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The Lost Ones, Chapter 4a

Title: The Lost Ones, Chapter 4a
Author: [info]nileflood and [info]bellacatbee
Rating: Overall rating NC-17. This chapter NC-17
Genre and/or Pairing: Dean/Castiel, eventual Sam/Gabriel, Adam/Michael , hints of Bobby/John and one-sided Crowely/John
Warnings: Vampirism, underage sexual situations (Cas is a vampire in a teenage body, other characters are actual teenagers)
Word Count: approx 15500
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.
Author's Note: Happy 2012 lovely readers! Enjoy Adam! And plot! And Dean's frantic attempts to push the rating of this chapter up to NC-17 again. Damn you, Dean.

He's my brother, Sam had said. But I'm your brother too, Adam thought miserably trudging along in the sand. He didn't know how long he'd been walking but it felt like ages. As soon as Dean had taken off Sam had gathered up a load of books and that comic those weird guys had given him and gone downstairs to start reading up on what he could do for Dean. Adam had known he wouldn't have that much time till his dad and Bobby got back from the store. He'd stuffed some clothes into a bag and slipped down the stairs quietly, carefully not to step on any of the floorboards that squeaked. He didn't want Sam to realise what was going on.

It was easy going out the front door, shutting it softly behind him and walking along the beaten dirt track that led up to Bobby's house. He’d been worried any moment his dad would drive up but his luck had held and he made it to the main road and walked along the edge for a while, considering hitching for a lift. He’d stuck his thumb out but all the cars continued driving so he’d decided just to follow the road. Now Adam felt like he'd been walking for hours which he probably had been and he could hear the rush of the ocean which the road ran past. He'd go down and sit on the beach and when the light started coming up properly maybe someone would stop for him.

He set his pack down and settled into the sand which was colder than he thought it would have been. He'd been expecting it to retain the warmth of the sun like it did in the day but it was cold and Adam couldn't help feeling that was just the icing on the perfect mess of his life.

He'd try and get back to Kansas. He didn't want to stay here with a family that didn't want him, that would choose a vampire over him. He'd never wanted to live with his dad in the first place. Things had always been fine when it was just him and his mum. Adam wanted so badly to go back to those days that his chest ached. His dad was just some guy who turned up one weekend a month and took him to baseball games and tried awkwardly to talk to Adam about school and act as if he honestly cared about Adam's answer. His mum had always put him first, he'd never had to share her with anyone else and he wanted nothing more than for her to be there now, for her to kiss his forehead and find a way to make it better but she wasn't coming back. It had been three years since she'd died and Adam still didn't find it any easier without her.

There was the roar of a bike engine coming closer and Adam sighed, hunching up over himself. Of course Dean would try and find him. He wouldn't understand why Adam didn't want to help, why he thought Dean was a monster. "Fuck off, Dean. I'm not going home." He shouted as the sound of the engine died. Maybe without Sam here now Dean would just kill him. Adam couldn't find the desire to get up and run from his brother. At least if he died he'd be back with his mum.

Michael needed to get out, to breathe freely away from the rest of his siblings. He loved them with all his heart, despite what they'd become. He could remember them before Crowley turned up, when they'd been happy, a family. They had their problems, their issues. Lucifer had always been attention-hungry, rebellious, out to shock, but he had loved his family too, adored them, and Michael had been his protector. Crowley had taken everything that was good in them and destroyed it, and now Michael felt the tables were turned- he could no longer protect Lucifer; in fact, he was the one in need of protection, threatened and brow beaten. He would hold out as long as Castiel did, to protect him, to try and keep him the same innocent child he had been for years but now there was that human and everything was changing. Castiel had disappeared to be by himself, shunning Michael's company, and Michael knew what that meant.

It was the beginning of the end.

He revved the motorbike, feeling it roar into life, eating up the road, the stars above him the only stationary objects as everything else becoming a blur. He could ride forever, far away from everything, and the inevitability of it all. But he wasn't about to give in to it. A spin around the town, some time, and that would set his head right. He slowed, taking in the route that he knew by heart. He'd learnt ever single road in Santa Carla years ago, and although there was occasional change, they all adapted well to that now. They had to. The only thing that never really changed was them. Maybe it was because they were always going to be the same as they were now, twisted things. Or perhaps they just did not want to embrace the change.

Then he frowned, forced from his rather melodramatic and depressing musings by something caught in the glare of the bike's headlamps. There was a huddled thing- a human- at the side of the road, in the cold sand, probably wet too with the salt-spray of the sea. He could smell the boy's blood; feel his heart-beat even through the vibrations of the bike and Michael let himself slow down. The boy wasn't dead, or physically hurt, as far as Michael could tell. But he was young. He stopped the bike, the darkness around them closing in and he wondered if the shouting, raving boy could even see the raised eyebrow. He wasn't an ugly creature, despite his harsh words and his hateful expression. Those things were fleeting, and they were all guilty of choosing their words badly. But then... then... "Dean?" He repeated, his lips forming an unhappy line. There was only one Dean that he knew of in Santa Carla, and that was the unfortunate soul that had trailed them at the board-walk, that Castiel had taken a fancy to. It would have been better for all of them if he had just taken Dean aside somewhere and broken his neck.

"My name is Michael. Not Dean." He said, both feet on the ground now, looking over the boy. "I'm certainly not about to be forcing you to go back home, not when you're so keen not to go. But these roads aren't the sort you want to wander at night."

"Oh fuck." Adam sprang up, rubbing at his eyes. He hadn't been crying. It was just the wind whipping the sand up into his face. It had got in his eyes. He sniffed, taking a moment to compose himself, blinking swiftly. "I...sorry. Dean's my brother, I thought he'd...yeah, can't be the only guy around here with a bike but..." He trailed off, shrugging. He didn't need to tell the stranger anything. He reached down, grabbing his pack and swung it over his shoulder. "Michael, huh? Nice, I'm Adam. I'm fine really, I'm better off out here than at home right now. I'm not planning to stay here long. Just waiting for someone to stop and give me a lift."

He glanced over the bike. It was a better model then the one Dean had. Dean didn't really like giving Adam or Sam lifts on his bike unless he really had to because he was saving that spot for someone special he was hoping to impress. Sam didn't like putting his life in danger by getting on the back of Dean's bike but Adam had always enjoyed it. He liked the freedom of it, the wind whistling through his hair, the knowledge that he was risking something every time he climbed up on it.

"Where are you going anyway, Michael?" He asked, focusing back on the man. If he could get a lift with him then he'd be able to put even more distance between himself and Bobby Singer's house and his fucked up vampire family. "I want to go to Kansas but you can drop me off somewhere before, I don't care. I just need to go."

Michael was pretty handsome too from what Adam could see of him, the moonlight the only light he had to see by. Adam didn't mind the idea of riding with him, pressed up tight with no space between the two of them. It would be a good distraction from what he was leaving behind.

Michael frowned.  Had Adam not been listening? This was not a safe place, especially not at night when his siblings tore up and down the asphalt without a care in the world. But it wasn't just the undead that would threaten the boy. He was young, very young, and naive along with it if Michael was any judge. Adam might think he was an adult, but he was not, and he had no understanding of the dangers he was putting himself in. Michael could have sighed. Castiel had been like that once, before he understood the world.  Perhaps Adam needed to avoid his family for a little while, that was understandable. But he would soon change his mind.

"I won't drive you to Kansas." He said, leaning back as he looked over the young man again. He was hardly more than a boy, but he recognised that cock-sure attitude, even if it wasn't quite the same. Dean Winchester and Adam Winchester certainly shared some traits they probably didn't even realise. "I'm not prepared to let you sit out here all night either. There are very few kind people likely to drive down here in the middle of the night." And anyone who did offer Adam a lift would no doubt want something in return. He wasn’t prepared to let Adam stay out there a second longer but the boy wouldn't come with him if Michael said he was going to drive him home. And the second Michael left he had no doubts that Lucifer, or Ruby, or one of the others would appear. And that would be his fault.

He didn't like the idea of it. The seat behind him belonged to Castiel, always had since he'd agreed to ride with the rest of the family. No one else had ever sat there. But needs must. He wouldn't leave the boy, and Castiel would agree that Michael was being over-emotional about it. He nodded to Adam, gesturing him over. "I'm going back into town to get something to eat." He said, "I know the best burger place in town. I'd like you to come with me." And maybe they'd talk about why Adam was leaving. His family had hardly unpacked, as far as Dean had implied. Homesickness was one thing, but putting yourself in danger because of it was quite another.

Adam didn't want to admit his stomach grumbled at the idea of food but he'd left home before his dad and Bobby got back from the market and Sam's idea of cooking was to tell Adam to pour himself a bowl of cereal or learn to cook. He hadn't thought about making himself some sandwiches or something for the journey. He hadn't even got any money on him. Adam had just wanted to get out of there as fast as he could but now he was realising how hungry he was. "Are you paying?" He asked, playing with the frayed strap of his rucksack, not completely sold on the idea of going off with this strange guy. True, he seemed worried about Adam's safety and wanted to get him dinner but that might just be before he took out his knife and wore Adam's skin like a coat or something. If they really were going into town then there wasn't much the guy could do to him in public and at least Adam might get a decent meal before hitting the road again. And he'd get the chance to ride on that sweet bike.

"I'm paying," Michael confirmed. And that was true, to some degree. The little diner he and his family frequented had long along realised that Lucifer and his friends were not about to pay for their meals, and while Michael always had the intention to pay, the owner always refused to take their money, probably out of fear that the teenagers would burn his business to the ground. Michael had resorted to leaving money on the table. “Have we got a deal?" Michael asked, straddling his bick now and kicking it into life, the purr it made like some sort of siren song into the darkness.  This was it, the sound implied, make your choice now.

"Deal," Adam agreed hurriedly, grinning before he climbed on to the bike behind Michael, sliding forward to press himself up against the man's back, feeling the broadness of his shoulders, the muscles under his hands as he gripped him tight and Adam really wanted to believe that sometimes nice guys on motorcycles drove out of the darkness of the night to do good deeds. He needed this right now; he needed someone to show him some kindness, to show him that they cared about him and only him. He pressed his nose into the back of Michael's leather jacket, inhaling the scent of it and the scent of Michael which was oddly comforting. "Just don't get me killed, okay?" He joked, his voice muffled as he took another deep breath of Michael.

Michael waited, letting Adam slip into the rear saddle, feeling the boy get used to it, to get comfortable and then he let the bike leap forward, sure Adam was holding tight. He was fairly sure that wasn't the only thing the boy was doing. But he was Castiel's age, or near enough, and Castiel certainly never had those sorts of designs on anyone. Adam wouldn't either; he was simply trying to get a safe hold.  And that was what Michael forced himself to bear in mind, keeping his attention on the road as they headed back towards the lights of Santa Carla, the giant wheel on the board-walk better than any light-house beacon. But he didn't head towards the beach, taking the road towards the other end of town, towards a diner, all in silver, its oval-windows still bright although there were hardly any cars outside.

"So, what's in Kansas?" He asked, as the sound of the engine slowed and then died completely as Michael brought them to a stop, the first chance he had to actual speak, and be heard, by the boy during their ride.

Adam glanced over the front of the dinner, grinning to himself. This whole place really was a tourist trap but he had to admit it was pretty cool, even if he doubted that it did the best burgers in town. It looked like the sort of place he would have wanted to go as a little kid, something his dad might have taken him to on his once a month visits, somewhere that didn't mind if Adam scribbled all over his napkin and he'd have come home filled up with sugar and salt and bouncing off the walls and his mum would have just smiled indulgently because he'd had a good time. Those good times had become so infrequent. He didn't remember the last time they'd gone out to eat together as a family. It was a treat and they couldn't afford it and Adam had always wanted to come home to his mum's smiling face rather than the quiet of the house he shared with the brothers he didn't really know and the dad who didn't care.

"In Kansas?" He turned to look over Michael again and was stuck now that he could see him properly by just how young he looked. He didn't sound young, he sounded like someone who'd seen a lot of things, done a lot of things but he couldn't have been much older than Dean and Adam knew first hand just how immature that sort of age could be. He was handsome too, dark hair and stubble and Adam bit his lip, worrying it between his teeth as he took a long moment just to enjoy looking at him. "There's my mum. Well, her grave." Being the other side of the country, not being able to visit her on his birthday, on the anniversary of her death. It just felt so unfair and it didn't matter that Sam and Dean had had to leave their mother behind too. Sam had only been a few months old when she'd died and Dean was three. They didn't have the memories that Adam did. It had been him and his mum, every day of his life apart from one Saturday every month, from the day he was born until he was thirteen years old. They couldn't even begin to understand what had happened to him. It wasn't the same.

"Come on." He said, jerking his head towards the inviting light of the dinner. He didn't want to stand out here, talking to some stranger about his mum, about everything that was personal and private and that he didn't talk about because when he tried to he could see the pain in his dad's eyes. "I'm hungry." He murmured although he wasn't all that hungry now he came to think about it. Just anything to stop talking.

Michael said nothing, only watching the boy as he spoke, as that wave of pain crossed his face, the unhappiness more than obvious and Michael felt guilty for bringing it up, but it couldn't be helped. It seemed like the sort of pain the boy carried around with him everywhere, let it control him and influence all the things he did and the relationships he had. But Michael was the same. The loss, albeit slow, of his own family had dictated his life these last hundred years. To a degree they were all still with him, but it was nowhere near the same as it had been.

But just because they were haunted by memories of the ghosts of people long gone did not mean they could never smile again or sit down for a few minutes and enjoy casual conversations. And he saw no reason why he couldn't do that now, with Adam. He carefully moved an arm around Adam's shoulders, in a sort of reassuring gesture, and then led them into the diner, releasing the young man once they were inside. They had, over the years, adopted a little corner of the place as their own, a booth towards the back and that was where he settled, fingers tracing over the table and the scars of their names that had been carved into the wood.

The staff never approached them. Michael doubted that they knew what the family were, only that they were bad news. Michael couldn't blame them. "What do you want?" He asked, settling into the worn red fabric, fingers moving towards a menu and passing it over. "I recommend the cheese burger, with fries. And a milkshake. But they have dessert too, if you want it." He offered. He didn't often have dessert himself, but there were certain members of his family that could not resist and he couldn't tell with Adam. Some people couldn't help themselves when confronted with the idea of sweets. And considering the expression Adam had worn outside, Michael couldn't help but feel that feeding him might at least make him feel a little better. It was a strange peace-offering, but Michael was sure that Adam would appreciate it.   "We come here all the time, my family." When they had the urge, anyway. They were normally fairly apt at feeding themselves but sometimes they wanted something else. Something a little less raw.

It didn't pass Adam by that everyone was giving them a wide birth as they entered. He glanced up at Michael and while he looked imposing Adam couldn't imagine he was dangerous or at least he didn't want to think that he was. He didn't think dangerous people stopped at the side of the road to worry over teenage runaways. He slipped into the booth and took the menu, eyes flicking over the laminated surface and the pictures of the delicious, artery clogging food. "Cheeseburger, fries and a milkshake sound good." He agreed, setting the menu down and pushing it back across the table. "Chocolate milkshake."

Michael grinned approvingly and called their order out to the staff behind the counter. Two cheeseburgers, two sets of fries, one chocolate milkshake and one coffee. It wasn't what most people would have picked to have with this sort of meal, and he understood that but he liked coffee. He had never really suffered any temptations, any desire to join his siblings in their blood lust but he put that, at least in part, to coffee. It kept him awake, alive, feeling human. It grounded him and he needed that. When the house smelt like blood, when Lucifer's laughing resounded all the way into his soul, a cup of coffee and a few deep breathes prevented the madness catching. He smiled back at Adam as the staff began to clutter around the kitchen, at the coffee pot, at the milk-shake maker, working at what seemed like double-quick time. They had learnt before that the little group that sat in that booth did not like to wait.

"Your family?" Adam prompted. He found it difficult to imagine Michael with a mother and father or siblings. Maybe he just preferred to think of him as some kind of guardian angel, turning up out of the blue when he needed him and making Adam feel safe again which he really hadn't been feeling at all this evening. He didn't want to think too deeply about Michael but now he was being forced to. He supposed it wasn't really fair to let the guy buy him dinner and not expect him to want anything else in return. He smiled softly, more to himself then at Michael. There were things he could want that Adam would give him. He was handsome and Adam was young and he was tired of being the baby, being treated like he was still that little kid who'd cried all through his first night in his dad's house and not someone on the brink of adulthood. He just needed a little push to go over the edge.

"My siblings. There are a handful of us that come here." Michael said, and that was, really, all he wanted to say. His family were the centre of his life, had been for over a century, but he did not want them to be the focus of the conversation. They took up too much of his time, even dear Castiel, and now he was going to have a night off from them where he could pretend that they were normal. "I'm afraid that I spend too much time with them." That much he could admit openly, glancing up as the coffee and milkshake were delivered to their table. He muttered a thank you, but that seemed to send the waitress scurrying away even faster than she might otherwise have done. If only Lucifer and Ruby remembered their manners...

"You mentioned Dean before." Michael said, with a quick quirk of his lips. "I imagine he's the oldest? We older brothers are always causing problems for our siblings." He was mocking himself, of course, trying to make Adam relax. He had been too protective once perhaps, too argumentative and rigid. Now of course he was hardly able to look after his siblings that way. They didn't want him to. And what had he to protect them against.

"It's just me, my two brothers and my dad." Adam said softly. "Oh, and Bobby - I guess he's like an uncle. He's my dad's best friend. I don't think they'd miss me if I wasn't there anymore." He looked up at Michael through his eyelashes. He didn't think that would be true of Michael. You were almost forced to look at him.

Michael frowned, looking to Adam across the table, shaking his head. "I don't think that's true, Adam. I think they'd miss you a great deal." Who wouldn't? Adam was the youngest, and Michael had no doubt that he was the one who felt left out and babied. He felt unimportant in comparison to the rest of them. And that wasn't right. "I know that I'd miss you, if you suddenly disappeared. I'd probably look for you. And I think you know they'd look for you too."

"Yeah, Dean's always causing problems." Adam said with a mirthless little laugh. Dean's previous problems - cautions for fighting, speeding tickets, fights with his dad - paled into insignificance after what had happened now. "And there's Sam but he's okay. He just doesn't know what to do with me. He and Dean were always close." He shrugged. He envied that closeness. He wanted so much to fit in but they were pushing him out and tonight when Sam had picked Dean, even a Dean who might have been coming to rip his throat out, over Adam it had been more than enough to tell him he wouldn't ever fit in with them. He gazed out through the window, watching the road outside and nodded. His dad might be home now, he'd be worried. "They might be looking." He agreed. He'd thought it was Dean on the beach. He'd almost wanted it to be Dean, just to prove that he cared.

Adam knew he should probably be frightened. No one wanted to come near them but he just felt intrigued. Michael wasn't like anyone he'd ever known before. He was nice, caring and Adam didn't feel frightened around him. He couldn't imagine what Michael could have done to make people seem so scared of him. He played with the straw in his milkshake, feeling like a kid again having ordered this when Michael was having coffee. He dragged it closer to himself, leaning over to meet the straw part way, drawing it into his mouth and sucking. The hit of chocolate to the back of his tongue was instantly gratifying. He pulled away and smiled at Michael. "I don't think I'll need any dessert after this." He said. It was just right, thick and intense and Adam thought he'd probably end up full just from drinking this so he fiddled with the straw, stirring it round and round and waited for Michael to start talking to him again. He liked his voice, it was almost hypnotic, gently paced, not too forcefully, it drew you in and Adam liked listening to him.

"How many siblings?" He asked, cocking his head to one side. He knew all too well about spending too much time with family. At his old school he'd been labelled straight away as Sam and Dean's brother. The teachers who had taught Sam had assumed Adam was as smart as his brother, that he'd enjoy extra homework and staying behind to help out and overloaded him when all Adam wanted to do was settle in and keep his head down. The teachers who'd taught Dean just assumed he was trouble and they pushed him and pushed him till finally when Adam snapped they sat back and nodded smugly that they'd always known he was a bad apple. He'd never had time or a chance to show what he could do. He wanted to be away from them, he'd liked his old school and his old friends. He hadn't made any before they'd had to move.

ichael’s fingers curling around the body of his cup, bringing it to his mouth and taking a deep, satisfying swallow, letting it warm him, his eyes not leaving Adam. Blood was such a stupid thing to crave when you had coffee and something to distract you. Adam was a perfect distraction. And Michael found himself smiling again, far more so than he'd done for months, as far as he could recall. He tried to straighten his expression, swallowing another mouthful of coffee, and then setting the cup down. It didn't do to get attached. He'd been hurt by the loss of friends before and knew to keep his distance. But sometimes it was incredibly difficult to remain detached from everything. Castiel clearly couldn't and Michael had a horrible feeling that he was going to be replaced now Dean was one of them.

Which, he supposed, linked him to Adam whether he liked it or not. To all of Adam's family. They couldn't ever learn the truth. But he had no idea as yet how to remove Dean from the bosom of his family, how he could be made to disappear while still living in the same town. He wouldn't want to leave them or watch them grow old. Or watch Lucifer pick them off one by one. But Michael would not allow that. He would not allow Lucifer to hurt Adam.

"How many?" He snapped back to the present, to the boy opposite him, to the milkshake in its cold, condensation-peppered glass, to the hot coffee in front of him and the noise of the diner. "I have two sisters, and four brothers." Michael expected a surprised look. So many children were hardly the norm anymore, although they were not a modern family. Their parents had hardly expected so many of their children to live. And Michael doubted any of them would have lived too much longer, if Crowley had not stepped into their lives. "I know, I know, there are a lot of us." He offered a little embarrassed smile, unable to come up with a reasonable explanation why, at least one that would fit this modern era.

"Oh." Adam said, a bit surprised. "And there I thought my dad was pretty bad. I guess your dad got about a bit too then? Sam and Dean, they're my half-brothers." That half of him that wasn't a Winchester, that was a Milligan, seemed to be getting lost now. Adam had been his own person and now he was just a shadow, just that third son that John Winchester hadn't really wanted but had a duty to now there was no one else left to take him. Still, the idea that Michael might come from that same sort of fractured, slightly broken family made Adam feel good. The whole 1950s ideal of a mum who stayed home and a dad who went out to work and two happy, well-adjusted kids was just a myth and there must be so many more people who were like them, just trying to get along in their families, trying to make it work. "I don't know, maybe dad's got other kids too." He said with a shrug before taking a long slurp from his milkshake.

Michael nodded, unable to agree verbally, to tell that lie about his parents. But if that was what Adam needed to think, then so be it. It seemed to be acceptable, and what was what the family needed, to be accepted, not singled out, and commented on. They had to keep everyone out of harm's way, including Adam. Adam would not believe the truth if Michael told him, he wouldn't understand about his brother's condition, it would be too much and the young man already seemed to carry so much weight on those slender shoulders. Michael could not add to it. "Maybe your dad does.” He said. He didn't know the boy's father, if he would take responsibility for his children, but he seemed to have done in Adam's case, seemed to have tried to keep them as a family. Even if Adam had wanted to run away.

He sighed gently, looking at Adam and shaking his head. "They'll be looking for you. Your family." A much closer family than Michael's, of that he was certain, but he stopped himself from saying anything more, before adding, "Sometimes it takes a little while for bonds to form. And sometimes... things happen that make you form new bonds with your family." He and Lucifer had always been the closest. They didn't always agree, but they had been close, and then, when Lucifer gave himself over to Crowley, and the others followed suit, Michael and Anna and Castiel were thrown together. It had been strange, uneasy, and sometimes still was. But they had no choice in the matter, they had to stick together.

Adam listened, head bowed, chewing on the straw in his mouth but not really interested in the milkshake any more. There was something there behind what Michael was saying but Adam wasn't about to pry. He wondered if maybe what was happening now, what was happening to Dean, could draw them closer. Sam had been right, he'd let Dean in and Dean hadn't hurt them and Adam had wanted Dean to be looking for him. He sighed, leaning back in the booth and gazing out the window again. Sam thought that Dean could be saved. Adam wasn't so sure but he wasn't going to find out if he went back to Kansas. There was a grave back there but that was all it was. It couldn't hug him, couldn't fuss or worry over him. It wasn't his mum.  "My dad's probably pulling his hair out by now." He mumbled softly, pushing his straw around the glass again. It wasn't fair to just up and leave. It was what he'd always blamed his dad for doing and Adam didn't want to make those mistakes, didn't want to hurt people like his dad had hurt him.  He looked up, finally meeting Michael's eyes. "Do you think...when we've finished here? You could take me home?" He asked quietly.

Adam didn't seem so sure about heading back to Kansas now, about hitch-hiking his way back to an empty home. That was a good thing at least, because Michael didn't have to worry that one of his siblings had made Adam into a midnight snack on a lonely stretch of tarmac in the middle of an uncaring night. He offered the boy a smile, reaching out to gently brush his fingers across the back of Adam's hand. "I'd be happy to drive you back home, Adam." He said, and then there was food, two plates full of fries and burgers, and Michael's smile widened slightly more as the waitress hurried away again, "But I still get to feed you? I did promise. And I don't think your father would be happy with me if I brought you back starving."

Adam snorted, already having shoved a handful of fries into his mouth. They were hot and fresh and slightly salty and tasted so good. He swallowed the mouthful and shook his head. "No offence but I don't think dad's going to be happy with you, whatever you did to me." Michael might be taking him home but Adam was going to edit out this part where he bought Adam dinner first. It wasn't the sort of thing he thought would go down too well with his dad and he didn't really need Adam turning up with some older biker when he kept having fits over the guys Dean fucked around with. It might give him a heart attack. Not that Michael was like that. He hadn't been anything but a perfect gentleman all evening. He was almost too good to be true but maybe he was just a Good Samaritan.

Adam finished his burger in all of three bites, completely starving and then picked at his fries, not sure he wanted to finish them or his milkshake. "I guess you're not really what he was thinking about when he told me to make friends here. I'm gonna guess he meant guys my own age." He'd had friends his own age and none of them had stayed in touch once he'd move in with his dad and changed school. Friends just drifted in and out of his life. Adam sighed a little, leaving the fries and finishing up the milkshake, feeling a little sick now from all the food and memories. "Can we go? I don't want to worry my dad any more then he already probably is." He said, pushing his plate into the centre of the table, not wanting to touch the rest of it. "Do you know the Singer place? It's a bit outside of town." And odd, it was distinctly odd so there was a high probability that Michael would know it.

"I suppose he has every right to be," Michael admitted, picking at his meal. He wasn't actually hungry, not in the way Adam seemed to be. But that was okay- it was good to see the boy eat, even if he seemed to eat like he hadn't for several days or didn't expect to eat again for a while. That was rather worrying. But Adam seemed happy enough, focusing on his dinner, with the occasional glance up at Michael, and that was when Michael realised he was spending far too much of his time looking at the young man and not doing what he should have been, which was eating. He picked up another couple of fries, chewing on them thoughtfully, trying not to look too much at Adam again. He had been very good, he thought. He hadn't even thought anything unwholesome about the boy in anyway but Adam seemed to think he had. Perhaps it had been his warning out in the road, that only bad people would offer him lifts. Michael hadn't counted himself in that, but Adam probably had, and that made him twist a little uneasily in his seat. He wasn't about to deny that Adam was attractive and no doubt in a couple of years he would have a great deal of attention because of it but Michael knew it could not be from him. Adam would deserve better than that.

But that didn't mean they couldn't be friends, couldn't see each other. And when Adam suggested that was what they were, friends, Michael couldn't resist grinning at him. "Well, you've got plenty of time to make friends your own age. But I guess most of them won't be able to take you home on motorbikes or find you walking back to Kansas." He said, taking another fry and swallowing the rest of his coffee. "Your father may just have to accept it."

He stood then, nodding at Adam's request. "Let's get you home. They way you're talking is beginning to make me think your father will be waiting to greet me with a shot-gun." And that would lead to all sorts of trouble. He left some money on the table, putting his arm around Adam's shoulders again as they went back to the bike, letting Adam settle before kicking it back into life. "I know the Singer place, don't worry." Michael told him, as the boy settled himself against Michael's back. "I'll drop you off at the gates."

Would his dad be waiting with a shot gun? Maybe. Bobby had a gun collection, all licensed and kept under lock and key but his dad could probably pick the lock. John Winchester did have a temper on him. Adam smiled softly, remembering his dad slamming his fist into the wall of the principal’s office when that smug bastard said he was going to suspend Adam for fighting. It hadn't even been Adam's fault. He'd been jumped by three other guys, wasn't he supposed to defend himself? It had been a miracle that his dad had punched the dry-wall and not the man. It shouldn't have been a good memory but for Adam it really was. His dad wasn't angry because Adam was embarrassing him or because he'd been called to school. He was angry because he wanted to protect Adam and he was fighting against people who didn't care, who thought they were trouble and had written them off because of it. Adam wrapped his arms a little tighter around Michael, wondering if that was the case with Michael too. Michael wasn't a bad person, not when you got to know him but maybe no one had given him that chance. Adam had.

They couldn't talk over the roar of the bike and Adam didn't want to talk. He just clung to Michael and hoped that this wouldn't be the last time he saw him. Michael was his friend, someone he had found on his own and he didn't want to lose him or share him. It was stupid, maybe, childlike the way he'd decided that he wanted Michael's attention but he did. There was something about him and Adam didn't know what it was. Maybe he was just overwhelmed by him or maybe he was just lonely and would have welcomed anyone. They drew up to the fence that Bobby had erected and Adam felt a shudder run through him. No wonder Michael didn't want to go any closer. He turned his eyes away from it, from the dead birds hanging from it as he slid off the back of the bike. "Thanks." He murmured, pushing his hair back behind his ear. He stood there for a moment, not really ready to leave just yet. "Can we...can I see you again? Maybe we can meet up at the boardwalk? I want to try out the arcade."

Michael offered the boy the smallest of smiles as he watched Adam fidget. He'd fidgeted all the way through his meal and it was rather endearing. The boy clearly had a lot on his mind but that wasn't it, it was the fact that the young man just couldn't stop moving, toying with things. Like the straw of his milkshake, lips cradling it and Michael knew he shouldn't have paid that so much attention. He hadn't in the diner, but now he was, his mind emphasising those moments Adam's tongue had licked a stray drop of milkshake from the corner of his lips. He needed to focus. He needed to focus on the young man, still fidgeting, wanting to see him again. And Michael wanted to.

But the boardwalk was hardly the place. Lucifer would find out, Lucifer always did. Ruby had discovered Dean (although that had been Michael's doing, he would admit). He did not want Adam to be forced to join them, to be made into something evil only because Michael and he had had dinner. But he didn't want to disappoint the young man standing there, silent as the wind blew around them. He wanted to say no, to insist that it was for the best. He knew it would be, somewhere deep in his chest but he couldn't. He couldn't make himself say those words. Especially when he wanted to see Adam again, be his friend.

 "Alright." He agreed, words soft, eyes moving past Adam to the boarder of the Singer property, so very well illustrated with that tall fence and those macabre hangings rattling as the wind caught them. "Not in the middle of the night though, next time." He said, smiling as if there was nothing sinister behind the request. "And we'll go to the arcades. Sounds like a great day out." Much better than hiding in the house, avoiding his humanity.

Adam smiled, bright and happy for one moment and then took off, a nervous feeling in the pit of his stomach and he felt like he wouldn't be able to stand still again. It was the sort of feeling he'd gotten when he'd kissed Katherine McGee under the bleachers at his old school, a fluttering, overwhelming feeling that made him what to laugh and shout. He turned just slightly to wave at Michael as he ran up the dirt track towards Bobby's house. "Thursday!" He shouted. "I'll meet you outside the comic book shop! Get there early!"

He heard the motorbike start up behind him but he was giddy as he reached the house. The front door was flung open, light spilling out and for a moment it was blinding and then he was being pulled into a hug, strong arms wrapping around him and Sam was cursing. "Where have you been? Was that Dean? Dad's out driving around trying to find you! Adam, what the hell? I went upstairs and you'd gone and..." Adam wrapped his arms around Sam, smiling even as his brother continued to harangue him.

"I just needed to get my head straight." He said softly. "I'm okay now."


Castiel had left Dean at the mouth of the cave. He had kissed him and kissed him and kissed him till he thought he'd never be able to pull away but eventually they'd had to part. Castiel needed to go home. He needed to talk to Michael, to Anna. He didn't think Anna had even been told there was another one of them now but she had made her choice to lock herself away from them all. He couldn't stop his heart from feeling light in his chest as he walked along. The sun was rising but it didn't bother him. It felt like pinpricks on his skin, the tiniest discomfort and Castiel's eyes were opened to a new world now. He wanted to see the sun, wanted to see the brightness of it in full glory but too long spent outside would drain him and then he would be useless to Dean, unable to protect him so he ran the last block, coming to the big house on the corner with its overgrown front garden and dilapidated shutters. His brothers and sisters would be asleep inside. Their immortality and their blood lust had come at a high price.

Castiel let himself in, shutting the door quickly behind him and breathing in the scent of home. It was so dark inside the house, the windows covered with inky black drapes that blocked out even the hint of sunlight. No one ever came to their house - no salesmen, no kids who had lost balls in the yard. Everyone stayed away and Castiel knew why. The house hadn't changed in over a hundred years. They might update themselves, wear new clothes, cut their hair differently but they hadn't changed in over a hundred years either and eventually people learned to be wary of the places that didn't change. Still, at least that meant no snacks were walking up the drive way offering themselves to any hungry vampires as a mid-afternoon meal.

Normally he kept the same hours as his family but he wasn't tired now. He was too awake, too full of life. He went to the library instead, running his fingers over the spines of the books - a collection built over more than a life-time - trying to find something that spoke to him, spoke to the mood he was in. Jubilant, that was the only word for how he felt, he was jubilant and he was in love.

Upstairs on the landing Crowley paused. The air of the house had changed. It was normally still, quiet like a grave, and that was how Crowley preferred it. True, this was not his home. The Novak's owned this house, and he never had been nor ever would be one of them. To keep up appearances he had his own, more modern house on a rather expensive boulevard, near a private little stretch of beach. It helped to move with the times but the Novak's had their home and Michael, as ignorant as he was, refused to leave. Crowley had attempted to stamp out the eldest’s influence on his siblings, but on this matter it seemed that he still held sway- apart from when they took themselves off to that ridiculous cave. Still, it kept them out of his way and out of his hair. So he used the house, its library and its rooms as his own, as and when he wanted them.

He hadn't been near the library when the front door of the house clicked shut, but he was quickly there, stood in the doorway, looking at the boy that, so far, seemed unaware of his presence. Castiel was not the best among them, but he was the youngest, and Crowley had to admit that his naivety, despite his years, was endearing. Lucifer and Ruby were his favourites, of course, but Castiel was a favourite in a different way all together.

Now though, now the boy seemed different, smelt different, carried himself differently. And Crowley felt that, even from across the room. The way he thought of the boy changed, transformed into something ugly then, Crowley crossing the room in the blink of an eye, his fingers curling on Castiel's elbow, yanking around, holding him tight and he felt a sudden realisation. That scent was familiar. Newly familiar, in a way that made his blood boil with suppressed anger. He shouldn't have let the boy out of the house. He should have picked his pawns more carefully. John Winchester. Yes, that was it. The scent...

No. No, his pawns hadn't betrayed him. It was a familiar scent, but not, not quite like the man. Not as matured, not as deep. Not him at all, but someone like him. "What have you been up to, little Cassie?" Crowley asked, fingers relaxing slightly, but not letting go. Oh no, he knew exactly what the boy had been doing, and Crowley felt no desire to be forgiving.

Castiel dropped the book he had been holding, stifling his own yelp of fear as he was pulled round. He'd not even heard Crowley come in. He stiffened in the man's arms, turning his head away slightly so he didn't have to meet the man's eye. It wasn't fair the power he had over them. Michael was taller, stronger, Castiel had no doubt and they could have overpowered Crowley if they had put themselves to it, if the Novak children had worked together, divided though they were but they couldn't. He had given them a second life. They were indebted to him. Even so Castiel flinched at the nickname. He hated it so much but he hated it more from Crowley. It was cruel, mocking him and reminded him he was still a child in every one's eyes even with the things he'd seen, the things he'd done.

"I...I was with someone." He said softly. Crowley would already be able to smell it on him, smell sex and Dean. Castiel couldn't hide it from him. He didn't know why it mattered. The others had their fun so why couldn't Castiel? Although it had been so much more than fun. Fun was something fleeting, something unimportant between death and boredom to stop the years from melding together and Dean wasn't like that. Dean was everything now. "You know I was. Crowley, let me go." He tried to pull away but there was strength there in the man even if he didn't look the sort and Castiel knew he wasn't as powerful, whatever he was able to do before.

Crowley wasn't about to let go. Castiel might ask, plead, beg even but Crowley was not about to let the boy go. His nostrils flared, face set in a mask of anger and indignation, catching Castiel by the other arm and giving him a shake, forcing the boy to look at him. Castiel had always been obedient. Slow to join his brothers and sister but Crowley had the patience of a saint when it came to his family. If he didn't then he wouldn't have put up with their bad behaviour for so long.

He took a moment then to calm himself, fingers uncoiling from the boy's arm to instead stroke gently over his pale cheek. The boy stank like human, not like their blood, delicious and hot, but like filth and sweat. "Oh Cassie," he muttered, voice suddenly soft, almost tender. There was more than one way for him to get what he wanted. "How am I meant to look after you, to protect you, when you do things like this? Hmm? Now that human will be sniffing round here, making unreasonable demands..." But that one human could easily be dealt with. "It jeopardises everyone in the family. You know that. And now I'm going to have to send Luci out to find him, or deal with him myself and you know how much I hate that." A lie of course. Crowley restricted his feeding, controlled himself in a way his family seemed unable to comprehend but the excuse for fresh blood was welcome. Especially if he could use the opportunity to punish Castiel for his behaviour.

He paused, hand cupping the boy's cheek, a thumb running over the boy's lower lip. "Tell me his name, Cassie. It will make everything so much easier."

Castiel's eyes widened and he struggled again before falling still. There was no point in fighting against the attempts to hold him and he knew that if he didn't give Crowley what he wanted then he would find out from one of the others. Although it pained Castiel to even think about it Michael would likely sell Dean out in a second if he thought it would stop Castiel from falling, protect him somehow. He closed his eyes, swallowing down his fear. It would be better coming from him. He could lessen it, he could protect Dean. He would find a way to do it. "His name is Dean Winchester." He said in a whisper. "But he's not...he's not a danger to us." He bit his lip, opening his eyes and looking up into Crowley’s face, wondering if he should tell him the rest of it.

Crowley didn't know, he thought Dean was still mortal. That meant Lucifer hadn't told him what he'd done, most likely hadn't been allowed to do it in the first place. Castiel didn't want to get his brother into trouble even after everything Lucifer had done, everything he had become. He was still his brother but if it would protect Dean then Castiel would throw his brother to the wolves every time. "He knows what we are and he is not human. He's one of us now." He tipped his chin up a little, trying to find the conviction inside him that his voice lacked. He had never disobeyed anyone outright before. He had refused to feed but no-one could make him. This was different though. Dean was one of them and Castiel had stood by and allowed that. He could have stopped them, could have stepped in but while he hadn't helped he hadn't done anything to prevent it either.

Crowley's eyes, which had taken on a kindly, almost paternal cast, abruptly changed. Gone was the gentle stroking fingers across Castiel's cheek, gone were the soft tone of his words. His eyes were hard, cold, and his grip on Castiel's arm was one of sharp talons. "He what?" Crowley almost spat the words. They were full of venom. "You did what, Castiel? How dare you!" He had been betrayed, betrayed by the one he thought too weak and pitiful to do anything without Michael, without his nurse-maid to hold his hand. That was cruel but fate liked to be cruel.

But then the realisation dawned. Even if Castiel spent half his time reading, Crowley knew there was no way he could have known the ritual and the method involved. And Crowley sincerely doubted what motivation Castiel would have. He did not appreciate the opportunities he had, the sort of existence that stretched out before him if he embraced it. No, there were only two that sprung to mind when he considered it and only one who would seek to spread his wings, as it were, and threaten Crowley's position in such a way.


His eyes narrowed still further, shaking Castiel again. "Winchester? Did you say Winchester?" He was demanding answers now, refusing to let go. Perhaps Lucifer's stupidity could be put to use. Perhaps it could be turned to their advantage. But he did not savour the idea of having to salvage everything and change his plans because his favourite wanted to test his luck.

"Yes, Dean Winchester." Castiel cried. "Please don't hurt him! He won't hurt us, please!" He twisted in Crowley’s arms. There had been punishments over the years, times when one or other of them had got out of line and Crowley had been quick to put them back in their place. The time that Michael had tried to leave, the memory of what had happened then still frightened Castiel and just because it would be hard to kill him, simply because it was harder to hurt him didn't mean that Crowley couldn't find ways. He almost seemed to take pleasure in it and Castiel knew how much he could hurt Dean before he ever came close to killing him. Any punishment Crowley would give Castiel would take willingly but he couldn't let Dean be hurt. "He's one of us now. He's ours. You can't..."

"Be quiet Castiel! You and your siblings are causing me more than your share of problems! You will go to your room, and you will not come out. Not until I tell you." He growled, not willing to let Castiel get away scot free. Castiel had still betrayed him.  That he could not easily forgive. And if he wanted to put things right he would have to ensure that Castiel and this Dean Winchester, no doubt John's son, were kept apart.  Then, and only then, could he get what he wanted.

"Yes." Castiel whispered. As a punishment went it did not sound so awful but Castiel could stay there for years, never speaking to anyone, not eating, wasting away and not dying. That had been Anna's punishment once, ten years away from them, locked in her room and at the end of it she had been so cold, so distant and Castiel didn't think she had ever recovered. She never left the house now. It wouldn't scar, not where someone would see but it might drive Castiel out of his mind and if he couldn't see Dean then how could he protect him? "Will you tell me you won't hurt him?" He asked, his voice trembling but he couldn't stop himself. It was fool hardy and he had no right to ask anything of Crowley but he couldn't just obey, not without knowing that Dean would be safe. "Please, Crowley. I've never asked you for anything. I've always been good." He was begging now but Castiel couldn't leave without knowing.

"He is not yours, Castiel. You own nothing. You have nothing. You are mine and everything you touch is mine." Crowley hissed at him, letting the boy go, pushing him away, towards the doors. He would have to see John Winchester soon. To get the ball moving. Faster than he'd wanted to, but he had no choice. His foolish, stupid, thoughtless family had forced his hand.

And as much as Crowley wanted to punish Castiel, to make him sob and cry, to make his spirit break and his heart sink, that would have to wait. He had other things that needed to be attended to first. But in order to have John Winchester, he had to keep Dean safe, intact. Between life and death was acceptable, perhaps it would only serve to encourage John and the man's other sons to take that next step.

"You and Dean Winchester seem to have luck on your side. Stay in your room, Castiel. He will not be harmed whilst you behave." And with that, Crowley turned and stormed out, abandoning Castiel in the library. But the boy was not alone for long, the low bestial growl from Azrael encouraging Castiel towards the stairs, a snap of his jaws close against Castiel's heels.

On to Chapter 4b >>