell us something about you? People are dying to know about the lucky winner! What do you do?”

“I drive a taxi and read Shakespeare in my spare time,” Dean retorts, hoping that it sounded as ironic as he was going for; it’s not exactly untrue – Dean has read Shakespeare, thanks, but the last thing he wants to do right now is wax lyrical about his favorite play. Not that he has a –

“Then tell us your favorite play!”

Can’t the guy stop sounding that cheerful?

“I can’t remember the title, but I think it’s the one where the protagonist’s daughter gets her tongue cut,” he says before heading for his seats, which look blissfully close.

Sadly, sitting isn’t enough; he still hears the guy ranting at the microphone. “Apparently Mr. Winchester has a very dark sense of humor, but that’s how it is, I guess. And I wish we could clue you in more, but this absolutely smashing performance is about to start, so stay tuned to hear the first piece, only on Dr. Badass represents!”

Dean must have done horrible things in his past life to deserve this.

“Dean? You know that the guy hosts the most listened program in the solar system?” Andy asks, still sounding remarkably cheerful. At least in his experience, not many people can be that cheerful while telling you that you’re being an ass.

“I wouldn’t give a shit if he was a revived Alan Freed. And going through with this farce wasn’t in the small print.”

“You call it farce,” Andy replies. Then he shrugs and fishes a book out of the inner pocket of his suit jacket – a very small paperback, which also happens to be Plato’s Symposium.

“Does it seem like the right time to catch up on reading?”

“Hey, if the world ends tomorrow, I want to finish it before then.”

Dean sighs and curses every possible deity he can think of when the Dr. Badass guy, pardon, Ash, ends up sitting next to him, with a smirk on his face, and congratulates him on his apparently very witty and dry sense of humor, and wouldn’t he say hi again to their listeners?

He sincerely hopes that Cas is having it better.

--

“So, you want the stones, and the Winchester guy dead. And everyone with him.”

Alistair’s voice really gives Crowley the creeps, but no one can say that the man doesn’t know how to get the job done.

“That exactly. I don’t care about casualties. I only want the bloody stones.” He doesn’t say I want the fifth element dead, too, because it’d be way, way too dangerous to share that information, but he doesn’t need to. Whoever it is, he must probably went with Winchester – probably the guy posing as Winchester’s wife. Or husband. Whatever. Like Crowley has time to lose with this.

“What about the actor?”

“If the stones aren’t in his dressing room, you’re free to kill him after he told you where he put them.”

“Very well,” Alistair says as Crowley hands him a check that will be worthless in one day, if it all goes according to plan.

--

Castiel and Sam part after going through the plan again. Castiel will check Balthazar’s hotel room and Sam the dressing room; if they’re lucky they won’t even need to involve the actor in the entire thing. Sam runs down the stairs and Castiel goes for the other side of the corridor. He knows that Balthazar’s room is there because he has more or less compelled one of the maids who clean the rooms before, and he isn’t too proud of it, but there isn’t time to lose.

He opens it with a pass key that he stole from the girl, and finds himself in a suite twice the size of the one that was given to Dean; he smiles just slightly thinking about Dean’s flustered face as he adjusted his tie. Then he wills himself to concentrate – he can’t afford to lose time. He’s here at all for one reason, which is avoiding the planet’s destruction, and even if it wasn’t supposed to go like this, he will fulfill his orders. He carefully avoids a nagging question –
and then what?

He shouldn’t have a future to contemplate at all, so it’s useless.

He checks under the bed and in the closets, and in all the luggage he can find, but there isn’t a trace of the stones. Maybe Sam had better luck, he muses as he lifts the bed’s mattress. There’s nothing under there either, or in the pillows; maybe they could be under a piece of wood, since there’s a parquet floor? Castiel doubts it but he paces through the whole suite carefully; he’s about to go check the bathroom when a door opens behind him.

He turns, wondering if it’s Sam or if it’s Balthazar (though the latter should have just started his performance), and he feels dread for a second when he sees four demons get inside. They look like hotel employees, but Castiel knows someone possessed when he sees them, and they don’t try to hide from him. Their eyes become black.

“Look at who’s here,” one of them, who’s most definitely possessing one secretary, almost coos, and the sound makes Castiel feel sick.

“It seems like this job will be a piece of cake,” another agrees. He’s possessing a girl that has to be barely eighteen, Castiel is half-sure that she’s the receptionist that greeted them this morning. “Especially when one of the targets delivers himself to us.”

“I suppose he’s searching for what we are,” a third agrees – this one is probably a cook.

“But he won’t tell, from the way he’s looking at us. You think you’re so above us, huh?” The fourth is a security guard, and he’s twice Castiel’s size – he needs to think fast.

They’re obviously here for the stones, so whoever sent them is the person who killed the angels who brought him to Earth in the first place; but if they said that he made their job easier, then they’re also set to kill him, too, and possibly Dean, Sam and Andy as well.

He wishes he was born with a complete set of angelic powers, but what he knows is that he can’t exorcise them at will, and he can’t fly; but there is something he can do.

He runs inside the bathroom and bolts the door, knowing that it won’t last long, but he doesn’t need long.

He remembers how Dean’s sink had looked when he had hidden inside the shower – it was in the nearest cubicle hidden behind that wall. There had been a glass next to it. Castiel has no idea what it was for, but he breathes in relief when he sees that there’s one on the sink in here, too. He turns a knob so that the water doesn’t drain and then raises the tap; when there’s enough water he plunges a hand inside and murmurs under his breath, the shortest prayer he can come up with. Then he takes the glass and fills it in the moment the door breaks down and the demon possessing the young maid walks in, a smirk on her lips and a blade that could probably kill an angel in her hand.

Whoever they are, they came prepared.

“Do you think you can stop us with water? You must be a lot less smart than we figured,” she snorts.

He doesn’t bother replying; he throws the liquid into her face as soon as she’s close enough and she screams as holy water burns her face as if it was acid. The cook, who was on the door’s threshold, takes a step back, but Castiel is faster and he fills the glass again before repeating the action.

It will be some time before those two gain back their wits and stop screaming; Castiel grabs one of the blades they let drop and slashes through the hotel employee’s stomach before trying to run. He has no chance against the security guard, he knows, but before he can reach the door he’s grabbed by the shoulder and kicked in the stomach. He falls to the ground but rolls over when the fourth demon bends in order to pin him down, pulling himself back to his feet. He blocks a punch directed his way, and manages to touch the demon’s face with a hand that was still damp with the holy water. It’s not enough to stop him, but it’d have been enough to reach the door, if three other demons hadn’t suddenly appeared inside the room.

One of them is taller, and Castiel doesn’t like a single thing about the way he smiles. There’s also something strange about him.

“Seems like you’re more than a simple hindrance,” he hisses, his voice slimy. “Too bad for you that it’s for nothing. Your friends are probably dead by now – you should hear them scream.”

Castiel suddenly realizes that there’s a faint sound coming from the opened window; he hadn’t heard it before, too concerned by his own problems.

It sounds like gun shots.

“We haven’t found those pesky stones yet, and obviously neither have you, but I think I’ll have a little fun with you while my soldiers here finish the job.”

There’s a knife in his hand, and when the bodyguard grabs his shoulder and pushes him down on the bed, Castiel has no way out.

But then, when the demon comes closer, Castiel realizes what’s strange about him.

He’s no demon.

He’s
human.

“What – why, you aren’t even – why would you do this?” Castiel manages, not getting it. He’s supposed to save the world that humans inhabit, and humans aren’t demons. They’re God’s favorite creatures – surely they wouldn’t stoop to such a low level, would they?

“I merely think that I’m more suited to demons’ company. Oh, and it’s so rude of me, not to have introduced myself. My name is Alistair. And I’ll make sure you know what exactly I like to do,” he says, and when he punches him right across his mouth twice, Castiel screams. He feels blood running along his tongue, and then he’s thrown across the ground and kicked in the stomach again.

He doesn’t realize that no one is shooting downstairs anymore, but then again he can barely hear anything that isn’t his own voice or Alistair saying that it’s just a short while before he puts the knife to use.

The last thing he thinks is that he hopes that Dean gets away from this alive – it wouldn’t be fair if he died because Castiel asked for help.


--

Dean tries not to be disturbed by the way Andy’s eyes start widening as soon as the lights go out. They can only see the stage from here, and Dean has to admit that they got great seats – they’re in the middle of the stalls, not too far from the stage but not too near either.

In the silence that follows the darkness, he hears the sound of feet walking behind the stage before someone steps out into the lights and walks towards the center. The man has bare feet, and he’s quite well-built; it’s pretty obvious by what his half-opened shirt shows. He’s wearing dark silk trousers matching the shirt, and has bare feet. When he raises his head (short, dark blond hair), Dean sees that he has a pair of striking blue eyes (though they’re not as striking as Castiel’s – and where did that come from?), and his lips curl in a small smile.

And then he starts talking, pardon, acting, and Dean gets what’s the deal. It’s all in the voice – he has an accent that sounds queer but also quite fascinating, and the way he changes tone completely sells the whole thing. It takes maybe three lines for Dean to find himself actually interested.

“I have almost forgot the taste of fears: the time has been, my senses would have cool'd to hear a night-shriek; and my fell of hair would at a dismal treatise rouse and stir as life were in't: I have supp'd full with horrors; direness, familiar to my slaught'rous thoughts, cannot once start me.”

He barely moves while speaking, but Dean has to be impressed from how he went from smiling at the audience to the almost contrite expression he’s sporting right now. Balthazar’s hands are also shaking at his sides, and when he pauses, you can almost hear him breathing. For a second Dean wishes that Castiel was here instead of Andy – not because Andy doesn’t look like a lovestruck girl, because he does, but he has an idea that Castiel might have found it fascinating in the way he found fascinating Dean’s shower or eating cheeseburgers.

“She should have died hereafter; there would have been a time for such a word. Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, creeps in this petty pace from day to day, to the last syllable of recorded time; and all our yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death.”

Dean almost jumps out of his seat when Balthazar’s face goes from contrite to more or less insane; he looks as if he has just seen a ghost or ten. “Out, out, brief candle! Life's but a walking shadow; a poor player, that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more: it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.“

The applause starts as soon as he’s said the last word, and Dean is about to join in, but that’s when his instincts kick in. Suddenly he feels the same way he used to feel in the last moments before a raid; or better, when someone else was about to throw grenades at his unit and not the contrary.

And then a bullet flies above his head and kills the guy sitting behind him.

“Shit, down!” he screams before pushing both Andy and that idiotic Ash guy downwards so that they’re kneeling on the ground. He barely manages to see Balthazar duck a shot when chaos erupts. The lights turn on again and when he looks up he realizes that there are some twenty or thirty people in the balcony, using a goddamn machine gun to shoot down at them and that there are others in the boxes doing the same. He grabs his own gun (meager, in comparison) and aims at couple of shooters that were in the stage boxes, and feels slightly better when he catches them and they fall down screaming. He had put all his bullets in holy water figuring that they might have to deal with demons, but just one gun won’t do anything against that many. He has an idea that might get rid of them all, but it’s a long shot. Still, it’s worth trying.

“You, badass!” he shouts towards Ash, who looks as if he’d like to curl out under the seat. “You got a lighter?”

“Uh, yes, but –”

“Hand it over,” Dean says, and Ash does without questioning.

“Andy?” he asks, turning to his left. Andy looks less scared out of his mind, but with bullets flying above their heads Dean figures that anyone who hasn’t been to war is bound to lose their shit. “Take the gun, go on the stage and keep the Balthazar guy safe – it has another five shots. Crawl on the ground and stay close to the seats – it’s still dark enough. The ones up there won’t see us. You, go with him.”

“What the hell –”

“The stalls are gonna be hot in a while and you don’t wanna be next to me when that happens – go.”

He doesn’t waste time checking what they do after – he tries to locate the nearest demon. There’s one on the nearest stage box, who’s aiming at the stage with a shotgun. The curtain had been drawn at some point during Balthazar’s piece, so the guy is obviously hiding behind it; Dean hopes that the random aiming the demon is doing is missing the target.

He takes off his jacket and tie, then he crawls quickly towards that stage box, staying in the shadows and grabbing the knife that he put inside his shoe to be extra sure.

“Hey there!” he shouts when he’s right under the box, and as the demon looks down, Dean throws the knife forward. He catches the demon’s forehead and sees it stumbling behind – good. He climbs into the box, grabs the demon’s discarded shotgun and shoots at all the ten other demons within his reach that he can see. At least, like that, people in the stage boxes will have time to run. He needs to get to the ones in the balcony, though, and he can’t unless he distracts them for a second. He gets rid of the shotgun and kneels down, then takes Ash’s lighter, turns it on and brings the flame to the velvet drapes surrounding the stage box. It takes a couple of tries and almost emptying the lighter, but when the drape catches fire for good, the entire left side of the theater is on fire and the bullets don’t fly anymore; good. Everyone who wasn’t in the stalls and who isn’t dead is gone by now; Dean waits for a second and grins as water starts to drop from the ceiling and an alarm beeps.

He puts a hand out and recites the shortest blessing prayer he knows and hopes that it works.

After ten seconds, he hears screaming from the balcony, and bodies start to fall down. Yes, he thinks, it worked.

Shit, he’s very glad that the reason Bobby had sorted him out in the beginning was that he’s good at creative thinking. He jumps out of the box and runs towards the stage, where Ash is waving from behind the curtain. He climbs up and walks behind it; Balthazar is sitting against a plastic wall clutching his arm, where a bullet hit him, and Andy is pressing a piece from his ripped shirt over the wound.

“Man, that was so badass,” Ash says, sounding halfway amazed and halfway out of his mind, but Dean pays him no mind and kneels next to Balthazar.

“Do you know who we are?”

“Yes,” Balthazar answers. “Your friend here had the grace to inform me. And I’m quite happy that you were there, I won’t lie about that. So, angels sent you, huh? I was sure someone was coming at some point.”

“Yeah, right. So, the stones?”

“Sure, the bloody stones. Behind you, look at the ground. There’s a piece of wood darker than the rest. Lift it up.”

Dean does and right, there’s some kind of bundle hidden beneath it; he lifts the cloth to reveal four triangular stones. Each is of a different color of marble; one is green, one is pink, one is a pale yellow and the other pale blue, and there are some kind of lines carved on them, but Dean has no time to waste looking at the particulars.

“All right, that’s good. Andy, how much time we have?”

“About… twelve hours?”

“Well, damn it.”

“Twelve hours before what?” Ash asks.

“Before you can put an end to your deejay business, if we don’t manage to stop the end of the world first,” Dean mutters before looking down at Balthazar. “Okay, you think you can stand? I think you’re better off coming with us.”

“Of course I can,” Balthazar replies, and to his credit he isn’t lying. He sort of leans on Andy while walking, but for the rest he seems okay enough.

“Fine. Badass, guess you’re in the group too. Balthazar, can you tell me how to get out from the backstage? I’ve got a couple people to retrieve before we leave. And how should we leave, that’d be a fucking good question.”

Balthazar gives him directions to his dressing room, right behind the stage, where at least they can grab a first aid kit before leaving; Dean lets out a breath of relief when he sees Sam running out of it.

“And who’s this?” Balthazar asks.

“My brother. I guess he went for your dressing room. Sorry, but we couldn’t wait for you to end your show there, or at least we weren’t sure we could. And we thought we could do it without involving you at all. Here,” he says handing Sam the bundle, “these are your precious stones. Now, where the hell is Cas?”

“He was supposed to meet me here by now,” Sam replies, sounding worried, and Dean doesn’t like this at all.

“Shit. He was supposed to get the hotel room?”

“Yeah. But – I stopped searching for the stones when a couple of demons got into the dressing room. I exorcised them but -”

“Damn – okay, Sam, stay here with Balthazar and Andy. Badass, you come with me.”

“What –”

Dean tosses him his knife – he’ll grab a gun from the ground. He’s pretty sure that it won’t be a problem to find one, and if it’s one of those rifles with more than one hundred shots, even better. Meanwhile Sam nods at him as he puts the stones inside some inner pouch in his freaky robe.

“Either me or Sam has to stay here, and I’m not going anywhere without back-up. Come on, with me.”

Ash follows him, muttering that at least Dean knows what to do.

--

“So, did you find the bloody stones already?”

Castiel hears the question coming from behind the door only because Alistair’s knife falls to the ground as soon as it’s spoken. Thankfully he hadn’t had time to use it yet – he only gained a more or less deep cut on his hip, but not more than that. He hears Alistair mouthing something about having forgotten and never putting pleasure before work, and that’s enough. Castiel’s entire body hurts everywhere and he’s sure that he’s bleeding from at least his mouth and nose, but the treatment wasn’t near enough to put him out of commission. He’s still stronger than an average human, after all. He opens his eyes, looks at the ceiling and sees what looks like an air conduct – the entrance is just above him. If he jumps –

He only has a second and decides not to over think it; he bends his legs towards his chest, rolls back on himself, punches a demon that was coming from his left and jumps, hoping that it’s high enough because he doesn’t have a second chance.

His hands reach the opening and he’s quick to haul himself up and crawl across the length, trying not to focus about the blood trail he’s leaving behind him because of the cut in his hip or about how Alistair is screaming that he’s going to get him and he’ll be sorry he ever tried to do it.

Except that then someone else gets inside the room.


--

“What the fuck are you doing? I’m not paying you to have your fun!”

“The stones aren’t here,” Alistair answers, and Crowley wishes he could smite the idiot with a thought. Sadly demons can’t do that kind of thing, but it sounds quite like a plan right now.

“Obviously he kept them in the dressing room. We should go downstairs – I’m sure the job has been done. But –” Alistair stops as he notices the shotgun Crowley is carrying with him (it’s not as if he’d come without a weapon – he isn’t looking to die before the given time). Alistair bends down and whispers into his ear. “One of Winchester’s friends managed to get inside that air conduct up there. If I were you, I’d use that gun.”

He leaves the room with the other demons, and Crowley figures that at least he’s right about that.

“Well then,” he says, “nothing personal. But, business is business. At least you’ll die quick, and never say that I’m not merciful.”

And then he empties the shotgun’s chamber into the outline of the air conduct until he’s sure that he covered all of it.

Then he decides that it’s better to be safe than sorry, especially considering that Alistair isn’t earning the amount of money on the check Crowley wrote him. He takes out a small control pad from his pocket and sets it to twenty minutes. It’s enough time to run, and if they don’t find the stones… fine, they’re going to blow up along with the fifth element and anyone unfortunate enough to still be in the theater when his little timer arrives at zero.

--

Castiel keeps perfectly still as he huddles against the other end of the conduct, having crawled through the entire thing while whoever was in the room kept on shooting as he moved. There’s a hole mere inches from him and the last thing he needs is someone seeing him. He has a couple of scratches on his arms and one on his leg, but he was fast enough and as he hears the shooter walk out, he breathes in relief. He doesn’t dare move though – other than risking being seen… that was a close call, and for some reason he can’t unclench his hands from where they’re curled around his knees. He’s hurting everywhere and he has never felt this useless in his entire short existence. If he dies, the world is over; but if he saves it, what does he save? People like Alistair? Or people like the ones who looked at him as if he was some kind of savage animal to keep locked after he woke up in that glass cage and took pictures seconds after he woke up?

For a second, he wishes he was back on that spaceship with Dean, in that ridiculous pink room, because for some reason it’s the closest to happiness he has come to. It had been so very quiet, and Dean’s body had been warm and pliant against his, and it had been… peaceful. He hasn’t existed for three days and there has never been a moment that was peaceful except for that one. He could settle for Dean being here though – for some reason that he can’t point out, he trusted Dean from the second they looked at each other for the first time.

But Dean isn’t here. No one is here, like no one was there when he first opened his eyes, and he can’t help wondering whether he’s crying or if his eyes are stinging for some other reason.


--

The way until the room is clear – at least Dean can be happy because he doesn’t have to shoot at anyone else. When he gets inside, though, his mood drastically changes – there’s blood everywhere and the furniture is destroyed. He doesn’t like the huge blood stain on the bed sheets either.

“Cas?” he calls, quietly, not sure that screaming is a good idea. No one answers. He calls louder, and still nothing. “Cas, where are – oh fuck,” he screams as he sees an arm covered in blood dangling down from a hole in the air conduct. He grabs a chair and drags it under the hole, taking Cas’s arm while trying not to move him too harshly; he manages to get Cas out of the hole, but shit, he looks horrible. Someone apparently decided to open up his hip with a knife, he has bruises all over as if he was used as some sort of punching bag. His nose is bleeding, his bottom lip split; there’s blood on his goddamn teeth, too. Dean leans down over him after laying Cas on the bed again.

“Hey,” he whispers when Cas’s head moves, his eyes barely opening. “Don’t – don’t talk or do anything. Take it easy. We got the stones, we’re all set.”

“Dean? You came?” Cas asks, his voice barely a rasp, and Dean tries not to choke when he notices the dried tear tracks on Cas’s cheeks.

“Yeah. Yeah, it’s me. You’re fine – okay, not right now, but, you’ll be.” He raises a hand, carding through Cas’s hair for a moment as he realizes that Cas is tensing, and he barely hears Ash running towards him.

“Hey, Winchester, not to ruin your, uh, very chick flick moment, but did you notice that counter on the door?”

Ash does seem a lot less weird when he drops the creepy deejay act, Dean decides. He passes a hand under Cas’s legs and one under his head, figuring that there’s no quicker way to get out – also, he already knows that Cas isn’t as heavy as he looks. Then he follows Ash to the door, noticing that the timer has reached five minutes.

“No, no, damn it. This is –”

“Hey, don’t even say that! It can’t be a bomb! In this kind of hotel, there’s an alarm starting in that case!”

Dean nods, relieved; Ash is right, if it was a bomb they would already –

He freezes when he hears a siren’s sound and then a pleasant voice informing them that there’s an A level alarm and that the hotel must be evacuated within five minutes.

Oh, shit.

--

Dean runs downstairs, grateful that Cas is conscious enough to cling at his neck; at least he doesn’t have to worry about dropping him.

The hotel is strangely empty, and it should be worrying, but when they get backstage again, his brother is still in one piece and Andy and Balthazar are, too, so he won’t complain about that.

“All right people, we gotta –”

“So, you said the stones are supposed to be here? Alistair, you’d better be right, because if not I’m leaving your stupid arse here to burn with them, all right?”

The voice is coming from the other side of the curtain, probably, and while Dean is sure that whoever it is talking is the reason they’re going through all of this, he won’t jeopardize the entire thing only because he’d like to blow the guy’s head off.

“Sam,” he whispers, “we have no time for whoever is on the other side. Now we run outside this hotel, get to the spaceport, find us a ship and hurry the hell back to Earth. Check that everyone’s following because I’m not looking back while I get out. Got it?”

“Got it.”

Dean can’t help feeling grateful that Balthazar recovered enough to get out on his own – dragging someone else would have been a problem; he lets him lead so that they get out from the back exit, and well.

Dean hadn’t expected to find himself in front of a spaceship huge enough to carry a small army, and it’s probably the one where the demons had come from, but he never looks a gift horse in the mouth. Especially when the door is open. Did they think it’d be such a quick job? Then again, if you leave your ship hovering mid-air behind a theater, you probably do.

He runs up the stairs leading to the entrance door; the first thing he sees as he gets in is some kind of waiting room with sofas enclosed in the wall.

He lays Cas on one of them, then turns towards the other four.

“Anyone here knows how to pilot a ship?”

The lack of answer tells him everything he needs to know.

“So, uh, how should we get out of here? It has to be one minute before that bomb explodes, man,” Andy says, and at least now he sounds slightly scared.

“Fine,” Dean says, “I guess it can’t be that different from a car. Someone keep an eye on Cas here, I’ll try to get us out.”

Sam’s face sort of morphs into pure horror as soon as Dean makes the comparison, and it’s because he knows that Dean hates flying, but at least he has the sense not to object. Someone has to pilot the damn thing. After all, if driving his car was an exception to his heights dislike because he was driving it… it’ll work with the spaceship as well, right?

--

Crowley realizes that Alistair has no idea of what he’s doing when after another four minutes no one knows where the damn stones are; he had realized it when he had seen most of Alistair’s extremely well-trained soldiers burned out in acid, but that was the last straw.

Bugger them, he decides; he needs t get to his ship and then they can blow up with the stones. He’ll wait for the end of the world sipping the best brandy he has aboard the ship; it doesn’t sound like a bad way to go.

Except that when he runs out of the back entrance, it’s just in time to see his ship flying away.

He doesn’t even have time to think oh, no, before the building behind him explodes and his expensive suit is eaten by flames.


part III and ending over here
 
 
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