“This is dull,” Illyria stated with a hint of annoyance. “There is only one Cusith and it is not being very obliging.” She glared at the empty field surrounding its den, the soft hooting of the owls mocking her ire.
“Patience, Illyria,” John reminded her. “It’ll come back eventually.” He jerked his chin at the ground beside him. “Sit.” Illyria complied, but not without a clear threat to his manhood for treating her like some kind of pet, which John wisely ignored.
A rustling shimmer along the tree-line drew their attention, and from the dark pine-scented mist a dog as large as a bull came running along the field’s edge, flickering in and out amongst the trees as its pale orange eyes gleamed with an undisguised ferocity. John stood, carefully aiming his rifle and pumping a chestful of iron into the beast. The Cusith howled in rage, digging its claws into the mud to slow its progress, skidding to a stop facing them from several yards away, blood leaking thickly through its forest-colored fur. It stalked forward slowly, a low growl rumbling from its throat like rattling branches, hunching its shoulders forward preparing to leap.
John raised the gun to shoot, cursing angrily under his breath when nothing happened. “Fuck this piece of shit!” he grumbled. “Damn thing’s jammed again!”
Illyria leapt in front of him with her machete raised threateningly as he fumbled with the weapon, covering him while he was defenseless. Gunshots came from the forest’s edge several yards away, dragging Illyria’s attention from the threat of the Cusith slavering its way closer to them. Illyria cast an eye over the tree-line, looking for their unexpected visitors as she shifted, leaving a frail looking Fred distracted by the sudden intervention from the woods.
Sam and Dean blinked as the pale woman flitted in the shadows, emerging as the warm-toned Fred they had met in their father’s room. With matching what-the-fuck
expressions, they kept shooting, barely slowing the beast down as it reared back, slashing its claws at the sidetracked Fred. She crumpled silently, blood flowing freely down her thin arm as John cried out in helpless rage. He readjusted his hold on the gun to use it as a club, swinging it heavily at the Cusith’s head as it ducked down to tear into Fred, slamming its skull with a sharp crack, its whining howl whistling eerily in the dark.
Pausing in their run, Dean took careful aim and shot the stunned Cusith in the eye, its heavy weight forcing it to slump to the side, twitching spastically as its brains and blood soaked into the dry forest floor. With hardly a second thought, Dean took aim again, panting in his brother’s direction, “She can be hurt like this, Sam. Take her out,” before putting a round in Fred’s shoulder as she lurched out of his firing line.
John paled, instinctively raising his gun and aiming at his son. “Dean, no! You don’t understand!”
“I understand enough,” Dean demurred, his aim shifting to the armed threat of his father looming up before him.
With a muffled cry, John stumbled forward, his gun coming up to swat the weapon out of Dean’s hands. Fred attempted to stagger up in front of him with a soft, “It won’t hurt, John!” when a clear shot rang across the quiet forest clearing, a spray of blood blooming from the side of Fred’s skull, her body toppling to the grass. Falling to his knees beside Fred, John’s eyes flicked to Sam, still holding the smoking gun in the pale light of the half moon, his hazel eyes slack in horror.
John leaned forward to scoop up the fallen woman, a wash of fury and disbelief adding a heated glimmer to his eyes as he growled, “What made you think…,” his head snapping back sharply at the force of Dean’s gunshot, a trickle of blood trailing from the hole in John’s forehead and falling down his cheek in a poignant mockery of tears. As their father’s body slumped in the dirt, his blood mingling with Fred’s, Sam let out a ragged breath and turned to face his brother. “It’s done, Dean. It’s over. Are you OK?”
“Yeah,” Dean agreed, his empty eyes still on the splayed bodies before him. He searched his pockets in frustration, “Got any lighter fluid? I’m out.”
Fred’s body twitched on the ground, arching off the dirt as a blue hue seeped through her skin, her flowery skirt and green sweater blending seamlessly into the blood spattering her body when a deep red armor thickened over her slight figure.
“What the fuck, Sam?” Dean asked breathlessly, shooting several more times at the transforming woman, the bullets ricocheting wildly off her still spasming form.
Illyria sat upright, her blue-blown hair swinging around her face as she stared boldly at them through the blood and brain matter crusting her skin. She lithely rolled to her feet, still crouched in readiness for attack. Illyria’s gaze flicked to John’s corpse lying nearby and she crawled towards it, her movement liquid in the darkness. With her eyes still trained on Sam and Dean, she bared her teeth in a snarl. “Foolish little boys, playing at a game they do not comprehend.” She spat out her words, eyes glowing threateningly at them both. “To think he wasted his mortal soul to save you
Dean covertly reached for the back-up gun still tucked in the small of his back, Illyria’s bold gaze snapping to his, and he hesitated, realizing it would do no good. Noting his sudden understanding, Illyria nodded curtly before ordering, “Sit,” as she sank to the ground by John’s body, tugging his head into her lap.
Sam glanced over at Dean and shrugged, folding up his long limbs to sit cross-legged across from her, well beyond arm’s reach. Dean gave his brother his patented what the fuck do you think you’re doing?
glare, before joining Sam inelegantly on the ground, bracing his back against the trunk of a pine tree, the rough bark scratching him through the fabric of his shirt.
“So…what’s the plan? We gonna hold hands and sing Kumbaya
?” Dean asked smartly, tugging at a hole in the knee of his jeans, his other hand still clutching the empty gun reflexively. “Any of your demon buddies gonna join us?” Dean cast a sideways glance at Sam, who was muttering barely discernible phrases under his breath, his eyes gazing steadily at Illyria through the shield of his bangs.
Illyria ignored Dean, having been trained in the art of subtle sarcasm by John Winchester. “We will sit and wait for your father,” she informed them, dragging her finger through the blood on John’s skin and drawing patterns over his cold flesh. She cocked her head in Sam’s direction and said, “You are incorrect. Long ‘a’ on the second syllable, and the ‘th’ is pronounced /zch/. The banishment ritual you are attempting is a derivative of the Zasruim dialect of the Third Realm. Spittle plays an important part in their ceremonial rites.”
Sam coughed politely, flushing with guilt, and muttered hoarsely in response to her previous statement, “Our father is dead.” He blinked. “Um…again.”
Illyria turned the weight of her gaze onto John’s youngest, stating directly, “I am your current living parental figure and I say we wait. Human rules say you listen.”
“We’re not big on rules,” Dean began, sliding to his feet. “And we are so
not gonna go there.”
She titled her face up to his, the light of the waning moon making it shine eerily in the dimness. Her expression a mask of some indefinable emotion that neither Sam nor Dean could even begin to read, Illyria said flatly, “When you humans were still the glittering ooze that collected only in the darkest recesses of the earth, you would squelch between my toes with a satisfying sound. It used to give me pleasure.”
“Yeah,” Dean replied. “Nice to meet you, too.”
,” she directed more firmly. Dean’s legs folded almost subconsciously beneath him, something in him recognizing that tone from the days when his father ruled his world. He wondered where she had learned it – not from his father, certainly?
Dean laughed to hide his discomfort, arms crossing over his knees. “Mom, I hate to break it to ya, but you can be kind of a bitch.” Sam snorted, his eyes widening at Dean’s bravado as he let his long legs stretch out into the open expanse between them.
Something like a smile shifted Illyria’s features, and she nodded softly. “Your father often says the same thing.”
“Are you really married to him?” Sam questioned quietly. “Cause that’s gotta be a sign of the Apocalypse right there.”
Illyria continued her small movements over John’s stiff skin, commenting, “We are bound.” She blinked down at the bronze sink fitting still on her finger. “He put his mark upon my hand.” Illyria glanced up at them, her eyes dark in the shadows of her face. “It leaves a lovely spot when I drive my fist into the faces of my adversaries.”
Sam leaned over and whispered into Dean’s ear, “Do you think they had sex?”
“Dude! Gross!” Dean complained, leaning away from his brother. “That’s our dad
Sam snickered silently at his brother’s horror, suddenly noticing what Illyria had been painting over John’s skin. “Did you just write ‘LOSER’ across our dad’s forehead? In his own blood?”
Illyria nodded, shifting John’s weight so that he settled more comfortably in her lap. “I warned him if he went down in battle, there would be repercussions.” She glanced up at them both, her eyes hooded. “Do not tell him.”
“Fuck, lady!” Dean shouted, suddenly angry. “He’s dead
“Only momentarily,” Illyria replied, refusing to be unsettled by her Guide’s offspring. Sam settled a hand on his brother’s thigh, soothing him with murmured reassurances.
“Not to get all Wizard of Oz
on your ass, but are you a good demon or a bad demon?” Dean asked, looking out of sorts as he tried to process this turn of events, shifting his body away from Sam’s restraining grip.
Illyria blinked at them, her blue eyes appearing oddly warm in the cool night around them. “Considering you still live, I am a very bad demon indeed.”
An abrupt laugh escaped Sam, who tucked his head to his knees and kept chuckling, appreciating the joke as Dean sat open-mouthed, trying to decipher her meaning. Sam elbowed him, gasping, “Let’s wait for Dad.”
“Fuck, Sam,” his brother grumbled. “Not you, too.”
John groaned, his head throbbing painfully as he snuggled against the familiar hard planes of Illyria’s lap. “Aspirin?” he moaned plaintively, hoping for an accompanying glass of cold water and a cool cloth on his forehead, which he sometimes got when waking from the dead if he sounded convincingly needy.
He heard a muffled shuffling from a distance away and felt a small packet hit him on the forehead. He opened one eye, squinting into the rising sun as a familiar masculine voice asked, “Advil ok, Dad?”
John’s eyes crossed as he saw the travel size packet of Advil on his chest, raising them to look at his two grinning sons sitting only a few feet away, Dean waving off-handedly in his direction. “You look a lot better than you did the last time we saw you,” Dean added.
John blinked in disbelief. “You shot
Dean shrugged, looking contrite. “Yeah…but look at my aim! It was a clean shot, Dad!”
John groaned, rubbing at his forehead. “That it was.” He cast a cautious eye on Sam when he heard him snickering, adding with the arch of an eyebrow, “Glad to see you, too, Sam.”
Sam collected himself, his lips still twitching as he tried not to laugh, his eyes flitting away from his father’s forehead. “Yes, sir.” He ducked his head, his shoulders softly shaking with mirth.
Groaning once more, John let his head loll back on Illyria’s lap, gazing upside down into her bold blue eyes. “What did you do to my sons?” he asked reproachfully.
“They have promised me pancakes and tacos should I side with them in any disagreements you may have,” Illyria informed him. “They also said they would let me drive their pretty black car.”
John rolled his head over to face Dean, mouthing Big mistake
. Dean looked momentarily frightened for his baby, eyes flitting up to Illyria who met his gaze levelly, her lips forming a nearly amused expression. “Your sons also wish me to wrestle a woman named Ellen.” She stared down at John, adding, “They said we would make much money if it included mud or Jell-O.”
At his father’s subdued glare, Sam lumbered to his feet, putting out a hand to help his father rise with an embarrassed grin. Dean laughed jovially behind them, brushing leaves and dirt from the back of his jeans. “Let me guess,” John grumbled playfully. “That was your
brilliant idea, Dean.” Illyria rose gracefully with them, her hand brushing the base of John’s back with a calming assuredness.
“Hey!” Dean protested uselessly. “Remember, I can always get Illyria to kick your ass for pickin’ on me!”
Illyria arched a questioning eyebrow at Dean, making Sam snort a muffled laugh. Sam elbowed his brother sharply in the ribs, commenting, “At least now we know how to shut Dad up – we shoot him.”
John grinned at Illyria, his eyes crinkling with mirth, “Dissension in the ranks already! Thanks ever so, Illyria.” He turned a serious face to his boys. “There will be no more shooting of your father…or I will have to ‘sic Illyria on you
“I will be siccing no one until I am fed. They are taking us to breakfast,” Illyria informed him, her placid face unmoving. “I am not sharing my pancakes.”
John laughed softly, brushing his shoulder against hers. “I wouldn’t expect anything less,” he replied, smiling down at her.
Dad?” Sam’s voice came teasingly from behind him. “Illyria promised me a pony.”
Dean glanced over at his father, at ease for the first time in months, a smile brightening his face. He turned his gaze up to his father, his doe-like eyes shining with mock hope. “Does this mean I might get the little sister I always wanted?”
John growled good-naturedly, swatting at his son as Dean leapt away from him, colliding with his brother as he and Sam laughed like children, running ahead of their father as they kicked at the piles of leaves clustered on the ground before them. Illyria blinked at him, turning to rest her steady gaze on Sam and Dean. “It did not turn out nearly as badly as you predicted,” she stated, tilting her head towards John.
John nodded, his eyes heavy with hope. “Getting shot in the head by my own son was one of my better
scenarios,” he agreed, his hand brushing against her spine to confirm she was safe. “We’ve been fucked-up for a long time,” he said, with a casual nod towards his sons. John smiled at her, warm hazel eyes meeting cold blue ones as he continued, “But, sometimes, fucked-up is the only way you can go on.”Author's Note: This story was beta'd by lyonie17 and hakirby, to whom I give my undying thanks. Lyonie17 gets all the credit for the final lines. It was her comment about the fucked up lives of the Winchesters that summed up this story so well. The Winchesters belong to Kripke and Illyria belongs to Whedon.