Banner by the lovely apieceofcake
There Will Be Strength In My Weakness
A soft rapping on Samuel’s office door drew his attention away from the map of Washington he was carefully scanning and he narrowed his eyes in annoyance.
“This had better be important.” He snarled softly while pulling the loose papers surrounding the map towards him and shoving them into a folder. Nothing annoyed him more when he was actually in his own home than being disturbed when he was working with the door shut solidly between him and the rest of the world, a silent but obvious deterrent but yet some still thought they had the right to push into his solitude.
Unexpectedly a small smile softened his features as it occurred to him that it could be Dean come looking for him.
In a way it was funny, in-between moulding the world into his new order and culling the heard of his own supposed supporters, he had been hunting Dean the same way his older brother had been hunting him and now that he finally had him by his side sometimes it was easy to forget that this was real. That he had what he had wanted all along, his brother, his confidant, his lover finally at his side.
The truth of it was that it was actually unsettling how if not content, that was something his new life would never allow him to be, but just how happy he was. It made his demon blood howl in disgust because happiness was a human emotion, a weakness to be preyed upon still it was something that he couldn’t deny.
Simply put he was happy but in an act of self-preservation he had and would continue to hide from all those around him, even Dean. The sharp edge of the blade he was balanced on cut a little deeper, he called Dean his confidant and yet wouldn’t share his true feelings with him. But he couldn’t, at least not yet, Dean had been a hunter, he had been out to kill him and he just couldn’t in good conscious, let his guard down completely no matter how much he wanted too until he could utterly trust his brother. And completely trust him he didn’t.
Samuel wasn’t stupid nor had he gotten where he was just because he was the strongest of them all, he was a Winchester, had been raised a hunter, a competent liar and a tactician. He might not be able to get into the heads of his enemies or those he surrounded himself with, but he could, with relative reliability, guess their movements and motives. And as much as he rather not consider it, there was always the chance that the only reason Dean had accepted his offer was because he had no other option but death at the time and now sat biding his time, waiting for the opportunity to finish what he had come after Samuel for in the first place.
He wasn’t sure when or how he would come to finally trust his brother enough to let him completely in or if he would ever be able too but he was willing to give it a chance. It was either that or do as he had done with those before him that he felt were a threat, kill him, and that was something he just wasn’t ready to do without a damn good reason.
The soft tapping came again, pulling him from his thoughts and he shook his head slightly to clear his mind. Irregardless of what he thought or how he felt there were still appearances to be kept up either way therefore he made sure that his expression settled into one of slight irritation, ensuring that none of his inner turmoil showed before calling out.
“Samuel.” Her voice was soft, seductive, suggesting long, sticky nights, searing touches and shared breaths of an intimacy they had never partaken in nor ever would. He might believe in keeping his enemies close but regardless of his demon blood, he had standards and Ava fell well below the line.
Unsurprisingly the forced look of slight irritation morphed into legitimate aggravation as Ava sashayed across the room and settled into the chair on the opposite side of his desk.
She saved my life once. He silently reminded himself but on the tail end of that thought was the one where he once again questioned just how long that would keep her breathing. Not that she had ever been foolish enough to remind him of it but her demeanour portrayed smug confidence that she should be able to get away with anything short of challenging him. The unfortunate thing was that he had no one to blame for it but himself since he had let her get away with pretty much anything her twisted little mind could come up with in the beginning because she had been an extremely useful tool. He could admit it, at least in the confines of his own mind, that out of all the special children his father had cultivated, overall she was the strongest and the most devious, which made her desirable, her skills something easily exploited, even now.
Once he had become privy to his father’s twisted plans, it had been what had motivated him to collect her at Cold Oak first, the knowledge that although she would be one of his worst enemies, she would also be one of his greatest weapons as long as he could keep her on a short lease, before hunting down the remaining children.
And true to the belief both he and Azazel had in her she hadn’t disappointed, first by proving her ability to appear the helpless victim flawlessly, enough so that Sam would have been, at least momentarily convinced by her act. It had been an enjoyable distraction, something that he allowed to continue for that one day, waiting with barely restrain glee for her to make her move, to call her little demon to her and finish him off.
Secretly the memory of the night still made him smile, remembering when she had called the Acheri demon to her expecting it to go after him as it had so many before but instead had stilled the moment it laid eyes on him before dropping it’s head in supplication. He had to give her credit though; by that time deflect and evade was in her blood and she had tried to convince him that she had no idea about the demon. In fact she had kept up her act until he had let his demon blood surface, allowed his eyes to glint yellow and threw her across the room.
Allegiance had been immediate, at least her special brand of alliance but he had accepted what he could get at the time, never letting it slip too far from the front of his mind that out of all of them, pure bred demons and the remaining special children, she was the one that would bare the most watching, his greatest ally and most dangerous threat rolled into one little package with big brown doe eyes that could sway most her way at least momentarily.
He never doubted for a moment, given the opportunity, she would go for his throat and up until now he had been very careful not to give her the opening but the way her eyes were glinting he knew she probably figured she had finally found a weakness to exploit and he knew exactly what that weakness would be.
“So,” she started slowly, voice soft but an almost indiscernible hardness evident. “I hear there were some problems in Conroe, Texas last week.”
Samuel managed to refrain from shaking his head, dumbstruck at the obviousness of her ploy, torn between fury at thinking that she thought he wouldn’t see it for what it was and sheer shock over her apparent belief that she would be able to pull it on him, but just barely.
He decided not to call her on it though, interested, in spite of himself, to see how much rope she would use to hang herself with. Beyond that however, perhaps if he handled this conversation correctly he could push her to show more of her own hand, her own weaknesses. “Mistakes were made and we lost one of the kids and a demon. There’s more demons and,” he smirked at her knowing that the human tainted with his father’s blood, Lily, had become Ava’s strongest supporter even if she had never had the nerve to speak out openly against him. “Lily was never very strong, it’s surprising really that she made it as long as she did.”
“Lily was one of the best once she accepted who she was!” Ava hissed back, her rage evident in the way her body shook and her knuckles bled white from clenching her fists tightly in her lap.
Samuel tilted his head to one side and an unrealistic frown graced his features in a show of mock sympathy. “Oh that’s right you and her got pretty close didn’t you?” He murmured, “I had forgotten that. Guess sometime during all that bonding you girls were doing you should have reminded her that she was supposed to help control the legion, not take orders from it. If she hadn’t listened to Smith and my consort hadn’t been hurt she would have been around to welcome you home.”
“So it’s true then? Lily died for your new toy?”
And there it was, or at least he believed that was the angle she was going to try to use to get under his skin, to try and ferret out just how much of a weakness Dean was to him, by calling him a toy, something so much less than what he was. There was always a chance that she didn’t yet know that he hadn’t collared Dean, that he wasn’t treating him like any other human he had owned in the last three years but he doubted it. If she already knew about Conroe, then she had to know that once he and Dean had both come out of that room breathing and in control that Samuel had made it painfully obvious to those that had been with him that day, that no one was to make any move against his brother or risked death, a long, drawn out, excruciatingly painful death.
But in her ever-increasing desire to find something to use against him, she had let her mask slip, he would have been deaf, dumb and blind to miss the need practically consuming her to lash out at him for taking Lily from her. Fortunately for her, she was still level headed enough to remain seated and even control most of the anger so that only very little bled through her voice even if her eyes were almost black with her rage.
Even knowing all this he still found that he had to quell his own justifiable anger at her choice of words, “Toy?” He managed his patina of calm, barely, but allowed a hint of his displeasure to show in the way one eyebrow rose in question and his frowned deepened. “Dean is anything but a toy Ava and it would be best if you remembered that.”
“How could he be anything but?” She shot back, “Last time I checked he was the head of the resistance against us, you. And yet you bring him into your home. Let him get close to you. He’s a danger to everything we’ve worked so hard for. Because of him Lily is dead. Smith is dead. Both good, trustworthy allies and yet you toss them aside for your brother. You walk dangerous ground Samuel. There have been grumblings, rumours.”
He had no doubt that there had been many in the legion and even among the kids who had quietly voiced their displeasure behind his back, he would have been more worried if there hadn’t been. This way he knew he was keeping all of them unbalanced, risking retribution for speaking against him but still doing so. If there had been no open effect from his decision to claim Dean as his companion then he would be more concerned because it would have meant that someone had finally gained enough trust within his dark army to begin to organise them against him.
In the long and short of it, it meant that Ava had yet to gain ground against him and that alone was worth putting up with listening to her pathetic attempts at trying to worm her way past his defences.
Both eyebrows disappeared into his hairline as in a flurry of movement, she jumped to her feet, slammed both hands, palm down, on his desk and leaned forward into his face. Instead of the expected reaction of backing farther into his chair, he to leaned forward, calmly resting his forearms on his desk and peered up at her through his fringe.
“This is why I have come back because someone has to tell you the truth. You sit there content in your own little world, blinded by your own desires and refuse to see the painfully obvious. Not killing him was a mistake. Bringing him here was a mistake. Taking him on as your consort was a mistake. Killing Lily and Smith was a mistake. Damn it Samuel your first and foremost thought should be for us and the legion, not on some wayward brother who could never understand you. Not now.”
He watched her chest rise and fall jerkily as she huffed air in and out through her slightly parted lips and almost laughed outright. He wanted to push her, see what it would take to break her, now he knew. She assumed, rightly, that Dean was his weakness but apparently him usurping what she must have believed was her place as his right hand seemed to be, at least for the moment, hers.
He remained silent waiting for her to realise that she had finally gone to far, no one raised their voice to him, no one made any move towards him that could be considered threatening, at least not anymore. It had taken the deaths of almost a dozen demons in the early days of his rule but eventually the rest had figured out that showing aggression towards him guaranteed to shorten their life spans exponentially.
Samuel knew the instant it occurred to her that she had overstepped her bounds by the widening of her eyes. He watched her quickly pull back and resettle herself into the chair opposite him. She flinched as he too moved back and her eyes darted between him and the door but to her credit she remained in place. She might like to think that she had the strength to challenge him, maybe even whispered it in the ears of others, but when it was just the two of them, it seemed that her bravado fled.
“I…I could have arranged a more docile toy for your urges, one that wouldn’t be causing a stir among the legion.” Ava continued after a tense moment of silence, voice hesitant but still shaking with anger. “Instead you go against every rational thought you should have had and bring your own brother into the fold. Christ Samuel.”
He could taste copper at the back of his tongue and only at the taste could he feel the sting from biting his cheek until it had bled. But he had what he had wanted from her, pushed her past her usual safe responses to true emotion. It wasn’t what he had planned the day he helped Lily from her mortal coil but now saw the tactical win he had gained from a death that until that moment he had simply felt nothing but a small hindrance knowing that he was down one leader by his own hand instead of those who fought against him.
“Dean is my brother, my confident, my companion, my lover.” He pushed out lowly, “He is my equal Ava.” He raised both his voice and a hand when it seemed she was intent on interrupting him. “He is to be treated with the same respect as I am and I will brook no argument about it.”
“This will not sit well with the others.”
He didn’t miss the promise in her voice but chose not to acknowledge it head on, instead choosing a broader threat. “They will do as I say or they will go the same way Smith and Lily did.”
A muscle in her jaw jumped, “At least collar him until the others are more comfortable around him.” She pressed softly, “I can have a collar within an hour.”
I bet. He had to wonder just how badly he had hurt her if she was willing to put herself on the line and actually admit to being prepared to procure a collar for him that he was certain would be more than a simple piece of leather. He had seen what happened to humans she had collared and although he wasn’t certain what curse or poison she was using on them, those who had the misfortune to catch her eye and became a toy for her didn’t last long and whatever it was, it wasn’t gentle nor was there any ease to take them into eternal night.
“What part of Dean is my equal did you miss Ava?” He growled softly, allowing a hint of his frustration to bleed through. It was infinitely better to show some emotion then none, none would indicate he was hiding something, which he most definitely was, his fear of what he just might do to protect Dean, but that was something she didn’t need to know. “A collar would imply ownership and I do not own Dean.”
Bolstered by the fact that she was still breathing, she raised her voice slightly. “He’s not one of us Samuel.” She pointed out with a wave between them. “No one will accept him because of it. If you don’t show some sort of…possession you’re asking for trouble.”
“No one would dare…”
A dark laugh devoid of humour shook her smaller frame, “Are you choosing to forget how humans are treated around here? Even collared, sometimes a toy is misplaced, occasionally permanently.”
Ava was baiting him but the logic of the fact didn’t stop the slow roll of fury at her constant referral to Dean being nothing more than a toy, something he would eventually become bored of and toss aside.
“Dean is not my toy.” His voice was deceptively calm, he couldn’t think of a clearer warning. “Thank you for your invaluable council but this matter is closed. Now I was in the middle of something that needs my attention when you came in. I’m sure you can show yourself out.”
Her lips twitched, “As you say Samuel.”
He watched her silent, as she pulled herself from the chair and glided from the room with a grace that had been lacking from her only moments before. And waited until the door was once again shut before allowing himself to slump into a more comfortable position.
Unconsciously he began to rub the nail of his right thumb back and forth across his bottom lip as he considered the last few minutes. He didn’t like the smile that had kept fighting to surface on her face or the malicious glint in her eye that she hadn’t been able to fully hide from him as she had left. He knew what it meant, she believed she finally had something on him and though she didn’t know the extent as to how right she was, ultimately she was right.
No one knew why he had stopped fighting his dark heritage and accepted his place at the head of his father’s army. Just like no one knew Azarel was actually dead and wouldn’t be coming back to control the world eventually.
Except for Rayven. He corrected himself silently, she was the one wild card and if it wasn’t for the promise he had given her she would be dead by now. But she had told him of the ritual, she had given him the tools he needed to confront his father and destroy him and for it his debt was to protect her. It ate at him but not to the point where he would lose sleep over it. Yes there was always the slight chance that she would tell someone that the only reason he had accepted his place was because he wanted to tear apart the world so he could ultimately have Dean and he also knew that this would not be accepted by the legion because of who his brother had been before he consented to become Samuel’s consort but a debt was a debt.
He shook his head, dislodging his thoughts about the immortal who owned a bar that was everywhere and nowhere at once as he had more pressing matters at hand.
As much as it aggravated him, Ava had been right. Theoretically his word was law amongst the dark army and it was an irrefutable fact that to cross him meant death. But that didn’t mean that there weren’t those who wouldn’t risk it. Dean collared was still at risk, without any show of ownership, it was pretty much a simple waiting game, eventually some demon would make a grab for him. And the most annoying part of that was it wouldn’t matter that the offender would die for his transgression, and whoever it was would, even if it took him an eternity to find out who had taken Dean from him, the damage would be done. Ava would have the final piece she needed to usurp him, it was one thing to kill an offender immediately after an act of betrayal within the legion but to actively take one out for doing something that was accepted behaviour, stealing another of the legion’s human toy was not.
It had been an accepted activity even before he took command of the legion and after three years of commanding them, now would not be the time to try to change it. It would be painfully clear that he was only doing it to protect his brother, which in turn would only make Dean a bigger target.
Samuel felt the stirrings of the now familiar headache begin in his temples, it wasn’t the first time he had considered this particular problem in the last week, however having Ava back brought it all screaming to the forefront. He had told Dean that his brother was his confident and to collar him would take that and the elder Winchester’s trust away from him. On the other hand he couldn’t not take some sort of measure to protect him from the legion’s hate of him and Ava’s, slippery behind the scenes, manipulating of circumstances to her advantage.
A collar wouldn’t do for a myriad of reasons but what would? It had to be something that showed Samuel’s claim but not insult Dean. It had to be something that couldn’t be taken from his brother and preferably it had to be something that would link them together.
He cast his eyes around the room, not expecting an answer but unexpectedly smiled. “Well hell.” He groaned softly.
For a week he had been having this particular battle within himself, warring with one complex idea after another, trying to find something suitable for his purposes when the answer was so stupidly simple that he couldn’t help but roll his eyes at himself. It was glaringly obvious that he had been so wrapped up in the complex dealings of the legion for too long when simple solutions where almost beyond him now, another reason why having his brother with him instead of against him was beyond good. Never would infer that his brother was simple but he would have been able to see the solution days ago and it would be with his unclouded pure human eyes that he would be able to spot the simplicity of most problems, whereas Samuel would be inclined to look past easy and dig deeper trying to find the complex cross, double cross and triple cross lurking within the hearts of his legion.
With Dean at his side they truly would be unstoppable, now he simply had to convince his brother of his plan.