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The Lost Ones, Chapter 2

Title: The Lost Ones, Chapter 2
Author: nileflood and bellacatbee
Rating: Overall rating NC-17. This chapter PG-13
Genre and/or Pairing: Dean/Castiel, eventual Sam/Gabriel, Adam/Michael , hints of Bobby/John and one-sided Crowley/John
Warnings: Vampirism, underage hints (Cas is a vampire in a teenage body, other characters are actual teenagers)
Word Count: approx 7800
Summary: Lost Boys/Supernatural AU: After losing his job and having the bank foreclose on his house, John Winchester takes his sons across country to stay with his eccentric old friend Bobby Singer. However their new start isn't all it seems. While Sam makes friends with two boys who claim to be vampire hunters, Dean is drawn into the wrong crowd and Adam just doesn't understand what is going on.
Authors note: We just wanted to say thank you to everyone again for your reviews. Someone asked last time about character ages and we hadn't made it very clear so here's a handy little note on how old everyone is: Dean is 21, Sam is 18 and Adam is 16. Michael is also 21 or at least, appears so since we all know he's actually older, Lucifer is 18, Castiel is 17, Ruby is 20, Anna is 19 and Raphael and Zachariah are hench-vampires and not important enough to give ages. Gabriel and Balthazar who appear in this chapter are undefined older teens about eighteen or seventeen. Also, John Winchester needs to stop being such a damn flirt

 
Everything was a blur. Dean had never, ever been so hung-over in his life, he was certain. He'd fallen into bed fully dressed only an hour, maybe two hours ago when dawn had finally started appearing and the others... fuck, that was all blurred too. What had he done? There had been drinking and laughing and the revving of the bikes and beautiful deep blue eyes that had looked... they'd looked into his soul. Something, something like that. Whatever had happened, it had to have been good, if only because he was paying for it now. There was a pounding in his head and a taste in his mouth like he'd been sucking on an iron bar and his eyes ached as the morning light streamed through the window. He'd not bothered to shut the blinds when he’d come in last night but now he staggered up, making it across the room and tugging them closed.
 
 And then he groaned. He felt like shit and he was certain it wasn't just from beer. What other shit had they been drinking? He didn't know, he didn't remember. But there was pounding feet on the stairs and loud voices and someone calling his name and so he went, downstairs in his jeans and boots and shirt. He might have unpacked his clothes yesterday, but yesterday was a million miles away now. 
 
Dean found his sunglasses on the hall-table, as he went towards Bobby's kitchen, the smell of frying breakfast making his stomach turn. He collapsed, into a chair next to Sam, and leant back heavily. "Bobby, you got any aspirin?" He called, pushing his hair from his face and trying to focus. Coffee and aspirin. And then when everyone else had gone, he was going back to bed. And he was going to stay there until the pounding went away, until the house was quiet and until the damn California sun wasn't so bright.
 
John wanted to know what Dean thought he was doing, coming in last night at about two in the morning. He hadn't been waiting up, it was just harder to sleep in the new bed then he'd expected. It was hurting his back, the mattress was lumpy and if he didn't think Bobby'd call him a princess about it then he'd tell the old bastard. But it wasn't fair of him to go around telling Bobby that his hospitality wasn't good enough especially when he was letting more than just John stay here with him. Which meant all the more that Dean couldn't go out and stay out as long as he pleased.
 
 "How much did you drink last night?" He asked, glaring at his oldest son. He was wearing sunglasses in the house for Christ’s sakes. If he thought he didn't look hung over then he was mistaken. "And where were you? I can't believe you'd just take off like that, Dean."  At least Sam and Adam had stayed around to prove he had raised two of his children right. They'd unpacked, been polite and gone to bed at a reasonable time and then they'd come down stairs, had breakfast and hadn't asked for aspirin or worn sunglasses in the house.
 
  Dean groaned, head tipping forwards, his arms curled on the table around the bowl that had been set out for him. Seriously, cereal? Was he five?  Whatever, he did not want to deal with his father and answer his questions; he wanted to go back to bed. The only thing that stopped him at that point was Bobby, who moved up behind him and set a coffee cup and a bottle of aspirin down in front of him. It was thick, black, proper coffee, the sort that drowned all sins and washed away any memories of the night before. He reached for it gratefully, glancing up to see Bobby back at the stove.
 
  What a fucking weird little domestic scene this was- Bobby making breakfast and his dad sat there, washed and even sort of groomed, probably because he was going out job hunting and to see principles of whatever schools had spaces for his younger brothers. It was weird. John Winchester never dressed up, for anything.  And there was Bobby, cooking. He wasn't wearing an apron, but if he did, it could only make everything a little bit weirder. Bobby was not the stereotypical image of an American mom. Especially considering the beard. Dean shook his head trying to get rid of his thoughts and explain to himself that his dad and Bobby just... no. John had kicked up such a fuss when Dean had brought even slightly effeminate guys home that he'd never, ever be okay with... no.
 
 He managed to stop his brain there, devoting his attention to unfastening the aspirin lid and taking a couple. "I went out with some friends and we had some drinks. I don't remember what or how much." He said, and it was mostly the truth, "And we were in town. You should be happy I'm meeting people and finding my feet." But no, John Winchester was not happy until everyone was as miserable as he was. No, that wasn't true. Dean was just hung-over, and tired. "Met a really nice girl. Ruby. Really nice. Curvy." He said, taking another swallow of his coffee, and then he grinned, "Not as pretty as her brother though." He added, because his father deserved to be wound up.
 
 "Dean," John growled, casting a quick glance at Bobby’s back. "Can we please not talk about this?" Because Dean just had to keep shoving that in John's face didn't he. John didn’t really care as much as his oldest seemed to think, and he had his suspicions about Adam but that was all those were currently, suspicions. John didn't want to dwell on them, he just wanted Dean to stop parading these guys around, influencing Sam and Adam. Besides, he didn't know what Bobby thought about that sort of thing, they'd never had any reason to talk about it. He didn't want Dean making trouble for them in Bobby's house, especially when they’d only just got there. They couldn’t afford to get kicked out because Dean couldn’t keep it in his pants around anyone. 
 
"You don't have any friends, Dean. You just got into town." John said, rubbing at his forehead and he could feel a headache coming on, the sort he always got trying to argue with Dean because whatever he said his son would always come out with something completely asinine and they’d descend into a screaming match till one or other of them was walking out the door, getting in the car or on his bike and going for a long drive to make sure they didn't end up in a fist fight. He reached across the table and snatched the bottle from Dean's hand, opening it and downing two of the tablets. 
 
 Bobby was listening, it was impossible not to, not in a kitchen that size and he was hearing every word. He'd never had kids, and while sometimes, in his old age, he thought he'd lost out, he realised now that he really hadn't. And he did sort of have kids- he didn't know them well but while the Winchesters were under his roof, he was going to have to look after them. And John. And whatever Dean was into, well, that was up to him. This wasn’t the first, or last, generation to be into things their elders disapproved of.  Bobby moved back to the young man, a hand, heavy and calloused, resting on Dean’s shoulder. "Ruby Novak?" He asked, in tones that were unfamiliar. "You want to stay away from her, Dean. That one's trouble. The whole family. Don’t you bring any of them back here." He said, and then that was it. He couldn't do any more, and so moved back to his own seat, hand moving from Dean’s shoulder, the same hand patting John on the back.
 
 "You listen to Bobby. He knows the people around here. If he says they're trouble then they're trouble and you should stay away." John said, not in the mood to argue with Dean any more, but comforted somewhat by Bobby’s gesture. 
 
Dean had been watching the two men, underneath the shadow of his glasses and he felt the fight fading out of him. He was drained, not just hung over and he wanted to go back to bed. "Right dad." He said, dismissing whatever he'd just been told. He knew it was all rubbish. People had said that Dean was just like his father had been in his young, rebellious days. Dean had never known his grandfather, but he was sure, completely sure, that he and John had had the same sort of conversations that John and Dean had now, that probably generations of Winchester men had had. "I'm going back to bed." He said, getting to his feet, chair legs scraping back on the titled floor and the noise went right through him. "Fuck." He swore, and then turned on his heel, hands going to his head and he left the room.  
 
Bobby shook his head, reaching for toast and pushing a slice in front of John too. "I'll keep an eye on him." He promised, making a mental note to try and nail shut the window in the bedroom Dean was using. Just in case. 
 
**
 
 Balthazar was carefully positioned, in a dark shadow towards the back of the store- settled there even if he wasn't comfortable. From here he could see everyone who came in and out of the shop, watch them and make sure they didn't cause trouble. There were a lot of trouble makers in Santa Carla, but he and his brother knew how to deal with them, knew what to do even if their adoptive parents had no clue as they dozed behind the till. The afternoon was slow, and it was safer to sleep now while there was still daylight than let your guard down at night. Not completely safe, just safer. But the Milton brothers were awake, and alert, and ready. They were always ready. 
 
 Gabriel was up at the front of the store that afternoon, lent against the shutters casually, but in full view of Balthazar, and even though he wasn't looking at his brother, the way his hand hung at his side meant a quick signal would have Balthazar there in a second. They'd devised the system years ago, and although it was simple, it worked. It kept the shop safe, it kept undesirable people out. Of course, they had regulars too, harmless over-grown geeks mostly, the sort that their adopted parents would talk to for hours on end rather than keep an eye on things. But that was okay. Security fell to the brothers. They knew the truth, and they knew that some people couldn't handle the truth. It was better to work alone.
 
 Gabriel shifted, leaning back slightly so that the shutter clanged against its runners, getting Balthazar's attention, and tapped his index finger and forefinger against his thigh, invisible to the street. Two of them. And then a short movement, like a slice. Two of them, no trouble. Strangers coming this way, and Gabriel was watching them, while pretending not to, his other hand curled around a Mars bar. He took a bite, chewing slowly as he watched the pair of strangers come closer. They didn't look like most people around here. Sure, this was California, there was no standardisation but no one wore anything as old, or as worn, as this pair. Tourists, probably, visiting relatives for the summer. They looked alike, and pretty close in age. Brothers, he guessed. The tall one with the floppy hair was pretty hot too, although that wasn't a very professional opinion, just an observation. The other was smaller, looked as if he was still searching for a shape in the world he was meant to fill. Just your normal teenager. Or so he appeared. Never judge a comic by its cover-art.

 They were coming into earshot now, the noise of the boardwalk no longer covering up their words and Gabriel turned his head away, keeping his ears honed on the pair. Maybe they'd be interesting. Maybe they should keep surveillance on them anyway, to make sure they were harmless.            
 
Finally getting out of the house was the best thing Sam could have thought of. Dean was in his bedroom, groaning about something or other, probably hung over and it was just a bit weird hanging around with Bobby. The last time Sam had seen him he'd been ten years old and Bobby was just some weird uncle they spent time with every so often when their dad was between girlfriends or jobs. He remembered him as a gruff, sometimes kindly older man but didn't really think more about him than that.
 
 Now it was just a bit creepy how Bobby didn't want to leave the house or not go further than his scrap yard where he seemed to have a part time business fixing up cars that people bought to him. Sam certainly didn't remember all the weird dead things and wind chimes and other hanging odds and ends about the place. He guessed Bobby was just what you'd call an eccentric but that wasn’t so fun when you saw it up close. No, getting out the house was a godsend for him and Adam as well. Sam thought if he had to listen to any more of Adam's whining about the move then he was going to go crazy. At least Adam didn’t say it where dad could hear but that didn’t mean Sam wanted to be his diary for all of Adam’s personal thoughts and private fears. He should have said he'd share a room with Dean but Dean was an adult and Sam and Adam were still young enough to fall under the banner of kids so they got thrown together.
 
"Come on." He said, reaching to put a hand on his little brother's back and steer him towards the store to the left of them. A comic book store. Maybe he'd be able to pick up something cool. You never knew what sort of things these family run, out of the way places would have. He hadn't been into comic books for a couple of years, not really, but a distraction from rattling around that strange old house would be really welcome. "In here. We'll get you some romance comics or something."                                   
 
Gabriel snorted in disgust, falling into step behind the other boys. Gabriel had hoped that the pair were coming in. Well, he'd not hoped, not really, because that would imply he cared and he was too cool to care, his long dirty-brown hair held back from his eyes with a bandanna, his arms moving to fold over his chest, the empty candy wrapper shoved into his pocket. "If you're looking for Romance comics, you're in the wrong place. We only do serious comics here." He said, behind the pair, one hand going to each of their shoulders, although it was a little tricky with the tall one. Balthazar moved too, getting to his feet and heading towards them, down the opposite aisle of bookshelves, ready to support him in a second if Gabriel seemed to need it. 
 
 They weren't being serious about crappy romance comics, Gabriel was pretty sure. They didn't look the type- in fact he would have said the smaller one might have even enjoyed some of the classics. The tall one... well, he might have been an avid collector, but Gabriel doubted it. He looked more like he should be out playing sports - the sort of kids that tried to steal comics for a laugh, not because they wanted to read them. "Maybe I can point you gentlemen in the right direction? Maybe the Tourist Office? Or the Fashion Police?"             
    
 "We're not looking for romance comics." Sam said, rolling his eyes. He would have thought it was obvious he was teasing his little brother but apparently everyone in this town was just weird. These two kids were certainly weird. Sam didn't think they were any older than him, in fact he thought they were probably the same age as him but they were dressed up as rejects from Rambo. One of them was even wearing a bandanna. Adam had wondered off to go and have a look at some Spiderman comics in the corner which was probably better because Sam wasn't as good at the big brother stuff as Dean was. He didn't adjust well to being the middle kid rather than the youngest. He knew he'd never been the youngest since Adam was born but when he hadn't been living with them that fact was pretty easy to ignore and it had just been him and Dean, thick as thieves until Dean discovered sex and rock and roll and Adam came to live with them.
 
 "I'm fine, thanks. I don't need the tourist office. I've just moved here. Sam Winchester, and that's my brother Adam pawing through your Spidermen." He gestured vaguely across to his brother, not really caring what Adam did as long as he didn't break anything and they didn't have to pay for it. "And if I was dressed up like a toy soldier I wouldn't be handing out fashion advice to anyone." Sam said, crossing his arms over his chest. He knew his clothes didn't look that great, but he looked better than these two. They were mostly Dean's hand-me-downs but at least it was better than Adam who had hand-me-downs from both his older brothers. And he could do with a haircut, his dad kept telling him but when did they have the money to throw around on stuff like that and Sam liked his hair long. He'd let Adam take a pair of clippers to his hair once, just to get it a bit shorter around the edges and that had turned out so badly that in the end his dad had just decided Sam could grow his hair out. "Is this the way you guys do business? Insult your customers till they buy something? You can't sell very much."
 
"We're the best place in town," Balthazar chirped in then, moving to stand next to his brother. "Our customers know what they want and they know we'll have it." There wasn't really any other comic book stores in the city. One or two other small ones, but they were the other side of town, and they didn’t get so much traffic. The Milton place did, with the boardwalk so close. Comic geeks might not drift naturally to the boardwalk, but this place was open longest, into the night even, and it did enough business to stay open. At least, they had so far. Last year it had been a frozen yoghurt place. Until the owner went missing.
 
 "Sam and Adam," Gabriel said, taking over from his brother, "I'm Gabriel and this is Balthazar. What we wear might look silly to you, but this outfit has saved my life countless times." He glanced at Balthazar, who shook his head, and Gabriel shrugged. They didn’t trust the Winchesters, not yet. Best not to go into details.
 
 "So, what are you looking for? If your brother is a fan of Stan Lee, maybe I can interest you in something similar." He gestured Sam away from the main aisles, towards the darker area towards the back of the store. "The thing with Peter Parker, he never comes up against anything... paranormal." Gabriel told Sam, "But maybe New York doesn't have that many undead. But here, here we have plenty." He said, and then reached into the pocket of his jeans, taking out a carefully folded comic, the colours gory.
 
"That, Sam Winchester, is the best guide to Santa Carla you can get. Read it, learn it, and sleep with it. Keep it close, all the time. Give it to your brother. You won't last long in this town otherwise." Gabriel told him, serious as he pushed the comic into the other boy's larger hands, keeping the urge to think anything filthy at bay. "Treat it like your bible."
 
Sam couldn’t have stopped the expression from appearing if he’d tried. He glanced over his shoulder at Adam again, not even sure Adam liked comics but pretty certain that his brother really didn't want to be the centre of attention for the two weirdos running this place. His attention was drawn back to the shorter of the two brothers, Gabriel, as the guy starting prattling on about supernatural creatures. "You think there are Supernatural things in Santa Carla?" Great, so not only was everyone here odd but he was also talking to guys with delusions.  Sam took the comic anyway, looking over it, his expression not really changing as he did. It had a snarling vampire on the cover, blood dripping from his teeth. "Right." He muttered, pushing the comic back at Gabriel. "I'm not really into horror comics. Thanks all the same. I'm just not going to pay for something I don't want and it'd probably give Adam nightmares or something." He turned slightly. "Adam, we're going now!" He shouted, just wanting to get out of the shop. The guys were crazy. He’d humoured them, but now it was best to leave.
 
 “I know there are supernatural things here." Gabriel insisted, almost pouting even as the Winchesters retreated. He couldn't let them go though. Not yet. Not like this. He frowned, glancing down at the comic book Sam had shoved back into his chest. They might not want to, but they had to take it, and Gabriel didn't think that Adam looked like the sort of boy that might have nightmares. He wasn't a baby, and even if it did scare him, the comic wasn't half as bad as what was really out there. The boy was heading out, towards his brother who was almost out of the shop, so as Adam passed Gabriel pressed the comic into his hands. "Freebie." He said, and by then Sam was gone, and Adam had no time to question what had been shoved into his grip, he just rammed it into a pocket.
 
 Gabriel stood still, watching the Winchester brothers leave, and then turned his attention back to Balthazar. "I think we're going to have a busy summer." 
 
**
 
John had been trying to put fighting with Dean behind him all day. Sometimes he couldn't understand what had happened to Dean. One day he'd had this little boy with freckles across his nose and these big green eyes who'd thought his dad was the best dad in the world and then it seemed within the blink of an eye he'd ended up with this snarling, monosyllabic pain-in-the-ass who obviously thought that nothing John could tell him was worth a thing. Sam, who was smart like that, said they fought so badly because they were so alike. At least Sam hadn’t got like that, not yet. He talked back and he was a smart-ass about things, sarcastic too but their fights were less frequent. They were worse, a lot worse but the infrequency of them was a blessing. Sam seemed to understand how hard this was for him, for all of them, and he was trying to make it work. He was a good kid, John had always known that even if he didn’t know how to tell Sam how much he appreciated him for just getting his head down and getting on with it.
 
Adam had tantrums. That was the best word for it. It had been hard on him, John and his mother breaking up and then her death in that car accident. Adam had never wanted to come and live with his father, John knew that and Adam's issues all came from being the youngest, being unwanted. Adam hadn’t been planned and John hadn't contested custody for him when he and Kate split up. He'd had Dean and Sam to look after. Kate was a great mother, Adam was lucky to be living with her rather than with a guy who had trouble holding down a job and spent a bit too much of his pay-cheque on liquor. Still, John knew how it must have looked to Adam. His father hadn't made any show of being interested in him past monthly visits and infrequent trips out and then his mother was killed by some fucker who was driving too fast and he ended up stuck with a dad he thought didn't want him and two older brothers who'd never been a part of his life. John blamed himself. It was his fault that he'd never tried to get Sam and Dean involved in Adam's life before but it had been hard, everything had been hard. It was easier keeping them all separate or so he'd thought at the time.
 
He'd ended up strolling along the boardwalk as the sun set just thinking about his boys, thinking about what he'd done wrong with them and how he could try to put it back together again. He didn't know if there was a way. Money would have made it easier. He could at least offer them security then, a house and an allowance and the things other kids got. He sighed, leaning on the railing to gaze out into the sea. They were lucky to have Bobby even if the kids didn't see it. Otherwise they'd have been living in John's car. He pulled away, unable to look to the sea and the perfect stretch of sand any longer. He'd never taken the boys to the beech when they were little. Maybe living here would make up for that a bit. There were a load of shops lining the boardwalk, including a video rental place. He'd go in there, just for a bit, find something to rent they could all watch, force Bobby to move that TV he kept in his bedroom downstairs now he had other people staying with him.
 
 There was a sign in the window saying they were looking for part-time staff. It wasn't much but it was better than nothing and John needed something to do while he looked for a full time job. He needed to contribute to the house and the boys’ upkeep no matter what Bobby said.
 
Crowley had always had a sixth-sense when it came to people. Even before he had walked the earth as an immortal, he had been able to see things people kept hidden, their secrets and desires. And he'd always used it to his advantage. He turned everything to his advantage, which was how he'd come to be the unofficial king of Santa Carla. In his little guise as owner of a modest little video store, he could fly under the radar. He was unimportant, despite the way he, and his boys and girls, touched and tampered and tainted the city, the lives of everyone there.
 
 Lucifer, his first turned and something of a protégée, thought he was king, that he ruled the roost and Crowley was just happy to let him and his friends play their silly blood games and work out their lusts on the population, but Crowley knew they needed reining in. And for that, he would need help. He did not have the presence that his children responded to. He had to find someone who did.
 
 He was leaning on the counter, letting his other employees bustle around him, watching the back of the man who had been bent over the railing, watching the shoreline. The stranger wasn't considering walking out into the sea, Crowley knew that. He could tell the man wasn't the type, even though he couldn't see his face. He was the solid sort, not from here. He had broader shoulders, muscles that were for work and not for show- so he was from one of the inland states. The man had that sort of aura-a physical one. Crowley liked that. 
 
And here he came. Crowley hadn't intended to hook anything other than a new employee with that sign, but it seemed that he might have found what he was looking for.  He saw the way the man seemed to stray closer, and Crowley wiped the smirk from his face as the man stepped inside, and instead he went to the tapes in front of him, arranging the piles of cassettes so they could go back on the shelves. The man no doubt was independent, headstrong, and he didn't want to rely on anyone. He wouldn’t want any one assuming he needed, or wanted, help. He could bring himself to the desk, and no doubt demand attention in some gruff, manly way. The sort of voice that could sway people, command them if just focused right. Crowley knew how to make use of that.      
               
John decided going up and asking about the job was probably the first thing he should do after loitering in the doorway for a second. If he was turned down then he didn't want to come back in here after renting a video he'd have to return. He wasn't even sure what he should be renting. What sort of movies did Sammy like? Art house flicks in French or black and white. Dean would be snoring on his shoulder in minutes and Adam wouldn't even sit though the credits. Hell, John would have to be half drunk to enjoy himself. Dean would want something with some action in it. Adam too most likely. He'd rent some old Hitchcock movie.  They were usually in black and white and Sam could enjoy the cinematography and bore them all to death afterwards with some deep insight into film-making. Hitchcock normally had enough action if you picked the right one and they were pretty gripping once you got into them. He'd just have to make sure Adam didn't take off because black and white movies were boring. He'd rent Star Wars as well, just in case they really hated his choice.
 
 Reaching the counter he was for a moment taken aback by the look of the guy running the place. He was expecting some bored twenty-something and yeah, asking them for an application form to fill out all of his details would have been embarrassing. Instead, it was a guy pretty much his own age although in the sort of loud, flashy clothes that John would never be caught dead in, probably trying to make himself seem younger. Fashion these days made no sense to him though he couldn't say it ever had. Just give him a clean shirt and a good pair of jeans and he made his way in the world. The guy the other side of the counter looked like he took his tips on dressing from Miami Vice. He would have looked pretty stupid back home, but John guessed here he was the one who looked odd and out of place, not this guy across the counter.
 
 "I saw your advertisement." He said, jerking his thumb back over his shoulder. "The one in the window." He added in case the guy didn't know which sign he was talking about, like he probably hadn't been the one to put it up there in the first place. "That job still open or is the sort of place that only employs teenagers?" Because if it was then he'd pick up a form for Dean and remind his son that he wasn't getting an education any more so he better be getting a job.    
                                
 Crowley shouldn't have expected anything different- the man was headstrong, forth-right in a way most people might have considered a little bit rash, a little bit rude. This was the sort of man with a temper, Crowley was certain, with an ability to shout and frighten people into place that he, Crowely, really didn’t possess. "Just teenagers? No, no, no, we employee everyone here, as long as they have a good work ethic, Mr...?" He paused, leaving the man time to answer as he pushed the stack of videos aside, the counter-top now free from him to lean forward again. Whoever this man was, Crowley knew he was attempting to size him up. And he might be dismissing him too, for what he wore and how he looked. But that was fine, as long as he didn't dismiss him completely.
 
 "Mr Winchester," John said gruffly. "John Winchester." People didn't know him here, they didn't know his name or his past but he was still hesitant telling people who he was. It was if his name was an Omen, following him from place to place and damning him before he even got a chance. If he didn't know better he would have thought he'd been born under a bad star but that was the sort of thing people told themselves to make themselves feel better when they'd fucked up their lives. And he had fucked up his. 
 
 "And I'm Crowley, I'm the owner of this little emporium. We are a little short-handed, especially during the day. This isn't my only business, so I'm only here in the evenings, when we get busy," Better be seen as open, trusting, the sort of man that could and would need the other's help. Make it so that the stranger wasn't asking for a job, but taking one Crowley was offering to him. "I need someone that can manage teenagers. Coming in, trying to cause trouble. Need a firm hand to keep them under-control, or even better, out." 
 
"Crowley." John repeated and that was a pretty damn unusual name. It was all the ex-hippies who'd moved out here. Some of them named their kids after the elements, after days of the week and some of them found religion when free love didn't work and used the bible for their original and freaky names. He wondered if the guy only had one name, like Madonna, he looked the sort to be that vain or if this was his surname and his first name was just too bad to even repeat in public without a life time of jokes. He was lucky really that he'd had Mary to suggest sensible names for Sam and Dean and then Kate to name Adam after her father. He didn't want to think about the names he would have come up with on his own.
 
 "You own other places? Yeah, I can see how that would keep you busy. I'm free during the day." He was also free in the evenings but it would be good to be the kind of dad who could pick his boys up from school and help them with their homework. True, he'd taken a look at some of the things Sam was studying and it had done his head in and Adam was heading that way, too clever for his own good. Then maybe he could be the kind of dad who went to PTA meetings and played catch in the backyard. "I've got kids. Three boys. I'd want to be around for them when they get out of school. Uh, well one of them is already out of school but I'd like to be around to make sure he comes home once in a blue moon."
 
 Crowley laughed at that, smiling before he let his expression fall, glancing beyond Mr John Winchester and out of the window and the darkened night sky. Right on time, there they were his little band of miscreant centenarian teenagers, Raphael and the others- clearly Ruby and Lucifer had better things to do. The rest of them were just bored. They weren't as intelligent, as strong as Lucifer or his sister. They were just bored kids, looking to cause trouble. But they were still family, a family he did not need to be too closely associated with in public. "Only one or two other little businesses... if you’ll excuse me...”  He said, with a twitch of an apologetic smile towards the gruff man. "Some of my usual trouble makers have arrived. They put the customers off, steal. You know the sort."
 
 By the time he’d turned his attention from John, one of them was already flicking through the piles of video cases. “Leave. I’ve told you before you aren’t welcome here. I will call the police.” Hardly much of a threat, but in public, Crowley could do nothing to stop the gang, and he too had been victim of their pranks before. In private it was different but right now this could all be used to his advantage.  
 
John turned to look at the teenagers. Yeah, they were the sort you could tell were trouble miles away. Good looking guys in leather, dressed up like counter-culture archetypes and he bristled slightly, wondering if these were any of the kids Bobby had been warning Dean to stay away from. They looked like the type Dean would hang around with, not knowing any better. "Like I said, three boys. I'm pretty good with discipline." He said, turning back to face Crowley. He didn't look like a guy who'd be able to handle himself in a fight. Maybe like the sort of guy who'd call his lawyer as soon as he'd finished getting beat on and screw the bastards in court but not the kind of guy who could swing a punch.
 
 He stepped away from the counter, squaring himself up to his full height and one of these days maybe he was going to realise he was too old to be doing this sort of thing any longer and he was going to take a hit to the jaw and go down but that day wasn't today. "Get out of here." He growled. The teenagers seemed to look at Crowley, which surprised him, before they scampered away like the scared little boys they really were. He turned back to Crowley, giving the guy a smile. "Did I mention I was in the army?"
 
 "No, I don't believe you mentioned it at all John." Crowley smiled, a dazzling sort of smile he reserved for special occasions and the apparent removal of unruly teens. He could appreciate a strong man with more muscle than brain and one who had once been in uniform. He was worn around the edges yes, but considering the others in his social circle, Crowley supposed he had no real reason to complain. John was, in comparison, very well turned out. His clothes were clean, unlike Lucifer's gang, and he didn't have any ridiculous piercings. 
 
 "I am sure we can work around your family commitments." Crowley added, after a moment of what might have been consideration. It wasn't, he had already made up his mind. "That is, if you'd like to accept the job? I'd need you on weekdays." Although he had the feeling that it wouldn't be difficult to see John Winchester at other times too, if he asked the right way. John Winchester. What a very nice sounding name indeed. A very interesting name. He was used to religious names, of course. His own, for one, although that was an adopted name, and of course the Novaks. It was their names that had attracted him so in the first place, and when disaster struck their little town, killing off their peers, it was their names, and their beauty, that had saved them. John too was a very, very suitable name. And perhaps it was coincidence, but that was unlikely. Most names were biblical in some way or another. Now, the man's sons, if they too were possessed with suitable names...

  But that was not a question he could ask now. It was too personal, but maybe John would volunteer it. "We can discuss a suitable hourly rate and the other perks. Aside of course from the most obvious." The perk, such as it was, was free rentals but Crowley was most interested in discovering where John's mind leapt to. But of course, Crowley was distracted from the vital moment as the large white head of Azrael, his dog, pushed its way between Crowley and the counter, peering with large yellow eyes at the new-comer. It didn't growl, or make any noise at all, but watched him, examining him carefully.  "Ah. You will have to forgive him. Azrael likes to make his own assessment of my potential employees."        
 
 John cast a glance over the man again. He shouldn't have been surprised, he supposed, this was California after all. Lots of gay guys came out here, didn't they? Just like all those old hippies. That reminded him to ask Bobby what in the world he was doing out here sometime. Didn't seem the sort of place he would have thought his old friend would end up. He paused for a moment, trying to think what he should say to that. He needed this job so his usual bluff and bluster wasn't going to work here. Luckily enough the dog managed to interrupt them. John didn't think he'd ever been so glad for an interruption. 
 
"Yeah? Interesting name." He said. The dog had the creepiest eyes he'd ever seen and the way it just watched him. John didn't think he'd bother putting his hand out and trying to pet it. Probably never get his fingers back if he did. "He's a nice looking dog, sure." He said, shoving his hands deep into his pockets and looking at Crowley. "What does he say then? Good enough to join your team or not?" He didn't want to hang around for much longer if the guy was just jerking his chain or getting off on some fantasy of flirting with a stranger not that John was doing any flirting back. He was just being nice, damn it, because he needed something and he knew how to play the game. He just didn't always do it. That was the problem.    
 
 Crowley laughed, his hand gently stroking over the top of the animal's head, as if to soothe it, not pet it. Azrael might seem like a loyal pet, a smart pet, but he was a working animal, an animal that served a purpose. He had been with Crowley a good many years, and would remain so. Unless he failed his duties.  "I would be a very whimsical man if I let a dog choose my employees for me, wouldn't I?" A whimsical man he certainly was not. Everything was planned, carefully calculated. His children were whimsical; doing anything and everything they wanted, when it suited them. Crowley needed to rein them in, yes, because otherwise Santa Carla would no longer be a suitable home for them all. But Lucifer and his sister were the sort that really did believe they knew best. John Winchester would prove to them it was not the case. 
 
"I'm certain that Azrael will give his blessing. Anyone who keeps that riff-raff from the door is good in his books. So, when can you start?"  He wasn't going to beat around the bush. He wanted John Winchester to start tomorrow, or even sooner, but he wouldn't show that. No, he needed to seem much less eager, and he needed to test the waters. He had to find out how the man could best be steered in the right directions.                          
          
 John hadn't been expecting the job offer to come without him handing in anything detailing his previous working history, or his address or any of the things he'd normally needed to provide before. He ran a hand through his hair, glancing out the door. "Uh, can you give me a couple of days? I need to sort out some things at Sam and Adam's new school. Uh, they're my two youngest." He said. "If you've got any forms to fill in, I'll take it them from you and then drop them back?"
 
 He collected the application form that was pushed across the desk, flashing the man his most charming smile and tried to force away the feeling that he was really no better than Dean. He couldn't tell Dean off for flirting with anyone with a pulse when John was doing the same and for dubious reasons. He wasn't a fan of leading people on or lying but this would just be a part time gig before he found something better. Little lies didn't hurt people, not really. They just greased the wheel. He picked up North by Northwest on his way out, determined they'd all settle down as a family and watch it together. His boys would never know the things he did for them. 
 
**
 
 The night had closed in, black and inky, thick and clawing. The sort of night when any sensible person was inside, their doors and windows locked tight. Balthazar had just made the final sweep, making sure the house was sealed, entering the bedroom as Gabriel set their emergency packs on the table by the door. If there was a sudden crisis, they were prepared.
 
 “Do you think they’ll be out tonight?” Balthazar asked, not needing to confirm who the ‘they’ were. They both knew. The Milton boys knew far too well.
 
 “A night like tonight? Clear sky, moon out? Fresh blood in town? They’re crawling out from ever rock in town.” Gabriel answered, and then caught his brother’s eye. Balthazar was staring out the window at the dark sky beyond, unchanged from ancient times. The night was made to be respected, to conceal in its shadows all manner of things. Things undiscovered, unimaginable. But the nature of the night wasn’t evil. It had been made evil by all the things that possessed it and used it for their own ends.
 
 Unspoken, Gabriel moved towards the window, his fingers coiling in the fabric of the curtains.
 
 He was standing out there again, a stark moment of light in the darkness, looking more like an angel then the monster he really was. Pleasing forms, that was all they were, pleasing forms over black hearts but that didn't mean that Lucifer wasn't beautiful or that he didn't cultivate that beauty. But under the pale, unspoilt skin, Lucifer was the ugliest thing Gabriel had ever been able to imagine. Lucifer was waiting. Watching, he head tilted up, his cold dead eyes meeting Gabriel's, and he smiled as the wind caught his long dark coat, unfurling it behind him. 
 
 Gabriel didn’t say anything to Balthazar, pulling the curtains closed with all his might before curling up in the bed opposite his brother’s. Lucifer's presence had become routine, but it never grew less terrifying. Neither of them said a word, watching, listening. They couldn’t come in unless they were invited. And Lucifer would never be invited. The brother's knew that, but it didn't make it easier.
 
 Neither of them slept for several hours, until the darkness of the sky began to fade into dawn.

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
ladyknightanka
Dec. 4th, 2011 08:33 pm (UTC)
I loved reading more about John here. He isn't my most favorite character, I admit, but I never like bashing him, either, and I think you captured the blend of him trying to be a good father, but often coming up against obstacles here. His interaction with Crowley was particularly interesting, if ominous. Another great chapter! :D
nileflood
Dec. 4th, 2011 09:01 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much! We're not in the John-bashing club either, so we're glad he comes off as more of a balanced father-figure here. Everything involving Crowley should be horribly ominous as he is a horrible and ominous sort of guy :)
saintsghost
Dec. 5th, 2011 12:10 am (UTC)
Great second chapter. I hope we get more Dean and Cas next chapter :) very awesome:)
bellacatbee
Dec. 6th, 2011 09:59 am (UTC)
Thank you! Don't worry, the next chapter is very Dean/Cas heavy.
lord_nastrond
Feb. 3rd, 2012 01:08 am (UTC)
i love this fic and the gabriel/lucifer interaction! does ol' luci want to have gabe join him?
nileflood
Feb. 3rd, 2012 07:02 am (UTC)
Not just Gabriel but that pesky brother Balthazar too! As for his exact intentions, you'll have to wait and see!
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )