They meet in an old city bar that’s been hollowed out and embedded with shiny new shackles and spattered with fresh blood. The demons are relaxing, for a moment, lounging against the cracked barstools when Samandriel walks in, more swagger than substance but nevertheless bent on his mission: Protect the tablet.
“Hey,” one of the demons says, nudging the one beside him. “Check out Feather-Brain.”
“I am Samandriel, angel of the Lord,” he announces. “What do you know of the location of the demon tablet?” His voice tries to demand respect despite his short stature. The throng of demons just laughs at him.
One mutters, “Looks like lunchtime came early,” moving towards the angel.
In one swift movement, he surprises them all, spinning the oncoming demon back with his palm and pinning him to the bar, light coursing through his arm and eradicating the demon. Before the others can organize he takes them all on, smiting one after the other like it’s some kind of game.
Thing is, these demons are foot soldiers, and Samandriel’s a specialist, young as he is.
When he pins the last demon to the wall, the one who’d been sitting back and keeping quiet prior to the attack, something stops him. Elbow crooked back, light gathering in his hand, Samandriel squints at the man in front of him, his rumpled hair and casual attitude even as he stares his own death in the face. There’s two faces there, always is with demons- the warped demon face and the human face that bleeds through. Bleeding through the demon before him are a pair of pale blue eyes and a twitchy grin.
“Adam Milligan?” he says in a low whisper, not moving.
“You must be a fan,” Adam says, and Samandriel guesses maybe that’s what he is. He hadn’t been there, but had heard about when the half-Winchester consented to Michael, had watched from above while the apocalypse was averted. Everyone in Heaven knew Adam Milligan’s face and fate.
“You were in Hell,” Samandriel goes on, not sure why he doesn’t just kill him. “Many angels- we wanted to get you out but we didn’t have the resources.” He narrows his eyes, grip not relaxing, but it seems unlikely now that he’ll smite the man before him. “How can you be here?”
“Well, you know what they say,” Adam shrugs, true face grimacing with its terrible permanent snarl. “If you can’t beat ‘em…” Slowly, though he’s not sure why he does it, Samandriel slides his hand away and backs off from the Adam demon. “What, you’re not gonna kill me?”
“I wanted to save you,” Samandriel says, a little like he’s in a dream. “I talked it about it, sometimes. The other Winchester. I wanted you to get out.”
“Then I guess you got what you wanted,” Adam says, gesturing to himself.
“You used to be human.”
“People change.” Wary, like he still thinks Samandriel’s going to attack him, he swivels around the angel and heads for the bar to collect his knife and jacket.
“What, that’s it?” Samandriel whips around, looking more startled than he’d been since striding into the demon den. “You’re not going to kill me?”
Adam looks up from the jacket he’s disentangling from the pile of burnt-out bodies at the bar. “Nah,” he says, slinging it around his shoulders.
“Yeah. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got things to do, people to kill-”
Samandriel grabs him by the elbow, stops him from walking out the door. “I could help you. I still want to help you.”
“I don’t want your help.”
“Then… why not kill me?” He sounds too cocky, with just a touch of healthy fear. “If you’re really that far gone. If you’re not human, if you’re a demon, kill me.” Spreading his arms out, he cocks an eyebrow at Adam. “Why are you waiting?”
“Because you look like a Raggedy Andy doll.”
“Why does that matter?” he continues, like he’s trying to goad Adam into caring. “You’re a demon. Your kind drowns cats and blind puppies.”
“Get out of my way.”
“Just kill me.”
“Okay,” Adam says, “I don’t know what you’re trying to attempt here, but it’s a lost cause. Yeah, I’m a monster. No, I’m not goin’ to kill you. So get out of my way.”
When Samandriel doesn’t budge, he slides past him for the door. As he reaches for the handle, the angel says quietly, “Your brothers recovered from worse.”
Adam spins around and slams him against the wall, whatever rage Samandriel had managed to coil up snapping and setting Adam into a flurry of motion. Knife in hand, he waves it too close to Samandriel’s face. “You mention those sons-of-bitches to me again, I will kill you.”
“They’re your brothers.”
“Yeah,” Adam says. “And the guys who did this to me were yours. So where does that leave us?” Leaning forward, inches from Samandriel’s face, his black eyes shine like dead meteors. “See you never, Sandy.”
He slips out the door a moment later, leaving the angel unharmed, a sign that Samandriel’s not certain has any significance. He’s young and naïve, though, so he assumes it does and heads out the door behind Adam.
A block later, though he thought he was being stealthy enough, Adam catches him and stalks back towards him. “Why’re you followin’ me, angelfish?”
“You didn’t kill me.”
“And this is, what, you pushin’ your luck?” Sighing, he runs a frustrated hand through his hair. “Look, I don’t know what you’re trying to do, takin’ me on as some charity case or whatever, but I mean it. Lay off. I’m letting you go with a warning this time.”
“I want to help you, Adam,” Samandriel insists again, because it’s like he’s found some hero he used to tell stories about, and the hero is broken. It won’t do.
“So did Michael,” he says bitterly.
“I’m not Michael.”
“Well, I’m not Adam.” With a turn on his heel, he heads into a diner nearby. After taking a moment to deliberate, Samandriel follows him. Adam doesn’t even look surprised when Samandriel joins him at a booth.
If he had more experience with normalcy, Samandriel might find the situation funny- an angel and a demon, sitting down together at a table. As it is, Adam remembers regular life plenty well and he isn’t amused in the slightest. Bitterness tugs at his thoughts and erodes what humor he might have found.
“Two burgers,” Adam tells the waitress when she arrives. After she leaves, Samandriel leans across the table.
“Why are you getting me food?”
“Because you’re a twig. You look like Ichabod friggin’ Crane.” His mouth quirks up in a smile, and for a moment it’s like the demon scowl fades away and he’s just a boy, sitting down for lunch. It’s that, that spark of humanity that Samandriel noticed in the bar. He doesn’t know what to do about it but it intrigues him to the point of following Adam for the rest of the day.
For the most part, he does normal, human things, but there’s always a twinge of acerbic anger or disdain. Adam scoffs at a couple kissing on the sidewalk, makes some cruel offhand comment about a recent attack in the Middle East that he spots in a newspaper. It’s all defensive, Samandriel notes, like a kid trying to prove himself. More than anything he wants to tap Adam on the forehead and restore his humanity, but it’s not that simple. Nothing ever is.
There are signs, things that surprise Samandriel. Adam glances at a comic book shop wistfully, looks upset when he thinks Samandriel’s getting cold. The angel feels like he’s keeping a meticulous study of Adam as the day progresses, gauging how demonic, how human every action of his is. And he doesn’t know why. The kind of angel to always follow and never question orders from above, he can’t explain in the slightest what compelled him to take on this mission, this attempt to follow the demon who used to be Adam Milligan.
At the end of the day, as Samandriel makes up his mind to return to his real mission- the tablets- he turns back to Adam before leaving. “You tipped the waitress.”
“At the diner. You tipped her. Generously.”
“Well, yeah,” he shrugs. “I’m a demon, not an ass.”
Samandriel nods as Adam walks off into the night, looking like nothing more than a shadow. Somehow, he thinks he knows better. He thinks there’s light holding out in that darkness, and it’s while he’s thinking this that a cold pair of hands come down on his shoulders and whisk him away.
Samandriel wakes up in a too-bright room, white light bouncing off polished blades and daggers and slitting into his eyes. The drawling Scottish voice lets him know who it is that’s taken him. “Wakey, wakey, Samandriel.”
“Crowley,” he spits, trying not to panic, because yes, actually, the King of Hell is a pretty big deal. “What do you want?”
“Same as you,” he says, somehow turning it into a taunt. “I just don’t want you to get your grubby little hands on it.”
Without even asking any questions, he begins the interrogation, jabbing an array of knives down Samandriel’s right forearm, which is bolted the chair. He tries not to, but he screams. He screams a lot, and Crowley seems to revel in it.
And then, suddenly, the pain stops. Crowley stops, for some reason, and looks up, and it’s then that Samandriel realizes someone else has spoken. “We’ve received news from the prophet, sir.” Crowley mutters something about being polite and then leaves, edging outward from whoever’s at the door.
As Samandriel’s blinking away his own blood, he seems to notice that the demon who made the announcement isn’t leaving. When his vision clears more, he realizes that he recognizes him. “Adam?”
“Yeah,” he says, sounding a bit reluctant, but still, he’s here. “What, you’re just gonna sit there?” And he hurries forward to strip the bonds from the chair and help Samandriel up. “C’mon, Sandy, let’s make like an exorcism and get the hell outta here.”
Outside, far away on some city sidewalk, Samandriel thanks him. He asks, “Why did you come for me?”
Adam shrugs. “I don’t know how long I’ve been… like this,” he admits. “A demon. I really don’t know, but I know it’s not fun. And being with you, it’s… it’s like I can remember feeling human? That’s stupid.”
“That’s all I wanted,” Samandriel says. “For you. I wanted you to be human.”
“Well, I’m not,” he says, sounding somewhat defeated and nothing like the bitter regretful soul Samandriel had heard earlier. “I’m a monster.”
“Who told you that?” he asks. “Adam, I haven’t been on Earth very long, but I’ve learned a lot. And one big thing- who you are and what you do matters more than what you are.”
Adam smiles, a bit, a real smile that isn’t a snarl at all, and then he chuckles. “Where’d you get that from, Full House?”
“Never mind,” says Adam, slinging an arms around Samandriel. He’s still a demon, and Samandriel’s still an angel, but there’s something in that, in two boys walking down a sidewalk with no one in the world but each other. Yeah, Adam thinks, remembering how he used to be, how he is now. There’s something.