Castiel hesitated outside the Salt Lick Bar, noting with sharp eyes that nothing was outwardly unusual about the establishment. In fact, on the outside, nothing about it seemed to have changed in even the smallest detail since the suspicious change of ownership. He pushed open the door to bar, his casual manner contradicting the wary gaze he appraised the room with as he stepped inside. He hesitated again as the door creaked shut behind him, looking for any signs of anything out of place. Of course, he found nothing changed at all.
As he'd planned following suggestions from Dean – who, with his brother, was out of state on a hunt – he arrived early enough into the evening that the room was lacking in any sort of a crowd. The only patrons appeared to be just a pair of older men tucked into a corner sharing beers and talking quietly. It was better this way, in case his suspicions turned out to be correct and, as the boys would say, 'shit got real.'
The angel, dressed in his usual rumpled suit-and-tie and tan coat, strode up to the bar and folded his arms across his chest, using the time to examine the room for anything hinting at the presence of something not quite what it seemed. He was nearly certain that the method of the change of ownership of the place had more to it than met the eye. It was time to see if the new owner was around, and get a feel for him.
walk through a curtained doorway tucked behind the bar, most likely
leading to the kitchen, my hands red from what could possibly be
blood as I wipe them off on a rag, my smile widening when I see the
man standing and looking around. "Well now, what can I get you,
sir?" I look him over almost giddy with pleasure at seeing the
infamous Castiel in my establishment. They all laughed at me when I
said I wanted to actually work in this dump, but I did my homework.
Nothings changed here, even the patrons have commented about how the feel of the place is just the same, as if old Ed was just off on vacation and I was just a stand in, but I took great measures that even the smell of the bar did not change, familiarity breeds fondness afterall. "Are you were for a drink or for something to eat?"
A boy runs out of the kitchen, clothes looking like they are much too big for his frame, balancing three baskets of the famous porkrinds, one he delivers to the men in t he back and two he comes to leave on the bar, but he stops in his tracks when he eyes Casstiel, eyes wide and seeming a bit perturbed by the sight and smell of the being. I clear my throat and make a sound which sets the kid back into motion, setting down the baskets and maybe even taking a closer sniff at Cass before running back to the kitchen.
I chuckle at that. "Kid's these days.."
As the figure emerged from the back, Castiel's attention sharpened further. He'd expected, perhaps, a stray vampire trying to secure a base for himself, or something of the like. Instead, what he sees gives him pause; the writhing, horrific visage of a demon lurks beneath the face of whatever poor man the demon is possessing. The angel's eyes dart to the two innocents briefly, then he turns the full force of his attention to the demon standing behind the bar across from him.
Just as he's about to respond to the demon's questions, a boy dashes out of what smells like it must be a kitchen with food in baskets balanced precariously. Castiel watches the child warily, even as the child stops to stare at him. He can see that the child isn't a demon, but he still carries about him something that isn't quite human, either. He allows his gaze to track the child as he dashes away back to the kitchen.
Only when the boy was gone and the humans are engaged in their own conversation once again, did Castiel answer the demon, his eyes narrowed with a protective anger and deep suspicion that he made no efforts to hide. “I'm here to see what you want,” he says, his rough voice low enough that he wouldn't be overheard by the humans. “Why you're here in Lebanon, to be precise.”
While it wasn't common knowledge that the bunker the Winchesters made their home was located on the edge of town, the angel knew it was always possible that could be the reason the demon was here. And, while it wasn't the best of the options he envisioned as a reason for the demon's presence, it wasn't the worst, either. Far worse would be that word about Wayward Academy had gotten out to the wrong ears. Castiel needed to be sure of the reasons the demon was here before he took measures.
frontal attack, I can respect that more than most, I raise my hands
then shrug helplessly. "No quarrel with anyone, this
establishment is quite neutral." I glance to the corner where
the humans are busy, Ren is peeking from behind the curtain from the
kitchen and I lean on the bar to keep my voice low, having grabbed a
bottle and pouring myself a drink.
"It's like this, I was bored, this place is full of potential." We are at a crossroads, can't keep me from doing business, humans do have free will afterall. No one's problem if a human gambles away their soul but their own. I drink down my drink and smirk at Cass. "I'm not looking to start anything..are you, Castiel?" I raise a brow at him, eyes sparkling with mischief.
"My name's Jacob Gale, have a seat, I don't discriminate against devil or angel as long as you pay up your tab." I lean towards Cass a bit more. "I'm here to stay.."
His eyes narrowed further as he considered the demon's supposed reasons for being in town. He didn't like this situation, not any of it, not one bit. But, killing the demon – be it right this minute, or later in a more secluded place – might not be the wisest course of action. Doing so could draw attention of the wrong kinds, and that seemed more important to him than taking out some random low-level demon.
His lip quirked when the demon said his name. It didn't really surprise him that he was as infamous now to most demons as he was to his own brethren, but it wasn't something he was yet comfortable with, either. “No, I don't suppose I am...looking to start anything with you...Jacob,” he said, taking the offered stool, unphased completely by the demon leaning closer. Personal space was a human concern, and one he wasn't even going to pretend at being bothered with right now.
Everything about him from his posture to his expression made perfectly clear that he still didn't trust the demon, but that he truly wasn't going to start a fight here and now. “As long as you stay out of my own business in Lebanon, I can accept your presence here.” He let himself relax, or at least give the appearance of it, and let his lip quirk with amusement. “Is this where we make a deal and 'kiss on it' or are you satisfied with a less formal arrangement?”
Dimly, he was aware that Dean and Sam would be quite angry with Castiel even considering allowing a demon to remain in town. But, this time, the angel felt he was doing the right thing for the current situation. Protecting the academy was more important than the hunters' comfort. And, as he'd learned from Crowley, sometimes keeping your enemy close really was the best option.
are starting to even sound like them, Kiss on it, indeed." I
laugh then, it's a rumbling hearty sound and not at all malicious,
even Ren peeks out with a smile. "What will it be, then? My food
and drinks are quite safe for consumption, we have all the usual
fare." I poke around and set a small menu on the bar before
Castiel. Glad we didn't have to go all out, in the end I doubt I
would have come out on top and poor Ren would have been left to the
wolves, as they say. "Take your time.."
A couple walks in and I greet them happily, there is a warmth to the place that makes it feel familiar and humans can't seem to keep from accepting the unusual change in ownership, Ren runs over to their table to get their orders, though he can't help give Castiel some side glances.
Truly amused now, Castiel chuckled softly and offered a simple shrug. He saw no shame in his steady assimilation of human habits and idiom. Humans were endlessly fascinating, even if they were also often incredibly frustrating and confusing. Apparently, he mused as he picked up the offered menu to peruse it, there might even be some demons that had the potential to prove as fascinating as humans were. Enough so that he had to remind himself to remain on his guard. Jacob may seem amiable to letting things rest, but Castiel knew he couldn't afford to be quite so casual about it.
The angel nodded to Jacob as he turned his attention to the newcomers, using the time to observe both the demon and the child who appears to be a servant of some kind. Castiel may still remain ignorant of many customs and laws of the humans, but he did realize a child working in an establishment such as this was unusual, at the very least. “A beer, please,” he said, turning his focus back to Jacob. “I've become accustomed to the taste of it.” The angel laid the menu back down onto the bar top and tilted his head slightly as he leaned forward and lowered his voice a bit, his expression filling with the curiosity he felt about the child. “The boy, what is he?”
set a bottle of beer on a coaster on the bar before Castiel and watch
as Ren flitters off back to the kitchen only to re-emerge with a
basket of steaming porkrinds to give to the new customers. "What
he is..not really my place to share, just ask him, if you're that
curious..but a word of caution, don't startle or badger him, I just
got him to not piss himself when he's scared, I don't want to have to
clean up that mess in here." And I'd never hear the end of it,
might end up killing the kid.
"For all intents and purposes, he is my son, his name is Renard, or Ren." I eye the kid fondly as he walks up to the bar with a tray and tells me what the couple wants to drink. While he waits he eyes Cass again, stealing a few porkrinds from the basket on the bar and stuffing his mouth.
Picking the bottle up almost as soon as it was produced, Castiel took a tentative sip from it. The sip was quickly followed by a practiced deep drink, appreciation clear on his unusually expressive – at least for an angel – face. “Renard. I will endeavor to keep that in mind, should I speak to him.” His eyes were widened a bit, surprised at a demon willingly calling anyone or anything something so sentimental as 'son.' And he didn't at all miss the, well, he could only think of it as affectionate, look Jacob had while watching the boy.
The angel took another drink from his beer, calmly meeting the demon's gaze as he did so. Almost against his better judgment, he found himself intrigued by this unusual demon. “You're not quite the average for your kind, I think. It's...interesting.” Again came that quirked lip, almost an actual smile, as he considered he didn't really have much room to be making judgments given his own rebellion against Heaven.
"He grows on you, after a while.." I stuff my mouth with more porkrinds while Jacob fixes my drinks and sets them on the tray for me. I seem to be in constant motion, my hands, my eyes, even my hair never quite seems to be still, there is a frantic energy about me, like I could suddenly run around the room a few times just out of sheer need to move, it annoys Jacob that I never seem to settle. "Like mold..or fungus..maybe ivy?" I eye Jacob again and he growls at me. "No, definitely mold." Before walking away to serve my drinks.
who are you calling moldy, I've seen your room.." For a moment
sounding very much like an exasperated parent. I clear my throat and
look back at Cass. "So, aside from casual curiosity, why did you
come here?" What is so important in this area that one such as
him would see fit to size me up as threat or no. That makes me
curious, I'm certainly not the only Demon in the state of Kansas. "Of
all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, he walks into
"What is here that you might be guarding?" I'm probably just lucky he didn't walk in here with the Winchester brothers, there is no way they would have just sat down for a beer and talk in peace. I'll have to be on my guard.
Renard's wit made a genuine laugh bubble forth from the angel, surprising even Castiel with the sound. Something about the boy's restless energy teased at him, but he put it aside to puzzle out later when Jacob cleared his throat and brought the full force of Castiel's focus back to the demon. Thanks to Metatron's 'download' of pop culture, he actually understood the reference, but let it pass because the questions were far too serious to allow him to be distracted by a joke.
“Do you really think I'm stupid enough to just tell you something like that?” Despite the words he used, there was nothing but genuine curiosity in his tone. “I can't be sure you aren't a threat. Not yet, at least.” He paused to consider the demon before him, then allowed a faint smirk to twist his lips. “I might consider a trade of information for a truce. Your assurance you won't trade away anything you learn here to Crowley or his 'lackeys' for satisfying some of your curiosity...”
regard him a moment. I chose this location for a reason, the
business, the crossroads and the low population meant less of a
bother, less noise and a more stable environment for Ren to learn to
socialize more, never having expected the one and only Castiel to
walk through my door. That alone makes me certain I have stumbled
into something bigger than I expected and I have no intentions of
sharing right now. Not even with the so-called King of Hell
I cross my arms over my chest and frown a bit. "So far, there is nothing of interest to Crowley here, save an unfortunate Angel walking into a bar, which sounds more like the premise of a joke than anything else." Crowley also would have no reason to stop by here, as far as I know. So I have to wonder what this place could hold that is such a big secret. Well, time will tell, humans do love to talk.
The angel's eyes narrow, considering Jacob's words. When his expression relaxes, he's come to a decision. “I think I'll take that as an agreement, for now. Truce for information. That works, doesn't it? I believe we both have something here to protect,” Castiel says, his gaze sliding briefly but pointedly to Renard.
He hesitates, covering the hesitation with another swallow of his beer as he considers his next words carefully. He had two options now. The first was to reveal that the Winchester's were based in Lebanon. The second would be to reveal that Wayward Academy existed and that he was here more on behalf of protecting that than seeking information for the brothers. If he hid his true reasons, and the demon found out about it – which he well might if he planned on sticking around – that would put end to any chance of avoiding violence. And there could be advantages to being on peaceful – if not actually friendly – terms with Jacob. The devil you know, after all.
“There's a...sanctuary, of sorts. A place of shelter from those who have lost everything to monsters...and demons. Not in town, but close enough. I'm here to protect the ones taking shelter there.” He takes a casual sip of his beer, then directs what Dean likes to call his 'smiting face' at Jacob, blue eyes darkening with implied threat. “And I will do what's necessary to protect them.” He let his expression relax again, even offering a slight smile to the demon. “I think we understand each other.”
information at least ensures that I won't go poking my nose around
and risk having it cut off, among other pieces of me. Castiel is
taking a rather large risk telling me this and I'm sure none of his
friends would agree with this sharing of information. I am a Demon,
afterall, this whole honor business is for humans, I can lie my face
off. I have no illusions that this information would get me anywhere,
though, if I can stab Castiel in the back, other Higher Demons could
do the same to me, take my information and make it so they never owe
me a thing. This is the way of my world. I gain more by keeping my
mouth shut, for the time being.
"Do not mistake me for anything but what I am, I am here to do business and I will not have interference from anyone, that said, for the sake of my son, your secrets are your own as long as no harm comes to us." As in no Demon traps or banishments or tortures.
As he'd suspected, the demon appeared to have a genuine sense of affection for Renard. Castiel had no qualms about using that to keep the peace, if that was what worked. He held up his bottle in salute to Jacob, and drained the last of the beer from it before setting it down. “I won't forget what you are. I'm sure the opposite applies just as well. I have no intentions of getting in your way, so long as you remember to keep what you know to yourself.”
It was a calculated risk, trusting a demon even this far. But, Castiel felt it was worth it. In his experience, many demons were more than a bit territorial when working for their own ends. A demon he held something over here was preferable to one that might be less inclined to be cooperative were he to eliminate Jacob. Besides, he'd encountered one demon in the time since his fall that had shown that it was possible for demons to be trusted, on a limited basis. Maybe even two, if he allowed himself to count Crowley – which he wasn't inclined to do, really. Maybe Jacob could be a third. Or not. Either way, he felt the risk was worth taking in this case.
“I wouldn't mind another beer, Jacob. If you don't mind.” A hint of a smile accompanied his request, even as he reached into his pocket for a wallet. He drew out several bills, more than enough to pay for the drinks, and snatching up a pen that happened to be lying on the bar, he scribbled his phone number onto one of the bills before sliding them wordlessly over next to the empty bottle.
grunt which should be good enough of an answer, not quite sold that I
won't regret this in the morning. I take the money and the empty
bottle, opening a fresh cold one and settling it on the coaster
before him. "Yer going to be in so much shit when your little
friends find out, I'm sure of that." I laugh cus I would love to
be there to see it, just because it's just so odd.
I could pack up and leave, take Ren somewhere else, but he's been active and happy since we moved in and I have no idea why I give a damned, the kid just has that effect on me, has to be some kind of magic. I eye Castiel again. "What do you know about shifters?"
I picked up Ren a few years ago, he was nothing but a mewling, starving thing, my first instincts were to put it out of it's misery, or mine, I had a headache at the time and he wasn't helping matters, but the moment he latched onto my leg with this small hand..yeah, has to be some kind of magic, the desperate need to survive can make creatures do all kinds of things.
“Mmm,” the angel hummed what could be taken for an agreement with the demon's assessment. He certainly wasn't wrong. If Dean found out, the 'shit would hit the fan' he was sure. Sam, well, he'd probably just offer one of those looks of extreme disappointment while Dean ranted at him. Still, so worth it, as Charlie would have said.
He was reaching for the new bottle as the sudden question, apropos of nothing it would seem at first, dropped into the relative silence between them. He took the bottle and sipped at it while studying Jacob carefully. “I know that a silver bullet or blade through the heart will kill one,” he said slowly. “So will decapitation.”
It was then that understanding dawned, and he flicked a glance to Renard before looking back to Jacob. “Ah, I see.” He considered the question again, and offered up what else he knew of shapeshifters. “They take on the appearance of humans at will, though the methods seem to vary. Subspecies perhaps,” he mused briefly, before shrugging. “He's not quite like any I've ever encountered before. How..did a demon end up adopting a shifter?”
have been in this world a very long time, I have never encountered
one like him before, picked him up in my travels through eastern
Europe, it is no easy feat to have a Demon shelter you out of the
goodness of his heart..since I don't have one." I stand there
making drinks and speaking low to Cass as Ren flitters around the
customers with drinks and food and baskets of Porkrinds.
"I've read things about similar creatures relegated to myth and I suppose it's not so important where he comes from or how he got where I found him, he is what he is." I wave it off as if it wasn't really important, he's here now and as far as I know, hasn't killed anyone for their livers..yet. It's not like I have a fondness for him, he's a rare beast, might be worth something to someone..some day. Whatever.
Castiel was appraising Jacob again as he spoke, his expression more thoughtful than calculating, though. “Yes, I suppose it must have been difficult to cope with.” His lip twitches and he takes a long drink in an attempt to disguise it. “For Renard, of course.”
He's suddenly struck by a thought, and decides to go with it, just to see if he can confirm his suspicions. “Must hamper you. Having a young shifter to care for. I'm sure I could help you find a place for him.” He glances to Renard, then back to Jacob once more, schooling his face into merely polite neutrality. “Just as a gesture of goodwill, of course.”
Castiel settled himself more comfortably onto the stool and took another long drink. However, his eyes never left the demon, waiting to see what his reaction to the offer would be with interest.
am not pleased with that particular suggestion. "Impossible,
first time he makes a mistake someone will surely Hunt him down, at
least with me, if he does harm someone, no one will ever know."
I am a Demon, I don't care much about the humans, Ren's progressed so
well, sending him off now could regress him to a semi-wild state and
there is no telling who he could hurt. "I have invested too much
time in him, I am keeping him." As if it was just a matter of
time and money.
"Besides, he's not a child to be shifted around from home to home on a whim, it's his choice to make, don't you think?" It's not like I'm planning on going anywhere, not for a very long time. "Enough about the brat." I pour myself another drink. "You planning on letting your friends know about me or simply not mention it at all?" Self preservation and all.
He didn't respond to the demon's protestations. He didn't really need to. It wasn't an outright confirmation, of course. But the angel had spent enough time around emotionally repressed men who were experts at deflecting to have learned to pick up on certain cues. That same experience had also taught him that sometimes it just wasn't worth pushing a point. And satisfying his own curiosity wasn't worth upsetting the fragile peace with the demon.
Castiel considered the question, then offered a shrug. “Depends on which friends you mean. If the Winchesters,” he said, certain that his association with them was widely known, “then the answer would be no. I...don't think that would be a good idea. It's nothing that concerns them.” And best that the demon think exactly that. He hadn't revealed that the brothers were based not too far away, nor did he intend to.
The angel stood, absently smoothing his wrinkled coat, then glancing back to the demon with his most solemn and sincere expression. “But if you mean the...sanctuary? I haven't decided yet. I may have to mention it to the...ones who run it. But only if I'm certain they'll hold to our agreement as well.” With that, he turned and strode from the bar, ignoring the faint tinge of concern over his possibly reckless deal. Calculated risk was, after all, sometimes the best course of action.