You know, I’ve…I’ve been here for a very long time. And I remember many things. I remember being at a shoreline, watching a little grey fish heave itself up on the beach and an older brother saying, “Don’t step on that fish, Castiel. Big plans for that fish.”
I remember the Tower of Babel…All 37 feet of it, which I suppose was impressive at the time. And when it fell, they howled ‘divine wrath.’ But come on—dried dung can only be stacked so high. I remember Cain and Abel…David and Goliath…Sodom and Gomorrah.
And, of course, I remember the most remarkable event—remarkable because it never came to pass. It was averted by three siblings, an old drunk, and a fallen angel. The grand story. And we ripped up the ending and the rules…and destiny…leaving nothing but freedom and choice.
Which is all well and good, except… Well, what if I’ve made the wrong choice? How am I supposed to know? What if I’ve wronged the very people I intended to protect? What if I wronged the very person that taught me what freedom and choice…and love were? What if I destroyed the only being that ever really looked at me and saw something special?
I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me tell you my story. Let me tell you everything.
“Sweet. Blood, boils, locusts,” Dean dryly comments.
“Three of your more popular Egyptian plagues,” Sam agrees from across the table, his eyes still on his laptop, researching their current case.
After picking up the jar of insects in front of him, Dean notes, “Yeah, but these guys…ate their way out of a cop’s melon. I don’t quite remember that in the King James.”
Not seeming as disturbed by the issue as Dean, Sam blithely continues, “Meanwhile, a kid named Christopher Birch was shot in the head last month after a vehicle pursuit. Hatch, Gray, and Colfax were the three officers involved, and they all filed the exact same police report.”
Dean shakes his head, trying to get back on point with their current case and push his brother’s strange behavior once more from his mind. Picking up the police report, he reads, “‘Suspect exited vehicle brandishing a firearm. We were forced to fire.'” Remembering what else they’d said, he repeats, “‘Just a kid with no face and a planted gun.’ Bunch of dicks. So they pop the kid, plant the piece.”
“Maybe Colfax is right. You know, maybe heaven has a hate-on for bad cops,” Sam suggests with a careless shrug.
“So we’re listening to the guy with the bug in his custard?” Dean incredulously asks, tossing the papers back onto the table as he stands. “That’s—that’s the, uh, the theory you want to go with?” He shakes his head once more as he turns to get another drink from the mini fridge, wishing not for the first time that he could get another opinion on Sam’s recent behavior. From someone who knows him as well as he does. Or at least did know him.
“I miss Tab,” he whispers to himself, cracking open the beer and drinking half the bottle without stopping.
Sam straightens up upon hearing the whispered words, eyes narrowing as he defensively asks, “Where’d that come from?”
Deciding he won’t pretend not to have brought their sister up again, he leans back against the tacky kitchenette counter behind him as he repeats more forcefully, “I said that I miss Tab. You know, our sister, Tabitha. The one who died so that we’d have a shot at stuffing the Devil back in his box.”
Sam rolls his eyes. “It’s not like I’ve forgotten about her either, Dean. And it was kind of me that jumped into that hole. So I haven’t forgotten what she did for us to make it possible.”
“No,” Dean irritably argues, temper rising as he slams his half-drank beer bottle down on the worn countertop behind him. “It’s like you just don’t care that she’s gone! That you’re back and we don’t have the first clue where our sister is or if we’ll ever see her again.”
Spreading his hands in a placating manner, Sam argues, “Look, of course I care, Dean. But we can’t even figure out how I’m back. I don’t know how we go about finding Tabitha on top of it. You told me what Cas told you after everything that went down a year ago. She’s just…gone. Maybe we need to accept that.”
“I can’t believe you’re even suggesting that. What’s wrong with you?” Dean demands.
“Look, whatever, Dean. Right now, we need to focus on this case. On people we can save.”
Although Dean decides once more to let the matter of their sister temporarily drop—as he’s done several times since Sam suddenly reappeared in his life—he does latch onto one idea.
“We should call Cas.”
Sam looks surprised at the suggestion. “You’re kidding, right?” He scoffs before deriding the idea. “Dean, I tried. It was the first and second and third thing I did, soon as I got topside. Son of a bitch won’t answer the phone.”
Seeing no harm in trying, Dean moves to sit on one of the beds. “Well, let’s give it a shot. Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray to Castiel to get his feathery ass down here.”
Still annoyed, Sam comments from the table, “You’re an idiot.”
“Stay positive,” Dean admonishes, eyes still closed.
“Oh, I am positive.”
Ignoring the jab, Dean calls out more forcefully, “Come on, Cas! Don’t be a dick. We got ourselves a…plague-like situation down here. And…do you…do you copy?” He experimentally opens his eyes and closes them, but doesn’t see their angelic friend. Looking around the room, he still sees no sign of the angel.
Gloating, Sam turns to face his older brother, telling him, “Like I said…” he clears his throat to continue. “…the son of a bitch doesn’t answer—”
Seeing Dean’s eyes suddenly fixed over his shoulder, Sam guesses, “He’s right behind me, isn’t he?”
As he whips around to stare at the angel, Castiel nods and roughly greets, “Hello.”
“‘Hello?'” Sam demands.
“Yes,” Castiel agrees.
Swiveling back towards Dean, Sam mockingly imitates the angel, “‘Hello,'” before continuing to demand in his normal voice, “‘Hello?'”
Confused, Castiel asks, “Uh, that is still the term?”
“I spent all that time trying to get through to you, Dean calls once and now it’s,” he drops his voice into the rough gravel imitation of the angel’s again, “‘Hello’?!”
“Yes,” the angel once more agrees, moving to stand more closely between the brothers.
Still reeling, Sam demands, “So, what, you—you like him better or something?”
Castiel scoffs before turning around and matter-of-factly telling Sam, “Dean and I do share a more profound bond.” He then turns to explain to Dean, “I wasn’t gonna mention it.”
Pushing the strangeness aside, Dean tells the angel, “Cas, I think what he’s trying to say is that…he went to Hell for us. I mean, he really took one for the team. You remember that? And then he comes back without a clue, and you can’t take five friggin’ minutes to give him some answers?”
The angel fires back, “If I had any answers, I might have responded.” He whips towards the youngest Winchester to insist, “But I don’t know, Sam. We have no idea who brought you back from the cage…or why.”
“So…it wasn’t God?” Sam guesses, standing from the table to look down at the angel.
“No one’s even seen God,” Castiel assures them. “The whole thing remains mysterious.”
“Well, what about this mystery, Cas,” Dean interrupts, bringing the angel’s attention back to himself. “Where’s our sister? I mean, Sam’s been back damn near this whole time. What about Tab? Is she…back?”
Castiel stiffens as he stares at Dean, but looks away before woodenly telling both boys, “She’s gone. I told you before; I’ve searched every plane of Heaven and Hell for her. She’s…she’s gone.”
“I don’t accept that,” Dean argues, stepping closer until he stops in front of the angel arms crossing defiantly over his chest.
Castiel’s eyes jerk back to Dean’s as he snaps, “Whether you accept it or not doesn’t stop it from being so. I cannot find her. She’s…gone.”
“How can she just be gone?!” Dean shouts, arms waving emphatically. “It makes no friggin’ sense.”
“I don’t know how. She just is.”
“What the hell does that mean?” Sam interjects.
Twisting back to face him and stalking closer, Castiel angrily asks him, “What part of ‘I don’t know’ escapes your understanding?”
Trying to diffuse the situation, Dean tells the angel, “Cas, look, we’re just trying to figure out where our sister is. You may not care…” he looks over the angel’s shoulder, missing the way the angel again stiffens, but noting that there’s no real…fire in his brother’s eyes for their dead sister, and wondering to himself if he’s the only one that does care about Tabitha’s absence. Shaking himself, he continues telling the angel, “Look, I just want Tabitha back. It’s not right that she’s… And…if Sam calls, you answer. Okay? You wing your ass down here, and you tell him, ‘I don’t know.’ Just because we have some sort of a—a bond or whatever…”
Looking surprised, Castiel asks, “You think I came because you called?” He gestures towards the table with the laptop and jar of locusts. “I came because of this.”
Derisively, Dean comments, “Oh, well, it’s nice to know what matters,”
As he steps over to the table to see what the angel has on his mind, he once more thinks to himself how much everyone around him has changed in the past year. Even the angel seems more abrupt and uncaring than he’d ever remembered him being. Not to mention all the crazy vibes his little brother has been laying down.
All he can think as he listens to the angel drone on about a civil war in Heaven, is that he’d give anything to get his little sister back. While wondering to himself if things wouldn’t be more normal if only for her presence. She’d been like the glue that held them all together and kept them more human. Strangely, he starts to think that she’d somehow had a larger impact even on the angel than he’d realized. In some way, making him more human, too. More grounded.
Right about now, he’d give just about anything to have her back again. Grounding them all.
Dean wanders through the house belonging to the sister of the victim in their current case, looking for any clues as to why the young woman blew her own brains out.
“I don’t understand,” he hears the sister telling Sam in the other room as he pauses to look at some papers tacked to the woman’s wall. “Why would federal investigators be interested in a suicide? I mean, that woman with the insurance company already said there wouldn’t be any further investigations done. She said it was a clear-cut suicide. So no life insurance policy.”
Dean’s attention is peaked at her comment, and he strays back into the room with the woman and his brother.
“The insurance company has already turned in their findings?” he asks, trying to remember if they’d ever seen an insurance company act so swiftly in a death case before. Especially one so obviously not suspicious. At least to the normal person’s point of view.
“Yes,” the woman answers, taking a framed picture of her sister off a shelf and carrying it lovingly into the living room. “They said the cops had already ruled it a suicide and after she spoke with me about my sister, she said there was nothing more she could do. The insurance company wasn’t going to pay out.”
“Huh?” Dean grunts, finding the incident strange, but chalking it up to some insurance broad finally getting her butt out of her office and doing her job for once.
As Sam continues speaking to the woman, he listens only passively, watching his brother more than the woman, considering him to be the current case, just like he and Bobby had agreed. In the past months since his little brother’s return and them hunting together again, nothing has felt right about him. And after Sam purposely let him get turned by a vampire weeks back and then lied about it, he’s even starting to question whether it’s really even his brother at all.
All he knows for certain is that something else came out of that cage with Lucifer. He’d almost convinced himself at one time that it might be Lucifer himself, but that doesn’t fit, either.
“You know what a ‘tell’ is?” Sam suddenly asks the woman, his eyes narrowed coldly on her, nothing of the sensitive kid his brother should have been behind his tone or eyes.
The woman seems startled as well, looking up to ask, “Excuse me?”
“It’s a poker term…” Sam explains to her, “…for when you’re bluffing.” He points to his head, twirling his finger to indicate something the woman had done. “Like what you just did with your hair.”
“What are you trying to say?” the woman asks, her defensive hackles rising.
“You’re lying,” Sam coldly rejoins.
“Tell us what you did to your sister.”
The woman swivels in her seat, looking desperately to Dean for help. Seeing the guilt in her gaze, Dean merely looks back, deciding that despite Sam’s unusual coldness, to let it all play out. And hopefully learn more about the thing pretending to be his brother.
Finding no help from him, the woman turns back to Sam, her voice trembling as she admits, “Okay. You’re right. I was lying. I wanted to tell her, ‘I love you. I’m here for you.’ Oh, but what came out was…’You’re a burden. Just kill yourself.’ Who says that?! I-I-I just couldn’t stop!”
Dean’s heart goes out to the woman when he hears her choked grief, but as he looks at Sam, he sees only a look of gloat on his face at being proven right in pushing the poor woman.
When they are finally able to extricate themselves from the house, Sam is quick to ask him, “See anything in the house?”
“No hex bags, no sulfur, no EMF. You?”
“A tuba and an issue of Crochet Today,” Sam replies. “So, what, already kinda suicidal?”
“Right,” Dean agrees, “and then big sis’s taxicab confession sends her over the edge. Question is, what made big sis open her big, fat mouth in the first place?”
“Yeah, that is the question.”
Hours later, Dean walks alone into Harry’s House of Horns. Having been skeeved out enough by Sam’s presence for one day, Dean had sent him to the police station and then morgue while Dean went to the dentist office where their latest strange death had taken place after the patient had confessed a multitude of sins to his dentist. Looking through the dentist’s office, Dean realized that both of their victims had played horned instruments and had shopped at this particular music store for supplies.
After showing the shopkeeper pictures of the last two victims, the man tells Dean, “Jane and Dr. Conley. I heard. Awful.” He shuffles the pictures before handing them back. “What do I have to do with it?”
“Honestly? You’re the only thing they have in common.” Taking the pictures back, Dean asks, “Did they say anything to you before they, uh…?”
“Sorry. Not really,” the little old man replies, walking back behind his counter.
“Right,” Dean sighs. “Ah, I was just fishing. Thanks.”
He starts to leave, but the old man calls out, “Hey, by the way, how ’bout my horn?”
Baffled, Dean answers, “Sorry?”
“Stolen horn?” the man repeats. “That lady with the newspaper said she was going to write an article about a bunch of recent thefts in town. She said she had friends in the police department and that she’d get them to look into it for me. I just assumed that was why you were here.”
Covering his surprise quickly, Dean agrees, “Right. Yeah. We’re—we’re working on it.”
“Well, I hope so. Thing’s one-in-a-billion.”
Dean had started to turn away again for the door, but at the “one-in-a-billion,” stops and comes back to the shopkeeper.
“What makes it one-in-a-billion again?”
“It’s a museum piece,” the little man explains, moving papers around on his counter, looking for something as he continues explaining, “And near as anyone can tell, about a thousand years old.”
The man starts to get frantic as he looks for something.
“What are you looking for?” Dean asks, eyeing the counter suspiciously.
“My paperwork and provenance for the horn. I know I just had it. I was showing it to the nice lady from the newspaper. Now where did I put it?”
“How long ago was she here?” Dean asks, a strange inkling growing in the pit of his stomach.
“She just left before you came in. That’s why I was surprised you got here so quickly. She was on the phone when she left, but I never expected you to come in so soon after she walked out.” The little man starts frantically looking in drawers under the counter, his desperation palpably growing. He suddenly stops to stare up at Dean with a horrified look of dawning understanding. “You don’t think she stole them, do you?”
“What did this woman look like? You get a name?” Dean demands, that unsettling feeling growing at some strange woman beating him to more than one scene of inquiry on this case.
“Average to a bit taller, I guess,” the little man supplies, tugging worriedly at his eyebrows. “Dark brown hair. Long. British accent. Chase something or another I think was her name. She was wearing a leather coat and drove one of those motorcycle nuisances. She parked it down the street, but I could still hear the roar of that engine breaking the harmony of my shop.”
Dean twists to look in the direction the man points, seeing a woman matching the shopkeeper’s description approaching a motorcycle down the street.
“Thanks, man!” Dean tosses over his shoulder, racing out to the sidewalk. As he jogs across the street, he can see the brunette slide the zipper of her coat down. She tugs the corner of a folder forward, and when she’s assured it’s secured, zips her jacket again as she pulls a helmet over her long brunette curls.
Before Dean can reach her, she fires up the engine of the Ducati bike, and speeds away out of his reach.
“Dammit,” he growls, cursing his luck that he’d come on foot after giving Sam the Impala to head to the police department and morgue.
Pulling his phone out, he dials and then barks into the cellphone, “Get your ass down here to that music shop.”
“What’s up?” Sam asks likewise forgoing any pleasantries.
“Remember that lady talking about an insurance woman having already been out to make a determination on her sister’s suicide?” He doesn’t wait for Sam to answer, forging on to tell him, “I think that bitch’s been here, too. I’m pretty sure she snaked evidence that could help us solve this thing.”
“Well, where is she now?”
“Took off on a motorcycle. I couldn’t get to her in time to stop her. Get your ass down here fast.”
After waiting on the sidewalk for longer than Dean would consider moving fast, Sam pulls up with Dean’s baby.
“Get your ass over,” he orders, opening the driver’s door and shoving Sam’s shoulder to push him across into the passenger’s seat.
“Where are we going?” Sam asks, pointing out, “If she’s on a motorcycle, this woman could be anywhere by now.”
“I don’t think so,” Dean argues. “She may have beaten us to the sister’s house. And she may have beaten me to the music store. But no way she beat you to the police station. ‘Cause there’s no way she can be in two places at once.”
“Good point,” Sam agrees, sounding impressed.
Dean ignores the implication that he’s somehow not as capable of rational thought, and drives quickly back to the police station across town.
After parking the Impala across the street, he looks for the motorcycle, and not finding it, almost gives up, thinking he’d been wrong after all. Then, he sees the brunette walking down the front steps with another man dressed in a doctor’s white lab coat.
“That’s Dr. Repas,” Sam points out, seeming suddenly intrigued by their mystery woman. “He’s the ME.”
“And that’s our mystery woman,” Dean agrees, nodding in their direction. He strains to get a better look at the woman, but she’s turned more towards the Doc, laughing at something the older man says.
When the ME finally turns to walk back into the precinct, Dean leans forward in his seat, waiting for her to finally turn towards him. But as she stands in profile to them, she takes her helmet out from under her elbow, surreptitiously removing one of the ME’s files from her helmet and stuffing it into her jacket. She tugs her helmet on again and closes the visor before she turns towards them.
Dean starts to open his door to go after her, but Sam’s grip on his elbow stops him.
“What are you doing?” he demands.
“What are you doing?” Sam shoots back.
“I’m gonna go kill that bitch,” Dean snaps. “You got a problem with that?”
“No.” Shaking his head in surprise, Sam asks, “I’m just wondering, why? Why kill her?”
Pointing out the window, Dean ticks off his list, “Brunette. English. Likes to steal shit and generally get in our way. Who the hell do you think that is?” At Sam’s baffled look, Dean yells, “It’s friggin’ Bella!”
Sam looks speculatively at the woman as she walks away, rounding the corner to where she’d had her motorcycle tucked into the opening of an alleyway. “She still looks pretty damn good for someone that’s supposed to be in Hell.”
Scoffing, Dean retorts, “Yeah, well, so do I.”
Rolling his eyes, Sam replies, “Come on, Dean. You can’t really believe that that woman is Bella. What, just because she’s English and a thief?”
“Let me think…yeah!” Dean growls. “Shit, in this car alone, we’re batting a thousand on people that by all rights should still be stuck in Hell. So don’t tell me it’s impossible to get topside again.”
“True,” Sam agrees, his eyes tracking as the woman on the motorcycle pulls onto the street in front of them. Nodding towards her, Sam tells Dean, “You can kill her if you want, but shouldn’t we follow her to wherever she’s set up shop? Maybe see about stealing back whatever she stole in the first place?”
Seeing no other choice, Dean throws the Impala into gear, peeling out after the fast moving Ducati as he curses whatever demon somehow let Bella escape.
Both brothers are surprised when they follow the motorcycle through town and to a middle-class residential area. Something very much not Bella’s style.
Sam whistles as they watch her swing her leg over the back of the bike in the driveway of a quaint looking, two-story, white house.
At Dean’s annoyed look, Sam defends, “What? Just because you want to kill her that means I can’t appreciate the long shapely legs on the woman?”
Dean’s frown spreads, finding nothing to appreciate about the sight of that woman.
Tucking his favorite Colt 1911 into the waistband of his jeans above his buckle, Dean marches across the street after the brunette just as she lets herself through the front door of the little house.
“What are you planning to do, Dean? Break the door down and just shoot her?” Sam asks jogging to catch up.
Dean pauses to frown at his brother, surprised not to find censor in his words, but merely curiosity.
“No,” Dean disagrees. “First, I’m gonna knock on the door. After that, I’m gonna demand back everything she stole. Then, I’m gonna finally kill that woman.”
Sam gives an unconcerned shrug, following after Dean as the oldest Winchester pounds impatiently on the door.
“Did you forget your key again, love?” a feminine English voice calls through the door from inside the house, causing Dean to pull his Colt out to the ready.
Still calling out from inside, the woman continues, “Darling, I told you not to use the front door today, park the car in the car park ’round back instead.”
She tugs the door open just as Dean levels his colt between her eyes.
Looking down the barrel of the gun, she frowns and growls in an upper-crust British accent, “Oh bloody hell. What are you doing here?”
A/N: Thanks for your continued patience everyone! And no fear, the answers are coming in the next chapter. In a big way. 😉
And it’s a short chapter, but hang in there.
So, stay tuned, part three is just getting started.
Don’t forget to tip your waitress! I mean…writer. Don’t forget to tip, er, feed your writer with reviews! We get hungry! Lol, thanks everyone for hanging in there with me. It’ll be worth it, trust me.