Disclaimer: I do not own Supernatural. Written for fun, not profit.
A/N: Written for SPNSpringFling 2017 (on LJ), where I'm known as Twisted_Slinky.
"Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown."
"Crowley? Damn it, Crowley, wake up!"
There's an echo. Or perhaps the idiot shouting my name has been doing so for a while now. I don't so much as groan, when I lift my eyes.
"Moose," I return, a polite pleasantry and the best way I can go about hiding my shock.
The manacles holding us down, the dungeon quarters, the pain, is all expected considering what the witch had been going on about before casting her spell, but the sight before me is decidedly unexpected, and I'm not sure Sam knows exactly what's happening yet. I blink, thinking perhaps I'm suffering a mystical hallucination, but he's still there. And he still looks like that.
Sam's frowning, like he wants to curse me for getting him into this mess (incorrect, Hardy Boy #2), but he doesn't spit out a line of blame.
"What did she do to you?" he asks.
"So you do care," I tease, barely. It's difficult getting the air out of my lungs. "I think you should be more concerned about yourself, darling."
I've heard Dean put a label on this expression: bitch face. "I noticed," Sam snaps. "We have a problem."
The problem, of course, is only a problem because it's a bleeding Winchester chained in the chair facing my own. Any other meat sack could shrivel down to an egg and I'd refer to the evening's delights as "dinner and a show," but alas. Winchesters, with their annoying habit of complicating simple matters like survival of the…well,me.
I usually keep my expressions schooled, but something must have slipped, because Sam's frown deepens a bit, his brow furrowing as if there's a string attached to the corners of his mouth. It's odd, the absence of the permanent line above his eye brows, the one that had been weathered into place over recent years. But then, his body has shed more than a few years. Close to a decade, if my estimation is correct. I have no clue exactly how long he has left.
"Little Sammy," I say, and try to huff out a laugh.
It's not a little cough, the one that leaves my rib cage rattling. Literally, since, at current, there's a metal spike shaving my sternum and splintering the bones in my chest. Torture is easy; this is simple. Old hat, even. But, unfortunately, there's spell work carved into the stake and a tacky-looking purple crystal at the end. Which, really, doesn't that get in the way when one is hammering it into one's victim? Not very well thought out, this particular relic, but it seems to be doing its job. I can feel the strength being pulled out of the body I'm wearing and into the warm metal lodged in its heart. There's a slight glow from the crystal, a sign that the magic put into the device is stronger than it needs to be. Which would explain the forementioned problem: Moose is losing time.
"What is that thing?" Sam asks.
He sounds genuinely curious, which I've determined is a character trait of his that's distinctly different from his brother. Dean would ask the same question, different tone of voice. He'd ask because he needs to know, Sam asks because he wants to. It probably comforts the big lug, knowing everything.
"Basic hemalurgy, but this isn't Hogwarts, so don't ask me to explain how it works. Suffice to say it's old. It's a means for a witch to steal power," I reply. "That bitch lured me here."
"We thought the witch was working with a demon," Sam mutters to himself. He shakes his head slightly, his hair looking far too long on his younger face. "She was chasing a demon instead."
I rolled my eyes. "And she must have found the poor sod if she had enough power to take us down. Granted, the element of surprise worked in her favor since you and your brother didn't do YOUR BLOODY RESEARCH! AGAIN!"
I hack up a chunk of flesh at the outburst, spitting it to the floor. Need to keep that in check. If I'm screaming, I can't concentrate on keeping my essence away from the metal spike piercing me. If I were a human, I'd have no control; the soul is rooted in place until it's not anymore. But demonic essence, that's our entirety, not just a part, and it moves as we move. The spell-work keeps me from abandoning my favorite meat suit, but I can still shift around in it. I feel like the magician's assistant, twisting into a pretzel inside a box, dodging the swords as they slide in all around me.
"That's beside the point," I pick up. "The point being that the stake is specifically created to draw out certain attributes from its victim. The old magics called for the witch to stab the stake into her intended target, let the spell do its work, and when those attributes need harvesting, she simply removes the stake and quickly stabs it into herself. If she's strong enough, she survives the transference."
"Ok, so I see why she grabbed you." Sam tilts his head down, as if to point out his own body. "What is she doing to me?"
"Maybe she likes 'em young?" I offer a suggestive wink, and he growls in my general direction. It's, dare I say, cute. As I watch, his body has slowly left adulthood. He'd have a bit of trouble getting a stiff drink in the States, certainly. "The spell's being amplified - perhaps she thought she'd drain me a bit faster if she turned up the dial. I've never quite seen a transference de-age a secondary victim, but there we are. It's interesting that your mind hasn't gone yet. If your entire physical form were reversing in growth, that would include your brain-structure."
I hear it, the way my words are trailing, almost slurring. I'm growing tired.
"How long?" Sam asks.
There are a few different ways to answer that question, because there are a few different answers. If I keep slithering around this body, I can hold off my own demise for days, but in doing so, the spell will have no where to go but outward: I imagine Sam would be a most annoying child, but he wouldn't last that way. Eventually it would sap his mind, then his life-force. It's meant for more powerful beings than he. If I let him die…well, I know how Winchesters work. These are not good options.
I shrug. Seems a proper response.
"Dean will find us," Sam assures me. Or himself.
Probably correct. But Dean's going to be outgunned.
"I don't think the witch plans to stab herself through the heart." I try to look over my chin at the crystal in the stake. "I'd wager she's found a cleaner way to do her dirty work."
"The crystal." Sam groans. "It's what's amplifying the spell. She's pulling your strength right now, from wherever she's at. She doesn't even have to be here to do it."
He blanches. It makes the blood at his hairline brighter, his eyes a starker hazel shade. He looks like a child, a scared child. If I had a heart, I'd try to comfort him, because I'm certain he just realized what that means: if Dean and his feathery sidekick find the witch, they're going to be fighting a being with the power of the king of Hell behind her. Not to brag, but that's going to be quite the punch-out.
Sam straightens suddenly, looking like he's had another thought. "You need to fight this, Crowley."
I raise a brow. "Novel plan, Moose."
"No," he snaps. "You need to fight it with all you've got. Dean and Cas will find her, but they're not going to be able to take her. If you're…I can tell you're slowing whatever is happening to me. So stop."
I blink. For some reason, I don't fight the accusation. Sam is too mule-headed to listen anyhow. "I don't want to have to deal with an infant, thank you."
"They'll get to us." He sounds so sure. "They will. But they can't if the witch takes them down."
Point taken. But I hesitate, still considering my options. It is getting particularly hard, dancing around the metal spike wanting to soak me up like a sponge, giving it just enough of a taste to keep its spell from focusing on the other being in the room.
"We wouldn't want that, would we?" My gaze levels on him playfully. "Don't worry your oversized head over it, Samuel. I'm sure the White Hats will show just in time to save the day. Then I can go back to my throne and block your bloody phone number, which I should have done ages ago."
"You're so annoying." Sam's voice comes out a higher pitch, breaking slightly. Into adolescent then. Woe is me.
"Been holding that in a while?" I say.
Sam doesn't stop though. In fact, it seems a dam inside him has broken. "All of you demons," he snaps. "I mean, you with your throne…What do you even want? You're chasing power. That makes sense if you're a Disney villain, sure, but seriously, how has becoming the 'king' done you any favors? You've been a constant target, every demon you rule over is one step away from mutiny. You answer our calls because this perfect position of power you've tried so hard to reach…it sucks. You want something else."
I open my mouth, ready to spit a reply, but Sam cuts me off, his anger at bay.
"Doesn't make sense to me," he says, more quietly. "Demons escaping Hell? I really, really get that. Stealing a person's body, possessing them? I hate it, but see why. But the rest? What does a demon do when they escape? They cause pain, destruction. Manipulate and kill. They bring Hell to Earth. What's the point of escaping if you're going to do that?"
I need to answer. Letting that hang in the air makes it look like he might be right. He's an idiot, of course. He's simplified things, like he so often does.
"Feel better now?" I say, instead of a proper reply. "Good. Now maybe we can get back to the situation at hand, or would you rather rant a bit longer?"
He stays quiet, staring down at his shoes. His limbs look too long for his body, his face too round. I don't know this child in front of me. I breath out a sigh. "Sam."
"Quiet," he says.
Eventually my eyes will roll out of their sockets from overuse, but these Winchesters, they bring out the childish, sarcastic, too-bloody-close-to-human part of me. "Seriously? You're going to pout?"
"I'm a kid," he says, like he just realized it. He looks up. "I'm small."
"Oh, to be young again," I say, utterly confused. "And soon you'll be a pile of dead cells. Your point?"
Sam raises his chin. The little shit seems to be challenging me. "The chains holding you down, they're magical. Mine aren't."
He shifts his body, and I follow the movements, noticing what he'd been staring down at. His left boot has fallen off. When he twists his legs, the other shoe drops and his feet slide out of the manacles. It takes a bit of finesse but he pulls his hands free next, then wiggles down out of the chains wrapped around his chest, landing on his knees in front the chair.
"Well done," I comment, dryly. "Get to the part where you save our lives."
Sam crosses the short distance between them, the purple glow of the crystal reflecting in his eyes as he leans in, examining the stake. When his hands wrap around the spike, I hiss at him to stop.
"Do you want it out or not?"
I shake my head. "We did go over how this works? The witch removes the stake and takes my power with it. Do you honestly think pulling it out is the best method?"
Sam grins cruelly. "If I pull it out, you won't have your demonic powers anymore?"
I grin back. "And you'll be a pre-teen again, so you might want to re-think that choice. Unless, of course, you want to relive all those glorious years."
I expect a snide remark. Instead Sam pauses, as if he's still considering pulling. I see it in his eyes. He's weighing that option. A second chance to grow up again, to make different choices. It's something many would kill for. And, yes, at the crossroads, it was a common enough wish. I don't know why I brought it up. It isn't like me at all, to tell the truth when I could have just said the process would kill him.
Sam takes a slow step back, looking around the room for something. I can tell by the way he's avoiding my eyes that he hasn't let go of what I said. He circles behind me, scrambling at the corners of the room.
I should be afraid. Of losing my powers. My crown. I should be afraid of Sam Winchester right now, but I'm not. I wait, quietly, for his decision.
He moves back into my line of sight, chewing his bottom lip in thought. Then he leans forward. I tense, ready for the agony the spike will cause as it strips away parts of me. Instead there's a chink of something against the metal. It's a piece of bone. A human rib. A previous victim? Sam pries the bone against the crystal, loosening its vacuum against the metal and it pops out into his hand. The dull glow fades as soon as it's out of the spike, and I feel a wash of energy blanketing me from the inside.
Between one blink and the next, the short child in front of me has grown into a man again. His clothes fit him again, his hair is still too long. He isn't smiling, but he seems pleased with himself as he stares down at the crystal.
"You said the crystal was part of the transference," he says. "I thought that if the spike was the vessel, then she couldn't be receiving all of that power, just tapping into it through the crystal."
"You cut her off."
"And the vessel tipped over. Should be safe to remove the stake now." Sam goes to work, tugging at it.
The pain is expected, surely, as bones scrape metal, and I'll have to perform a bit of magic myself to patch up my suit, but still, I am surprised at the sense of hollowness in my chest after the spike is pulled free. Not that I'll say that aloud. Ever.
"Didn't fancy puberty?" Because I can't hold it in.
"I would have known everything I know now," Sam replies. He doesn't sound happy or sad. And I think knowing would be a pro, not a con, but Sam doesn't apparently. Or, at least that's the reason he's giving me.
I give him a sideways glance. "It's been fun," I say, brushing the gore off the remains of my jacket. "Text you later, darling."
I'm gone before his frown can snap back into place. He's left behind for his family to find after they take care of my witch problem. But I don't go back to my throne room right away. It's frustrating when they're right, those bloody Winchesters.