A/N: This is the censored version of this chapter. Like always, if you wish to—and are old enough per your state/country’s laws—then you can proceed to the uncensored version.
Chapter 12: Massacre My Valentine (Censored)
“Agent Marley, you just can’t stay away,” the coroner good-naturedly greets as Dean leads his siblings into the morgue.
Dean immediately jumps to business. “Heard you tagged another double suicide.”
“Well, I just finished closing them up,” the balding man agrees.
Dean gestures to his siblings, introducing them. “Dr. Corman, these are my partners, Special Agents Cliff and Foster.”
The coroner looks back and forth between the two, so Tabitha genially holds her hand out, clarifying, “He’s Cliff. I’m Special Agent Alicia Foster.”
The doctor kindly shakes her hand, and then takes Sam’s hand as well, telling them, “Nice to meet you both. I’ve finished my prelims.”
Stepping past them, he continues, “I pulled the organ sets and sent off the tox samples.”
“Great. You mind if we take a look at the bodies?” Sam asks, speaking of the couple that had been found dead after eating each other following a date the day before Valentine’s Day, and then the murder-suicide couple that night.
“Not at all,” Dr. Corman replies, taking off his white lab coat. “But like I said—” he pulls open the refrigerated unit in the morgue to display the collection of organs in containers—”their…good-and-plenties are already tupperwared.”
“Super,” Sam comments.
“Leave the keys with Marty up front,” the doctor continues, tossing a set of keys to Dean. “And please, gentlemen—” he pauses and concedes, “and lovely lady…refrigerate after opening…”
With his last off-the-cuff remark, he places a hat on his head and ambles out of the morgue.
Dean grins as the doctor leaves, commenting to his siblings, “I like that guy.”
He turns to the containers in the refrigerator and asks his siblings, “Well, where do we start?”
They quickly divvy up the tupperware containers, taking their time going through the containers of organs.
As Sam and Tabitha approach the refrigerator at the same time, they brush against each other reaching inside to trade for different containers. Sam suddenly jerks back from his sister, eyes wide and nostrils flaring. “You change perfume?” he demands.
Tabitha glances down at the blood-speckled apron covering her blouse and then frowns at her brother. “Yeah, it’s called eau de dead body.”
She sniffs discreetly at the opening of her open blouse collar though, but finding nothing other than the whiff of her normal deodorant and perfume, shrugs and turns back to the tupperware container with a normal appearing kidney.
“Hey,” Dean calls out, drawing their attention to him. He gestures to the container before him with a heart and pushes it towards Sam, asking, “Be my Valentine?” It’s an unsubtle reminder of the previous day’s romantic holiday. And though he’s trying to act normal, both Tabitha and Sam share a worried look between them. For the first time in memory, Dean hadn’t wanted to go trolling for unattached women during the over-hyped holiday. And as Sam had pointed out that night, you start worrying about a dog when it doesn’t eat.
But Sam turns back to the present, rolling his eyes as he starts to turn away, but stopping when something catches his eye.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa,” he tells Dean, sliding the container closer. “Wait a second.” He grabs another container with a heart and uncovers it as well.
“These hearts both have identical marks,” he finally tells them.
“Could it be normal?” Dean wonders.
Tabitha leans over Sam’s shoulder, frowning when he stiffens at her closeness, but ignores it as she tells Dean, “No way. That doesn’t look like anything naturally occurring on a heart.”
“You would know?” Dean somewhat dubiously asks.
Rolling her eyes, she reminds him, “Agents have to sit through at least one autopsy to be a field agent. And I’ve seen my share of them working cases. But I’ve never seen anything like that on a heart.”
“Check this out,” Sam interrupts, holding a magnifying glass closer over the heart, “It looks like some kind of letter.”
Sam suddenly groans. “Oh, no.”
“What?” Dean asks with trepidation.
Shoving the lighted magnifying glass away, he sighs, “I think it’s Enochian.”
Tabitha leans closer to look at the hearts, agreeing with her brother’s assessment.
Dean asks, “You mean like angel scratches?”
Sam replies with a silent look of agreement.
Carrying the thought, Dean says, “So you think it’s like the tagging on our ribs?”
“Dean, I don’t know,” Sam answers.
“We know someone who does,” Tabitha points out with a sigh, stepping across the morgue.
Since her little trip to Oz—as she’s come to think of it as—she hasn’t seen Castiel. He’d still been passed out when she arrived back with her brothers, and he’d disappeared that night while she and the boys slept.
As she paces in the cold morgue, she can’t figure out why her palms are suddenly sweating at the thought of seeing her angel again.
She vaguely hears Dean calling the angel and giving him their location.
But when she hears the angel’s voice, she suddenly feels a shudder wrack her body.
“I’m there now,” Castiel tells Dean, appearing in the morgue.
Dean stands with only a foot of space separating him and the angel, both with their phones still to their ears.
“Yeah, I get that,” Dean drolly comments.
“I’m gonna hang up now,” Castiel explains into the phone.
Sam gestures them to the autopsy table, breaking the strange silence as he tells Castiel, “Check out these two hearts, Cas.”
The angel steps up to the table, picking up the two hearts with his bare hands and examining them.
“You’re right, Sam,” Castiel agrees. “These are angelic marks. I imagine you’ll find similar marks on the other couples’ hearts as well.”
“So, what are they?” Sam asks, looking up at the standing angel from his seated position. “I mean, what do they mean?”
Thinking that she finally has herself under control again, Tabitha steps closer to her brothers and the angel, trying to keep a few feet of distance between herself and Castiel.
But before she knows what she’s doing, she’s standing at the angel’s elbow, her arm just brushing against his trench coat.
Castiel inhales deeply before answering in a stilted voice, “It’s…uh…it’s a mark of union.”
His eyes dart over to look at Tabitha without turning his head as he shifts unsteadily from foot to foot.
Struggling, he continues, “This man, and uh…this woman…they…they were intended to mate.”
He drops the heart unceremoniously into the container, his hands clamping down and clenching against the sides of the stainless steel autopsy table.
Tabitha finds her eyes transfixed on his long delicate fingers, now stained red with blood from handling the heart.
“Okay,” Dean continues. “But who put them there?”
One of Castiel’s hands lift from the side of the table, making a flourish in the air as he draws a deep breath of air and explains, “Well, uh…your people call them ‘Cupid.'”
Eyes still fixated on his hands, Tabitha leans closer to Castiel, her shoulder pressing against his as she licks her lips. I should clean his hands for him, she thinks to herself. They’re far more elegant looking when they’re not covered in blood.
“A what?” Sam questions.
Castiel inhales deeply, leaning minutely towards Tabitha before spinning away from her as he continues, “What human myth has mistaken for ‘Cupid’ is actually a lower order of angel. Technically it’s a cherub, third-class.”
Although he’d started to step away from Tabitha, she feels him turn back towards her as he speaks. Can almost feel him as he stands behind her, his warm breath blowing across the loose blond hair covering her neck. She curses herself now for not having the forethought to place it up in a French twist or bun, yearning to feel that warm breath across the skin of her neck.
“Cherub?” Dean asks, sparing a strange look for his sister and another over her head.
Behind her, Castiel continues, “Yeah, they’re all over the world. There are dozens of them.”
His words come as he moves slightly closer behind her, and as Tabitha feels the slightest tremors wracking her body, she swears she can almost feel the heat radiating from the angel through her back. She shuffles her feet, rubbing her thighs together at the tingle that spreads across her skin.
“You mean the little flying fat kid in diapers?” Dean clarifies, frowning deeper in confusion at his sister.
“You feeling alright?” he asks her. “You’re shivering. It ain’t that cold in here.”
Behind her, she hears Castiel passionately defend, “They’re not incontinent.”
The sound of sudden emotion in his voice spins Tabitha around, her chest brushing the angel’s as she stares up into his eyes. She’s almost glad now for wearing flats instead of heels, which normally leave her at eye-level with the angel. It’s nice looking up at him.
Chest heaving in a fast rhythm, Tabitha slowly begins reaching up to Castiel’s face. His head is turned down towards her, his own chest brushing against hers in nearly the same staccato tempo.
“Tabitha…” his voice whispers in a soft caress, sounding like a plea for her to touch him.
“Tabitha?” Dean’s voice breaks over the top of the angel’s, tugging at the last of her sane mind and reminding her that she’s standing in a morgue—littered not only with body parts, but also occupied by her own brothers.
Unable to think of anything else, Tabitha strikes her open palm across Castiel’s face, the slap echoing in the sterile environment as she jogs past the angel and out of the basement morgue.
By the time she hurries past Marty walking down one of the halls in the hospital and makes her way outside, she’s managed to calm her suddenly runaway libido, but her chest still heaves unevenly at the events of only moments before.
She shakes herself, suddenly dying for another one of the cigarettes that Dean had made her stop smoking again. It’s almost a shock that she had actually slapped Castiel, but that had been the only thing she could think to do to stop herself from grabbing and devouring him.
Hands twitching at her sides while she tugs nervously on her blouse, she laughs to herself and jokingly asks aloud, “Who’d of thought admitting something so silly to the Tin Man in Oz would make me get so hot and bothered here?” Somehow, thinking of that world and those inhabitants in the terms of Oz seems easier to her mind. Certainly less confusing than thinking in terms of that Sam vs this Sam.
She circles around the parking lot, shaking and wringing her hands as she tells herself, “Get your shit together, Tab. You can’t fall apart like that now. Especially not in front of the boys. Dean’ll come unglued if he finds out about your extracurricular activities with the angel.”
She snorts to herself and jokes, “Maybe you were just a lonely sap from spending yet another Valentines alone.”
Tabitha studiously picks at her salad, refusing to look up and meet the eyes of any of her male companions sitting around the table with her. And especially not looking up into the eyes of the angel across from her. At the moment, she’d rather be anywhere than hanging around the tacky restaurant that still sports its Valentine’s Day decor a day after the holiday is over.
She can feel her brothers giving her confused looks as well, but she pointedly ignores them, not wanting to come up with any other lies or stories to tell them to explain away her odd behavior from the morgue. She’d told them that she’d slapped the angel because she was still mad at him for dropping her into a strange world, but she knows they hadn’t quite bought the story. They just couldn’t come up with any different conclusions.
Deciding apparently to move on from staring at his sister, Dean asks Castiel, “So, what, you just happen to know he likes the cosmos at this place?” Apparently, the angel had informed her brothers that they would find the cupid here. The assumption seems to be cupid gone rogue.
Castiel turns to eldest Winchester beside him, watching as Dean squirts ketchup on his burger while he explains, “This place is a nexus of human reproduction.”
Nearly choking on her bite of salad at his wording, Tabitha quickly grabs her glass of water and sips it while avoiding the stares of both Dean and Castiel across from her.
Shifting again in her seat, Tabitha recrosses her legs, but freezes when her foot grazes Castiel’s shin. As he continues speaking, one of his hands suddenly reaches down under the table, griping Tabitha’s foot and sliding her shoe off. His hand begins massaging the arch of her foot and her toes with strong, sure fingers. The sensation forces Tabitha to bite her tongue to hold back a moan of pleasure at his clever fingers. And in return, she rubs her other foot against his leg, working up his knee and to his thigh.
Tabitha’s eyes track up to meet Castiel’s as he continues telling them, “It’s exactly the kind of—” his eyes suddenly dart from her to Dean’s burger, seeming torn between the two as he continues, “…of garden the cupid will come to—to pollinate.”
Dean picks up the burger, oblivious to the angel’s hungry looks, and then sets the burger down, pushing it away without taking a bite.
“Wait a minute,” Sam laughs, “you’re not hungry?”
When even Tabitha pauses in staring at Castiel to glance dubiously at Dean, he scoffs, “What? I’m not hungry.”
Castiel licks his lips. “Then you’re not gonna finish that?”
The angel’s hands suddenly release her foot, forcing a pout to her face as she laments his lost attention.
At Dean’s uninterested look, Castiel reaches out to snatch the plate and slide it closer.
The angel picks up the burger, oblivious to even Tabitha’s surprised reaction, but before he can bite into the burger, he jerks up to look across the restaurant, saying, “He’s here.”
“Where?” the boys ask at once.
“I don’t see anything,” Sam adds.
Castiel’s eyes trail movement across the way, and despite knowing there’s something going on, Tabitha can’t force her eyes away from the angel, choosing instead to watch the way his eyes squint and narrow on whatever it is across the restaurant. She marvels at the way his face pinches in an adorable fashion.
“There,” Castiel points out.
Dean dubiously asks, “You mean the same-side-of-the-booth couple over there?”
“Meet me in back,” Castiel instructs, and then disappears, leaving Tabitha to sigh in disappointment at his departure.
“Let’s go,” Dean relents, but he pauses after tossing down his napkin to exasperatedly ask his sister, “Seriously, what’s wrong with you? You bitch-slapped Cas, and then you spent the past ten minutes sighing and staring at your salad. What is going on?”
“Nothing,” she huffs, pushing away from the table to avoid his questions. To herself, she can’t help but wonder the same thing though.
“What the hell is wrong with me?” she mutters to herself, wondering if she had really just rubbed her foot against Castiel’s leg while sitting at the same table with her brothers.
The siblings finally find Castiel in a back room of the restaurant, what appears to be a storage room filled with crates of alcohol and canned goods.
“Cas, where is he?” Sam demands as they approach the angel, his hand outstretched in front of him. His palm is faced away from himself, as though holding something in place or signaling for something to stop.
Without turning to face them, Castiel explains, “I have him tethered. Zoda kama mahrana.” His voice becomes softer as he commands, “Manifest yourself.”
When he lowers his hand, the Winchesters look curiously around the room, searching for this supposed cupid.
Hands spread wide, Dean demands, “So, where is he?”
Tabitha and Sam jump back as a chubby, naked man suddenly grabs Dean from behind, wrapping him in a bear hug as he excitedly exclaims, “Here I am!” His hug is accompanied by a round of giggles as he shakes Dean back and forth, holding him in the air as if he was no more than a rag doll.
Sam and Tabitha share perplexed, searching looks, as if daring each other to be the one to step in to help their older brother.
As each of them silently urges the other to do something, they hear Dean shout pleadingly, “Help!”
The…cupid…happily tells Dean, “Oh, help is on the way.”
“Do something,” Sam hisses at his older sister.
“Prying naked dudes away from one of my brothers isn’t in my job description,” she snaps back, thinking she’s not about to approach the situation with a ten-foot pole.
“Well, you should be more familiar with nak—”
She shoves at Sam’s shoulder, cutting off his words as she growls, “I dare you to finish that thought.”
The cupid continues to…manhandle their brother, still shaking him from side to side as he enthuses, “Yes, it is. Yes, it is.” All while still giggling in a merry, but childlike manner.
Finally looking up and spotting Castiel, the cupid drops Dean to his feet, rushing forward to embrace Castiel similarly as he happily shouts, “Hello, you!”
An uncomfortable Castiel stands stiffly in the embrace of the cupid, not moving or fighting as the cupid lifts him from his feet, giving him the same treatment he’d shown Dean.
“This is cupid?” Dean asks.
In a strained voice, Castiel answers over the cupid’s shoulder, “Yes.”
The cupid turns then, spotting Tabitha and Sam as he gushes, “And look at you two, huh?”
He darts after the pair, and as Sam shakes his head in apprehension, Tabitha quickly maneuvers herself behind her brother, even pushing him towards the cherub while taking refuge behind his much taller frame. Perhaps selfishly, she’d rather sacrifice her little brother to the cupid than find herself being caught in his…unclothed embrace.
In a repeated fashion, the cupid embraces Sam while giggling and shaking him.
Fearing that he might come after her next, Tabitha darts behind Dean, hands on his back as she sneaks looks over his shoulder.
“Oh, now you want help from me,” he irritably comments to her as he frowns over his shoulder. But he obligingly holds his hands out in a protective manner, planting himself more firmly in front of her.
To Castiel, Dean somewhat desperately asks, “Is this a fight? Are we in a fight?”
The angel steps beside Dean, standing next to him in a similarly protective manner as he glances at Tabitha before replying, “This is…their handshake.”
Still a little desperate, Dean tells him, “I don’t like it.”
“No one likes it,” Castiel agrees.
“Who would?” Tabitha mutters disdainfully. Then, feeling the hair on the back of her neck raise, turns to look behind her. Only to be engulfed in a bone-crushing hug as the cupid appears there.
After a hug that goes on far too long for Tabitha’s taste, she finally feels Dean’s hands on her shoulders trying to pry her from the cupid as he impatiently snaps at the cherub, “All right ya naked creep. Get your pervy hands off our sister.”
The cherub finally releases Tabitha, strutting to stand in front of Dean and Castiel as he asks his fellow angel in a slightly lisping voice, “What can I do for you?”
Castiel immediately demands, “Why are you doing this?”
“Your targets—” Castiel informs him, “the ones you’ve marked—they’re slaughtering each other.”
The cupid’s perpetually happy face falls. “What?” His voice dropping to a sad note, he asks, “They are?”
Eyes still darting around uncomfortably, Dean jumps in, “Listen, birthday suit, we know, okay? We know you been flittin’ around, popping people with your poison arrow, making them murder each other!”
Castiel adds to Dean’s angry tirade, “What we don’t know is why.”
The cupid had started chewing on his fingers, but turns to stare incredulously at his fellow angel. “You think I—” He doesn’t finish as his face falls even more, tears filling his eyes as he starts to cry. “Well, uh,” he begins, voice breaking, “I don’t know what to say.”
Covering his eyes, the cupid pushes past them, moving to a corner as his tears audibly increase.
The four of them all turn to stare at the sobbing cupid’s back, and then turn to give each other perplexed looks.
Quietly, Sam begins to question, “Should…should somebody maybe…go talk to him?”
“Yeah, that’s a good idea,” Dean agrees, and then the brothers turn together to look at their sister expectantly.
Jaw dropping, she hisses in a soft whisper, “Me? Why are you looking at me? Like I know the first thing about comforting a sobbing cupid.”
Shrugging his shoulders, Dean tells her, “Yeah, but you’re…you know…”
His careful attempts to not sound condescending fall flat.
Voice rising a little more, she points out, “Just because I’m a woman, doesn’t mean I know squat about comforting someone that emotional.” She waves an irritated hand at the pair of them. “I mean, look at what I grew up with. Winchester men are the most emotionally retarded group of guys out there. So don’t look at me to know how to comfort the naked guy.”
Dean silently concedes her point with a shrug. Then, turning to Castiel, he says, “Well, you’re up slugger. Give ’em hell, Cas.”
Eager for the task not to fall to either of them, both of the boys give Castiel a supportive slap on his shoulder, not so subtly pushing him towards the increasing sounds of sobbing.
Castiel gives an unhappy look to the boys, once laced with a little bit of betrayal, probably from the perceived lack of solidarity to their male bond.
Nevertheless, Castiel starts towards the sobbing cherub, telling him, “Um…look.” He stops just behind the cupid, telling him, “We didn’t mean to, um…” He glances back to the Winchesters, and the siblings all give him supportive nods.
Turning back to the cherub, he continues, “…hurt your feelings.”
Again, the cupid spins around and grabs Castiel in a tight hug.
As he tightly grips Castiel, he tells him, “Love is more than a word to me, you know. I love love. I love it! And if that’s wrong, I don’t want to be right!”
Hands coming up to awkwardly pat the cherub on the back, Castiel consoles, “Yes, yes. Of course. I, uh…I have no idea what you’re saying.”
The cherub releases him as he explains, “I was just on my appointed rounds. Whatever my targets do after that, that’s nothing to do with me. I-I was following my orders.”
He suddenly stares in Castiel’s eyes, telling him, “Please, brother. Read my mind. You’ll see.”
They continue staring at each other for another minute before Castiel turns to face the Winchesters.
“He’s telling the truth.”
The cupid sighs, happily exclaiming, “Jiminy Christmas. Thank you.”
Castiel moves away from the cherub, coming to stand beside Tabitha. All too aware of his closeness, Tabitha keeps her gaze focused away from him, instead casually looking the cherub over.
“Wait, wait, you said—” Dean begins asking, “you said you were just following orders?”
The cupid laughs heartily, and in his lisping voice exclaims, “Heaven, silly. Heaven.”
“Why does Heaven care if Harry meets Sally?” Dean demands, looking across at his siblings.
He stiffens and snaps at his sister, “Yo, Tabitha! Eyes north of the equator.”
She feels her face heat a bit as she drags her eyes back north to the cupid’s face.
“What the hell is wrong with you tonight?” Dean once more demands.
Clearing her throat a little, Tabitha can’t help pointing out, “I mean…come on. There ain’t much…cherubish about the guy. You have to admit. Can’t fault a girl for admiring.”
On either side of her, she can feel her brothers’ eyes—as well as Castiel’s—track curiously south on the cupid, their heads canting to the side almost in unison before they each give a little cough and focus their attention elsewhere.
Oblivious to the interlude, the cupid answers Dean’s question. “Oh, mostly they don’t. You know, certain bloodlines, certain destinies.” He suddenly gestures at the siblings. “Oh, like yours.”
“What?” Sam questions in surprise.
His voice is more serious as he continues. “Yeah, the union of John and Mary Winchester—very big deal upstairs, top priority arrangement. Mmm.”
Incredulously, Dean asks, “Are you saying that you fixed-up our parents?”
“Well, not me, but…yeah.” Chuckling to himself, he continues, “Well, it wasn’t easy, either. Ooh, they couldn’t stand each other at first. But when we were done with them—perfect couple.”
Dean snaps, “They’re dead!”
Apologetically, the cupid explains, “I’m sorry, but…the orders were very clear. The three of you needed to be born. Your parents were just, uh…meant to be.”
He grins then and begins singing, “A match made in Heaven. Heaven!”
Tabitha bites her cheek as she mulls over the information the cherub has given them, thoughts swirling in her mind. She remembers that she hadn’t been all that wild about Castiel when she first met him, and that the Tin Man hadn’t been that keen on her when she first showed up in Oz, either. And when she considers how strangely she’s been acting the past few hours—since working this case where a cupid is running around—she has to wonder.
Before she can think the question over too long and talk herself out of asking it, she says, “So, people that can’t seem to stay away from each other, people that everyone else thinks are in love…that’s just you, or another cupid, making them feel that way?”
The cupid shrugs a little. “Not always. Just with certain bloodlines and destinies that we’re under orders to make sure align.” He chuckles a little merrily. “We don’t set up every couple, silly. Just the ones that matter to Heaven.”
Careful of the knowledge that her brothers are standing beside her, she asks, “So, is Heaven going to be setting up the three of us then, to continue their twisted little match-making game with our family?”
Still laughing merrily, the cupid replies, “Oh, I don’t know, cutie. Heaven hasn’t given any orders like that yet.”
Before she can react, the cherub steps forward, grabbing her hand and pulling her forward into a quickstep waltz with him as he continues singing “Cheek to Cheek” again.
He holds their clasped hands up a little higher between them as he giggles softly, “Not that it matters to you. Looks like someone’s already marked you.” Her eyes dart to her wrist and the bracelet jingling as he shakes her hand.
She’s so stupefied, she doesn’t even notice when Dean pries her away from the cupid again, angrily punching him in the face.
His low muttering as he grips his fist finally shakes her to awareness as she looks up to find the cupid gone.
Sam waves his hands in an annoyed manner when they realize the cupid has disappeared.
“Where is he?” Dean asks. “Where’d he go?!”
“I believe you upset him,” Castiel points out.
“Upset him?!” Dean snaps.
Trying to calm their brother, Sam cautions, “Dean. Enough!”
“What?” Dean demands, his tone still angry.
Voice rising, Sam tells him in exasperation, “You just punched a cupid!”
“I punched a dick!” he shouts back. “You saw him. Pervy dude had his hands all over our sister!”
Sam looks back at Castiel before continuing in a careful tone, “Um…are we gonna talk about what’s been up with you lately or not?”
Dean stares at Sam and visibly restrains himself. “Or not,” he angrily growls, striding out of the storage room.
Sam turns to his sister, brows raised in challenge as he asks, “And what’s going on with you?”
She swallows nervously as she shoves her hands into the pockets of her suit jacket, shuffling closer to her younger brother as she tries to think of a way to cover her admittedly strange behavior the past few hours. She’s not even sure how to explain it to herself.
As she nears him, Sam abruptly stiffens and takes a huge step back from her.
Head tilting in suspicion, she asks him, “Are we gonna talk about what’s going on with you?”
Sam stares at her for a moment, and then turns to swiftly stalk out of the storeroom.
Left alone with Castiel, Tabitha finds her heart rate increasing and her breath turning into shallow pants as she fights to resist the urges trying to pull her across the space between them.
Castiel seems to be restraining himself in a similar manner, leaning down as his hands grip the sides of a crate in front of him.
“I think I deserve to know just what the hell this charm is now, Cas,” she points out, startled by the husky timbre her voice has taken on.
“It’s nothing,” he insists, not looking up at her, his own voice dropping at least an octave.
“He said you marked me,” she whispers, swaying with the effort to remain where she is instead of going to the angel like her senses seem to scream for her to do.
“It’s not what you think,” he maintains, still staring down at the crate as his knuckles whiten under the pressure of his fingers gripping the wood.
“Then what is it?”
“It’s added protection. Added strength. To keep you safe…from Azrael. And now…from Lucifer.”
She sways again, actually taking a step towards the angel before she catches herself, trying to push through the muddied thoughts in her mind to focus on the questions she’s needed to ask the angel for some time. Only the shred of realization that he’s actually answering the questions he usually avoids allows her to hold onto her composure long enough to push out her thoughts.
“Why do the other angels make such a big deal out of it? What is it really? What is it doing?” She’d be proud of herself for getting those three questions out, if it weren’t for the breathiness of her words.
Castiel finally looks up at her, and the moment his does, and she sees the fierce hunger in his narrowed gaze, her questions are forgotten. Her feet carry her forward even as he shoves aside the crate in front of him, toppling it into the wall with a crashing force, and then striding predatorily towards her.
Their chests collide with a painful impact, both fisting their hands in each other’s hair as they fight for dominance in a kiss that is less passion and nearly bordering on punishment.
She hears the ringtone in her pocket signaling that Dean is calling her cell phone, and she struggles to remember why she should answer it. Only a lingering worry that he might come after her and discover her with Castiel is enough for her mind to reassert itself and remind her that she should leave.
But she knows she can’t.
She grabs her phone, barely looking at the screen as she types a message to Dean, telling him that she’s running down a lead with Castiel.
Despite her attention turning momentarily to her phone, Castiel’s has remained focused on her, his lips moving along to her jawline when she turns her head, and then trailing heatedly down to her throat.
His teeth suddenly flash out, sinking roughly into her neck. The pain brings her focus back to him as she drops the phone, her hands sliding into his hair as she pulls his head back, exposing his own neck.
He groans, and her eyes narrow on the bobbing of his Adam’s apple, luring her mouth to the moving flesh along the expanse of warm skin. Her lips seal over it, laving it momentarily before lightly biting it in return.
His gasp urges her on, spurring her into frantic action as she rips open his shirt and runs her hands up the skin of his chest.
“Tabitha,” he moans, his hands yanking her blouse out of her dress pants as his hands span across her back, pulling her into his body as his hips grind against hers.
“We shouldn’t do this,” he raggedly tells her.
“I know,” she moans in agreement, but can’t seem to stop herself.
She can’t tell how much time has passed when her senses finally return to her bit by bit. Only knows that she’s sitting on a low crate, her back resting against Castiel’s chest as they catch their breath and straighten their clothes. Her hand wipes across her chin, coming away with blood on the back of her hand, and a vague memory of teeth sinking into flesh. A part of her knows she should be appalled by that realization, but at the moment, she’s simply too blissed out to care.
Tabitha allows herself to remain briefly against Castiel’s chest before she sits up with a chuckle, running her hand through her hair to smooth the tangles, and buttoning her light blue silk blouse from where it had been pulled apart at some point.
“Mmm,” she hums contentedly as she straightens her suit. “I love that serene feeling that comes with satisfying that kind of deep hunger.”
Castiel is silent as he sits beside and behind her, remaining leaning back a bit while straightening his own clothing, but she doesn’t mind his silence.
Raking her hand through her hair to finger-comb it, she gently moans as she thinks aloud, “Mmm, now that one hunger is satisfied, I can’t help but think how nice something sweet would be right now. Forget a smoke after sex; I’d kill for a piece of chocolate cake right now. An ooey, gooey, decadent piece of German chocolate cake would be divine right now.”
She looks over her shoulder as she hungrily licks her lips, and catches Castiel licking his lips as well.
“I have a craving for hamburgers,” he tells her. His eyes close briefly as he adds a little dreamily, “With lots of that sauce from tomatoes on it.”
With a grin, she asks, “You mean ketchup?”
At his fervent nod, she turns away to giggle, thinking his post-coital cravings of a hamburger seems a little bizarre, especially for an angel, but when she turns back to tell him, she finds that he’s disappeared.
Now alone, and with her orgasmic bliss melting away, she finally has the presence of mind to feel more than a bit of shame for her wonton behavior. And more than a little fear as she touches her lips again to find a bit of lingering blood from her biting Castiel. Whatever was affecting the couple that…consumed each other…she realizes has also been affecting her…and even to an extent, Castiel.
And according to the words of the cupid, she hadn’t been struck by his arrow, so something else had to be going on to make her act so…rabidly.
She shudders at the realization that she’d bitten Castiel—drawing blood more than once—and that she wouldn’t have stopped if he hadn’t given her something else to focus on and to sate her…hunger.
Her hand creeps up to the curve of her neck and jaw, finding the tender flesh and indentations of teeth there. He hadn’t broken the skin the way she had, but clearly, he’d been affected by whatever is going on in this town as well.
With her hand over the tender flesh, she makes her way out of the storeroom, wondering how in the hell she’s going to hide that mark from her brothers.
Not to mention, how they’re going to figure out what’s happening in this town before she does something else inappropriate. Like mauling Castiel with an audience.
Sam makes it back to their motel room at the same time as Tabitha. And though they both look each other’s rumpled and disheveled clothes up and down, neither makes any comment. Sam doesn’t linger on the way Tabitha holds one hand over her neck and jaw, and she doesn’t linger on the way he quickly moves away from her as they pass near each other going through the door of their room.
But Dean’s eyes narrow on them as they step into the room, ineloquently telling them, “You both look like shit.”
Sam mutters something as he drops the closed briefcase in his hand onto the bed, stiffly pulling off his suit to change into his street clothes.
Tabitha mutters in a similar fashion, snagging her bag and darting into the safety of the bathroom to avoid prying eyes under the guise of changing clothes.
She can hear Sam explaining his trip to the morgue and his resulting run-in with a demon, telling them how he came upon the briefcase he’d brought in.
Though she listens through the door, Tabitha doesn’t add much to the conversation, instead, rifling through her bag and cursing herself for not having the forethought to own a scarf. Or a turtleneck. Of course, she hadn’t anticipated getting such an obvious…hickey—for lack of a better word—that she’d have to hide from her brothers, either. Why hadn’t she thought to plan for that?
She flips the collar of her leather coat up as she exits the bathroom, moving to stand a little closer to her brothers as they stare down at the closed briefcase on the table. Thankfully, their focus is on it and neither pays her any heed as she joins them.
“What the hell does a demon got to do with this, anyway?” Dean wonders aloud.
Sam lets out an exaggerated sigh. “Believe me, I got no idea,” he confesses.
“You okay?” Dean asks him, and Tabitha looks across her older brother to see that Sam does seem a little…shaky.
Their younger brother looks up and quickly nods his head, assuring them, “Yeah, yeah. I’ll be all right.”
Dean seems to accept Sam’s words, and returns his attention to the briefcase, saying, “Let’s crack her open.” He glances back and forth between his siblings trying to lighten the mood by joking, “What’s the worst that could happen, right?”
Tabitha lets out a doubtful snort, but watches as her brothers crouch lower to examine the locks of the briefcase, each pressing a release button.
As soon as they do, the briefcase springs open, a blinding light knocking them all back on their heels as they shield their eyes from the light that pours out of the suitcase.
Once the light finally dissipates, Dean demands, “What the hell was that?”
“It’s a human soul,” Castiel answers from behind them.
Tabitha immediately feels a surge of lust slam into her body, physically leaning towards the angel before she can force herself to turn away, maneuvering herself closer to Sam and behind Dean.
But Sam stiffens as she brushes against him, jerking away and walking as resolutely away from her as she had from Castiel.
Castiel continues speaking, telling them, “It’s starting to make sense.”
Tabitha peeks a look over Dean’s shoulder, surprised at the sight of Castiel standing with a takeout bag of fast food, hungrily tearing into a hamburger on the other side of the motel room.
Now standing closer to Castiel, Sam demands, “Now, what about that makes sense?”
“And when did you start eating?” Dean wonders, worry touching his voice.
Castiel waves the hamburger at him, saying around a mouthful, “Exactly. My hunger—” His eyes suddenly dart to Tabitha, and she actually takes a step forward until she reaches out to place her hand against Dean’s shoulder to stop herself. Castiel takes a deep breath before shoving the hamburger to his mouth again and tearing off another mouthful. “—It’s a clue, actually.”
In unison, the boys ask, “For what?”
Castiel takes a few steps closer as he explains, “This town is not suffering from some love-gone-wrong effect. It’s suffering from hunger. Starvation, to be exact—specifically…Famine.”
Tabitha bunches a handful of Dean’s shirt under her palm, trying to use him as an anchor to keep herself from closing the distance between herself and the angel when he stops moving only a few feet away from the trio of siblings. Her legs press together and rub against each other as she fights the urge to go to Castiel, trying to force her mind to focus on his words, instead of the delightfully deep rumble that seems to purr in her ears.
“Famine?” Sam repeats, helping to center her thoughts a bit on what really matters. And whatever is creating all the strange occurrences in this town.
“A-as in the horseman?” Sam continues.
Dean sarcastically comments, “Great.” Then glances over his shoulder at their sister with a frown. In response, she forces her grip to loosen on his shoulder, but doesn’t remove her hand, for fear of what she might do without the anchor.
“T-t-that’s freaking great,” Dean continues.
Sam attempts to clarify Castiel’s words. “I thought famine meant starvation, like as in, you know, food.”
Castiel nods while still holding his own food. “Yes. Absolutely. But not just food. I mean, everyone seems to be starving for something…sex—” His eyes dart again to Tabitha as he inhales deeply, and Tabitha’s hand once again tightens against her brother’s shoulder. “—attention, drugs, love…”
Dean’s jaw dropped as he inaudibly groaned, turning out from under Tabitha’s grip as he pries her fingers from his shoulder. “Damn, Tabby. Watch the fingernails.” He spins further away from her, leaving her to wrap her arms around herself to keep herself planted where she is. Dean spares her another frown before turning his attention back to Castiel, saying, “Well, that explains the puppy-lovers that cupid shot up.” He pauses to frown again at his sister before asking, “And what’s your deal? You jonesing for a smoke or something?”
“Smoke…” she slowly repeats as the thought struggles to process in her mind. “Yeah,” she readily agrees when she realizes Dean has provided her the perfect excuse. “This stupid nicotine patch just isn’t cutting it on the cravings right now.” She’s actually surprised that she hasn’t been craving a cigarette. Just chocolate…and a certain angel. Maybe even a chocolate covered angel.
Castiel continues speaking around his burger. “Right. The cherub made them crave love, and then Famine came, and made them rabid for it.”
It’s actually a bit of a relief for Tabitha to hear him say it. At least it doesn’t mean that there’s something going crazy with her that she actually bit Castiel.
“Okay, but what about you?” Dean asks. “I mean, since when do angels secretly hunger for White Castle?”
The angel finally pauses in his chewing, almost sadly looking down at the burger in his hands as he admits, “It’s my vessel—Jimmy. His, uh, appetite for red meat…and other things…has been touched by Famine’s effect.” He turns away as he completes his admission, as though embarrassed by it. But finishes by hungrily tearing into the burger again.
Tabitha feels her lust cool just a little as she considers his words, wondering how much of Castiel’s earlier behavior had been his own…or if it had all been nothing but his human vessel’s response.
Dean shakes his head, asking, “So, Famine just rolls into town and everybody goes crazy?”
After a dramatic pause, Castiel quotes, “‘And then will come Famine riding on a black steed. He will ride into the land of plenty…and great will be the Horseman’s hunger, for he is hunger. His hunger will seep out and poison the air.” Still facing away from them with his burger, Castiel continues, “Famine’s hungry. He must devour the souls of his victims.”
Dean glances at the briefcase, and Tabitha finds herself glad for the direness of Castiel’s story. It gives her something focus on as she struggles for control.
“So, that’s what was in the briefcase—the Twinkie dude’s soul?” Dean asks.
The angel finally turns back to face them. “Lucifer has sent his demons to care for Famine, to feed him, make certain he’ll be ready.”
Sam asks the question on all their minds. “Ready for what?”
“To march across the land.”
Finally feeling like she has some control over herself again, Tabitha takes a few experimental steps to loosen her bunched and gathered muscles, moving in a small circle as she thinks out loud. She’s even able to mostly ignore the angel’s movements as he sits on one of the beds. “Okay. So this is a bad thing. Very bad. But how do we stop Famine? Especially when he has this kind of effect on everyone.”
Her circuitous route takes her by Sam, and when their arms brush against each other, Sam stiffens visibly before jumping away from her and hightailing it for the bathroom.
Dean and Tabitha both watch his retreat, but neither says anything for a moment, focusing instead on the matter of surmounting importance.
“Famine?” Dean seems to repeat to himself.
Though mostly rhetorical, Castiel feels the need to answer around another mouthful. “Yes.” As he finishes the last of his burger, he looks almost mournfully at the empty wrapping.
From the bathroom, Sam asks, “So, what, this whole town is just gonna eat, drink, and screw itself to death?”
Tabitha leans to one foot to peer into the bathroom, her curiosity peaking a bit more to hear such crude words pass her younger brother’s lips. He generally puts things more diplomatically, instead of sounding so crass like their older brother.
Still chewing, Castiel says, “We should stop it.”
“No shit,” Tabitha mutters, mind still on her younger brother as she turns back to the angel and her older brother.
“Exactly,” Dean agrees. Then asks the million-dollar question. “How?”
“How did you stop the last Horseman you met?” Castiel replies.
Tabitha turns to Dean, deferring to him since she hadn’t actually been there when Sam and Dean took War down. She wonders why she hadn’t felt so affected by War, nothing like what Famine is doing, but she also remembers that War had been more intent on capturing her and presenting her as some kind of thank you gift to Lucifer.
“War got his mojo from this ring,” Dean answers, walking to his jacket where Tabitha had placed it on a hook and pulling out the ring from a pocket. He holds the ring up in the air as he continues, “And after we cut it off, he just tucked tail and ran. And everybody that was affected, it was like they woke up out of a dream. You think Famine’s got a class ring, too?”
“I know he does,” Castiel answers.
“Well, okay,” Dean agrees. “L-let’s track him down and get to chopping.”
Castiel absently agrees while looking into his fast-food bag for anything else to eat. “Yeah.”
“What are you, the Hamburglar?” Dean questions when Castiel continues thoroughly searching the bag for any speck or morsel of food.
Still in an absent way, Castiel replies, “I’ve developed a taste for ground beef.”
“Well, have you even tried to stop it?”
Almost indignantly, Castiel insists, “I’m an angel. I can stop anytime I want.”
“Whatever,” Dean dismisses, turning to shove the horseman’s ring back into his coat pocket. “Sam, Tab, let’s roll.”
Though she moves a little sluggishly, Tabitha nods and steps towards the door, looking over her shoulder as she waits for her brothers.
From in the bathroom, they hear the labored voice of their brother softly calling, “Dean…I, um…I can’t.”
Sam finally steps out of the bathroom, has face ashen and his movements stilted as he grabs the doorway to support himself. Barely able to look up at Dean, Sam tells him, “I can’t go.”
“What do you mean?”
Eyes darting towards their sister, Sam admits, “I think it got to me, Dean. I think I’m hungry for it…”
“Hungry for what?” Dean asks, looking back and forth between his siblings when Tabitha suddenly inhales in understanding.
Sam doesn’t meet her eyes, but gives her a little nod to confirm her realization.
Shuffling his feet, he continues in low tones, “You smell even more like a demon now, Tab. It’s taking everything I’ve got to stay away from you.”
Tabitha’s hand flies to cover her mouth, even falling back a step in shock at his pronouncement while staring at the threadbare carpet to hide her terror at the thought of what Lucifer’s brand has been doing to her—even in the absence of him being able to use it to control her.
Dean spins a quarter of a turn to glance back and forth between the pair as they both avert their eyes anywhere but looking at each other.
“Demon blood?” he clarifies, struggling to keep his voice steady and still looking back and forth between them for confirmation. “You got to be kidding me,” he continues to himself.
Turning to the angel, he tells him with an edge of desperation, “You got to get him out of here. You got to beam him to, like, Montana. Anywhere but here.”
In a hard tone, Castiel informs him, “It won’t work. He’s already infected. The hunger is just gonna travel with him.”
Harshly, Dean demands, “Well, then, what do we do?”
Sam answers. “You guys go cut that bastard’s finger off.”
With a stiff upper lip, Dean tells Castiel and Tabitha, “You guys heard him.”
Sam interrupts to request, “But, Dean…before you guys go, you better…” Sam lets out a shaky exhale, tears in his eyes from the effort to restrain himself. “…you better lock me down. But good.” His eyes dart again to Tabitha as he admits, “I don’t wanna risk hurting Tab again.”
Dean gives a nod, though his eyes are pain-filled as he does so. He turns to their sister and points to the door, telling her, “Cas and I’ll take care of him. You get outta here so you don’t make it any harder for him.”
She gives a clipped nod, her eyes lingering on her younger brother for just a moment as she regretfully tells him, “I’m so sorry, Sammy.”
When he jerks a stiff nod in answer, she returns it, and then strides outside to clear her head.
When Castiel and Dean stride out of the motel, the sight of the angel causes Tabitha’s breath to catch, and from the way his nostrils flare and his fists clench, Tabitha realizes she’s not the only one…hungry with lust.
She’d thought she’d managed to tamp it down, but the feelings return with a vengeance, until she’s swaying on her feet from the effort to keep herself from flinging her arms around the angel. Even her teeth grind against each other with a longing to sink into the sweet softness of his flesh.
His mind still racing with worry for their younger brother, Dean fails to notice the way his sister sways and wraps her arms around herself as if holding herself together. His eyes are too focused on the ground in front of his feet, trying to focus on one step at a time as he announces to Tabitha and Castiel, “Well, since Twinkie dude’s soul escaped, chances are more than fair that Famine’s gonna be looking for another soul. So I say we go check out the morgue for another candidate.”
He glances back over his shoulder when he realizes the angel has stopped following him, tilting his head at the way Castiel stands frozen in place, his hands clenching and unclenching at his sides.
“Dude, you just chowed down on the last of your burger. Focus…let’s go. There’s no time to waste,” he admonishes.
Rocking slightly in place, Tabitha announces, “Maybe we should split up, Dean. You and Cas take the morgue, and I’ll find another ride and take a drive around town, see if I can’t find anything out of the ordinary that way.”
Dean turns to look at her, but catches sight only of her back as she strides determinedly away, pausing occasionally as she checks cars in the parking lot for one that will be the easiest to steal.
Knowing that she’ll damn well do what she wants to do anyway, Dean shrugs and turns to the angel, reluctantly telling him, “Well, let’s roll.”
Tabitha opens the passenger door of the Impala and slides in beside her brother.
“You find anything?” he asks her, only glancing towards her before he returns to his vigil of watching the hospital.
“No,” she sighs, leaning forward to look at the brightly lit building as well. Clearing her throat, she asks, “Cas was sure the doc’s soul hadn’t been harvested.” Underneath her lust and cravings for chocolate, she still has the presence of mind to feel sorry for the death of the jovial coroner that drank himself to death since they last saw him.
In a distracted tone, Dean grunts, “Yeah.”
She clears her throat again, looking almost suspiciously around the car before asking, “So, you don’t know where Cas went?”
“No,” Dean growls in a clipped voice, sitting back in his seat to look at her again. “We were headed back to the car and he just disappeared. Dude’s acting weirder and weirder. And this whole eating thing? I gotta admit, it’s really creeping me out to see him doing human stuff like that. Next thing you know, he’s gonna be drinking and screwing women just like me.”
“Yeah,” Tabitha agrees with a distracted but relieved sigh, slumping back in her seat a bit. When Dean had called her for an update and to give his own, he’d insisted that she swing over to the hospital to rejoin him, but she’d only relented when he’d distractedly started calling for Castiel and then had admitted to her that the angel had poofed out on him.
Dean clears his throat, pulling Tabitha’s attention back to him as he carefully asks, “So, you ah, haven’t been too affected by all this, have you? I mean…you’re not chain-smoking…binging on candy…getting your freak on…nothing crazy like everyone else in town’s doing…are you?”
Tabitha forces her gaze straight ahead as she schools her features, and then shakes her head as she insists, “Naw. All good. Nothing I can’t handle.”
After a minute passes, she risks a glance in his direction, asking him, “What about you? I mean, everyone else seems affected, but you seem pretty calm.”
He shrugs it off. “I guess. Must not be hungry for anything.” But he pauses to size her up again, noticing the way one of her legs bounces in a steady rhythm, one of her old nervous ticks that he hasn’t seen in a few years. Seeing it now, he decides to press, “But you are feeling the affect? So how is it you’re not binging on something?”
She glances a little nervously at Dean, knowing she can’t tell him about her afternoon with the angel unless she wants to see him kill both her and Castiel, so she somewhat honestly insists, “I’d love to binge on some chocolate right now, and it’s driving me crazy that I can’t. But I’ve got willpower.” She grins then and gestures to herself. “You think this body came easy? It comes from years‘ worth of dieting and willpower in turning down chocolate when all I wanted to do was inhale a dozen candy bars or a whole pint of ice cream. I’m well practiced at saying ‘no.'”
She laughs a little and it further eases her brother’s worries, allowing him to return his attention back to the motel. But to herself, she realizes that while she’d long ago learned to turn down chocolate, she apparently hadn’t ever learned how to turn down…other hungers.
The following silence in the car is suddenly broken when Castiel reappears in the middle of the back seat of the Impala, a paper bag crinkling loudly as he begins diving into it for another hamburger.
Dean turns to look at the angel, but Tabitha forces herself to stare straight ahead, one hand digging into her knee while the other clamps down on the handle of the door in a death-grip to control herself.
“Are you serious?” Dean exasperatedly asks the angel.
Mouth sounding full, Castiel answers, “These make me…” he chuckles a bit, “…very happy.”
“Well, they’re annoying as hell and they smell like grease,” Tabitha snaps, her temper flaring as her body struggles against her waning willpower.
Dean glances suspiciously at her as Castiel suddenly becomes very still in the back.
In a low, harsh tone, Castiel growls, “It’s this hunger…or the other.” Warningly, he almost dares, “Which would you rather I feed?”
Tabitha sucks in a deep breath, torn between scandal at the notion of her brother sitting so close beside her…and that undeniable hunger that screams within her for its own vote.
Her head punches back into the headrest of the seat as she struggles to control her breathing and keep herself from launching into the back seat for what her body craves.
“HolymotherofGod,” she exhales to herself in a rush. Blood races through her veins and the nerve endings in her body seem to tingle with the reminder of just what she could be feeling if only she lets go and lets Castiel feed both their hungers.
When she hears Castiel forcefully tearing into the burger again, she sits forward and claps both hands on her legs, leaning her head between her knees as she breathes deeply, trying to force that hunger away again.
“You alright, Tab?” Dean asks, worry in his voice.
“Yeah,” she unsteadily answers, not looking up. Thinking quickly, she explains, “I, ah…just had a rush of craving…for a smoke. I’m good…I’ll be fine.”
Still frowning back and forth between the two occupants of his car, Dean settles on asking the angel, “How many is that?”
Around his food, Castiel answers, “I lost count. It’s in the low hundreds.”
Dean lets out a low whistle, glancing back at Tabitha when he sees her pushing back into her seat again, but rolls his eyes when he sees the lit cigarette between her lips, wondering where she’d had them stashed.
“What?” she snaps at his dark, disapproving look, blowing out a long exhale of smoke. Knowing what his next concern will be, she rolls down her window to waft the smoke outside. She growls at him, “It’s one cigarette. When it gets into the low hundreds, then you can be worried.”
Dean suddenly seem to spot something, and grips the collar of her jacket, peeling it back from her jaw as he shouts, “What the hell is that?!”
She snatches the collar from his fingers, tugging it up around her neck and jaw again as she mutters around the cigarette in her mouth, “None of your damn business. What the hell do ya think it looks like?”
With his hands wrapped around the steering wheel, Dean imagines strangling whoever left the hickey with teeth marks on his sister’s throat.
In a low growl, he lectures her, “What the hell were you thinking? Do you realize that you could have ended up like that damn couple in the morgue that freakin’ ate each other?!” He lowers his voice when he realizes he’d been shouting, but just as angrily demands, “Who the hell did that? And just when the hell did that happen?”
Hand shaking from the effort to control herself, Tabitha removes the cigarette from her lips, her voice only shaking a bit as she reminds her brother, “We agreed a while back that we’d stay out of each other’s sex lives, Dean. And I’m just fine. It’s only a little hickey. Just forget about it.”
“Hickeys don’t come with teeth marks,” he hisses in return, eyes focused on the steering wheel as he experimentally twists his clenched fists around it, imaging strangling the faceless man that marked his sister like that. Famine-crazed or not…Dean leaves no excuses for anyone hurting his sister in such a manner.
Under her breath, Tabitha mutters, “I did a helluva lot worse to him.”
Dean jerks to stare at her, but shudders and looks away, deciding not to touch her statement as he returns to his fantasies of strangling the asshole responsible for the mark. He wonders if it’s possible to get dental impressions or something.
In a bland voice, Castiel comments from the back seat, “What I don’t understand is…where is your hunger, Dean?”
“Huh?” Dean asks, returning his attention to the briefly forgotten angel in the back seat. Tabitha takes the opportunity to return to smoking, hoping that if she follows Castiel’s example, she can burry one hunger well enough by satisfying another.
In the back seat, the angel continues his conversation with Dean. “Well, slowly but surely, everyone in this town is falling prey to Famine, but so far, you seem unaffected.”
Dean shrugs a little and explains, “Hey, when I want to drink, I drink. When I want sex, I go get it. Same goes for a sandwich or a fight.”
“So…you’re saying you’re just well-adjusted?” Castiel surmises.
“God, no,” Dean argues. “I’m just well-fed.”
Against her better judgment, Tabitha flippantly cuts in with, “And if you’d stay the hell out of my sex life, maybe I’d be well-fed, too.”
Dean points at her and growls, “Pipe down, or I’m gonna find a freakin’ iron chastity belt for you just like I knew I should have years ago.”
From the back seat, Castiel mutters into his hamburger, “Wouldn’t do any good.”
Dean starts to look over his shoulder, wondering what the angel had muttered, but Castiel interrupts his thought, nodding towards the hospital and saying, “There.”
They all turn to observe a tall man in a black suit, carrying an identical briefcase to the one Sam had swiped. The man carries the briefcase out to a waiting black SUV.
Eager for action of some sort to offer a distraction, Tabitha hums in excitement when Dean starts the car and turns to follow the SUV.
They follow it to a darkened Biggerson’s on the edge of town. Although the restaurant is unlit inside, the parking lot is full and several men in dark suits mill around the entrance.
“This didn’t seem odd to you?” Dean questions his sister with a raised eyebrow.
She flicks the last of her cigarette out the window as she confesses, “I didn’t make it over to this side of town before you called me to come back and sit on the hospital with you.”
He grunts and turns back to the restaurant. “Demons.”
She glances in the same direction before agreeing, “Probably.”
“You want to go over the plan again?” Dean asks the angel, referring to the very simple game plan they’d outlined as they followed the SUV.
When Castiel doesn’t answer, the siblings both turn to glance into the back seat, finding the angel almost mournfully playing with the empty wrapper from his burger.
“Hey, happy meal,” Dean snaps. “The plan?” he reminds.
Shaking out of his stupor, Castiel answers as he turns his attention to Ruby’s knife in his other hand, “I take the knife, I go in, I cut off the ring hand of Famine, and I meet you back here in the parking lot.”
“Well, that sounds foolproof,” Dean comments with an edge of sarcasm.
At the answering silence, the siblings glance over their shoulders again, but find the back seat now empty.
The sight allows Tabitha to sigh in relief, her body finally able to uncoil a bit.
Noticing her slightly relaxed demeanor, Dean cautiously asks, “You alright now?”
“Yeah,” she nods. “Just can’t wait for this all to be over.”
When a few moments pass and the angel doesn’t return, they both begin to realize their “foolproof” plan may have gone awry.
“This is taking too long,” Dean announces suddenly, grabbing a shotgun and spilling impatiently out of the Impala.
Tabitha hesitates, but takes a steadying breath and follows her brother, a sawed-off gripped between her own hands.
They ease through the back door of the place together.
“This is way too quiet,” she whispers to Dean, feeling her heart rate increase with every forward step she takes.
Dean pauses in the kitchen and Tabitha steps around him to see what catches his eye. She grimaces at the sight of a dead body draped head first into the still boiling deep fryer.
Tabitha twists to look the same direction Dean is, eyes automatically searching for the angel as her body demands that she go to him.
He’s hunched over something on the ground in the main part of the restaurant, and it takes Tabitha a moment to realize he’s devouring a pan full of raw hamburger.
Her stomach lurches a bit at the sight…and yet…her body is still enflamed, begging to go to him and feel his touch. Wanting him to devour her that way.
Realizing the sick trap she’s stuck in, she twists and slides to the ground with her back against the cabinets in the kitchen.
When Dean worriedly turns to her and crouches beside her, she vehemently shakes her head, insisting to him, “Go. Go on without me. You gotta do this, Dean. I can’t go any further. I…I can’t.”
Her body begins rocking back and forth as she grips the shotgun across her drawn up knees, knuckles turning white along the hard barrel as she fights to keep from going to Castiel.
When Dean stares at her in worry and shock, she hisses, “Go!”
Dean jerks a nod, standing again and turning away from her.
Tabitha suddenly realizes that she hears a struggle, and manages to lift her head in time to see a demon jump her brother from behind…and another leaning down over her as his fist sails at her temple.
She’s groggy as she feels herself being half led, half dragged into the main part of the dining area, her body being mostly supported by the demons on either side of her.
“The other Mr. Winchester…and Ms. Winchester,” a weathered voice greets with a weak, but strangely happy lilt.
Tabitha shakes her head to clear it, looking up at the frail body in the wheelchair that belongs to the voice. He’s dressed in a black suit as well, but sitting in the wheelchair and wearing an oxygen cannula, he hardly seems capable of wreaking the havoc he’s been responsible for.
Beside her—and likewise restrained—Dean demands while jerking his head at Castiel, “What did you do to him?”
The frail, white haired man laughs in answer, “You sicced your dog on me. I just threw him a steak.”
“So this is your big trick? Huh?” Dean asks, his voice unimpressed. “Making people cuckoo for cocoa puffs?”
“Doesn’t take much—hardly a push. Oh, America—all-you-can-eat, all the time. Consume, consume. A swarm of locusts in stretch pants. And yet, you’re all still starving because hunger doesn’t just come from the body, it also comes from the soul.”
“It’s funny, it doesn’t seem to be coming from mine,” Dean replies.
“Yes,” Famine agrees. “I noticed that. Have you wondered why that is? How you could even walk in my presence?” He lets out a wheezing chuckle. “Your sister doesn’t seem able to.”
Dean glances at his sister, noticing the way she’s curling in on herself and rubbing her fingers against her palms, hardly even fighting against the demons that hold her.
Pushing worry for her aside, Dean nonchalantly replies, “Well, I like to think it’s because of my strength of character.”
Famine sighs. “I disagree.” He suddenly wheels his electric chair closer, causing Tabitha to gasp and finally struggle in the grips of the demons holding her. Not so much to get away from them, but in an effort to rub her hands against her body, feeling like the nerve endings under her skin are almost crackling with electricity.
Dean groans as Famine reaches out and places a hand against his chest.
The horseman groans happily, “Yes. I see.” He chuckles a bit. “That’s one deep, dark nothing you got there, Dean. Can’t fill it, can you? Not with food or drink.” He gives a full laugh. “Not even with sex.”
He reaches out then, placing his hand on Tabitha as she writhes and groans unintelligibly under his touch. Laughter growing, the horseman happily continues, “So unlike your sister. She’s so hungry. So desperate to fill her void…that pit in her soul, with the easiest substitutes…smoke…food…sex…” His voice dips lower as she twists and convulses under his hand, and he leans closer to whisper in her ear, “But too afraid to actually reach out and satisfy that void with the only substance that will ever fill that hole…love.”
“Get your damn hands off my sister,” Dean snarls at the horseman, struggling against the demons holding him, keeping him from interceding to help his struggling sister.
Famine finally turns away from her, returning his attention to Dean as Tabitha slumps against the demons still holding her upright.
“Oh, you can smirk and joke and lie to your brother and sister,” the horseman tells Dean, “lie to yourself, but not to me! I can see inside you, Dean. I can see how broken you are, how defeated. You can’t win, and you know it. But you just keep fighting. Just…keep going through the motions. You’re not hungry, Dean, because inside, you’re already…dead.”
“Bullshit,” Tabitha heaves under her breath, drawing Dean’s attention and the horseman’s. A bit raggedly as she still pants, she manages to lift her head enough to look into her brother’s eyes as she insists to him, “Screw him, Dean. Don’t listen to him. We keep fighting…because we have to. We stick together. Someone has to keep fighting…if this world’s even got a chance in hell at making it.”
Famine laughs disbelievingly at her words. Lowly, he tells Dean, “You don’t even believe in your own sister.”
“Let them go,” Sam suddenly demands, surprising both Tabitha and Dean with his sudden appearance as he strides through the front door behind Famine.
The horseman spins his electric chair to face their brother, almost reverently whispering, “Sam…”
Tabitha echoes the whispered call, her own voice mournful as she stares at her younger brother, red blood streaked down his chin as he stares the horseman down.
Dean too lets out a mournful call. “Sammy, no!”
The demons flanking Famine start after Sam, but halt when the horseman commands them to.
“No on lays a finger on this sweet little boy,” the horseman warns.
Tabitha and Dean share an apprehensive look, but are still powerless to move.
Famine continues speaking to Sam, his entire focus on the youngest Winchester as he says, “Sam, I see you got the snack I sent you.”
“You sent?” he asks in disbelief.
The horseman rushes to assure him, “Don’t worry. You’re not like everyone else. You’ll never die from drinking too much. You’re the exception that proves the rule. Just the way…Satan wanted you to be.” His voice is almost breathless with excitement by the time he finishes.
“So…” He gestures grandly at the pair of demons between them. “…cut their throats.” The demons share startled looks. “Have at them!”
Dean immediately pleads, “Sammy, no!”
“You are stronger than this, Sam,” Tabitha adds, still struggling with herself, but having to have the hope that if she can fight off her hunger for even a moment, then so can her brother.
Ignoring their protests, Famine continues to urge, “Please, be my guest.”
Sam continues to breathe in an increasingly erratic manner, glancing between Dean and Tabitha before he closes his eyes and raises his hands, palm out.
As he begins to pull the demons from their meatsuits all at once, Dean pulls free and rushes to grab the knife on the floor beside Castiel. No longer being held upright, Tabitha can do no more than fall to her knees as she forces herself to remain in place, her body continuing to rock from the pain of the effort.
She doesn’t look up as she hears bodies thud to the ground all around her, but does when she hears Sam defiantly utter, “No.”
Seeming unfazed, Famine answers, “Well…fine. If you don’t want them…then I’ll have them.”
He lets out a gasp, and suddenly, the demon smoke that had previously pooled at the floor begins to rise up and swirl towards the frail body of Famine, rushing in through his open mouth.
Once finished, Sam strides forward, raising his hand towards the horseman.
“I’m a horseman, Sam,” Famine reminds him. “Your power doesn’t work on me.”
“You’re right,” Sam agrees, not backing down. “But it will work on them.”
He closes his fist as if to pull, and begins yanking the demons back out of the horseman, leaving Famine writhing in his wheelchair as Sam does so. With one last great effort, Sam yanks and the demons rush out of the horseman, leaving him powerless.
Tabitha immediately pushes up from the floor, the unrelenting hunger that had been carving a pit in her stomach disappearing as she rushes to her younger brother, dabbing at the blood now running from his nose.
Tears fill her eyes as she takes in his shaking body, noting the way he looks far too much like an addict on a bender for her taste.
She barely brushes the blood from under his nose when he grabs her arms and shoves her roughly away, his head dropping and his breathing still erratic as he snarls at her, “Dammit, Tabitha! Stay away from me!”
Dean sees the way Sam’s hands clench into fists at his sides and he takes a step towards her, despite having pushed her away only a moment before.
He rushes to step between his siblings, grabbing Tabitha’s shoulders and spinning her towards the now freed angel as he commands, “Cas, get her out of here. Now!”
Tabitha cringes as they listen to Sam screaming and shouting for help from inside Bobby’s demon-proof panic room as he goes through the long process of detoxing.
Dean hadn’t allowed her near their brother since the moment he’d grabbed her and thrust her at Castiel for the angel to poof her away, but she can still remember the crazed, hungry look that had been in Sammy’s eyes even as he shoved her away.
She wants so badly for her little brother’s hurt to be something simple like a cold or nightmare like when they were kids. Something she can fix or soothe by sitting with him and comforting him. It kills her that her presence now will do nothing but infinitely compound his hurt. It kills her that there’s nothing any of them can do to help Sam. And that all three of them are powerless to do anything but listen to Sam scream inside the panic room as brother, sister, and angel wait helplessly outside the iron vault, cringing as they listen to Sam’s pain-filled pleas for help.
Dean stands separated a ways from Tabitha and Castiel as they lean with their backs to the iron panic room. Instead of standing with them, Dean chooses to lean against the base of the staircase, occasionally tipping back the bottle of whiskey he’d swiped from Bobby’s stash.
At another prolonged scream from Sam and a loud crashing noise, Tabitha shudders and slides down the wall, her legs too weak to hold herself upright any longer. She falls to the floor and wraps her arms around her knees, her head slumping against her kneecaps as she tries to shut out the sounds of Sam’s screams.
“That’s not him in there,” Castiel attempts to console the distraught siblings. “Not really.”
“I know,” Dean replies, his voice heavy from emotion and booze.
Tabitha doesn’t reply or look up, but nods her head once to indicate that she at least hears his sentiment.
“Dean,” Castiel continues, “Sam just has to get it out of his system. Then he’ll be—”
In an exhausted voice, Dean cuts the angel off. “Listen, I just, uh…I just need to get some air.”
Tabitha hears the heavy footsteps of her older brother fleeing up the stairs.
Not much later, she feels Castiel’s hand drop lightly to the back of her head, his fingers just barely brushing against her hair as he suggests, “Perhaps you should get some air as well.”
Stubbornly, she shakes her head, replying brokenly, “N-no, Cas. I c-can’t just leave him all alone. He’s still my little brother. I can’t just leave him.”
She feels Castiel crouch beside her, and finally looks up into his concerned face.
His head shakes as he roughly admits, “I don’t know how to ease your pain. I don’t know how to right any of these wrongs.”
She knows he’s referring as much to the situation with Sam as he is about everything else that happened during the case with Famine.
Once freed from the grips of the horseman’s hunger, Castiel had seemed particularly disturbed by his behavior, and more than concerned about what had happened between the two of them.
Truthfully…she was, too. Having never…bitten someone until she drew blood…it’s disturbing to say the least. And it admittedly further confuses the already complicated relationship between her and the angel.
“Tabitha! Please! HELP ME!” Sam again shouts from inside the vault, as if he knows she still sits outside the panic room.
She lets out a strangled cry and cringes once more, twisting away from the noise as tears fill her eyes.
There’s nothing she can do for her brother to help him. There’s also nothing either she or Castiel can do about what happened when they were under Famine’s spell.
But the distance Castiel’s been maintaining between them bothers her. Especially as she listens to her brother’s pained cries.
Angling her body towards the angel, she grasps the lapels of his trench coat and lays her head against his shoulder, settling her nose against his neck as he tentatively wraps his arms around her back and slides to sit on the ground with her. He still acts afraid to touch her, as if he had been the only one that had gotten so…carried away while they were under the influence of Famine’s hunger.
“This is what I need right now, Cas,” she sighs against his neck.
His arms tighten around her at her reassurances, and she feels a bit more whole. Feels that pit in her soul that Famine had talked about fill just a bit more as she settles in closer against the angel.
Softly, she whispers against his neck, “This is just what I need right now.”
A/N: Well, we’re back to our regularly scheduled programing with this chapter. 🙂 I even have it out in a decent amount of time, if I do say so, lol. Actually, I’d really hoped way back when that I could have this chapter written up and done in time for Valentine’s Day, but that last chapter really slowed me up and pushed back getting to the writing of this one. Oh well.
But you guys will have to let me know what you thought of it!
10 points to anyone who knows who the alias is that Tabitha uses in this chapter. (Alicia Foster) Hint: remember, she uses the real names of famous actresses. 🙂
And as always, be sure to push that review/comment button and leave some love. Or constructive criticism. Or to point out any typos, etc. Mmm…or cake. Lol, if they could figure out a way to send cake over the internet, I’d take my props in Red Velvet. 🙂
Anyway, push the button! You know you want to!