Supernatural: Length of Chain (15/22)
Author Name: Patriciatepes (Patricia de Lioncourt @ fanfiction.net )
Characters: Jo, Castiel, Crowley, with an assortment of others in minor roles
Pairing: Castiel/Jo/Crowley triangle; with Jo/Crowley not being remotely romantic
Chapter Links: Prev | Next
Warnings: (For complete, whole story) Torture, swearing, blood play, knife play, sex, noncon, dubcon, fighting, monster death, character death
Summary: SPN Season 6. Jo Harvelle remembered dying, a hellhound at the cause. Imagine her surprise when she wakes up, a cursed necklace about her neck that binds her to the service of the current King of Hell, Crowley. When Castiel appears, she's sure that she's saved… only to learn the truth. Now, bound by a beautiful, cursed antique, Jo must do as Crowley orders, hunting for the answers to accessing Purgatory… or else.
Disclaimer: I don't own Supernatural or any related characters. They belong to Kripke. No money made here. Art by the awesome casper_san.
Author's Notes: Written for the spn_hardcore_bb. And also for the hc_bingo wild card square, using torture. OMG, I so didn't expect this story to be as long as it turned out to be. Just a quick note on the rating: yes, there are some scenes that definitely require that rating. Granted, there are also several scenes that are of a much softer nature. A nice balance I would say. Also, huge thanks to my awesome friend and beta Kimmi! And to twisted_slinky for cheering me on as I outlined and helping bounce the many issues I encountered off her. Also, that thanks extends to my artist, casper_san, who was just super awesome. I know she was just as busy as I was trying to do other challenges while doing my art, so yes, huge thanks! Drop by her art masterpost and give it some love! Hope you enjoy!
Weeks. Jo, Malcolm, and Nell had been out on the road for weeks, following on the tails of rumors of Eve. Had it not had the ring of monotony to it, Jo would have thought it rather refreshing to be away from Crowley and his damned manor. Granted, save for only sleeping in seedy motels and when they were randomly gone on other business, she still spent all of her time with the only two demons she had grown to trust just enough to use them on every hunt. Not exactly pleasant company.
Crowley had had the first tidbits of information to get them started, given to her the moment he had interrupted her argument with Castiel. From then on, it was whatever they could gather from monsters. As it turned out, all monsters could hear their mother's voice. It drove them nearly wild, wanting to be near her, yet fearing her all the same. But, most importantly, it drove them to kill. So, Jo and her demons had been on hunt after hunt after hunt, zigzagging all across the United States trying their best to get ahead of Eve, if only by a step. So far, it had been no go. The demons were starting to act like irritable children the longer they had to stay in the car with the huntress, so to distract herself—and to help, despite her current, very pissed off feelings—Jo had also added the task to keep an eye out for the Weapons of Heaven for Castiel. A very spiteful part of her told her to drop it, that if Cas wanted those weapons so damned bad then he could find them. But, then Ellen Harvelle's replayed in her daughter's ear: be the bigger—the better—person. Yes, Castiel was a spoiled brat who had no idea how to handle the responsibilities he had been granted. But he was right that the war in Heaven was important, and that the weapons would help him. So Jo would look for them.
Problem was, all these weeks, and not a single peep. Nothing that could even remotely be a Holy Weapon. Whoever this Balthazar was, this angel who had stolen the weapons, then he was doing a fine job of keeping them under wraps—now, at least. But as little sign that she had had about the weapons, she still felt like she was closer to finding them than Eve, as crazy as that seemed. But her mother had also taught her that, when in doubt, go with your gut. And Jo's gut was screaming at her about those divine weapons.
Now, after all those weeks, Jo stared at an article on her laptop's screen that seemed rather suspicious to her… like, weapons-weird. And she intended, fully, to follow up on it. It was a handful of miles from the motel she was currently sitting in with Nell and Malcolm—both of whom had their noses so far up in the air at the admittedly tacky décor that Jo just wanted to throw something at them. She pursed her lips, shutting the computer's top, and glanced up at the demons.
"I need the both of you to do some recon for me," she said.
Nell, her flaming hair restricted in a tight braid, arched a brow at her.
"And what makes you think that we'll just be nice little gophers for you?" she quipped.
"Because you'll be able to get closer to Eve than I will before she detects you, I would guess. You know, given your whole demon powers thing. And the more info we get, the closer we get. And the closer we get, the happier your boss is," Jo reasoned.
"Our boss," Malcolm corrected with a jackal's grin.
Nell's eyes lit up at the idea of pleasing Crowley, and Jo smiled.
"And Nell's wannabe boyfriend, yes. And since she's so keen on keeping him happy, I thought the two of you wouldn't mind doing this."
Malcolm opened his mouth, no doubt ready to snap something terribly sarcastic at the huntress, but Nell cut him off.
"Where are we going?"
Jo just barely managed to keep the grin off her face as she thought of the very last place that the three of them had been on Eve's trail.
"That bar we were just at in Montana. The way it's looking, I think she's going to circle back through."
Malcolm was the very picture of skeptical. "And why in the hell would she do that?"
Jo shrugged. "What do you think this recon is for? But the signs, the monster movement, all of it… it points to Eve making a second pass."
Malcolm was clearly ready to argue, but Nell nodded.
"Then that's where we'll go. We'll be back in a few days, Joanna. Don't do anything supremely stupid, as hard as that may be for you," she said.
They were gone in a blink, and Jo groaned. At least they were out of her hair, which gave her enough time to check out the small town just miles away from the motel in Louisiana they were at. She did a five count, looking around the room as she desperately tried to decide whether she was going to get some sleep—it was three in the morning, after all—or head straight out. But she already knew that answer. Her stuff barely unpacked as it was, she gathered it all up and chucked inside the newest of the random vehicles Crowley had allowed her to use. She was on the road in minutes, and in the town she suspected of housing—somewhere—one of the Weapons of Heaven within the hour. She found herself in the town's downtown distract, her eyes scanning the closed shops and open bars as she wondered where she should begin.
There had been a significant increase in stabbings in this town. The problem was that the weapon didn't seem to be your typical knife. The coroner had described it as being closer to a lance of some sort, but even in the very official report Jo had read, it sounded like the man had thought that to be ridiculous. And maybe it would've been, except that Jo remembered the examples that Castiel had listed off for her when he had first asked for her help in finding the lost weapons. And one of them had been the Holy Lance—also known as the Spear of Destiny and several other names.
That was a weapon that had a lot of history. The weapon that had pierced Christ's side, testing to see if he was finally dead, which had resulted in blood and water spilling forth—proving both his humanity and his divinity. That action alone had given the spear special properties, and Jo had no problem in believing that an angel probably swooped down not moment later to scoop it up. But rumor had it that even Hitler had owned it at some point, so who knew?
Drumming her fingers on the steering wheel as the light before her flashed from red to green, Jo decided on the nearest bar to her vehicle, badly parallel parking in front of it. Giant letters announced the building as Gator Pit Saloon. Jo snorted a little at the name, but cut the engine and stepped out. The noise of the music playing inside was dull and thumping on the outside, and it only grew as she pulled open the stained-glass decorated doors. In fact, it was so loud that she was fairly certain that her eardrums had burst a little. Had it really been so long since Harvelle's that she couldn't take loud music anymore? Sighing, she pushed her way inside and allowed scoped out an empty stool at the long bar along the left hand of the place.
A bartender, on the younger side of middle age, came up to her, his lips pulled into a long scowl. He pushed back a lock of his very reverse mullet out of his face, setting dark brown eyes on the huntress's face.
"ID?" he asked, brow arched.
Jo was plenty old enough to drink, but she didn't exactly have the ID to prove it. So she smiled, shaking her head.
"Not drinking. Just here for the company," she shouted over the music. "So a water. Oh, and your best fried appetizer."
The bartender seemed impressed, as if he had expected her to try and pull one over on him. His mood instantly lifting, he grinned and nodded, turning to place the order. He was back with her clear class of ice cold water—a wedge of lemon hanging from the rim—just as Jo was turning to scan the crowd.
In all honesty, she had no idea what it was she was exactly looking for. It was way too late—and she didn't have the necessary fake credentials with her—to make a stop by the police station—something she should have thought through. But, after a moment of craning her neck up and down the bar, and around the room, she spotted just what she wanted. Seated right next to her, a frosty mug of beer in his hand, and a cold, tired smile on his face, was the local sheriff. He kept responding jovially to those who would pass and chat him up, but the moment they disappeared, he was back to glaring back into his drink. The bartender returned with a large basket of fried pickles—along with a fair serving of ranch dressing to dip them in—and Jo saw her way in. Discreetly, she unbuttoned the top two buttons of her blouse—hinting at cleavage without being too forward—and leaned forward, pushing the basket of fried food into the sheriff's eye sight.
"Pickle?" she offered with the friendliest smile she could wrangle.
He blinked, his slightly bloodshot green eyes showing more than a little surprise that Jo had spoken with him. He turned to face her, and the huntress saw that he looked quite young to be a sheriff. His dirty-colored blond hair was cut short and neatly, falling just above his ear and sweeping in short locks to his neck. The dark shaded lights of the bar still caught off his badge, and reflected in Jo's eyes, and he reached into her basket with rugged hands to withdraw a single pickle.
"Best in the damned state, I'll tell you," he said, popping it whole into his mouth. "Thanks."
Jo smiled. "Welcome. And are they? I'm just passing through."
That seemed to warm him further, and he turned completely on his stool, dragging the tan hat on the counter closer to him.
"Oh, by far. How are you liking it here so far?" he asked.
"It's nice. I was too tired to do any exploring today, but I'm hoping to tomorrow. Any suggestions?"
He huffed out a small, choked laugh. "Honestly? No."
Jo frowned, picking up a pickle and taking a small bite. "Really? Nothing in your town you'd like an outsider to see and be envious of?"
He shook his head. "A week or so ago, maybe. But it's been a bad last couple of days."
Jo shoved another pickle into her mouth, trying to look like a semi-interested, fully flirtatious blonde as she looked at him with concern.
"Why? Is something bad going on in town? Lots of crime?"
He pursed his lips together, eyeing her as if he was wondering whether he should share so much with such a delicate young stranger. Either the beer or the way Jo was acting did the trick, because he finally nodded.
"Some murders, honestly."
Jo gasped, putting on her best freaked-out face. One she hadn't had to use in quite some time.
"Oh my goodness! I mean, what kind? Should I be careful out there tonight?"
He held up a hand, smiling warmly. "Well, you should always be careful, a pretty young thing like you. But I think it's a personal thing, the deaths. I just can't figure it. And the damn coroner. Says the murder weapon is a lance. A lance? I mean, what is that about? Do you know I even checked to see if a Renaissance Faire had been in town anywhere near here recently? No, nothing. I just can't figure."
He paused, blinking. He stared down at his mug, finding it mostly empty, and laughed.
"I really shouldn't have said all that, ma'am. Police business, you understand," he apologized.
Jo smiled, waving it off. "Not a problem. So… these crimes, you said you thought they might be personal. Were all the victims members of the same family or did they all work together or something?"
The sheriff eyed her, and she laughed, shaking her head.
"I'm way into mystery novels," she explained.
He huffed, a smile playing about his lips. "Well, like I said, police business. But I'll tell you this much: you'd have to be blind not to see that there's some sort of connection between the victims."
With that, he stood—still very sober as there was not a wobble in his step—and threw down a wad of bills. Then, smiling, he tossed down a few more, motioning to the bartender that he'd be paying for Jo's food as well. He lifted up his hat, tugging it down over his head.
"Have a safe evening, ma'am. Enjoy the town, and it's been great talking with you," he said.
Jo muttered a "you, too" as the sheriff exited the bar. And then she sighed. That conversation had told her exactly nothing, except that she had been right about the murders—something she had not really doubted. She eyed her basket of pickles, of which she had somehow worked more than halfway through. She finished off the rest as the bartender gathered up the bills and confirmed that both tabs were fully paid. Jo smiled and left the bar.
She was at the driver's side door of the car when she heard the scuffle in the alleyway beside the bar. She reached down, making sure that her trusty silver dagger was still there, and took off in the direction of the sound. She made a slow approach, pulling out the weapon only when she was shrouded in shadow. She stopped at the corner, taking a tiny peek.
As far as she could see, there was no one there. She entered the alley, making slow steps toward the dead end back of it. The heels of her boots seemed to click loudly, even over the dull drum of music pouring out of the bar. She made it past the green dumpster up against the left wall before she was finally convinced she was actually alone in the enclosed space. Of course, fate liked to prove Jo wrong recently.
"Well, aren't you a pretty bird," a voice with a distinctly English accent said.
She knew it wasn't Crowley… the voice was too light for his dark, gravel tones. She whirled, finding a man dressed in jeans, a gray, slightly V-necked shirt, and a black, causal suit jacket staring at her. His hair was short, curled close to his head, and mousy brown with lots of blond highlights from what she could tell in the light of a passing car. The darkness of the alleyway was too much for her to make out anything more than just the peach fuzz beard and mustache—which looked more like lazy shaving than anything else. Jo raised her dagger.
"Who are you?" she asked.
He raised his hands, putting his elbows at his waist. "Now, now. I was just investigating you, since you seemed so interested in those murders that are happening hereabouts. Silver dagger?" he asked, pointing to the blade.
She smirked. "What do you think?"
He smiled. "Huntress. And a spunky one at that. Won't work, luv. And I'm not here to fight you… not necessarily, anyways. Name's Balthazar."
Jo's eyes widened. He laughed.
"Ah, so you've heard of me."
"You're Castiel's brother. The angel who's stolen the weapons," she said, lowering the knife—because he was right, it wouldn't work.
He lowered his hands too, nodding. "Ah. So you know Cas."
Jo slipped the dagger back in her boot, crossing her arms. "Yeah. At least, I thought I did."
Balthazar raised a brow at her. "That's a first. Every bloody human I've come across that's met my little brother seems to love him. You seem positively icy about him. One of his arrivals fluff your hair too badly or something?"
Jo's brow furrowed. Did Balthazar not know about Castiel's dealings with Crowley? And what other people—Sam and Dean?—had Balthazar met? She decided she was going to test the waters with this one.
"When was the last time you spoke with him?"
Balthazar shrugged. "Months ago, when he showed up at my house to lecture me about the weapons. Oh and my fake death and everything."
"Lot of fake deaths happening," Jo mumbled.
"What was that?"
"Nothing," she said, shaking her head. "So… you and Castiel? Just brothers… or were you friends too?"
Balthazar laughed, hard, actually slapping his knee in the process. "Friends? Angels don't have friends, luv. Angels don't have much of anything, honestly. Not unless you're at the top of the totem pole."
"An archangel," Jo guessed.
Balthazar made a finger gun at her, winking and clicking his tongue once. "You betcha."
"So… Castiel hasn't come to you about any plans, about winning the war in Heaven?"
The angel sighed, nodding. "Yeah. Yeah, he asked me to help."
"And you said no?"
"No," he said, holding up a finger. "I said I was on his side. But that I wouldn't give him the weapons."
"What?" Jo asked, throwing her hands up. "That makes no damned sense. Why say you were on his side but not help him? What, you just wanna be cheerleader or something?"
"Cheerleader is a rather nice idea," he said.
Jo gestured to the town behind the angel. "And these murders? This is being a cheerleader? I heard about what happened with the Moses Staff too, by the way. Sounds like you're being more a pain in the ass than anything else."
"My, my," Balthazar grinned. "Do I detect a little crush that you have on our dear Castiel?"
"Kiss my ass," she snapped.
"I would, gladly, as it looks rather nice and shapely. Little friendly advice about our dear friend Castiel… wouldn't know what to do with a woman if she begged him to take her."
Jo's hands flew to her head, and she rubbed her temples. "Why not just fork over the weapons? I mean, why toy with them, letting everyone know where you are—or where you've been? Just give them to Cas and be done with it. They could help him. They could stop this civil war. They could keep him from making a stupid mistake!"
"And what mistake would that be, dear?"
Jo forced out a sigh. She was moments away from spilling the beans, informing him all about Castiel's little deal. But… she didn't know what Balthazar would do with that information. And, although she was still royally pissed at Castiel… she really didn't want him hurt or hunted. So she just shook her head.
"I meant, in the future. They could help him win the war, Balthazar. That's the point I'm trying to make."
He shook his head. "Cas doesn't have a chance, with or without the weapons. And I think he knows that."
Jo strode forward a few steps, closing some of the rather expansive distance between her and the angel.
"I just don't get you damn angels. You call each other brother and sister, but the moment one actually needs you to act like one, you turn tail and run. Castiel helped stop your corrupt older brothers from turning the world to shit, and all you can do is just sit back and use your stolen weapons to kill random humans? That's not family. Families love one another and help each other out whether they want to or not. There's a trust there, built in at the core. And you're pissing all over it by not helping the brother you claim to be siding with. I mean, can you say that with certainty, with absolute, one hundred percent certainty, that Cas can't win?"
Balthazar looked away from her, for the first time. Jo smiled, triumphant. But that was short-lived. Her necklace, still heavy about her neck, grew warm, and she felt as if someone was standing near her, tugging on it. In fact, it was beginning to choke her just a little. She rubbed at her neck, bringing her hand down to rest over the heart pendant. Balthazar glanced back at her, pointing at her hand.
"What's that then? That necklace? Looks like it's hurting you, kid," he said.
She shook her head. "Nothing. It's nothing. Look, just think about what I said, please? And get back that damn lance from whoever is using it to kill? Just stop the deaths, all right? I'd hate to have to come back here and kick your ass."
Balthazar smiled. "Well, since you seem so nice and all that. See you around."
He snapped his fingers—causing Jo to jump and brace on instinct—but he only vanished. Groaning, she marched her way out of the alley toward her car, only to find that it was not unoccupied. Crowley smiled, waving at her from the passenger seat. She opened up the driver's door and climbed in, slamming it after her.
"Was that you? With this necklace?" she asked.
He smiled. "Nifty little detail it has there, isn't it?"
She leaned back, placing a hand over her eyes. "Go to Hell."
"Really, Joanna. That's the best you've got?"
Jo didn't say anything. Crowley laughed.
"Oh, and although I thought this would be a given, it is against the rules to fraternize with strange angels. Never know whether they're friendly or not. Really should be common knowledge, darling," the King of Hell said.
Jo sighed. So much for covertly searching for the weapons… she couldn't even keep Crowley from knowing about her chat with Balthazar.
"Why are you here?" she asked.
"A question I should ask you, but I'll refrain. I just heard from Nell, and she said that she couldn't get a hold of you. Which is terribly confusing since I so nicely bought you that shiny new mobile. But, all things aside, they're in the next town over. Turns out, the three of you had missed a very important clue about Eve's visit there that clearly indicated where the Mother of All would be next. Nice call sending them back, Joanna. Even if it was a ruse to help your angelic boyfriend find his missing trinkets."
Jo pursed her lips. Yes, fate did indeed seem to be out to screw her over. She nodded.
"Fine. I'll head over to the town. Where can I meet them at?"
"The town's biggest watering hole, The Moonlicker Saloon. Sounds a bit like a gay biker's bar for the adventurous, but hey, who am I to judge? I'll leave you the address. Go straight there, tonight, Joanna. And then come straight home. Or else. Am I understood?"
She grinned at him, deliberately straining it. "Yes, sir."
"Oh, I love it when you're mad at me. So cute. Kisses," Crowley said, disappearing with a snap.
Jo sighed, cranked her car, and glanced over to the now unoccupied passenger seat to see a folded piece of paper. She flipped it open, finding the Google map directions that led straight from where she was at to the saloon in question. She sighed and pulled out into the road.
It took her an hour to get to her destination, and she parked in the still fairly full parking lot. A bar open at a little past four o'clock in the morning was probably about ready to close up for night, so the amount of cars in the parking lot seemed a little… strange to her. She stepped out of her car, and jumped as Malcolm and Nell appeared on either side of her. Nell rounded to her front, the look on her face somewhere between annoyance and smug pride. Jo could understand. By now, the demon had surely figured out that the errand that Jo had sent them on was little more than a distraction… but, then again, they had found something. Jo sighed.
"Why this bar?" Jo asked, pointing to the dark building that loomed above the three of them several feet away.
Nell shrugged. "She's been hitting bars all over the country for some reason. Some she kills in, others she just leaves behind. It's like she's doing tests."
Malcolm walked away, reaching in the backseat of the car. He came back with two machetes, tossing one to Nell. Jo paused.
"Should we really go in there, weapons blazing?" she asked.
"If you'd take a minute to actually listen, you might notice why we're armed," Malcolm growled.
So both of her demon companions were pissed. Whatever. But, now that no one was speaking, she took his advice and listened. Silence. Normally, at night, in nearly any other public place, that would be normal. But at a bar? No. Not normal. Jo withdrew her dagger, and together, the three of them headed straight for the front door.
They were just in the little drive area in the front where all the pedestrian walkways were when the doors of the bar opened. They froze as a dark haired woman, dressed in a tattered and dirty white gown stepped out. Her skin was ashen, and but she moved with an almost ethereal grace as she came to a pause right before them. She scanned all of them, grinning.
"Two demons and a hunter. Must be a present from Crowley," she laughed.
Malcolm and Nell tensed, their weapons coming up in front of them just a little. Jo followed suit. This was Eve. Her very presence told the three of them that. This was the Mother of All monsters that they had been searching for, but having her walk out right to them? Not only was it unexpected… it was trouble. Jo knew that meant that Eve didn't fear them. Between monsters and hunters, this was not really a strange occurrence. But even monsters feared demons once they recognized them for what they were. But Eve was grinning at them as if her guests had finally arrived for her tea party.
Malcolm and Nell strode forward, ready for attack. Eve flicked her hand and the two demons flew away, far away. When Jo dared glanced behind her, she couldn't even see where they had landed. She whirled back to Eve, weapon still raised.
"We need to have a little girl talk, honey," she said. When Jo still didn't lower her weapon, she laughed, adding, "Oh, please. That little pig-sticker isn't going to do anything to me. I just wanna talk."
For the second time that night, Jo broke the number one rule in the hunter's handbook. She lowered her weapon in the face of a very powerful foe. Tucking it in her book, she watched as Eve sighed and smiled wider. The Mother of All seemed to take Jo in, her eyes roving her body before finally stopping at her neck.
"I know that necklace. Nasty piece of business," she said. Cocking her head to the right, she continued, "I'm willing to bet you hunting my babies for Crowley isn't something you're doing willingly?"
Jo wetted her lips, nodding. "Yeah. That's right."
"Wonderful. Just wonderful. That's just what I need," Eve said, stepping forward.
Jo wanted to back away, but Eve stopped just a foot or so from her. Now Jo was really regretting putting her weapon away.
"I need you to send a message to that arrogant Crowley."
"That's right, dear."
Jo nodded. "Fine. What is it?"
Eve's smile vanished, practically vaporized, off her face. "Tell him: back off, or you'll regret it."
That wasn't going to go over well. But Jo nodded.
Eve began to move toward her, and Jo pulled her weapon out of her boot faster than she had ever in her entire life. Eve rolled her eyes, laughing.
"Please," she said, walking right past the huntress. "Like you could ever hope to fight me."
Jo turned, watching as the Mother of All disappeared into the night. Only then did Jo's racing heart slow to a normal pace. Once Eve was no longer visible, Malcolm and Nell reappeared at Jo's side. Nell shook her head, making a tsk noise with her tongue.
"Crowley's not going to be happy with you," she said in almost a sing-song.