The Hard Sell

By Tidia, 2010

That Girl Six for first draft, it has undergone many changes and any leftover mistakes are mine.

Disclaimer: Nothing Supernatural belongs to me.

Words: 18.178 words

Author's Notes: There are quotes by Mark Twain, George Shaw, and Isaac Asimov used in this fic. When possible I have tried to alert the reader. You will also notice that there are names in the beginning of each part- that will alert you to the point of view being used (trying something new). This fic's placement in the timeline is after Dark Side of the Moon, and will only include the show up to that point.

We will try to incorporate future episodes in the remaining story to the pentalogy, however we are reserving the right to disregard episodes too. (Kripke and Gamble have not learned to work with us.) If you know what is going to happen in this fic, please do not guess on the public reviews.



Nicholas pulled off the newspaper boy hat and ran his fingers through his hair. The crowd leaned forward in his pause. He needed to gather his thoughts so they would understand. "Why shouldn't there be Heaven on Earth?"

It was a rhetorical question, but he always hoped someone would try to answer it. Instead the participants looked around, glancing to the other participants for validation or the answer. Nicholas kept his cap off and placed it on the podium. He was speaking without notes, finding speaking from his heart more trustworthy. "Why are you all trying to be so good now for a future promise, long into the future? One that we have no confirmation on?"

"What do you mean?" called out a man from the audience of twenty.

Nicholas smiled. He was not going to be patronizing. "Do you know what Heaven is like?"

The gentleman bristled, screwing his face back. "No, but The Bible—"

Nicholas interrupted, placating with his hands because he did not want the people to leave until they heard his message, told others, and increased numbers in the group. "Friends, I am not an atheist. I believe in God."

"Amen," called out a woman, and the others laughed.

Nicholas joined in the merriment. He was happy after all, and soon his audience would be, too. "I believe in a god that created angels—angels who are eternal with painless, happy lives. Then he created humans—Man who has a short life, which during that life must earn happiness while being thrown miseries. Does that sound about right?" Nicholas had altered Mark Twain's words only slightly. The great American writer had the right idea.

"Yeah!" came the reply from the anonymous back row. Those that were in the back were on the fringe, unsure if they wanted to join the others, but testing the waters.

He knew what to say to them. "So I used to spend my life fearing Hell, not going after what I wanted. But then I thought, why not go for it? Why not be happy here on Earth?" It had been the best decision he had ever made, opening so many doors for him, creating a purpose and position for himself. "So I am happy, and I want you to be happy. What will make you happy?"

There was the silence of disbelief. There always was in every town. He wanted to give them some ideas. "Who wants to be rich?"

People raised their hands earnestly, sitting in the folding chairs of the senior center which allowed the room to be rented out in the evening.

"How we going to do that? Rob a bank?" The gentleman who had spoken earlier about The Bible stood up.

Nicholas jumped down from the stage, placing himself between the exit and the man. "Yes. Think about it. The reason why bank robbers get caught is because they get greedy. But a note, gloves, a disguise, and a getaway, then you've nabbed yourself some money. Then for bigger stakes there is embezzlement." Nicholas backed away, leaning against the stage.

"You sure this isn't one of those financial planning seminars?" a woman said in a slightly panicky voice.

"No," he answered the woman's question. "I see you shaking your head because you believe in convention. That's what stopping you from happiness. You need to think around the boxes and worry less about ramifications to your soul."

"What about jail?" one of the women asked.

"Don't get caught. If that is the only thing you need to concentrate on, then you can get around that." Nicholas rolled his eyes. "I can vouch for that." He played with the heavy gold ring on his finger. "This is not a way to make a great living. But I'm doing fine because I went out and got what I needed to live like an angel on Earth." He laughed at his inside joke. "This is not hard work, not like you—" He pointed to a man in the front row.

"Me?" The well groomed man brought his hand to his chest. "I love my job. And I have Prada."

"If it's not money, then usually it's love." It had to be one of the base emotions to make people react and change.

The man's lips turned down. "I can't find anyone to be there for me. To meet my needs."

There were only so many choices when it came to love. "Maybe you are just looking in the wrong places. So many times we don't go after what's right in front of us because the other person may be taken."

"Or heterosexual," the man shivered.

Nicholas heard the bell ring in his mind. "Go for the person who has been there for you. Take away anyone or anything that gets in your way. That love should be yours on your terms that will make you happy. What are you waiting for, to be together in the afterlife?"

"This sounds too simple," said one of the men from the back row.

"Best things are simple. It's not wrong." Nicholas pushed himself up so he was sitting on the stage, admiring his Brioni loafers. "Find your Heaven on Earth, not after you die."



Joshua agreed with Dean that they needed the information Malachi offered, but by accepting the scorned Advisor's tutelage, Joshua had given up some control.

Each meeting was a revelation; therefore he had consulted with Dean about keeping a separate journal from his usual, which would in time be placed in The Tomb. The first Advisor journal, unless the others were found. Perhaps having the discussion over the holidays was poor timing. Dean said Joshua was overanalyzing and to enjoy some time under the mistletoe with Carolyn, but Sam agreed with him.

His work with Malachi would remain secret for now. It was undecided if the future Triads would have access to what Joshua learned. Joshua tried not to think about the apocalypse being the end of the world; he had to be working towards a future.

In keeping the journal, Joshua was able to assert some control in his commentary. In their first meeting Joshua attempted to set a professional tone. Malachi skirted around, looking to be friendly and praiseful about Joshua's ability to translate the Sicilian dialect.

Joshua was not flattered. This was a temporary situation for him, not a long lasting relationship. Adam had loaned the cabin to him, eventually when he was finished, he would burn it and arrange for payment through The Brotherhood.

In the first meeting Joshua was impressed to learn about herbs that would quicken the effects of certain spells. Caleb had asked Joshua to call after the completion of each meeting. Joshua assumed it was Caleb could pester him, but then he realized as The Knight, Caleb was concerned that if Malachi turned, Joshua would be unable to deal with the demon witch alone.

Malachi was already taking advantage of the situation, moving into the Wilmington Ranch. Where it had been once cursed for him to set foot on the land, he was now free to live there. He split his time between there, L.A. and New York City in order to pursue his career.

At the second meeting, Malachi deemed Joshua worthy to learn a Triad Power protection spell. When done successfully it would provide The Triad with a day was spent preparing the spell work, which would be completed by the Triad members. Dean, Sam or Caleb need not be together for the spell to work- just an incantation and a talisman.

Many times Joshua had to ask Malachi for more personal space, but Joshua did not tell Caleb, instead he focused on the spell, which Caleb was only too eager for The Guardian and The Scholar to use.

When it failed, it did so in spectacular fashion. Sam and Dean were killed by hunters. Thankfully, Caleb was notified by Castiel that all was not as it seemed. Caleb did not blame Joshua, nor mention the failure of Triad Power.

The spell in theory should have worked. Malachi's theory was that Dean was influencing the magic because he had gone to Hell. Joshua believed the influence was because of Sam and Caleb's demon connection. However, Merlin had been part demon, and started The Brotherhood. He also may have been part angel so Dean being a vessel for Michael should have negated Malachi's theory. Maybe there were higher plans at work.

It made Joshua shy about Triad Power, but Dean and Sam needed more choices to stop the apocalypse. Their trip to Heaven had changed them, added a sense of desperation, though there was nothing in Dean or Sam's description of their experience that could explain it.

Joshua committed to his studies. However, he was not pleased when he found Malachi sitting in his office as he returned from lunch two months after their teacher/student relationship started.

"What are you doing here?" Their meetings were always scheduled to give Joshua an illusion of some power.

Malachi was stretched out on the couch in Joshua's office, flipping through a magazine. "Drew let me in. He's a keeper." Malachi winked.

"I'm letting you out." Joshua remained standing. "This is not the time or place for a meeting."

"I was looking for representation. I'm planning for a long career."

Embodying a male model, which Joshua tracked down to find was reported to have a drug problem and overdosed; only the information was wrong, and he was making a comeback, a miraculous comeback. "As a male model? Because usually it is not a long term business."

"Maybe acting or some commercial work? Maybe I'll open a restaurant. I just know I like this." Malachi stretched his arms wide on the couch. "But you know how it is. Do you think Carolyn would have agreed to marry you if you were not a handsome devil?"

Carolyn was a closed subject. "The firm cannot represent you. Thank you for coming." Joshua pointed to the door.

Malachi shifted his legs, placing them on the floor. "I can wait for you at home. I have yet to meet the bride-to-be."

"And you are not—ever. She is not involved in this." He was protective of her and their relationship, especially as they made their wedding plans. They were getting married at the same place her grandparents had been wed, although Mackland had offered to pay for the wedding without limits. Carolyn hadn't been tempted by the Ames fortune, which could have made her truly royalty for the day. She wanted a simpler setting, which made Joshua want to do anything to make the day special for her.

"So I guess I won't be getting an invitation to the event of the century?" Malachi shrugged his shoulders. "I could go as Drew's date." He pushed his longer blond hair off his face.

Joshua raised his eyebrows. He was not going to rise to the bait. He knew from working with Malachi that the old witch was always looking for a reaction. Joshua would not admit that it kept him on his toes and deterred the calmness he tried to project.

"Fine, whatever makes you feel comfortable." Malachi leaned forward. "I thought it would be interesting to shadow you today, since we are building a close relationship."

Joshua shook his head. Malachi liked that his eccentricities and boldness were better accepted in this new world than the past he had come from. "This is not 'bring your disgraced Advisor to work' day. Don't come back here."

"Drew likes me." Malachi stood up.

Joshua opened the door to his office. "He doesn't know you."

"He'd like to though." Malachi looked over his shoulder. "Like Leah wants to get to know you better."

Leah, the current head of Joshua's coven, was impressed more than ever with Joshua's ability, especially since he had shown her some of things he had learned recently. Where once he noticed harmless flirting on her part, there was now intense interest he attempted to dissuade. "We have a professional relationship. Stop insinuating."

"Joshua, I am surprised you are not aware of how much sex appeal witches have." Malachi adjusted his shirt, and went out the door giving a nod to the people he passed.

Malachi kept his word and did not return to the office, and over the course of the next two months they stuck to their arranged schedule. Joshua wondered if it were to relax him, make him feel comfortable and let his guard down.

Where Joshua was usually so direct, confident and well-trained, he was now having doubts. There was a lot of pressure for him to succeed, and his failure had been gross, He was worried it could be repeated with catastrophic results. Carolyn was picking up on this change and on his excessive secretiveness. He wanted to call his mother for advice, but he couldn't involve her either. Advice from Dean, Caleb, or Sam was out of the question when it came to women. He was lost in pensive thought instead of paying attention to the internet campaign of one of his clients when Drew entered, back flat against the glass door. "Drew, I'm expecting a conference call with the florist and Carolyn. If you can put that through . . ."

"I need to talk to you. To be honest."

Joshua only spared him a glance. He wasn't in the mood to give an opinion of Armani versus Zegna or the topic of the moment. "Drew, I told you that you're invited to the wedding, but I'm not sure if I can seat you with Caleb or Adam. . ."

Drew came forward, hands planted on Joshua's desk. "It's not about that. It's about you. I've known you for a long time. We work well together."

Joshua gave Drew all his attention. "Is this about a raise? It's a budgetary decision, not mine, but I've said I will do my best."

Drew inhaled deeply. "I love you."

Joshua did not move, instead going into himself to check on his heartbeat. He wanted to use an expletive but remained calm. Perhaps a muscle twitched, but he held himself as still as possible, frozen.

"Did you hear me?"

Joshua moved his hand in a jerky motion to grab the file on his desk to skip over what Drew had said. He had a fiancé, a future nervous bride. He couldn't deal with a delusional admin. "Here is that file I was talking about earlier. If you can contact—"

Drew came around, then rested his hip on the edge of Joshua's desk. "No, I am about the here and now. I love you."

Joshua rolled his chair, glad there was some space between him and his assistant. Drew had a before unseen gleam in his eyes. He looked through the frosted glass door, seeing people were working at their desks, not paying attention to his office. They would only see shadows through the door, designed for privacy and for its aesthetic effect. "In what sense?"

Drew walked his fingers closer to Joshua. "In the sense that I think you should break your engagement to Carolyn and run away with me."

Joshua pushed his chair away from the desk and Drew. "What?" He mumbled Cristo under his breath. He had never, never given Drew any inclination of any interest. Never. He had listened when Drew prattled on about fashion and his crushes on Caleb and Adam. He may have encouraged the crush on Caleb.

"It's about going after what I want." Drew pushed off the edge of the desk and closed the distance between them.

"This isn't like you." Joshua stood up, using his height advantage.

"This is the new me." Drew looked him in the eyes, not backing down.

"Go back to the old Drew, and we'll forget this ever happened." Joshua winced at the extortion.

"I don't want to forget. If Carolyn was out of the picture would you consider—"

Joshua felt his stomach twist at the threat towards his fiancé. "No."

Drew must have sensed he had gone too far, maybe because Joshua had clenched his hands into fists. "I like her, but she has no fashion sense, and I imagine she is a bit of a prude. And she buys those fake bags thinking no one knows. I know. Your fiancé is financing the drug trade."

Joshua studied his assistant. Drew looked the same- shiny, expensive shoes, tailored pants, a Thomas Pink shirt, with matching tie and vest. "What's gotten into you? Have you been drinking? Did you take something?" Drugs would explain Drew's hallucinatory behavior.

"No, this is life, my life." Drew beat his chest, then rubbed it. "And I should thank your friend Malachi."

"Malachi is not my friend." He had to say that out loud for himself, too. "What are you thanking him for?"

Drew became more animated. "He said to check out those meetings about Heaven on Earth, said he heard good things about them." Drew gestured to the outside, then brought his hand back, placing them in a prayer position. "You should listen to him, come with me to one of his seminars."

Joshua groaned, a hand to his forehead. He could not deal with this—the apocalypse, The Triad, Malachi, and the wedding was enough. "Drew, what have you become involved with?"

"They're free." Drew kneeled by Joshua on the wood floor. "Come with me. I promise it will be worth it."

Joshua gestured for Drew to get up. "I'll come, but you need to stop this. I'm getting married to Carolyn. She's calling in fifteen minutes about our wedding plans." Joshua closed his eyes. "Don't cross your fingers behind your back either."

Drew brought his hands up. "See, you know me. . ." Joshua's look had Drew deter from his continuing thought, "but, okay, I'll promise as long as you come to one of the meetings."

He needed help. It was tempting to call Malachi, since he had sent Drew to these life changing meetings. However, Malachi was a demon, Joshua reminded himself. Instead, Joshua knew one person who was interested in cults, this sounded like a cult situation. He could also divert Drew's attention onto someone else. "Can I bring a guest?"



Boo ran out in front when he saw the Impala. The dog had the restraint not to jump on the black paint which Dean had spent a few hours teaching him with positive reinforcement. He wished positive reinforcement worked with humans. Dean turned to his brother before they got out. "Dude, this is just a pit stop."

"It's your house, Dean." Sam looked at the front door with longing. They had been on the road so long with infrequent breaks.

Dean was not going to give into his brother's complaints, because then he would be lured in by his own to give into rest. "And we have angels and demons to deal with, Sammy." Dean stepped out of the car so that Boo wound his way through his legs. "Just drop off the laundry and grab some more clothes. I'll pull that stuff from The Tomb that Bobby was interested in."

"One night, Dean." Sam slammed the door. "I want to sleep in a bed that I don't have to worry is infested with bugs."

Dean got inside the house, bending down once to pat Boo. "I told you not to listen to Ryan Seacrest." All of the motels had cable and E! News, which Sam was drawn to, however, Dean could take this addiction over that of another sort. He could also tease his brother, though it sounded stressed instead of jovial.

"Shut up," Sam replied, dropping the laundry by the basement door.

Dean ignored his brother and went into The Tomb, finding the book Bobby had requested. He then searched the shelf for the small chest. Sam was seated in the kitchen having a neatly made sandwich, cut in half, crusts removed. Dean pulled the half sandwich away, taking a bite before Sam could protest. Sticking to old hat made things seem normal, even if Dean realized they were far from it.

"I was eating that," Sam added and tried to pry Dean's hands away from the small bite left. Sam was making an effort to play along.

Boo alerted them to the phone ringing by barking, in case they hadn't heard the shrillness of the dated phone. "Who the hell has this number and knows we're here?"

Sam got up to get the phone, eyeing the remaining sandwich Dean shoved in his mouth. "Hi, Missouri." Dean rolled his eyes at his brother. "Yes, it was a nice ceremony; yes, he's right here." Sam held up the phone. "She wants to talk to you."

Dean raised his middle finger to his brother while his mouth was filled with ham and cheese.

Sam was smug and whistled on his way back to the refrigerator, pulling out the fixings to another sandwich. It looked like it was going to be better than the last one. Sam was purposefully thwarting his attempt to get out of the house quickly. Dean knew it was more than sleeping in a bed. Sam was making amends to him, an olive branch that Dean struggled to accept on a daily basis.

"Missouri, we're kinda busy. Can I call you back?" Dean started, trying to stop his brother from putting mayonnaise on a slice of bread by making gestures with his hands that Sam was ignoring as he popped open the pickle jar.

Boo wasn't helping; he was by Sam looking for scraps to drop.

"No. I need you boys, all of you, to come to Kansas."

Dean was alert. "The whole Triad? Trouble?" Sam looked up from his masterpiece sandwich to take interest.

"Nothing like that. I can take care of myself. But I need you to listen to me—Sam, Caleb, and Joshua, too."

Dean shook his head towards his brother. "Missouri, I can't get The Triad together at the drop of a hat. Caleb's helping Josh." Joshua had called The Knight about possible cult activity nearby. It had been difficult for Caleb to separate from them after the last time they died, but there were other hunts. He also did not want Caleb caught up in the battle of wills. Dean had spent too much time in the middle of two Winchesters to put someone else in that impossible position. He had no doubts his best friend had his back, but he also didn't want to make Damien choose sides. "This is going to have to wait."

"Don't you take an attitude with me." She hissed, and Dean swore he felt the back of a spoon swat his head. "You were always a stubborn child."

"It's worked for me so far," Dean quipped, allowing Missouri some leeway.

"Fine. If you cannot come to me, then I'll come to you at the farm."

"We're leaving the farm, heading to Atlanta." Castiel had mentioned some demon activity in Georgia. It was more pressing than Missouri's mystery.

"Boy, I am asking nicely. I know you boys are busy. I can meet you at Joshua's home."

"You might want to ask Josh about that. I think he and Carolyn are shacking up." Dean was being considerate. He wouldn't want Missouri to break up his time with a girl. "Missouri, you have to make it worth our while. Throw a guy a bone. I shouldn't have to tell you how this works."

"You need to make time for me, Guardian. The Brotherhood is at stake."

Dean hunched his shoulders. He was in no mood to deal with Missouri and her psychic eccentricities. "Tell me something I don't know." The world was at stake, his brotherhood with Sam was at stake – there was a lot riding on him.

"Don't sass me."

He rolled his eyes. She was trying him, but he would do what she asked because of her previous service to The Brotherhood, and her friendship to his father. Missouri was ultimately responsible for them meeting Pastor Jim and Mac. He owed her. Dean also recalled how she forced him to memorize the lines for The Triad ceremony. It would be a short visit.

North Carolina and Georgia were close. They'd meet Missouri, have a little meeting to make her feel better, then head to their hunt. "We'll get on the road tomorrow," he replied. "Missouri, this better be good."

"No, it's bad, Dean. Very bad."

On that ominous note he hung up the phone and called Boo to him, giving him a pat. There was a shiver of worry in Missouri's words. He almost didn't want to meet her, but there was no where to run. "Well, Sammy looks like you got your wish. We're staying for the night, then heading to Josh's."

"What's going on?" Sam licked his fingers, then wiped them on a napkin.

Dean pulled out a beer from the well-stocked refrigerator. He was going to fix himself a sandwich, too, possibly coerce Sam into making one for him. "I don't know, but I hope Josh has enough room for us."



They left early the next morning; Sam had an unusual spring in his step. Dean may have put up a fight about staying overnight, but Sam was right: a night at home was therapeutic. The world almost seemed like a better place or a past one when they were younger and spent time at the farm with Pastor Jim.

From Kentucky, North Carolina was an easier drive than usual at only eight hours. Dean enjoyed his music, the road, and the Impala while his brother played solitaire on his phone. Sam hadn't asked to drive in awhile. Dean wondered if it was a sign of respect or space. Dean wanted it to be from respect. He was going to show his brother he was a worthy leader.

Sam had been jittery since Famine fed into his demon drinking impulse, even more so after their trip to Heaven. He wanted to keep busy or talk, get Dean to talk, too. They had already rehashed Missouri's phone call, listened to the news, commented on that, and stopped for lunch halfway to their destination. "So Joshua and Caleb wouldn't say anything about the meeting they went to?"

Dean relaxed one hand on the steering wheel, the other resting against the window. These were moments he should savor. "No, Caleb said he would fill us in when we got there."

"I think its good that Joshua picked Caleb as his best man and that they're spending time together." Sam was playing with the phone in his hand.

"I'd pick The Guardian if I were him." Dean used The Guardian title as he realized its gravitas. It filled him with pride that he had been honored. He valued his position now more than ever.

Sam gave Dean a sidelong glance. "You know it was a close race for best man—according to Caroline, between Caleb, Mac, and Adam." Sam answered. "You weren't mentioned."

"Mac and Adam?" Dean frowned. His brother was enjoying Dean's pang of jealousy of Caleb and Joshua's connection due to the marriage of their parents. Caleb and Dean had been thick as thieves, and it had taken Sam awhile to feel like he was no longer an outsider.

"Caroline said that since her sister is maid of honor, matching her with Mac would have been awkward, and Adam was too tall." Sam tried to cover his grin; honest amusement didn't come forth too often these days. "Maybe I'd pick my new stepbrother—to cement the relationship."

"Shut up. Get some sleep." Dean pushed Sam's face playfully. There was nothing like storing up on sleep in the Impala. There were the aches and pains that never went away because of the lack of rest, and Dean wanted the time to think. Sam took the escape.

Two hours later, Dean woke Sam by shaking his arm as he pulled into Joshua's subdivision. "We're here. Caleb's waiting for us."

Sam stretched, then looked at his watch. "Damn, I didn't mean to sleep that long."

Dean shrugged. "Dude, you really do need your beauty rest."

Sam rolled his eyes. They pulled into Joshua's driveway. "Maybe we should stay at a motel."

"I don't expect to be here long, and Josh can't send two thirds of The Triad to a shitty motel." Dean got out of the car to get the bags and Sam went to greet Caleb, who was jogging out to the drive.

Caleb eyed them after Dean bumped shoulders with his best friend and handed off one of the bags to his brother.

"How are you two doing?"

Dean did not appreciate the constant checking of their brotherly status. He understood the position Caleb was put in by the most recent thing between him and Sam, but the last thing he needed was Damien hovering. Dean resisted commenting, but Sam was at the ready with a reply.

"Good, we're doing okay."

Caleb sighed, but accepted the answer, scraping his boot against the asphalt drive. Dean recognized the guilt ridden look on his best friend's face, but was glad when Caleb withheld what he was feeling. He was done probing for now, unable to recreate their lives to make things all better between them. Dean was not going to change—for him it was always about family. He was tired of trying to force his brother to feel the same way. Sam would have to be the one to have a come to Jesus moment.

"How's the hunt for Roy and Walt going?" Dean asked, knowing the perfect change in subject. Nothing cheered Damien up like a score to settle.

"They're running scared. I've marked them as enemy number one and two. No one's going to help them."

Caleb wanted to track down to kill the non-Brotherhood hunters as much as Dean did. They had agreed to make finding the bastards a second priority for now. Dean was still unsure of how he would handle them when he did get his hands on them. Being The Guardian demanded a certain protocol when dealing with non-ring bearing hunters, but Roy and Walt had made themselves the enemy. Justice would be swift and merciless.

"They'll not have a moment's peace, nor will they find a safe place," Caleb said. "Silas has all our hunters on notice."

Dean smiled at the image.

He hadn't been to the townhouse since Joshua's engagement party. Dean assumed with Carolyn living there part-time the place would have been changed- more pinks, purples and feminine stuff. Yet, it still seemed the same modern, casual place as it was before.

"You guys are up in the guestroom." Caleb gestured to the upstairs.

"If we take the guestroom, then where will Missouri stay?" Sam asked, hesitant to go upstairs.

Dean had no such qualms as he climbed the carpeted stairs. "There's the Holiday Inn. She is the former Advisor."

"There's a pull out couch in the den for her. I have the inflatable bed in the living room." Caleb gave Sam a push. "You're such a suck up to her, Runt."

Dean came back down the stairs and grabbed his brother's duffle. He had already set his bag on one of the twin beds. The Knight was on the first floor where nothing would get by him. Caleb had been extra vigilant having witnessed his and Sam's deaths in a vision, surviving their subsequent trip to Heaven. Dean didn't want to think how the situation might have turned out if Castiel hadn't had the foresight to let The Knight know what was going on.

"I've seen the way she's hit the both of you with a wooden spoon," Sam replied, rubbing the back of his head in mock sympathy. "I plan to stay on her good side with Joshua."

"I can't figure out what's so important. I haven't gotten any premonitions, and we're in the middle of something," Caleb stated, going to the kitchen.

"What exactly are we in the middle of, Damien? Joshua told me he was calling you in because it was cult related. Since we're here maybe we can help." Dean wanted to keep busy, make a difference when he could to save as many people as possible.

Caleb shook his head. "Joshua called me in to run interference with Drew."

"Drew?" Sam asked, leaning against the banister in the entry.

"Malachi told Drew about some guy who was having meetings to bring people happiness on Earth." Caleb wiped a hand down his mouth. "Drew decided he would be the happiest with Joshua."

"Malachi?" Sam's attention had gone immediately to the witch. "Dean, he's a demon, and now he's got Drew involved in something—"

Dean shook his head, tired of the tone Sam used. "We've talked about this." They had the discussion repeatedly; it became a point of contention between them, as if there weren't enough already. Dean was not about to go back on his decision. "Joshua keeps me informed. They're working on the Triad stuff. It's what we wanted, more choices, remember?" At the first threat, Joshua had orders to remove Malachi. Caleb had the same order.

"But its not working, Dean. We were killed by other hunters. What if they knew we were working with Malachi?" Sam stuffed his hands in his jean pockets, catching that he was reprimanding Dean.

Dean ignored his brother, was not going to placate to his feelings. He put up a hand to bring some finality. They had to take some risk; Malachi was a calculated one with failsafe. "What about Carolyn? Drew didn't get a memo about the impending nuptials?"

Caleb raised his brows. He was encamped with Sam on this matter, but would be tender footed around Dean. "According to Drew, she's all wrong for Josh, something about not being able to accessorize."

"That makes sense." Dean had no idea what Drew was talking about. He found Joshua's assistant amusing, but this wasn't like him at all. "Is it a cult, like Joshua thought?"

"No, in a cult there is unquestioning commitment to the leader, punishment if you don't do what the leader wants, making money, mind-altering practices, and telling people how to think and act," Caleb explained and led the way to the kitchen, winding his way around his inflatable bed. "This guy Nicholas doesn't ask for money or to be worshipped. He's just delivering a message."

"What's the message?" Sam asked.

"Nicholas, the leader, he's all about getting what you want right now and not worrying about the repercussions. Need money? Rob a bank. Want your friend's husband? Take him." Caleb scratched the back of his neck before opening the door of the refrigerator and pulling out a couple of beers. "And he shares your opinion of angels, too."

"Carpe diem." Dean accepted the locally brewed beer, taking a seat at the kitchen table.

"People are listening to him, aren't they?" Sam commented.

Caleb hadn't opened his beer yet, picking at the label. "I was listening to him. He made sense to a whole group of people."

Dean leaned towards The Knight. He placed his open beer on the table with a thud. "What do you mean; you were listening to him, Damien?" The one constant had been Caleb's faith. Dean couldn't afford to lose more ground. He needed some reference point to the person he was, the man he still wanted to be.

Caleb did not like the scrutiny, but he did not shy away from it. "There is an apocalypse. You have said repeatedly that the angels are dicks, and after what they pulled with you and Sam this last time, what that angel Joshua told you, I don't know what to believe. Maybe it is all about the here and now for regular people. Maybe we shouldn't take that away from them? Josh can live with Drew chasing him around the office."

"Because we've got other, more important things to deal with?" Dean would like nothing more than not to deal with one more bad guy. There were only so many hunters, and they had to take out the demons causing the most problems. "What happens if we walk away?"

Caleb stood behind Sam's chair. "His listeners go on and get what they want, and if they're caught, then they deal with the legal system."

Sam shook his head, looked up to Caleb, then to his brother. "They'd go to Hell. They do enough of the bad without asking for forgiveness, then they'd go to Hell."

Caleb backed away from Sam's chair and came around to the other side to take a seat with his beer in tow.

Dean rolled his beer in between his hands, feeling the condensation wetting his hands. "Remember how Jim used to give the sermons about the afterlife, about eternity? I've been thinking about them a lot." He thought about them more with each visit from Jim, and now since his last trip to Heaven. Dean jutted his chin at Sam. "Right after church you'd want to do as many good deeds as possible; by the time Tuesday came around you were back to normal." It used to annoy Dean that his brother would take the sermon so literally. And if Sam was that susceptible to the words, people who didn't know what they did were even worse off. "I can't let people go to Hell." He wasn't so sure about Heaven either, but that was preferable over The Pit.

Dean did not have to say anything more. Sam and Caleb were silent, but Caleb was always uncomfortable with the quietness. "I haven't been to a service since Pastor Jim died."

"You thinking about making church a requirement for Brotherhood members?" Sam replied. He had finished off his beer and was toying with the lip. Sam still had some faith. Dean thought it lay with The Brotherhood.

"I think one requirement should be having a stocked refrigerator." Dean brushed a hand through his hair. He stopped believing his prayers would be answered a long time ago. He didn't know if without Pastor Jim at the pulpit he would find any message. He was kindred to Castiel, cut off. "Does Joshua have anything to eat?"

Caleb got up, opened the refrigerator and started to pull out food, passing it to Sam. "Meatloaf," Sam said when he opened it. "What did you find out about this Nicholas guy?"

Dean got up to get a knife to cut through the meatloaf.

"I know he's a demon, but I can't sense his angle. It's weird, like he psychically flicks on and off." Caleb was cradling ketchup and pickles.

"So can you get a read on the guy that's being possessed?" Sam paused in his food ministrations.

Caleb shook his head. "Nothing, which is probably not a good thing for the poor bastard. That usually means the host is already a goner."

"You said on the phone that Josh got a lead?" Dean passed his brother a plate after going through a few of the cabinets. Sam gave him a roll, which he cut open with the knife before passing it to Caleb.

"We got his plate number, and Josh was able to run it. His name is Nicholas Calios, an insurance agent locally. No previous priors or speaking in public. He hasn't been to work in a few weeks, single, is a Pisces who likes hiking. Standard demon possession." Caleb pulled a piece of paper from his pocket. "We have an address to visit, or I can go and you two rest up." He placed the paper on the table, then cut a piece of meatloaf for his sandwich.

"No hunting alone in these times." Dean licked his fingers. "Besides I didn't come here to sit on my ass waiting for Missouri."

Sam nodded in agreement. He had already taken two bites of his sandwich with another couple to go to finish.

Pru, Joshua's cat, winded its way through the room, going to Caleb's side to stroll by The Knight's feet with a loud purr.

"What did Drew do at the meeting?" Sam said after wiping his mouth with a napkin.

"Drew was all over Josh. I had to step in." Caleb took a swig of his beer.

"To defend his honor? That was very gentlemanly of you, Damien," Dean replied, rolling the edge of the bottle, watching as it made a circle on the wood table.

"Where's Drew now?" Sam asked, taken aback when the cat jumped into Caleb's lap.

Caleb attempted to ignore the cat. "Taking a forced vacation until this is over."

"And Josh?" Dean tried to control his laughter, but couldn't and instead took out his phone and took a picture of Pru sitting on Caleb's lap.

"What? The cat likes me; she's better than a lot of the women I've seen you with." Caleb scratched the cat's head. "Josh's at work, something about needing a paycheck to pay the bills." Caleb released the cat; Pru thumped to the ground and skittered off. "Are you two ready to go?"

Dean stood up, holding the last bit of the impromptu sandwich. Sam dusted off his hands.

Caleb brought up the rear, waiting until Sam took the middle position, while Dean was in the lead, winding through the furniture that had been moved to make room for the inflatable bed. They waited for Caleb by the car as he closed the door behind them, checking to make sure it locked.

Dean turned around to open the car door, warmed by the still shining sun. "Are we going to take advantage of this unexpected trip and throw a surprise bachelor party?"

"I promised Carolyn nothing wild." Caleb opened the back door when he got to the car.

Sam rounded the passenger seat. "Me, too. Carolyn had called me with some information and said she did not want the wildness we have been reported to have attracted in the past."

"Wusses," Dean said as he got comfortable in the front seat. Carolyn had not told him anything. "I didn't make any promises. And what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas."

"That before or after we smite Lucifer?"

"Sammy, let's be positive. After we smite the devil," Caleb answered.

Sam used his phone to lead them to the address Josh had discovered. They discussed Missouri, but it was a lost cause until she could tell them in person. Dean tried to take in a bit of the scenery, making comparisons to places he had been to. The greens and highways were similar to a younger place, recently found and built up. Dean liked the places lost or yet to be discovered.

"Has Joshua talked to Malachi about Nicholas and how he knows him?" Sam asked, shifting in the front seat to talk to Caleb. The leather squeaked in response. Sam could not let the Malachi angle drop.

"He left him a message but hasn't heard back yet. Josh says that's normal—they usually only see each other when they are planning a meet," Caleb explained. "I don't like to think about what Malachi is up to in his spare time. I'm sure he's not redecorating the Wilmington Ranch."

Once off the highway the place blended in to the suburban sprawl of cookie cutter houses. Caleb confirmed that the suspect was inside the home. The red front door was very visible from the street, but there were few people outside.

"Anything else we should know before busting in?" Dean asked as he put the car in park, across the street from the brick home.

"He talked about being angels on Earth, not in a good way."

Dean snorted. He would not want to be like the angels he knew, Castiel, feeling so lost or Zachariah trying to get his own way. "We know from experience that angels in Heaven are overrated."

"What does this demon gain?" Sam asked as they got out of the car.

"That's the question," Caleb replied. "You almost wish for the normal murder and pillaging."

Dean scanned the area. It was nice, well-kept, but not upscale. Dean had seen upscale with glimpses of Mac's and Caleb's real life where money was no object. "I think the Winchester brothers can handle this, no problem. We'll take the front door."

"So now it's you guys versus me and Josh? I'll tell Josh after I cover the backdoor. ".

The home was a duplex, meant to look like a quaint New England town with a brick front and green faded copper overhang on each door. There was no difference between each side of the home—no markings or anything out of the ordinary.

Dean was working on opening the door while Sam covered him from neighbors. With a click Dean opened the door. Standing in the foyer like a mannequin, arms crossed was a man of medium height, medium build, with black hair worn longer to his chin with a neatly trimmed goatee. He was average.

His face became animated. "Come in!" He blinked out of site and then Dean sensed something behind them. It was the same man.

Dean felt himself being pushed inside the house, Sam's eyes widened with the loss of control. Dean struggled for some traction, but could find none. The door slammed behind them. The demon who had been behind them, materialized in front of them. .

Dean ground his teeth, didn't allow his eyes to track anything but the man in front of him. The blinking in and out explained what Caleb had felt. Dean could sense Caleb had entered, coming through the back of the house, behind Nicholas with the Dragon's Talon drawn.

"This is quite the planned attack." Nicholas looked at Caleb. "I know you."

Dean felt the release of power, only to be caught up in it again. All three of them were moved off their feet, through the opening in the foyer that led to a larger living area. They were pinned against the wall, to Dean's left he could make out a painting and fireplace.

"An honor to meet Dean and Sam Winchester." Nicholas nodded at the Winchester brothers. Dean's stomach flipped at the recognition. "I did not get to make your acquaintance during your stay in Hell since I was busy with other matters."

"How do you know us?" Dean struggled against the unseen forces.

Nicholas shifted, his body disappearing, once again reappearing in a red upholstered chair set up in a corner with a small table. "The most wanted in Hell? I designed the posters myself."

"Who are you?" Caleb asked..

The demon rested his hands on the arms of the chair, crossing his legs. "With my job, everyone should know me, yet I am always making introductions. I go by Nicholas at the moment. It's close enough, and Nicholas is a natural salesman." He patted the possessed body. "Really is a good fit." Nicholas grinned as he studied them from his seat. "But you were at my meeting last night with Drew and his cher amie." He thinned his lips, gazing at Caleb. "Did you tell them about Drew? If I recall he would not take no for an answer with that blond guy. So he said he would go for his second choice."

"He referred to you as his second choice?" Dean glanced at Caleb.

"That's important how?" Caleb growled.

The demon blinked to stand next to Caleb. Dean felt himself being lowered to the floor, but still pinned to the wall. Nicholas moved his hand to squeeze Caleb's bicep. "He copped a feel, too." He patted Caleb's face. "You're The Knight of The Brotherhood." The demon laughed. "I really missed drawing your eyes right. Sorry."

He blinked back to his position by the chair. "Truly an honor. You hear about The Triad, but never think you'll actually meet one, let alone three. Between you and me, Malachi Harris does not count."

"You two friends?" Sam asked, and Dean knew the demon was feeding his brother's fire against Harris.

Nicholas moved his hand back and forth in a half and half motion. "Frenemies of a competitive sort. Everyone wants a position in middle management."

"Who. Are. You," Dean growled. The Colt was tucked into his pants where he was unable to get to it.

"I am Nybras, Grand Publicistof the Pleasures of Hell." He brushed his goatee with his hand.

"Pleasures of Hell?" Dean was incensed, felt a rage bubble forth. "That's what you are convincing people? That there are pleasures in Hell?" Dean twitched his finger in temptation to do some harm.

They were unexpectedly dropped to the ground. Dean got up quick, Colt at the ready. Caleb was in a crouch with the Dragon's Talon. Sam had Ruby's knife.

Nybras blinked behind the chair to rest his hands on the chair. "Stay, and we can have a conversation."

Sam grabbed his brother's forearm; Dean did not know if it was to hold him back or take a crack at the demon himself.

Dean tilted his head. . "You're a con man."

"That holds such a negative connotation. I'm a motivational speaker."

"That's a nice spin," Sam commented.

Nybras leveled his gaze at Dean's brother. Dean flinched with nervousness. "Sam, you must understand. I am surprised you are not familiar with George Bernard Shaw's words that hope is a form of moral responsibility. If there is no hope, and consequently no duty, no work, nothing to be gained by praying, there is nothing to be lost by doing what you like. Hell, in short, is a place where you have nothing to do but amuse yourself. Doesn't that sound good to you? Shaw really had a way with words, a mind like a sponge."

That was not Hell. Dean did not find torture amusing or being turned into the thing he most hated enlightening. He had been broken, had yet to fully recover. ."You're lying to these people. Hell isn't like that."

"Your Hell was not like that thanks to Alistair, but who's to say that another person's won't be different? It's not like you got the full tour—you had commitments, too."

Caleb had moved up closer to Nybras. The demon blinked out of Caleb's reach to the other side of the chair.

"What the fuck with the flitting?" Caleb gritted and returned to his original position flanking Sam.

"Think about it Damien, when you're conning people, you have to be able to book it out of town fast." Dean thought about all the times they had to leave the small towns because people would automatically blame the distrusted strangers.

"So these people do whatever it takes to get what they want and end up in Hell," Sam stated, standing his ground.

"Better results than a harmless vision board and positive energy. Just getting everything ready for my CEO."

"You want more people for Lucifer," Sam said. Dean could see his brother's agitation.

"You know, as a publicist I couldn't have made up a better name for him."

Dean had a whole lot of choice words that were much better. His stomach was churning with anger. People should not know what Hell was like, ever, and should not be sold a bill of goods about getting a direct line there. "Well, you tell your boss that it's over. No more." He pointed the gun at Nybras.

The demon put out his hand reminiscent of Sam's exorcisms. "I'm only middle management, just doing my job. Nothing in comparison to the Four Horsemen—thanks for that, by the way. Makes my job harder since I like to work under the radar." He blinked back to the chair.

"Sonofabitch." The demon needed to stay put if they were to kill him.

"There are worse things out there than me." Nicholas was relaxed in the chair. "You should come to the meeting. My work is important, but if you're thinking about having a little Devil's Trap waiting for me? No matter. Won't help because they believe me."

"We can send you back to hell if you stay put," Caleb explained, looking ready to throw the knife.

"If you get rid of me now, the livestock will still go on after what they really want, and I still win." He pushed a large painted vase from the end table near the chair, it broke into pieces.

"Duck!" Sam yelled out as Nybras sent the jagged pieces flying in an attack.

The sharp pieces came at them, as they got to the carpeted floor to avoid as many of the sharp particles as possible. One cut across Dean's cheek, which he tried to bat away but instead cut his hand. Sam and Caleb looked to be fairing the same in the close quarters it was hard to avoid being marked up.

A multitude of jagged shards had imbedded themselves in the wall behind them. They looked up to see that Nybras had vanished yet again. Sam gave Dean a hand up, and Dean was careful to use the uncut hand.

"What the fuck?" Caleb was holding a hand over his left eye. "Hell has a publicist? It was like the anti-Josh."

"And he's right." Sam dusted the carpet particles off his jeans. "We can't go in there guns blazing. People need to see that he is wrong or else he wins. Hell wins."

"Like Damien said, we have our own publicist. That should count for something." Dean hoped Joshua's skills would come in handy and what applied in the real world would apply to the supernatural one. "Maybe Drew can help if Josh asked him, if both of you asked him, he'd definitely come a running."

Dean moved towards Caleb, pulling his friend's hand away to see how bad he was hurt. Caleb had a gash at the corner of his eye but it didn't look too deep. Dean let him go with a smirk. "Wonder if gay guys dig scars like chick do? If so, you're in luck."

Caleb looked around; satisfied they were leaving nothing behind. "Just to remind you- that was a demon, and we're hunters. You're comedy routine is not part of the job."

"I know second choice must hurt that sensitive ego of yours. That's why you're acting out," Dean elbowed his brother as they headed to the door that they had been dragged through. Dean saw the Impala. To think the day had started with so much potential of momentary peace, only to crumble as did everything lately. He dreaded Missouri's bad news.


"Missouri," Joshua called out. He did not want to startle the woman. He had left the key hidden and told her where she could find it when she arrived.

"In the kitchen, Baby."

"I stopped at Whole Foods and picked up some groceries. I hope you're not. . ." He almost dropped the bags in shock, but he caught himself and tightened his grip on the recycled bags. He turned his back on the stranger sitting at one of the stools at the kitchen island. He placed the two bags on the counter and turned back around. "I don't believe we've met."

Missouri moved to stand behind the stranger, placing a hand on his shoulder. "This is my father, Benjamin Mosley."

Benjamin stood up and put out his hand. "You're Joshua Sawyer, The Advisor. Missouri told me all about you." Benjamin Mosley was not as tall as Joshua thought he would be, the legend being smaller. He had a substantial amount of gray in his hair with a thicker figure.

"She told us you were dead." Joshua sent Missouri a sideways glance. "Repeatedly."

Missouri patted her father's shoulder when he sat back down. "You've only got a few moments to be impolite, Joshua. Your mother taught you manners." She sashayed back to the stove as if she had not just dropped an incredible bombshell. Joshua did not appreciate being surprised.

"My mother also stressed being truthful." Joshua had a half bottle of pinot grigio in the refrigerator. It was Carolyn's wine, but he pulled out the bottle and reached for a glass. "I'm taking this to the other room." He stepped out of the kitchen, standing in the living room, willing Caleb, Sam, and Dean to walk through the door because he usually did not become overwhelming angry enough to lose his senses, but this was coming close. Perhaps Caleb was rubbing off on him.

He sat down on the couch, his mind reeling at the visitor in his kitchen. Joshua's thoughts traveled back to his and Caleb's visit with Victor, the former Scholar. Had the man known Benjamin was alive? If so, he covered well. His feelings towards Mosley were hard to read. Victor told them Julian wanted to bring Joshua's grandfather, Maxim back from the dead. Benjamin refused to play a part, and he was the one with knowledge of Triad magic. Julian was furious. Victor made it seem like there were other motives on Benjamin's part than merely the dead is dead, namely the Advisor's unrequited love for Jocelyn Madrigal, The Knight's wife. It had been an unexpected revelation, one that shook Joshua more than he dared let on. Caleb seemed to find the information curious, a possible route to help them find Mosley. He wanted to talk to Jocelyn, but agreed Joshua would be the better option for the discussion.

In the following days, Joshua wanted to ask his grandmother but felt awkward until the opportunity arose at his mother's wedding to Mackland. His grandmother's concern was his and Carolyn's wedding plans, but he finally brokered the courage. "Can we talk about Benjamin Mosley?"

"He was my best friend, Joshua; of course, we can talk about him. Let me get comfortable." She wrapped a thick shawl around herself. He gestured to his jacket, since she was used to the Arizona sun, not the early fall of New York, but she shook her head.

"Your best friend?" Benjamin Mosely had not been mentioned in that context in Maxim's journal. Joshua's grandfather considered Benjamin a friend, but Joshua should have realized a connection to Jocelyn considering Mosley was a witch. "Benjamin introduced me to Maxim." His grandmother's voice took on that wistful quality that was ever present when she spoke about the past. "I was young, and he brought in the hunters for a visit. There had been bad blood between hunters and witches going back a long time, but Benjamin had helped the future Triad and built a friendship of sorts. He wanted to bridge the differences, a great plan to bring strength to both sides. We were so young then."

Joshua's mother had told him his grandparents had married young; his mother had married young, probably believing she would have just as happy a marriage. He was not as young, but waiting, for him, had been a prudent decision, especially being the child of divorce.

"I fell in love, though Maxim fell in love with me first," his grandmother was quick to add, which made him smile. "We used to have secret rendezvous. It was very exciting. Benjamin did not approve because I was destined for a big role in the coven."

"A big role in the coven?" Joshua had replied. His grandmother was talented; he never guessed she would have been one of the leaders. Now excommunication made sense since she had been groomed with many secrets she would not have known about otherwise.

When he was visiting the coven, he learned where his skills were lacking though he had been a student for a long time. "So you didn't pass on everything you know."

"No, I couldn't. I knew what I was doing and what would happen. It didn't matter." She had reached out and patted his hand. "I wanted to be with your grandfather, so I left, and I was told never to come back. I disappointed my family, and if I didn't love Maxim so much, I wouldn't have been able to bear it."

His mother had never mentioned her grandparents, and his grandmother never spoke of her parents. There were some extended cousins in the coven, but it was difficult to make up for lost time. "So how did Benjamin join The Triad?"

"They needed an Advisor, and he really was a good fit—older, wiser, and magical." She had winked at him. "Sounds just like you."

He was still coming into his role and its boundaries. "So he gave up everything, too?" Missouri had never told him about the connection between their families.

"Yes, he did, but he was more like Adam. He was not a legacy like you or your mother from a long line of crafters."

Joshua had swallowed at the term legacy. "Victor said Benjamin Mosley disappeared after Grandfather died."

Jocelyn had tilted her head towards the moon, communing. "I know. He was my best friend, and when I needed him the most, he left. I didn't understand at first."

There was not much mentioned in Victor's or Julian's journal concerning Maxim's death. They wrote how they were heartbroken he was not still with them. There was no mention of attacking the distracted driver, and it was not until later that it was noted Benjamin Mosley was no longer with them. "Didn't understand what?"

She had smiled. "He was in love with me, of course."

"In love with you? But Grandfather . . ." His grandmother spoke so much of her husband that it was impossible there was another person who wanted her affection.

"Was the love of my life. Think about it, Joshua. The beloved husband of the woman you are in love with has died . . . it has all the makings of a Danielle Steele novel."

His grandmother had gotten Carolyn hooked on Danielle Steele's prolific work. It was impossible to live up to a romance novel; Carolyn would slip Joshua passages she found were romantic. Worse was when she would tell Joshua a story and he thought they were real people. These were real people, and he was angry at Ben for having an affair of the heart with my grandmother. "Do you think he is dead, or did he just leave?"

His grandmother shook her head. "If he left, I hope there was a better reason than being in love with me. He left his family behind."

Knowing he had to return to his guests, Joshua put the thoughts aside with a deep breath in the serenity of his living room and his glass of wine. He stood up to return to his kitchen. He was still angry, but it was controllable. Missouri had known, had thwarted their search for her father; this cast her in a bad light. Before they even knew he was back, he demanded, "Were you in love with my grandmother?"

Benjamin looked him straight in the eye. "Yes."

"Stay away from her. She's not interested." It was a small, insignificant statement, but one of protection.

"That wasn't why I would not bring your grandfather back." He moved his finger around the rim of the glass. "That's what Julian and Victor chose to believe because they could not see they were being influenced by my research. Julian was grieving his best friend; he was not in his right mind. I knew if I stayed he would find a way to force my hand. He was persistent and powerful in his own right. You've witnessed what your Guardian has been willing to do to save a brother."

"You were working on the secrets of Triad Power," Joshua replied, a quick glance to Missouri showed the woman was not surprised.

Benjamin licked his lips. "I was conceited with my ability, determined to prove myself a great witch. I thought the keys to the power were waiting for someone as talented as me to find it." He turned his head to look at his daughter. "But it wasn't that at all."

"What was it?" Joshua asked, knowing the answer.

"You've been using it. It gives you a heady feeling. If I brought Maxim back, then there would have been no end—what would have been next, cure Julian of cancer? That is not what the power should be used for. It's unnatural to mess with God's plan. Life is not a snap shot. We can't begin to see the full picture, or the long-reaching consequences of our reckless decisions, especially when we are blinded by loss."

Joshua flinched at the mention of his grandfather, the loss of not knowing the man. The what ifs and what could have beens permeated his mind. "So in your opinion, no one should have access to it? It was there to help The Brotherhood, help The Triad, stop the apocalypse."

"Is that you or Malachi Harris speaking?"

Joshua did not answer. Malachi Harris talked about Triad Power as if it were another of Merlin's gifts, a natural part of their roles as protectors of innocents.

There was uncomfortable silence punctuated by Missouri's loud stirring of the pot. She rapped the wooden spoon against the metal pot. "What if the coven or the other hunters found out? What were you boys thinking?"

The threats were stoking the anger once more. Joshua realized Missouri had come to admonish them. He could hear the boys had entered through the front door and moved to meet them by the entrance to the kitchen. Caleb was in the lead. Joshua tried to block the door, knowing if he had lost his temper; Dean or Caleb might lose complete control.

"Gentlemen, maybe we should speak outside for a moment." Joshua noticed the cuts and scrapes. "Perhaps we could talk about your interview of the suspect." Caleb had texted him about the plans for the visit.

"He's Hell's publicist. Not much to discuss." Dean frowned. "We're going to need your PR skills and we need to clean up."

"Who's here?" Caleb demanded. "I sensed another presence outside. Somebody who was using a lot of energy to make sure I didn't sense them."

Joshua looked past Caleb to Sam for assistance, but didn't make the connection in time.

"Let them in, Joshua. There will be no more secrets," Missouri said.

Joshua stepped back, casting Ben a sideways glance. The man was arrogant. He almost hoped Caleb's infamous temper got the best of him.

"Who the hell are you?" Dean took the lead, looking from Missouri to her father.

Joshua sensed the exact moment Caleb put it together. Ben had probably dropped his defenses, allowing The Knight a glimpse of his thoughts. Caleb tried to barrel past Dean, but The Guardian had also made his own assumptions, snagging Caleb's arm to keep him from attacking. "Easy, Damien."

"It's Ben Mosley!" Caleb pointed at Mosley. "Fucking sonuvabitch."

"Yeah. I got that." Dean let him go, glancing to Missouri. "There's definitely a family resemblance."

"He's alive?" Sam stepped forward, his gaze going from Benjamin to Missouri as if he weren't quite believing what he was seeing and hearing. "Missouri?"

"I'm expecting you'll mind your manners, boys." Missouri stood closer to her father.

"Mind our manners?" Caleb growled. "You lied to us!"

"Dean." Missouri looked to The Guardian as if he should handle the issue. Joshua's irritation flared at the woman's audacity.

"He has every right to be mad. We all do." Dean released Caleb, patted him on the back.

"You have a right to be mad? What do you boys think you're doing?" Missouri's hands were on her hips, spoon at the ready. "Triad Powers? Malachi Harris? Did you not learn your lesson the first time around?"

"So that's why you called your dad?" Dean bristled, his fists clenched at his side, but Joshua gave him credit for maintaining a cool air of control He turned his gaze to the elder Mosley, dismissing Missouri. "And you came to what? Show us the error of our ways?"

"Yes, to talk some sense into you," Missouri retorted. "Cavorting with demons? Why? You need their help that badly. Life's tough. It's supposed to have its struggles. That does not mean you tie yourself to evil."

The room was divided with the Triad and Advisor on one side, Missouri and her father on the other. No one was taking the easier path.

"You knew we were looking for him months!" Caleb stepped forward and Joshua tried not to think about blood on his tile floor. With all of them in the kitchen there was no empty space, the energy level taking on a life of its own, making it seem even closer quarters.

Missouri shook her head. "Don't you take that attitude with me. Jim—"

Dean interrupted. "Would be disappointed you did not respect The Triad. No matter what your beliefs."

Benjamin stood up, rallied to his daughter's side. "You talk about respect? What you're allowing disgraces our tradition."

"That's The Guardian you're talking to." Joshua felt his muscles bunch, tensing for the fight he could feel brewing as Caleb shoved his finger in Benjamin Mosley's face. "I don't know what kind of training you had, but I was raised to respect The Triad. Think the wrong thing about The Guardian in my presence and I'll make sure the exaggeration of your demise won't be an issue."

"Caleb," Sam started. "Maybe we should just take a moment…"

Benjamin Mosley's face reddened. "You talk to me about duty? Loyalty? I served a Triad before you three drew breaths."

"You were having a one-sided emotional affair with your Knight's woman." Caleb snorted. "You disgraced a lot more than The Brotherhood."

"Caleb," Joshua hissed. He did not want that publicized about his grandmother.

Sam put his hands up, trying to intervene. "Everyone calm down. Let's just start over. I'm Sam Winchester, the new Scholar. That's Caleb Reaves, The Knight, and my brother, Dean, The Guardian."

"Why don't we move this to living room where we can talk?" Joshua suggested, offering Sam his support. "We're not going to fit at the kitchen table."

Dean had other plans. "Let's get one thing straight, Mosley—Malachi Harris helped us. You weren't here. Without him, my Triad would be down two-thirds. In my book that says less about him and more about you." Dean pointed to Sam and Caleb. The vampires would have won or damaged The Brotherhood had Malachi not helped them. "So to save them, I would, what did you say Missouri? 'Cavort with evil.'"

Caleb had been seeking Benjamin Mosley; Joshua had provided assistance, too. They tried to go down the good path, but there was a roadblock. One that Missouri and Benjamin Mosley had provided.

"You redeemed him, forgave him." Benjamin shook his head, then used Dean's words against them, "Two-thirds of his Triad lost their lives because of him." He looked at his daughter before turning back to look at the men. "You need to get rid of him. He'll lead to nowhere good."

"Who are you to tell us what to do? Your Triad has come and gone. Dean is The Guardian. You are not in a position to order us at all."

"We needed to know more about Triad Power, and he seemed like a source," Sam said, one would never guess that he had not supported the idea at all.

"The source of evil," Benjamin quipped. "And you're his pupil. Surely, you see it."

Joshua was not going to admit to anything. "I am seeing value to what he is teaching me." Joshua did not know if he was defending himself or Malachi Harris. He was not going to admit that their partnership had not produced positive results.

"Fine, I understand that in your time there is a lot going on, more than any other Triad ever had to deal with," Benjamin replied.

"Ya think?" Dead added with a snort.

"Dean," Missouri reprimanded.

"You're judging us?" Caleb shook his head. "What the fuck? John and Pastor Jim are dead. Dean went to Hell! He's being hunted by angels and demons. Sam is slated to be Lucifer's meat suit. He's being hunted by hunters. A thank you for keeping the world together up until now is not too much to ask for."

Joshua caught Missouri's eye. They all respected her, endured her matronly dramas. This one time mistake would leave a smudge. She had lied to them, whether it was one of omission or direct. "Perhaps a teaspoon of your own medicine is called for, Missouri. You're the one always telling us a little honey goes a long way, more than vinegar."

Missouri brought a finger to her lips. "I'm sorry. I know you boys were in need, but it wasn't my decision to make. I shouldn't have been put in this position at all."

"I understand the lengths a person will go to for the family, but you made your own decision when it came to dealing with us." Dean gave her a curt nod.

Joshua wondered how long it would be before Missouri would feel comfortable threatening Dean and Caleb again with a wooden spoon.

"I understand Harris's enticement. He's a powerful demon and witch." Benjamin placed his hands flat on the kitchen island. "I also know the lengths a Triad can be pushed to save one of their own. But I have something to offer you." He moved to the kitchen table where there was a brown paper bag, rolled down.

"What's that?" Dean nudged his chin.

"The Advisor Journals. I have them all," Benjamin opened the bag and pulled out one of the journals.

Joshua tried to figure out which one was on the table. There was much knowledge in that paper bag.

"Those belong to Dean," Sam said, losing his ability to stay civil.

Joshua shook his head. "Actually, the present Advisor is in charge of maintaining them, until he passes them on to his successor. It seems you were amiss in doing so with your daughter."

Benjamin ignored the implications. "I'll let you use them and step into supervise Joshua's training on one condition."

"Really?" Caleb replied. "You're holding our property hostage? Blackmailing The Triad? This is rich."

"We don't need your help." Dean moved in front of Caleb, towering over Benjamin. He pointed to the silver ring on Benjamin's right hand. "And if we did, then it should be unconditional if that band ever meant a damn to you."

Benjamin was not derailed. "You can't continue with Malachi Harris. Surely, you can see that. I'm offering you another path, Dean, an option you claimed you didn't have before. As The Guardian you are obliged to take the higher road if possible."

Joshua hoped his face remained impassive as he felt a twinge of disappointment at the condition that was being set.

"We'll take it on advisement, as a courtesy, but you don't get to ambush us, and make demands. We'll discuss this amongst The Triad and its Advisor." Dean made a circle with his finger and pointed at them. "We're going out for dinner," Dean finished with pulling Caleb towards the door.

Joshua followed Sam, who held the door open for him. "It is my home. I would like to have a private conversation in it."

There had been no goodbye to Missouri or her father. Sam nodded his head in acknowledgement of Joshua's statement and ushered him forward towards the Impala.

"Privacy is overrated," Caleb quipped, tapping a finger to his head. He was shoulder to shoulder with Dean. Joshua knew him well enough to know the seeming calm was a good predictor of the storm to come.

Dean took the front seat while Caleb slipped in the back. "Missouri can't read my mind, but the rest of you—I'd rather not chance it." The Impala started with a bubbling roar. "Plus, I don't think it's safe to have dinner with Missouri and her father right now."

Joshua slid into the backseat with Caleb. It was a strange day when Dean ran away from a home cooked meal. "Head towards my office. We can order some Chinese food and use the conference room."

Caleb was fuming, his eyes grown wide with anger. He gripped the headrest in front of him. "Fuck Missouri. Fuck Ben Mosley."

Dean lifted his eyes to the rearview mirror. "Dude, I can't excommunicate her. I don't like it anymore than you do, but she did what she thought she had to do. It's her dad."

"She kept her secret while we were dealing with the end of the world. What if he could have helped us stop you going to Hell?" Caleb changed his hand so instead of the angry grip, his hand was laying flat against the headrest.

"Don't go there." Dean shifted a glance towards Sam.

"I'm going there." Caleb kept up his hostile diatribe. Joshua was reminded about what Dean had told him about being in Caleb's circle of trust. It was one that was not meant to be broken. It was one he hadn't realized he had gained access to. He did not share the same relationship as Dean and Caleb or even Caleb and Sam. He had never had a brother; he had fellow hunters, and now friends.

"I will tell Carolyn not to seat you next to Missouri at the wedding," Joshua said, feeling it was appropriate to diffuse the situation. The blackness of the car was seeping in.

"Funny, Josh, very funny." Caleb snorted but seemed to relax back.

"I didn't appreciate being scolded either," Joshua commented. He had always been one of Missouri's favorites, like Sam.

"That's what the spoon feels like. Welcome to my world," Dean said as he turned a corner of the familiar roads Joshua took to work.

"Are you going to be okay working with Benjamin?" Sam asked, turning towards the backseat.

Dean reached out and hit his brother's arm. "Josh doesn't have to work with him. We have Malachi, and we didn't agree to anything."

"Benjamin has the journals. I thought Joshua might like to work with someone other than a demon. And there are suspicions that Malachi told Drew about the meetings with the demon publicist."

Joshua was beyond correcting the usage of his name, so the effort Sam made did not win him over. However, he did not want to create friction. "Sam is correct. Malachi is a demon, a talented one, and I do not believe that it is in The Triad's best interest to affiliate with him."

"'bout time," Caleb said under his breath. "How are we going to get rid of him?" Caleb asked. "He's not going to go quietly."

"Diplomatically," Joshua answered, "I do not believe he has done anything wrong."

"He hasn't. Damien, no black ops, and figure out something else to take your aggression out on." They were almost to the building.

"Perhaps we should talk about the matter at hand? What happened with Nicholas?" Joshua asked as Dean pulled into the parking lot. There were an ample amount of free spaces. There were still lights on in the building, but no one would bother them. Any questions could be answered by saying they were the infamous Chevrolet Sucks, and an emergency meeting was needed.

"He's the anti-you. He's Nybras, Hell's PR guru, their Slick." Caleb clapped him on the shoulder.

Joshua bristled at the use of his nickname. "What does that mean? Hell had set positions?" It made sense, especially if literature was taken into account. "I assume Heaven does not need one. Did you talk to Castiel?"

"I called Cas, and he said that he had no clue," Dean replied, waiting for Joshua to slide his card through to open the door. "Though nowadays they should try to sell Heaven more."

"Sam, you may want to contact Alison regarding some research," Joshua stated. "I would rather you not ask Carolyn, if that is possible." She had another job and was busy with Brotherhood research on other matters.

"Demon talk isn't good pillow talk," Caleb commented with a wry grin.

As usual Joshua ignored his step-brother.

Sam cleared his throat. "I'll text Alison and see what she can come up with."

Joshua called in the order at local Chinese food restaurant as they climbed the stairs one level. There would be enough time to clean up the minor wounds suffered by The Triad before the food got there.

"The place isn't the same without Drew." Dean paused at the empty desk with its small vase of colorful paper flowers which Drew had purchased on a trip to Mexico.

"Does anyone else know about his feelings towards you?" Sam looked so sincere. Joshua understood how he easily got away with lying.

"You had to tell them?" Joshua directed his glare at Caleb.

"I only told them enough so they would stop asking questions. Blame the demon publicist for the rest." Caleb took a seat on the couch at the end nearest the door. "Do you really think I wanted them to know? Tell me he's not going to be at the wedding."

Joshua pulled a hand down his face. "He's helping Carolyn with the wedding favors."

Dean and Sam snickered at their discomfort. Joshua retrieved his small basic medical kit. It had limited herbal remedies, but they would work for the nicks and cuts. He was none too gentle with his administrations but satisfied with disinfection, creams, and bandages.

Joshua had already charged the food, and Sam went to meet the delivery person to fetch their meal. Sam had an egg roll half in his mouth.

The food was spread over the coffee table, and they each took a carton, Joshua and Caleb opting for the chopsticks.

"Nicholas is confident that his audience is going to continue their crime spree even with him gone. Your skills should really help," Sam said as he swallowed some fried rice.

"You want me to treat this like it is a counter publicity campaign?" Joshua held a piece of chicken in between the chopsticks.

"See, you know the lingo," Dean replied with a nod to Sam.

"Maybe we can get Steven Segal, Lawman to do a public service announcement for us?" Caleb squinted his eyes, giving his best Segal southern rasp. "That would be so awesome. Deuce and I could get his autograph."

"A public service announcement from a D list actor? How's that going to help?" Joshua put his chopsticks down. "Please, leave it to the professional to create another campaign, or we can hope it blows over."

"That's not working so well for Tiger," Caleb interjected, hugging the noodles close to his mouth.

"My company does not handle his PR," Joshua replied, relaxing back into his office chair that he had moved near the couch. "A counter campaign would have to show them what they are doing is wrong, but with limited guilt, and show Nicholas for what he is—not a demon, but as a poor leader unworthy of their attention."

"Have any ideas?" Sam pressured.

"Ease up there, Einstein," Caleb warned, leaning forward so he could see Sam.

"I think Benjamin can be used, and Missouri," Joshua commented. "Very effectively, in fact."

"If it involves a guilt trip, she'll have it down pat. You sure you want to bring in Benjamin so soon?" Dean asked, raising his brows.

Joshua was not sure at all. There were a lot of hard feelings, but he understood Sam's, Caleb's and Missouri's concerns about working with a demon. He no longer wanted to put Dean in an awkward position, which he had advised on. "I am considering this a test run for Benjamin to see his abilities." It was a test Malachi Harris had already passed.


Joshua and Sam were with Benjamin Mosley in one car while Dean, Caleb and Missouri were in the Impala. Dean, as The Guardian, was able to contain his thoughts from Missouri, and Caleb could put up blocks.

He felt bad for Missouri, but she would try to get through to Caleb and Dean, ask forgiveness. Unfortunately, Missouri was feeling bad for Sam, throwing him pitying glances and rubbing his shoulder in support. It did not make him feel better. It made him feel weak for giving in to temptation. No matter what anyone said to him about Famine being powerful, he felt he had taken ten steps back. More blood on his hands. "So the crowd will be safe?

"Yes," Benjamin replied with a tone of a teacher. "Did I prove myself?"

Sam fingered the medicine bag around his neck. Benjamin said as The Triad they could protect the crowd, however, they would need to be grounded. The medicine bags would provide that.

"It is good for a defensive position," Joshua answered, gripping the steering wheel. "And the ability to test it with myself, Missouri and you was helpful."

It made Sam wonder how Joshua had interacted with Malachi Harris. Benjamin and Joshua had not so much worked together as Joshua confirming what Benjamin was putting together, and re-iterating that a previous spell had failed.

"Everything will need to be tested in the future due to the unique circumstances of this Triad." Benjamin said the word unique as if it was a dirty word. To him it probably was because it meant a demon tainted Triad.

Sam did not want to instigate another fight. Benjamin was difficult to get along with. "Do you have a way to make sure he stays in the room, doesn't blink away?"

"I created a sealant that will block him from leaving, but an exorcism will still be needed, or the knife can be used," Joshua added.

Sam was trying to stay away from killing people, preferring standard exorcisms.

"I never thought that blade would turn up in my lifetime," Benjamin said, rubbing his chin. "I have seen more than I ever wanted."

Sam didn't say that Benjamin Mosley was assumed dead, and they did not believe he was going to turn up either. Sam was trying to be less hostile than Caleb, Dean, and Joshua. It did not take much effort. He also wanted to spare Joshua. Ruby had been a demon, and still he had followed her. Demons were not meant to be trusted. "My brother will tell you we are filled surprises."

"So my daughter told me." Benjamin's rich timber contained a reprimand.

"Was she in contact with you?" Joshua asked. It took years for Joshua to warm up to the Winchesters and Caleb. Vice versa, too; Sam used to see Joshua on the fringes of their family unit, not included in it. Sam had also been jealous of Joshua; he got to have the normal job, a lasting relationship. The pangs still hit him.

Benjamin, though, was not familiar. As the current leadership of The Triad, they had inherent trust in each other, making it difficult to welcome new comers. Joshua was not giving in to Benjamin, even though he would be under his tutelage.

"Yes, not in person, and not at first while my wife was alive," Benjamin replied. Sam wondered if the man was filled with regret. Sam was remoreful about the way he had treated his father and abandoned his family while in college. He knew all about running away.

"Once the old Triad had passed and Jim became the successor, named Missouri as The Advisor, why didn't you make contact?" How Sam wished he had called his father, especially the grimmer things became.

Benjamin settled further back, gaining some distance between them. "I thought I could live quietly with my knowledge. I didn't want to offer temptation to the new Triad."

"What were you doing?" Joshua asked from behind the wheel where he was guiding the car through his familiar streets.

"I was a bookseller."

Sam sighed internally, thinking about the peacefulness, away from his bloodlust. "Did you miss it?"

"I missed the camaraderie, the family, doing something with a purpose." Benjamin ended; he tugged on his seatbelt as Joshua pulled into a parking space.

"And your wife?" Joshua asked. Sam looked at Joshua, who was going to get married, have a wife and a connection. Sam could not see marriage in his future anymore. Like Caleb, he was scared about passing along his demon genes.

Benjamin opened the door. "I missed her, too."

Caleb and Dean had turned the corner ahead of them. They were going to escort Missouri in separately.

"Are you sure he's going to be here? Not run away?" The elder Mosley frowned. He was a part of their plan but didn't understand demons as well as they did. Benjamin was doubtful of them. He had been away from The Brotherhood too long, losing his faith and implicit trust in The Triad. Caleb had opened the door for Benjamin.

"Yes, and he's expecting us, just like we know he'll be here, too," Sam explained, waiting for Benjamin to go in first. He was the one unfamiliar to Nicholas, along with Missouri. Dean and Caleb came around the corner with Missouri between them.

"He's a publicist for Hell. He has quite an ego, and those people in there are not going to reject him, or so he thinks," Joshua added.

"Are you talking from experience?" Caleb asked, his brows lifting. Really, that comment was to be expected. Sam saw Joshua walk into it.

"Don't sit next to me." Joshua made sure there was space between him and his stepbrother.

Sam grinned at his brother. These at ease moments were so fleeting and came at the oddest moments. His brother did not return the grin. Dean had visible weight on his shoulders. It was more than being The Guardian. No one in history had ever dealt with apocalypse; no online psychology test could be applied.

Sam cast a glance to Caleb. When this was over, he would enlist The Knight's assistance, but presently Nicholas had their attention. He had the gall to wave to them when they entered.

"He could have set a trap for us," Caleb mumbled.

"He doesn't want us, and he doesn't want to draw too much attention either," Dean answered. "Seems he doesn't like the Horsemen of the Apocalypse too much. Bad for his business."

"Negative publicity," Joshua commented. "I imagine they make his job more difficult."

After dealing with War and Famine, which forced people to do things against their will, being gently led astray was less violent. But Sam knew from personal experience that being persuaded made one feel equally as violated. However, being shot by hunters for transgressions was the worst. When he had been killed before, it had almost been gentle in comparison to two gunshots. He at least had died in his brother's arms, not with Dean watching his murder.

Sam eyed the front of the room. He and Dean were going to position themselves in the front while Caleb would anchor the triangle in the back. Missouri would maneuver the people into the triangular area for their protection, and Joshua would be stationed by the door.

Nicholas lifted his arms, quieting the group that was talking animatedly like old friends. "I hope things went well for you, and I'm glad to see so many familiar and successful faces."

"Woohoo!" someone yelled out. There was comfortable, social laughter in response.

Nicholas smiled wide. It was contagious as those gathered smiled in return. "You know why I like talking to all of you? Because you listen and make your own decisions. They've been good decisions."

There was a round of applause, flashes of gold and silver jewelry on wrists and hands in the sparse hall of the senior center.

Nicholas clapped his hands, too, at his audience. "I don't believe in an afterlife, so I don't have to spend my whole life fearing Hell, or fearing Heaven even more. For whatever the tortures of Hell, I think the boredom of Heaven would be even worse."

The audience laughed, except the six of them. Sam glanced at his brother, whose face was deceptively calm. The give away was the tapping of his right foot in an unsteady beat.

"What is your Heaven?" Missouri focused on the man who was two metal chairs away from him in the same row.

The man swallowed visibly. Sam knew the feeling of being under Missouri's scrutiny. "Ma'am?"

"You," she said clearly. "What do you think Heaven is?"

For Sam his recent trip to Heaven had been images about asserting his independence. He had to reexamine his issues. He had another opportunity for redemption- this time to prove to Dean he was committed to family with out the hollow excuses.

He had picked up the amulet from the trash. Sam wasn't about to allow Dean to throw away their relationship. He accused Dean of a slew of psychological issues when he never looked at himself


"A place where I am going to see my family that's already gone." The man lilted his answer, looking like he was waiting for affirmation from Missouri.

The man garnered from Missouri's reaction he had answered correctly; the stranger had affirmed Dean's Heaven, too. "That doesn't sound boring. It sounds like a blessing. But earth is not heaven." Missouri stepped forward into the aisle. She was wearing a dark raincoat and had removed it upon seating to reveal a rich, deep blue dress with wide sleeves to make her gestures sweeping. "You need to reject him and accept hope."

The Triad quietly got into position. Sam and Dean were taking the front slowly. Joshua moved to the door while Caleb took the back.

Missouri pointed to Nicholas, who had taken a seat on the stage rise. "By listening to him, you believe there is no hope to make the things you want most in life to happen with grace."

"Amen," Benjamin answered. Although Sam thought he was inappropriate—he ran away instead of fighting for the truth.

She made it to the front of the room with Nicholas looking at her with narrowed eyes as if he had laser eyes to pierce her. "Life is sometimes supposed to be difficult. It enables you to grow. We are not supposed to have all we want, because sometimes what we want isn't what's best for us."

Missouri moved away from him and reached out her hand to a woman in the first row. "You may think you are weak and broken, but there are others that are in your same condition." The woman put her hand out and Missouri grasped it.

Missouri released the hand, walked down the row with her hand out, using her psychic ability to attract the audience. "I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to Him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. This poor man called, and the LORD heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them. Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him."

Sam recognized the words of the Psalms. The Psalms were a cry in the midst of despair, confessing and living the human experience. Those words were not just for those caught up with demon, but to him, to Dean. They were humans in despair, as much as they tried to hide it.

Nicholas did a pity clap. "That's the best you got? Some Bible quotes from David, a man who took another man's wife, and then arranged for him to die?" He pointed to the people gathered in the room. "That's getting your cake and eating it. Too. Plus, he was a king."

Missouri raised her brows. "They don't want to hurt anyone. Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. Do onto others as you will have done to you. I know that you can still be forgiven. He knows it, too."

"What's better than forgiveness?" He smiled and nodded. "Happiness. You're all happy."

And going straight to hell, Sam thought. He would meet them there at the rate he was going. It had been a surprise for him to be in Heaven with Dean. It wasn't what he expected for his soul after killing people and drinking demon blood. It had been a boon from God.

Missouri walked away, her back to Nicholas. "There are times when you need to make a choice in your life. Follow me out this door, away from him, away from Hell. I am not going to make empty promises of riches, but I will promise that you will have your soul intact."

Benjamin followed her to the door; Joshua opened it, careful to keep his work intact. Joshua held the door, Missouri leading the way. Nicholas crossed his arms and looked smug. Sam assumed the audience would remain, unmoved by Missouri, easier to go along with the crowd. But one woman stood up to gather her belongings without looking back.

Nicholas shrugged his shoulders until a man got up and left. Others filed out slowly, and Sam signaled to Joshua—they needed to protect these people as they left the protection triangle.

The demon stepped forward, turning more menacing. Sam and Dean shuffled in front of him, blocking his way.

The room began to erupt in a rumble that moved the chairs in a clattering sound. The remaining people tried to ground themselves.

Nicholas was trying to blink away, his face filled with consternation. He was unable to as Joshua's spell held.

"Hurry out!" Joshua called out.

Dean waved them on. When the last person left, Joshua barred the door as Caleb ran forward. They surrounded Nicholas.

The demon pushed back his dark hair with the palm of his hand. "I get this. It takes all of you to bring down little me, a corporate suit with the same attention you gave to the Horsemen. That's rich." He inhaled and sighed, audibly content. "You had to bring a woman into this, too. Isn't that against your code or something?"

"You should be honored that you have our undivided attention," Joshua replied. He seemed as though he was sizing up his counterpart. To Sam, Nicholas was falling short. Joshua had more class than Hell's Publicist.

"Can't wait to tell the story," Nicholas said, and Sam stepped forward as the demon tried to make his escape.

He remained in their presence; the Triad had positioned themselves around him with the medicine bags around their necks.

"Looks like you're not going to get the chance," Caleb stated with a grin.

"What did you do to me?" Nicholas pushed past them, lifted a hand, and threw Joshua into some chairs.

Dean made his way over to Joshua and put out his hand. Joshua accepted it. Once standing he dabbed his split lip with the back of his hand. "Now I have to say I had some sort of accident to explain this at work."

Dean slapped him on the back. "Just tell them foreplay got a little rough. Drew will be even more impressed."

"You're not helping."

Sam faced the demon. "You are unable to leave here."

The demon was making his way to the door in a panic. He was not made for fighting, Sam assumed.

"That door is sealed against your kind," Dean informed, getting thrown against the stage for his comment.

Caleb grabbed for the demon, placing the knife at his throat and pulling Nybras away from the door. "You okay?" He called out to Dean.

"I'm peachy." Dean growled, making it to his feet, coming to stand before the writhing demon in Caleb's grasp.

Dean punched Nybras in the stomach, which Sam knew was retaliation. "Dude, you might want to rethink your career. He's," Dean pointed to Joshua, "good at his job."

"Thank you," Joshua gave a curt nod. "He broke a lot of the rules."

"There are rules? Seems like all it takes is talk, talk, talk." Caleb jerked Nicholas up as he growled, but did not use his ability to throw anyone.

Sam took it as his cue to start the exorcism. The words he said were comforting, a step away from his bloodlust. They each took a verse of the four stanza Latin rite with Joshua saying the final verse. It seemed fitting for the publicist.

The body Nicholas was using went slack with the release of the black dust. Caleb checked the pulse. "He's gone." Caleb shook his head.

"That blinking in and out must cause a lot of damage," Sam added. Demon possession placed a lot of stress on the body, plus the demons usually engaged in risky behavior. It was collateral damage.

They left through the doors; Joshua's spell not barring them from exiting. "You should hire Missouri. She almost had me following her out the door," Dean said, elbowing Joshua.

"Maybe she should take up the pulpit." Caleb shrugged. "She's got the whole fire and brimstone act down." Missouri and Benjamin were waiting for them by the Impala to be driven home.

Sam stopped walking for a moment, not wanting to go straight into the cars. Dean pulled up near him, also not in a rush. He would drive back with Joshua, asking to drive the Mercedes since Joshua had been wounded, after all.

"It was a bit heavy handed, but it had the religious overtones that are used in Middle America," Joshua replied, licking his lip with a grimace. "Usually the North Carolina crowd is a bit more moderate."

They all needed to hear Missouri's words. An infusion of hope that they were growing into better men. "They were just ready to hear a new message."




Joshua was thankful to have his home to himself once more. Benjamin Mosley would remain in South Carolina. Joshua would visit him as his bookstore for training. They set a goal to meet every few weeks. Leah, as head of the coven, had forgiven Benjamin, welcoming him without pretense as soon as she heard about his return. How she learned about this, Joshua was uncertain. As usual Leah was calculating the addition of strength of knowledge to the coven.

Joshua scratched his neck, keeping his head down as he wrote out some notes, his bruised ribs twinging only slightly. The rub he used was working effectively.

There was a ruffling in the air that announced his guest had arrived.

"You called. Have you reconsidered providing representation for me? I think I would look great in a Calvin Klein commercial." Malachi took a lounging seat in the leather couch in Joshua's office so reminiscent of a few days earlier.

He had brought the Vangelo to his office; it was sitting on the side of his desk. He gave the book a glance. Malachi had given it to him, and its knowledge had been invaluable, as had the information Malachi had shared with him, less defensive and more offensive of late. Yet Joshua had made a promise to his Triad. "I am terminating our relationship."

Malachi eased backed into the sofa, leveled his gaze at Joshua in a moment of silence. "You found Benjamin Mosely, I assume." The witch had smartly deduced. "I'm better than him. Much better."

It was true, but Joshua could not verbally agree with his loyalty to his Triad. "All that time in Hell doesn't give you an advantage, and you don't have a winning personality either." Joshua's public relations side wondered if Caleb and Sam would have accepted Malachi's reformation if he had been humbler.

"Then my good looks should count." Malachi brought a hand down his lightly stubble neck. "But I do have more experience with magic, with Triad Power. We could make this the strongest Triad ever."

It was compliment, while Benjamin only offered insults.

Malachi scooted forward, as if they were in an intimate conversation instead of one that was supposed to bring distance. "Great witches aren't born with an innate ability, like with your Knight's and Scholar's psychic ability. It takes years of practice and commitment." Malachi narrowed his eyes. "I thought you were a kindred spirit."

"Benjamin Mosely is committed to helping me," Joshua answered. He wasn't saying the same thing as Malachi. Benjamin had less experience in crafting; and would be more about defenses, less of a risk taker.

"You forget that Mosley has a nefarious past, too," Malachi chided. "He shirked his responsibility. He ran away from The Brotherhood. A traitor." His eyes were wide. "Julian bent the rules to allow Benjamin into The Brotherhood. Unlike you, he was not raised in The Brotherhood."

"You're calling him a traitor?" Joshua raised his brows in disbelief. "There's that saying about people living in glass houses throwing bricks; are you familiar with it?"

Malachi ignored the snide comment. "Things are not always as they seem. I cared too much for The Brotherhood, for my Triad." Malachi looked down in remorse, shaking his head. "They betrayed me."

Joshua wondered once again what had truly happened. Malachi never admitted his guilt but had given no reasons for it either. "We don't make deals with demons."

"You still playing that tune?" Malachi rolled his eyes. "I would expect better from you. I did everything you asked me to do. I never shirked my duties to you."

"It isn't about me, but The Triad, The Brotherhood." He was The Advisor, one servant of the whole. "Ring or not, you will not be welcomed by any hunters, especially the current Triad."

"I am thankful for the warning, and I'll give you one in return. You should watch over your Triad. Your Guardian is just going through the motions, falling apart with despair. The Scholar is fighting a losing battle, and The Knight is trying to keep it together. Tough job for him." Malachi snapped his fingers. "It could all fall apart."

Joshua pushed away from his desk. "Is that a threat? They are strong willed men. I am fortunate to be their Advisor."

Malachi laughed. "Calm down. They are lucky to have you. To have your respect." He tipped his head.

Joshua still had that pulse of anger at the threat. "You never respected your Triad—it's what made murdering your Guardian and Knight easier, I assume."

"If it makes you feel better to buy into that story, so be it. But I find it is usually a mistake to assume, to take things for granted. Like I told you, I cared too much. I still care." He got to the edge of the couch, placing his hands on his knees.

"I think you should take this back." Joshua stood up and held out the Vangelo.

Malachi stood up. "It was a gift. For you."

"Thank you." Joshua brought the book into his chest.

"Thank you for the warning." Malachi gave a curt nod, which Joshua returned. When he looked up, Malachi Harris had disappeared.

Joshua rounded his desk, depositing the Vangelo in his bag to take home. He was surprised Malachi had allowed him to keep something so precious. It would give them the advantage. He would show Benjamin, and the man would appreciate it, but Joshua had already started using it. Benjamin would be playing catch up, frustrating Joshua further with the situation. He rubbed the back of his neck.

Drew knocked but entered, looking around the office. "I thought I heard someone talking"

"No, I'm alone."

"So I don't want this to be awkward." Drew remained near the door, not allowing himself to come further in the office. "Are we good?"

Joshua was distracted and had to think about the question, Drew's initial events momentarily forgotten. "We're fine. It's in the past. I suggest you put it behind you, too."

"But what you did for me…" Drew came into the room, his hands clasped together. "You and Caleb—Carolyn is a lucky woman. You're still getting married, right?"

"Yes." Joshua was not in a joking mood, though he gauged Drew as being serious.

"Good, so what should I wear?" Drew sat on the edge of the desk, comfortable once more. "The Armani or the Zegna?"

"Do you mind if you discuss this later?" Joshua grabbed his pen and started writing his shopping list.

"Sure. You know you are the best boss ever, right?" Drew scooted off the desk and adjusted the lamp.

"I can't promise the raise, Drew," Joshua replied with a withering sigh that had Drew pulling out of the office.

He was having difficulty with his promise to Benjamin, and he hadn't even started truly working with the man yet. His promise to The Triad was more important, which told him to work with Missouri's father. There was no promise to Malachi, but working with him made Joshua feel he owed the demon at least a warning. He just hoped he did not live to regret it.



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