Chapter 8: Hope is the Thing with Feathers


Tabitha looks up from her computer when she hears Sam enter their room, hoping he’s had some luck with his task.

“Hey,” Sam greets them.

Dean looks up from the online article he’d been perusing next to Tabitha at the table to ask, “Find anything?”

Sam scoffs as he explains, “Well, uh, I saw the house.”

“And does it match up with what the wife told us?” Tabitha asks, referring to their current crazy case and the story the woman had told them about it not being a bear that killed her husband, but the Incredible Hulk. The TV version.

Tabitha shakes her head and lowers her voice to add, “Or is it just another crazy story from a crazy woman?”

The youngest Winchester shakes his head as if he can’t believe what he’s about to say. “There is a giant 8-foot-wide hole where the front door used to be. Almost like…”

Dean sits up excitedly as he finished Sam’s thought, “A Hulk-sized hole.”

“Maybe,” Sam agrees. “What do you guys have?”

Tabitha spins her laptop around on the table to display her screen to her two brothers, showing them the police records of the small town that she’d hacked into. “Seems that our Billy boy had a bit of a temper. His record shows two counts of spousal battery, bar brawls, and some court-ordered anger-management sessions.”

By the cheeky grin on her older brother’s face, Tabitha knows exactly what Dean’s going to say before he opens his mouth, but still cringes as he does.

“You might say you wouldn’t like him when he’s angry,” he chuckles.

Tabitha groans a little as Sam surmises, “So, a hothead getting killed by TV’s greatest hothead. Kind of sounds like just deserts, doesn’t it?”

Shrugging, Tabitha stands to stretch, saying, “I guess it does. If that’s what really happened. I mean, what would pretend to be the Incredible Hulk to kill someone? Seems kinda farfetched for our normal cases to me.”

Dean shrugs. “We have seen some pretty wacky stuff, Tab. We’ve seen stranger than a TV character come to life just to gank some douche.”

“No,” Sam slowly argues. “It’s all starting to make sense.”

“How?” Tabitha wonders, going to the small fridge in the room and getting herself a yogurt cup.

Dean shrugs again, waiting for Sam’s explanation.

Sam begins pulling something out of his coat pockets. “Well, I found something else at the crime scene. Candy wrappers,” he says, dropping a handful of crumpled up wrappers onto the table in front of Dean. “Lots of ’em.”

Tabitha steps closer again with her yogurt in hand, leaning down near her older brother to examine the wrappers, trying to distinguish what about them means something to her younger brother.

“So?” she returns, straightening and returning to her yogurt. A little sullenly, she adds, “What’s that prove other than people like candy. I’d be eating candy instead of this, too, if I didn’t know I’d have to run another five miles or risk it going straight to my ass and thighs.”

Dean snorts, but ignores her comments, mulling aloud, “Just deserts, sweet tooth, screwing with people before killing them. We’re dealing with the Trickster, aren’t we?”

Pausing with her spoon midway to her mouth, Tabitha questions, “You get that from a crazy story about the Hulk and some candy wrappers? Isn’t that a bit of a stretch?”

The youngest Winchester scoffs at her, telling her with a hint of superiority, “You haven’t dealt with him before. We have. More than once. It’s got to be him. We’d know.”

Standing from the table, Dean ambles closer to their younger brother, nonchalantly tell him, “Good. Been wanting to gank that mother since the mystery spot.”

“Mystery spot?” Tabitha questions, striving to recall the case. She finally recalls one of Chucks many books. “Oh! Is that the one where that ass kept killing Dean and making you watch?” she questions her younger brother.

“Yeah,” Sam dismissively answers, and then turns to Dean, asking him, “Are you sure?”

“Yeah, I’m sure,” Dean confirms, looking down and not meeting his siblings’ eyes.

She knows something is bothering her older brother, but can’t help jumping to agree with him. “Hell, I’d like to kill that thing, too,” she adds. “The stuff that jerk put you guys through kinda ticked me off.”

“No,” Sam corrects, “I mean, are you guys sure you want to kill him?”

“Son of a bitch didn’t think twice about icing me—a thousand times.”

“I’m with Dean on this,” Tabitha maintains.

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“No. I know,” Sam answers. “I—I mean, I’m just saying.”

“Spit it out,” Tabitha huffs in annoyance, wondering what his point could possibly be. In her mind, this Trickster has his own “just deserts” coming.

“If you don’t want to kill him, then what?”

Sam finally tells them, “Talk to him.”

“About what?” Tabitha laughs. “How he’d like to be killed?”

Sam shifts in annoyance as he tells them, “Look, think about guys. He’s one of the most powerful creatures we’ve ever met. Maybe we can use him.”

Tabitha turns away in exasperation, throwing her empty yogurt cup at the trash as she tells him, “Do you hear yourself, Sam? If this thing is so powerful, how the hell do you think you can possibly ‘use him’?”

“Yeah,” Dean agrees. “What can we possibly use him for?”

Sam hurries to explain. “Okay, Trickster’s like a—like a Hugh Hefner type, right? Wine, women, song. Maybe he doesn’t want the party to end. I mean, maybe he hates this ‘angels and demons’ stuff as much as we do.”

Under her breath, Tabitha replies, “Doubtful.”

Continuing, Sam says, “Maybe he’ll help us.”

Dean stares for a moment before asking, “You’re serious?”

“Yeah.”

“Ally with the Trickster?” Dean wants to confirm.

“Yeah.”

“A bloody, violent monster…and you want to be Facebook friends with him? Nice, Sammy,” Dean derisively replies.

“The world is gonna end, Dean. We don’t have the luxury of a moral stand,” Sam defends. “I’m just saying, it’s worth a shot. That’s all.”

When Dean still seems unconvinced, Sam turns to their sister, hoping to sway her opinion.

“Back me up, Tab,” he entreats. “You’ve got to see that this is something to at least try.”

“Sam,” she slowly begins, backing up until she’s sitting on the edge of the table, her feet dangling freely in the air. “This does sound kinda crazy. I mean, trying to get help from the thing that’s killed Dean that many times, and screwed with you both. On more than one occasion?”

Huffing and pacing away, Sam grumbles, “Jesus, it’s like my childhood all over again. You always side with Dean.”

“You didn’t let me finish,” she fires back, noticing Dean’s triumphant grin slip away. “I was going to say, but you might be right in that we don’t have a lot of other options on the table right now. We’d be fools to not even give this a shot just because a few of us would get some extreme satisfaction and pleasure out of playing baseball with that thing’s head.”

“That’s all I’m saying,” Sam happily agrees. “If it doesn’t work…sure…we could always play baseball with its head. Or basketball, or whatever.”

In resignation, Dean asks, “How we gonna find the guy, anyway?”

“Well, he never takes just one victim, right?” Sam points out. “He’ll show.”


“Why am I sitting here whittling a huge toothpick?” Tabitha asks, as she balances her knife in one hand and the rough wood in another.

“It’s a stake,” Sam corrects.

“It’s the only way to kill a trickster,” adds Dean as he sits on a chair between the beds, likewise cutting the end of a piece of pine down to a sharpened point.

Maneuvering on the bed, Tabitha twists to face her brothers more, shooting an annoyed look at Sam who’s doing nothing but staring at their police scanner, waiting for something to happen.

“My point is, why am I sharpening a stake?” she huffs, pausing to twirl the handle of the slim blade between her forefinger and middle finger.

Dean pauses to watch her expertly twirling her knife, raising an eyebrow as he pointedly tells her, “Because you like playing with pointy things.”

She lets out a snort as she avoids saying the lewd thoughts that come to her mind, instead shooting back, “Just because I like playing with knives doesn’t mean I like whittling things. I’m not a lumber jack.”

Feedback sounds on the police scanner, causing them all to pause and Sam to sit forward as they listen to the call.

Uh, dispatch? I got a possible one-eight-seven out here at the old paper mill on route six.

Roger that,” the dispatch replies as Sam turns the nob to crank the volume on the scanner. “What are you looking at, son?

Honestly, Walt, I wouldn’t even know how to begin to describe what Im seeing. Just, um, send everybody.

Alright, stay calm. Stay by your car. Help’s on the way,” the dispatcher answers.

“That sounds weird,” Dean comments.

“Weird enough to be this trickster guy?” Tabitha asks, being the only one not personally familiar with the Trickster.

“I think so,” Sam answers as they all rise to follow the call.

When they arrive at the warehouse, there’s no sign of any response vehicles. Not even the original patrol car.

“I just want to go on record as saying that I don’t like the look and feel of this place,” Tabitha comments as she eases out of the backseat of the Impala.

Dean seems just as uneasy as he slams the driver’s door, dubiously looking around. “There was a murder here…and there’s no police cars—there’s nobody.”

“Yeah, something’s up,” Sam says as he follows Dean to the trunk.

Grabbing the already blood-dipped stakes from the trunk, Dean passes them out along with large flashlights.

It seems a little strange to go into a fight with only a wooden stake and a flashlight to Tabitha though, a little like fighting a bear with a dandelion, but she takes her brothers’ word that the stakes are the weapons they need.

“This thing is tricky as hell, and can do about anything it wants,” Dean tells her quietly, speaking aside to her as they approach the warehouse. “We’ve faced it before, so maybe kinda hang back and let Sammy and me head in first,” he advises.

“‘Cause the two of you have such a clean track record when it comes to fighting this thing,” she tells him, stepping past him and approaching the door despite his warnings.

Dean glares at her, but doesn’t speak again as he pulls the door open and allows her and Sam through first.

As they step through, they all suddenly realize that their hands are empty, and that their clothes have been altered.

Tabitha looks across at her brothers to see that they too are dressed in dark blue hospital scrubs with white doctor’s coats hanging open over them. Her jeans and brown leather jacket are gone.

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“What the hell?” Dean exclaims, staring around the hallway they are now standing in.

“Is this a hospital?” Tabitha questions next. She tilts her head as she hears something. “Is that theme music playing in the background?”

Shaking her head, she repeats Dean’s words, “What the hell?”

A female doctor and a nurse approach them in the hallway, coyly greeting the boys with rounds of, “Doctor.”

“‘Doctor’?” Sam repeats.

Dean turns back to the door they just came through, opening it in hopes of finding an escape, but finding only a couple in scrubs, furiously making out in what appears to be a supply closet, not the warehouse they thought they’d just entered. Seeing no escape, Dean quietly closes the door on the couple who don’t seem to even notice their presence.

Seeing no other alternative, they walk together down the hallway, approaching a nurse’s station where nurses and a few doctors are gathered around. One of the doctors breaks away, approaching Sam purposefully.

When she reaches him, she greets him with the same, “Doctor,” greeting as the others, and then pulls back to slap the side of his face.

Dean and Tabitha watch in shock and amusement as the diminutive little woman stares up at Sam’s great height, telling him, “Seriously?”

“What?” Sam answers.

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The little woman continues without waiting, saying in profound tones, “Seriously, you’re brilliant, you know that? And a coward. You’re a brilliant coward.”

“Uh, what are you talking about?” Sam asks again, still baffled by the woman.

She responds by giving him another slap, telling him, “As if you don’t know.” With her last dig, she spins on her heel and walks away down the hallway.

“I don’t believe this,” Dean tells them, awe in his voice.

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“Believe what?” Tabitha demands. “What the hell is going on?” Tabitha repeats, pulling her lab coat open to look down at her scrubs. “The coat doesn’t look too bad on me, but no one looks good in these ridiculous scrubs. They look like shapeless pajamas.”

She glances up to see her brothers staring at her. “What?” she defends. “No one looks good in scrubs.”

Dean is still looking down the hallway after the slap-happy woman, staring after her with a silly little grin as he tells them, “That was Doctor Piccolo.”

“Who?” Sam responds, his face worried as he stares after the woman, as if afraid she might come back for him.

“Doctor Ellen Piccolo,” Dean answers again, gesturing towards her and walking closer as he explains, “The sexy-yet-earnest doctor at…” he pauses and then points emphatically at the sign behind the nurse’s station as he continues, “…Seattle Mercy Hospital.”

“How the hell did we end up in Seattle?” Tabitha starts questioning, “Wait…I’ve worked cases in Seattle. There’s no hospital named Seattle Mercy there.”

“What the hell are you talking about?” Sam begs.

“The doctor getups,” Dean excitedly tells them. “The—the—the sexy interns. The ‘seriouslys.’ It all makes sense.”

Looking to Sam, Tabitha asks, “Make any sense to you? ‘Cause I swear he’s speaking in tongues. I don’t know whether to slap him or exorcise him.”

Shoving lightly at her, Dean continues to explain in overly excited tones, “We’re in Dr. Sexy, M.D., Tab!”

“What, that doctor show you like?” Tabitha asks as she struggles to remember the show. She knows she put it on once for Castiel to watch, but can’t remember anything about it herself. Just that it had seemed safer than the porn he’d started watching.

The siblings begin walking away from the nurse’s station as Dean asks them, “Dude, what the hell?”

“I don’t know,” Sam quietly answers as they walk, looking up and down hallways for an escape.

“No, seriously. What the hell?” Dean continues.

Seriously,” Tabitha sarcastically returns, “we don’t know.”

“One theory,” Dean begs. “Any theory.”

“Uh, the Trickster trapped us in TV Land,” Sam tells him.

“That’s your theory? That’s stupid.”

“You come up with a better one,” Tabitha argues, thinking to herself that it could be worse. Could have been some stupid reality TV show.

“You’re the one who said we’re on Dr. Sexy, M.D.,” Sam points out.

“Yeah, but TV Land isn’t TV Land. I mean, there’s actors a-and lights and crews. You know?” Dean angrily points out. “This looks real.”

“It can’t be.” Sam steps in front of his siblings and continues. “Dean, how can this possibly be real?”

“I don’t know. All right?”

As another woman walks by, Dean tells them, “Oh, but there goes Doctor Wang, the sexy-but-arrogant heart surgeon.” They follow her down the hall with their eyes and see a patient sitting on an abandoned hospital bed wearing a robe. Dean continues explaining, “And there’s Johnny Drake. Oh, he’s not even alive. He’s a ghost in the mind of…” Another doctor walks by, sitting on the bed beside the robed patient. “…of her,” Dean finishes, nodding at them. “The sexy-but-neurotic doctor over there.”

“I thought this was a hospital show. Who the hell would put ghosts in a doctor show?” Tabitha demands. Under her breath, she adds, “I bet no one but Dean even watches this dumb thing. Mix-matched genres.”

“It’s compelling,” Dean defends.

Sam gives their brother a look. “I thought you said you aren’t a fan.”

Dean doesn’t meet their eyes as he insists, “I’m not.” Looking up, he emphasizes, “I’m not.”

“Oh boy,” Dean suddenly says as he looks down another hallway, sounding frighteningly like a fangirl.

“What?” Sam questions.

Whispering, Dean tells them, “It’s him.”

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“Who’s him?” Tabitha asks, looking down the hallway at the unarguably handsome man approaching, dressed as a doctor as they are.

Turning towards them, Dean conspiratorially tells his siblings, “It’s him. It’s Doctor Sexy.”

Once more, the newcomer greets them all with a round of “Doctor.”

Dean answers the same in return, looking down as if he’s fighting a blush as he responds.

The dark-haired doctor turns his dark brown eyes on Sam, and when Sam doesn’t respond, Dean kicks him in the shin, prompting an unenthusiastic greeting of “Doctor,” from their younger brother.

Before Dean can reach across Sam to kick her as well, Tabitha rolls her eyes and gives an annoyed, “Doctor.”

The doctor stares at her for a moment, and then reaches out to her, his arms wrapping around her as he twists and dips her, pressing a fervent kiss to her lips as she gasps in surprise.

Unable to do anything else, Tabitha closes her eyes and wraps her arms around the man’s shoulders for support, kissing him back as his lips expertly move against hers, walking the fine line of pushing enough passion into the kiss, and yet not kissing her so harshly as to be bruisingly painful. His hands too walk that fine line, holding her respectfully enough to support her weight with her dipped over backwards, but his hands roaming and messaging just enough to let her know what they’d really like to be doing.

Suddenly, the doctor twists again, setting her back on her feet as Tabitha struggles to regain her breath, balance, and composure all at once.

“Doctor,” he greets her again, this time, his voice a little more playful and lustful.

“Doctor,” she repeats, fanning herself a little and feeling her cheeks flame when she hears how breathy her voice is.

When she catches her brothers’ shocked stares at her, she feels heat further rush to her cheeks. “What?” she asks. And then clears her throat to defend herself. “The man can kiss.”

Still staring in shock and horror, Dean demands, “Did I just see my little sister get tongued by Doctor Sexy?”

Holding her head high, Tabitha replies, “A real man knows how to kiss and make a woman breathless without shoving his tongue down her throat.”

“I think I’m traumatized,” Sam mutters to himself, shivering slightly.

Doctor…Sexy…turns back to Dean again, his voice turning hard as he questions him. “You want to give me one good reason why you defied my direct order to do the experimental face transplant on Mrs. Beale?”

Dean looks around in confusion. “One reason?” he unsteadily asks.

“Hmm?” Doctor Sexy hums, staring hard at Dean, but then turning a flirting look on Tabitha and winking at her.

“Sure,” Dean laughs uneasily, and then looks up to catch the flirty look the man gives his sister, and the way her cheeks flame in response. “How ’bout you making out with my sister!”

The doctor doesn’t answer, merely raises an eyebrow as he awaits a better answer from Dean.

The oldest Winchester looks down again, and then suddenly shoves the man backwards against the wall, an arm braced across his clavicle as he tells the man, “You’re not Doctor Sexy.”

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“You’re crazy,” the man replies.

Dean is unfazed, telling the man, “Really? ‘Cause I swore part of what makes Doctor Sexy sexy is the fact that he wears cowboy boots…not tennis shoes.”

“Yeah, you’re not a fan,” Sam laughs in an undertone.

Dean growls over his shoulder, “It’s a guilty pleasure.”

“Call security,” the doctor calls out.

Still holding him in place, Dean tells him, “Yeah, go ahead, pal. See, we know what you are.”

Sam and Tabitha glance around the hallway as everything and everyone freezes, and Tabitha shivers as she feels the stirring of something familiar.

The man under Dean’s arm suddenly morphs into a lighter-skinned man wearing a grin. “You guys are getting better,” he compliments Sam and Dean. Tabitha almost sighs in disappointment, thinking that the Doctor Sexy guise actually had been pretty…sexy. But his current face isn’t too hard on the eyes either, almost fitting for the jokester.

Over Dean’s shoulder, he winks again at Tabitha, telling her, “And I’m so glad to finally make you’re acquaintance. I can vouch that you’re already good.”

Shoving him harder against the wall, Dean tells him, “You better keep your damned eyes…” he disdainfully looks the man up and down, “…and everything else of yours, off my little sister.” He bangs the Trickster off the wall a few times to punctuate his words.

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“Come on,” the man defends. “I was just having a little fun.” His grin widens as he adds, “Besides…she kissed me back.”

“What?!” Tabitha again defends when her brothers turn to stare at her. “Like I said, the guy can kiss.”

“Whatever,” Dean growls, focusing again in front of him as he commands, “Now get us the hell out of here.”

“Or what?” he challenges back to Dean.

Suddenly, he grabs Dean’s arm and twists until he’s free, telling Dean, “Don’t see your wooden stakes, big guy.”

“That was you on the police scanner, right?” Sam asks. “This is a trick.”

Flourishing at himself, he theatrically draws out, “Hello-o-o? Trickster? Come on! I heard you two yahoos were in town. And with your lovely sister this time, too. How could I resist messing with you two? Or finally meeting the Winchester that obviously got all the looks in the family?”

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As Dean grumbles and starts threateningly forward again, the pieces fell into place for Tabitha. And she knows why the Trickster’s powers felt familiar.

“Wait. No,” she slowly begins. “You’re really an—”

Her voice falls silent in mid-sentence, and though she grabs her throat and tries to force words out, nothing comes.

As Dean turns worried eyes on her frantic motions towards her throat, she looks up to see the small, speculative smile on the face of the angel trying to pass himself off as a trickster.

“What the hell did you do to our sister?” Dean demands, starting towards the…angel again.

An invisible barrier stops him just shy.

“Keep your pants on,” the angel advises. He holds his palm out to show a glowing ball of light. “I just took her voice is all. You should thank me. I mean, she’s hot, but come on, who needs to hear something pretty like that flapping her mouth and distracting from the view all the time?”

Sam throws his arms around Tabitha when she launches forward to attack the angel, murder in her eyes even if it isn’t on her mouth. The angel grins in response, like one would at a Chihuahua thinking it was going to attack a Great Dane, and slips the glowing ball of light into the side pocket of his scrub pants.

“Careful, Tabby,” Sam lowly warns her, holding her back from trying to attack the angel.

Spinning to face him, she points back towards the faux-trickster, trying to mime wings on her back. And when she is met with confusion, she tries to draw a halo over her head.

Dean turns away from her miming, unable to guess her clues, and instead asks the angel, “Where the hell are we?”

Grinning, he answers, “Like it? It’s all homemade.” He turns and walks down the hallway, wrapping his knuckles on the glass windows. “My own sets, my own actors.” After gesturing to the frozen people, he spins towards them and finishes with, “Call it my own little idiot box.”

“How do we get out? And how do we get our sister’s voice back?” Dean questions with some forced restraint.

The angel pauses to consider Dean’s request. “You sure you want her voice back?” He tilts his head to the side as he considers her. “She’s actually…cuter this way.”

Tabitha’s glare deepens as she mouths her murderous intentions to the angel, being held back this time by her older brother.

When Dean looks thoughtfully down at her, she turns her murderous glare on him.

“All right!” he relents. Turning to the angel, he tells him, “Of course we want her voice back. And we want out of here. So, how?”

“That, my friend, is the sixty-four dollar question,” he answers.

“Whatever,” Sam interjects. “We need to talk to you. We need your help.”

“Hmm,” the angel hums in sarcastic thoughtfulness. Motioning at them, he says, “Let me guess. You muttonheads broke the world, and you want me to sweep up your mess?”

Sam answers with a simple plea, “Please. Just five minutes. Hear us out.”

“Sure. Tell you what. Survive the next twenty-four hours, we’ll talk.”

“Survive what?” Dean asks as Tabitha shakes her head in confusion, losing her temper by the minute at not being able to speak.

“The game,” the angel happily draws out.

Dean asks, “What game?”

“You’re in it.”

“How do we play?”

“You’re playing it.”

“What are the rules?”

The angel waggles his eyebrows, and then winks flirtatiously at Tabitha one last time. She doesn’t blush this time, his momentary…effect on her…having worn off the moment he took her voice. But when she feels that familiar stir that signals he’s about to depart, she jumps towards him, trying to stop him. Only to have him blink out of sight before she can reach him.

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“Oh, son of a bitch,” Dean complains as the people around them begin moving again.

Tabitha turns towards Dean, nodding emphatically, and touching her nose, trying to show that she agrees with his statement.

Dean turns towards Sam in response. “Silent may be nice, but we’ve got to get Tabby’s voice back. It’s freakin’ me out.”

Pointing to her ears and shaking her head, Tabitha tries to show them that she’s not deaf, but she may as well be for all the better they listen to her pantomimes.


A half hour later, and Tabitha’s mind has changed from wanting to kill the angel, to wanting to kill her idiot brothers.

“Look, I have no idea what you’re trying to say!” Dean exclaims in frustration as they walk aimlessly down the endless hallways, looking for an exit.

She stomps her feet in frustration when they still can’t seem to understand her physical demonstrations of an angel.

“Yeah, no offense, Tabitha, but you suck at charades,” Sam tells her, shaking his head.

Spinning around to stop in front of them, she narrows her eyes and draws a finger across her throat, her head tilting to the side as she rolls her eyes back and sticks out her tongue. Leaning forward, she points a finger meaningfully at each of them.

“Well, I understand that one,” Dean tells her, frowning. “But I don’t get what the hell else you’re saying. Is it about what you started to say when the Trickster took your voice?”

Not a trickster, she thinks to herself, but nods emphatically anyway, touching her nose again as she encourages them with her hands.

“She started to say to him, ‘You’re really an—’ What, Tabby? Ass, what?” Sam asks her.

Waving her hands, she tries to gesture him on, making wings behind her back again, and drawing circles above her head.

“What, crazy?” Dean questions, and then mimics her motion above his head, then dropping his circling finger to the side of his head. “All I get out of that is crazy,” he tells her. “You sure he didn’t scramble your head?”

She starts towards him with her hands held out towards her older brother’s neck when a bearded man steps out and sadly hales Dean down, “Hey, doctor.”

“Yes?” Dean tiredly replies as they stop in front of the room the man has come out of.

“My wife needs that face transplant.”

“Okay,” Dean answers. “You know what, pal? None of this is real, okay? And your wife doesn’t need jack squat. Okay?”

They start past the man’s room, each annoyed at being stuck in the ridiculous hospital drama. Tabitha gestures back at the man, circling her hand near the side of her head again.

“You got that right,” Dean concurs as they walk.

“Hey, doctor,” the man calls out again. They continue walking, but are halted at the sound of a gunshot ringing out.

Dean jerks next to them, grabbing at his back as he gasps in pain, falling to his knees as he gasps, “Real! It’s real!”

“No, no, no,” Sam repeats as he and Tabitha grab for Dean’s arms to support him, Tabitha pressing her hand to the wound to stop the blood flow.

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Looking frantically around, Sam shouts, “Hey! We need a doctor!”

When no one responds, Tabitha jerks on Sam’s white coat, gesturing impatiently at him.

“I’m not a real doctor,” he hisses.

Rolling her eyes, she slings Dean’s arm over her shoulder, pulling him up and helping him walk down the hallway.

As Sam hurries to help her, she pauses to slap a hand against a directional sign that shows operating rooms to their left.

“You want me to operate?” he incredulously asks.

She shrugs, trying to convey with her facial expressions that they might just have to.

As they stand over Dean laid out on an operating table face down, Sam looks again to Tabitha for help. When a nurse tries to hand him a scalpel, she gestures wordlessly at it.

“You’re not much help,” he mumbles under his breath.

Getting frantic, Dean tells him, “Sam, do something. Come on.”

Sam leans closer to him and whispers, “I don’t know how to use any of this crap.”

“Figure it out!” After another minute, Dean hisses, “Sam! Come on! I’m waiting.”

Finally, Sam says, “Okay, um, I need a…penknife, some dental floss, a sewing needle, and a fifth of whiskey.” No one moves, so Sam shouts, “Stat!”

Reaching into the pocket of her scrubs under her blue surgical apron, Tabitha hands a flask of whiskey across the table to her brother, shrugging when he looks at her in surprise. The rest of the nurses scurry to get the other things Sam wanted.

“This is crazy,” Sam mutters.

In response, Tabitha can only sigh and nod. While Sam works and she silently watches, Tabitha decides there’s still one thing she can try even without her voice. And so, she closes her eyes and silently calls for the angel she can’t seem to help trusting. Even after everything they’ve been through. No matter how they last parted, something tells her that he’ll still come if she calls for him.

As Sam finishes sewing up Dean’s back, Tabitha finally turns away, satisfied that her older brother will be okay, and deciding to use the lull to look for some paper and a pen or pencil so she can write to her brothers what she’s been trying to mime to them.

But when she turns around again, he brothers are suddenly standing on small platforms and an audience is staring at them all, cheering wildly.

An Asian man in a shiny silver suit runs out between her brothers, saying something in Japanese, followed in accented English by, “Let’s play ‘Nut-Cracker’!”

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She rushes out to her brothers, finally seeing that their feet are in plastic boots bolted to the platforms, holding them in place.

As she crouches by Dean to look at the boots, he exclaims, “Jesus, Tabby! What the hell are you wearing?”

Looking down, she sees that the doctor getup is gone, replaced by a red micro miniskirt, a red top not much more than a glorified bra, and thigh-high white go-go boots. Tugging self-consciously at the short skirt, she glances up and shrugs again, her voice still silent when she attempts to speak her outrage to him.

“This is so messed up,” he tells her.

Before she can attempt freeing him, an Asian girl wearing the same costume as Tabitha tugs her away, pushing her off to the side and telling her in Japanese that she has to play her part and shoving a demon horn headband on her head. How she can understand the girl’s Japanese, she doesn’t even want to consider.

Tabitha is forced to watch in horror as the game show host asks her brothers questions in Japanese and then the giant…nut-cracker…slam into her younger brother when he doesn’t answer the question in time.

As her brother groans in pain, the host runs over to her and the other girl beside her.

In Japanese, the girl says, “Have we discussed these nutritious Shrimp Chips?” as she hold up a bag of chips.

The host gushes about them as well, and then almost against her will, Tabitha gushes in Japanese, “They are so wonderful, I eat them every day, and look how slim I am!” She holds her arms up in the air, twisting back and forth while she quietly giggles in a stereotypical Japanese way.

As she, the host and other girl finish their ridiculous commercial moment, she suddenly feels the familiar power of Cas swelling.

Still giggling and covering her mouth, she sighs, “Cas,” before her voice is silenced again, even from speaking Japanese. Even though they had parted bitterly the last time she’d seen him, she can’t help but feel a rush of relief, and a familiar warm sensation in her heart that this angel came when they needed him.

“Is this another trick?” Sam cautiously asks as the boys twist to face the angel.

“It’s me,” Castiel tells them staring back and forth in confusion. “Uh, what are you doing here? Where’s Tabitha?” he frantically asks, looking around the stage.

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She waves silently from her place, struggling to make herself walk away from the cheesy host that has now dropped into a dramatic karate stance like he’s ready to fight the angel.

Castiel meets her eyes, looking her up and down before asking, “What happened to you? Are you all right?”

She shrugs and nods in response. Trying to indicate that she’s mostly all right as she manages two steps towards him.

“Us?” Dean questions the angel. “What are you doing here?”

“Looking for you,” Castiel snaps. “Tabitha sounded like she was in trouble when she contacted me, and you’ve all been missing for days.”

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“So get us the hell out of here, then,” Sam pleads.

When Castiel looks curiously at her again, Tabitha nods emphatically, trying to convey that she very much wants out of this place.

Holding his hand out towards her, Castiel says, “Let’s go.”

But before she can try to force herself forward more, the angel blinks out of sight.

She silently calls after him, but cannot even feel his presence when she tries to call out.

The host angrily steps towards her brother, telling them, “No, no, no, no. Mr. Trickster does not like pretty-boy angels.”

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And then the game begins again.

As the host turns to Dean, Tabitha is finally able to carefully approach Sam, determined to try telling him again what’s really going on.

When she stops beside him, she suddenly has an idea. Waving to get his attention, she slowly moves her hands, touching her shoulders carefully and sweeping her hands forward in the ASL sign for angel, not flapping wings behind her back like she’d been trying to pantomime. Sam tips his head as he watches her, seeming to realize she’s trying something different.

Still, no look of comprehension fills his face, so she raises her hands, finger spelling to him the message, He is an angel!

“Whoa, slow down,” he tells her. “You know sign language?”

At her annoyed look, he shakes his head. “Right. Now isn’t the time. Slow way down, I only kinda know how to finger spell.”

Nodding eagerly, she begins spelling more slowly, her fingers almost shaking in eager anticipation as she spells, H-e i-s a-n a—

With another rush of power, Tabitha suddenly feels herself disappear, and reappear in stark white room.

“Well aren’t you just the resourceful little thing,” the angel says, walking around her to stand so he can look down at her with a smirk. “Who would have guessed that you’d know sign language?”

In a rush that tests the bit of sign language she knows, Tabitha tells the angel just what she thinks of him and what she’d like to do with him.

“Watch your language!” the angel sarcastically scolds. “I oughta wash your hands off with soap.”

When she exhausts her knowledge of sign language, she begins mouthing more threats, causing the angel to roll his eyes and tell her, “You can use your big girl words now. I gave you back your voice already. Although, watching your hands dance in sign language is pretty hot. Who knew I liked it when girls sign dirty to me?”

After an experimental hum, Tabitha opens her mouth and continues her attack. “I’m gonna kick your ass ten ways from Sunday, and then I’m gonna kill you so slowly, you’ll think you’re dead long before I put your sorry ass out of commission you sorry son of a bitch!”

Still grinning, the angel tells her, “Huh, who knew? I should have let you keep your voice. ‘Cause you can talk all kinds of dirty.”

Her teeth clack as she slams her mouth shut, growling low in her throat as she fights to keep from childishly stomping her foot.

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Through closed teeth, she growls, “Send me back to my brothers and let us go you asshole.”

The angel folds his arms over his chest, casually strolling around Tabitha in a circle as he examines her. “Nope. Don’t think so.”

“Why not?” she snaps, fighting the urge to turn with him and not let him walk behind her. “Because I know you’re an angel?”

Coming to a stop in front of her again, he claps his hands enthusiastically. “Bingo!” he cheers, and then in an exaggerated announcer’s voice continues, “Got it right in one. Tell the girl what she’s won!”

Tabitha darts forward, grasping the angel by his shirtfront as she tells him, “You’re not a trickster, so stop the game bullshit and let us go.”

Shoving her hands away and dusting needlessly at his shirt, he tells her in false sympathy, “Aw, sorry sugar-plum. But I just can’t let you go now that you know my secret.”

“Is it that big of a deal that my brothers not know you’re really an angel?”

He frowns at her now. “No. It’s not so much them as it is everyone else,” he stresses, twirling a finger in the air. “And speaking of not being what I seem…what the hell are you?”

She raises her chin but doesn’t speak when he points at her.

“Come on,” he grins, coaxing her in sweet tones. “You figured me out. And I know there’s something going on with you. How’d you even know I was an angel? No way you should have known that. And how’d you get word to little Cassie-boy where you and the two meatheads were? ‘Cause I’m good. No other angel should have been able to find this place. Let alone little Cassie.”

“Where is Cas?” she asks instead. “You sent him somewhere and now he’s not answering. What did you do to him?”

Too late, she realizes she may have given away too much. “‘Not answering,'” he repeats thoughtfully. “How interesting. You really did tip him off somehow.” He leans back as his head tilts and he examines her more carefully. “You really are quite the intriguing catch.”

For several moments, Tabitha doesn’t speak, but the silence is too heavy as the angel thoughtfully stares at her, forcing her to ask the first thing that comes to mind. “So. Who the hell are you anyway? Which douchebag angel are you when you’re not pretending to be a trickster?”

He stares for another moment, weighing whether or not to answer as he strokes his chin in contemplation.

“Come on,” she tells him in annoyance, glancing around the expanse of endless white again. “I have to call you something, and I’m not calling you trickster when you’re clearly not.”

“Fine,” he suddenly relents, dropping his hands and giving a stage bow. “I am Gabriel.”

“The archangel?” she asks in surprise. “Huh, guess that makes some sense. You’re strong enough to jerk me around like a puppet.”

His frown returns as his eyes narrow on her. “But still not strong enough to make you completely compliant. Otherwise, you’d have quit trying to get word to your brothers about what I am. So what’s your story?”

Instead of giving too much away, she holds an arm up, jingling her charm bracelet on her wrist. “Stops most things from putting magical whammies on me, but doesn’t seem to stop the really powerful archangels.”

Gabriel suddenly grabs her arm, his eyes transfixed on the charm bracelet as he carefully slides it on her wrist to examine the charms. He stops spinning the bracelet when he reaches the angel wing pendant Castiel had given her, slowly stroking it as a lazy grin spreads. “That’s how he managed to find you,” he whispers, more to himself than to her. “I knew I felt something familiar.”

“What?” she huffs, still annoyed.

Seeing that she’s still miffed about him being able to control her even somewhat, Gabriel grins, leaning towards her to teasingly whisper in her ear, “I could put another kind of whammy on you if you’d prefer.”

Leaning away, she tells him, “Just send me back to my brothers, and I’ll be good.”

He begins strolling casually around again, telling her, “No can do, sister. They’ve got a lesson to learn, and you can’t be there to distract them with insignificant details about me. Besides, you have a lesson to learn, too.”

“What?”

He looks back over his shoulder to wink at her. “To play your part.”


“Bachelor number three,” Tabitha begins, scooting forward on the tall chair and tugging down on the hem of her slightly too short dress. She glances down at the question card again, and reads the next question on the card. “If you could take me anywhere in the world, where would you take me on a date?”

Bachelor three leans forward to look down the line of bachelors at her, winking before he begins. “Well, for a scrumptious, beautiful lady such as yourself, I’d want to start by taking you somewhere crowded where I could show you off. Maybe the Coliseum in Rome. And then I’d want to show you something nearly as breathtaking as you are, so we’d go to the Sistine Chapel next…”

Tabitha continues to grin as she’s supposed to, struggling to play the part of eager bachelorette trying to choose her suitor on a ridiculous dating show. She’d already been through playing an annoyingly stereotypical June Cleaver-esque housewife/mother, a contestant on a reality show akin to Fear Factor—which had proven to be a cakewalk after growing up in a hunting family—and even an annoyingly perky woman in a tampon commercial.

“Gabriel!” she suddenly shouts, causing all three bachelors—creepy exact replicas of Gabriel—to stop and stare at her. “I’ve had enough of this stupid TV Land game of yours. Get your ass out here and just tell me what part exactly I’m supposed to play!”

The three bachelors morph into one as Gabriel stands and approaches her, stopping in front of her tall stool.

“Why, you’re cast in the role of Azrael, my dear. Get used to it,” he tells her with a grin.

“You-you know about that?” she stutters.

“Of course,” he huffs, his hand waving in the air. “Everybody knows that now. And it makes sense. Dean, the protective older brother. Sam the rebellious little brother. And stuck in the middle, the annoying-know-it-all sister that never takes a side until it’s too late.” Gabriel spins back towards her, grabbing her shoulders as he insists, “Well, buck up, sister, and learn something that our sister never did. Make a choice now before it’s too damn late.”

“You want me to say ‘yes’ to her? Can she really stop it all?” she pleads in a small voice.

Gabriel snorts. “Of course she can. Probably not how you think though.” He gestures wildly away from her. “Or your brothers can finish it like they’re supposed to. But the truth is, that if your meathead brothers don’t play their parts right—hell, even if they do—you have to be ready to say ‘yes’ to her. One way or another, she’s gonna have to clean up the mess they’re gonna make.”

“Mess?” she repeats angrily, pushing to stand and shoving the angel hard in the chest. “You’re talking about them killing half this planet or more if they fight. How can you want us to say ‘yes’? What if they destroy the whole world?”

“So what?” he challenges, giving her an annoyed look. “Light that fire! Let it burn! I’ve had enough. They’re gonna fight one way or another. So let’s just get this over with already.”

“Do you have no reason to want this world to continue? Nothing left to live for yourself? I thought you were a fierce archangel, not a chicken-shit cowardly little moth.”

He scoffs, giving her a mocking glare. “Look, sister, I’d love for the party to continue like it has. But I know my brothers. And they’re not gonna stop now. Might as well roll over and accept that it’s gonna burn.”

“How sad your life must be,” she whispers, saddened by his utter assuredness in defeat.

Gabriel suddenly appears in her face, his expression hard as he tells her, “And you would know so much about it, huh? What have you got that’s so worth living for? Two brothers and a broken-down old hunter are the only ones that even know you’re still alive and exist. So what’s it matter if that light goes out now? Not much of anyone out there that’ll miss you, will they? And that’s just the way you like it. Keeping yourself isolated from the world. How sad is that?”

“There’s still things in my life worth living for,” she whispers, her voice turning tender as her thoughts linger on Castiel. Despite everything…despite how utterly infuriated and disappointed he makes her…she still can’t shove him from her heart and mind. No matter how much she convinces herself that it’s for the best. Barely audible, she adds, “There are still those in my life that make it worthwhile. That I can’t keep myself isolated from…no matter how I try.”

“You’re talking about little Cassie-boy,” Gabriel astutely observes.

“What? No! What are you talking about?” she instantly denies.

Grin spreading, Gabriel nearly dances as he gleefully exclaims, “Ooh, that’s it! You got a thing for the little nerdy angel.” When she sputters a denial, he rolls his eyes and tells her, “Come on. No offense, sister, but little Cassie-boy kinda already let the angel out of the bag on that one. I knew something was up with him when he only had eyes for you when he came to rescue you. But you’re carrying a little torch for that angel, too, aren’t you?”

“It’s complicated,” she finally admits, not seeing much use in denials at this point.

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Gabriel snorts. “No kidding,” he tells her. “You know,” he thoughtfully begins, “I never would have thought the little angel would have it in him. Go Cassie.”

Sighing, Tabitha asks him again, “So…not that this hasn’t been fun…but can you just take me back to my brothers now?”

“Nope. Still can’t. But…”

“But what?” she eagerly asks.

He hums thoughtfully, tapping his chin. “I might be talked into it; on the condition you keep my…real identity a secret. And do one other thing for me.”

“What?” she cautiously asks, giving him a dark look as dozens of thoughts run through her head.

“Go on one date with me.”

“What?” she exhales, nearly laughing at the one thing she hadn’t thought of. “A date?”

“Yeah,” he defends, looking slightly offended. “Maybe I wanna see what all the fuss is about. Besides, you do appear to be intriguing. And you don’t seem to have any fear. I like that. Plus, come on…you’re hot.”

Determined not to cower at the thought of a simple date—and ignoring his attempts to make her uncomfortable—she steps in front of Gabriel, head held high as she tells him, “Fine. Let’s do this, but you know my brothers will eventually figure out what you are. I mean, all evidence to the contrary, but they’re not stupid.”

He grins, wrapping an arm behind her back and yanking her closer into his chest. Leaning down, he tells her, “All right. Let’s get our date on.” He pauses, and then tells her, “And like you said, all evidence to the contrary as far as your brothers are concerned.”

When he steps back, she’s surprised to see that he’s dressed in a form-fitted tuxedo. Looking down, she sees that she’s dressed to match in an elegant fuchsia gown. The long material sweeps the floor and ties across one shoulder with sparkling jewels. Even without a mirror, she knows her hair is tied up in an elegant up-do and that her makeup is flawless.

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All around them, couples are dancing across the floor in beautiful gowns and sharp black tuxedos.

“Dancing, huh?” she asks a little dubiously. She’s been club dancing many times, but never ballroom dancing.

He holds his hand out palm up, accepting her hand and leading her onto the floor.

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As he expertly spins her around the floor in a waltz, she notes that he’s light on his feet, but easily leads her without pulling or forcing her when her steps falter.

“I don’t get you,” she tells him as they dance. “Why do you want to go on a date with me? From what my brothers say, you’re like a Hugh Hefner. You have women throwing themselves at your feet. So why do you want to date me?”

“Why not?” he returns, leading them effortlessly through a spin, their movements flowing around the floor as a waltz should. “I can have a lot of women, true, but they’re nothing like you. Maybe I just want to see what finally broke through Cassie’s straight-man, good-little-solider veneer. See what made him risk it all for a human.”

“Risk what?” she asks, biting her lip as she looks down to steady her feet when she stumbles a bit.

“Everything it is to be an angel,” he tells her. “He’s defying daddy himself with you.”

Her face pinches in confusion. “I don’t understand. You just admitted to having lots of women. So aren’t you defying His wishes, too?”

“Nah, not the way you think. And trust me, dad never much cared if we had…a little fun with some humans. It’s the getting involved with a human that’s the problem. Daddy never wanted our loyalties to be divided. And I’d say that’s just where Cassie-boy has ended up. I’m merely wondering what it is about you that makes all the risks worth it that he’d chance them to have something with you.”

“We’re not together anymore,” she feels the need to point out, unsure why she’s even talking to him about it, other than a strange need to talk to the only person she’s known that knows about them and doesn’t condemn her for her choices.

“Sure you’re not,” he laughs unconvinced.

“We’re not,” she insists. “Things were too complicated to keep going further down that road.”

The music changes to an upbeat, sensual Latin number.

Dipping her low, Gabriel whispers in her ear, “He’s an angel, sister. It can’t be anything but complicated.”

For the next several minutes, Gabriel leads Tabitha through the more complicated Samba. The dance is much faster than the Waltz had been, and demands all of Tabitha’s concentration. And though her mind lingers on their discussion of Castiel, she doesn’t have the time to question him further on his statements.

She’s breathless when he finally spins her around for the last time, her back to his chest as his hands mold to her hips. Her chest heaves in breathlessness from their pace.

Just as she’s about to suggest they take a break, he slides his arm around her body, glancing at his wrist over her shoulder—where she doesn’t even see a watch—and exclaims, “Well, would you look at the time. It’s time for the second portion of our date.”

“What?” she asks, even as she realizes they’re no longer on a dance floor, but standing at the bottom of an old-world style theatre-type staircase. The woods are all dark, rich mahoganies, and everything is covered in deep red velvets accented with golds.

“Where are we?” she asks as she looks down to see that her brightly colored number has been replaced by a fitted black gown. Turning in his arms, she looks up at him expectantly.

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“The opera, my dear,” he explains, leading her up the staircase as the lights dim a little in signal that patrons should find their seats. “More specifically, the Teatro alla Scala in Milan.”

He leads her up to a private viewing box in the infamous opera house, motioning her to a seat even as he holds out a flute of champagne that has appeared from nowhere.

Smiling faintly, she thinks that his timing is actually pretty perfect since she’d wanted to take a break from the dancing. And she wonders to herself how he knew that she’d always dreamed of attending just one opera.

“Enjoy the show,” he tells her as he takes the seat next to her.

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The next several hours find her enthralled by the performance of Carmen. The story and the arias move her, and she finds herself as entranced and bewitched as Don Jose as he abandons everything in his life for the gypsy girl, Carmen. Eventually leaving behind his family, his duty, his virtue, his reason, and at last his soul in the hopes of consuming the fiery gypsy.

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As several soldiers flirt with the beautiful Carmen in the beginning of the performance, Gabriel leans closer to whisper the English translations into Tabitha’s ear. “Love is a rebellious bird, that nobody can tame, and you call him quite in vain, if it suits him not to come.”

She smiles at Gabriel as he continues Carmen’s aria explaining why she cannot love, and why it is dangerous if she does. Tabitha settles closer into the angel as he continues his translations, grateful since her French is minimal at best. Her knowledge of the Miranda in French not proving useful.

“Love is a gypsy’s child, it has never, ever, known a law; love me not, then I love you; if I love you, you’d best beware!”

When Gabriel slides an arm around her shoulders to support her as she leans into him to hear his translations, she doesn’t object or pull away, too enraptured by the arias and Carmen’s story to care or even notice. Her heart aches in sympathy for Don Jose, the solider that falls in love with the impetuous Carmen, losing everything he has for the woman who only fleeting cares for him, and soon scorns him and loves another man.

In the end, Don Jose is driven mad by seeing Carmen’s heart going to the bullfighter, and in a fit of jealousy and rage, stabs her, and then confesses his desperate and murderous crime to the crowd.

As the audience cheers the ending of the opera—Tabitha along with them—she can feel Gabriel watching her.

Turning to him, she asks, “Why did you bring me to this opera? Should I take some meaning from it?”

He laughs in response, halting his clapping to lean closer to her again. “Take meaning if and where you want. Maybe I’m just trying to show the pitfalls and capriciousness of love.”

Tabitha stops clapping as well, turning to look more thoughtfully at Gabriel. “So, in your mind, am I the ‘capricious’ and wily Carmen, and Castiel the naïve and stoic Don Jose, destined to be ruined by me? Is that your lesson here?”

Still laughing, he leans closer, the opera house suddenly empty and silent. “Perhaps I’m trying to point out that he is this story’s Carmen, and you’re destined only for ruin in loving an angel that can’t ever understand the emotion.”

“I never said I loved him,” she whispers, her throat suddenly feeling tight and dry. “Besides, we ended things. We’re just friends again.”

A knowing look fills Gabriel’s face. “You tell yourself that, sister, maybe someday you’ll actually believe it.”

“Perhaps you’re right,” she finally relents, looking away towards the now empty grand stage where Carmen had been performed below them. “Maybe…love…really is capricious. And only a mistake of the naïve.” Looking back to Gabriel, she tells him, “I think that’s why I had to end things with Castiel. I saw that he would never understand me—what it is to be human—and that I would only ever be opening myself to heartache. How can I care that deeply for someone that would kill a child?”

At Gabriel’s surprised look, she explains about Jesse, leaving out her own emotional influences from having been to the future and seeing her own fate there.

“So you punished the guy for trying to do something that had to be done?” he surmises when she finishes.

Stepping back, she snaps in annoyance, “Not you, too. Are you saying that you’d have killed that boy if you’d been there?”

“No offense, but hells yeah,” he responds. “Kid’s the antichrist. I may not be down with a lot of what Castiel does, but he was making the right choice there. That kid only has being used as a weapon to look forward to if they ever find him.” Gabriel sighs and looks more thoughtful as he continues, “He was probably protecting you as much as anything. And you’re letting your wacky, mothering instincts kick in and punishing him for doing what he had to.”

“What?” she nearly yells.

“Please,” he huffs in annoyance. “Look, I’ve lived around humans for longer than you can comprehend. I get you guys. And you had latched onto that kid with every mothering gene you’ve got, and that’s why you were so pissed at Cassie. But really, is that a good reason to push the guy away? Can you really see yourself having kids? All joking aside, I made you play the white-picket-fence-cookie-cutter-mother before, and you have to admit, you hated every second of it. That’s not you, and it never will be, so why punish the guy over something that’ll never happen and will never be a real issue?”

Tabitha opens her mouth in denial, but cuts the words off before she can speak, hating that there might be even a grain of truth in his words.

When she’s silent, Gabriel continues, “Not that I’m complaining that you two are on the outs. I’m just trying to point out your flaws in blaming the guy. Either way, gives me a chance to swoop in.”

She finally laughs a little. “Come on,” she tells him her mood softening. “You and I both know that you have no real interest in me, so why are we really here?”

“Maybe I am interested,” he tells her, waggling his eyebrows suggestively.

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Still giggling, she tells him, “You’re more interested in just having fun. Me…not so much. I think I’m just a means for you to get some twisted pleasure in annoying my brothers.”

“Well, there is that,” he concedes with a heavy sigh. “But you do intrigue me,” he confesses. “I can’t quite figure you out. And that’s saying something from a guy like me.” The grin returns as he tells her, “But you are fun. And it’s an actual challenge to have a date with a chick I can’t completely control. I have to work a bit harder to make sure you’re having fun. So…is this the funest date you’ve ever been on or what?”

“It’s definitely the most memorable,” she truthfully tells him. “I’ve never been ballroom dancing and to a real opera like this before. In the famous La Scala no less.”

His face falls a little. “But not the funest? So what was? What have I got to outdo?”

She hesitates, but finally confesses, “The funest date I was ever on, was actually when a guy took me to a paintball range and we spent hours chasing and stalking each. We both ended up covered in paint, but it was actually a lot of fun.”

“Huh,” he hums. “Interesting.” He taps his chin thoughtfully, and then snaps his fingers, saying, “I’ve got it.”

At his snap, she blinks involuntarily, and when she opens her eyes, both she and Gabriel are dressed in motorcycle leathers, standing on a huge, empty racetrack. The track is lit by bright lights, but she can still see the stars shinning overhead, too, impossibly bright against the artificial light. Glancing down, she sees her pants are a tight fitting leather that hugs her curves, and her short leather jacket does the same.

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“Strikes me that you enjoy some competitiveness, and I considered go-carts, but this seemed a little more appropriate,” he tells her, gesturing behind her with an eager anticipation.

She turns to stare open-mouthed at a line of gorgeous, custom-made Ducatis, lined up and waiting just for her.

“I think I’ve died and gone to heaven,” she gushes to him.

“Pick one,” he encourages, taking the opportunity to lasciviously look her up and down in her tight leathers. But she’s too occupied with her own stare to scold his wandering eyes or his choice of skin-tight leathers.

Not needing any more prodding from the angel, she rushes to the line of gleaming bikes, walking up and down the row twice before she picks out a sleek racing bike painted smoky gray with jet black accents.

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“Like fast ones, huh?” he laughs, moving to straddle the one next to her, holding out a helmet. “I hope that bodes well for me.”

Feeling heady, she playfully asks, “Like fast women, huh?” Sliding on the helmet he offers, she more seriously asks, “Aren’t you wearing one?”

Pointing to himself, he intones, “An-gel…remember? I’ll be fine. And I can guarantee you will be, too.” Then he leans closer to tease, “The faster the better.”

With no more challenges or encouragement needed, she slides the visor on her helmet down, gunning the bike as she wouldn’t have dared if she’d been borrowing, or even owned the thing herself, punching through the gears as she speeds faster and faster around the track, feeling the wind whip around her.

She’s always loved motorcycles. Loved the freedom and mobility of them. Loved that going fast on a motorcycle was the closest she could get to the actual sensation of flying.


It was hours later when Gabriel and Tabitha finally stopped. Slowing her Ducati, Tabitha finally brings her machine to a stop, dropping the kickstand and swinging one leg over to lean slightly back on the bike as Gabriel approaches her.

“Admit it,” he tells her as he stops in front of her, “that was way more fun than getting full of paint.”

Fighting a grin, she agrees, “I’ll admit, this one might take the cake for funest date. Although the paintball one will still hold a place in my heart for other reasons.”

Gabriel leans into her, his chest brushing hers as he leans down to whisper in her ear, “Good. Glad to hear I take the cake.”

Not pushing him away, Tabitha smirks and tells him, “Who knew going on a date with an angel could be so fun?”

Leaning back, Gabriel curiously asks, “Little Cassie never take you on any fun dates?”

“Dates?” she repeats, folding her arms over her chest as she rolls her eyes. “I don’t think he has any concept of what a date is. Other than something on the calendar.”

Letting out an appreciative whistle, Gabriel tells her with slight awe in his voice, “Who knew I’d be jealous of that little angel? He made it as far as he did without so much as taking you on a date. I’m impressed.”

Shoving on his chest, she shakes her head and steps around Gabriel.

He catches her arm to stop her, more intently telling her, “Really though, I feel sorry for the guy. He doesn’t even have a clue how much fun such a simple thing can be.”

“Yeah?” she challenges, smile reluctantly returning.

Nodding, he assures her, “Yeah. I had fun. More than I even expected.”

“I did, too,” she laughs, finally smiling fully again. “More than I expected as well.” She remembers how Gabriel had conjured others for them to race on the track, and even a stadium full of people to shout and cheer for them.

“It really was exhilarating,” she confesses.

With his arrogant grin in place, he winks and tells her, “Then why don’t we strip you out of those leathers and see what other kinds of fun we can get into.”

Pushing lightly on his chest, she mockingly tells him, “In your dreams, Gabriel.”

He waggles his brows suggestively at her. “Oh, wouldn’t you like to see my dreams. But I’ll just tell you. There are a dozen of you. All fighting and fawning over me. Taking turns feeding me grapes and pouring warm massage oil on me, rubbing—”

She slaps a hand over his mouth as she giggles.

“I do not need to hear just what kind of crazy dreams you have or what you might make dream-me do, because seriously, that’s the only place I’d ever do stuff like that to you,” she laughs.

Before she can pull back, Gabriel slips her hand from his mouth, tugging her into him again and sliding an arm into her open leather jacket to wrap around her waist. His other hand slides up the back of her neck to tangle in her hair, tilting her head back so that’s she’s looking up into his face, all teasing gone, replaced by something more intense.

This time, she knows exactly who’s kissing her, and she’s even prepared for it, but his skill still takes her by surprise. Her arms wrap around his waist in return, tightening to hold him close as he kisses her even more deeply than he had in the guise of Dr. Sexy. And like then, she sinks into it and enjoys it.

But it’s almost in a detached manner, the way an experienced connoisseur does with a fine glass of wine. It’s powerful and heady, but she’s able to consciously enjoy its tastes and nuances merely on the physical merits alone. There’s nothing in the kiss that touches deeper than her baser instincts. Nothing that reaches her emotions or makes her senses float away.

Only Castiel has ever kissed her that way. She realizes it now. Oh, Cort may have made her heart flutter with fantasies when she was younger, but every other guy since then had just been a means to sate the physical needs. Means to slake her loneliness. Or at least bury it.

But when Castiel kissed her, time had both stopped and sped by in a blur.

Tabitha lived her whole life in the moment, but Castiel made her want more than that. He made her yearn for futures that were out of her reach. Which was why it was so painful when those dreams came crashing down around her ears. And despite the pain, she continued to reach out for more. He still made her hope for things she couldn’t have…again and again.

She’s never before experienced the hope Castiel gives her with his kiss, his touch…and that hope is a powerful thing. His kiss and that hope he elicits in her makes her feel more like she’s flying than hours of racing around the racetrack with Gabriel on the fastest motorcycle ever can.

Gabriel pulls away first, eyes closed and a soft smile playing on his lips as he tells her, “You’re better than good.”

Eyes open as she smiles fondly at him, she replies, “So are you.”

“Then why don’t you and I ditch this place?” he asks, opening his eyes and surprising her with his earnesty. “Screw the heart-shaped-candy-coated-love crap. You and I have fun. And I can keep you out of big sis Azrael’s hands. There’s no need for her interference if your meathead brothers just play their parts. Let’s leave the feeling crap behind. Stop flying into the flames even though it hurts just because it’s more painful to stop.”

Tabitha steps back in surprise, running his words through her head. “Run away with you? That’s what you’re suggesting?”

“Hells yeah,” he insists enthusiastically. “You’re fun. Why stick around here just to risk it all?”

She opens her mouth to object, knowing she can’t leave, certainly not with one angel that she finds…fun…when she can’t get another angel off her mind.

“‘Stop flying into the flames even though it hurts…just because it’s more painful to stop,'” she repeats in a whisper. “You weren’t talking about me, were you?”

“Who else would I have been talking to?” he challenges, eyes looking away a little nervously—perhaps like he’s embarrassed, Tabitha thinks.

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“Yeah, but you were talking about someone else. And not me and Cas. Who was she? ‘Cause I see it now. You’ve been talking from experience this whole time,” she points out gently, moving back to the bike to lean her back against it.

He heaves a suffering sigh, finally whispering, “She’s a pagan goddess.”

Laughing a little, she tells him, “I bet daddy wouldn’t be real happy about that.”

He snorts in return. “Probably no happier than if she was human like you.” Shaking his head, he moves to stand beside Tabitha again, leaning back in a mirrored stance to hers, his arms over his chest. Ruefully, he comments, “Who knew I’d end up having something in common with little Cassie-boy?”

“So, what are you going to do about her?” she asks.

He waves a dismissive hand. “Nothing to do. She moved on a long time ago. And I’m as much the Trickster as I am an angel. Neither part of me was meant for that kind of sappy crap.” Glancing over, he asks, “What about you?”

“I don’t know,” she grudgingly admits. “It’s a bit humbling to realize that I’ve become that tired old cliché of the woman that gets mad at a guy for something he doesn’t understand, and then punishes him for something he can’t change, not even fully explain to him why I’m pissed. I mean, I am still pissed that he tried to kill that kid, but I guess you’re right, I can’t punish him for trying to do something that he thought would make the world safer. And I can’t really keep punishing him because I felt attached to that kid. You were spot on about something else, too… Me as a mother would be an epic disaster anyway.”

“Maybe not.”

“But it still won’t happen. Not the way I live,” she points out, not wanting to argue.

“That mean you’re gonna forgive the little nerd?”

Shaking her head, she thinks about what Gabriel said about flying into the fire despite the pain, and tells him, “I’m still not sure Cas and I should continue whatever we’ve been doing, but I’m not sure how to stop or if I’m even strong enough to either. Part of me knows that no matter how many times I try to turn away, that all of my resolve goes out the window when I see him again.” She sighs self-deprecatingly and shakes her head at her own lack of willpower. “I guess I’ll just take it one day at a time.”

“You know it can never be more than what you’ve got now, don’t you?” he whispers, his voice almost apologetic.

She winces at the blunt reminder, but tells him, “Yeah. I guess I’ve always known that. He’s an angel after all. And I’m human.”

She shakes her head again as she tries to convey her thoughts. “I was never that girl, you know. Hoping for what she couldn’t have. I always set my sights on things I knew I could attain, and then kicked ass if need be to get it, but I never set my sights higher than what I could really have.

“But with him…he makes me hope. I’ve never hoped for anything before. I grew up knowing I could be a hunter, and I was. I knew I could stop hunting and be in the FBI if I wanted, and I did. And I always knew that I’d end up hunting again when things didn’t work out in the FBI, and here I am. But I never hoped for impossible things like a white-picket-fence-dream-life. I knew that would never happen. Knew I’d never really have that great, unattainable love that they write songs and tell stories about, you know. Then that ridiculous, stoic and silent angel comes along, and I start hoping. Hoping for the impossible.”

Silence fills the space between them before she turns to look at Gabriel again, telling him, “But I know. I know it can’t ever be anything more. I know he’s not human. It’s not going to end with happily ever after or him getting down on one knee to ask me to marry him. I know someday it’ll end.”

“Still won’t leave with me, will you?” he asks, face dropping with a mixture of disappointment and resignation.

“We have fun, and we’d probably have a lot more fun,” she answers truthfully. “A lot of it. But I can’t fight the pull of the flame. No matter how it burns me.”

She laughs almost bitterly to herself as she tells him, “No matter how many times I pull away, it tugs me back eventually to dance in the light and heat. I’m afraid I’ll always go back to it.”

“Not even knowing that it’ll disappear one day will sway you to come with me?” he curiously asks.

“It hasn’t disappeared yet,” she whispers, fear churning in her gut liked a coiled nest of vipers, warning her of the horrendous pain that will await her on that day.

His bitter laugh follows on the heels of hers, and then he tells her in a voice filled with understanding, “And that means that you can still cling to your hopes. No matter how false you know they are.”

“Hope gives us wings to fly. Even if we know it’s false hope. It’s still hope.” Clearing her throat, she tries to levitate the mood, “Besides, I can’t leave my brothers. Those lugheads need me. And I need them. That’s just how it’s gotta be.”

Gabriel suddenly groans in frustration, pulling a handheld TV from inside his leather jacket. She leans over to see her brothers in a bright, but cheesy looking hotel, staring at Castiel in the doorway of their room, looking slightly worse for wear.

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Gabriel hands her the small TV, directing, “Hold that, I’ve gotta go take care of a little angel infestation. Your flyboy is one persistent pest.”

“Go easy on him, will ya?” she quietly asks, not truly worried about Castiel. Somehow, she knows Gabriel won’t really hurt his brother.

He nods once, replying, “He’ll be just fine. Angels are tough.” Then he fades from her sight, reappearing on the screen in her hands. He leaves her alone on the empty racetrack, only the lights brightening the night to keep her company as she watches the scene playing out on the TV screen in her hands.


Gabriel’s facade of TV Land suddenly melts away, Sam and Dean facing Gabriel as he stands trapped in the burning holy oil.

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Tabitha twists as the handheld TV in her hand disappears and her cloths return to the worn leather jacket and jeans she’d arrived in the warehouse wearing.

At the sound of slowly sarcastic clapping, Tabitha turns around to see her brothers’ back facing Gabriel, still inside the ring of burning fire.

“Well played, boys,” he tells them. “Well played.” He gestures at the burning ring. “Where’d you get the holy oil?”

“Oh, you might say we pulled it out of Sam’s ass,” Dean explains, causing Tabitha to wrinkle her nose as she approaches them from behind.

Sam looks uncomfortable as he glances at Dean but then demands from Gabriel, “Now, for the last time, where the hell is our sister?”

Stepping between the boys, she answers, “I’m right here, guys. I’m fine.”

The fierce hug Sam wraps her in surprises her, as well as the way Dean steps closer to gratefully squeeze her shoulder.

“Where the hell were you?” Sam whispers in a worried hush.

Carefully hedging, she tells them a partial truth. “Same as you guys. TV Land. Participated in a real stupid version of Fear Factor.” Her grin widens as she tells her brothers, “Totally kicked ass though.”

“Where’d I screw up?” Gabriel asks the boys, interrupting her explanation. She gives him a gratitude-filled smile for deflecting her brothers’ attention back to himself.

Where'd I screw up

“You didn’t,” Sam answers the angel harshly. “But nobody get the jump on Cas like you did.”

Dean continues, “Mostly it was the way you talked about Armageddon.”

Gabriel shakes his head. “Meaning?”

“Well, call it personal experience,” Dean replies. “Nobody gets that angry unless they’re talking about their own family.”

“I told you they’d figure it out,” Tabitha gently adds, arm still wrapped around Sam’s waist as he holds her close with an arm slung over her shoulders. “They’re not idiots.”

With a dry look, Gabriel reminds her, “I believe you were the one that said ‘all evidence to the contrary.'”

At her brothers’ reproachful looks, she hunches her shoulders defensively. “What? I tried telling you guys over and over that he was an angel. You were the dimwits that wouldn’t get it.”

Dean mockingly flaps his arms. “This was supposed to mean angel? I thought you were trying to mime a stork. You suck at charades.”

Steering them back on topic, Sam asks the trapped angel, “So, which one are you? Grumpy, sneezy, or douchey?”

Gabriel turns to stare at Tabitha, as if waiting for her to spill the beans. Instead, she shrugs in response, silently affirming that she’s still keeping her promise to him not to say anything. They’d gone on their date, and he’d returned her to her brothers. She wouldn’t give away anything that Gabriel himself wasn’t willing to tell her brothers.

“Gabriel, okay?” he answers, his gaze softening briefly as they continue to hold eye contact before turning back to Sam. “They call me Gabriel.”

“‘Gabriel,'” Sam repeats. “The archangel?”

“Ding, ding, ding,” Tabitha falsely cheers in an exaggerated announcer’s voice. “Tell the boy what he’s won.”

Dean and Sam turn perplexed stares on her as Sam takes a surprised step back.

Grimacing, she softly admits in a normal voice, “I think I’ve spent too much time with him, he was starting to rub off on me.”

“Well, we didn’t quite have time for it. But an hour or two more and I could have started rubbing—” Gabriel starts to lasciviously rejoin.

Cutting him off, Tabitha laughingly scolds, “You shut your mouth, moth-man. Now who’s got the filthy mouth?”

“Guilty,” he laughs, acting unconcerned about being trapped in a circle of burning holy oil.

Staring incredulously at his sister, Dean demands, “What the hell were the two of you doing all this time?”

“Nothing,” she insists. “Nothing more than PG-13 rated anyway,” she adds in an undertone.

“My thoughts though, now they were more X-rated,” Gabriel starts.

“Zip it,” Tabitha scolds, folding her arms over her chest at the angel’s antics.

Dean starts to question his sister again, but can’t seem to force the words out. Voice still tinged with disbelief, he turns to Gabriel and tells him, “Okay, Gabriel. Ignoring the issue of whatever the hell you been doing with our sister… How does an archangel become a trickster?”

“My own private witness protection.” At Dean’s baffled look, he adds, “I skipped out on Heaven, had a face transplant, carved out my own little corner of the world…till you two screwed it all up.”

“And what did daddy say when you ran off and joined the pagans?”

“Daddy doesn’t say anything about anything.”

Sam questions, “Then what happened? Why’d you ditch?”

“Well, do you blame him?” Dean asks. “I mean, his brothers are heavy-weight douche-nozzles.”

Gabriel snaps at Dean, “Shut your cake hole. You don’t know anything about my family. I loved my father, my brothers—loved them. But watching them turn on each other? Tear at each other’s throats? I couldn’t bear it, okay?! So I left. And now it’s happening all over again.”

Taking a step forward, Sam demands, “Then help us stop it.”

“It can’t be stopped,” Gabriel drolly supplies.

Angrily, Dean asks, “You want to see the end of the world?”

I just want it to be over

I have to sit back

“I want it to be over! I have to sit back and watch my own brothers kill each other, thanks to you two!” Turning towards Tabitha again, he tells her, “You should be able to understand that. You’re going to have to do the same! Let it just be over already! Heaven, Hell—I don’t care who wins! Let Azrael sweep in and put an end to the whole shebang! I just want it to be over!”

“It doesn’t have to be that way,” Tabitha insists. “There’s always another way, Gabriel. You can’t tell me you’re ready for everything to be over. Even if the flame is painful, you can’t tell me you’re ready for it to go out.”

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He winces at her illusion to their previous discussions, but then laughs bitterly. “You’re a sweet kid, Tabby,” he tells her, using her name—or at least nickname—for the first time that she can recall. “But you’re kidding yourself. This is my family we’re talking about. There’s no other way. You don’t know them. What you guys call the Apocalypse I used to call Sunday dinner. That’s why there’s no stopping this—because this isn’t about a war. It’s about two brothers that loved each other and betrayed each other, and the siblings caught in between. You think you three would be able to relate.”

“What are you talking about?” Sam questions.

You sorry sons of bitches

Gabriel clicks his tongue and whistles, his face filled with frustration as he explains, “You sorry sons of bitches. Why do you think you three are the vessels? Think about it. Michael—the big brother, loyal to an absent father. Lucifer—the little brother, rebellious of daddy’s plan. And Azrael—the sister stuck between her brothers, too blinded by her love for them to see either one’s faults or to choose a side until it’s too late.” Shaking his head, he continues, “You three were born to this. It’s your destiny! It was always you!” Raising both hands, he loudly proclaims, “As it is in Heaven…so it must be on Earth. One brother has to kill the other. Or their sister must kill them both.”

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“What the hell are you saying?” Dean demands.

“Why do you think I’ve always taken such an interest in you?” Gabriel asks. Not pausing for an answer to the rhetorical question, he continues, “Because from the moment dad flipped on the lights around here, we knew it was all gonna end with you.” In a whisper, he adds, “Always.”

Wiping a tear from her eye, Tabitha answers in a thick voice, “Just one problem with that, Gabriel. We’re human. We have free choice. And I for one, am not going to do any of that. I’m not going to kill my brothers. And I won’t stand by while they kill each other. But I’ll stand beside them and help them fight this war. No matter what.”

“If you won’t say ‘yes,'” he returns, “then you’ll have to watch them duke it out eventually. They will say ‘yes’ in the end.”

“No,” Dean answers. “That’s not gonna happen.”

Apologetically, Gabriel tells them, “I’m sorry…but it is.”

After a loaded silence, Gabriel continues, “Guys, I wish this were a TV show. Easy answers, endings wrapped up in a bow. But this is real. And it’s gonna end bloody for all of us. That’s just how it’s got to be.”

Tabitha turns away at hearing her words turned back on her.

Gabriel’s voice turns lighter as he questions her brothers. “So, boys…now what? Stare at each other for the rest of eternity?”

“Well first of all,” Dean proclaims, “you’re gonna bring Cas back from wherever you stashed him.”

“Oh, am I?” Gabriel challenges.

“Come on,” Tabitha entreats softly. “We played your games. Send Cas back. Please.”

He hesitates briefly, holding Tabitha’s eyes. Then, he slowly lifts one hand, snapping his fingers.

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In an instant, Castiel suddenly appears next to Tabitha between her and Sam. The angel is panting, and bleeding from several superficial wounds as Tabitha wraps an arm behind his back to steady him.

Castiel stares questioningly down into her eyes, worriedly holding her stare. She almost sighs in relief when she hears his real voice flutter across her mind.

Are you all right? he asks her.

Suppressing a smile, she silently assures him, I’m fine, Cas. Just your brother playing games. Are you okay?

I’m…fine, he halting tells her in her mind.

“Cas, you okay?” Dean apprehensively asks the angel.

Voice sounding more certain now, Castiel assures Dean, “I’m fine.” But he pulls away from Tabitha, suddenly avoiding her eyes and her touch as he looks instead to Gabriel.

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Tabitha looks up as well, noticing the look of fascination briefly filling the angel’s eyes before he pulls his gaze away from her and focuses on his brother.

“Hello, Gabriel,” Castiel stiffly tells the trapped angel.

“Hey, bro,” Gabriel returns, sounding more than friendly enough for a brother who jerked his sibling around as he did to Castiel. Mockingly, he continues to ask, “How’s the search for daddy going? Let me guess. Awful.”

Castiel stiffens, but gives no other response to Gabriel’s mocking faces at him.

“Okay, we’re out of here,” Dean interjects, turning away. “Come on, Sam, Tab.”

“Uh, okay,” Gabriel calls out. “Hey—guys. So—so, what?” he continues as they all slowly walk towards the exit of the warehouse. “Huh? You’re just gonna—you’re gonna leave me here forever?”

“Tempting,” Dean softly tells his siblings, eyes lingering questioningly on his sister.

She shakes her head, softly telling him, “We can’t, Dean.”

He nods once, turning towards the trapped angel. “No. We’re not. ‘Cause we don’t screw with people the way you do. And for the record…this isn’t about some prizefight between your brothers or some destiny that can’t be stopped! This is about you being too afraid to stand up to your family!”

Having said his piece, Dean turns away and breaks the glass to the fire alarm, pulling the lever to activate the overhead sprinklers.

As the alarms blare, they look up to see water spray downward on the warehouse.

Dean parts with, “Don’t say I never did anything for you.”

ring of fire

Tabitha hesitates to follow her brothers and Castiel out of the warehouse. Instead, she turns to look back at Gabriel, standing under the heavy spray of the sprinklers, his clothing getting soaked as the flames slowly extinguish. But it’s the utterly lost look on his face that stops her.

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Heedless of the cold spray, she walks back to him, pausing in front of him as the last flame dies away.

Gently, she tells him, “Dean’s right, you know. This is about you taking a stand. You’ve got to some time. What about that pagan goddess of yours? What’s gonna happen to her if your brothers have things their way?”

“Kali,” he whispers. “Her name is Kali.”

“You may have been the Trickster for a long time, but maybe it’s time to stop tricking yourself and admit that you care for her. And that you don’t really want to see anything happen to her.”

“Fly headlong into the flame?” he asks, the corner of his lip twitching up.

“Why not?” she laughs. “If the world’s destined to go up in flames anyway, why not fly into the flames of your own choosing?”

“You gonna take your own advice?”

Shrugging, she answers, “Who knows? I think I’m going to take it one day at a time from now on.”

Stepping forward, she grabs Gabriel’s sodden jacket, leaning in to softly kiss his lips. “Goodbye, Gabriel,” she whispers when she leans back. “I hope you find your Kali.”

A step away, she’s stopped by Gabriel’s hand on hers, turning her back towards him.

In a heartfelt tone, he tells her, “You know, I think you’re both Carmen, destined to ruin each other with your fiery pull. But I also think you’re both a little bit of Don Jose, too. Both powerless to fight the pull you seem to have on each other and destined for despair in the end. I just hope you don’t suffer his fate in the end.”

“What? Killing each other?” she nervously asks.

“You might be each other’s undoing one way or another,” he points out.

She shakes her head, flinging cold drops of water from her face with the movement. “There’s a lot of things that might be everyone’s undoing at the moment,” she points out. “Not the least of which are your two feuding brothers.”

When Gabriel drops her hand, she starts away again, pausing in the doorway of the warehouse to glance back one last time.

“For what it’s worth,” he calls out. “I do hope for you. I hope you get some measure of the happiness you want.”

“I hope you do, too,” she answers.

Playfully, he tells her, “We could still run away together. Leave it all behind.”

Laughing, she replies, “You like the chase more than anything. Go chase your Kali.”

As she leaves the warehouse, she runs into a worried looking Castiel waiting at the warehouse doorway. She looks around, but her brothers have disappeared around the corner where they parked the car when they arrived.

“I just wanted to make sure you were okay,” he whispers, carefully looking down and not meeting her gaze.

Ignoring her wet clothes, she steps forward, hugging the stiff and surprised angel.

“Thank you for coming when I called,” she whispers. Rubbing her face against his chest, she tells him, “And I’m sorry for getting mad at you before and not telling you why.”

“Then…you’re not still angry with me?” he asks tentatively, his arms loosely wrapping around her shoulders.

Looking up, she tries to explain, “It wasn’t fair of me to get upset over something that will never be an issue. I mean, the world might end soon at any rate, and even if it doesn’t, me and kids is never gonna be in the cards anyway, so why spoil whatever time you and I may have?”

Castiel stares at her, his face scrunched up in his usual appearance of confusion. “I don’t understand humans,” he slowly tells her.

Laughing, she replies, “It’s worse than that. You don’t understand women.”

His face draws up in confusion even more. “I don’t understand this statement. Aren’t all women humans?”

Giggling, she replies, “Nope. Women are from Venus.”

He shakes his head again, insisting, “There is nothing living on the planet of Venus. It’s impossible that women—”

squint head tilt

Tabitha cuts his words off with a gentle kiss, pulling regretfully away when she hears Dean’s voice calling her name.

“I gotta go,” she tells him, jerking her thumb towards the direction of her brothers as she explains, “They’re my ride. Bye, Cas.” She turns away, but pauses at the corner of the warehouse, softly adding against her better judgment, “I hope I see you soon, Cas.”

Not waiting for an answer, she turns to follow the voices of her brothers.


A/N: I told you guys this one wouldn’t be so bad. Hopefully it was even a bit fun. I had fun writing it anyway!

Thanks so much to everyone for their kind wishes! They’re much appreciated.

Also, if you’ve been a silent reader thus far, please give a shout-out. Let me know if you guys are liking things, or what you’re not liking. Just let me know what you think, either way.

And, on another note, I was bored the other day supervising an ISS (In School Suspension) at the local middle school and didn’t have much to do watching one girl do her homework, so I decided to play with Photoshop and make some mash-up pictures with Tabitha and the boys. Be sure to check them out! They’re not important, just something I did for fun. 🙂

Pictures

 

Chapter 9: The Silence Remains

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