AN: Takes place during
Death Takes a Holiday. Spike finally gets to see some action and affect the story. Thanks again to everyone who's reviewed: reviews make my muse purr and whisper sweet plotlines in my ear.
“You sure about bringing him out like this?”
Dean shrugged at his brother’s question. “My next-best idea is calling up Pamela and seeing if she can get us to astrally-project ourselves to go looking for the reapers.”
Sam nodded. “You’re right. I like this plan better.”
Dean looked over at Spike. “Don’t do anything stupid like walk through a fence in front of a pedestrian, okay?”
Spike bowed. “I’ll do my best to continue to be the brains of this operation.”
Dean glared then grunted and got out of the Impala. “Sure you don’t feel like getting your ass pinched, Sam?” Sam opened the door for Spike, and they started walking through the mostly abandoned streets. The light was grey and lifeless, almost like the lack of death robbed the vitality from the town itself.
As they walked down a row of houses, Spike cleared his throat. “Sam, you got that newspaper with you?”
Dean and Sam shared a look. “Uh, yeah, sure I do,” said Sam, pulling the obituary page out of his coat. He held it out in front of him so that Spike could peruse it surreptitiously.
“That’s interesting. That kid there’s supposed to be dead, but for some reason he’s staring straight at me out that window.” Dean looked up at the window that Spike indicated, not seeing anything, and tilted his head. Spike scowled. “I am not making this up, Freckles.”
Dean grinned. “I’m sure you’re not. I just enjoy pissing you off. Let’s check out the house.” When he looked back, Spike had disappeared. “Where the hell did Billy Idol go?”
Sam pushed his hair out of his face. “Probably into the house. I’m pretty sure the leash the amulet gives him is a lot longer than he’s led us to believe, and it’s not like he has to bother with knocking the door if he’s in full-on disappeared mode.”
“Sonovabitch,” muttered Dean. Just then, Spike’s head poked out the window, which would have been less unnerving if he’d been able to open the window first.
“Oi, prats! I’ve found the kid. We’re coming down for a chat, shall we?”
Dean saw Sam making an epic bitch-face as he looked up at Spike. “Spike, window!” Dean hissed.
“Oh, right.” Spike disappeared again while Sam glowered.
“This plan still sucks, Dean.”
Dean chuckled. “Seems to be working out just fine so far to me.” Spike reappeared next to Sam. “Hey, man, you can’t just do that out on the street, remember?”
Spike rolled his eyes. “No one here to see it, what does it matter? The kid’s mum is inside and can’t even see the table in front of her for grief. Not that that’s your fault, Cole,” said Spike, looking down at an empty space by his side. Sam arched his eyebrows. “Kid’s right there. Ask him about whatever it is you think he might know, I’ll relay the answers.”
“Why didn’t you get reaped, kid? Would’ve probably been some creepy-looking old guy, and you were supposed to go with him, contrary to every after-school special you’ve ever seen,” said Dean.
Spike appeared to be listening intently. “Says he wanted to stay with his mum. The creepy old guy was there at the funeral then some black smoke showed up. He hid from the smoke, when he came out, the creepy guy was gone.”
Sam’s mouth twitched. “The smoke was a demon, or demons. They must have grabbed the reaper to break the seal.” He looked down at the place Spike claimed the kid was standing in. “You did good to hide from it.”
Spike chuckled. “The kid’s taller than that, Sam, quit staring at his crotch.” Sam blushed furiously while Dean laughed. Spike, however, was looking elsewhere now. “Oh, hello, gorgeous.”
“Huh?” said Dean.
Spike grimaced. “Him? You could do better, pet. Dean,” said Spike. “There’s a rather lovely lady just showed up here, says she knows you.”
Sam shot Dean a look. “What? I’ve never been here before. Is she another ghost, Spike?”
“Oh, now the kid’s run off.” Spike scowled. “I’ll go after him.” He looked back at the Winchesters. “Her name’s Tessa, she’s the replacement reaper and she just scared the poor bugger off.”
Dean frowned. “I don’t remember meeting any pretty reapers.”
Spike grunted. “Well, she remembers you.” He shook his head. “Go ahead, I’m sure the boy could use it.”
Dean felt something brush against his lips, soft and tender and familiar. Then he staggered backwards as the memories hit. “What the - ?”
“Fat lot of good that did,” murmured Spike. “The kid’s done nothing wrong, I don’t see why you’re so gung-ho about whisking him out of here, he just wants to comfort his mum.” He listened for several seconds. “Well, that makes sense. But I’ve been all with the haunting for the last six years and it’s not like I’ve gotten bitter and angry, no more than I’ve always been anyways.” He stopped again. “Really? Well that is interesting.”
Sam’s lips quirked. “I’m really enjoying listening to your side of the conversation, but could you please tell us what the hell is going on?”
Dean grabbed his brother’s arm. “He’s talking to the reaper who came for me the day that Dad died.”
“That’s great. But what is he talking about?”
Dean blinked. “He hasn’t become a vengeful spirit. He still acts like a person. Ghosts aren’t supposed to be like that.”
Spike turned sharply towards Dean. “That’s right. She says it has to do with the amulet, that it stops me from fading.”
“She can’t take you,” said Dean.
“Not even if I asked nicely, she says.” He looked down. “But I have to go convince the boy to go with her.” Spike looked over Dean’s shoulder. “What the hell?” Both Sam and Dean turned and saw the black smoke sweep over them. Just as soon as it had appeared, it passed. “She’s gone!”
Dean waved his hands. “Fucking demons! Do you know where they took her?”
Spike pursed his lips. “Right before she scared him off, Cole said the black smoke was camped out in his funeral home. I’m willing to bet they took her back there.” He turned and started heading back to the car. “You two coming or what?” he shouted back.
Dean and Sam shared a look before running to catch up with Spike. He was sitting in the backseat of the Impala by the time they got there. “Hold up, Spike,” said Sam. “There’s never just one funeral home in this kind of town. How are we going to know which one the demons are holed up in?”
Spike rolled his eyes. “Sun’s just edging towards the horizon, I’m sure we can try them all by moonrise.” He looked at Dean. “Just do a quick tour of the main drag; I’ll let you know if I see anything eldritch.” Dean mouthed the word ‘eldritch,’ his brow furrowing. “Anything creepy and other-worldly,” amended Spike.
“Right,” said Dean, turning over the engine. “Our little supernatural-detector,” he mused under his breath as he put the car into gear.
They were nearly out of twilight when Spike leaned over. “Stop the car,” he demanded. Dean hit the brakes, but when he turned back, Spike wasn’t in the backseat.
Sam peered through the back window and pointed. “He’s over there, staring at that building.” Dean parked the car on the street and they got out. They hadn’t made it three steps before Spike held up a hand.
“You lot can’t see this?”
“See what?” asked Sam.
Spike’s eyes were wide. “It’s lit up like a bloody Christmas tree with glowing sigils and symbols is what.” He took a couple of steps back. “I recognize the language. It’s Enochian.”
Dean nodded. “What’s it say?”
Spike shook his head. “I said I recognize the language, Dean-o, didn’t say I could read it. But you two better load up on those boomsticks you love so much, because it’s looking pretty forbidding from where I stand.”
Sam and Dean popped open the trunk. “He better not be making this shit up,” muttered Dean as he grabbed a sawed-off shotgun and began loading it with rock salt.
Sam looked back at Spike who appeared to be tracing one of the invisible sigils on the side of the wall with his hand. “Doesn’t look like he’s lying. And, hey, your plan’s working.” Sam smiled as Dean pressed the shotgun into his hands.
“Doesn’t mean I trust him.” Dean tucked his own shotgun under his coat. “He’s hiding something.” He slammed the trunk and gave his brother a dark look. “Lots of that going around lately.”
Sam bit his lip, shouldering his shotgun. “Are we really going to get into this now?”
“No,” murmured Dean, slipping Ruby’s knife in his belt. Behind Sam’s shoulder he could see the moon peeking out over the horizon. “Time to play big damn heroes.” He strode forward. “Lead on, Spike.”
Spike walked through the door before Sam could pick the lock, making Dean grunt, but Spike had only progressed a few steps forward when they got the door open. “Something wrong, blondie?” asked Dean in a low whisper.
“Remember that eldritch-thing I mentioned earlier? This place here is chock-full of it.” Spike’s eyes darted around as the floor creaked in the other room. Spike disappeared for a few seconds; when he reappeared he was holding a finger to his lips. He pointed to the doorway, mouthing the word ‘demon’. Dean nodded and slipped the knife out of his belt. He crept to the threshold, and Spike inclined his head to indicate the demon was just on the other side of the wall. Dean was able to slit the demon’s throat soundlessly, letting the host’s body fall forward onto him, and Dean deposited the corpse on the ground as warm blood smeared over his jacket.
“Any others?” whispered Sam.
“More than a couple,” said Spike. “Follow me.” Sam cradled his shotgun in his hands and let Dean go ahead of him, both of them stepping with care on the creaky wooden floors. With Spike’s surveillance, Dean was able to waste two more demons without raising the alarm. Finally, they arrived in the main parlor, a casket on the stage, but the main attraction was a large circular sigil laid out over the floor of the room. “Tessa and a creepy-looking guy are trapped in there,” breathed Spike.
Sam walked to the circle while Dean kept watch at the entryway. Sam tried to scuff the symbol out with his foot, but it was painted down. Crouching, Sam pulled out his pocket knife so that he could scratch the paint away. Before he could open the knife though, he found himself pushed up against the wall by demonic energy. A second later, Dean slammed into the wall next to him, Ruby’s knife clattering to the ground. Spike watched them, confused and helpless.
Alistair entered the parlor. “Ah, Dean, I see you’ve made a new friend.”
“You know me, I’m just a friendly guy,” replied Dean.
Alistair carried a wicked looking scythe and circled Spike. “Who are you?”
Spike tilted his head. “Nobody, I’m just passing through.” Alistair swung the scythe through him and he flickered out of sight as the blade cut through his form. When he reappeared, he looked furious.
“Passing through,” laughed Alistair. “I see.” He sauntered into the circle, noting as Sam struggled to raise his hand and exorcise him. “You’ve got no juice left, Sammy. You two just hang tight, I’ll take care of you in a second,” he said, apparently lifting something off the ground. He was interrupted when Spike lunged at him and disappeared into the host’s body, knocking him over. Sam felt the demon’s power relent and he and Dean both dropped to the ground. His eyes met Dean’s before he crawled forward, collecting his pocket knife and moving towards the circle. Dean grabbed Ruby’s knife and rushed Alistair, who was staggering across the room. Alistair batted Dean away and pushed Spike’s spirit out of him, Spike’s form flying across the room. “That’s a nasty trick you’ve got there,” Alistair groaned before Dean threw his body into the demon, rolling them across the floor.
Sam had reached the circle and managed to scrape a break in the paint. “No!” howled Alistair. Demonic power filled the room, and by the time Sam and Dean had recovered, Alistair was gone.
Spike emerged through the wall. “Where’d he go?” asked Dean, catching his breath.
Spike shook his head. “Don’t know.” He tilted his head towards the sigil. “Reapers are gone.”
“Good,” said Sam.
Dean got to his feet, tucking the knife back into his belt. “Any more demons in here?”
“No, they’ve cleared out. I think we’ve won this one,” said Spike.
Dean walked over to Spike. “How long have you known you could do that?”
Spike shrugged. “Didn’t know. But I had to try something. These demons you’ve got in this dimension are ugly fuckers, you know that?”
The ghost of a smile passed over Dean’s face. “That’s for damn sure.” He looked back at Sam, tossing the car keys at him. “You two head back to the motel. I’ll meet you there.”
Sam’s brow furrowed. “What are you going to do?”
“Reapers are out working,” said Dean. “Lots of people in this town are dying tonight, because of what we just did.” He looked up at his brother. “I just need a walk. Clear my head, all right? It’s only a quarter mile to the motel, won’t kill me.”
Sam started to speak, but Spike cleared his throat. “Leave it, Sammy-boy.” Dean gave the ghost an appreciative nod as they left. Dean turned and walked out a back door in the parlor. He found Alistair in the alley.
“You ready to finish this tonight, Dean?”
Dean laughed bitterly. “Nothing I’d like better.” He brandished the knife, but a bolt of lightning came out of the clear sky to blast Alistair. Dean shielded his eyes from the light with his arm, and when he brought the arm down, Castiel stood where Alistair had been.
“You have done well, Dean.”
“Have I?” Dean leaned back against the wall of the building.
The angel’s face betrayed no emotion. “A seal has been saved by your efforts, and you have allowed us to capture the demon Alistair.”
“I take it you had something better to do earlier? Washing your hair?” asked Dean.
Castiel stepped forward. “The sigils on this building prevented us from interfering.”
Dean shook his head and looked down. “I figured as much. So we saved the day and it’s great because people still get to die.” He wiped his face with his hand. “What makes me so different, Cas? Why am I still here?”
Dean almost thought he saw a flash of regret in Castiel’s eyes. “You are… special.”
Dean shut his eyes. “That’s just great.” But when he opened his eyes again, he was alone.
Spike cleared his throat as they drove past Cole’s house. “Stop the car.” Sam looked over at him. “Please.” With a nod, Sam parked the Impala. “Just, wait here.”
“Okay.” Spike disappeared, leaving Sam in the car to fiddle with the radio.
Spike pulled his form back together in the living room, where Tessa and Cole were arguing. “You need to come with me now, Cole. You can’t help her anymore.”
“For someone who works with people, you have all the social skills of a thrown knife,” Spike told Tessa. She glared at him, but he ignored it, kneeling down to look Cole in the eye. “She’s right though, kiddo. Look at your mum.” Cole looked over at her, staring sightlessly at the album of photos in front of her. “Staying here is selfish. You think she’ll ever be able to move on with her life with you hanging about, flickering the lights and breaking crockery.”
Cole’s lower lip quivered. “She’s all alone,” he said.
“And she’ll stay alone so long as she thinks she can hold onto you by staying at home weeping all bloody day.” He laid a hand on Cole’s shoulder. “She won’t forget you. But no matter how long you stay here, she’ll never have you again, and you can’t do a damn thing about it.” He stood. “So go with the nice lady here. Let mum finish grieving, and maybe one day you’ll see each other on the other side.”
Cole looked over at Tessa. “What’s on the other side?”
“Can’t spoil the secret, Cole,” said Tessa.
Spike scoffed. “There is a heaven, and I don’t think you’ve had enough time in this plane to go anywhere else.” He recalled Buffy’s words. “You’ll be warm, and loved, and complete.”
Cole looked up at him. “Promise?”
“Promise,” said Spike.
Cole nodded and offered his hand to Tessa. She took it, and Cole’s spirit blinked out of existence. She glanced up at Spike. “Thank you.”
Spike shoved his hands in his pockets. “Not a problem. Sorry ‘bout the thrown knife thing, had to make the kid think I was on his side.”
“I understand.” She licked her lips. “We’re really not supposed to tell them where they’re going.”
Spike shrugged. “Maybe your job would be easier if you did.”
Tessa smiled, sadly. “Regulations, you know how bureaucracy can be. It was nice meeting you, Spike.”
“Wait.” Tessa turned towards him. “You seem to know a lot about me. You don’t happen to know why I’m here, do you?”
“Sorry, Spike. Regulations.”
“Right.” Tessa flashed out of sight, and with one last look at Cole’s mother, Spike returned to the Impala, where Sam had mercifully found a station playing The Clash rather than playing any of Dean’s hair bands.
“Everything all right?” asked Sam as he turned the engine over.
“Yeah, we’re all set.” Spike leaned back in the seat and sang along under his breath. “‘Straight to hell, boys, go straight to hell, boys.’”