Supernatural: Length of Chain (17/22)
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!
Jo could never mark the event on a calendar or anything, but she knew it when it had happened. Crowley was finished hunting for the Alphas. They were, officially, yesterday's news. Now, all that the King of Hell could rant about was Eve. He was convinced that she was key. And Jo really couldn't argue with his reasoning. As far as creatures from Purgatory went, she was the only one topside. If anyone would know how to get back, then it would have to be her.
But, right now, in this moment, that was the furthest thing from Jo's mind. Right now, Jo was entirely focused in on the vampire she had tied to a chair. She was in the middle of an abandoned house that was mostly falling apart. Her weapons of choice were laid out on the decaying island countertop in the center of the kitchen she had set up in, and the vampire—a woman whose pale face as stained a deep red, her black hair straightened down her back to perfection—was laughing at the huntress.
"I see that Crowley's taught you nothing," he huffed, her tongue rolling out to lap up the blood still on her lips—her own blood.
Jo turned the knife she held over in her hand, glaring at the monster. It had taken her a week to finally catch this vampire, without the aid of Nell or Malcolm. It would have been easier if she had just been out to kill her, but she wasn't. She needed information, and, typically, the dead weren't terribly forthcoming. But, as it turned out, nearly was this vampire.
"I'll take that as a compliment," the huntress sniped at the monster.
The vampire woman shook her head. "You shouldn't."
Jo turned over the knife once more. "Tell me what you know about Purgatory."
"Um," the vampire said, her eyes drifting skyward in thought. "it's where vamps go when we die."
"We can skip the orientation course."
"Oh, well, then, you should have told me that. In that case, it's a magical land where blood flows like rivers, and vampires have never been affected by the atrocity that is Twilight."
Jo growled, putting her back to the vampire—who was now laughing merrily at her own joke. Jo pinched the bridge of her nose in between the thumb and forefinger of her left hand, sighing. She shook her head as the vampire scoffed.
"You really should pay attention to your Sugar Daddy Demon, honey. Gotta learn how to hurt someone. It could come in handy some day," she laughed.
"You really don't know anything about Purgatory, do you? Except that Eve is out?" Jo asked without turning.
"Winner, winner, chicken dinner."
Jo whirled, grabbing up a machete and fluidly taking the vampire's head at her neck. As the head rolled away, she thought briefly back to Crowley's lame joke when he had taken the Alpha Shifter's head in a similar method. She sighed.
"Betcha that hurt you," she noted, tossing the weapon back on top of the other, smaller blades.
"So, this is where you got to," said the familiar, acidic voice of one of Jo's least favorite demons.
"Aw, crap," she said, turning back again.
Nell and Malcolm stood shoulder to shoulder, glaring down the human across from them. Nell had a wide smile on her face, despite the glare, and both were aimed right for Jo.
"Crowley is beyond pissed with you," she said dreamily.
Of course he was. When wasn't he? But Jo knew, specifically why. She had been sent off the reservation, as it were, with one very specific purpose: to find Eve. Or just to find information on Eve. Pretty much, any and all things Eve related was what Jo should have been doing. However, she had been gone for quite some time without any sort of update—due to the fact that Jo had started her own little recon, but the demons didn't need to know that.
"You haven't checked in. Not for a while," Nell continued, that smile still plastered on her stolen face. And yet… you've remained away. Crowley wants to know what's up."
Jo shrugged, trying to play the situation cool. And trying to weave in a reasonable excuse for having a dead vampire in an abandon home's kitchen. She moved over to the weapons, starting to slowly pack them away.
"I haven't found anything new. I didn't want to get his hopes up," she said, putting just as much fuck-off in as she dared.
The memory of the candle torture was still pretty fresh, and that one seemed to renew the memories of all the previous tortures. She would be lying if she said that she wasn't suddenly thinking twice about everything she said.
"Eve's still on the move, and I can't catch up with her. End of update," Jo added, rolling up the last of her knives—but careful to keep one in her hand.
Malcolm laughed a bit, while Nell only scoffed. The red-haired demon rolled her eyes.
"I think you might actually like being Crowley's little whipping girl. I mean, it seems like you just aim for reasons for him to torture you," she said.
Jo flushed a deep shade of crimson, and Nell's smile shortened to one of pure sadistic glee.
"I mean, after what I've been told, I'll never look at candles the same way ever again."
Jo whirled, her knife up and ready. "Shut. Your. Mouth."
"Or what?" the demon pressed.
Jo hurled the knife, her vision blinded by a flash of red. Nell dodged the assault easily, and Jo readied herself for retaliation. In a blink, Nell was face to face with the huntress, and Jo could feel her breath on her face.
"You've gotten sloppy, Joanna," Nell growled low. "You need to learn to think before you act."
"Back off," Jo snapped.
At that, Nell backed up exactly three steps and turned.
"Malcolm, take off," she barked.
"Excuse me?" he asked.
Nell's eyes flashed, and yet her demon eyes remained in check. Malcolm sighed like a kid sent away without dessert.
"Tell Crowley that I'm with Jo, and that I'll make sure we get back on track looking for the Mother of All," Nell added pointedly.
Malcolm nodded, albeit a little reluctantly. A moment later, he was gone. Jo's brow furrowed as she put her attention on the room's remaining demon.
"Why did you do that?" she asked.
Nell crossed her arms, leaning in just a fraction to make double sure that the two were seeing eye to eye.
"I'm going to be straight with you," Nell began. "I hate you. I hate you more than I've ever hated anyone ever. And I've been to Hell."
"And I care…?"
Nell held up a finger. "I'm not done. Not only do I hate you… I envy you. Do you know how much that royally sucks? To envy the person you hate? I mean, yeah, yeah, I know that one seems to be the reason for the other more often than not, but still… it sucks ass. But, I'm going to be honest here. I'd love to be in your shoes. I'd love to be the one Crowley called on to do his big hunts. His big missions. Do you understand that? I'd give anything to be his toy. But, I'm a power junkie. Well, power junkie by proxy. I like to bask in it, rather than having the stress of having it."
Jo rolled her hand. "I figured all that. You moon over him constantly. Is there a point here?"
Nell grinned. "I like to be obvious sometimes. But, you know what you don't know about me? If I were in your shoes, I'd be smarter about it."
"Well, of course," Jo scoffed. "You'd want it."
Nell wagged a finger—at the end of which was a well-manicured, red-painted nail—at her.
"No, I mean if I was truly in your shoes. I'd be smarter about it. I thought you were a fighter. I thought that's what Jo Harvelle was known for, known for making her mama proud."
Jo threw her hands up in the air. "I've been fighting Crowley. And look at where that's gotten me! Getting a life lesson, apparently, from a prissy-ass demon."
Nell's brow arched slightly. "I'll overlook that just this once. You've been fighting in the wrong ways. You've been stupid about it. Really stupid. Like, unbelievable so. Reckless. Do you have any idea how close Crowley is to killing you? Honestly? Because, I'll tell you, girl to girl… that seems to have become his wet dream."
Jo's lips pursed. She didn't know what to say. This was so strange, Nell trying to share advice… like the two were supposed to be friends or something. So she remained silent, waiting for her to continue.
"I know you want to stop them, Crowley and the angel. And I'm not about to offer my help in that. I don't have a death wish. But I will give you some free advice: get smarter."
Jo was speechless. She could only stare. Nell laughed.
"I'll let you think about it. I'm going to do some real recon for Eve. Just remember what I've told you… and, let's just keep it between us girls."
With that she was gone, and Jo felt the breath return to her body. She had only a moment, one fleeting little thing, before the sound of wings filled the air. She whirled, expecting Castiel. But she found only Balthazar instead.
"Fun company you keep," he noted with a playful grin.
It was sort of infectious, and Jo found herself returning it, despite her otherwise crappy mood. The huntress crossed her arms, her head cocked to the right.
"So, what brings you to Middle-of-Nowhere, USA?" she asked.
Balthazar shrugged. "Heard you were in town, Jo. Thought I'd drop by. Oh, and Castiel came to visit me after our first little meeting."
Jo's arms fell to her sides, unsure what to make of such a statement, but Balthazar held up two, surrendering hands.
"No worries," he said. "He just wanted to explain. Apparently, you're supposed to be long dead and gone. And Sam and Dean don't know that you're topside."
The breath left her body again. She hadn't even thought about that at their last meeting. Had she even known that this angel knew the Winchesters? She couldn't remember if it came up or not, but she should have been more careful.
"They can't know, Balthazar. They can't," Jo said, a healthy serving of pleading rounding out her statements.
The angel chuckled. "Don't freak, love. Cas explained it all to me. How you were brought back without anyone's knowledge, about how he saved you, and about how you don't want to over-complicate that boys' lives. I get it. Mum's the word."
Jo fought down the bile that rose in her throat. So that was the story Castiel had fed his brother? Some big bad demon brought Jo back to life, and then Castiel had swooped in, all savior-like? She pursed her lips, forcing a tight grin to them.
"Thanks," she said.
The angel had not missed the reaction, and Jo knew she had to switch the subject, fast.
"Thank you, by the way. I don't think I've gotten to say that," she said, moving to lean forward on the island counter.
"For giving Castiel the weapons. I don't know how much they've helped me."
Balthazar laughed. "Well, he's still alive after going toe-to-toe with big brother Raphael, so I think that's a plus."
Jo nodded. "Yeah. I'm glad he's got the extra power to last him… I just wish it would've stopped him."
Confusion flickered across the other angel's face. "Stopped him from what?"
Eyes wide, Jo bit at the inside of her lip. That had been a bad, terrible Freudian slip if ever she had heard it. Balthazar had just, not moments earlier, revealed that he knew nothing of Castiel's partnership with Crowley… or that Crowley was even alive. Jo shook her head. Oh how she wanted to tell him. To let him know everything… but something told her that that would do more harm than good. She didn't know Balthazar, not really. There was no way she could even begin to guess what his reaction to such a reveal would be.
"Nothing. It's nothing. I just feel like… like Cas is losing himself. In this stupid war, you know? Making bad calls… calls he would've never made otherwise."
"Well, that's war, sweetheart. A bunch of bad calls that, hopefully, turn out to be lucky."
A sinking feeling that felt like she had swallowed a boulder hit her stomach. Her eyes cast down toward the dirty, vampire-blood stained floor, she sighed.
"I somehow doubt that Cas is going to be so lucky."
"We better hope that he is… we don't want Raphael in charge in Heaven. Trust me."
The both of them went silent for a long moment following this. Jo still had her eyes locked on the floor, but she could see that Balthazar stood with his hands shoved into the pockets of his jeans. Finally, pulling his right hand out, he pointed toward Jo's necklace.
"I recognize that, you know," he said. Her eyes flew up as he nodded, continuing, "Yeah. It bothered me for a little while after we met, but I know it now. I've seen it many times over human history. Nasty piece of work it is. It's always been a demon at its helm, running the poor soul who is wearing it. Always because they couldn't get the person soul but needing the person under their control. I won't ask who's controlling you."
Jo's heart thudded in her chest, and she kept repeating in her mind, "Don't cry, don't cry, don't cry." She sucked in a deep breath as Balthazar took a step forward.
"Is it the redhead demon that left? Is she the one?" he said. Then, laughing softly, he added, "Sorry. I know I just said I wasn't going to ask, but…"
Jo shook her head. "No. It's not her."
She pushed herself off the counter, grabbing up the roll of weapons and tucking them under one arm.
"I better go," she muttered.
"I could remove it," Balthazar said the moment she put her back to him.
Jo froze, and she was pretty sure her heart had frozen over too.
"It takes something very powerful to remove it if the owner of the necklace refuses to, but an angel happens to fall under that category," he explained.
She didn't doubt him. After all, she knew that Castiel did have the power to remove it. And if one angel had the power… why not another? But Jo remained quiet, refusing to turn and face down the offer.
"Castiel lied to me, didn't he?"
That got her attention. She turned, her brow furrowed.
"He did. He told me that he had saved you… but you're still wearing that necklace. He's… up to something, isn't he?"
She couldn't answer, but Balthazar nodded. Another beat of silence passed.
Her brain was racing. If Balthazar removed the necklace, then she would be free. She could go to Sam and Dean. She could tell them everything. She could get them to help her stop Castiel from making the biggest mistake of his existence. She was moments away from accepting… moments away from doing what she had only dreamed of doing. But before she could force the words out, Nell reappeared.
The demon looked wide-eyed, if not a bit fearful, to see Balthazar there. She kept a step or two behind Jo, her eyes locked on Balthazar even as she talked to the huntress.
"The boss wants us," she said, deliberately cryptic.
Jo grimaced. She smiled ruefully at Balthazar.
"I'd love nothing more than to take you up on your offer," she said. "But I think… I think I need to keep this damn thing on a little while longer. Keep an eye on things, you know?"
He nodded, his eyes reflecting the sadness Jo had been feeling for so long.
"Gotcha. All right. You seem like a girl that knows what's good for herself. I'll see you around, okay? Take care."
With the sound of wings, he was gone, and Jo took a small comfort in knowing that he had meant those final sentiments. Gritting her teeth, she turned to Nell.
"All right. Let's go see 'the boss.'"
Nell grinned. "That, Joanna, is the smartest thing I've seen you do yet."
"Let's go," the huntress responded wearily.
She wanted nothing more than to cry as Nell grabbed her arm and carried her back to Crowley's manor.