“Mmm,” Tabitha hums, pressing one last kiss to Castiel’s lips before pulling away again.
Her lips tease upwards as she fights smiling when Castiel pouts almost boyishly, reaching for her hand when she tries to extract herself from his arms, backing up towards the door.
“I have to go,” she tells him, her smile turning into a full laugh when his pout turns into a petulant frown. “Seriously, Cas. I really have to go this time. No more, ‘Just one more time.’ If I’m gone much longer, the boys will wake up and wonder where I’ve been.”
She’d already let Castiel pull her back into bed once when she’d started to leave, and then she’d turned back once after that when his disappointed scowl was too much to resist.
This time however, she knows she can’t tarry again. Not even just to steal another kiss. Which she knows too well will only turn into more. Just like the previous two times.
“Perhaps you should finally tell your brothers what we’ve been doing,” he suggest in a deep, but tentative rumble.
She pauses in picking up her leather coat from just inside the motel room door, but swings it over her shoulders before turning to face the angel. He’s already fully dressed by the time she faces him. The way his clothing simply reappears in place is still something that baffles her…and makes her slightly jealous.
“Do you have any idea the shit storm that would start with Dean?” she replies, pausing to straighten his tie a bit. Finding it too out of character on the angel, she loosens it and cocks it to the side again.
“A ‘shit storm’ is a bad thing?” he asks, frowning as he stares at the floor.
“Yeah,” she snorts, turning away again and pulling her hair out from under the collar of her black leather coat. “Think lots of plucked feathers,” she suggests helpfully.
“If the world is going to plunge into the Apocalypse anyway, what do we have to fear from your brothers?” he asks, his voice taking on a dark, desperate note she’s never heard from the angel before.
Stepping closer, she rests her hands on the angel’s shoulders. “Hey,” she sighs, trying to gain his attention. “We will figure this out, Cas. We’ll stop the Apocalypse. Somehow. You, me, and my brothers. We’ll find a way.”
The angel averts his eyes, focusing instead on something over her shoulder as he works his jaw.
Before she loses her nerve, she asks, “Why the sudden urge to come clean with my brothers? I thought we’d settled into an easy routine of meeting up when we can both slip away from their notice, and keeping it under wraps. Why the desire to tell them now…about whatever this is we’re doing?”
His jaw works back and forth as he silently grinds his teeth. And then his eyes drop down to the space at their feet as he whispers in confession, “I don’t know. It just doesn’t seem…right.”
Tabitha slides her hands up and down the lapels of Castiel’s trench coat, hoping the action will be enough to get him to look up into her eyes again. If she can just catch a glimpse of his eyes, she thinks she might have a clue about what’s going on under that wavy brown hair.
When he still doesn’t look up, she sighs and asks, “And just what would we tell them, Cas? I don’t want to be that girl that gets needy and wants to know where things are going. Hell…I’ve liked things the way they are. Undefined. But at the same time…the possibilities unlimited. I’m not sure I want to define it right now. If we define it…that puts an end to the possibilities.”
Castiel frowns, his head dipping a little more as his shoulders hunch forward. “I don’t understand your words,” he finally tells her in a low mutter.
She sighs and removes her hands from the angel, taking a step back and finally biting the bullet. “If we told them about us, Cas, we’d have to tell them…what…we…are to each other. And I just don’t know. What are we, Cas? Two bored people that just have sex together? Buddies just having fun with each other? Friends easing each other’s loneliness?” She lets out a weary exhale before forging on. “Lovers? Are we something more? These are the things they’re going to want to know. That Dean is going to demand knowing. Is it serious? Is it going to continue?” She hesitates before asking the dreaded and all too clingy and stereotypical female question. “Where is this headed?”
The angel slides his hands into the pockets of his trench coat, letting out his own trepidatious exhale before finally looking up to meet her eyes. As if in answer to her questions, he replies, “I’m an angel.”
The utter simplicity and absolute complexity of those three little words positively send Tabitha’s temper through the roof. And she just barely manages to reel it in a bit as she twirls on her foot and marches towards the door.
Angrily, she throws back at the angel, “No shit, Sherlock! But that’s kinda my point, too, Cas. We can’t define what the hell we’re even doing because we’re too different, and if we can’t even define it for ourselves, then there’s no way in hell that we can even think of telling my brothers. So until that time, things stay just the way they are. In limbo.”
She jerks the door open, but pauses in the doorway when she hears Castiel speak to her back.
“I regret that I have angered you. It was not my intention.”
A little of the wind goes out of her sails because she knows from experience that he’s being utterly honest. Suddenly, it’s only sadness that fills her as she answers, “It never is your intention.”
Remembering that he’d initially come to her because he was once more disheartened about being unable to find God, she pauses to tell him over her shoulder, “I’m sorry your search hasn’t led you to God yet, Cas. And you know I’m always here for you. For a shoulder to lean on, a friendly ear to listen to you…” She sighs and truthfully admits, “…or anything else you might want. I’m here for you.”
It seems demeaning somehow to admit that she’ll take whatever little piece she can get of the angel. But after her confession to the Tin Man in Oz, she knows she can’t deny it to herself any longer. Although she can admit to herself that she’s fallen for the fallen angel, she knows love is a concept just a bit too foreign for him. Yet, regardless of knowing that and knowing the heartache she’s setting herself up for, she knows she’ll still take whatever scraps the angel will throw her way. Still bask in whatever time and attention he’ll give her.
“I think I would have given up my search for God long ago if not for the simple faith I have in you,” Castiel whispers behind her.
When she turns to look back at him, the angel has already disappeared.
Feeling suddenly exhausted, Tabitha leaves the motel room she and Castiel had commandeered hours before, heading down the row of rooms for the one she shares with her brothers.
As they often do, the three siblings try to sleep in shifts when they can. With most motels only offering doubles as their largest rooms, it’s the least…awkward arrangement for the siblings if only two sleep at a time. That way, the third is left as a lookout for the pair catching some shuteye. It also means that whoever is left awake can still concentrate on research if need be, so that no time is being wasted on a hunt.
Not that her brothers had been proving useful in the research or hunting departments lately. The impending weight of the coming Apocalypse—and seeing Bobby so crushed after their last case, where he was again forced to kill his wife when she came back from the grave as a zombie—was taking its toll on the boys, and before they’d fallen asleep in their room, they’d both been drinking heavily, littering the room with empty beer cans until they’d finally passed out.
For the most part, she guesses she can’t blame their actions. They’d chosen to drink themselves into a stupor, and she’d chosen…other…more pleasant distractions.
But it had been hours since she slipped out of their shared room to sneak off with Castiel when he’d suddenly shown up looking for her. His eyes had been so pleading, that she’d silently taken his hand and led him from the room she shared with her brothers. But she knows if she doesn’t hurry back, one or both of her brothers might wake up, and then she’ll have a hard time explaining where she disappeared to instead of watching their backs while they slept off their hangovers.
The motel room door is slightly ajar as she approaches it. The sight raises every one of her hunter trained and FBI trained hackles, and she slips her Glock from the small of her back as she cautiously approaches.
She peeks into the room in a practiced movement, ducking her head back from the doorway in case someone sees the movement and takes a shot at the door. But all of her training goes out the window at the sight her quick glance gives her. Without another thought, she dashes into the room, throwing back the motel room door as she stares in horror at her brothers.
Their torn, bloody bodies lie lifeless on the two beds.
Movement at the corner of her eye startles her into reacting, and she pivots, swinging her Glock up to train on the shotgun bearing man stepping out of their bathroom.
He stares at her in surprise, his shotgun hanging loosely in his right hand as he gapes at her.
Before she can squeeze the trigger, another arm reaches around her from behind, slamming a fist into the underside of her arm and forcing her hand upwards as a shot rings out and her bullet fires uselessly into the plaster ceiling.
She struggles with the attacker she’d foolishly allowed behind her when she’d carelessly rushed into the room, but is soon overpowered, and her gun is wrestled from her grip by the gun-toting man in front of her that had dashed forward to help his friend.
Even with her arms pinned behind her back, she promises the strangers in a snarl, “I’m gonna kill you, you son of a bitch. I’m gonna kill the both of you for this!”
The man behind her sighs, and almost regretful sound.
“You weren’t supposed to come back until we were gone, Tabitha. We watched you leave with that other guy, and figured you’d be gone all day. We even waited a few hours just to make sure you weren’t coming right back. I never wanted to have to kill you, too.”
The voice behind her is familiar, and Tabitha strains and twists in his iron grip to look over her shoulder at him. Though the face isn’t familiar, she finally places the voice as one of the hunters that she’d helped over the years as favors to Bobby. She’d talked on the phone with him several times when he needed help from a friend in a “high place.”
“Roy?!” she exclaims in surprise. “Why the hell… What would you do this for?!” she demands, struggling even harder to get away from him, almost sickened to think that someone she knows—even if only over the phone—has killed her brothers.
The other man in front of her—she can’t remember the name of the man Roy usually hunts with—tells Roy, “She’ll be no different than Dean, man, you know that. We can’t let her live, either. I don’t want to be looking over my back, watching out for her any more than I’d want to be looking out for Dean.”
She feels Roy jerk a stiff nod behind her, and then he whispers sorrowfully in her ear, “I’m sorry this had to be done, Tabitha. None of this is how we intended it. We just meant to get Sam for starting all this mess.”
“Then you two were idiots if you thought Dean and I would take this lying down,” she snarls in heated promise.
“I’m sorry,” he repeats, voice catching a little.
“Not as sorry as you’re gonna be,” she assures him with every fiber of her being.
The glint of light on a knife blade flashes before her eyes before a burst of pain spreads across her throat. The hands restraining her let go, and she falls to the threadbare carpet, gripping at her neck. Reflexively, her throat works, the innate will to live overwhelming as it struggles to draw air into her lungs and push blood to her brain. But that thick fluid slides down her esophagus instead, filling her lungs with its heavy weight. As her vision darkens and the frantic sensation of drowning overcomes her, she mentally lets out a desperate plea for Castiel.
Knowing it’s the end, and needing to see him just one last time.
He fills her vision as he rolls her onto her back, his hands pressing to her throat in a vain attempt to stem the blood now slowing to a trickle down her neck.
Weakly, she grips one of his blood-slicked hands in hers. There are so many things she wants to tell him. So many things she wishes she could say.
And in the moment, she finally has the courage to tell him that she loves him, she has no voice to speak those words.
His lips move frantically as he bends over her, pressing his face close to hers, but all she can hear is the ever-slowing rush of blood in her ears.
As death steals even her sight, the image of his mouth frantically repeating something fades into darkness.
“Come on, Dean! You throw like a girl,” Tabitha taunts, the bat over her shoulder swaying back and forth a little as she waits for Dean’s next pitch.
Dean frowns and narrows his eyes before firing the baseball right past her. Though she swings at the pitch, she misses, and scowls at the smug look on his nineteen-year-old face in return.
Sam shakes his gloved hand, making a pained grunt before he admonishes his older sister. “Come on, Tab. Stop taunting him. I’m the one paying the price.” He stands a bit from his crouch to throw the ball back to Dean, pausing to whine, “When’s it going to be my turn, Tabby? I wanna bat, too.” He pauses to glance up at her taller height before reluctantly crouching back down, glove at the ready. She’s only a few inches taller than he is since his last growth spurt, and she has the feeling that he’s not yet done growing.
Tabitha swings her bat loosely over the bare patch of dirt they’ve cleared off as home plate before answering him. “Just one more pitch, Sammy. I was late on that last one. But I’ll get it this time.”
With her bat at the ready, she waits for Dean to pitch again, daring him with her eyes to try that fastball one more time.
As Dean winds up to pitch, his body suddenly freezes…and a familiar angel appears behind him, stepping around Dean’s frozen form. She glances back to see that her younger brother is still frozen in a crouch as well.
For a minute, Tabitha frowns in confusion. Wondering first what the hell Zachariah is doing in her dream of playing baseball with her brothers in a country field when she’d been 15. Then she stiffens as she wonders just how the hell the angel was even able to find her in her dreams. No angel should be able to between her carved up ribs and charms. Castiel can’t even do that now unless she invites him into her dreams.
Baseball bat still on her shoulder at the ready—the same bat they always kept in the trunk, though they’d only once played baseball with it—she nonchalantly pops a hip out and asks, “Can I help you? Or did you just randomly happen upon me in my dreams while out for a stroll?”
The angel holds his arms behind her back. His posture is calm and cool, but it’s the smug look on his face that makes her nervous, forcing her to slowly back up a step.
“A dream?” he snidely laughs. “That’s what you think this is? Somehow, I think you know better.”
Her own false smile slips from her lips as a memory flashes in her mind’s eye. The image of a knife swinging towards her throat. The sensation of drowning in a warm fluid and not being able to breathe. And then a flash of memory…Castiel’s frantic face filling her vision. Of her holding one of his hands…slick with…her blood.
The bat slides from her shoulder as she feels her muscles slacken. She even falls back another step in shock before she catches herself. “I’m dead?” she whispers, almost forgetting the angel still ambling closer to her, as if he’s on a Sunday stroll.
“Sure are,” he tells her, his voice too chipper for the realization she’s having.
Looking back at the angel, she asks in shock, “I’m in Heaven?”
“Well, this isn’t Disney World,” Zachariah snippily tells her. “Not much different than Hell, actually. Just as teeming with demons. And an even worse kind of torture than they offer in Hell. Children.”
She frowns at him before admitting, “I’m just surprised to end up here, I guess.”
Zachariah finally stops in front of her as he stares down his nose. “Thought you’d end up in Hell? Well, we had to pull some strings to make sure you ended up here. Took some doing because of that little brand of yours to ensure you came here instead.”
Avoiding Zachariah’s gaze, she mumbles, “Gee, thanks. Not sure this is any better.” She absently rubs her fingers against her chest, feeling Lucifer’s brand still emblazoned on her chest, even in Heaven.
A gleeful satisfaction fills the angel’s voice as he assures her, “Oh, it’s much worse. You think they know torture in Hell? They’ve got nothing on what I’m going to do to you.”
Swallowing thickly, Tabitha begins backing cautiously away. “Sure that’s a good idea? I mean, what would your daddy say about you torturing folks in Heaven? I mean, I’m here, shouldn’t I get my little piece of Paradise and be left alone?”
The angel’s hand shoots out towards her, palm facing her, and then closing his fist and making a yanking motion back towards himself. As if he’d actually reached out and grabbed her, Tabitha’s backwards retreat is brought to a halt, and though she doesn’t move her feet, she flies through the air until she’s standing back in front of the smirking angel.
Her breathing becomes shallow pants as she fights her rising panic. She wonders if it’s because she’s dead that the angel suddenly has such control over her now. He certainly hadn’t been able to yank her around when she’d been alive and on Earth.
Seeing the fear and question in her eyes, Zachariah laughs and informs her, “You’re on my turf now, you mewling little bag of puss.”
Refusing to give him the satisfaction of seeing her squirm, she holds her head high and asks, “Isn’t this my little patch of Heaven? If you angels get to jerk people around in Heaven like this, I’m seriously rethinking my decision to retire here. You should think about at least disclosing that in the brochures.”
The balding angel lets out a sinister laugh. “You think this is your personal Heaven? Guess what…you ain’t got your own Heaven anymore.” He waves his hand at the two images of her teenage brothers, and they disappear with a wave of the angel’s hand. “Unlike other mortals, your Heaven is gone. Instead, you get to stay with us angels.”
She tries to step back again, but still can’t move.
“Why?” she asks, trepidation filling her.
“‘Cause you’re just chock-full of Grace,” he laughs. “You’re not exactly human enough to get your own Heaven anymore.”
She glances down at her chest, confused at how her brand could have done something like that. She’d figured it would send her to Hell if she died. And hadn’t Zachariah just said something to that affect?
“Look, I don’t know if this is some kind of strange come-on, or what. But I’m not interested. So why don’t we just go our separate ways,” she tells him.
His eyebrows rise comically as he theatrically tells her, “Ewww. I have no interest in banging some scrawny human like you.”
“Then what the hell are you talking about? Because you’re not making a bit of sense here, Zach,” she snaps. Anger is better to hold onto than the fear creeping in.
The angel strolls around her, looking at her curiously before he stops in front of her. “You really don’t know, do you?” he asks, thoughtfully scratching his chin.
He laughs a bit then. “Oh, this is just rich. Castiel didn’t tell you. Didn’t explain to you that by accepting his Grace, you were giving up your little piece of Heaven. That for a bit of strength on Earth, you were losing your own piece of the pie up here.”
The air rushes from her lungs as if the angel had sucker punched her. “His Grace?” she repeats. “What are you talking about?”
Zachariah’s hand darts out, roughly grabbing her wrist and twisting it around until the bracelet against her skin fills her vision. The angel wing charm in particular holding her attention.
“You don’t have a Heaven anymore,” the angel once more tells her, that smug satisfaction ever-present in his voice. “At least, not one where you can hide from us.” He snaps his fingers, and three of his henchmen angels appear behind him. “Because of this little charm, I can now find you anywhere in Heaven. And command you just like any other angel.”
He releases her wrist then, and she tugs it back to rub nervously at the skin where he’d twisted her arm.
His hand comes out towards her again, palm open, and then twisting in the air as the breath leaves her lung and pain twist her insides, forcing her to her knees as she chokes back a scream of agony.
Over the pain, she hears him smugly inform her, “And as you can see, by accepting that Grace, I can now inflict pain on you as if you were any other grunt angel. Only…you’re still not an angel. You’re already dead. So I can do this forever. It never has to stop.”
The pain spreads through her body, causing muscles to spasm and twist uncontrollably. Part of her knows it’s not really muscles that spasm since she’s dead and bodiless, but the sensation is similar. Just…much worse than anything she could have imagined. The pain slowly builds, until she can’t hold back the screams, and writhes helplessly on the dirt, back arching painfully away from the ground. Tears stream down her cheeks as the pain seems to seep into her very soul.
She’d thought what Lucifer had done to her had been excruciating and beyond what any simple human could survive.
But that had been pain of the physical embodiment.
With no body to strictly speak of, it’s her soul that’s now radiating pain. Radiating agony. Pulsing with sensations and feelings of torment that no words have yet been invented by poor, feeble mortal understanding.
Some of the pain recedes, and Tabitha looks blearily through tear-soaked eyes as she sobs on her back, the wavering image of Zachariah filling her sight as she weakly tries to shrink away from the angel.
“Now that you’ve seen just a taste of what’s in store for you…” He trails off, distractedly looking at the backs of his hands and fingernails. “Well, now that you’ve had a preview, tell me… What are those meathead brothers of yours up to?”
“What?” she croaks, rolling onto her side and curling her knees protectively to her chest.
“They’re dead, too. Try to keep up,” he snaps in annoyance. “What I want to know, is why are they running loose around Heaven? What’s their plan?”
“How should I know? I’ve been here with you!” she shouts weakly in return.
The pain swells again, causing her to scream and beg him to stop.
When it dissipates again, Zachariah scolds, “I’d watch that tone of yours. I’m running out of patience.”
Still silently crying, she desperately reminds him, “Look, I’ve been here with you. I don’t know what they’re doing. But let me go and I’ll go find them.”
He grins at her suggestion. “You’d like that, wouldn’t you? Think you’d be able to slip away from me somehow, don’t you?” he sneers. “And while there’s no way you can, you’re still not going anywhere. We will catch your brothers. It’s just a matter of time. And I’m thinking that having you as leverage might be a good idea. I have underestimated those flannel-wearing slugs in the past. But that’s not a mistake I’ll be making again.”
The angel leaves her on the ground, turning and speaking with his goons in Enochian.
After a moment, the angel turns back to her. “Now, while they’re scouring Heaven for Rocky and Bullwinkle, what can you and I do to pass the time?” he taunts, a dark gleam glinting in his eyes. “Oh, I know,” he says with false cheer, “I can take my frustration for the Winchesters out on the most convenient one at hand.”
Hell would be a welcome reprieve, Tabitha thinks to herself when the pain finally stops. A nice little spa vacation. At least compared to what Heaven turns out to be like.
Zachariah turns his attention from her, listening to his goons as they tell him something urgent.
When he turns back again, he flicks a hand at her, and she suddenly finds herself removed from the ground where she’d been writhing in pain for hours…maybe even days… Instead of the dirty ground, she’s now handcuffed to a metal chair, her surroundings shifting instantly from the field of her torment, to a small room with sterile, white walls.
“Don’t go anywhere,” he laughs to her. “Not that you can. I think we’ve finally found your wayward brothers.”
His laughter fades as he disappears, leaving her with two of his goons standing silent guard in the stark, brightly lit room.
For a few minutes, she savors her reprieve from pain, letting her head fall back against the chair as she closes her eyes and basks in feeling nothing. She’d never realized before just how…absolutely fantastic it is…to feel…nothing.
She glances at the silent angels. “You guys know how to speak, or you just grunt at each other?”
They exchange glances, but otherwise, don’t move.
“Do I even get a phone call or anything? Maybe a last request? How about trip to Disney World? Even if it’s overrun with demons like Zach said, they’re a helluva lot more fun than you guys.”
She takes in their identical black suits and sunglasses.
“You guys get a discount on the Men in Black look? Or were you going for Blues Brothers? ‘Cause you missed the mark. Even Tommy Lee Jones has more humor than you guys. And he may actually be older than you two.”
Her head falls back again. “Great…silent, and dumb,” she mutters. “Demons are definitely more fun.”
She uses the silence to consider her current predicament, glancing once more at the angel wing charm on her bracelet. She shakes her head as she tries to reconcile that small silver charm with everything Zachariah has told her. Is it really possible that somehow that charm has given her some of Castiel’s Grace?
He’s been weaker, she remembers. Unable to heal others now, and many of his other powers had seemed to be waning as well. Sending them into the past to save their parents from Anna had nearly wiped the angel out. She suddenly recalls that he’d momentarily stalled out actually in trying to send them into the past, and he’d only managed it when she had reached out to grab his arm when he’d looked to be in pain.
Thinking back, she realizes that several things should have tipped her off after he’d given her the charm months ago in New Orleans. Though she hadn’t put it together before, she realizes that from that moment on, she’d been hungry—starving—all the time. She’d chalked it up to nerves about the impending destruction of the universe thing again, but she hadn’t put on a single pound, no matter how much she ate.
Then there was that blue light that had spilled out of her when Anna had stabbed her…with an angel blade. An angel blade. Blue light that had spilled out, similar to what it looked like when an angel was stabbed. It had to be…their Grace spilling out, she suddenly understands. Castiel had given her some of his Grace.
But why? Why would Castiel do that if it has such dire consequences for her? If it meant the loss of her…Heaven?
Head still leaning back against the chair, she mutters to herself, “Goddammit, Cas. What the hell did you do to me?”
He had to have known what he was doing. Ever angel that had seen that charm since…they’d all known, she suddenly sees. That had been the strange glint in their eyes when they looked at her…pity…for her utter cluelessness about what was happening to her. Pity for what Cas had done to her.
Her respite from agony is short lived. And when Zachariah returns, he’s more fuming than ever. His hands clamp painfully over her arms on the chair, his fingers digging in as he leans over her, his face inches from hers as he snarls in her face.
“Where are they? Where do those flannel wearing, rejects of humanity keep disappearing to? Who’s helping them?”
She leans carefully into the back of the chair, swallowing nervously as she reminds him, “I don’t know. I don’t know who’s helping them or how. I’m stuck here. With you.”
He pushes back on the chair, tipping it back on two legs and balancing her precariously as he dangerously warns, “If I find out you know who’s helping them…what I’ve already done will seem like a picnic. I’m just getting warmed up.” He pauses before barking at her, “Think! It has to be someone in Heaven. Someone is helping them disappear and jump from Heaven to Heaven without so much as leaving a trace. Who’s helping them?”
Shaking her head, she tries to think. “Cas is the only one I’d know of that might know how to help them up here.”
Zachariah roughly slams her chair back onto its four legs, the jolt shaking Tabitha. “It’s not him!” he snaps, circling away from her. More thoughtfully he continues, “Or at least not alone. It’s someone here in Heaven. And Castiel can’t come here since he’s siphoned off most of his remaining Grace to you.”
To herself, Tabitha mentally berates the angel for doing so and getting her into this mess to begin with. But she tries to remain calm, telling the angel in front of her, “It could be anyone. Unfortunately, we probably know more dead people than live ones.”
Zachariah turns to wordlessly growl at her, but at least he isn’t hitting her with a whammy of pain. She’ll take her blessings where she can get them at this point.
Wanting to keep him talking, she asks, “What is it you plan to do with me? Keep me here in this little room forever? You can’t torture information about my brothers out of me when I don’t know anything about where they really are.”
The balding angel stops to glare at her. “Like I said earlier, cupcake, we’ll find your brothers. It’s only a matter of time. And then…I’ll tear you to pieces if I have to. Bit by bit. I’ll scatter the shreds of your soul across the universe until those two bozos finally see the light and say ‘yes’ to Michael and Lucifer.” He chuckles darkly a bit before he confides to her like a fifteen-year-old girl telling a secret, “Well, actually, I’m going to do that anyway…even after they say ‘yes.’ Have to really. To make sure that Azrael doesn’t resurrect you and force your hand to say ‘yes’ to her. She can be nearly as persuasive as me. And me, well, I just really don’t like you Winchesters.”
He stalks angrily around the room, that fury building on his face as he rants, “Let me tell you something. I was on the fast track once. Employee of the month every month—forever. I’d walk these halls, and people would avert their eyes!”
She flinches at his scream, but can’t struggle out of her confinement. And she’s tried. Heavenly handcuffs are apparently unslippable and unpickable.
“I had respect!” he continues shouting, pausing to bend over her chair, lowering his face into hers again. He calms himself with an effort, standing again and straightening his tie with a visible effort.
“And then they assigned me the three of you.” With a self-deprecating laugh, he continues, “Now look at me. I can’t close the deal on a couple of pathetic, flannel-wearing maggots and their blond bimbo sister? Everybody’s laughing at me. And they’re right to do it.” He shakes his head then as he tells her, “So…whether they say ‘yes,’ don’t say ‘yes.’ I’m still gonna take it out on you. And on their asses when I get ahold of them. It’s personal now. And the last person in the history of creation you want as your enemy is me. And I’ll tell you why—Lucifer may be strong, Azrael may be unflinching, but I’m…petty. I’m gonna be the angel on your shoulder for the rest of eternity.”
As desperation and the sensation of damnation creep in, Tabitha looks away. Softly she implores, “Then just do it. Do whatever to me and be done with it. Why drag it out?”
“Because I’m petty,” he pointedly reminds her. “And not until the chuckleheads do their part,” he warns. “I’ll inflict pain on you from here to the end of the universe if that’s what it takes to convince them. Then we can discuss putting you out of your misery. Once I’ve had my fill.”
Again, Zachariah’s goons approach him, speaking to him in Enochian.
“Finally!” Zachariah exclaims in triumph. Turning to her, he gleefully says, “We have their location.” He approaches her and clamps a hand over her shoulder, telling her, “This time, I’m bringing the leverage with me.”
When she reopens her eyes, she finds her brothers standing across from her in a faintly familiar house. It takes her a minute to process their current location and match it up to the fuzzy memories of a two-year-old. Their home. Before their mother died. Or at least, a sinister version of it. The whole house is cast in a strange greenish light and shadows.
Dean takes a startled step towards them when he spots her, softly crying out, “Tab?! What are you… You’re dead, too?” They both start towards her, but are suddenly restrained in the arms of Zachariah’s ever-silent henchmen.
She flinches at the way Zachariah’s fingers dig into her shoulder, but it’s still nothing compared to the pain he’d inflicted earlier.
Forcing a little smile, she explains to her brothers, “Yeah. I think it’s definitely time we unfriend Roy. And that asshole buddy of his.” She shakes her head and jokingly adds, “Plus, we really need to look into other retirement communities. They don’t even have shuffleboard here. But I hear Disney World is a fun, demon-filled alternative.”
“Well, isn’t this a touching reunion,” Zachariah mocks, fingers digging further into her shoulder in warning. “But that’s not what I brought her here for.”
“Look, just let Tabitha go,” Dean warns, jerking a nod at her. “Let her go back to her own Heaven…and we’ll talk.”
Before she can warn him to offer no such thing, Zachariah flicks his hand at her, silencing her even as heavy chains appear around her wrists. The weight of them bows her back, forcing her to bend forward at the waist, and effectively trapping her in place. It’s a bit melodramatic since she knows full well that she can’t flee the dickhead angel now anyway.
Said angel explains to her brothers, “‘Fraid not, Dean-o. Your little sister’s not going anywhere now. As they say, her ass belongs to me now. There’s no Heaven up here for her to return to. Just endless years of torment. At my hands.”
“What do you mean she doesn’t have a Heaven, dickwad?” Dean demands. But to himself, he tenses with worry. Castiel had told them to search for her, but he’d never answered them about what she was doing in Heaven or why he’d seemed so frantic for them to find her. And Dean had seriously been holding onto the hope that the angel had been wrong and she wasn’t up here in this mess. But even Ash hadn’t been able to find her when they’d looked for her. It really was like her Heaven…just didn’t exist.
Tabitha scowls at Dean’s question and looks down, not sure herself how to explain it.
Zachariah circles back to her, sliding his hands across her shoulders with far too much familiarity as he explains, “Humans that accept an angel’s Grace don’t get Heavens. Oh, they might be more powerful on Earth because of it. But, come on…you know there’s nothing in life that doesn’t have its drawbacks, too. And hers? An eternity of torment at the hands of me and every other angel that’s pissed off with you Winchesters and Castiel. With nowhere to hide. No paradise. She comes straight to mission control with us.”
She can feel her brothers’ incredulous eyes on her as she stares at the floor.
“Cas?” Sam guesses, his voice thick with emotion.
She shrugs and when she still can’t speak, looks up to silently mouth, I guess.
Seeing that he has their attention, Zachariah presses his advantage, grinning as he gestures back at her and taunts the boys, “That is, unless you want to save her. If you do…I’ll let her go. Let her walk away right now…if…you say ‘yes’ to Michael and Lucifer.”
Dean and Sam share pained and worried looks.
“Eeeggghhh!” Zachariah exclaims in an exaggerated game show buzzer noise. “Too long.”
He flicks his hand at Tabitha again, her body falling to the floor in a heap as the pain rolls through her body once more. She can hear her brothers screaming at the angels, and struggles to hold back her own cries of pain, wanting to be strong in front of them. But the pain soon proves too much, and her mouth falls open as their childhood home echoes with the screams and shrieks of her agony.
She can feel her body shaking and convulsing spastically as she twists and turns, trying to instinctively flee the torment somehow.
The pain suddenly stops, and Tabitha twists her head on the floor, craning her neck through her exhaustion to see what the angels and her brothers have turned to stare at.
A meek angel stands off by himself. Even his vessel of a black man fits the meekness of his voice as he softly asks, “Sir?”
Annoyed, Zachariah gestures around at the three siblings. “I’m in a meeting.”
“I’m sorry,” the new angel apologizes. Then, he gestures to the siblings. “I need to speak to them.”
Zachariah looks doubtfully at the Winchesters before stalking closer to the other angel. “Excuse me?”
“It’s a bad time, I know. But I’m afraid I have to insist.”
Zachariah scoffs. “You don’t get to insist jack squat.”
“No, you’re right,” the angel amiably agrees. His tone hardens a bit as he continues. “But the boss does. His orders.”
“You’re lying.” But there are the beginnings of fear and doubt in Zachariah’s voice.
“Wouldn’t lie about this. Look…fire me, if you want. Sooner or later, he’s gonna come back home. And you know how he is with that whole ‘wrath’ thing.”
Zachariah looks dubiously between the Winchesters and the other angel, a wave of sheer frustration coming from the irate angel.
“Fine,” he growls, gesturing to where the boys stand, still being restrained by his goons. “You can have them. She is mine. This may be their Heaven, but she doesn’t have one anymore.”
He snaps his fingers and she reappears with Zachariah and his angels in the white torture room they’d previously been in.
The chains are gone, but she knows she can’t run, and falls back against the floor with a sense of futility and doom.
A new voice suddenly shouts something in Enochian, and as she looks up, she sees a stranger in a colorful mask and blue cape finish drawing something in Enochian sigils on the previously pristine, white walls.
The sudden flash of light momentarily blinds her, and when she opens her eyes, the stranger is alone in the room with her, shaking her and tugging on her arm to drag her to her feet.
“Come on. I’m here to rescue you!”
However strange her rescuer appears, she’s not about to hesitate or turn him down.
She stumbles after him as he leads her to a door with more sigils drawn on it, following him as he dashes through, still tugging on her hand.
He slows as they enter yet another house, and Tabitha pauses to give the somehow familiar place a cursory glance before turning to her strange rescuer.
The stranger pulls his mask off, revealing a lean face that matches his skinny body. And a long full mullet that would do any redneck proud.
And he’s completely unfamiliar to her.
“Who are you?”
The man puffs up proudly, announcing, “I’m Ash.”
Her eyebrows rise as she stares at him.
Seeing no recollection, he continues, “I know your brothers. I figured they’d of mentioned me…even if you haven’t had the pleasure yet of knowing me.”
She laughs a little at the innuendo and shakes her head at his audacity, but she does finally place him. “Ash…like from the Road House?”
He strikes a pose that one of those fake wrestlers on TV are so fond of—hands on his hips…or maybe it’s a pose like some kind of superhero. “The one and only,” he proudly assures her.
Ash quickly drops the pose and starts through the house, looking for something as he explains to her, “Look, we don’t have a lot of time. Those angel boys seem to have it bad for you, so we should get this place protected quick so they can’t enter.”
In the kitchen, he finally comes upon a permanent marker, and begins drawing large symbols on the ivory painted walls.
“You can do that?” she asks, hope bleeding into her voice. Maybe there’s a chance for her to stay out of Zachariah’s grasp yet.
“Sure,” he agrees, pausing to look over his shoulder. “How do you think I keep them boys out of my Heaven?”
He throws her a blatant look up and down as he speaks admiringly before returning to his work, “Those boys sure never did you justice though. You’re one damn fine looking woman. Too bad we never had a chance to meet up down below. Get to know each other. Maybe in the biblical sense.”
Fighting to hold back a cough, she shakes her head and mutters to herself, “Yeah. Too bad.” No matter how…unlikely such a thing would have been, she’s not about to tell him that while he’s helping her. He may be brilliant like her brothers had mentioned, but he also appears to have the craziness they’d commented on in spades as well.
But if crazy is what keeps those angels from finding her, who’s she to argue with it?
“What the…” Ash trails off in surprised exclamation.
Tabitha spins back towards him to see the very wall he’d been writing on is slowly disappearing.
“What’s happening?” she asks him, striding closer.
He jogs past her and towards the front door.
“I don’t have a clue,” he tells her, his voice tight, telling her he’s not used to not knowing.
He pauses at the door to continue, “Look, we’ve got to get out of here. I’m not sure what those feathered boys are doing to this place, but we’ve got to find you somewhere else to hide.”
With urgency, he yanks open the door, but instead of striding though it, falls back a step, the door still held open by one hand.
Tabitha comes closer to see what has him looking so spooked.
Memories lay outside the door before her. Memories of her brothers from the past, and dreams of things that hadn’t come to pass—and now never will—lay outside the door in a twisting, twirling scene. They swirl around the house, but what catches her gaze isn’t those memories…it’s the way they start flickering like a channel on TV does before blinking out completely. And so too do her memories and dreams.
One by one, she sees them disappearing before her very eyes. The swirl of dreams and memories around the house ever-shrinking.
“What the hell is happening?” she hears Ash muttering, real fear creeping into his voice.
The answer comes to her like a crashing blow.
Her Heaven is disappearing. Vanishing.
And she can almost feel the angels closing in on her.
She looks down at her wrist, and then grabs at the angel wing charm, trying to unhook it from her bracelet. The bracelet twists in her hand as she looks for a clasp…and finds none. The charm might as well have been welded onto her bracelet.
She even tries taking off the whole bracelet, but the clasp is gone from it, too. It won’t even slip over her hand, no matter how hard she pulls and yanks at it.
Ash watches in an almost passive state of shock before commenting, “I don’t think that thing is coming off.”
Her eyes close in defeat, knowing that Ash is right.
Gently, she pries the door from Ash’s shocked grip, pushing it closed with a soft click, and then turns to face him.
“You have to go, Ash,” she quietly urges. “I appreciate all you’ve tried to do for me. And even when you didn’t know me…but you have to go. There’s nothing more you can do. They’ll find me wherever I go. And as you’ve seen, I don’t really have anywhere else to go. You better get out of here before they find you, too.”
He scratches his head, his furrowed look saying he doesn’t take admitting defeat any better than she normally does. And she’s still not willing to…but she’s also not dragging someone else down with her.
“Go,” she repeats when he hesitates and mutters to himself about what else he could try.
“There’s nothing more that can be done for me,” she repeats more forcefully. “Go!”
The high-pitched whine of angel voices sound outside and Tabitha knows they’re getting closer. She can hear their Enochian, and almost wishes now she knew some of the language itself.
“It won’t take them too much longer to find you,” Ash whispers regretfully.
“So don’t let them find you, too.”
He sighs, but does turn back towards the pantry closet door in the kitchen that they’d come in through.
“I’d wish you luck…” he trails off with in an attempt at goodbye.
But they both know it’s no use to wish her luck.
“Thanks for trying to help me,” she bids him before he waves and disappears through the pantry door.
“Babe, are you ready for work yet?”
She spins around at the familiar voice, starting hopefully towards him before the words register and she stops.
Castiel comes around the corner into the living room, still pulling on a plain, pressed, white dress shirt over his bare shoulders.
When he sees her, he smiles and comes towards where she stands between the living room and the kitchen. The open shirt flutters around him as he stops in front of her and pulls her into a warm, welcoming kiss. It’s quick. With the sort of familiarity that comes from greeting someone hello in the morning that way a thousand times. A lifetime.
He pulls back from her, not seeming to notice her almost dazed look.
“Are you gonna finish getting ready for work?” he asks her as he absently fiddles with the buttons at his sleeves, leaving the buttons down the front of his shirt undone, as if knowing that the sight would please her. She glances down to see she’d dressed only in a short t-shirt and black panties.
Pressing another quick kiss to her lips, just a peck, really, he steps away to sit on the overstuffed sofa, pulling on his socks and black dress shoes.
He pauses after they’re on, looking up with a smirk before suggesting, “Or maybe we should call in sick today. Let the others play at catchin’ the bad guys. We haven’t had a day off—let alone a vacation—in forever. Maybe we could take a last minute trip. You name it. Anywhere in the world. We’ll go there.” That coy grin of his widens as he holds out one hand to her, beckoning her closer.
As if pulled by a string, she glides across the room to him, letting him pull her down to the sofa until she’s kneeling on his lap, her knees straddling his slim hips. She lets her hands slid into his shirt, hands resting comfortably under the white cotton as her fingers grip his waist with practiced ease while her forehead falls against his. It’s the ease that comes from sitting with him just like this a hundred times.
It’s a dream she’s savored often, but never allowed herself to dwell on in the harsh light of day.
The dream varies from time to time. Sometimes, Castiel and she are both hunters, working side by side, hunting the things of shadow and shade, but loving each other by the light of day. Other times are like this dream, where they work together for the FBI, hunting and catching bad guys, but living together in the white-picket-dream.
The dreams are always simple. Always happy. And she and Castiel always seem to make it work effortlessly.
“What did you do to me, Cas?” she whispers mournfully to the firm warmth underneath her.
Castiel’s hands push lightly on her shoulders, sliding her slightly back as he grins up brightly at her.
“Or maybe we can both call in sick and just laze around in bed.” He continues speaking as if the dream is uninterrupted, not addressing her words.
A roaring sound builds around the house, and Tabitha glances out the windows to see the memories and dreams that had been the facets of her Heaven disappearing more rapidly. She knows they’re closing in on her. And it’s only a matter of time until this part of her Heaven is gone to the ether as well.
Castiel’s hands wander down from her shoulders to her sides, teasing with feather strokes against the sides of her breasts as he continues to joke, “Of course, we don’t have to be lazy. I mean, if you don’t want to. I’m sure we can find more…interesting things to do. Maybe you can wear me out so I really do need to take a sick day tomorrow.”
Tabitha sighs even as her hands automatically massage against his sides, but her shoulders slump as she asks, “Why did you give me this charm if it was going to end up doing all this, Cas? What about this is supposed to protect me? It’s taken my Heaven from me, Cas. I’m stuck up here now with nothing. Not even you. How could you do this to me?”
The dream version of her Castiel smiles brightly in return, his hands sliding to her hips and brushing across her bare thighs as he shifts her in his lap, digging for the cell phone in his dress pants as he tells her, “Perfect, babe. I’ll call in and tell them we’re both sick. Maybe food poisoning or something like that. They’d believe that, right?”
The roar builds to a fevered pitch as even the house around her now begins ripping to pieces, flying away as if yanked into the vortex of a swirling hurricane.
In hopes of shutting out the sights and sounds of her Heaven being stolen so forcefully from her, Tabitha lets her face fall down into the crook of Castiel’s neck as he continues to call them both sick into work. She noses deeper against his skin, inhaling the sweet honey musk of him, trying to commit it to memory before she loses everything. Even this visage of Castiel.
With a catch in her throat, she whispers to him, “How could you do this, Cas? I know I can’t have you forever, but I was at least supposed to have this piece of you in Heaven when it was all said and done. Now…I have nothing.”
Her last word comes out a choked sob as she feels even the honeyed warmth against her nose begin to dissolve beneath her touch.
“You’ve really gotten yourself into a mess this time, honey.”
Tabitha’s head snaps up at a voice she’d thought long forgotten, but somehow seems instinctually seared into her memory. A voice she hadn’t heard since she was two years old.
“Mom?” she asks in a quavering voice.
Her mother looks exactly like her last memory of her, down to the soft blond curls, and the long white nightgown. Yet, she seems…brighter somehow. Different.
Smiling a wistful smile, her mother gestures around at the all-encompassing vastness of endless white. A blank canvas. Or perhaps, the truth of the mysterious black hole. A landscape so bright and endless that it feels small and crushing even as it spreads on forever in every direction.
“You really gave it all up this time, huh, kiddo?” her mother asks as she looks around them. “And for what?”
Feeling the sting of reproach, Tabitha looks down to nervously fiddle with her accursed charm bracelet. Under her breath, she mutters, “How was I to know this would happen?”
She can feel her mother approach, but doesn’t look up as her mother scolds, “You accepted that charm. Freely. It’s kind of like signing something without reading the fine print. Just because you don’t read it, doesn’t stop it from being all-binding.”
“I didn’t know,” she mutters again, voice barely above a whisper. Yet, she does distinctly remember Castiel asking her if she freely and willing accepted his…what had he called it? An amulet…a trinket… And she’d freely and willingly accepted it. She should have realized something was going on from his wording.
Her mother draws her introspection away from herself as she says, “I wouldn’t have done this to you, you know. Whether that angel realizes it or not, he’s backed you into a corner I never would have. Think what you want of me, but I’m not as ruthless or uncaring as you seem to think. I’ve just wanted your cooperation…all along.”
Tabitha’s head snaps up to stare incredulously at the woman who stares at her with crossed arms and a look of “I told you so.”
“You’re not my mother,” Tabitha whispers in understanding.
“Nope,” she agrees with a careless shrug.
Narrowing her eyes, Tabitha mirrors her crossed arms to unhappily mutter, “Azrael.” Her lip curls a bit as she asks, “You’re using my mother as a vessel, aren’t you?”
Azrael looks down and almost matronly smoothes the front of her mother’s nightgown. Then, she shrugs again before explaining, “You’d gotten yourself into quite the pickle up here, Tabitha. None of my followers had the…juice to yank you out before Zachariah caught up to you again. And I needed to have a vessel to do so. Turns out, getting your mother to say ‘yes’ to helping her only daughter is much easier than getting you to say ‘yes’ to helping the entire world.”
Tabitha lifts her chin aggressively to ask, “So is this your plan now? Use my mother as leverage to make me be your bitch.”
Azrael makes an exasperated sound and takes a step away. “Why do you have to continue to see me as the enemy? I’m trying to help you. And the world.” She looks over her shoulder to pin Tabitha under a harsh glare. “I’m not the one that caused your Heaven to be obliterated.”
Hesitantly, Tabitha asks, “That…that really happened, didn’t it? That’s not some trick of yours?”
The consoling…and pity-filled look Azrael gives her is answer enough, but the angel still tells her, “Yeah. That really happened. It’s…gone. Even beyond my ability to bring it back.”
Refusing to let herself fall apart, Tabitha attacks. “Then why didn’t you say something? Why didn’t any of you damn angels tell me what the hell this charm was gonna do to me? Not Gabriel, not you…not even Cas.” The last is muttered in a soft whisper.
“You wouldn’t have listened to me,” Azrael points out, her kind tone further enflaming Tabitha’s anger.
“You knew! You knew I was here. Didn’t you?” she threateningly demands. “You probably knew the second my ass got chucked up here. And you just let me get jerked around. Let Zach twist my soul on a spit just to prove some point to me, didn’t you?”
Azrael’s only response is an imposing, and imperious raise of her eyebrow.
“You bitch!” Tabitha hurls, seeing the truth in her realization. “You keep claiming that you’re just trying to help me, and that you’ll be my best friend if I just let you in, but you pull shit like this. Let me get jerked around…let my Heaven get destroyed…and then come to me wearing my own mother. If you think there’s an ounce of kindness in that…than you’re a fool, and an idiot.”
A darkness settle over the angel as she leans forward, even the sound of rolling of thunder echoing as Azrael shouts, “I do what I must!” She leans back, gathering herself as she more tepidly continues. “Nothing I tell you seems to ever register with you. You seem only to learn by either banging your head stubbornly against the wall a few hundred times and discovering you’re getting nowhere and it hurts, or by learning the utter disaster of your own mistakes. You let Lucifer finish bloody branding you. And nothing I said would have stopped you from taking that charm from Castiel. And for what? You’ve accepted what withering Grace that angel had left, and in return, you’ve lost that little slice of Paradise you seem to think is so important for humans to have. You’d have been lucky if your fate had been to get pulled to Hell for letting Lucifer brand you. Demons are still just corrupted humans. They don’t have a fraction of the scope that angels do when it comes to pain, wrath, and torment of the soul.”
Purposefully, Azrael strides across the white expanse, stopping in front of Tabitha again. “I’ve tried patience. I’ve tried explaining things to you. I’ve tried showing you what the future will hold if you refuse me. Now, you need to see that you have no other choices left,” she growls at Tabitha.
Wildly, she gestures at the nothingness around them. “This would be a blessing to what your future will hold. But that’s not going to happen. Living your eternity in this empty landscape will not be your lot in death. You’ve been signed up for an all-access, backstage pass into the inner-sanctum of Heaven. And believe me, what Zachariah showed you will be a Sunday Bible school compared to what’s in store for you after you die next time.”
Seeing the hope swirling in her eyes, Azrael cruelly laughs and answers, “Yes. I will resurrect you and return you to your body this time. You need to be in it to say ‘yes’ to me. Which, as I said, is really your only option now. Say ‘yes’ to me…and I wipe it all off the map. Hell…Earth…and even Heaven. You won’t have to end up with endless torment at the hands of…disgruntled angels. Together, you and I can wipe the whole slate clean. Our Heavenly Father can begin anew.”
Crowding closer still, Azrael bitterly warns, “Those are the only choices you’ve got left now. The next time you die—if Heaven still exists—they’ll hide you away so deep in the inner-sanctum, that not even I will be able to find you and extract you.”
She stands and straightens, reaching out and touching Tabitha for the first time, almost motherly brushing off the front of Tabitha’s leather coat.
Conversationally, she poses, “So, what’s it gonna be, Tabitha? Endless torture and torment? Or an end to it all? The sheer bliss…of nothing.”
Tabitha jerks into a sitting position, her brothers and Castiel falling back from her as she sucks air into her oxygen deprived lungs in greedy gulps.
She knows her brothers are firing questions at her by the way they hold her arms and even pat her back as if to facilitate her sudden breathing. Their words are lost to her ears, drowned out by the echoes of Azrael’s offered choices.
“Tabitha! Jesus! Are you all right?” Dean demands of her from one side.
From her other side, Sam tearfully demands, “Holy hell, Tabitha, where were you? We were starting to think you’d really bought the farm that time.”
Castiel kneels near her thighs, hands braced on her legs as he stares at her with tears in his eyes.
“How could you?” she rasps, voice thick with emotions too dark, too…deep, for the simplicity of human understanding. Her hand clutches at the lump in her throat, the lingering phantom sensation of her death playing across her skin again as she feels the dried blood caked there. She briefly acknowledges that she and her brothers—still bloody from their own deaths—must look like zombie extras from a B-rated horror movie, but it still seems fitting for the horror that has become the remainder of her life and death.
The boys on either side of her fall silent at the venom of her accusation, trying to puzzle out her question.
Guiltily, Castiel looks down, breaking eye contact with her as he whispers, “I’m sorry.”
Shrugging out of her brothers’ grips, she yanks her feet underneath her and pops to her feet, towering over the angel as she shouts, “Sorry doesn’t BEGIN to cut it, Castiel! It’s GONE! Just…gone. I have nothing left.”
Seeming to know exactly what she’s talking about, Castiel slowly unfolds from the ground, eyes still fixed on the dirty motel room carpet as he pleadingly tells her, “I’m sorry…that was never my intention.”
Sam and Dean stand wearily on either side of their sister, glancing hesitantly back and forth.
Tabitha feels tears build in her eyes again as Azrael’s inexorable and pitiless choices echo darkly in her ears. Endless torture in death…or letting the archangel burn down the universe and everything with it.
Those are the only choices she’s now left with.
Her eyes fall to her wrist, and she suddenly begins to tug desperately at it, searching in vain for a way to get it off her wrist. Get it off her skin.
“What are you doing? What’s going on?” Dean questions, crowding closer at her frantic attempts.
“Get it off. Just get it off me,” she pleads in frenzied tones, her vision blurring as she begins yanking at the bracelet, trying to tear the jewelry from her wrist by force.
She feels Dean trap her arm between his elbow and body, holding it still as he searches the bracelet for a release clasp. He’s baffled by her nearly crazed behavior, but sees the desperation in the way she yanks so violently at the bracelet that it cuts into the skin, leaving small trickles of blood.
“Sam, help me out,” he directs, his voice rising slightly in alarm when he can’t find any sort of release catch on the bracelet.
Sam silently twists the bracelet on her arm, sharing a look of growing apprehension with his older brother.
Building nearly to a full-blown panic, Tabitha sobs, “Get it off! Get it off! Get it off me!” While trying to drag her hand back and twisting to reach it and yank once more at the silver charms.
Dean slaps her hands away, shouting at Sam, “Go get the damn bolt cutter out of the trunk.”
He struggles to hold his sister still as she fights hysterically against him, her words devolving into disjointed sentences and words he can’t follow.
With an annoyed plea, Dean asks the angel, “You wanna help get this thing off her? She’s freakin’ out here!”
The angel appears frozen in place, unshed tears in his eyes as he stares at the human struggling to contain his younger sister’s wild flailing in her rapidly degenerating mental state.
“It cannot be removed,” the angel woodenly intones.
Sam returns with the bolt cutter, struggling to place one of the small silver links inside the teeth of the bolt cutter.
“Hold her still,” he hisses.
“I’m trying,” Dean growls, eyes focused on the link as he watches Sam squeeze the handles together.
When nothing happens, Dean edgily demands, “Dammit, Sammy, put your back into it!”
Voice straining, Sam assures him, “I am! It won’t break.”
Tabitha suddenly goes limp in Dean’s arms. The lack of struggle surprises him so much that she slips from his grip, falling to the ground with a thud.
“Are you all right?” Dean hesitantly questions, crouching in front of his sister, carefully tucking her hair behind her ears so he can see her face.
“‘It won’t break,'” she repeats, her voice eerily devoid of emotion as she rocks slightly.
Though Dean’s still baffled by the whole occurrence, he rushes to assure her, “We’ll figure something out, Tabby. We’ll get it off. It’ll be okay.”
She shakes her head, seeming to stare over his shoulder as she replies with no inflection or emotion to her voice, “No. It won’t ever come off. Not ever.”
Freaked out by her devoid expression, Dean grabs her shoulders, shaking her roughly to get her attention. “Tabitha! Snap out of it! What’s going on?”
Sam crouches beside his brother, grabbing her hand and studiously avoiding the one with the bracelet lying across her knee. He squeezes her hand as her face clears some. “Come on, Tab. It’s okay. We’re here for you. Just tell us what’s going on and why you want that thing off so bad,” Sam coaxes in a gentle voice.
Tears glisten again in her eyes as she looks back and forth between them, almost as if seeing them for the first time. She knows there’s only one way to protect them. Once choice that will protect them. And everyone else.
Even if it damns her.
She doesn’t have the energy to move, but she nods, forcing a small smile as she assures them, “It’s okay. It’ll be okay. It won’t ever come off. I promise.”
The boys share worried looks at her strange vow.
“What are you talking about?” Sam asks timorously.
She looks away from her brothers, centering her glare on Castiel as she glowers up at him. He still remains frozen in the center of the room, staring down at the Winchester siblings.
“Tab, what’s going on?” Dean pushes when he hears the venom dripping from her order.
“God has abandoned us,” Castiel stiffly explains. His voice lowers as he adds almost to himself, “How do I survive losing everything?”
Holding her hand up to shake her bracelet at the angel, she returns, “I knew one day I would end up not having much, but this ensured that I have nothing.”
“It was meant to protect—”
“GET OUT!” she shouts over his attempts at an explanation.
Castiel’s head drops again, and he disappears without another word.
“What the hell, Tabitha?” Dean demands, shocked by her anger at the angel. The angel still reeling from their news that Joshua’s message from God had been that he simply didn’t care about the happenings on Earth. “Dude just found out that God don’t give a crap about what his teenage mutant ninja angels are up to. Take it easy on him. Why are you yelling at him anyway? What happened to you up there?”
She knows she has to tell them something—they’ll be relentless in prodding her otherwise—so she turns to stare at the bracelet on her wrist where it lays once more across her knee, hoping for some kind of inspiration. Jerking a rough nod at it, she says, “Castiel gave me that wing charm. To protect me…I guess.” She swallows thickly, trying to come up with something to tell them…other than the horrific truth. Sniffling, she continues, “But it’s like a beacon in Heaven. That’s why they found me so fast. I can’t hide from them up there. And I can’t get this thing off. It’s stuck good.” She can’t explain to them that she doesn’t have a Heaven anymore and never will again.
“Shit,” Dean succinctly replies, rubbing a hand in soothing circles across her back. “But hey, we’ll find a way to get it off. I’m sure Cas thought he was doing the right thing if he thought it would protect you somehow. I’m sure there’s some way to get it off. There’s always a way.”
“Yeah,” Sam agrees, taking her other hand in his again as he assures her, “There’s always a way. And until then…I guess try not to die.”
The joke hits her like a punch to the stomach, but she struggles to laugh, even as tears slip over her eyelashes. Squeezing Sam’s hand in return, she turns to press her forehead against his shoulder, trying to brightly joke in return, “Yeah. I’d had that on my schedule for this week, but I guess I can put it off a bit.”
“It’ll be okay, Tabby,” Dean assures her, still rubbing her back.
It’s an empty promise, she knows, at least for her.
Azrael’s offer continues to bounce around her mind.
Endless torture and torment? Or an end to it all? The sheer bliss…of nothing.
A/N: *Goes into hiding from the rocks being thrown my way*
Sorry for the angst! But, come on! It’s the apocalypse. Angst is a prerequisite. Especially with a Winchester. Three Winchesters is three times the angst! 😉
Things will continue to be rocky as we near the end of part 2 (the 5th season) so hang in there. But there will be some highs to come as well, so please have faith. I mean, seriously, Castiel did kinda wipe out her Heaven with what he’s done. Even if he had the best intentions. Ya know where that road leads. 😉 No! She’s not going to Hell because of it. I’m just saying the best intentions still screw things up.
Honestly, I think I’d be a bit pissed and hysterical after finding out my reservation in Heaven had been revoked. Although, I do sort of realize and acknowledge my own evilness and that Heaven may not be the place for me. Hmmm… Guess Crowley better look out! ‘Cause if I’m headed down under, I have a few new management ideas I’d like to implement.
What do you mean I’ve been banned from Hell?
Damn, Heaven don’t want me and Hell’s afraid I’ll take over.
Guess I better stick to writing this story!
Be sure to leave some review love for my wicked ways!