I was able to finish this thanks to the extra Jubilee bank holiday, so this chapter is in honour of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. Congrats on the Jubilee, Ma‘am! Hell’s Angels
Bela silently picked the lock on the door of room 217. She worked quickly, not allowing herself time to feel guilty or have second thoughts. It was her, or Sam and Dean, and self-preservation had always come top of her list of priorities. Besides, she didn’t have the time to waste thinking about her actions.
Pulling out her gun, she quietly entered the room, her eyes quickly adjusting to the dark and making out two bodies asleep on the beds. Without a second thought, she shot twice quickly in succession, then paused, making sure neither of the Winchesters made a move. They didn’t.
A quick glance of the clock showed it to be 11.56pm; talk about cutting it fine.
Sam and Dean still hadn’t moved or uttered a sound. Doubt began to form and she turned on the bedside light. Surely not….
She ripped the covers back. Then checked the other bed to be sure. Fuck. Sex dolls. Sam and Dean were still alive, which meant she had less than four minutes left, nowhere near enough time to track them down…
As Bela sunk down to sit on one of the beds, the phone on the nightstand began to ring. The luminescent numbers on the clock flipped to 11.57pm. Three minutes. She picked up the phone, knowing who it would be, and hating that he would be the one to hear her last words.
“Hello Dean.” “Hi Bela.”
His voice crackled to life, cold and firm. “Here's a fun fact you may not know. I felt your hand in my pocket when you swiped that motel receipt.”
“You don't understand-” “Oh I'm pretty sure I do.”
He interrupted. “I noticed something interesting in your hotel room, tucked above the door. An herb - Devil's shoestring, right? There's only one use for that; holding Hell Hounds at bay. Your made a deal, and now it‘s due. Is that why you stole the Colt? To try and wiggle out of your deal; our gun, for your soul?”
“Yes.” She whispered; no point in denying it now. “But stealing the Colt wasn't quite enough, I'm guessing.”
“They didn‘t care about the gun. They wanted me to kill you and Sam.” She admitted; it’s not like Dean was close enough to do anything about it.
If Dean was surprised, he didn‘t show it. Likely, he was just so used to people wanting to kill him that it didn‘t really register any more. “Really! Wow, Demons untrustworthy. That’s a shocker. It’s a tight deadline too, what time is it? Well, look at that, almost midnight.”
11.58pm. Bella felt unwanted tears rise and couldn‘t be bothered to stop them. “Dean listen, I need help.” “Sweetheart, we are weeks past help.”
“I know I don't deserve it-” “You’re right. You don't deserve it. But do you know what the bitch of the bunch is? If you had just come to us sooner and asked for help, we probably could have saved you.”
“I know and saved yourself too. I know about your deal Dean.” “And who told you that?”
How the hell did everyone know about his dammed deal? Did someone take out an ad in the New York Times or something?
“The Demon that holds it, she holds mine too. She said she holds every deal. Her name's Lilith.” “I know.”
Dean said, hoping that Bela’s last words might be something useful, or at least reassuring. “That’s not getting us very far, though.”
“You‘re wrong.” Bela shook her head, even though Dean couldn‘t see her. “You’re close to something, Dean. Something they don’t want you to know.”
You could practically hear Dean’s frown on the other end of the phone line; it certainly didn’t feel like they were getting somewhere. “Why should I believe you?”
“You shouldn't but it's the truth.” She answered honestly. “Why else would they offer to let me out of my deal if, in return, I speed up yours? They‘re scared of what you might find out. And they want Sam dead too.”
Dean was quiet, considering, for a long moment. “This can't help you Bela, not now. Why you telling me this.”
“Because the same demon that holds your deal holds mine too.” Bela couldn‘t help the vehemence come across in her voice. She looked at the clock again, never more aware of each passing second as she was at this moment. 11.59pm; her last minute. “She said she holds every deal. It’s too late for me, but just maybe, you can kill the bitch.” “Believe me, we’ll try.”
“Don’t try, just do it.” She ordered, then softened immediately. What was the point? “Keep pushing, Dean. They only offered me the chance to get out of my deal a week ago, and God knows I tried everything to make another deal before then. Whatever you’ve stumbled upon, it’s scared them.”
There was a pause as Dean took in what she was telling him; maybe Sammy was right, maybe they were onto something. But even so… “I only have three weeks.”
“I only have about thirty seconds.” She countered, voice hitching as she said the words out loud.
Dean was silent again. Then she heard him sigh. “I'll see you in hell, Bela.”
Bela sat there for a moment, listening to the dial tone. It wasn’t a heartfelt goodbye, but it was as much as she deserved, and more than she had hoped for. At least Dean knew he was on the right track, and maybe he actually stood a chance against Lilith. If only she had believed that six months ago, maybe she wouldn’t be about to die in some craphole motel.
She carefully replaced the handset, smoothing out an imaginary crease on the bedspread. She flinched as she heard a howl in the distance. They were close. She took a deep breath, stealing herself for what was to come.
12.00; midnight. Time was up.
Spike knew something was wrong when Xander came into the kitchen, grabbed two packets of biscuits, a handful of energy bars and some bagels, and scurried out with only a grunt ‘hello’. He stirred his bloody Weetabix thoughtfully.
It had been two days since their pointless trip to Wolfram and Hart, and he and Angel had been away most of the previous day catching up with Connor. Spike had been more than happy to spend the day away from The Council; the ever-present Winchesters alternated glaring at him like he was about to rip out their throats, and staring like he was some kind of specimen, and he had had enough of that at The Initiative, thank you very much.
So, he had been out of the loop for the last twenty-four hours. Judging by the early morning research session, obviously they had gotten somewhere since the seemingly-useless trip to Wolfram and Hart. He rinsed his cereal bowl out in the sink (the humans got antsy if he left blood-covered crockery on the sideboard) and headed for the library…where else would they be?
Spike was right and he found the gang sitting around the big table in the library, eating the breakfast Xander had brought them. They didn’t look up as he came in, engrossed in whatever it was they were researching. Spike made a beeline for Xander (if even the whelp was participating, it must be serious) and leant over his shoulder. “What are you looking for?”
“Oi, blood breath, do you mind?” Xander said irritably, ineffectively batting Spike away. “I’m trying to read here.”
“Really? Didn’t know you could read.” Spike returned, an obvious shot, but who was he to pass it up?
“We’re looking for a summoning spell, or a way to contact the Powers That Be.” Giles said, hoping to stop another argument between Xander and Spike. “We haven’t had any luck so far though; there don’t seem to be any mentions of the Powers That Be at all, let along summoning spells.”
“Well, it would help if you looked for them under their proper name.” Spike pointed out logically.
They all stared at him. “What?”
“The Powers That Be?” Spike clarified, surprised they were all looking at him like he had grown an extra head.
“That’s not their real name?” Xander asked; it was all he had ever known them as.
“Course not. You lot are the only ones I’ve ever heard call ‘em that.” Spike said scornfully, but as he looked around the others, they looked just as surprised as the whelp. “You really don‘t know?”
“It never really occurred to me.” Giles mused. “We have always known them as The Powers That Be, and referred to them as such. Everyone has always understood who we mean, so we never considered that they might go by another name.”
“You really don’t know? Think about it; they’ve been around since the beginning of time…watching over, guiding… Seriously?
You’re not getting this?” Spike said incredulously seeing their still-blank faces. “The Poof even calls himself ‘Angel’ for Christ’s sake!”
“Fuck. Me.” Faith‘s eyes widened as realisation struck.
Giles looked similarly astounded. “You mean…”
“They’re angels.” Xander whispered in awe.
“Give the boy a coconut.” Spike said sarcastically.
“They can’t be….can they?” Willow asked doubtfully.
“You’re sitting next to a vampire.” Spike pointed out. “Surely angels can’t be that much of a stretch?”
“It makes sense, when you think about it.” Giles mused, kicking himself for not thinking of it sooner. How much lore had he read which mentioned angels, but he had never made the connection.
“Okay, so, we’re looking for ways to speak with angels now?” Xander confirmed.
“You won’t have to look very far.” Spike said, full of all kinds of answers. “People have been talking with angels since the beginning of time.”
“Prayer.” Giles said after a beat. “Will that really work?”
Spike shrugged. “I’m a demon; don’t have much call for talking to them upstairs. But they should hear you. No guarantee they’ll talk back though.”
“How do you know all this?” Faith asked, impressed. Spike wasn’t usually the fount of all knowledge.
“Dru.” He said simply. She had always been into all that other worldly crap; she spent more time talking to the stars and beyond than she did to him, but he had understood her in a way Darla and Angelus never had.
“So we pray?” Willow asked doubtfully. It seemed to simple.
“Guess so.” Xander said. He along with everyone else turned to look at Giles expectantly.
“Shouldn’t we wait for Dean and Sam to get back?” Buffy asked, it was all about them, after all, and Sam had gone to find his brother and find out what happened on his roadtrip over half an hour ago. Surely they wouldn’t be much longer…
“We’re only asking for help.” Willow pointed out logically. “And why ask them here and get their hopes up when we don‘t even know if this will work?”
“I suppose.” She agreed somewhat reluctantly. Something about this didn’t sit right with her, but she was just being paranoid.
“Right then.” Giles said. Feeling rather foolish, he closed his eyes and tipped his head back to look at the ceiling. “Dear, err, angels,”
Spike rolled his eyes.
“We would greatly appreciate it if, what I mean to say is, well, we would like to speak with you…about a matter of great importance. It could have influence on the whole world and we need your assistance to save the world. Right. Well, thank you for listening. I look forward to hearing your reply…. Amen.” He added as an afterthought.
“Amen.” Willow agreed.
“That’s got to be the worst prayer I’ve ever heard.” Spike said unimpressed.
Giles glared at him. “It was your idea.”
“What do I know about angels? I’ve a vampire.” Spike shrugged.
“Now you tell us.” Faith muttered, though she had to agree with Spike about Giles’ lacklustre prayer efforts.
“So, did it work?” Xander asked hesitantly.
They all looked around, half expecting to see a flaming bush or a pillar of salt. There was nothing.
Spike frowned. “Where’s Buffy?”
One minute Buffy was standing in the library, the next she was in a room, God knows where it was or how she got there. The room was richly decorated, with large, old paintings depicting battle scenes hung on the walls. There were no windows, but the real thing which had Buffy feeling the first stirrings of panic, was that there were no doors. No way out. Where was she? As soon as someone showed up, she was going to kick their ass clean through one of these walls and create her own effing exit.
She whirled around to face the voice behind her and saw a short, balding man in a business suit. How had he got in the doorless-room? He must have been the one to have brought her here. She regarded him suspiciously, not moving to attack for the time being. She still didn’t know what she was dealing with.
“You must be wondering why we summoned you here.” He started, wisely keeping his distance. “I am Zachariah, an Angel of the Lord.”
Knowing she would need proof, he allowed her to see a small part of his true form, revealing his large, shadowy wings (just the one set, he wasn’t a show off) and beating them a couple of times. Then he pulled them back in, leaving just his unimpressive vessel before her.
Buffy’s jaw dropped in a very unbecoming fashion.
“This is obviously a surprise for you.” Zachariah said tactfully. “Apologies for bringing you here so abruptly, but I understand that you wished to speak with us.”
“Yes…” Buffy said, slightly dazed. The she shook herself, visibly pulling herself out of her stupor. “I mean, yes, we did.”
“Why me?” She asked, voice carefully steady. “Why not bring one of the others here?”
“Because you are the Slayer…the original slayer.” He corrected thinking of Faith. “You are our champion, but your only conduit to us are in your dreams, and you haven’t been sleeping very well lately. Besides, some conversation are easier to have face-to-face, don’t you agree?”
She didn’t bother answering.
“So,” Zachariah said, “welcome to ‘heaven’s waiting room’, if you will. You’ve been trying to reach us?”
“Yes.” Buffy answered guardedly, now the shock was wearing off. It was too easy; things were never this easy for them.
“Then how may we be of service, my child?” Zachariah asked, almost kindly, trying to live up to the human’s idealistic idea of an angel…at least for the time being.
“Dean Winchester.” She said bluntly, trusting him to know what she meant. If the angels really were the Powers that Be, then that meant they would have been watching them and would know about their connection to the Winchesters.
Something flickered in Zachariah’s eyes. “Yes. A most unfortunate situation.”
“If it’s so unfortunate, then why haven’t you done anything about it?” Buffy asked boldly.
“We can’t intervene in every situation on Earth. The human race wanted free will and they have it.” He said, a touch bitterly. “I’m afraid it comes with consequences.”
“I know.” Buffy said. “I know that better than anyone. But this isn’t ‘every situation’ - this is one man, a hunter.”
“Regrettable?” Buffy cut in disbelievingly. “It’s Dean’s life.”
“And he knew what he was signing up for when he made the deal.”
“No. No he didn’t; not really.” She shook her head. “I know though, better than anyone. Please; save him. He doesn’t deserve what will happen to him.”
"You ignorant child.” Zachariah said quietly, pityingly. “It’s not about what Dean Winchester may or may not deserve. Do have any idea what breaking this deal would mean?"
She wisely stayed silent.
"Dean Winchester willingly, knowingly sold his soul to a Crossroads Demon. There is no coming back from that." Zachariah told her.
"He did it to save his brother. And the amount of good they've done, all the lives they've saved...can't you just repay them just this one thing?"
"No." Zachariah returned bluntly.
Buffy resisted the urge to stamp her foot and punch him in the face, angel or no. "Why not?"
"Because..." Zachariah burst out, but then with great effort regained his composure. It wouldn't do to go revealing their plans too soon. "Because we believe that the Winchesters may start the apocalypse. And we won‘t let that happen."
“What do you mean, the apocalypse? We’re talking about letting one innocent man, a hunter, live.” She asked; she couldn’t see what the problem was. Surely it would be easy enough to save Dean’s life? Unless it wasn’t really about Dean… “Is this about Sam? Because we know about the King of Hell thing, and I give you my word that it won’t happen.”
"Stupid girl, do you think it‘s that easy?" The angel laughed mockingly. "And besides, Sam Winchester; King of Hell? Don't make me laugh."
"He's Azazel's heir, isn't he?" She said defiantly.
"This is Hell, we're talking about." He said bluntly. "Do you think that the kingdom of Hell would just pass to any old chosen heir? And a human heir at that?"
"Demon's can be remarkably uncivilised...but then I probably don't have to tell you that. They duke it out. Strongest demon wins the crown."
"Then what makes Sam the heir?"
"Sam Winchester isn't destined to carry on Azazel's reign; he is destined to carry on Azazel's work."
"What work?" Buffy asked, already knowing that she wouldn't like the answer.
"Azazel was trying to free the Devil." The angel said, an honest answer. The last honest answer she would likely get.
"Sam would never try to do that."
"He already is." A lie, but, if it all worked out the way the angels wanted it too, then Sam would be on the path to do just that. "He is an ignorant human. He has no idea as to the consequences of his actions."
"If he did-"
"Then he would likely do the same thing he is doing now." The angel replied.
Buffy was struck silent for a moment. "Wh-What are you talking about?"
"If you were to tell Sam Winchester, that by trying to save his brother from Hell, he is in fact bringing us closer to the apocalypse, the final battle between Heaven and Hell, do you think he would stop."
"No." Buffy whispered, because she knew nothing would stop him.
"Exactly. Which is why we will continue to stop him." The angel pledged, rejoicing internally when he saw Buffy look resigned to what he was telling her. "And we will stop it; at any costs. Whatever happens, Dean Winchester must die. The Devil can not be freed from his cage in Hell. We cannot let anyone, not even the Slayer, get in the way of what is best for mankind."
“I don’t understand. Dean-”
"It is written," the angel interrupted, pausing slightly to collected his thoughts. "As the deal breaks, so does the seal to Hell itself, and the Earth shall be overcome with demons… We are still cleaning up from the last time the Winchester's opened a door to Hell, and if the Crossroads open then it will be a thousand times worse. It will be the start of armageddon."
"We can fight it, stop it."
"Their numbers are far greater than ours. Millions of people will die. Are you willing to sacrifice all of them for the life of one man who chose this fate for himself?"
She didn't answer, didn't trust herself to.
"Dean Winchester had chosen his own path.” Zachariah said finally. “We will not risk the fate of the whole world because of his poor choices."
Buffy still remained silent. What could she say?
“I am sorry, that we couldn’t give you better news.” Zachariah offered insincerely. “At the end of the day, I am a general in Heaven’s army, and like any General, we have to make sacrifices for the greater good. Surely, if anyone can understand…” He trailed off, his meaning clear.
“Fine.” Buffy bit out. “I understand. We’ll talk to Sam, but I want your word he won’t be hurt.”
“Very well. If you can control him, no harm shall come of Sam Winchester by our hand.” Yet. The angel added silently. It made no odds to them really; if Sam died, they would just resurrect him along with his brother. Nothing, not even death, would stop this plan.
Buffy nodded. She didn’t like it, something was telling her not to trust Zachariah, but he was an angel. And honest-to-God angel.
Who didn’t trust an angel? “Just send me home.”
“As you wish.” The angel agreed. “Thank you for your…valuable assistance.”
Buffy barely contained her glare as Zachariah clicked his fingers, transporting her back to where he had taken her from.
Zachariah watched her go and then smirked smugly. Crisis averted.
The Winchesters had been getting too close. If those idiots at Wolfram and Hart hadn’t been able to destroy most of Sam’s file in time, then they would have found out about Sam’s part, and from that, it wouldn’t have been difficult to work out what Dean’s role would be in the final battle.
Demon’s were entirely too talkative; Azazel wouldn’t stop mouthing off about how he was Lucifer’s favourite, discussing his plans to anyone who would listen. The angels were far more discreet. Obviously the four archangels knew what was coming, but other than Zachariah himself, the most trusted of the seraphs, very few knew anything substantial.
Zachariah had always been careful to spread and tasks he needed accomplished around the lower ranks so that no one found out too much, the only exception being Uriel - a necessity as he would be their informant and influence in the Garrison who would resurrect and guide Dean Winchester. Speaking of Uriel…
Zachariah sensed his brother’s presence immediately, even as he was mentally congratulating himself for throwing the Slayer off the scent and ensuring that Dean Winchester would meet his fate willingly…well, maybe not willingly, but they wouldn’t have to hunt him down. There was no way such a ’righteous man’ would stand to see armageddon start, just because he was scared to die. It was perfect, really.
Zachariah turned to his brother, unable to keep the smile from his face. “Yes, Uriel?”
"You lied to them."
It wasn't a question but he answered it anyway. "Of course I did."
"If the deal is fulfilled, and Dean Winchester goes to Hell, then he will break eventually.” Uriel said tonelessly. “That will be what breaks the first seal."
"Do you want the final battle to happen or not? Don't you want Utopia?” Zachariah implored; Uriel was a good angel and loyal to the cause. He better not be having doubts. “If we want the final battle, then we have to break Lucifer free; we need to break the seals. It turns out John Winchester wasn't as righteous as we all hoped, but Dean Winchester will break the first seal. We need him to die for this to work. Then, at the end of it all, we shall have our paradise."
Uriel stayed silent, contemplating. There were no doubts in his mind that this was the right course of action, but he was not convinced that the son would succeed when the father had failed. Uriel wasn't sure it was wise to pin all their hopes on Dean Winchester
Zachariah watched him cautiously, misreading his thoughtfulness for indecisiveness. He had seen many Angel's fall over his six millennia of service to the heavens. But now would be a very bad time for Uriel to lose his way. "Are you having doubts, brother? You heard what Michael said; if we allow for Lucifer to break free, then they will have to fight, and Michael will beat him once and for all."
"And as soon as he has played his part and broken the seal, we will pull Dean Winchester from Hell."
"The human soul is weak and fragile.” Uriel mused. “Do you think he will survive Hell?"
"Why so concerned, brother?" Zachariah asked, a dangerous lilt to his voice.
"I'm not concerned for the human." Uriel stated with a vehemence that surprised even Zachariah. "When we raise him from perdition, he will still have a part to play-"
"Quiet." Zachariah hissed, looking around anxiously to make sure they were still alone. "We are not ready for the others to know, particularly your Garrison. We have chosen Castiel to pull Dean Winchester from Hell for a reason. For now, Castiel is true to the misguided views that we angels should bow down to the humans. He will be sympathetic to Dean Winchester, yet he will remain loyal to God. When the time comes, when we tell him this is God’s will, he will join us.”
“Castiel is weak.” Uriel said bluntly.
“If Castiel finds out that this was planned all along and that you, a subordinate member of his Garrison, was involved, it will cause great upset in the ranks. We cannot afford that.” Zachariah countered. He was not blinded by his desire for a new world, as Uriel was. Zachariah realised that there would be some angels who would take more persuasion before they joined their fight; now was not the time for impulsiveness. “No one can know of any of this until the time is right. Do you understand me?"
"Perfectly, Zachariah." Uriel nodded, knowing that he would do everything in his power to assure their planning was not for nothing.
“It’s a brave new world, Uriel.” Zachariah said, a soft smirk that looked anything but angelic playing on his lips.
“And nothing is going to stand in our way.”
So, this chapter pushes this fic over 100,000 words! Is it pathetic that this excites me? It’s by far my longest story…surely that warrants a review? ;)
Thanks for sticking with me the last 100,000-plus words! X