Title: Saint of Me
Authors: Teesa (beanside) & Jess (nilchance)

Fandom: Supernatural
Rating: Adult-mentions of slash.
Disclaimer: We don't own the Supernatural boys, I'm afraid. This is strictly for entertainment purposes, no money is made.
Summary: Prequel to
Of Bastard Saints. A little more about Andrew and the Winchesters.



How could he have forgotten how bad it was? How did any of them forget?

Pain, terrifying voices, lights. God, pain. Like being frozen, like being burned alive. Every breath hurt. Every heartbeat was agony. Thrust from His absence into a world that bore His fingerprints everywhere. Noise and chaos and screaming and gunshots, wailing women and dying children, the living with their laughter and sweat.

Then it was gone, and the only sound was the low rumble of thunder. The chill of the rain falling on his battered body seemed to wipe it all away. He sank into it, relieved and shivering. Let it take the memories. Just for a moment. Just for...


Moving slowly, the child came to his feet, looking at the stone church across the street. Shivering, muscles seizing from cold and pain, he stumbled towards it, towards the warm light from its windows. There were bushes. Itíd give him somewhere to sleep, just untilÖ

Until what? He wasnít sure.

He scrabbled through the bushes, listening to the dry scrape of the branches on the chapel windows. The confusion was fading now, and he remembered the pain. He rubbed his chest with half-numb fingers, trying to quiet the pounding against his ribs. He swallowed hard, again, again, against the ragged sobbing of his breathing.

When the sobbing of his breathing wouldnít stop, he shoved his thumb in his mouth. There was blood on his hands, blood everywhere.

His stomach clenched, gnawing at him. He closed his eyes, pushing his back further against the stone. Nothing could get him here. Safe.

It didnít matter why he was bloody. It didnít matter why he was afraid. He hurt, all over. He was tired. He couldnít remember being anything but tired.

He couldnít remember anything.

"Hello? Is anyone out there?" a soft voice called. A manís voice.

The child stiffened, backing up into the corner where the wall met the church steps. He didnít think he made a noise, but suddenly a man was there. The light trained on him, pinned him. It hurt his eyes, made him cringe back into the stone.

"Oh, Lord," the man murmured, lowering the light. He knelt. The child couldnít see his face, only the white place at his throat, the black of his clothes. Priest. Man of God. The child whimpered, not sure why. The man set the light down and held out his hands, showing that they were empty. The man spoke again, his voice kind. "Shh, itís okay. Iím not going to hurt you. Are you all right?"

The boy nodded, watching the silhouette behind the light cautiously.

"Do you want to come out? Youíre welcome inside, everyoneís welcome-" the man asked, breaking off as the child shook his head frantically. "Okay. Shh, now, I wonít make you." He shrugged off his coat, and held it out to the child. "Here, you have to be freezing. Put this on."

The child reached out a shaking hand and snatched the coat, huddling back against the wall with it. He was shivering as he burrowed deep into it, the borrowed warmth of the manís body. He smelled smoke, cigarettes and incense.

The man didnít say anything for a while, kneeling there in the rain with his shoulder propped against the church. It was a thoughtful quiet, though. The child could see the man, the priest, thinking hard. There were scars on his steepled fingers.

"Are you hungry?" the man asked finally.

After a long moment, the child nodded.

"If I run in, get you some hot cocoa and cookies, will you stay here?"

The child shoved his thumb back in his mouth, then nodded solemnly. Watched the priest get up, leaving him the flashlight and the coat. As the door opened, the child got a fleeting taste of warmth.

This was a safe place. The man was safe.

As soon as the nice man disappeared into the church, the child carefully uncurled himself from his knot of limbs. He crept out from behind the bushes, the priestís coat catching on thorns. He moved cautiously, braced to bolt, to the shelter of the open doorway. Through it, he could see all the light and warmth of the flickering candles. They drew him closer, into the church.

You shouldnít be here, something whispered in his head.

No. No, the man had said it was okay. Still, he kept his guard up, ready to tear back out the door in case anyone saw him. Inch by inch, twitching at the loud noises coming from somewhere deep in the church, he moved in.

Then he saw the statue. The bronze angel pinned to the wall, wings and hands outspread.

For some reason, the beautiful winged figure made him terribly sad. Reminded him of somethingÖhorrible. Tears welled up in his eyes, coursing down his dirty, bruised cheeks, and the boy shuddered, pulling the nice manís coat tighter around him.

"Hey," the man said what seemed like a moment later. "Itís all right."

Heíd sat down. When did he sit down?

Sniffing, he wiped at his face and rubbed his nose with the sleeve of the priestís coat. The priest looked at him, then sat on the floor a safe distance away. The priest pushed a chipped mug across the tile floor, then set a plate with half a sandwich and some cookies hastily stacked up.

"Itís not much," the priest said. "But itís food."

The boy ate. Carefully at first, until the gnawing in his stomach got to him and he was devouring the sandwich like something half-feral. The priest didnít comment, just watched him with tired eyes.

Finally, the food was gone. The boy stared at the crumbs on the plate, kind of wanting to lick them off.

"Better?" the priest asked gently.

Yes. No. With the hunger gone, he could feel every ache and chill. He sniffed and shrugged a little.

"Is there someone you want me to call? Your parents?" When the boy shook his head, the nice man sighed. "Is somebody looking for you?"

The shudder wracked the boy suddenly, no reason. Maybe fear. Sliding cautiously up onto his knees, he crept forward until his knees bumped the priests. He hunched there, shivering and miserable.

"Okay," the priest said grimly. "Okay."

The boy stiffened, tensing to move back from the edge of anger in the priestís voice. Then the priest laid a hand on his arm. Swallowing back a noise, the boy wavered, then lunged into the priestís arms hard enough to make the priest grunt.

Warm arms slid around the boy, lifted him onto a lap, and pressed the mug of hot cocoa into his hands.

After heíd finished the cookies and cocoa, sitting there warm and drowsy, the man had tilted his head at him. "How old are you?" he asked, still using that kind, gentle voice.

Hesitantly, the boy held up eight fingers.

"Eight," the man murmured, surprised. Then he sighed again, said half to himself, "Of course. Hasnít eaten enough, it stunted his growth. Damn."

The boy stared at him, eyes narrowed. That had sounded suspiciously like a growl. If the man started growlingÖ

Catching that look, the priest sighed and thumped him awkwardly. "My nameís Jim Murphy. Do you know your name?"

The boy nodded, making a face at the stupid question, but didnít offer anything further.

"Hm. Do you know your alphabet?"

The boy nodded again, face serious.

"All right. Weíll try a game. Does your name start with the letter ĎAí?"

Favoring the man with a slight smile, he nodded.

"Okay. Hmmm. Letís see. Anthony, Aaron, Albert, Andrew-"

The child tugged on his sleeve, and Jim stopped. "Andrew?"

This time the smile was wider.

"All right, Andrew. Tomorrow, weíll have to look into what to do about you, but for now, you look tired. Would you like to take a nap?"

Yawning guiltily, the boy nodded again.

"I have a sofa in the rectory that should fit you nicely," Jim murmured, coming to his feet with Andrew hoisted against his side. "Come on, Andrew. I think itís bedtime."

Laying his face against Jimís shoulder, Andrew felt the thoughts settle. So much he felt like he should remember, but for now, he was safe. That was enough.

****
At first, Jim had thought the low rumble was distant thunder. It'd started while he was in confession with one of his parishionerís kids, a teenager who needed a stern talking to and possibly an IV of Ritalin rather than divine intervention.

Hell. He barely liked other people's children, more suffering them than seeing how a squirming banshee-howling red-faced thing was supposed to lead them. Jim had served as a Chaplain in Vietnam. He'd seen starving children holding guns, their haunted eyes daring him to think of them as innocents. Children had potential, yes, but it was potential for as many terrible things as great. How was he supposed to raise one? Let alone one like Andrew, the bruised skinny ghost who shied away from everyone but Jim, who was silent unless he was waking from a nightmare, screaming with a pain that broke Jim's damned heart. Andrew, who hid every time Jim moved towards the phone now, who'd disappeared for three days the first time Jim called Social Services and returned skittish and shaky.

Jim had faith in God, but it didn't make him immune to doubt. Jim's church was the first off the main road, the only one with thick enough rose bushes to hide Andrew from sight. Only the first available sanctuary. No fate, no divine plan. Only coincidence.

Which didn't explain why Jim's stomach wrenched quite so hard when he returned to find a huge man crouched over the front row of pews, speaking to someone beneath them. As Jim moved up the aisle, he caught sight of Andrew's hair, his small hands clenched on the pew like he was afraid the huge man might drag him out.

"-all right, little brother," the big man was saying softly, his voice almost deep enough to be felt like an earthquake. "You know me. I'm here to-"

"Excuse me," Jim said, sharply. "Can I help you?"

The huge man paused, still looming over Andrew, then raised himself. Straightened up, he seemed even bigger. His skin was dark and rich against the black of his expensive suit, beads clicking softly on the ends of his dreadlocks. His eyes slid over Jim, silently assessing with the lazy intensity of a predator.

There was a scuffling sound. Then Andrew darted from beneath the pew, lunging behind Jim. Jim felt something in his heart lurch painfully. He laid a hand on Andrew's head, absently brushing the dust out of his hair, and stared back at the huge man. Repeated, sternly, "Can I help you?"

Impossibly, the mountain cracked a smile. "So it seems," he rumbled. "My name is Levi. I represent the boy's father."

Jim swallowed back a handful of stupid replies that wanted to come tearing up his throat, starting with a protest and ending with a snarl. Holding Levi's eyes, half-afraid to blink, Jim said, "Andrew, I need you to go in my office for a minute. Stay there until I come for you. All right?"

Andrew didn't make a sound. Might've been easier if he had, rather than clutching silently at Jim's jacket.

"Go," Jim said firmly. And surprisingly enough, Andrew went.

Levi watched them both, tracking Andrew with a narrow-eyed focus that made Jim uneasy. To his credit, he waited until Andrew was gone before speaking again. "He's a cute kid. I hadn't expected that."

"Enough," Jim said sharply. "You're not taking him back."

Levi tilted his head. "Who said anything about taking him, Father Murphy?"

After years in the military, and more than a few in church politics, Jim liked to think he had a highly attuned sense of when to duck. That sense was screaming at him now, paranoia tightening his spine. Jim took a careful step back and asked, evenly, "What?"

Levi smiled, folding his long limbs down into the pew. He wasn't a bulky man. Solid, but he moved with a grace that belied his bulk. His hands were scarred and callused, fingers crooked from past breaks. He steepled them on his lap, watching Jim, a silent invitation to let his guard down. Jim didn't. "Your name," Levi rumbled, "is James Murphy. You were trained by Bishop Abe Morgan, one of the last men actively performing exorcisms in the church. He taught you to exorcise demons-"

"We spent one day on it. I've never actually had to-"

"Hush," Levi said mildly. "You held the hands of the dying in the rice fields of Vietnam. Not just your own dying, Father Murphy. The men who had killed your brothers in arms. You ministered to them not as a Christian holy man, not in the name of the Christian God-"

"They dropped the desertion charges."

"- But in their own faith, or their absence of faith. As someone who couldn't watch his fellow man die alone." Levi watched him, tapping his fingertips gently, rhythmically. "We've been watching you a long time."

"So I see." Jim gripped the pew, hard. "Who are you?"

Levi smiled. "I have many aliases. You wouldn't recognize any of them. In any case, it's not about me. It's about who I represent. The boy's father."

"Right. So who is he?" Patience worn, Jim growled, "Because I wouldn't treat a dog that poorly, let alone a child. He's starved, beaten-"

"The situation is complicated," Levi murmured. "The boy-"

"Andrew."

"Andrew," Levi repeated, like the name was foreign in his mouth, "is not an asset his father seeks to retrieve. He's in no position to raise him. His mother is ill."

"So you dropped him off here? Because I held the hand of a few dying Viet-Cong soldiers years ago? That's horseshit. What the hell is going on?"

Levi blinked. Once. Something odd happened behind his eyes, a quiet something that made Jim want to back down the aisle. "Believe me when I tell you that youíd prefer plausible deniability in this case, Father Murphy. We recognize that weíve put you in an awkward position. You have time to choose. If you donít want the boy, Iíd be happy to raise him myself."

For a traitorous heartbeat, Jim was tempted. Damned tempted.

Levi would raise him. There had been affection in the way he looked after Andrew, even if it was layered thick withÖ not a sexual hunger, nothing like that, but a subtext that Jim didnít understand.

The man that had sent Andrew cowering under a pew would take him off Jimís hands.

Hell.

"Come back in a few weeks," Jim said tightly.

Levi saluted, sardonically, and rose. "It was good to meet you, Father Murphy. Go retrieve our boy from your office. Please give him my apology for unnerving him."

ĎOur boyí. The protest was on Jimís lips, choked off as Levi stepped between one pillar and another and simply ceased to be in the church. No sign of his passing, not so much as a ripple of disturbed air. Nothing. Silence.

Forget fire. Forget gnashing of teeth. Forget Dante. All of it, complete nonsense. Hell, JimÖ the ghost of Abe in Jimís mind shook his cane, scowling as he recited the lecture Jim had burned into his memory. Hell is absence. Hell is lack. Are you listening? Because if you arenít prepared-

Iím listening, sir.

If youíre not prepared,
Abe had said darkly, people are going to die.

Shaking off the chill, Jim went to unlock his office door. Andrew was crouched behind his desk, clutching Jimís letter-opener in small white-knuckled hands. He didnít lower it right away on seeing that it was Jim.

"Youíre safe," Jim said mildly. "Would you like to tell me what that was about?"

Andrew blinked, then lowered the letter-opener. Then he slid under the cover of Jimís desk.

"No," Jim sighed. "I kind of thought not."

****

There was someone in the church, Andrew realized as he slid through the cold hallway, looking for Jim, wanting him to come chase away the monster at his window.

Moving quietly, he slid past the pews until he could see the man by the bowl thing of holy water. For a moment, Andrew nearly bolted, afraid that the dark man had come back for him.

No. This man was taller by far than Jim, and wider, but not as big as the dark man. His clothes werenít as nice. His jaw was covered with dark stubble.

The man moved, pulling out a small bottle, dipping it in the holy water, and Andrew caught a flash of silver hanging from his hipóa crucifix, like the one over the altar. The man turned again, and Andrew saw more silver, this time in the curve of the gun nestled at his hip.

Suddenly afraid, Andrew shrank back, eyes wide. The man caught the movement. His head swiveled, dark eyes sliding over the church. "Hello?" he rumbled, voice hoarse and low.

Andrew stared, seeing the thick trickle of blood flowing down the manís forehead, almost obscuring the clear dark eyes. Kind eyes. Like Jimís. But he had a gun. Maybe he could make the monster go away. Maybe he would believe him, not say stuff about old foundations and creepy shadows.

Andrew shuddered, thinking of the sound of the thing, scraping against his window with spindly legs. Before he could let himself chicken out, he scurried along the aisle until he was next to the big man. He reached up, tugging hesitantly on the big manís jacket.

Those kind eyes looked down at him, and Andrew tugged again.

"Hey, little man. Whatís up?" the man asked gently.

A scrape of claws on glass came from the rectory. Andrewís eyes widened, and he started tugging harder.

The man had heard it too. "Show me," he said firmly, letting Andrew lead him through the dark, cold hallways.

Unfortunately, that was about when Jim stuck his head out of his office. "Andrew," he began, then noticed the man Andrew had in tow. Jim said sharply, "Who the hell are you? Get away from him-"

The man didnít answer, just let Andrew drag him along the hall to his room. The scraping, skittery noises were louder now. The man stopped Andrew before he could reach for the doorknob, nudging Andrew behind him. The man kicked the door open, reaching a hand in to turn on the lights.

Jim made a soft, horrified noise at the creature within. The twisted spider-like thing, eyes glowing red.

The man didnít hesitate, giving Andrew a little shove towards Jim and drawing his gun. "Cover your ears," he ordered, voice thundering.

Even through Jimís hands, Andrew heard the shots. He peeked through his hands to see the monster twist on itself as the man pulled a container from his belt, dumping a white powder on the creature.

A moment later, there was nothing left but a stain on the carpet.

Jim stood, lifting Andrew. "What-" he took a deep breath, looking at the man. "Youíre bleeding. I have a first aid kit in my office-"

The man reached up, wiping his forehead. "Itís not serious."

"I-What was that?" Jim said softly.

"Spider demon. Nasty little bas-" he broke off, looking at Andrew. "Buggers."

"Demon," Jim murmured. "Okay. ThatísÖunexpected. Can I offer you a drink at least? I owe you that much."

The man hesitated. "I shouldnít. Should-"

"Youíre wounded, look like you havenít slept in a week, and you just saved our lives. The least I can offer you is a beer and a place to rest. Plus, Iíd like a little more information about that thing, if you donít mind."

After a long minute, the man nodded. "Do you have a phone I can borrow?"

"Of course." Jim led the way to his office. "Iím Jim Murphy. This is Andrew."

"Your son?"

"Not in so many words," Jim murmured. "But yes."

The man looked at Andrew, then got down to his level. He wiped one big hand on his jeans, then offered his hand to Andrew. "Pleased to meet you, Andrew. Iím John. John Winchester."

Andrew smiled, sticking out his hand to be engulfed by the other manís.

John looked seriously at the bruises on the pale inside of Andrewís wrist, then at Jim. When Jim shrugged, his eyes shadowed, John nodded grimly and looked back at Andrew. "You did a good job back there."

"He doesnít speak," Jim murmured.

The shadow of something crossed Johnís face. Then he smiled tightly and said, "Thatís all right, son. Too many people talk too damn much anyway."

Andrew grinned.

****

Three days later, John had returned for the weekend to give Jim the quick and dirty version on how to protect yourself against things that went bump in the night. He hadnít come alone.

Andrew had heard them before he saw them. A young voice raised in a near-whine, and another, laughing and bright. He opened the rectory door, looking up at John with a smile.

"Hey, Andrew. Howíre you doing?" John asked. "These are my sons, the ones I told you about." Which, Jim noted wryly, were two more sons than Jim had heard about. "The younger one is Sammy." He pointed at the sulking child with the mop of dark hair hiding a sweet face. "Heís three."

Jim felt his mouth curve on a smile, and bent to get to Samís level. "Hi there, Sam. Iím Jim."

Sam peeked at him through ridiculous eyelashes, sniffed warily and scooted back into John.

John came to his feet, Sam against his hip, and offered Jim his hand. "Good to see you again, Pastor Murphy. Sorry about this. They kind of commandeered my backseat."

"Itís all right." Jim took his hand, shook firmly, and tried not to smile as Sam peered at him from the safety of Johnís arms. That answered the enigma of Johnís wedding ring. The boys had no mother to look after them, obviously, or John wouldnít have brought them. A widower, then. "We have plenty of room."

The other boy, who was a good four inches taller than Andrew, stepped forward, offering his hand with a confidence that made Jimís chest hurt. "Iím Dean," he said, smiling. "Iím seven."

"Andrew doesnít talk," Jim said softly.

Andrew smiled a thank you at Jim.

Dean nodded. "Thatís okay. Do you want to go play?" He glanced at John for permission. "Unless you need me," he added.

"No, go ahead. Iíll keep an eye on Sammy," John said. "Itís his naptime."

"Thatís why heís a cranky bitch," Dean whispered.

John made a noise that could have been a cough, but sounded like a laugh to Jim. "Go play. Come back in before sunset."

"Yes sir," Dean said crisply.

****

Andrew led him out back, where Jim had set up a small swingset once it had become obvious that Andrew wasnít going anywhere.

When the authorities would show up, Andrew would disappear, returning once theyíd left. After a while, Jim had given up, picked up a bed from the local discounters and cleared out the second bedroom. He said theyíd have to eventually do paperwork, but he was going to talk to one of the parishioners- a lawyer- about the best way to do it.

Dean sat on the swingset. "So, you donít talk."

Andrew shook his head.

Dean nodded wisely. "I get it." He shrugged, and Andrew gave him a smile. "Itís okay. Sometimes you just hurt too much."

Andrew nodded, and Dean looked at the swing. "Think I could push you so high youíd go over?"

After the sun set, and they had eaten dinner, John went out to look for the spider demonís mate.

"I want to go with you," Dean said stubbornly.

Andrew watched him, wondering why he wasnít afraid of the spider-thing. He was afraid of it, Andrew thought. And he was a year older than Dean.

John rumpled Deanís hair. "Dean, Jim doesnít know enough."

"Dad," Dean whispered, looking down.

Johnís face softened. "I need you here, to protect Jim, Sammy and Andrew," he said softly. "Iíll be back before long."

Jim smiled. "Iíll keep an eye on them."

Johnís lip lifted in a smile. "Mind Pastor Jim, then, Dean." He bent, speaking softly to Dean, and Deanís spine straightened.

"Yes sir," Dean said.

John had been gone no more than an hour when the doors to the church shuddered under a heavy weight.

Jim went pale, grabbing Sam and Andrew. "Dean, we have to-"

Dean stepped away, in front of them. "Get them behind the altar," he ordered.

"Dean-" Jim protested. Then, the doors flew open, an enormous spider demon skittering in to the church. "Oh, sweet Jesus."

"Behind the altar," Dean barked, his voice high and tight. He reached into his jacket pocket, pulling out a small handgun and aiming carefully.

The gunís bark was softer than Johnís had been, but no less effective. Before the ringing died from Andrewís ears, the spider was on its back, legs twitching spasmodically.

Dean held the gun steady, pulling out a packet of salt from his other pocket. As he ripped it open with his teeth, John skidded through the front door, eyes wide, terrified.

He halted, staring at Dean, watching as he poured salt on the creature, gun never wavering until it was dissolved.

Andrew saw Johnís face slide through a myriad of emotions in the half second before Dean looked up. Relief, pride, love, sadness. It was all there on display.

Then, Dean looked up and John smiled, expression settling into one of quiet pride. "Good job, Dean."

Dean lit up, holstering the gun. "Thanks, Dad." He looked back, going over to where Sam and Andrew were sitting next to the altar. "You okay Sammy? You okay Andrew?"

"That was awesome!" Andrew said brightly. "Youíre like Rambo!"

Jimís head snapped around, staring at the boy. "Andrew?"

John thumped Jimís shoulder with a closed fist, and said something low that sounded suspiciously like, "Good luck getting him to shut up now."

Jim choked on a laugh.

"Rambo!" Sam chirped, reaching out to grab at Deanís shirt.

Dean laughed and scooped Sam up onto his lap, squeezing him hard enough to make Sam squeak a protest and start squirming. With his face half-hidden by Samís mop of hair, he closed his eyes.

And Andrew kind of got it, then. That Dean was scared, as scared as Andrew, as scared as Jim.

Something tugged at Andrewís mind, nagging like a toothache. He shook his head and grabbed Deanís sleeve. Sam clamored off Deanís lap and went to grab Johnís hand, frowning at the tangle of sludge and hairy limbs on the church floor.

Dean shrugged. "Itís just what weíve got to do. Kill them all."

Which sounded so much more cool than hiding under the altar while Jim said mass. Setting his jaw, Andrew said, "Teach me how."

Dean grinned.

*****



When Jim came back from St. Paul, bone-tired and worn thin and so deeply content it was almost troubling, it was to find a shadow waiting on his own front steps. Behind Levi, posture stiff with outrage, was Dean.

Smothering a groan, Jim got out of the car. "Come on, Andrew. Letís go relieve the cavalry."

"Huh?" Andrew stopped staring out at Levi with too-wide eyes, pausing to peer at Jim suspiciously. Which was about what heíd been doing since the doctor broke out the first syringe for a vaccination, staying carefully out of arms-reach in case Jim caught him for another round.

The hell Jim was. Much to no oneís surprise, Andrew was a biter. Hadnít whined much, but heíd given Jim a lifetimeís worth of wounded looks.

"Nothing." Jim popped his trunk, eyeing Levi and Dean. Was that a gun tucked in Deanís waistband? Jesus, John. "Go play, all right?"

Andrew squinted at Levi, apparently weighing whether he wanted to walk around him to go inside. Slowly, he unbuckled his seatbelt and asked without looking away from Levi, "Can I hit the gun range yet?"

Jim knew better than to think that the question was random. Andrew didnít feel safe. For good reason. If John hadnít taught Jim the bare bones of warding the car and their motel roomÖ

Three separate attacks in less than twenty-four hours. Through the whole process, handing over the falsified records, signing the adoption papers, getting Andrew up to date on vaccinations and check-ups, buying him a handful of general stuff that (according to John Winchester) a boy Andrewís age might need, Jim had felt the pressure of something watching. Waiting.

"No." Forestalling the noises that usually came after that, Jim said sternly, "Iíll let you know when."

"Dean gets to," Andrew muttered, but he climbed warily out of the car.

"Yeah, well."

Andrew stared at Jim, shifting back and forth on his feet. Jimís first lesson as a quasi-father: donít bribe the boy with sugar and then stick him in a car for a few hours. When it became obvious Jim wasnít going to elaborate, Andrew huffed out a breath and asked brightly, "Can I spar?"

"Maybe. If someone over 18 is watching. And no, that doesnít count the TV or the crucifix."

"Jesus is older than 18," Andrew pointed out. There was a brief flash of a genuine smile, the one that actually touched his eyes and dispelled the usual impression: that he was a paranoid old war veteran in an 8 year oldís body.

"Yes. Much." Despite himself, Jim smiled back. "Go ask Mr. Winchester, all right? Let him know weíre back."

"Okay." Andrew continued to stand there, eyeing Jim like he was going to go somewhere the second Andrew turned his back. "Um."

Reaching into the trunk, Jim grabbed the duffel of Andrewís stuff and tossed it in his direction. With more care, he picked up the manila folder of adoption papers. "Andrew, Iíll be here."

For the first time since seeing Levi, Andrew exhaled. He bent, grabbing his duffel. "Okay. Uh. You know, all this stuff, the papers and everything, you didnít have to- it was nice of you, but I can still-"

"Son," Jim said gently, "go unpack your bags. Youíre not going anywhere."

The smile that got him was bright, genuine. It also got him a pair of skinny arms wrapped around his waist, holding tighter than heíd have imagined. "Thank you." Andrew whispered, squeezing hard, then letting go and grabbing the duffel, heading towards the door at a jog. "You didnít tell me the shots would hurt," he accused Dean.

Jim let his smile fade as he looked at Levi. "Heís staying."

"I gathered," Levi rumbled. He looked after Dean, a long assessing look that did nothing for Jimís nerves, then got to his feet.

"One question. Is this going to bite me in the ass one day?"

"I donít know," Levi said softly. "HeísÖunique. Thereís a lot of things he doesnít remember. When he does, heís going to have a hard time of it. But really, heís just like any other child. He could do amazing things. Or terrible ones. Itís up to you. And him, of course." The tall man turned, sliding sunglasses on in the dim light. "Iíll stop by now and then. See how heís doing. God be with you, Father."

With a shake of his head, Jim went inside, looking around the church proper. Everything looked in place, somewhat surprisingly, since heíd asked John and the boys to watch things for a couple days.

A week ago, the worst thing heíd done since Vietnam was put the priestís collar on when a cop pulled him over for speeding. Now, he had fraudulent adoption papers, a son, and had allowedóhell, had asked a man to masquerade as a priest in his absence. He was definitely going to be saying some Hail Maryís.

Samís squeal of laughter alerted him to where they were, and Jim changed course, comforted by Johnís broad shoulders leaning against the doorframe.

"No," Sam giggled. "Andrew spar with me."

Dean laughed, a high, childish sound that made the corners of Johnís eyes crinkle.

"Spar with you?" Andrew asked, voice rippling with laugher. "Like this?"

Sam squealed again, and Jim stepped up next to John, looking in to see Andrew tickling Sam, then dancing back into a Ďfighting poseí.

Still laughing, Sam launched himself at Andrew, chubby little arms grabbing at him. Andrew let Sam pull him down, grinning as Sam shouted with glee. Then, the three year old started tickling him, giggling wildly. Andrew squirmed, howling with laughter.

Jim swallowed hard, unexpected emotion welling up in his throat. How heíd gotten so attached in such a short time, he didnít know. But it felt right somehow.

John patted him on the shoulder awkwardly. "Congratulations, Jim. Itís a boy."

Jim smiled back. "Yeah. My boy."

"Did you decide on a middle name?"

"James," Jim said. "Nearly bawled like a baby right then."

John nodded. "Theyíll do that to you." He smiled fondly at the boys. "Dean looks so much like Mary that it hurts some days. Has her smile."

"What happened to her, if you donít mind my asking?" Jim murmured.

"Demon. Nasty one. Been looking for a year- no. Damn." John rubbed his eyes, looking tired. "Two and a half years now, since I started hunting."

"Do you usually bring the boys?" Jim asked softly.

"Gonna give me hell for that?" John asked, giving him a sidelong glance. There was a tightness at his mouth that belied his easy tone.

Jim shook his head. "Iím sure you have your reasons, John. It doesnít thrill me, but-"

"When I was in Vietnam, I used to get so pissed off," John mused. "Couldnít understand how they could put a gun into a childís hands and send him out like that. And I wasnít going to let them, but then one night I came in and passed out on the couch without locking anything up. When I woke up, Dean was slapping a magazine back into the gun heíd just finished cleaning. I tore a strip out of his hide for that one."

"What changed your mind?"

"Came in two weeks later to find the babysitter dead on the floor. Thought my boys were goners. Found Dean standing in front of Samís crib, beat all to hell, trying to hold off one of those spider demons with a butter knife. I started training Dean the next day." John said it matter-of-factly, but there was an edge of weary confession beneath it. The edge of a man who wasnít used to having an adult around to listen. "Had to."

Jim nodded. "A year ago, Iíd have called child services on you, you know."

"Wouldnít expect anything less." His eyes went to Jimís face, a hunted look. "And now?"

"Theyíre in one piece. And you love them." Smiling as John shrugged uncomfortably and looked away, Jim said, "I think thatís all anyone has the right to ask in this world."

"Amen to that, Jim. Amen."

*****

"Father Murphy?" The familiar, low rumble of a voice startled Jim out of his reverie, jerking his head up.

"Levi," Jim murmured, voice even. "Iím afraid Andrewís in bed already."

"I figured. I wanted to talk with you." Levi shifted uncomfortably.

"Go on. Have a seat," Jim murmured.

"Thank you." Levi moved awkwardly, perching on the chair with care. "Heís thirteen today."

Jim nodded. "Yes."

"The time is approaching when heíll start to remember."

"What exactly is he going to remember? The cryptic warnings are getting a little old, Levi. What is my son?"

Levi stared at him. "Thatís a loaded question, Father. Be certain you want the answer before you ask it."

"I know heís not human. I know that thereís something else to him, something other. What is it?" Jim kept his voice low, a whipcrack of authority in it. He hadnít had that sound to his voice six years ago. Fatherhood had changed him.

"Andrew isÖunique. First among the Host, the Left hand child."

The world slid from under Jim for a moment. "You mean-"

"Satan? Yes. And no."

Jim swallowed hard. "Which is it?"

"Both. And neither." At Jimís frustrated noise, Levi cracked a maddening smile. "We were created before time existed, to serve something beyond our understanding. God, by all names and no name. Throughout time, weíve answered to a thousand names, and a thousand more."

"Youíre talking about theology, universal truths in religions."

"Iím talking an analogue. Religions give you the shadow of the truth, because the whole of it would break you." Levi rubbed the neck of his neck. "Heís not really what you think He is. No more than Iím really a man sitting in your office, talking to you in your own language."

"Okay. Just skip the philosophy. Andrew?"

"Has ever been Lord of Darkness, of the Underworld. Or of Hell, if thatís your interpretation."

Jim felt his head beginning to throb. He got up, watching Levi tense, and went to his liquor cabinet. Pouring himself a generous portion of whiskey- the good stuff, a gift from John, because when the hell else would Jim need it if not now?-, Jim paused and poured Levi one as an afterthought. He slid the glass to Levi and nursed his own for a long, silent moment. "Are you like him?" he asked finally.

"No. Andrew is unique. He was first. ĎNow, the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, Let there be light.í" Levi clapped his hands, a sharp thunderclap of sound, then spread them palms-up. "And there was the Morningstar. God have mercy on us all."

Jim stared.

"Andrew was made more like you, more human. But he felt too deeply, like a human, and it made his path hard, made him long for more. It wounded the Father, to watch his child suffer. So when He created the next ones, they were different, harder, colder. I was different."

"You-" Jim blinked. "Youíre an angel."

Levi grimaced. "Not as such. Fallen, now. Focus, Father. Your son is going to need you. Heís going to remember a lot of things, and Iíll be honest, not many of them are pleasant. Heís a decent man, deep down. A man Iíve been proud to serve. But he hasnít been an honorable or happy man for a long time."

"I donít understand why heís here," Jim protested weakly. "I canít-"

"Every seven hundred years, we all have to serve a lifetime on earth, as a human. Keeps us from getting too cold. Most of us come in as adults, but AndrewÖhe hasnít been up for nearly two thousand years, so he had to come as a child. Without protection, without memory, without power. With no fucking idea what he is."

Jim rocked slowly forward. "Thatís a little sadistic."

"When the child displeases the parent, there are repercussions. He thought it would be a good learning experience." Leviís eyes narrowed at him. "That wasnít something you expected from your all-forgiving God, was it?"

Jim shook his head. "Iím familiar enough with the Old Testament, wrathful God. But that isnít the God I signed on to serve."

"Thereís a certain balance to be maintained in everything. Between heaven and hell, between good and evil, and between kindness and cruelty. Thatís His goal. Always has been. But thatís changed down here, and itís gotten harder to balance the scales. Andrew hasnít helped any, and he needed to learn the lesson. This was the only way."

"But-"

"Father, we donít have time for the theology debate. The one question I need answered is whether or not you can handle this."

Jim considered. "I donít know. Heís-" Jim thought of his son, thought of Dante and Marlowe, the Exorcist, the demons he and John had faced down. He couldnít reconcile any of it. "Heís the Adversary."

"Heís Andrew Murphy. Satan was a construct of the Church, and no more the truth than the flat world theory," Levi said impatiently.

"IóI donít know, Levi. This is a lot to swallow. I need a few days."

"Fine. One week. Iíll be back." With a puff of brimstone-scented smoke, Levi evaporated.

Jim laid his forehead on his desk.

Fuck. His son. Andrew was Lucifer. Itís not like Jim hadnít had suspicions that Andrew wasnít all human, had even considered that he was demonic, but this? Andrew was angelic. The Fallen, the War in Heaven. How much of it was truth? How much of it was a warning?

Jim rose. His feet carried him to the second bedroom, and even in a shellshocked daze, he paused to shake his head at the Queen poster on the door. Andrew was asleep, long eyelashes heavy on a face that was gradually lengthening into adulthood. His son. Lucifer.

Jim could smother him. End it. Probably should. If John, or any of the hunters heíd sheltered found out, theyíd kill Andrew. Probably kill Jim, too. Smothering Andrew in his sleep would be infinitely kinder than what John Winchester would do if he found out the truth.

Closing his eyes, Jim remembered that first day, the wide blue eyes and too-thin face. The first smile heíd earned. The first migraine, of Andrew shaking on his lap and throwing up wretchedly. CAT scans, MRIs, researching with John and Joshua to see if any of the old texts had an answer the neurologists didnít. Andrewís first report card, proudly showing off a row of Aís.

Andrew lighting the candles in the church, so proud in his altar boyís robe. The beaming smile when Jim had let him do a reading. His voice, clear and sure, ringing through the church like a bell.

Five years. A thousand moments of laughter and tears. Of love. Could Jim turn his back on that?

With a sigh, Jim brushed the ashen hair off his sonís forehead. Andrew mumbled in his sleep, rolling away into the wall.

Jim couldnít do it. God help him, he couldnít. It was Andrew, his boy. His son.

Any one who disagreed with his choice would have to go through him.

*****


"My head hurts," Andrew whined. "I really donít feel up to going to school today."

Jim sighed, walking over to the breakfast table and looking down at his son. His beautiful, pain in the ass son. To be fair, Andrew did have migraines, but judging by the way he was eating, this wasnít one of them. When the migraines hit, even the whiff of food made Andrew pale and start gagging. "What is it? Math test?"

Andrew looked down into his bowl of cereal. "Career day."

"Why donít you want to go to that? It could be fun. See all the different things you could do with your life," Jim said.

Andrew shook his head. "I donít want to."

"Why?"

"I donít need to. I already know what I want to do," Andrew admitted softly.

"Really? Whatís that? When I was your age, I wanted to be a doctor," Jim said, smiling.

"I want to be a priest. Like you."

Jim stared at him, and Andrew ducked his head. "See, even you think itís stupid."

"Of course I donít," Jim quickly said. "Itís just unexpected. I didnít think you liked people that much."

Andrewís blue eyes fixed him with one of those looks. The ones Jim had come to hate. They didnít belong on a fifteen year old, even one like Andrew. "Neither do you. Some days, you hate people. The stupid, blathering idiots who show up to ask you for help, for forgiveness, when all they really want is for you to validate them, for someone to tell them that they can go back to do whatever shit they were confessing."

Yup, that was definitely the words of a future priest. With a sigh, Jim sat at the table and folded his arms. "I donít hate any of them, Andrew. I resent them at times. I get frustrated. Thatís being human. Thatís why I go to confession myself. Even priests need a priest."

Andrew smiled. "I donít hate everyone either. I like some of the parishioners. I like the Winchesters."

Jim managed not to roll his eyes. It had become increasingly obvious that Andrew was holding onto a massive crush on Dean, the quiet hero worship shifting to something infinitely more complicated. And, in classic teenager style, something to be a moody bitch over. "That still doesnít explain why you donít want to do career day."

Andrew squirmed a little. "Theyíll make fun of me," he finally muttered.

A spark of anger slid through Jim. Heíd had a feeling. Not a shock, really. Andrew still hadnít caught up to his peers, puberty hadnít even started to hit. He still stood just under five feet, shorter than most of the girls in his class. And, he was pretty. Not just boyishly cute. Honestly pretty, to the point that it made things difficult with some of the parishoners, who looked at Jim sideways and asked Andrew privately if there was "anything going on he wanted to talk about." Andrew liked school, loved English, with the poetry and plays. He studied research texts with Jim, memorized exorcisms and taught Sam Latin word by painstaking word. He sparred with Dean and had Johnís scarred hands steadying his own as he learned to deal with the mule-kick of a shotgun. He faced down monsters adults couldnít imagine. And on top of all of thatÖ

Andrew wasnít human.

"Jim?" Andrew asked.

"Sorry. Woolgathering. Okay. You donít have to go today." When Andrew grinned, Jim whapped him gently in the knuckles with a pen. "Instead, you can help me with my sermon."

"Really?" Judging from the way Andrew lit up and pushed his cereal bowl aside, it wasnít as much a punishment as Jim had hoped. "Whatís it about?"

"Lucifer."

Andrew wrinkled his nose. "Youíre doing a sermon about Lucifer? Thought you hated the fire and brimstone stuff."

"Not so much the fire and brimstone. Itís moreÖ" Jim tapped the table, searching for the right words. "Dogma says that weíre not supposed to forgive Satan. Which contradicts Christís philosophical message of forgiveness and redemption."

"Contradiction? In the church? Father Murphy, Iím shocked and appalled." Andrew shrugged. "Weíve seen the enemy, Jim. They killed Mr. Winchesterís wife. Theyíve tried to kill us. Is it a contradiction in Christís word? Yeah, maybe. But these things, they donít have mercy. They canít be reasoned with."

"Were they always like that?" Jim smiled. "Demonology theory 101, son. Demons were originally created from?"

"The war in heaven, the fall of Lucifer. I know, I know."

"From angels. Angels cast out of the presence of the Father." Jim spread his hands. "Children of God. Just like us."

"Not like us," Andrew shot back. "Traitors. Rebels."

"Creatures who suffered from an excess of pride. Who tried to access ranks that they had no right to. Hmm." Reaching back into the fruit bowl sitting on the counter, Jim grabbed an apple and tossed it to Andrew. "Sound familiar?"

With a wry smile, Andrew caught the apple and set it aside. "We were led astray. The snake? Eveís temptation?"

"Nothing happens without Godís intent. The existence of evil, the Fall, the creation of Hell, the trial of Job, the suffering of manÖ itís all in His plan." Jim looked at Andrew, the fall of hair in his face, the light in his eyes. Sighed. "Why would the Father punish Satan when he orchestrated the circumstances of his Fall?"

Andrew raised an eyebrow. "Free will. God loads the gun, but Satan pulled the trigger. His call, his fuck-up, his consequences."

"Language."

"Sorry." Andrew settled back in his chair, looking so much like Dean for a moment that Jim smiled. "Youíre humanizing Jaws here, Jim."

"Maybe. Maybe not. If you think about it, if this is actually Godís plan-"

"Which is arguable."

"- heís kind of doing a valuable service. Itíd be like hating the trash collectors."

"Have you been drinking?"

Jim smiled. "Címon, work with me here. If there wasnít a hell, where would you send the murderers, the child molesters? The rapists? Would they be welcome in heaven?"

"Their families might think so," Andrew said mildly. "And anyway, evilís all about perspective. Deanís grandparents think Mr. Winchester is evil. They think heís a kidnapper and that he killed his wife. Theyíd think the hunters who come around here are just paranoid militia members, because they donít know any different."

"No. They donít know. And we donít know the full extent of what happened between Satan and God." Jim smiled at the disgusted noise Andrew made. "At best, the scripture is a second-hand account, often affected by translation, differences in oral accounts, the amount of time that lapsed. We donít know that heís evil. In Old Testament accounts, Satan was just the Adversary in the sense that he manned the other side of the chessboard. A rival, not necessarily an enemy."

Andrew tilted his head. "But would there be evil without Satan?"

"I think people have the capacity for great good and evil both. And they decide which side to follow, without any help from on high or below," Jim said. "So, if you look at it like that, Lucifer performs a function by ruling over hell. Like a landlord. Or even like I do, by giving sanctuary to hunters."

"Hmm. Okay. So by that, are you saying that Satan isnít evil?"

"Maybe not," Jim said. "Maybe heís just trying to do a job. I donít really believe in one, ultimate evil. A million little evils, petty cruelties, sure. But an absolute evil? No."

"Just ask Mrs. Winchester how redeemable demons are," Andrew said darkly. "That sounds like a lot of Ďwhat ifsí. You donít know one way or another. You donít know if heís evil or not."

Jim looked at his son and said, "Such is faith."

Andrew threw the apple at him.

***

"Full house."

Andrew looked at his cards, then at the 10 year old sitting across the kitchen table, grinning crookedly at him. Then he sighed, grabbed his wallet, and dug out another five dollars. "Youíre your fatherís son, you know that?"

"I hope so," Sam said, all wide eyes and startling sincerity. Then he grinned crookedly, ruining the whole ten going on forty-five thing he had going. "New game?"

"Go Fish," Andrew said.

"Aww, Andrew, thatís a baby game!"

"And Iím the baby." Andrew glanced at the clock above the rectory stove. Going on 11. The hunt was running later than it shouldíve. How long before Sam caught on that Jim and Andrew were getting nervous? Kid was unnervingly perceptive sometimes. "Take pity, you damn card shark."

With a tolerant sigh, Sam scooped up the cards and began shuffling them. He had Johnís quick, deft hands. "Youíd be okay if you didnít blush so easy."

"Yeah, yeah."

A sharp noise rang out, the sound of the heavy church doors ricocheting off the wall. Andrew straightened, coming out of his chair and parking a hand on Samís shoulder in time for Jim to stride past the open kitchen door.

Jim gave him a silent look, a quick shake of his head, and managed a tight smile for Sam. "Your dadís home. Heís going to need stitches, but everybodyís fine. Just give us a few minutes."

Jimís expression read: keep Sammy the hell out of Jimís office until Jim could mop the blood up.

Jesus Christ. Again? Sam wasnít a stupid kid, and Andrew had a lousy poker face.

Turning, Andrew looked at Sam. Sam looked back at him through his bad haircut, too damned serious for a kid his age, eyes dark with knowledge he shouldnít have. Andrew sighed and rumpled his hair. "Just a couple minutes, okay?"

"I could help," Sam said, a mulish edge to his voice. "I can stitch."

"I know." Andrew glanced away, looking for any distraction, and fixed on the nearest one. "Help me make some coffee and throw some dinner in the microwave, okay? Your dadíll be hungry. You know he doesnít eat."

Jaw still set, Sam went to grab a plate. When he came back, the stubborn look had a new companion of quiet fear.

Every damn hunt, the poor kid went through this. Either he was coming back bruised to hell from a training exercise, or he was stuck in the church, waiting up to see whether his family would come back alive. Sucked to be a Winchester.

Sucked to care about them, too. Not quite as hard, but still.

Forcing a smile, Andrew grabbed the plate and set it on the counter. "You know how to set up the coffeemaker? Okay. You do that. Iíll go check on the idiots, and Iíll be right back to tell you how badly banged up they actually are. Okay?"

Sam squinted at him, but seemed to get that this was the best offer heíd get. Even if Andrew lied to him, which he damned well planned to if the damage was really bad, it was more honesty than heíd get from his brother. With a sullen nod, Sam went to put the coffeemaker on.

Andrew exhaled slowly, gave him one last look and stepped out onto the hall. He closed the kitchen door behind him, not so much because he thought itíd stop Sam as itíd give himself a little plausible deniability.

And then Dean was there.

Dean was just standing in the middle of the rectory hall, looking about three days dead, eyes fixed on nothing. Andrew reached for his shoulder, and Dean caved under his touch. The thump as Deanís knees hit the floor made Andrew wince.

Then Dean tilted his bloody face up, and Andrew stopped thinking.

Weíve been here before.

There was blood on Deanís lower lip, spattered up across his eyelid and sticking his eyelashes into clumps. Some of it was Deanís. Andrew touched him, his face, smearing that blood across Deanís skin and onto his own fingertips.

Dean shivered as Andrewís fingertips touched his mouth, huddled up on his knees at Andrewís feet. Some shadow crossed his face, fear and fury. His eyes were-

God. Andrew wanted to-

The images fluttered and shifted in the corners of Andrewís mind like a thousand restless wings, stirring and whispering and rising as one.

His knees gave a moment later, and he knelt in front of Dean, fingers still fused to those high cheekbones. There was another face there, then another, then another, until he had to close his eyes.

Then, a final face slid up before him, heartbreakingly beautiful. Masculine perfection, high, slanted cheekbones framed by ice-blond waves, eyes the color of a spring sky. And a pair of gleaming wings rising behind him. Grief stabbed through Andrew, and he sucked a hard breath as the vision changed, the winged being laying on the parched earth of an ancient city, his beautiful eyes open and staring. Dead, by the humansí hands.

And a woman, with wings of a glorious dove gray, stained with red splotches. Dead at the hands of the demons she was in charge of. Her robes torn, her striking face ruined by blows.

And of himself. Of the agony, of the first angelís body on the pyre, of the flaming blade, slicing through his own wingsófallingóinto his throne. Of Levi standing behind him, steadying him. That gravel voice: "what is your bidding, my general?"

Andrew bit back a sob as the memories rushed back. Of a hundred who had come since, who heíd loved and hated in equal measures. Not him, not his.

-will come to you stained with the blood of a motherÖdeath of the MorningstarÖ

Andrew winced, trying to remember the rest of the prophecy, but it slid from his mind, just out of reach. Things were settling in his mind now, background noise, and unbearable loneliness. He forced his eyes open, looking at Dean again.

Dean was still staring into space, eyes focused somewhere past Andrewís head.

"Dean?" Andrew cupped his cheek gently. "Look at me."

After a long moment, Dean focused on him. "ídrew?"

"Yeah, Iíve got you. You all right?"

"God, I killed her. Amanda."

Fuck. Andrew stroked along a blood-slick cheek, fighting the urge to lean forward, to lick the blood away, to claim Dean as his own. His body came alive, instantly and viciously hard. He wanted, with an aching, clawing need.

The image swam into his mind, unbidden of Dean under him, lithe body writhing on the altar, bloody lips begging, pleasure and pain written on his face as Andrew fucked him, hard and merciless.

Andrew shuddered. "Itís okay."

"No," Dean shook his head. "She hurt Dad, was going to kill him, and I killed her, shot her. I couldnít stop, Andrew, just kept pulling the trigger, how dare she hurt him. She was pregnant, and I destroyed her, just kept shooting."

"Sssh." Andrew stroked his face, hands covered in blood now, slick and wet.

"Dean?" Samís voice scaled up. "Dean!"

Andrew finally managed to pull back as Sam rushed out of the kitchen, eyes wide with fear. "Get him into the kitchen, Iím going to get Jim," he ordered.

Sam ignored him, going to Dean, wrapping his arms around him and squeezing hard. Dean shuddered, burying his bloody face against Samís throat. Samís voice, unnaturally calm, "Dean, itís okay. Itís gonna be okay. Where do you hurt? I can stitch it."

Deanís answer was muffled, lost.

Andrew hurried towards the office, turning into the bathroom before he got there, closing the door, legs trembling. Jesus, what was wrong with him?

He moved to the sink, looking at his trembling hands, down at his bloodstained clothes, and another image swirled up, standing on the ranks of the dead, looking down at the trembling body of a young woman, enjoying her fear, her pain. She died screaming.

When he came back to himself, he was leaning on the wall, hand roughly stroking his cock, fingers slick with Deanís blood. Shit, shit, shit. He shouldnít-couldnít do this. It was wrong.

But his body was clamoring, screaming for him not to stop.

Fuck.

Closing his eyes, Andrew gentled his grip, shivering at the slick feel of blood on his skin. Nothing in the world like it, that thick, wet feel, the metallic smell, God, were these his thoughts?

He lifted his other hand, covering his mouth, muffling the sob that slid out. Oh god, blood. His tongue darted out, tasting it, tasting Dean, and he shuddered. So good.

His strokes sped, matching the kitten licks of his tongue over his fingers, imagining Dean under him, writhing and begging for Andrew to fuck him hard. Imagined bending forward to taste the blood on Deanís lips, to feel him comeó

"Ohfuck," Andrew whimpered, shaking as the pleasure slammed into him, sending him over the edge.

Then, brain finally on mute, he washed up and went to check on John.

****
John, as it turned out, was just badly bruised with a couple impressive cuts. He and Jim and Bobby had left to bury Amandaís body a bit ago, leaving Andrew in charge of an exhausted Sam and a nearly comatose Dean.

Jim had poured the better part of a bottle of whiskey in the coffee heíd handed Dean, cleaning his wounds and, at Andrewís insistence, tucking him into Andrewís bed, with Sam asleep on the cot across the room.

Andrew stared at Deanís face, the soft lips, twisted with pain even in his sleep.

A new warrior, whispered the thing in Andrewís mind that wasnít him. But like nothing the world had seen. Maybe this would be the one to kill the Morningstar.

Andrew didnít want to die.

A hunterís life was brutal, and usually short. It would be a kindness to end it now.

Liar, liar. Jesus Christ, what was he doing-?

Andrew picked up the syringe theyíd left him, the vial of sedative. It would be easy to fill the syringe with air, slide it into a vein. A quick, relatively painless stroke, now, while Dean was asleep. Heíd just never wake up.

He laid it against Deanís arm, picking the most likely vein. Dean was slack in his grip, trusting. Andrew started to press the needle home, but his hand shook too hard to hold it steady.

Andrew pulled back, took a deep breath. Fuck.

"Andrew?" Dean murmured sleepily.

Setting the syringe on the nightstand, Andrew sat on the bed next to Dean. "Iím here. Howíre you feeling?"

"Head hurts."

"You want something?"

"Yeah. Please."

Andrew slid a pill into his mouth, trying not to let his fingers hesitate in the silken warmth of Deanís mouth. Then he tilted Deanís head up and helped him drink another shot of whiskey. "That should help."

Dean nodded, eyes sliding closed. A second later, they snapped open, suddenly panicked. "Whereís Dad?"

"Sssh. They went to bury her. Heís fine. Jim and Bobby are with him."

Dean sank back, breathing a little easier. "I thought he was dead," he muttered. "Was just laying there, didnít see him breathing. Thought I was too late. She was going to shoot him. While he was laying there."

"I know. But you did good, Dean. Itís okay. Youíre alive, your fatherís okay."

After a long moment, Deanís eyes slid shut. "Yeah." His hand curled around Andrewís, grip desperate on his fingers. "Donít go."

"Iíll stay. Itís all right, Samís right over there, youíre not alone." Andrew settled onto the edge of the bed, smoothed the floppy hair off Deanís forehead. The urge was still there, to take him, to mark Dean as his own. ToÖdo things. Break him. If he couldnít have Dean, kill him.

It horrified Andrew, made his stomach churn.

Heíd obviously had a psychotic break. Wasnít that what it was called? He was not, nor would he ever be, the Lord of Hell. It wasnít possible. He was justÖconfused. That was the only way around it. He was a danger to himself, to Dean.

Andrew stared at Deanís face, feeling something well up from the pit of his stomach, something warm and gentle that brought tears to his eyes. He couldnít hurt Dean. Wouldnít.

He would fix that. As soon as John and the boys left again, he would find a way.

*****

The confessional smelled like incense and Jimís cologne. It was comforting, somehow. Andrew locked the door, kneeling on the padded bench.

The gun was heavy in his hands, a big revolver. He didnít want to mess this up. No mistakes. No second chance to get it right. Under the chin and pull the trigger.

"Forgive me Father, for I have sinned," he whispered. "I know this is wrong, but Iím hoping youíll accept mitigating circumstances."

Silence. God had always been silent for him.

"I canít do this. Itís too much. I love him," Andrew felt the admission burst out. "I love him, and Iím only going to hurt him. Watch him die, like all the other-"

He thought of John, twisting his wedding ring where he thought no one could see, a steady presence in the dark as the pain wracked Andrew through another sleepless night. He thought of Jim, his patient smile and gentle hands, his voice rising calm and clear through the church, healing and forgiving and offering a hand-up out of the darkness. He thought of Sam, childish grins warring with a streak of pride and anger that went marrow deep.

He thought of Dean. God, he thought of Dean.

"No." The word sounded weak. Andrew swallowed, feeling the barrel bob against his throat. "Iím not going to- Iím Andrew James Murphy. No one else."

He took a deep breath, pulled the hammer back on the gun. "Iím sorry, Lord. Please give me strength."

With a sigh, he pressed it under his chin and steadied himself, pulling up a mental image of Deanís face. I love you. Be happy, he thought, squeezing the trigger clumsily.

The hammer snapped into place with a noise that was loud in the confessional. There was no explosion, no pain. His hands trembled, slick with sweat on the butt of the revolver.

Andrew closed his eyes, feeling the tears sliding from them. God, he sucked. Fifty rounds in the box, and he picked a dud. Fucking perfect.

Sniffling, he opened his eyes, reloading the gun with shaking hands. He had to do this. No other option. He couldnít risk that he would hurt someone.

Settling his hands, he pressed the gun back into place, his thumb cocking the gun.

"Andrew! Open this door right now," Jim bellowed. The doorknob rattled ominously.

With a startled noise, Andrewís hands jerked, fumbling the gun. It fell to the floor with a thump. "Fuck!" he hissed, bending to grab it.

"Andrew, open this goddamn door!" Jim yelled.

Andrew shrank back from the fury in Jimís voice, quickly scooping the gun up and pressing it under his chin.

His finger never made it to the trigger. Light exploded behind his eyes; blinding, purifying, burning. He felt his body seize, heard the gun clatter away, heard himself scream.

There was nothing else.