The part about me and mine didn’t surprise him in the slightest. He might’ve tossed out some Dean-caliber barb about how sorry he was to disappoint, but the nasty grin that started crawling across the Horseman’s face gave him significant pause. Both Winchesters had made this mistake too many times to count: gone striding into some situation utterly convinced of the value, and logic, of their assumptions. Sometimes, they came back out in one piece. More often, it was sporting a shiner or two, a split lip, a bloody nose, a collection of cuts and bruises or a couple of broken bones or worse; and sometimes all of the above.
It’s not over until I say it is.
Sam stayed where he was, his eyes snapping towards the ring on War’s finger. No, he had by no means forgotten what the Horseman was capable of. He might’ve been screwed six ways past Sunday, but he hadn’t forgotten.
The vessel started to change before his eyes, settling after a few seconds into the exact doppelganger of his brother, and if Sam had been tense already than it was nothing compared to the way his entire posture went rigid now. Once before, he’d seen something that wasn’t Dean take Dean’s form; the shifter in St. Louis was bad enough, and that was something they could kill with something as garden-variety as silver bullets. And the real Dean had been there, backing him up.
Sam kept his composure, but it was a damn close thing.
“What the hell d’you think you’re gonna do?” he challenged. “I hate to break it to you, but you’re not the first who’s pulled that trick. A shapeshifter and a couple of Leviathans already beat you to it. Half the country already thinks me and Dean are killers.”
Clenching and unclenching his jaw, his eyes stayed locked on this replica of his brother. Identical to the last freckle, and, Jesus, did that ever grate on his nerves.
“The game doesn’t work if you’re the only one playing. We’re done.”
“Half the country think you and Dean are killers, yes. But a little massacre here and there? Childsplay. I’m talking about the eyes of the world on you Sam. I’m talking about being hunted, by every single person on this planet. I’m talking about living in constant fear that the next gunshot you hear will be your last.”
“And if it is? What then?”
“Onwards and upwards? Oh, I don’t think so… Your soul is already a little too ragged, Sam. You will be taking the long dive, waaaay back down. Your brother consigned to the rack again…. And we both know how well that turned out last time. He’ll be on the fast track to his very own set of black eyes.”
“What do you think, Sam? It’s a good look on him?”
The Horseman grinned, “Oh, no… This is far from over. And I’m anything but done, Sammy.”
He took a few casual steps closer, making sure that the younger Winchester got a very good glimpse of what the future could potentially hold.
“I wonder if they’ll hand you over to him? Let him carve a few more notches into that broken soul before they pass you on to Luci. Let Dean be the one to break you in the pit. I think I might just have to ask for front row seats to that little performance. Sounds fun.”
Dean’s anger flared pretty fast at War’s words. Not because he disagreed, not because he was throwing pretty little lies at him, like low-life demons would, but because there was a point to it all. The horseman was right, and the hunter hatedthat. Ever since he was a kid, he’d been a fighter, a protector. Without War, without any form of strife in the world, he would lose his purpose, and frankly, he’d be lost. Even without War’s guidance, he’d still pick a fight with random people at random bars for asking too many questions, and he’d still bicker with Sam about where to go and what food to have. Such was the life of Dean Winchester. But he just couldn’t handle War stating those facts.
“You think I wanna be like this? I was pushed into this job by people like you, ain’t like I chose this life. I ain’t a goddamn soldier. I’m human. Yeah, I fight, but only outta necessity. To keep me and Sam alive.”
Okay, so that wasn’t entirely true, and he was well aware of it. He knew he had a lot of anger in him as a result of multiple ghosts from the past. He knew damn well he would always pick a fight if the situation presented itself. But he’d be damned if he’d admit that to this guy.
“Yes, yes. Peace and harmony. Blah, blah, blah. Not gonna happen, Dean. That’s the tricky thing about free will, isn’t it.” War looked mildly bored with yet another righteous individual spouting at him. ”Buuuut, free will is just that. Sin and virtue go hand in hand. People have the choice to kissy face or punch each other in them.”
A slow grin slid over his face, “And it would hardly be fair, would it, if the pious got to spout their bollocks to the masses about hugging trees or whatever and the rest of us sat on the sidelines. Without me, there’d be several billion extra people wandering around on this rock. Without me, there would be a lot more work for my brothers. So, would you like to see the overcrowded populace die of starvation when resources are stretched to breaking point - and beyond - Famine is just a little overeager sometimes. Or would you rather see them sick, vomiting up their own bile and blood because they’re crammed in so tightly that basic hygiene goes right out of the window? I think Pestilence would thoroughly love that”
“Narrow minded little thing, aren’t you? The bigger picture is a little too big, huh? I only give people - including you - the option to let loose a little, instead of bottling up all that anger. That rage. It’s not good for you. Gives you indigestion.”
“Now, picture this… A man on a battlefield, standing up for what he believes in. Putting country and family and honor above everything else and laying his life on the line - risking it all. He has faith. Hope. He feels as though his life - or death - has worth. It’s that spirit that drives the noble, the just and the righteous.”
“Then there is the man who won’t fight. Who surrenders and lets his family become oppressed. Slaves. Downtrodden and worthless. The man who is a coward. Who doesn’t have enough passion to take up arms and defend what is his.”
“You have chosen your side, Dean. You know what you are. You can keep on denying it, but all of those values that you hold so highly, would be nothing, without me…”
“Oh, he’s doing what he’s good at. You should perhaps try not to be, you know, an easy target. You really are.” He grinned.
“Yes, try to shut up for, let’s see; say, forever. I’ll give you a sticker if you manage to do it.”
He pursed his lips downward, brows arched. “Let’s see if I can advise the manager down there for more advertisement. You can say, I have a good connection with the owner.” In fact, he could kill the owner any moments he wants. Lucifer pulled the corner of his mouth slightly, how very nice of War. “You know I can take care of it, no need to worry—except if they got your ring; which I see still missing? Or not, I don’t really care.” The smile on his face wasn’t a fake one, oddly enough; taking a nice wise words from an old friend wouldn’t do any harms. “Of course I know, I can easily bind you, but I know it won’t be necessary with you.”
“Monopoly. Unless you want Poker. Or you want some sort of—what was it, from the movie, ah, Hunger Games.”
He knitted his brows, squinting his eyes in thought. “And now you said it, I remember that’s one of the reason I didn’t like him. Do you…Horsemen, have family dinner? Must be terrible… Death quite as ever; Pestilence poisoning everyone’s food; Famine inhaling nothing but souls. Oh, I dread to think.”
“I’m good at targets, usually it’s not me in the line of fire though.” The Horseman gave a small shrug, it was no big deal, his penchant for observation often left his vessel a little… tatty around the edges.
“Oh, come on. You like my conversation. I know you must have been bored senseless stuck in the pit second time around, Michael yammering on and on and on and spouting all his righteous bullshit. I’m surprised you didn’t just die of boredom.”
“Oh I think your advertising is doing okay. It seems like there’s a hell of a lot - eh, pun not intended - more sin in the world than virtue. They just keep those little boulders rolling downhill, uphill’s too much of a struggle. Besides… You have better music downstairs. And I doubt they have pay per view up top - wait, you get HBO in the pit, right? Just quiet contemplation for the rest of time… bleh.”
Grinning, War held out his hand again, the thin gold band nestled securely on his finger, “Retrieved and this time, staying put. It’s really rather tricky without it.” Huffing slightly, the Horseman slouched further back in the seat, “Binding… Pfft. As if. I enjoy my work. Why would you need to bind me? Just because Death doesn’t like overtime.”
The laugh that burst forth from War’s mouth was an uncontrolled bark, and he wheezed slightly, “Monopoly? I dread to think - go straight to jail, do not pass go, do not collect two hundred bucks. Haven’t you done that one already?”
Catching his breath, War chuckled, “Poker is fine, and the Hunger Games, eh… Leave out a little cornucopia and see who delves into the depths? Could be interesting, depending on what you laid out as a prize.”
Wrinkling his nose, he nodded. “And we can’t arrive or leave at the same time. Which means someone’s always hanging around. Four Horsemen riding equals one big damn apocalypse. The logistics are tricky.”
miss-malice started following you
princeofgreed started following you
askthewinchester started following you
enviouspawn started following you
War cast an eye over the new faces, grinning with the sudden flush of potential - oh, he was going to have fun with this…
Sam breathed out a quiet, humorless laugh. It wasn’t the concept he was having trouble grasping — it was what the hell he could ever possibly hope to offer War as an incentive. And somehow, he didn’t think the timeframe for negotiation was all that wide. Things were in line to deteriorate pretty damn quickly if he didn’t answer before the buzzer.
“I get it,” Sam leveled out, eyes staying locked on the Horseman. “Believe me. What I don’t get is why you think there’s anything I’ve got that you’d want. I know what human souls are worth, but I get the feeling you could give a crap about souls.” Not that he had any intention of selling his, but that was beside the point. Just keep talking. ”Look. You and I both know there’s nothing of actual value to offer. Even if there was, it’s not like there wouldn’t be strings attached. And I’m not stupid enough to make a deal with you.”
The younger Winchester narrowed his eyes slightly, gauging for a reaction. “So correct me if I’m wrong, but I think we just reached a stalemate.”
“Pfft, souls. What would I do with that? Unlike a lot of others slipping around in the shadier corners of reality, I’m content with my lot. I have what I want, and I do enjoy my work. There’s no clamor for power, Sam. Just me and mine.”
The Horseman let out an exaggerated sigh, shoulders slumping as his head fell forward a little, “And here I thought you would have a little more imagination than that. Looks like you don’t quite live up to expectations, Winchester. Pity.”
Eyes flicking upward at the next statement, a slow grin slipped onto his face, completely lacking any trace of humor. “Oh, no, Sam. Stalemate is when neither player has any moves left. I’m afraid that isn’t the case here. You might have thrown in the towel, but I’m still playing the game. And it’s not over until I say it is.”
“Perhaps I can provide you with a little inspiration, hm?” One hand moved to rest upon the other, fingers slipping onto the small gold band, nestled securely back on his finger, “Or have you so easily forgotten my little repertoire of tricks. Perhaps I’ll just pop out to a bar, have a few beers. Maybe start a fight. Maybe… Just maybe… Spill a little innocent blood.”
His fingers made the slightest of movements, twisting the ring fractionally, and War shook himself slightly as a new form shimmered over his vessel.
“What do you say, Sammy?” He said in Dean’s whiskey rough tone. “Are you inspired yet?”
“He’s not easy to be persuaded, let alone by you.” Lucifer snickered. “Combined with how an easy target you are, no wonder he did that.”
Lucifer narrowed his eyes. “Your compliment is starting to creep me out, perhaps you should stop…” an unspoken ‘War’ was trailing behind it. “And don’t think it’ll be free, though, I’m putting a charge on it. Even for you.”
“Now, now—I’m done with it, I have my free time now.” the corner of his lips was pulled into a smirk. Lucifer realised after being released for the second time from his Cage; that having a fight with his own family is pointless. Fighting over those cockroaches is even more pointless. Even without his help, humanity will destroy itself. Sooner or later, even his Father would see their flaws—they were now far more corrupted than they were before after all. “I have all the time to play now, if you want to.”
“It was bad, but not the worst ever. Although dinner is always hell-ish. A Hell in Heaven, that’s a great expression for it.” He sneered. “Famine, never like that guy—not just for that reason, also because of his vessel. Why won’t he just change into a more proper vessel? You’re his brother, surely you know why. I’ve been wonder about that for…let’s say, since eternity.”
“He’s an ass. Too wrapped up in his little science projects to pay attention to what he’s doing. And I really wish he’d stop using my vessels as test subjects. it’s hard to get one that fits right. And it takes a while to wear them in. Or… Out… in your case.”
“I’m creeping you out!? Score one for War! Is there a bonus round?” He beamed widely, not phased in the slightest by the thinly veiled threat. Oh, Lucifer could blow him up with a snap of his fingers, send his meatsuit into the ether as little more than a red vapor and a mildly alarming smear. But soon enough, he’d ‘pull himself together’ enough to delve into another body and be back to business. It was hard to kill a Horseman. Having Death as a big brother was always an advantage too…
“Well I’m not paying if there isn’t a pamphlet. Adulterers on the right, murderers on the left and a little sticker saying ‘you are here’.” He shrugged then pursed his lips for a moment, “Well, good for you, just watch your back, Lucifer. Angels, tricky things.” The horseman shrugged again, “Always flip flopping loyalties these days. Humans, God, humans again, back to God, possibly a brief slip into apathy before they bounce back.” his eyes narrowed ever so slightly, “But I always know where I stand with you, right?”
“Mmhm, and just what kind of game did you have in mind?”
His nose wrinkled at the thought of his brothers generally decrepit appearance. “No idea if I’m honest with you. He’s had a few. All just as incapacitated as the last. I think he’s just a lazy bastard if I’m honest with you. Likes being wheeled around by a few demons. Plus, that oxygen tank? You know - you inhale enough of that stuff, it gets you high. I think he’s a closet stoner.”
“You are not the first one to call me that”, Godric answered, studying the other for a moment. “And I cannot say I like it.”
At his next words he tilted his head slightly, hesitating for a moment. “You are odd.” Then he shook his head, a slight sigh leaving him. This was just another person who tried to tell him what he already knew.
“I am aware. Humans feel more intense. I find it difficult to excite myself after being alive for two thousand years.”
“Ah, but it’s the truth in more ways than you’d probably want to admit. Desire can change. A degree of control. But nature is innate.” he gave another light shrug, “You can fight it, but you can’t deny your nature. Not forever. And for you, that’s something you’ll have to face up to.”
“You’d be surprised. There’s always something out there - right around the corner, new and exciting. Something to get the heart racing. Or not in your case.” He deadpanned, then gave a slight chuckle. “Time is something to be lived, not measured.”
“And no, I’m not odd. I’m War.”