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12 May 2012 @ 04:58 pm
AntiXmas 2012...ho-ho-effin'-ho...  
Title: War Is Never Cheap, Dear
Gift Recipient: elliemurasaki
Pairing: none / gen
Characters: Sam, Dean, demon!Jess, OFC of the wingedy variety
Rating: R
Warnings: blood, dirty words, disturbing imagery and flagrant disregard for canon
Wordcount: 3127
Summary: AU from Season One. Jessica Moore was always part of the plan, but she never thought Lucifer held all the candy. Her money's actually on the Boy King. Everybody loves a longshot, right?
Notes: Though I took all her prompts into consideration, I mostly settled on this one: the song "Beat the Devil's Tattoo", by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club:

There is no peace here
War is never cheap, dear
Love will never meet here
It just gets sold for parts
You cannot fight it
All the world denies it
Open up your eyelids
Let your demons run

Cross-posted to AO3: BOOP

And super-special thanks to monicawoe for cheerleading and beta-ing and all-round coolness! You're the very best, bb.

PS: All comments adored! Feel free to concrit, if you're so moved. I consider it the gift that keeps on giving...

The angel wasn’t the least bit surprised to find that drowsy little Long Eddy, New York, population 529 was now population 498, as of 11:13 this morning. In point of fact, he knew exactly what had happened to those thirty-three people, those thirty-three souls. They had moved on to their ultimate destinations. Paradise, Perdition…it didn’t much matter.

Dust kicked up under his boots as he walked down the barren main street. It didn’t even have a name, but it bisected the town and bottomed out at the railroad tracks, the closest thing Long Eddy had to a business district. The pavement was patchy, degraded, baking under an unrepentant, high-summer sun.

Regardless, the angel wore a heavy, brown coat that brushed his shins. He narrowed his eyes like a gunslinger, cutting through the grit and glare.

Nothing living remained on this small country corner, excepting one housecat that considered him with feline indifference, and the angel’s vessel. The young man called himself Mace but his driver’s license said Jeremy Mason Elwell. At the time, Mace had fancied it “cool” to be skin-ridden by an angel. He’d assumed that it would make him special, that this would go over well with the ladies, that he would have some say in what the angel did with his carcass. Mudfish were easy like that.

Caym, for that was the angel’s name, paused and drew breath, scenting the air. Cut grass. Raw meat. Sulfur. Wrongness. His long, lank hair caught in the gale that blew up from the river, the wind too fresh to be carrying the stink of disaster. That was coming from an old building, the Long Eddy Hotel and Saloon. Mace knew the place. It was the local watering hole, usually only busy during hunting seasons and the occasional motorcycle rally. This time of year, it was dead.

Dead. Funny, that.

The angel crossed the street and stepped up onto the hotel’s wide front porch. Its screen door was wracking in the wind, slamming against the peeling wooden siding. Caym caught it with one hand; it wouldn’t matter if the sudden silence alerted the occupants or not. The thick buzz of flies informed him of their misfortune.

It was dim and hot inside the bar, illuminated only by the diffuse sunlight coming in through the open windows. The place had no air-conditioning, and the dingy floor was blanketed with bodies already starting to sour. They draped limbs over each other like dolls in a toy box. Caym picked his way through the butchery, disregarding the flies. The demons apparently had no compunction about possessing children, as evidenced by the pre-pubescent boy staring, blank-eyed, at the tin-tiled ceiling. The boy’s palm crunched softly, a grinding of flesh and bone under the angel’s boot heel.

Empty vessels, all, though demons didn’t really see their hosts as vessels so much as puppets. ‘Meat suit’ was a favorite expression. Maybe that belief was the better part of valor, Caym mused idly. He’d have to speak to the Morningstar about this later.

They’d been sloppy.

Blood pooled dark in all the spaces between the bodies. The angel tired of the mess and leapt, effortless, onto the bartop. He stood, and had Mace been a taller man, most certainly would’ve brushed the ceiling. Surveying the room, he recognized none of the faces. Several bodies had guns and skinning knives in their grasps or by their sides. These had been mundane hunters who killed deer and bear and caught trout on Sundays with their families.

A church bell caroling in the distance reminded Caym that it was, indeed, Sunday. The angel felt a pang of melancholy. He walked down the bartop, kicking aside a half-empty bottle of flat beer, resentment roiling in his gut. He had no time for the winsome memories of what had been, eons ago, but he would gladly use the loss of them to fuel his mission.

The housecat, which had followed him, mewled from the doorway and a shifting wind blew through the saloon. Cocktail napkins peeled away from a pile on the bar.

A scent hit Caym’s nose that made the tender hairs on his nape prickle. He paused, followed the odor, turning towards the corner of the room that housed the pool table and the jukebox.

There was a rear exit, off to the left. And a dribble of blood that beckoned to the angel, led him, traced the trail like dashes on the highway. Of course, it would be blood. How very Old Testament.

Caym landed near-silently on the ground, otherworldly in his grace and smug in his knowledge Mace would likely have fallen on his face under these circumstances. He crouched between a bloated body in a greasy mechanic’s shirt—the name on the pocket read ‘Dave’—and a woman whose only wound was a scrape on her cheek. Regardless, she was dead and empty. Sometimes, fragile humans couldn’t withstand the rigors of demonic infestation, or the exorcising it took to free them.

“Sloppy,” Caym repeated, aloud this time. He dragged two fingers through the blood that was congealing on the floor and sniffed at the sticky stuff, smeared some across his lip. And he smiled.

Lucifer’s loyalists here in the Long Eddy Saloon had put up a good fight. They’d wounded the Boy King, and now Caym had the taste of him on his tongue.

The trail led out the building and across a parched field to the railroad tracks. Sam Winchester’s blood was not the only component, though; there was another. Human, smacking of sulfur. Maybe the Winchesters thought a hostage was a good idea, that it would give them a bargaining chip. Caym couldn’t fault their ingenuity, but they were misinformed if they assumed he’d care. Or maybe, the older brother had allowed himself to be possessed. This…this could be inconvenient.

Fucking Winchesters. They were far cleverer than anyone gave them credit for.

As Caym crossed the tracks, his weapon descended from the sleeve of his coat. He slid the smooth metal hilt into his palm, the blade catching the sun, flashing like justice.

The trail continued through a sparse copse of young trees, their trunks too slender to provide cover, and then along the gentle slope of the ground as it lead to the banks of the Delaware River. The angel threw a glance behind, to be quite certain no one followed. There was just the housecat, tail twitching.

Over the susurrus of the water, Caym heard humming. He saw the very top of a head, visible just at the river’s edge. Blonde hair, gold as summer wheat. As he approached, he saw more of the woman. Much more. She had impossibly long legs, bare feet dipped into the water and she was scrubbing at her soiled skirt, trying to get the red out. There were several bullet holes in her back, visible through the thin shirt.

Caym cleared his throat.

The young woman froze. One hand dropped down and she tried to inconspicuously fish around for something she’d set aside. Caym assumed it was a weapon. He also assumed she wasn’t very good at her job if he could practically walk right up on her. On the other hand, she’d made it out of the Saloon.

The stench of Hell rolled off her in waves.

“So,” the angel said. “Which one are you?”

He heard her huff, and she abandoned her search for the gun or knife or pointy stick or what have you. She looked over her shoulder, half-smiling ruefully. Her gaze flickered black.

Caym felt surprise. He hadn’t felt surprise in a very long time. “Gremory.”

“Would you shut up already?” She rolled her eyes. “That’s not exactly common knowledge, fly boy. I don’t need every Tom, Dick and Harry Potter trying to summon me. Jeeze.”

“Fine, then. Jessica.

She stood, walked up the bank, and stooped to retrieve her sandals. “So. You here to clean up the mess?”

The angel’s surprise shifted to insult in one smooth arch of a brow. The sword was still motionless at his side. “I’m not your janitor. Where are they?”

“Who? The Winchesters?” She hopped one-legged, slipping into her shoes. “Oh, I dunno, lemme check with their social secretary…”

He raised his empty hand, and the insult shifted to threat. The air shivered with electricity and from absolutely nowhere, a finger of lightning crackled into the earth at the demon’s feet, blasting the dirt and making her twitch. “All right, all right! I really don’t know, okay? Why would they tell me where they were going?”

Caym took a step forward.

The demon displayed her palms in surrender, her pretty face twisting in fear. “I swear! They left me for dead! Well, dead again, or whatever. Look at me! I’m – I’m practically perforated!” She plucked at her ruined, bloody shirt as her wet skirt tangled about her legs.

“You should’ve stopped them.” The angel felt heat across his face, but it wasn’t due to the August sun. Father had thrown Lucifer from Heaven, had tossed him away in favor of His shiny new pet: man. Hell was, well, Hell. But it was theirs to command and no hairless ape, least of all Sam Winchester, deserved its throne. The Morningstar had earned that station, and Caym would secure it for him. Then together, they would rule. And ravage. And consume all.

Unless some stupid, useless piece of sulfurous snatch kept letting that fucking abomination slip through their collective fingers…

“Caym, please,” she whimpered. “W–what could I have done?”

In answer, he raised his fury and his sword. He bared his teeth, coat flinging wide like great wings, and he made for the demon with untethered prejudice.

The angel had barely taken two steps when something darted from the shade of a massive tree by the water’s edge, something sleek and light and before he could so much as blink, it spiked into his chest. Agony seared deep and he fell back, stunned.

A figure dropped from the low branches of the tree, bearing a bow. It swaggered forward, grinning wolfishly.

“We knew you were coming, so we baked you a cake,” the man said. He kicked aside the sword, which had fallen from the angel’s grip and Gremory—Jessica—picked it up.

Fully composed, she gave a shout. “It worked.”

The angel couldn’t speak; his innards were boiling and his limbs were in no way controllable. He was poisoned and being cooked, all at once. Blasphemers, Caym wanted to spit at them but he couldn’t. He was simmering dry.

Another long shadow fell across his eyes, and a face swam into view.

Of course. The Boy King. Shaggy-haired and lumbering and looking down with near-pity. Caym prayed to die.

“Holy fire on a stick. Pretty effective, huh?” Sam Winchester was cradling his right hand to his own chest. Several fingers had gone freshly missing, probably lost somewhere in the butchery of the bar, and blood dripped onto the angel’s forehead. It sizzled his skin and Caym could smell the sulfur in it, thick and toxic. How many of those demons had been consumed by this aberration? Most of them. Possibly all of them, with one treacherous exception.

Dean Winchester poked at Caym with the bow, sending spikes of hurt wherever it touched. “Yep. He’s good ‘n roofied.” He glanced at his cohorts through a swollen, bruising eye. “You sure about this, Sammy?”

“I don’t see any other way.” If it was any consolation to the angel, Sam Winchester sounded grim and unsure. “No amount of demon juice is gonna put me back together again.” The man’s t-shirt was soaked red where his hand pressed.

“All right, then. Let’s get this show on the road.”

The demon, still wielding the angel’s sword, gave a curt nod. Kneeling, she set the tip to Caym’s neck and simply pressed down. A white-hot thread of light shot out, and she recoiled with a sharp intake of breath.

The Boy King, however, did not shy in the least. He dropped down on the angel with something terrible and greedy in his eyes, and Caym thought he felt teeth on his throat—teeth and hooks and fire and something tearing at his grace. His stare was desperately fixed on the infinite blue of the sky but even that held no comfort or distraction. The blue began to tunnel and squeeze, melt into haze, into nothing but the hopeless, helpless feeling of loss. When his grace was gone, he knew that would be the end of it all.

Caym no longer wanted to die; he was terrified of it. This was not how it was supposed to be. This wasn’t what he wanted. He should’ve known better than to want. This wasn’t—

But it was. With a sickening plummet, his grace was gone. And so was the angel.


Gremory felt the radioactive singe of an angel’s death sweep over her back. It didn’t hurt, exactly, but nor did it tickle. It was just…weird.

When the chaos in the air finally settled, she dared peek between her fingers. Dean was similarly blinking and assessing the scene, but with his usual scowl.

Her second thought, apart from This is just weird, was Oh, shit, SAM. She scrambled across the scorched grass and found him, flat on his back, still clutching his wounded hand to his chest and breathing so hard, he had to be in pain.

“Sam, baby.” Her fingers fluttered all over him, looking for something, anything: burns, blisters, new wounds. He was sweating profusely, but that wasn’t unusual for him. She brushed the hair off his face, staring hard at his closed eyes and tightly furrowed brow. “Come on, talk to us. You okay? Sweetie?”

She heard Dean groan at all Jessica’s pet names, but she knew he was worried too. He crouched beside her and put a firm hand on his brother’s shoulder. “Sam. Open your eyes.”

Sam’s brow relaxed slightly, and his lids fluttered open.

Gremory squeaked. A glow leaked from Sam’s eyes and smarted when it hit her, and she rolled back from him.

“Close ‘em!” Dean shouted, ducking behind his arm.

Sam complied, but he was still breathing hard. “Go…away…” he managed between gasps.

He didn’t have to ask the demon twice. She backpedaled a good eight feet but Dean took only a few hesitant steps away. “No, I’m not gonna—”

Sam roared, and light issued from his mouth. Even in the bright of day, it stung Gremory’s eyes but she couldn’t stop watching. The stolen grace—at least that’s what she supposed it was—radiated out into the world from every orifice, as well as the missing fingers.

The trees shuddered and Gremory’s ears rang. She half-expected to go up in ash, but it didn’t happen.

When Sam finally stopped howling, the air softened again. Depressurized, almost. The demon blinked away blind spots and gaped from Dean, whose face looked as stunned as she felt, to Sam.

Sam sat up, shivering, staring at his wounded hand; the missing fingers were growing new bone, muscle and flesh right before their eyes. Within seconds, the hand was whole, right down to shiny new fingernails.

“Holy shit…” Dean murmured.

Sam’s lips quirked. “Yeah, something like that.”

A housecat wandered over from God-knows-where, and began sniffing at Sam. Apparently, cats didn’t give a goodly damn about angels combusting or tsunamis of grace.

Gremory started forward but Dean pushed past, dropping down beside his brother and shoving the cat away.

She found herself feeling more than a little jealous at the awe and relief on Sam’s face when he looked at Dean, but she wisely kept that little nugget to herself. She was effin’ lucky Dean let her stay, once he found out she’d been borrowing Jessica’s skin since, oh, junior year.

The only thing keeping Gremory along for the ride was her usefulness to the Boy King. And Jessica’s glorious body; she had them convinced the girlfriend had far more say in this costume party than she actually did.

Sam set a freshly-formed finger on the swell of Dean’s blackening eye and the bruise mystically ebbed away. They spoke softly, briefly. The demon’s envy grew.

Then both brothers got to their feet, turning to watch her. She felt like an ant under a spyglass, but only Sam approached. Dean stayed put, arms folded across his chest, impassive.

Jessica was a tall girl, but she still had to cant her head up to watch Sam’s eyes. The demon inside squirmed, anxious under his gaze—hazel, cat-slanted and dangerously smart. But she knew there was something holy in it now, and that terrified her far more. As much as meeting the Morningstar himself.

“What?” She managed a hopeful smile, letting just a touch of Jessica Moore shine through. “You’re not…oh, come on, Sam. Haven’t I been loyal? I’ve never betrayed you. I’m totally Team Winchester. Go, us!” She would’ve been sweating if she could.

Sam curled a finger under her chin and smiled.

Her chest suddenly tightened and the force of it made her cough. A strange weight built inside, and she felt the bullets navigating the tiny tunnels they’d made, worming through her body in a most unpleasant way. Through lung and diaphragm. Pinging off ribs. Even through her breasts. She couldn’t move air, and had to squeeze her eyes tight against the bloat of discomfort that simply wouldn’t ease up. Like a sneeze that wouldn’t come, but ten times that.

“Jess. Jessica, breathe.”

She forced her eyes open and saw bloodied bullets on the ground. Sam dropped his hand and stepped away.

“Th–thank you.” Both demon and girl were quivering with relief.

Sam paused, looking thoughtful for a moment. “Don’t thank me,” he said, his voice mild. “Because, see, now your body’s whole. You screw us, you do one stupid little thing I don’t like, you even think about a double-cross, and I’ll send you packing back to Hell. Like that.” He snapped his fingers on the last word.

Gremory flinched. “You got it, boss.” Wouldn’t dream of it. Golly, I’m not stupid; I’m backing the winning team…

Dean had already started walking towards where they’d hid the Impala. “Let’s make tracks,” he said. “Every supernatural douche bag for miles around probably saw our Bat Signal.”

“Yep. Comin’.” Sam jogged to catch up, Gremory not far behind.


The housecat nosed at the body left in the field, surrounded by the burnt silhouette of enormous wings. Mace stirred. The hollow feeling in his chest and his mind made it clear he’d been abandoned by the angel. He blinked up at the summer-bleached sky and felt tears run down his face.

Current Mood: busybusy
Current Music: "Just War" - Danger Mouse & Sparklehorse
our roads may be golden, or broken, or lostelliemurasaki on May 12th, 2012 09:10 pm (UTC)

I am absolutely delighted by this. Thank you!
The indefatigable Mrs. Griffinquickreaver on May 12th, 2012 09:18 pm (UTC)
Awww, yay!

This poor fic was actually brutal, and I had to pull it out with pliers. It just would not work, and though I'm not super-duper happy with it, there were bits I really dug. So I hope it wasn't totally, urm, dorky.
tifachingtifaching on May 12th, 2012 09:21 pm (UTC)
Wowwwwwwww. That was brilliant. I loved all the characterizations, but Caym especially.

Awesomely dark.
The indefatigable Mrs. Griffinquickreaver on May 12th, 2012 09:22 pm (UTC)
You are waaaaaay too nice, dollface! :D (I kinda love Caym too. Angels are so...alien.)
tifachingtifaching on May 12th, 2012 09:37 pm (UTC)
Hey, not just being nice, here! The imagery was absolutely fantastic. I could see and feel everything that was going on, down to the dust on the road, the stench of death on the wind and that poor boy's hand crunching under Caym's boot. Sam taking Caym's grace and the bullets being pulled out of Gremory were fantastically done too.

You may not be sure about this story, but in my honest opinion, it is very good.
lotrothlotroth on May 12th, 2012 09:35 pm (UTC)
Oh my goodness, you make me love your writing just as much as your art and that says a lot! You're always so good at the details and the characters are spot on and just, wow!

Amazing stuff, bb! <33
The indefatigable Mrs. Griffinquickreaver on May 12th, 2012 11:22 pm (UTC)
Thank you, sweet girl! (I confess, I still have your drawing sitting on my wall. :( I'm such a sloth. IT WILL GO TO THE POST OFFICE ON MONDAY, DARN IT!) If I have to hand-carry it to my myself, I will do this!!)
Yo: SPN:  Sam BW for prettydreamlittleyo on May 12th, 2012 10:33 pm (UTC)
God, this is BEAUTIFUL. I loved every word, what a glorious fic!
The indefatigable Mrs. Griffinquickreaver on May 12th, 2012 11:23 pm (UTC)
You are adorably sweet! Honestly, I'm not sure 'glorious' fits it, but I'll take it anyway! (And the check's in the mail... ;) )
monicawoe: allourwrathmonicawoe on May 13th, 2012 12:42 am (UTC)
This turned out beautifully, and what a great ending! (great set up for a sequel - ::wink wink, nudge nudge::)
The indefatigable Mrs. Griffinquickreaver on May 13th, 2012 01:32 am (UTC)
Yanno, of all my ficlets, this has the most potential for expansion!

Thanks again for all the help. Couldn't have done it w/o you!
i'm on a website where people fuck fruit: SPN Sam/Jessgeckoholic on May 13th, 2012 12:07 pm (UTC)
Ohh, this is GOOD.
becc_jbecc_j on May 14th, 2012 07:55 am (UTC)
wow, this is really something! Loved it, especially the characters and the concept! It was just incredible and I was hooked and wondering always - what's going to happen next :D
Snick: Rubysnickfic on May 15th, 2012 12:34 am (UTC)
Oh, wow. I have never seen anything like this. I love it! Your Gremory reminds me a whole lot of what we see of Ruby at the end of S4 - dishonest in her dealings, sincere in how she feels.

I love seeing Sam and Dean trying something different. This was definitely different, not just in what they're actually doing - although Dean backing Sam's demon powers is remarkable enough - but in how you framed it, first seen through the eyes of the gunslinger angel. This thing was thick with atmosphere.

I wish these boys and their rogue demon all the best.
rokhalrokhal on May 24th, 2012 09:45 pm (UTC)
I'm gonna try to be slightly less lame. This fic has been on my "to comment on" list since you published it (it's written on an etch-a-sketch; people keep knocking it off tables . . .).

This is a rich AU. I love it when Dean accepts and assists Sam using his powers, mostly because it raises the question of what circumstances and arguments would have had to happen to bring him there -- and here, thirty demons? Experimental anti-angel arrows? Putting Sam back together after he's been maimed? They get things done when they work together. They're shaking the universe, and in this universe, they're doing it on purpose.

Caym's POV is brilliant. We never see fallen angels unless they're balls of angst or evil masterminds, and he's different. He's not some over-the-top villain, he's got his contempt for mankind and his loyalty to Lucifer, but mostly he's just doing his job. I love that he thinks about things, about his vessel, and about the demons' hosts. I can identify with him. It makes Sam looming over him, leaking demon blood on his face, that much more horrifying.

Oh, and Gremory. She feels like Ruby. Whether Ruby is an alias of Gremory's, or demons just have a good handle on Sam's "type," I don't know, but I like her -- one more smart, pragmatic supernatural being running around scared to the bones of Sam.

And poor Mace. He let in a fallen angel, and the angel abandoned him. That last little moment ties in really nicely with all the rest of the outside POVs in this, how Sam and Dean are unpredictable and unknown, like the A Team, or Simba returning to Pride Rock.

This is one of the coolest fics I've read in a long while. Wow.
The indefatigable Mrs. Griffinquickreaver on May 25th, 2012 01:41 am (UTC)
Dang, you make me sound like I know what I'm doing and I DO NOT. It's such a ruse!

Hmm, Gremory could very much be Ruby's demon. As I was writing her, I was a little concerned by the similarities, to be honest. If Gremory were in the story longer, I might've found ways to make her less Ruby-like, but hey, maybe not! I love it when readers bring goodies to the table; it makes this whole writing thing collaborative and it's one of the glories of my lj flist: they're a damned talented bunch of cookies.

And your A Team reference is solid gold, I tell ya.

Thank you tons for the great comment!