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to think of angels

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It starts when an angel pulls the Righteous Man out of Hell. The Righteous Man’s best friend, brother in all but blood, doesn’t believe in angels. He hasn’t believed in much, actually, not since his brother made a deal for his life and went to Hell for it.

It starts in a convenience store, a psychic’s home, a barn. Deafening noises, to blinded eyes, to an encounter with a literal angel. Pete bites his lip and turns away when Joe carefully inspects the handprint on his arm in the motel mirror. When Joe pulls out the bible from the drawer and starts to believe again.

Pete feels a drum beat in his heart telling him that everything is going to change.

-

Patrick is Joe's savior and Pete is Joe's brother, and there's a sense of unity there. Or there should be.

This angel, Patrick - and what kind of angel name is that? - saved Joe from an eternity of damnation. Pete, while grateful, also feels horribly, irrationally furious that he couldn’t do it himself whenever Joe looks at him with dulled eyes and a scarred existence. He was busy with his own quest to repent, is still busy, and he wants vengeance, even as he pulls Joe in for a hug and listens to Joe’s quest for absolution.

Family isn't just blood and Pete wouldn't trade Joe for the world, or for angelic requests from the Higher Up.

-

At first, they don’t get a moment alone. Patrick stands tall – or short, he’s pretty short for an angel – and quiet as his not-angelically named superior, Chris, makes demands of assistance and help for the Heavens above. Seals. Demons. The apocalypse. Joe is skeptical. Pete thinks they’re both douches.

-

Patrick poofs up in his dreams. Literally. Just poofs up and Pete screams, rolling out of the teddy bear suit that he was putting on to dance in the center ring and entertain the circus masses. Patrick stares down at him, Pete flushed in awkward embarrassment, and suddenly the dream shifts until… they’re on a boat. Something tranquil. A seagull plays the piano and Patrick keeps looking at him curiously.

Pete clears his throat and stands up as Patrick seriously explains the seals undergoing attack by the demons. A seal that’s about to be broken. It’s all business, really.

Pete nods and hopes to still remember in the morning. He watches Patrick for a few seconds, who’s still just standing around, obviously listening to the piano notes thrumming in the air despite making a clear attempt to look like he’s not. “Why didn’t you just appear in Joe’s dreams?”

Patrick hesitates and says, “You can relay the message to him,” which Pete takes as an I’m not sure.

He’s not sure why his heart swells like it’s going to burst. The seagull flaps its wings and presses a D flat.

-

Hunts are tense. Joe is traumatized from his death, from how he got torn apart from hellhounds at the sound of midnight. A fucked up demon-deal, Cinderella story style. Tick-tock, clock noises probably pound in his ears like they do in Pete’s. A countdown until inevitable death, a sign of Pete’s failures.

They go to Andy’s house, occasionally, and drop by to check out the barn with the lamp glass still shattered. Ask about angel lore. Appreciate the company.

Andy warns them to be careful before wrapping tattooed arms around them in warm hugs. He’s a good friend, even if he’s a vegan who pretends to be a literal, normal hunter to explain his gun storage to cops.

Hunts cycle through, Joe continues in the art of repressing something, and Pete drives off into the dark as Joe sleeps on motel nights.

He needs more power.

-

“Pete, you can’t trust Mikey,” Joe is pleading with him, scared of the corruption in Pete’s veins that he doesn’t quite understand. “He’s a demon. We don’t trust demons.”

Pete thinks of the coppery thrum of body on body, the buzz of skin and blood, and agrees.

-

Patrick drops by one day, with no reason given as to why. Pete is pretty sure that he wasn’t ordered to do so, so he’s honestly confused when Patrick starts poofing into motel rooms to, inanely, listen to music. Joe just seems thrilled though, so Pete is blaming him and bribery involving cds of – Pete looks over Patrick’s shoulder – David Bowie.

"Dude, is there really a heavenly choir?" Joe is insatiable with questions, poking and prodding Patrick whenever he appears. He seems to have forgotten about the way his eardrums were ruined when Patrick tried to talk to him, or the way that the psychic’s eyes burned out when she saw his true form. Hell ruins common sense, apparently.

"No,” Patrick says. “We’re soldiers of God.”

Pete snorts. “Soldiers of God don’t wear argyle sweaters.”

Patrick pointedly doesn’t glance his way.

-

Joe tells him, one day, that he remembers Hell. Pete’s mouth is sandpaper and thinks stronger, I have to be stronger, as he leans against him and wants to make promises of protection that he already failed in the past.

(Two teenagers, abandoned by their parents who were killed by the things that go bump in the night, now adults still seeking solace in each other’s company.

Pete finds it tragically poetic.)

-

Angels are douches.

That opinion skyrockets when the angels reveal just how willing they are to destroy an entire town to protect one seal.

"You're-" Pete starts, but he isn't sure how to continue. Joe trusted this angel with music and granted him their company. It’s almost a betrayal. It is a betrayal, and it cuts like a knife on an open scar.

"I'm not anything. I'm not allowed to help you," and Pete feels his temper rise when he sees Patrick pull down the brim of his hat.

-

It’s a lie. They sit on a park bench in Pete’s dreams and he’s not the Righteous Man and Patrick – Patrick, really, what kind of angel name is Patrick – isn’t his angel. Patrick has been ordered to listen to the Righteous Man’s decisions and apparently he’s been purging Joe of traumatic nightmares and lessening the pain and Patrick is frowning at Pete for his use of demon powers and tainted blood.

“It worked,” Pete says, unwilling to fight in a tranquil, ephemeral moment. Patrick looks at him, pity only flashing in his eyes for a second, and then he makes a confession.

“I care,” Patrick whispers. “More than I should. More than a hammer of Heaven should.”

The grass is green. The sky is bright. Everything is vibrant in a way that only a dream can be. It’s soothing when Patrick, the angel, the all-too human angel with more feelings than he’s allowed to express, cautiously, carefully, takes his hand.

-

Pete's the one to ask him, "Have you ever even been on Earth before?"

Patrick blinks and tilts his head up. As if to contemplate. As if asking his brothers for their response. It's sort of ruined by the trucker hat.

"I'm one of the youngest angels, Pete. I've never even seen my Father before."

"That doesn't answer my question.”

"No," Patrick says hesitantly. His hand hovers over Joe's Neurosis record. "But my brother once brought Earth’s music for me. Orchestras beyond my perspective."

"You said you were a hammer."

"We're angels, Pete, we’re not supposed to feel." But Patrick is quiet when he says that and his fingers tap out a rhythm on the album. Human. Angel. As if emotions are a trade-off with every beat, with every tap on the cover.

"I think that's a load of bullshit," Pete says, thinking back to the their conversation in an illusionary park, and he turns on the radio before taking a seat next to the angel that could probably kill him with a look if he wanted. He has a shotgun in the back that already proved itself to be ineffective.

It's mid-pop song when Patrick speaks again, "Lucifer made symphonies with every step he took, according to the whispers in Heaven."

Pete jolts at that, unsure whether to turn off the radio or not.

-

"So you and Patrick are getting along, huh?" Joe sinks down next to him.

“Not really,” Pete says, and he pulls out another bottle of beer for Joe.

The liquor burns on their tongues as they sit on the roof of their car, staring at the starless sky.

-

Joe grabs Patrick and shoves a guitar into his hands. Pete doesn't move from his corner and scribbles in the margins of his notebook to buy more salt for the wards.

He watches them from the corner of his eyes, but ethereal presence and angel bond and all, neither Patrick nor Joe don't seem to notice.

"I'm not the angel of music," Patrick says with slight bewilderment. He plucks the guitar cautiously. Always so cautious. As if he wasn’t supposed to be here with them.

He makes music and he strikes a chord into Pete's heart. Pete grits his teeth and turns away, forcing himself to get up and take a step away from the room.

-

Pete drinks and he drinks and he loses himself in cascades of euphoria and dopamine from the high.

Mikey grips his hair and Pete pulls back to lick his lips, to drink up the remaining blood.

It's benediction, he would say. He closes his eyes and he breathes the smell of his calling. There's a pressure behind his eyes, power surging inside him, and he grins, toothy and blood-stained, at Mikey Way, at Mikey’s vessel, really. Leading the way to hell, the way to the place that Joe saved him from.

He avoids faces of disappointment and angelic disillusionment and focuses on the crash, the sleep, the control that the blood offers.

It's satisfying in the way that hunting could only sometimes be and he crawls up to hungrily meet Mikey's lips.

-

Hunts, Mikey, some of the six-hundred and sixty six seals get broken, Patrick, sleep. Repeat.

The giant teddy bear that comes to life on a hunt is somehow still a new one.

-

Things change. Patrick visits more and more, Pete tells himself it’s for Joe, but Joe being one Patrick rescued or not, Patrick only appears in his dreams.

“Hello, Pete,” Patrick says. The water from the lake sashays in front of them. Patrick slips Pete a piece of paper that says a meeting date, a meeting point. He says nothing, and Pete is too content to break the reverie.

“Stay?” he offers. Patrick hesitates and suddenly Pete’s reclined chair becomes a park bench. Pete offers him an earbud and wonders how much the angel knows. If Patrick is in his dreams, turning the cigarette skyline into glories of sunset hues, then how much else has he seen? How much has he told Joe?

Pete leans on Patrick and Patrick hums to the melody buzzing from the mp3 and it’s far too intimate a moment for a human with poisoned blood and an angel that only exists to serve.

He closes his eyes and wonders.

-

Things go wrong. A mess of vessel confusion, a person that isn’t Patrick in the body that Patrick was occupying, angels unleashing their fury. Punishments, retribution, and it all ends with Patrick back in his body. Everything solved, rinse and repeat.

Except it’s not.

-

Patrick doesn’t show up anymore without Chris in his company. Joe twitches on his bed and looks at Pete with haunted eyes. Shaken. As if the nightmares have been coming back in full intensity without Patrick’s (not allowed, rebellious, lovely) help in suppressing then. He gets up and takes the car, supposedly to get something to eat. Pete lets him go.

Pete thinks about how he can sneak out to Mikey, if Joe will come back, and what Patrick was going to tell them before he got ripped from his body and came back a hollow imitation of himself.

-

They’re in a warehouse, ghost hunt finished and ashes staining their skin after burning another corpse. It’s safe, isolated, and Joe starts calling to the Heavens, oh angel Patrick, get down here, right now, please with questions burning on their minds.

When Patrick appears, Joe is the one to talk to him. To ask what’s wrong. Pete stays silent, watching evasion tactic after evasion tactic be utilized.

“Why don’t you drop by anymore?”

“The seals have our full attention.”

“What were you going to tell Pete?”

“Irrelevant.”

“You don’t have anything to say?” Joe asks incredulously, confused and hurt.

"I don't have anything to confess," Patrick says slowly. Joe gives him a heartbroken look and Pete just keeps staring and staring. Silent. A bystander in the drama between the man who burned in Hell and his angel who saved him. Patrick doesn’t meet Pete’s eyes once.

Joe and Patrick exchange a silent conflict of wills, the tension palpable, before Patrick cracks and looks up at the sky. At the heavens, his heaven, his ethereal planes, maybe. He extends his palms in a mockery of a surrender.

There's an odd lighting, breaking through from the holes in the rafters, reflecting gold on him, casting the rest of the world in shadows. Pete thinks Patrick looks like he's ready to be crucified. It’s unsettling. He’s gone before they can fully register what just happened.

For a minute, Pete and Joe stare at the space where Patrick was. Joe grits his teeth and heads to the car.

Pete punches a wall and thinks of sunsets. It doesn't help.

-

Joe is the protagonist, but sometimes, most times, Pete bitterly wishes their lives were reversed. Dealing with indecisive, tortured angels would be much easier as the Righteous Man.

-

Somebody tells Joe about the demon blood.

Or maybe Joe just sat up and noticed without Patrick’s company to distract him.

Either way, Pete runs. He’s not in the wrong because to kill Lilith, to choke out her life in the same torturous manner she killed Joe, he needs more power. Mikey is power, assistance in every red blood cell of his vessel.

So Pete runs and runs until he screams for Patrick in fury when he knows he’s going to get caught.

The angel comes and Pete almost breaks his hand trying to punch him.

-

Patrick's face is shut down, stone-cold and emotionless.

Angels are nothing but cruel.

Pete snarls at Patrick. There's none of the hot temper and angrily barked back words and none of the gentle smiles and self-deprecating laughs.

"You're a monster. Worse than me, worst than all of the fucking things I had to kill. You disgust me," Pete snaps and it's cruel and vindictive and self-righteous. His fingers crawl and he thinks of Mikey's blood and lipstick messages and cheap hotel rooms. "You're a hypocritical bastard with no remorse."

Patrick doesn't even blink before he disappears and Pete hates him.

Joe and Andy find him shortly after.

-

Pete is detoxing, screaming, clawing at his face, willing himself to break free of the barriers, get more blood, oh God, how it hurts. Andy’s panic room has never felt less safe, more for panic, and when the door somehow, miraculously opens, he makes a break for it.

Towards Mikey to retox, towards the hotel, towards something, towards anywhere else.

-

Pete's starting the apocalypse and Joe's locked in golden, heavenly chambers until Patrick dies trying to pull him out and change their fates. By that point, the damage has already been done.

Pete is wrong, wrong, wrong, and he hears Joe’s stifled cry of anguish when as he steps over a pool of blood. Lilith’s blood, Mikey’s blood. Because Mikey is a traitor, because Lilith is actually the final seal to unleash the apocalypse.

They hold each other as Lucifer cracks open the church floor, and suddenly, miraculously they’re on a plane as a beam of light blasts from the Earth.

Well, fuck.

-

"He sacrificed himself for you," Chris says, spitting it out in a flame of vindictive wrath. "He died for you and your demon-blood drinking friend. A burst, an explosion, for his treason."

The normal angels really don't have very angelic names, Pete thinks in a haze of disbelief and consuming guilt as Joe tries to stand as a buffer. The archangel, Raphael, apparently did, with his erasure of Patrick into smithereens. The prophet curls behind both of them, probably stepping on Patrick’s intestines.

-

Patrick is okay, miraculously revived, Patrick saves them from Chris, Patrick uses Joe’s amulet to go on a quest to find God - and aren’t they all on that quest? That quest for belief. It’s anticlimactic, almost, after seeing the way his blood painted the walls and the way his tooth got stuck on the lamp. Sigils get burned onto their ribs for protection and they move on with their lives, a set goal for their futures. For the world’s future.

-

The world’s future seems to be fucked.

There are horsemen of the Apocalypse running around, causing havoc for Andy and other hunters. There are illusions of death, and War, literal War, appears to be a general nuisance on life, liberty, and the pursuit of hunter happiness. Just another hunt with more civilian casualties than usual. It’s okay. They solve it.

“I can’t trust you,” Joe later says, brokenly, and it’s only fair, Pete was lying to him for a year, more than that. It still stings, still causes a pressure on his chest to tighten and tighten until Pete feels like there’s nothing left. “Pete, you’re still my brother, but I can’t trust you.”

Pete somehow manages to say, “Okay,” despite finding it very difficult to swallow, to breathe. “Okay.”

They go their separate ways. Pete was never one for hunting, really.

-

"How selfish can you be? Trying to drag me back against my will?" Pete asks incredulously.

"You're asking me that? You?" That's hysterical, Patrick doesn't add, but Pete sees it in his face. “Joe is trying to make a conscious decision to fix things and you’re busy wallowing in your own guilt. Trying to be normal.” He snarls the last part, flames in his words scalding Pete’s cowardice.

It's not like Pete has a rebuttal; Patrick ditched his home, Pete started the fucking apocalypse, betrayed his best friend, and dragged Patrick down with him. Joe helped Patrick set a holy fire trap around an archangel, went to hell for him.

(Pete doesn’t want to admit that he’s bitter that Patrick would choose Joe over him for assistance, but he has to be normal, can’t they understand? He can’t be trusted with his tainted veins and shadowed soul when all he does is cause destruction and elevate problems into scales that can no longer be managed)

They’re both breathing heavily, fists clenched tight with sweaty palms. The air is tainted with broken lyrics and a melody of discord.

Patrick lets out a little noise and, with a twirl on his heels, he disappears.

-

Pete tries to be normal by day and dreams of angels and music by night. Patrick is there, promising care and happiness, gently leaning his shoulder and making soft whispers in his ear, but it’s dream-Patrick, and then it turns out that it was Lucifer all along.

Lucifer appears in Pete’s visions and he is tempted, so tempted to cave and hand his body to the Devil himself. He is coaxed with the promises of pleasure, of forgiveness, of rewards. Pleaded with, in serpentine tongues and smooth words that trail so easily into a song, a caress in C minor.

Pete wakes up and sits on his bed, looking at the clock indicating his two hours of meager sleep. He could break so easily.

He calls Joe instead, breaking his own pact of normality in a very short timeframe, and Joe hesitates, obviously contemplating a decision on whether they’d be better apart. Pete holds his breath, shaken at the prospect of rejection. He releases it when Joe says, “Two weeks,” because Joe is a hero different than the ones on TV, and Joe is forgiving and Joe really needs some time alone before they have to fight the end of the world together. Pete can get that.

He closes his eyes and pulls out a notebook to vent about monsters and demon deals in the dark.

-

Patrick pulls out the amulet, the amulet Pete gave Joe all those years ago and says, “Joe told me to go bother you instead. So I’m bringing you to look for my Father with me.”

Pete stares at him, the hideously floral motel wallpaper outlining his presence. He turns off the television and sets down the remote. “...Okay.”

“He’s not your real brother, you know,” Patrick says, attempting to make small talk as he extends a hand and waits for Pete’s response.

Pete takes it. “Yes, he is,” and Patrick tugs down his trucker cap with his free hand, obviously smug about this answer, and he looks so unangelic it causes Pete to laugh a hard, honest laugh as his stomach jerks and he’s whisked away.

-

“This is a jazz bar in New Orleans!”

Patrick locks eyes with Pete and very seriously says, “The amulet definitely glowed here.” The crowd behind him cheers as the band on stage finishes their piece, soulful instruments still ringing in the people’s hearts. It honestly doesn’t seem like a lie, not with all the humanity echoed in the drinks, the laughter, and the music.

But Pete knows better. “I can’t believe an angel lied to me about his intentions to take me on a date,” Pete says in awe, and totally deserves the way that Patrick rolls his eyes and pushes at him with practically no utilized angelic strength at all.

The next singer goes up on stage, and then the next. Pete orders drinks for them and they listen to the performances until Patrick decides to grab his hand and poof them somewhere else.

-

It’s Venice, and then it’s somewhere in South Africa, Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Pete wonders if he can get jet lag from angelic transport. He wouldn’t be surprised.

Somehow they always end up in centers of music though. Street musicians lining paved sidewalks, or a bar with a singer crooning a lovely tune, or a group of kids singing on the road as they play. Pete watches Patrick listen fondly, and laughs at the arbitrary way Patrick decides that it’s time to move on. Seconds, minutes, hours, and two days later, Pete demands to be dropped back at the motel so he can move his car and check out of the room. There’s a text message from Joe that says, “Hope your date with Patrick is going well” and then they’re on their quest again.

They catch a breath at a cafe in Paris, at Pete’s request. “So is this your hunt for God? Scenic views and music aplenty?”

“Only for now,” Patrick says. The coffee is warm in Pete’s hands as he takes a sip. Thank angel powers that Patrick could speak enough French at a currency exchange center for him.

It’s the grey skies and the clamour of the people and the cars make the moment perfect, really. Romantic, maybe, except Patrick’s not eating and instead watching Pete eat French cafe sandwiches with an intensity that’s making Pete feel a little exposed to the bone. Like Patrick’s staring right through his body and into his soul. Pete stares back and pointedly takes a bite out of of the sandwich. A guitarist is singing something about l’amour, mon cheri across the street, Pete’s pretty sure.

Soon, they’ll go back and deal with monsters, demons, angels, humans, and try to save the unsuspecting world from the dangers of the literal hell that Pete unleashed on the world.

Right now, in a Parisian cafe, Pete has an angel in the seat across from him, guns loaded up in the trunk of his car waiting in a random parking lot, and a brother probably pacing around Andy’s home. Patrick smiles at him, almost shyly, when Pete grabs his hand for another angelic transportation, or maybe to just hold Patrick’s hand.

Pete is ready to believe in something.