Just Add Batteries
Banner by Sarah_Jones @ LJ. To see all her art for Through the Never visit http://sarah-jones.livejournal.com/105137.html. Warnings:
Violence, language, innuendos, and some non-explicit sexual encounters of the het variety. Spoilers for BTVS and Angel all seasons; spoilers for SPN through season 6.Disclaimer:
I do not own Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Supernatural
Written for fun, not profit.Author's Notes:
Written for the Supernatural Crossover Big Bang at Live Journal. The title is based on the Metallica song of the same name (not anything to do with Dresden Files).
Setting is post-series for Angel and BtVS. For SPN, the very beginning takes place immediately after Season 5's finale, "Swan Song." And then I'll move into the events of season 6, post "Clap Your Hands if You Believe." So spoilers, even though I curving off onto an AU
path. I'd like to also point out that time moves differently in different dimensions, so the year that passes in SPN-land might not be a year in BtVS-land. I'm just going to create my own head-canon when it comes to the Purgatory/gathering heaven's weapons/gathering souls schedule.o0o0o0o0oChapter 1: Just Add Batterieso0o0o0o0o
The fall, eternal. His own choice. His.
Sam grasped at the notion, clawed into it, held on for dear life. Only…
Life; there wasn't any. One didn't go to Hell alive. One had to die. Sam was dead. Sam was sure he was dead already.
Was it the fall, then, that killed him? Or did he die the moment he looked down at his brother's beaten face and made that silent promise, the one spoken through his eyes? Or did his life escape out his lips with the word "yes"?
Sam wasn't sure. Wasn't sure if his brother would live from the damage his fists, Lucifer's hands, had inflicted. Wasn't sure if Dean would want to live when he glimpsed the pieces of his family scattered about, felt the solid earth that had just eaten his only two blood kin. Wasn't sure if there was such a thing as solid in infinite black. Wasn't sure if the closest body was Adam's or just so many cells held together by Michael. Wasn't sure if he could care.
The one thing of which Sam was absolutely certain was that the screams were not just his own. Lucifer remained, within. The angel spoke of an end. Not to the agony. Not to the fear. Those things would reach no finish. No, what would end would be the fall. The fall would end, and when it did, all that would remain would be the cage and its occupants.
The fall. His choice. His.
The right choice.
Lucifer promised to make him regret it, with every rip, every tear, every burn, every bite. In the cage, eternal.o0o0o0o0o
The room took form around them, molding itself into a library of sorts: regal, elegant, dated. Unique only in that the wall held a magnificent line of shelves full of rolled sheets of parchment in cylinders of gold and silver and bone; his favorite contracts, peeled off their parties, as it were. The scent of ancient books and scotch didn't do much against the all consuming sulfur leaking in from the outside void, but it was a nice touch, if he did say so himself. Crowley didn't bother asking the woman if she wanted a drink when he sat down with his own glass, looking every bit the King of Hell in his crisp black suit. He crossed his legs at the knee and leaned into the cushion of his red, wingback chair, a snide grin on his face.
"Lilah, darling. Now, to what do I owe the pleasure?"
Of course, his tone implied a complete lack of any such pleasure. Though they vied for citizenship on a near daily basis, even crossroads demons didn't prefer the company of human
lawyers. Alas, a necessary evil, if ever there was one.
"Nice office. Not much of a view," she said, a teasing frown on her face when the final wall fell into place, blocking out the damned souls beyond.
So, she'd given up on the courteous professionalism and general boot-licking already. Good.
As much as Crowley enjoyed seeing people on their knees, false pretense was his
area, and he didn't enjoy being had
in his own domain.
He narrowed his gaze on Lilah Morgan. He'd met her before, when she tried to contact him pre-Apocalypse about an offer from the Senior Partners, but frankly, with Satan's thick-skulled minions under every brimstone, he'd been a little too distracted to stick around. Now, though, meeting the help
was part of his job.
She had an attractive form, but her hungry expression was too much shark and not enough enticement for her to ever be much good at buying souls without the legal jargon. His eyes followed her high heels up to bare legs, swam over her sharp blue skirt and low-cut blouse, and hovered at the short scarf knotted at her neck. Nothing like a decapitation to put a smile on his face.
"You know, I might have second thoughts about working with a firm that doesn't provide decent health insurance for its employees," he noted, an amused twitch at his lips when the comment struck home, and she reached up, carefully adjusting the silk scarf to cover the scar. "But, their contracts… Those, I can respect. Got you for the long-haul, did they, darling? Yes. I thought so."
Her jaw tightened, the smile forced. "Mr. Crowley, we at Wolfram & Hart would like to extend our congratulations on your recent promotion. I trust you received our fruit basket?" When his reply was a smiling stare, she took the opening. "The firm has recently been informed that you would like to further expand your empire."
"Have they now?" The question was edged with anger, but Crowley stayed in place, his face dark. "And where might they have heard that?"
"Unimportant, Mr. Crowley," Lilah dismissed, not batting a lash. "What is important is that the firm is willing to aid you in obtaining this property. Now, before we discuss price, I should let you know that we're not liable for any unpleasant contingencies that such a transaction might require—"
"Cut the bull, love. I'm still the King of the Crossroad. Put your deal on the table."
"You want access to Purgatory. We need something that can't be found in the worlds in which we do business." She straightened her shoulders and gripped the arms of her chair lightly. "We're proposing an exchange. Due to recent changes in the…management of one of our branches in the lower dimensions, we're currently looking to acquire an angel." Her gaze glistened, as if some part of the request had struck her as funny, but her tight, professional tone remained intact. "If you were to aid us in obtaining one, we would be very grateful. Grateful enough to provide you with a key to Purgatory. No soul exchanges necessary."
Crowley ran a finger over his lip in thought, expression carefully schooled.
"It's my understanding that angels don't keep well during dimensional travel. Don't think FedEx would insure that package. Fact is, from what I've heard, you might end up with a soufflé with feathers if you try to drag them into…What did you call it? 'A lower dimension.' You're talking about The Never, I assume?"
She blinked, as if caught off guard. "Yes, some call it The Never. As for the survival of the package, that's my employer's problem, not yours."
"And why exactly would you require my help in getting one of my fine feathered foes?"
Lilah cocked her head, something akin to admiration in the twinkle at her eyes. "You're a demon of many talents, Mr. Crowley. Your dimension, which our firm is currently restricted from traveling to, shares this human Hell with The Never. If you get an angel here, we'll be capable of taking care of the rest."
The demon tapped his glass against the chair and weighed his options. He had, since his mortal years, been a man with a plan. Always some new endeavor up his sleeve. Back then, he'd wanted power, found it in a demon lover, and knew the price he had to pay in order to receive it: Hell, a long trip. And now, his latest of plans was just at infancy, and its price would be great, as well. This option, though, this option came a bit cheaper. Still, lawyers? From working the crossroads, he knew their game. They only took what was theirs if they actually won.
Crowley parted his lips for the sip of Craig. "If you haven't noticed, angels don't exactly drop in for tea time."
"You have two already here—"
Crowley snorted, interrupting her. "Feel free to take either off my hands, but good luck picking that lock."
Lilah bristled at the interruption, but went on, just as smoothly. "Michael and Lucifer are not our concern at the moment. As I was saying, you have two angels already here, one of whom is Heaven's golden boy. His followers will be lost without him." She paused. "If you leave your defenses down, another angel will drop in, eventually, to see to his brothers."
Crowley hid his smirk. Brothers. Sure, if Raphael found a way to get his pony show back on the road, he might pay a visit. But, Crowley had a feeling it would be another angel who'd drop in first, and he
certainly wouldn't be there for his
"And what exactly would you like me to do?"
"Simple." She shined, in her element, and lowered her gaze on him. "You give us a shout when he arrives. We'll do the rest."
Crowley was waiting for the other shoe to drop. When it didn't, he raised a brow. "And Purgatory?"
"I'll draw up the paperwork myself."o0o0o0o0o
Never alone, and totally alone. This was Hell. Basement level.
Skin felt tight, despite its nonexistence, as it was laid back atop muscle, stitched into place with a thick needle and a happy hum on someone's lips. Sam wasn't sure who was playing the game this time, because they'd plucked out his eyeballs and doused him in darkness, and they both enjoy peeling him like a tangerine.
Sam thought, maybe, he had a brother down here once. Adam
. Only, Adam was cast aside too quickly, sit in a corner and forgotten. Sam considered that and shivered. Such a worse fate, in the end, and one he would never receive because someone
had to be the entertainment. Of course, all those thoughts of a brother… He could almost feel Dean's flesh on his knuckles, blood drying under fingernails.
Lucifer leaned in, whispered softly.
"Big brother's dead, Sammy. Has a condo next door. If you're real quiet, you can hear him screaming. Doesn't bother calling your name anymore, though. Guess he hasn't forgiven you for screwing up so royally… Oh, Sammy, shhh
, don't cry—you'll always have me
Always: the word was a scalpel. He felt skinless again. Stripped bare. No body to contain him… Something nudged at the back of Sam's mind, and he pulled himself back together again long enough for the thought to take hold. The feeling, of escape, of being without boundary, wasn't emotional. This…this was different. And he could see again. Almost as if he had eyes, but not quite.
And what was that deafeningly high pitch?
It hit Sam like a punch to the gut. The noise was an angel's voice. Lucifer, screaming in the tongue of his brothers. At
his brothers. Because something was reaching through the cage.
Sam tried to call out to the flood of light breaking through the bars, but he couldn't seem to find his mouth. It was there, somewhere. He'd had a body, once, hadn't he? "You misplaced your friggin' body? How'd you manage that one, geek boy? How am I supposed to raise you from the grave without a meat suit? 'Cause you're not getting mine."
It was Dean's voice, not real, but a constant companion for Sam. It gave him the will to move into the light, find that sliver of an opening in the cage, work his way out.
"Cas, I'm here! Cas!
Huge, formless, powerful: it looked nothing like Jimmy Novak, but Sam knew who it was. He could feel Castiel's presence. Then he saw it, something being pulled upward. A body. Sam's body. A decaying, hollow thing. It was surreal, watching himself being whisked away. Like people described out-of-body experiences. Only, wasn't the soul supposed to be doing the leaving?
Sam couldn't comprehend how this was even possible. He held onto the angel's light with renewed desperation, feeling himself pulled free from the cage and into a fresh new void. Lucifer, Michael, they couldn't follow—this cage was meant for angels, not human souls, and the seals remained in place, the bars just wide enough for…
"Cas! Damn it, I'm still here!
If only he could catch up with the angel. If he could just get his attention. If he could just… Then he felt it, his essence being pulled away from the light. No, No, NO!
Panic overtook him at the thought of being dragged back into the cage with Lucifer, but whatever vacuum was pulling at him was coming from a different direction all together and yanking him along at a dizzying speed.
Sam wasn't sure how it happened, but, with sight without eyes, he looked out at a world very much like the one he'd been born into. It felt exactly like home, if home wasn't an Impala's seat and a brother with a broken grin. Something, some fragment of a memory rolled to surface and gave this plane of existence a name: The Never.
That same grain of knowledge also gave him the oddest sense that he was forbidden to be here—or maybe not him exactly. Maybe someone else was forbidden to see The Never.
Sam tugged at the thought but the knot refused to budge. Something had grabbed him, pulled him from Hell, and dumped him into a new dimension. And, that something hadn't even bothered to give him a body to wear.
Sam was lost. A lost soul.
Just when he'd thought he couldn't get more alone than he was in Hell, the Universe had proved him wrong.o0o0o0o0o
Dawn let her head drop to the desk, on top of the stack of printer-white sheets of paper. The cell phone beside her dinged, alerting her to another missed call, and, without looking up from her prone position, she reached out, flipping it over.
"Double ugg," she muttered, in response, when her back-up cell, securely inside her desk drawer, buzzed.
The back-up was for emergencies, but she knew without a doubt that the call was not an emergency. At least not an Apocalypse-loving-vengeance-demon-took-my-sexual-organs-and-ate-my-baby type of emergency. In other words, not their kind of emergency. No, the call was only urgent to the callers themselves, a group of teenage girls reporting the bad behavior of another group of teenage girls because their Watcher had disappeared on a retreat, and they all assumed that Dawn's age combined with her Watcher-In-Training status meant that she'd automatically be on their side.
"Oh, God, was I really ever this annoying?" Dawn asked the universe. Memories of screeching at her family and tossing herself onto her bed after a dramatic slam of the door left her believing that maybe having a group of dramatic slayers pestering her on a near daily basis was some kind of cosmic karma. She hated that karma bitch.
"Yes. Yes, you were." The universe had answered using Buffy's voice. "But thankfully, all of your diaries were destroyed, so there's no proof of your emo years left for the new generation to use against you."
Dawn turned her head to one side, not lifting it from her research paper, the thirty page mass that was supposed to be twenty pages and needed edited by, oh, yesterday. Yeah, that paper. Sheesh—doing the normal thing was just as complicated as doing the freak thing. Dawn had thought, for some odd reason, that moving back to California for college, getting her own place, devoting herself to her studies for a few solid years, would mean more time for, say, developing a non-demon-related social life. Not so much.
She frowned out at her apartment, seeing her sister's silhouette through the archway leading into the kitchen, where Buffy stood, abusing a jar of Nutella. Comfort food. Which meant Buffy was still in a mood. Which meant Buffy would be staying even longer.
Not that Dawn minded. She'd put the lease on a place big enough for her and company (thank you, Council funds), even though she had planned on living without a roommate, at Big Sis' insistence. (Apparently roommates were usually evil.) But, this was not the first time that Dawn had found herself hosting her sister for a long period of time, and Dawn really couldn't blame Buffy for needing a "hide-out" to escape to when the whole "fearsome leader of the Slayers" gig got to be too much. Buffy called these little visit staycations, but minus the occasional pedi/mani combo, Buffy spent most of her time brooding over whatever evil deed the last Big Bad had committed.
"When did I grow out of it?" Dawn called after her.
She could see the shrug of the blonde's shoulders.
"You grew out of it?" Buffy chuckled around a mouthful of creamy chocolate-y goodness. "Let's put it this way, Dawnie, all you need to do is sink all of their home-towns and tell them about their imminent demise. Easy-peasy. Of course, by then, we'll have a new batch to train."
"Why aren't they calling your phone?" Dawn hated that she sounded whiny. She paused, brow cocked. "Wait—where is your phone?"
Buffy paused. "I slayed it."
Well, that explained the ringing, at least. With Xander on a mission to aid werewolves in Canada, Willow training her witches to help maintain the balance of the world, and Giles attempting to run the New Council headquarters in Scotland, Dawn could see how she might be mistaken for complaint hotline numero uno
. Still, couldn't Andrew or—Dawn's thought was interrupted by the ominous sound of Darth Vader's "Imperial March" from her phone.
" This time Dawn put extra emphasis on the whine aspect.
Spoon still in hand, Buffy rolled her eyes and marched into the room to tune with the music, looking every bit a Sith Lord in her over-sized "I heart ducks" sleep pants. Taking pity on her sister, she snatched up the phone, and turned her back, headed into the kitchen with a "hello" to the Watcher on the other line in the form of, "Andy, what have I told you about bootycalling my lil—oh, really? With extra cheese?"
Dawn sighed, relieved to have a moment to herself.
"Research makes nice pillows," she muttered, her eyes drifting shut. Dawn was certain she could work a ten minute desk-side nap into her evening schedule, but before she'd managed to make the mental time allowance, a current swept over her. Or, at least, that's what it felt like—live electricity crawled over her skin for a split second before it disappeared, leaving her gasping in surprise.
She pushed herself up from the desk, searching for danger, and she didn't have to look far. A blindingly bright light filled the room, then dulled, slowly, its core directly across from her, at the short book case beneath the two wide windows of her main room. The light was still there, white hot, the edges of it tinged in yellow, but it had receded into a steady, gentle glow. And it seemed to be coming from the Orb of Thesulah sitting on a wooden ring on the top shelf.
Dawn sucked in a calming breath, taking an unsteady step back and pushing her chair out of the way. When her pounding pulse decided to quit deafening her, she could hear another sound, a steady hum—this was not so foreign. It was the warding spell, meant to notify her of an intruder.
Buffy stomped back into the room, one hand pushed against her right ear, the other holding the cell phone against her shoulder. "I swear, this ward goes off every time Mr. Partain from 208 slams his front door—we've got to get a witch over to fix the alarm before I go deaf."
Dawn swallowed. "Uh, Buffy?"
"Just give me a sec, Dawnie—I wrote the deactivation word down somewhere." Buffy read a muttered phrase off a post-it, and the humming stopped. A bright smile broke her face. "Well, at least that part works."
Buffy glanced her way, her grin fading a little when she saw the shell-shocked expression on her sister's face. "What?"
"Was I muttering a Restoration Spell in my sleep?"
But Buffy didn't hear the question, because her gaze had drifted to the shelves, where the night-light level glow of the orb was casting shadows over the line of photo-frames and knick-knacks surrounding it. "Hey, who put batteries in that thing?"
Dawn was fairly certain she had the most aggravating older sibling in all of history. She rolled her eyes. "Buffy, that's the, well, an Orb of Thesulah."
"No, that's the cheap knock-off Andrew bought on Ebay. It even says 'Made in Taiwan' on the bottom."
Dawn shook her head. "No, that's the one in your room being used as a paper weight. This is the real deal. Remember? We picked it up in Vegas after that whole 'we have allies who can't hold on to their souls' conversation? Yeah. It's real." She took another breath, and ventured around her desk, slowly. "And if I'm not mistaken, there's someone inside it."o0o0o0o0o
"No angel, no key."
An exhaled breath pushed its way out of Crowley's nostrils. He could feel his meat-suit's heart rate raising, pushing heat into his face.
"I did my bloody part!" he growled. Somehow, though he managed to keep his voice low, and keep his fingers from ripping out the woman's sewn-together throat. "It was your idiots who didn't catch the feathered bugger, and now, I'll have to go make nice with him. Play the fool. Pretend I haven't a clue as to what's going on in my own damned kingdom. You're just lucky he was too oblivious to notice the gaping vortex you opened behind him."
"There was a complication." Lilah didn't dare shrug, her body tense, despite the lax cockiness which was an almost constant feature on her face. "The wrong entity was taken by our summoners."
"You don't say?" Crowley glowered. "Didn't even manage to nab a full vessel." Or the soul. They'd pulled a bloody soul through instead of a whole being and hadn't even had the good graces to hold on to it. "Darling, you're lucky I'm not your boss or your head would be up someone's ass right about now."
"Literal," Crowley returned, but he hesitated before making a move on the lawyer. As much as he wanted her to believe that she'd shat in the wrong litter box, he wasn't exactly devastated over the turn of events. A key would have been useful, sure, but he always had his original plan to fall back on. And he'd need that damned angel if it was to work at all. "I'm going to give you a twenty second head start," he said, a little calmer. He could be merciful. Just watch.
Lilah shuttered against her seat, but didn't make a move to leave. "Mr. Crowley, I assure you, this isn't as bad as it seems."
Noted. Crowley gifted her a small, dangerous smile. "Oh, not for me, it isn't," he admitted. At least he was getting the annoying half of one Winchester out of his way. "But, for you on the other hand…"
The woman's mouth tightened, but instead of cowering, she leaned forward, mocking his grin with her own. "Just between you and me, I have a very
strong feeling that you're going to get exactly what you need, in the end."
"Do you now?"
"Just keep playing the game, Mr. Crowley, and let us do the work on our end. I assure you, this will all work out in your favor."
Crowley relaxed back down into his chair, intrigued. "And if it doesn't?"
Lilah stood, brushing the folds out of her skirt, leaving his gaze at thigh level. She rolled her neck and leaned down, over his lap. "If it doesn't, you can take it out on me," she said, her voice low, eyes dark, "in whatever way you'd like."
Now, that was a deal Crowley could work with.