A Finger on the Scale @missethompson
Two Minutes to Midnight

"Chicago?" Thana asked, confused.

"Yes, Chicago." Death confirmed. Lucifer had sent a messenger to her father while she had been away for a hot moment to see to reaper business. Just because the apocalypse was in town didn't mean that her job ended, in fact the longer the apocalypse went on for the busier she and the other reapers were becoming.

"What does Lucifer have against Chicago?" Thana asked and Death sighed heavily.

"I believe it about destruction for the sake of destruction, my child. The location is irrelevant." Thana refrained from heaving her own sigh.

"Well, we should at least enjoy the pizza while it lasts." Death was confused, but followed his daughter anyway.

"Why would we stop for pizza?" Death asked and Thana giggled.

"You'll understand once you try it." Death hummed, not truly believing, but also not bothering to argue.

"Either way, it shall be a location to meet with the older brother." Death conceded and Thana paused briefly. Death's power was stronger than hers, able to see farther ahead and with greater clarity, able to predict decisions and not needing as much concentration to do so.

"Well, this should be interesting." Thana commented, now following her father.

Death decided to slow down, to wait for the older Winchester to realize where they were going. Thana would never admit it, but she enjoyed the 'road trip' with her father.. It was slow and confining, just as Castiel had described it when Lucifer had asked him, yet ironic and memorable. Lucifer may control what Death did, but he couldn't control the when, how or at what speed Death did them. Thana enjoyed her father's small show of defiance, appreciating the display of his remaining control and the knowledge that Lucifer was probably stewing at this very moment.

Thana and Death arrived in Chicago only mere hours ahead of Dean. Thana and Death took up residence in a well known pizzeria, giving Dean a chance to catch up while they enjoyed their first meal together.

While they ate, the presence of her father slowly leeched the life out of the pizzeria and was slowly spreading to the surrounding area. If Death remained in the area for too long the whole city would be wiped out, though that is what Lucifer wanted so, in a way Death was doing what he was ordered to while also doing it in the slowest way possible. The slowly dwindling number of people in the area made it real easy to feel the presence of the eldest Winchester and his momentary demon ally as they entered the city. The unlikely pair was amusing as they drove through the city, Crowley was using his senses to pinpoint Death's location. Though the demon was a short term ally with invested interest in Dean's accomplishing what he came to do, Dean shouldn't have been surprised when the demon skimpered off to hide once he pointed out Death in the pizzeria. The demon was a coward, power hungry and selfish, he had gained his power in hell through corporate means, back stabbing, ass kissing and back room deals to gain him allies that he would eventually use as stepping stones. The apocalypse would bring all that to a screeching halt and his 'career' would stall if heaven or hell won, it was the only reason he was siding with the Winchesters and their angel ally.

Dean thought he was sly as he attempted to sneak in through the back entrance. Dean crept through the kitchen on the pizza shop and into the dining room. He could see Death's back and was startled to see Thana. If Dean survived this he was definitely going to take a chunk out of Crowley's ass for failing to mention that Death's daughter was present, she only made this a million times more dangerous. Dean crept closer carrying Death's scythe and moving as quietly as humanly possible. Thana's lips twitched at Dean's display of stealth. Dean thought he was unnoticed till the scythe in his hand began to heat up. At first he thought it was just his imagination, but then the scythe began to glow red and his hands began to burn making him drop the scythe on instinct. Dean cringed at the clatter of the scythe hitting the floor and braced, expecting that he would be killed the second Death had his scythe, but he didn't.

"Thanks for returning that." Death said, not even looking toward Dean as he spoke. Dean glanced at Death and was surprised to see the scythe laying on the table next to Death's arm. He glanced down in surprise only to see that the scythe had in fact disappeared.

"Join us, Dean. The pizza's delicious." Thana had to stop herself from laughing, because of her father's comment and the long moment it took Dean to work up the courage to start moving toward them. As Dean got closer Thana smiled at Dean and made a third chair appear at the table.

"Sit down." Thana giggled as Dean slowly sunk into the chair she had provided. The man obviously thought he was sitting into his execution chair. He was eyeing the two of them looking for indications that he was about to die.

"Took you long enough to find me. I've been wanting to talk to you." Death said and took a bite of his pizza.

"I got to say – I have mixed feelings about that. S-so is this the part where… where you kill me?" Dean asked cautiously." Death looked at Dean for the first time. He looked far from impression with the man sitting in front of him, while Thana admired that man's courage, not many would cut through the bullshit and ask the important question.

"You have an inflated sense of your importance. To a thing like me, a thing like you, well..." Death took a slurp from soda.

"Think how you'd feel if a bacterium sat at your table and started to get snarky? This is one little planet in one tiny solar system in a galaxy that's barely out of it's diapers. I'm old, Dean. Very old. So I invite you to contemplate how insignificant I find you." Death served a slice of pizza onto the plate in front of Dean.

"Eat." Dean was hesitant but did as told.

"Good, isn't it?"

"Well, I got to ask. How old are you?" Dean asked, now realizing that Death wasn't going to strike him dead where he sat because Death just didn't care whether he was there or not.

"As old as God. Maybe older. Neither of us can remember anymore. Life, death, chicken, egg. Regardless – at the end, I'll reap him, too." Dean's panic kicked up a level with that news and Thana watched on amused. Her father was playing with the poor boy, like a cat with an injured mouse.

"God? You'll reap God?" Dean asked, assumedly before he could stop himself.

"Oh, yes. God will die, too, Dean."

"Well, this is way above my pay grade." Dean commented making Thana giggle at him.

"Just a bit." Death replied sarcastically.

"So, then why am I still breathing, sitting here with you? Uh… w-what do you want?" Dean had been going strong till the last part, he had a feeling that whatever Death wanted wasn't going to be good for him.

"The leash around my neck – off." With that comment, the disgust and subtle pain in her father's voice, Thana's smile disappeared and Dean quickly wished for it back, so far that smile has meant that he wasn't going to die.

"Lucifer had bound me to him. Some unseemly little spell. He has me where he wants. That's why I couldn't go to you. I had to wait for you to catch up. He made me his weapon. Hurricanes, floods, raising the dead. I'm more powerful than you can process, and I'm enslaved to a bratty child with a temper tantrum." The world outside was darkening, making the atmosphere in the pizzeria thick and suffocating as it began to rain outside.

"And you think… I can unbind you?" Dean asked cautiously, hoping that he was keeping up with what Death wanted.

"There's your ridiculous bravado again. Of course you can't. But you can help me take the bullets out of Lucifer's gun. I understand you want this." Death held up his hand to show the thick silver ring on his finger for Dean to see.

"Yeah." Dean confirmed unnecessarily.

"I'm inclined to give it to you." Death stated and Dean was surprised.

"To give it to me?" Dean repeated.

"That's what I said." Death deadpanned.

"But what about… Chicago?"

"Chicago? I suppose it can stay. I like the pizza." Death decided and Thana's smile made a brief showing and Dean felt a little better for it. Death took the ring off his finger and held it half extended toward Dean, making Dean eye the ring, unsure what to do at that moment.

"There are conditions." Death finished, growing more serious than he had been before.

"Okay. Like?"

"You have to do whatever it takes to put Lucifer in his cell." Death stated and Dean didn't even flinch.

"Of course." Dean agreed, not realizing the gravity of what he thought he was agreeing to.

"Whatever it takes." Death stressed.

"That's the plan." Dean said, still not catching the reason behind the emphasis.

"No. No plan. Not yet. Your brother. He's the one that can stop Lucifer. The only one." Realization hit Dean like a brick in the face.

"What, you think –" Dean started to question, but Death cut his off.

"I know. So, I need a promise. You're going to let your brother jump right into that fiery pit." Death held the ring out further, offering it to Dean. Dean looked at the ring and then to Thana, remembering what Cas had said about her thinking that there were other factors that hadn't been decided yet. He never would have thought that those factors would be him and his brother.

"Well, do I have your word?" Death asked, bringing Dean's attention back to him. Dean was fighting with himself internally, he was caught between a rock and a hard and everyone knew it.

"Okay, yeah. Yes." Dean agreed around the lump in his throat and slowly extended his hand.

"That had better be a 'yes', Dean. You know you can't cheat death." Death dropped the ring into Dean's hand and Dean honestly seemed surprised when he felt the weight of the ring in his palm.

"Now, would you like the instruction manual?" Thana sat back as her father gave Dean the step by step instructions on how to put Lucifer back in his cage. When he was finished Dean seemed overwhelmed and she couldn't blame him for feeling that way.

"W-what if something goes wrong?" Dean asked cautiously, knowing that the question wasn't going to go over well. He braced himself as he saw Death began to speak with a hard glare, but it wasn't Death that gave the answer and it wasn't one that he was expecting.

"Nothing will go wrong because with any road blocks that you run into, Castiel will summon me." Thana said sternly. Dean was surprised by the answer and even Death seemed surprised.

"Thana." Death said harshly and Thana gave him a glare.

"No, that little prick made the wrong move when he crossed me. I made a promise and this is how I get to keep it." She turned back to Dean.

"Anything goes the slightest bit sideways. You summon me, immediately." She stressed. Dean looked at her in amazement. He had expected Death to reply with an angry, 'don't screw it up'.

"I understand why heaven chooses you." Dean said quietly. Thana gave him a brief smile before she, Death and the remaining pizza disappeared. With them gone Dean released a breath that he had been more than aware he was holding the whole time he'd been in Chicago. The relief of being alive coupled with the exhaustion brought on by the adrenaline that was no longer pumping through his system had Dean slumping in his chair. The feeling of the ring still is his hand brought Dean back to reality and the weight of the promise he'd made came crashing down on him.

Once away from Dean Winchester Death turned on Thana.

"What were you thinking? Making a promise to aid the humans?" Death questioned, taking a hold of her arm to keep her in place. Thana sighed and held her gaze steady.

"You've seen the possibilities as clearly as I have, but you've been confined to this world for too long. I've seen the other outcomes run their course, but never before has the outcome of the humans winning ever been played out. This world is special, you know that. This time I'm putting my finger on the scales and I want to see how this will all turn out and I've got a promise to keep to Lucifer. With him in his cage, he'll survive the battle and I'll get to do everything I want to pay Lucifer back for his treachery. He'll pay for what he did to you." Thana wanted her father to understand her reasoning. Death did, but he was still against the idea.

"Thana, that is not our place. We are here to create balance, not shape what happens." Thana held her tongue measuring her words.

"I've never tipped the scales before and I've watched countless numbers of God's worlds collapse, I just want to give this one a fighting chances. If it's not meant to be then there is always something else that will happen to push this world over the edge, balance would be restored at a later date. Look for yourself and you'll see what I mean." Thana plead. Death studied her for a long moment before releasing a sigh.

"As you see fit, child." He conceded and was rewarded with a beaming smile and a tight hug. Death gave a small smile for bringing her such happiness and hugged her back.

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