“Me?!” Dean exclaims. “What the hell are you doing here? And what the hell is with the friggin’,” he raises the pitch of his voice to imitate, “‘bloody‘ accent?”
Eyes narrowing on him, she growls back, “It’s called a sodding cover, you twat. You know, so I can bloody well keep from getting nipped by the coppers.”
Dean waves it away, annoyed by her continued insistence in using the accent. “Okay. Right now, I don’t even care about that. What I want to know is how you’re alive and why you didn’t bloody tell me, Tabitha Mary Winchester!”
She sneers at the way he imitates her accent, but when his words finally register in her mind, she slowly and soberly asks, “What do you mean? You didn’t know I was alive?”
“No! I thought you were dead!” Dean exclaims. After calming himself, he looks her up and down, then glances over his shoulder to say, “You do realize you were staring at our sister’s legs, don’t you, Sam? That’s messed up.”
Before Dean can continue, she looks past his shoulder and spots her younger brother. Hands flying to her mouth, she sobs incredulously, “Sam?!”
Shoving past her older brother, she steps out onto the covered porch with them. Sam awkwardly holds his arms out to receive the hug he’d been anticipating. But blinks when he gets a face-full of water thrown at him instead.
“Not a demon,” he drolly informs her, hand sloshing the water away as she redeposits a flask he hadn’t noticed back into the inner pocket of her leather coat. Before she can move onto another test, he slips out a silver blade, slicing his arm before dramatically displaying the bleeding but otherwise normal wound. “Not a shapeshifter either.”
Her face finally crumples as she pulls him down into a hug. Which he stands uncomfortably for on the receiving end.
When she pushes away again, she angrily rounds on her older brother, shoving his shoulder as she shouts without the accent, “How long has he been back?! Why the hell didn’t you tell me?”
Rubbing his shoulder, he shouts back, “Why?! Oh, gee, I dunno. Maybe because I just found out that you’re back too! A little heads up on that would have been nice. You know, a ‘Hi. How you doing? How you handling the deaths of all your remaining family?!'”
She falls back a step in surprise at his angry shout. “I assumed Castiel would have told you,” she comments in a soft voice.
That really gets Dean’s attention. In shock, he repeats, “‘Castiel?!’ Cas knew? You’ve been in contact with that feathered asshole this whole time?!”
“Well, no. I just saw him that night. You know, after everything. We haven’t spoken since or seen each other since. But Bobby knows, too. I mean, he and I have never talked or anything either, but shortly after I stopped to settle down in town here, that showed up sitting outside my apartment.” She jerks her thumb over her shoulder to indicate down the street where her mustang sits. Newly painted purple now with a black stripe, but still clearly the same one she and Bobby rebuilt together years before.
“We haven’t spoken, but every few months I see him covertly driving by at night, checking up on me I guess.” She pauses before a scowl of anger returns. “Wait a minute. How long has Sam been back? Did Bobby know about that?”
“Yeah, and kept that from me, too,” Dean snaps visibly fuming at all that had been kept from him in the past year plus.
“That sonofabitch,” Tabitha growls, digging into her jean pocket for her phone, intent on giving the older hunter a piece of her mind for leaving her in the dark about her younger brother being alive. “I can’t believe he never told me that Sam was out, too,” she grumbles to herself punching buttons on her phone.
Dean snatches the cellphone out of her hand. “Not nice when people keep important things like that from you, is it?” he snarks.
Hands on her hips, Tabitha defends, “Look, I had no idea you didn’t know. I figured Castiel would at least tell you.”
“First time I saw Cas after that night was a few months ago. And the bastard said you were gone. That you were dead,” he snaps, furious with the angel lying to him.
Tabitha rolls her eyes. “Well, I don’t know why he said I was dead, but it isn’t like he could find me either.” She pulls her leather coat sleeve back as she jingles the bracelet on her wrist. “Because I didn’t want him to.”
“Why?” Sam asks in confusion.
Eyes darting away, Tabitha hurriedly says, “I just didn’t want him to, okay? I needed to start over. After losing you, Sam… I just needed a fresh start away from it all.”
Dean scoffs as he looks around the suburban neighborhood. “Looks like you got it. But why the hell didn’t you come to me soon as you got back? I was alone grieving you the both of you that whole year. I spent all that time alone trying to figure out how to get Sam sprung from the cage. Trying to figure out what even happened to you, and how to get you back, too. A ‘Hey, how you doing?’ would have been nice. When the hell, and how the hell did you even get back?”
Tabitha looks guiltily away. “How…I don’t know. I just showed up on the road, watching the Impala drive away later that night. Cas was there, and told me what happened.” She wraps her arms around herself before meeting his eyes once more and confiding, “I did go to see you about a month or two after that. Once I’d kinda pulled myself together. But you were with Lisa by then. Starting over. You looked so happy. I didn’t want to get in the way of that. Not when the truth was that I was still so messed up over losing…uh, losing Sam and all. So I left. And I started over, too. I meant to go see you again. But…I got out of it all. The hunting. And I just…I wanted to stay out, you know? I’ve got a normal life here. I just want to hang onto that.”
“A normal life where you’re pretending to be a Brit?” Sam skeptically asks. “Sure sounds real normal.”
Tabitha shrugs. “Figured if I ever got into trouble with the law or something, it’d take them longer trying to go through Interpol to figure out that it’s an assumed identity.”
Swiping a hand under her nose, Tabitha rolls her shoulders back and tells her brothers with determination, “Look, I’m ecstatic to know you’re both alive and well, but like I said, I started over here. No hunting. So I’d like to get back to my nice boring life now.” She steps back into the doorway, one hand on the door as she starts to shut it.
“The one where you run around investigating suspicious deaths and stealing evidence to compile?” Dean pointedly asks, shouldering into the doorway.
She sighs, but reaches further into the entryway, grabbing the stack of folders on the small end table to thrust out at Dean. “Right. Well, you might as well take them now. Just because I was out doesn’t mean I’m an idiot. I knew something was up, so I was just laying some groundwork to send to Bobby so he could send whatever capable hunter was in the area to investigate. See if there really was a case here and take care of it.”
“Why would he send someone else when there’s an experienced hunter right here in town?” Sam demands, giving her a narrowed look.
Hand on the door to close it again, Tabitha pointedly reminds them, “Because I’m out.”
Dean’s hand shoots out to stop the door from closing forcing it open. “This is far from over, Tabitha. There’s still a shitload we need to discuss about all of this.”
Sam breaks in with, “Not to mention there’s some serious shit going on in this town. The people dying kind of serious.”
Before Tabitha can bite off the angry retort on her tongue, they all here the sounds of a back door opening behind her and a man calling out, “Chase? You around here somewhere, babe? Thought I still saw your bike out front.”
Tabitha begins trying to frantically shut the door against Dean’s hand forcing it open. “You two need to leave now!” she hastily snarls.
“Oh, hell no!” Dean exclaims, forcing the door back open. “Who the hell is that?!” he hisses, pointing emphatically through the house where the voice came from.
Just as a man in a rumpled suit comes around into view of the living room, the brothers witness their sister’s entire countenance shift as she once more becomes her British persona.
Pleasantly, she turns to greet the man, leaning into him as he stops beside her. In turn, he wraps an arm around her waist and kisses her cheek in a careless but loving fashion.
“Welcome home, luv,” she greets, smiling and softly kissing his cheek in return as her arm snakes around his waist as well. With her free hand, she gestures at the dumbfounded boys still standing on the porch, explaining to the man beside her, “These chaps just stopped by for a chat, darling. Missionary sorts I think. But they were just on their way.”
The man narrows his eyes on them, his free hand pushing his blazer back from his hip to prominently display the detective’s badge and gun hanging from his belt.
“Boys, I know my girl is the polite sort and doesn’t understand the laws of this country that well, but if she asks you to leave, you can’t keep soliciting here.”
Both Sam and Dean’s jaws had dropped at the sight of the cop with his arm wrapped around their sister, but Dean’s face turns sour as he tries to force a smile. With forced cheer, he responds, “Gosh, isn’t our sister just the funniest little thing. Strange sense of humor on her. We’re not Jehovah’s Witnesses or anything crazy like that. Just her brothers, coming to check up on her.”
The man looks startled at the news, his arm loosening around her as he leans back to question, “Brothers? I thought you had only the one brother who died? That there wasn’t any other family left.”
Thinking fast, Tabitha responds, “Well, I had thought my little brother was gone, Jessie. They just stopped by to tell me that Sam was all right. He was, oh, what’s that term you army blokes use? MIA? But he was found alive and well. Tip top shape now, really.”
“Oh,” the man—Jessie—hums, looking back at the boys speculatively. Lowly, he reminds her, “You never said you had another brother, though, Chase. Just mentioned the, ah, one you thought you’d lost.”
Cheeks coloring, she tells him, “It’s complicated, dear. Dean and I hadn’t spoken in some time.”
Trying to focus on the brothers again, Jessie asks, “So, I take it you were you both army men as well?”
Exchanging glances, Dean assures him, “Nah, not army. Marines. Uh, ooh-rah.” He chuckles uncomfortably before addressing the man. “So, you’re Jessie? Our sister didn’t tell us she had a man in her life. Especially one that has keys to her place.”
Jessie clears his throat before responding, “Well, it’s actually our place. We just moved in together three weeks ago.”
“Really?” Dean asks, obvious censor working into his voice. “She didn’t mention that she was shacking up with some guy.”
“Because it’s none of your business if I shack up with a bloke,” she snips back.
Looking uncomfortably between the two, Jessie clears his throat and attempts to change the topic once more. Focusing on the brothers, he asks, “So, you guys are American?”
At his obvious confusion, Tabitha rushes to explain, “They grew up here in the states with our father. A Yank, too. Our mum was English, so I grew up with her over there.”
“I see,” Jessie hums, slight frown remaining.
When an uncomfortable silence falls, Tabitha rushes to fill it by saying, “Well, it was nice of you boys to come round with this brilliant news, but Jessie and I do have things to get back to, and I’m sure you’ve got things to get to as well.”
She eyes the folders in Dean’s hands with a pointed look, but Dean smiles with false cheer and argues, “Nah. Where would we have to go that’s more important? It seems we’ve got a lot to catch up on with each other, dear sweet sister.”
Smiling just as sickly sweet, she reminds him, “I’m sure you’ve got places to be, Dean. We shan’t hinder your schedule, dear brother.”
“Schedule’s wide open for you…Chase.”
Somehow seeming oblivious to the heated undertones of their words, Jessie smiles widely, holding his hand out towards Dean as he says, “That’s great. I was hoping you guys could stick around. We’re actually having a party tonight. Sort of celebrating moving in together with some friends and colleagues. We’d love for you guys to come. Chase could use some family around. Plus, there’s something I’d like to ask you later, Dean.”
Dean grabs the other man’s hand, clamping down in a bone-crushing grip as he assures the man, “Oh, there’s no place else I’d rather be. Believe me; I’ve got a few questions for you, too, Jessie.”
“So why is it you never really talk about your brothers? I had to drag out of you that you’d lost your younger brother after all the nightmares, but you never even mentioned that you still had an older brother. Or that they were both American.”
Jessie wags his knife back and forth as he speaks, pausing in slicing cuts of meat for the coming party.
“Sorry, darling,” she huffs, her knife pounding more forcefully against the cutting board as she chops vegetables. “Didn’t realize you were looking for a sodding breakdown of my family tree. And what does it matter what blooming nationality my brothers are?”
Jessie turns back to his own cutting board with a slight frown. “I was just wondering why you haven’t talked about them before. Or anything about your past, really.”
Tabitha sets her own knife down forcing herself into a false calm. Then, she moves to stand behind Jessie as she wraps her arms around his waist and presses her nose between his shoulder blades. Turning her head slightly when he drops on one hand to cover hers at his waist, she tells him, “Sorry for my brashness, dear. I just don’t much care for dwelling on the past. What happened happened. But I’m here with you now. And that’s all that truly matters.”
He strokes the backs of her hands with his fingers a few times, fondly assuring her, “Love you, Chase.”
“Me, too,” she whispers into his back.
They pass a few quiet moments like that before Jessie returns to his cutting. Still seeming determined to get answers, he asks her, “So, what do your brothers do for a living? They didn’t really have the appearance of still being in the corp. I know service men get into all sorts of fields after their tours are done, but they don’t have the look of having gotten into the police force like I did when I was done.”
Tabitha snorts at the notion of her brothers joining the police force. “Police? Not bloody likely.”
Smiling briefly at that thought, she releases her hold on Jessie, returning to her cutting board as she struggles with what to tell him. Deciding that she hasn’t got a clue what lie is best to give, she settles for answering vaguely, “Bollocks, who knows what they’re doing today. Those two have done a smidge of everything I do believe.”
After another few minutes of heavy silence, Jessie asks, “Are you upset that I invited your brothers to the barbecue?”
Plastering on false cheer, she assures him while chopping, “Goodness, why so ever would you think that, love?”
Setting his knife down, Jessie moves to stand behind her, his arms slipping over hers as he helps her chop vegetables. Leaning down behind her, he whispers into her ear, “I’ll admit to being generally clueless when it comes to women. But I am learning you pretty well. And when you start throwing in lots of extra and unnecessary words, you’re not happy about something.”
She sighs and leans back against him, giving up chopping vegetables since his hands covering hers only hinder the process. “I haven’t seen my brothers in a long time is all,” she explains in a roundabout way.
Realizing that she isn’t going to expound further, Jessie tells her, “I just want you to know that you can have me and your family. It doesn’t have to be either or.”
“That so?” she questions, smiling to herself as he rubs his nose against the back of her neck.
Suddenly, he reaches forward, shoving the cutting board and vegetables across the counter. Before she can fully object to her work being scattered, he grabs her by the hips, turning her, and lifting her to sit on the edge of the counter.
“Shite!” she exclaims, a giggle working in despite her annoyance at some of the vegetables spilling onto the floor. “What are you doing? Have you gone daft? We’re trying to get ready for this sodding party.”
She leans back a bit to study him, taking in his closely trimmed brown hair, the dark eyes surrounded by deep Mediterranean skin. As she strokes the strong line of his square jaw, she teases him, “You really are too pretty to be a cop.”
Laughing, he tells her, “Gee, thanks, I think. And you’re much too sassy to be a bar maid.”
As he moves closer, she pushes him away, reminding him, “The party.”
“Plenty of time for that,” he informs her, sliding between her knees and tugging her chest up against his. Leaning close, he whispers against her mouth, “And plenty of time for this.”
After sharing a slow, leisurely kiss, he pulls back to explain. “Thought I best get that out of the way before your brothers show up to the party. I’ll probably have to settle for groping you a little less while their around,” he adds with a wink.
She snorts and pushes him back once more so she can gather up her scattered work. “Bugger that. If you don’t want my brother to decide to make it his mission in life to hunt you down and string you up by your bollocks, you’d best not be letting on that we really are shagging.”
“Your brother sounds protective. I look forward to learning more about him.”
With a snort, Tabitha assures him, “Oh, it’s sure to be an interesting party.”
Almost as soon as Sam and Dean are escorted by the woman that met them at the front door to the backyard, Sam snags a beer and begins tipping back.
“Dude, what are you doing?” Dean demands in disbelief.
Looking startled, Sam answers, “Having a beer? What? Are you telling me I shouldn’t have a beer? It’s a party, Dean. Lighten up.”
“It’s a party that the douchebag shacking up with our sister is throwing. We’re not here to have fun. We’re here to figure out what the hell is going on with her,” Dean growls back eyes darting around at the people gathered in what might have passed for a spacious backyard, if not for the sheer number of people milling about making it seem crowded.
“Hey! You guys made it,” Jessie cheerfully greets, walking over to shake both of the brothers’ hands. After shaking Dean’s hand, he holds it for a moment, asking him, “Now, I’m not sure if I got it straight from Chase or not, but you’re Dean, right? The older one?”
“That’s me,” Dean replies with a forced, tight-lip smile.
Taking Sam’s hand, he continues, “That must make you the…well…rather large, little brother Sam.”
“Sure,” Sam agrees, releasing Jessie’s hand and taking another drink, seeming completely uninterested in the mission of grilling their sister’s new guy.
“I see Cheryl got you a drink at the door, Sam. What about you, Dean? You look like a beer in the bottle kind of man. Can I get you anything in particular?”
“No thanks, man. Don’t feel like drinking tonight,” Dean replies, crossing his arms over his chest. Before Jessie can step away, Dean begins questioning him. “So, Jessie, how long you been banging my little sister.”
Jessie’s eyes shoot up at that, a disbelieving snort coming from him before he says, “Well, that’s kind of private there, Dean. But we’ve been dating for the better part of a year.”
“Really? ‘Cause I just don’t see her dating a cop.” He looks around the yard, sneering slightly at all the people he can tell with one glance work at the police department, too. Getting in the way of hunters like him.
Sliding his hands into his pockets, Jessie rocks back on his heels, telling Dean, “Well, not hard to see what side you fall on.”
“Side?” Dean repeats in surprise.
Shrugging, Jessie explains, “It’s always seemed to me that those who get out of the service either stick with service jobs of some kind, cops, firemen, et cetera. Or they go the other direction. Have a real hatred for any authority. Probably got enough of it in the military.” Crossing his arms over his chest, Jessie raises an eyebrow as he says, “Me, I went into the academy immediately after two tours in Baghdad. But I’m not really surprised you boys buck authority. Where’d you two serve?”
“Hell,” Dean grumbles, glancing back at Sam who had begun to wander off, perusing the food choices instead of their current quandary.
“Okay,” Jessie draws out, absently noting Sam’s disinterest too. “I get it. Rather not talk about it. That’s fine. I’m not here to press.”
“Then why are you here?”
“Excuse me?” Jessie repeats in confusion.
“What are you doing here with my sister? You’re a friggin’ cop. You think your lifestyle is what she should have in her life?”
Misinterpreting his words, Jessie rushes to assure him, “Look, I love your sister. I’d die to protect her. Nothing of my work will ever come home to harm her. Besides, this ain’t exactly a thriving metropolitan area. Life isn’t usually that dangerous here.”
“Usually,” Dean points out, leaning closer to add, “Except for all the wackos dying around here.”
Jessie’s whole face tightens with his frown. “Excluding the man that dentist killed, they’ve all been suicides. And how do you know about those deaths? They mean something to you?”
Dean leans back, nonchalantly replying, “Naw. Just like to know what’s going on around my sister. What kind of danger might be anywhere near her.”
“And you think her dating a cop is too dangerous,” Jessie surmises.
“Brother, you got it all wrong,” Dean laughs. “She could chew you up and spit you out without breaking a sweat. Ain’t her I worry couldn’t keep up. But I’ve got serious doubts you could keep up as a beat cop on Sesame Street.”
Jessie’s face brightens to red, but he visibly holds himself back, forcing a calm projection as he tells Dean, “You’re good at pushing people’s buttons. Know just how to drive a person to any emotion you want I can see. Guess I shouldn’t have been surprised Chase never wanted to talk about family. And why she was so broken when I came along. If you’ve always treated her this way, it’s no wonder she was so fragile until I came along and started shoring her up again.”
Dean throws his head back with laughter. When he finally contains himself, he tells Jessie, “If you think there’s anything about my sister that’s fragile, you don’t know a damn thing about her, man. Not really. And I almost feel sorry for you. She’s a lot of things. But fragile’s never been one of them. Not even when she’s been broken. And if you think I’m trying to hurt her by saying any of this to you, you don’t have the first clue about me, either.”
“I love her,” Jessie stubbornly insists.
“You don’t know the first thing about her,” Dean sneers in return. “You won’t last.”
Chest puffing, Jessie indignantly tells him, “You’re the one without a clue. I intend to be around a long time. I’m going to—”
Dean harshly cuts him off already knowing what disastrous thing the man is going to say, “It ain’t gonna happen, man. Give up that pipe dream now. Save yourself some heartache. ‘Cause there’s got to be some part of you that knows this ain’t really gonna last.”
Before the two can continue their posturing, Tabitha suddenly appears, insinuating herself between them.
Sliding under one of Jessie’s arms and gripping one of Dean’s elbows, she says, “Boys, boys, boys. Cheer up, mates. Whatever’s got your knickers in a twist, it’s time to unbunch them fellas. I’m not sure what you boys have been discussing, but this is a party. Time to put away the sour looks and talk and have some nosh instead.”
Jessie bends down to kiss the top of her head, telling her, “You’re right, babe. I should check on the grill anyway. I left Johnny in charge and too long on his own and he’ll burn all the meat.”
Before he steps away, he tells her, “Come over when you get a chance, we should say a few words to welcome everyone to the party.” He drops another quick kiss to her cheek, telling her, “Love you, Chase.”
“Me, too,” she smiles in return. “Be ’round momentarily, darling.”
As soon as he’s out of earshot, Tabitha whips around to smack Dean in the shoulder, lowly hissing, “You arse! I don’t know what you were telling him, but it looked pretty dodgy to everyone else here, so lay off, you ponce. If you can’t fake pleasant for the party, then piss off.”
“Would you drop the accent? You’re freaking me out,” Dean complains, rubbing his shoulder, and thinking to himself that there is indeed nothing fragile about his sister.
Hissing even softer, she reminds him, “Because to everyone here, I’m a bleeding Brit. I’m trying to stay below the radar, Dean. And since half of these gents are coppers, I don’t need them overhearing a changed accent and getting inquisitive!”
“Yeah, that’s another thing,” Dean points out, grabbing her elbow and pulling her closer. “A cop?! Not only are you shacked up with some guy, you’re shacked up with a friggin’ cop?! Don’t you think that’s a little above the radar?”
“Shite. I know what I’m doing, Dean. I don’t need your nagging,” she growls back, jerking her elbow away before looking around and smiling pleasantly to hide their argument.
When she starts walking away, he tells her, “Oh, no. We’re not done yet. Not by a long shot. We still need to talk about how you got back and what you’ve been doing for the past year and however many months.”
“Brilliant,” she sarcastically hisses. “Let’s finish it now. I’ve no bloody idea how I got back. Just that I am. And for the past year or so, I’ve been living my life. Which is what I bloody well intend to continue doing right now.”
This time she does stomp away before he can stop her. And as he watches, he witnesses her once more donning the bright happy persona everyone at the party seems to know and respond to, several greeting her pleasantly as she makes her way to Jessie.
Dean watches for a few more minutes. Brooding silently as he watches the performance his sister gives for not only Jessie, but for the whole crowd.
As Jessie calls for everyone’s attention and the din lessens, Dean looks around for Sam. Failing that, he sighs and grabs a beer from a nearby open cooler.
“We just wanted to thank everyone so much for coming,” Jessie tells the crowd, pulling Tabitha into his side as he addresses their guests. “Now, some of you know Chase, and some of you from the department haven’t had the pleasure yet, but this is a party to celebrate us moving in together finally, and I just wanted to say that I couldn’t be happier that she agreed to move in with me.” Jessie pauses and looks through the crowd, eyes settling briefly on Dean before he continues, “Matter of fact, there’s something else I’ve been waiting for this party to do…” He glances down at the woman tucked into his side, but hesitates as he looks down into her puzzled face looking back.
When he glances up at Dean again, the oldest Winchester slowly shakes his head, drawing a line across his throat, more in promise than in threat.
Jessie coughs and stutters before saying, “I just-I just wanted to say that I’m a lucky bastard that such an amazing woman agreed to move in with me.”
The people milling about applaud at his finish, a few of the rowdier cops in the back cat-calling and letting out wolf-whistles as one shouts from the back, “Where do I get a girl like her?”
Smiling with good humor, Tabitha answers, “Apparently you stalk your bartender until you get up the courage to ask her out.” As the crowd laughs in return, she tacks on, “Or rather, drink up your courage and then mumble something incoherent about boxes when she says you’re knackered and need a cab ride home.”
Jessie’s face tinges with embarrassment as his fellow cops howl with laughter. But he plays along, explaining to her and the crowd, “That’s not exactly what I was trying to say.”
“Really, dear?” she laughs, poking him in the side. “It was awfully hard to understand while you were sloshing your drink around and slurrin’.”
Laughing even harder, Jessie tells them all, “I was trying my best pick-up line.”
“Quite?” Tabitha laughs in question. “What did that have to do with boxes?”
Shaking his head, Jessie says, “You said I was drunk, or pissed, I believe, and I was trying to say, ‘I’m not drunk. I’m intoxicated by your beauty.'”
Amidst the awes of the women and the uproar from the men, a woman asks, “Did you know then that you were going to date him, Chase?”
“Blimey no,” Tabitha laughs. “But I knew he was done drinking for the night.”
“So how’d you get her to say yes to you?” another man calls out.
Chest puffing and shoulders rolling back, Jessie explains, “Women can’t resist a knight in shining armor coming to their rescue.”
Thoroughly disgusted by the little performance his sister is helping her cop boyfriend put on, Dean slams back the rest of his beer, shuddering at the way his sister plays to the crowd and times her words and the story with him to hold the audience captive. Nothing in her behavior or the adoring looks she gives the man beside her are his sister. Nothing of it feels…real.
As their little standup routine continues, Dean whispers, “Castiel, you ain’t been answering my calls, but I need you to get your ass down here. It’s Tabitha. We found her. But she’s not…something’s wrong, Cas.”
Before the words finishing leaving his mouth, the angel appears beside him, eyes darting around the area.
“What’s wrong? Where is she?” the angel demands.
Surprised by his sudden appearance and intense expression, Dean points towards the front of the crowd where Tabitha and Jessie stand near a few gathered backyard grills.
“She’s…here,” Castiel trails off, staring at her as Tabitha continues telling the crowd her tale.
“So there I am, knackered from a long day, closing up the back of the pub when this tosser grabs me from behind. And he’s yelling that he wants all the money I’ve got.” Tabitha pauses to give a theatrical shiver of fear that Dean can see for fake from a mile away. “Bloke didn’t realize apparently we only do cash drops on busy nights and Tuesdays are not busy nights.”
Jessie pulls her closer as she shivers again, playing up the white knight card to its fullest as he tells the crowd. “Well, I hadn’t let the taxi take me home yet. Drunk or not, I was determined to get this beauty’s number.”
Laughing now, Tabitha butts in to add, “He’d only been coming ’round the pub for three weeks working up the courage to ask me.”
“But I did get my courage up,” Jessie argues. “So I come into the alley when I know she’ll be closing up, and I see this perp coming up behind her. What else could I do other than valiantly swoop in to the rescue?”
The women in the crowd are eating out of his hand and even the men nod appreciatively. Until Tabitha points out with a grin, “By valiantly swoop in, he of course means stumble down the alley, throw a punch at the bloke and miss, but throw himself off balance so badly he stumbles and takes the would-be robber down to the ground as he momentarily passes out.”
Chuckling at the uproarious laughter, Jessie points out, “Drunk or not, my training in the academy must have kicked in. Because the next thing I knew, I was pushing up off the pavement and the guy was knocked out and in handcuffs.”
An older, portly man with a shirt straining at the buttons across his belly laughs as he calls out to Jessie, “So that’s how you managed to arrest Leo Durant? Only you could land a career advancing arrest, and get the girl, all while drunk. You’re lucky you were off duty and that we decided to promote you even though you were in the bottle that night, Thompson.”
Ducking his head, Jessie tells the man, “Don’t I know it, sir.”
Some more jokes and ribbing pass back and forth, but Dean finally notices that the angel beside him hasn’t moved or spoken since he first arrived.
“Cas?” he asks, nudging the angel. “What’s your deal, man?”
“He is not worthy of even her presence,” the angel hisses.
Eyebrows furrowing, Dean replies, “Well, I agree man, but right now, I’m more interested in figuring out what’s going on with her.” He nods towards Tabitha, following her with his eyes when he spots her breaking away from Jessie and the main gathering around the grills, carrying some empty plates inside the little two-story house. “How the hell did you not realize she was still alive? And had been this whole time. You said she was dead.”
“I said she was gone,” the angel corrects, not bothering to look at Dean.
When he looks back to his side again to argue with Castiel, he finds the angel has vanished.
“Sonofabitch,” he hisses to himself.
Hearing a soft footstep behind her, Tabitha calls out over her shoulder, “I’ll be right out, Jessie. Just getting the last of these onions sliced up for anyone what wants them on sandwiches and the like.”
“I am not Jessie.”
In the blink of an eye, Tabitha inhales a sharp, shocked breath, causing her body to jerk and her finger to slip on the onion, the tip of her forefinger falling directly under her blade as she chops.
But she’s too shocked to utter a word of surprise or even pain, instead, whipping around to stare up at the angel directly behind her. One of her hands tightly grips the knife, pressing it to her side like a lifeline. The other hangs limply by her leg, blood trickling down her fingers to split-splat on the tile floors.
Holding her stare, Castiel steps closer, reaching out blindly for her hand and unerringly finding it. As he grips it between their torsos, she can feel the familiar swell of magic that accompanies his healing touch. She shudders in response as his fingers continue caressing hers, long after the cut has been healed and the damage erased.
“You’re here,” she finally whispers, unable to say anything else.
Tabitha remains rooted in place, unable to move. Neither forward, nor backward. Neither to him, nor away from him.
“Why?” she raggedly whispers, feeling like she can’t draw more than shallow pants of air into her suddenly oxygen starved lungs.
With his single utterance, he steps forward, his chest slamming against hers as he threads a hand into the dark brown locks of her hair. Knotting a fist in her loose curls, he drags her lips up to his, devouring ever bit of her with the ruthlessness of someone denied the basic necessities of life for too long.
There’s no conscious thought as her body responds to him, knife clattering to the floor as her arms slide around his shoulders with the comfort and ease of a dance well known and desperately missed.
When his hands slide down to cup the backs of her thighs, lifting her onto the counter behind her, she readily opens her knees, making space for him even as his hand slides under her lightweight burgundy sweater to trail up her spine and his lips trail down to her neck.
As she gasps with the sensations and her back arches in response to his touch, she suddenly hears a voice possessively hiss across her mind, Mine.
The sensation of hearing the angel’s true voice, though both comforting and achingly familiar, still shocks Tabitha back into the reality of the moment. Back into the reality of just what she’s doing.
Shoving at his chest, she pulls her sweater back down, blinking back tears of realization that only hours before, Jessie had been in this very same position, standing in this very same spot at this counter. Though eliciting decidedly more tepid responses from her.
Slipping off the counter, she stares at the angel’s chest instead of meeting his eyes as she tells him, “Dammit, Castiel. You can’t be here.”
Her eyes snap up to his at his completely perplexed question.
“‘Why?'” she hisses incredulously in return. “Because I’m with someone else now. We can’t do this. I’m not a cheater.” She wonders to herself if her words are for Castiel’s benefit, or to convince herself.
His head cants to the side and he frowns while telling her, “He is hardly a match worthy of you. Not a weak human that requires you to save him, and then allows himself to think that he was your savior.”
Shoving at his chest, she tells him, “That’s none of your business, Castiel. He believes what he needs to believe about that night. It doesn’t matter anyway. I didn’t ask for your opinion.”
Squaring her shoulders, she tells him, “I didn’t ask for you to be here at all.”
“You shouldn’t be with him,” the angel again insists, his words become deeper and more heated.
“Then who should I be with?!” Tabitha shouts, bordering on near hysteria at being so close to the angel after so long apart.
When Castiel opens and closes his mouth without a word coming out, she stalks closer, her hand striking out and slapping the side of his face before she can pull herself back.
“Screw you, Castiel. You’re the one that ended it! I said that I…” she chokes on the words, unable voice that painful confession again, her gut twisting at the mere thought of repeating them. In a broken whisper, she repeats, “You-you’re the one that ended it.”
“I didn’t end it. You walked away,” he reminds her, voice low and eyes, dark with laden emotion.
“You didn’t stop me,” she replies in a ragged whisper. With a soft snort, she explains, “You may have ended it without actually saying a word, but you did end it, Castiel, sure as I’m standing here today. There was nothing else left for me to do, other than walking away.”
Castiel frowns as he recalls that fateful night.
A year and some months ago…
Castiel stands on the cold blacktop, watching as the taillights of Dean’s Impala fade into the darkness.
He understands Dean’s anger with God after what happened, he supposes anger might be what he feels, as well. It had been hard enough trying to understand emotions when she had still been there to teach them to him. But now that she’s gone, he sees no point in trying to analyze or understand them. Or even to feel them.
But he’d made her a promise. That he look out for her brothers and try to set things right. And knowing the anarchy raging in Heaven, he realizes that to protect Dean from the angels that will likely have a grudge against the remaining Winchester, he must return to bring some order to Heaven. If chaos reigns, there will be no protecting him. Perhaps he can even teach the other angels one of the many lessons she taught to him: choice. Free will.
As he turns to face the other direction, he stops to shield his eyes from the sudden blinding light, and stares in shock at the woman now standing before him on the rain-slick blacktop.
Tabitha shakes her head to clear her vision from the blinding light, blinking when she suddenly finds herself in darkness.
Tugging her leather coat tighter around herself, she asks the angel in front of her, “Am I dead?”
Castiel takes a halting step closer, hesitantly brushing the backs of his fingers down her cheek. “No,” he croaks in response, shocked at the sight of her before him. He’d scoured Heaven for her, even dared the depths of Hell. She had truly seemed to disappear. He’d found the talisman he’d once given her in the clearing where she’d said “yes” to Azrael. But only it and the strange ring she’d given him were still there. He’d no longer felt any connection to her. All of his Grace returned to him with his resurrection. But she had well and truly…vanished.
Oblivious to his swirling thoughts, she desperately asks, “Did they do it? Did they put Lucifer back in his cage?”
“Yes,” he woodenly answers, “Michael as well.”
Tears spring to her eyes as she shakes her head. “Then Sam did it. And he’s…he’s really gone?”
“What about Dean?”
Castiel glances over his shoulder at the disappearing taillights.
Sighing in relief when she sees her answer, Tabitha replies, “Good. Thank god for that at least.”
Shaking her head, she laughs a little unsteadily and steps towards him, grabbing his trench coat as she excitedly whispers, “But we did it, Cas. We really did it. It’s finally over.”
In her happiness, she stands on her toes, pressing her lips to the angel’s, happily kissing lips she’s kissed hundreds of times before.
Yet, tears fill her eyes as she lowers to her heels and steps back from the angel, a hand covering her mouth to hold back the sob now lodged in her throat.
“That wasn’t like any other kiss we’ve shared,” she tells him in an anguished whisper from behind her hand.
He stares at her, not reaching out, no emotion marking his face.
Closing her eyes against the ache in her chest, she tells him, “That tasted like goodbye.”
“What does goodbye taste like?” he finally asks, his voice low and rumbling. None of the warmth that often works into his voice when he speaks to her present now.
Wrapping her other arm around herself, and lowering her hand from her face, she opens her eyes, heedless of the tears spilling down her cheeks as she whispers one excruciating word, “Empty. Empty.”
Part of her wants to blame the angel for making her love him. Or for him not loving her.
But she knows that isn’t fair. She not naïve, and never has been. She’s never fooled herself. She’d always known that what they had would have to end one day. It couldn’t last. He was an angel. She was human. And this was no fairytale. It didn’t end with happily ever after. It just…ended.
“I just wasn’t expecting it to be today,” she whispers to herself.
“I can take you to your brother,” he stiffly offers.
“No,” she assures him in a broken but determined voice. “I can take care of myself. I’ve always been good at that.”
She turns and starts walking down the highway in the opposite direction her brother had driven before she pauses to look back at the angel.
“Why?” she calls out to him. At his frown, she angrily shouts, “Why does this have to be goodbye?!”
“I must return to Heaven,” he offers simply.
She opens her mouth to remind him that she’d opened her heart and soul to him before sacrificing herself, but closes it when she realizes that his kiss had said everything the angel couldn’t. As seemed to be the normal course for their relationship. Their lips had always been able to say what their mouths couldn’t.
Without another word, she turns and continues down the lonely highway.
Castiel watches for a few moments more, before he disappears for the last time.
“I may have walked away that night,” she reminds him, sniffling slightly, “but you’d already left before I got up the nerve to walk away.”
“He’s not worthy of you,” Castiel suddenly argues.
Anger surges forward in her emotions, causing her to lunge back towards him as she shoves his chest, forcing him back a step. “Goddamn you, Castiel. Who are you to judge? You have no right in the love affairs of my life anymore. And at least he’s honest with me. He loves me. I never have to worry whether he’ll be there when I get home at night. He’ll always be there for me. Steady. Reliable. I never have to wonder what he feels or thinks about me.” She sniffles again, the act robbing some of her anger as she more sedately insists, “He’s a good man. Better than I deserve.”
“He’s not a shadow of what you deserve,” Castiel fiercely insists.
“I deserve a shot at normal,” she whispers, looking down. “At not being hurt so badly again. Walking away from you…it nearly killed me. I can’t go through something like that again.”
She turns away, gathering her platter with onions as Castiel whispers to her back, “Heaven was in chaos. I had to return.”
“And so you did,” she tells the platter in front of her. “You made your priorities well known.”
“I intended to come back for you,” he suddenly whispers.
Tabitha stills, grabbing the edge of the countertop on either side of herself to remain upright. For several minutes, she can’t speak, can only listen to his words ringing in her ears. But he says no more than that. Offers no explanation for why he didn’t come back, finally urging her to speak again.
“But you never did,” she finally tells him, still staring down at the rings of purple and white onions.
“I couldn’t find you. You…you were hidden from me,” he tries half-heartedly explaining.
Snorting at his weak attempt, she points out, “That’s a crock and you know it. You could have found me if you’d really put your mind to it. Bobby knew where I was, and you could have easily read his mind. But you never tried to find me. And you never came.”
Gathering the platter, she starts past him, only to be stopped by his hand on her elbow. “I’m here now,” he points out.
“Why?” she wonders, looking up at him, willing him to tell her something.
When he has no answer, she jerks her elbow back, telling him, “It’s over. I’m with Jessie now.”
“You don’t love him,” Castiel stubbornly insists.
Eyes narrowing on him, she snaps, “Of course I do. He’s a good man.”
“Then say it,” the angel challenges.
She opens her mouth, and then slams it shut before repeating, “He’s a good man. And he loves me.”
They both turn when they hear Jessie calling for Chase from outside.
Doggedly, Castiel still questions, “Why him?”
Brushing past him, she whispers in return, “I told you once before, I don’t do lonely well.”
By the time she returns to the party, her smile is glued back in place, and she eagerly waves off Jessie’s brief concern, assuring him that the moisture in her eyes is nothing but the onions getting to her.
Dean joins the angel as they stand next to the house, watching the spectacle of Tabitha again donning the mask of Chase. She happily stands on Jessie’s arm, helping him regal the crowd with stories of the cases he’d worked since making detective, and how her sleuth-like mind—due to her love of mystery novels—had helped him close more than one case he’d been stumped on.
“That bozo hasn’t got a clue who she really is,” Dean tells the angel beside him. “I can’t believe he actually seems to like this placid, doe-eyed little damsel she seems to be playing for him. Asshole doesn’t even realize what prize he’s actually got standing beside him playing friggin’ Stepford wife.”
Castiel jerks to look at Dean. “Has their courtship progressed to marriage?”
“What?” Dean repeats in confusion. “No, Cas. It’s an expression. God, you can be such a friggin’ mook.”
The angel turns back to glare at the couple. Jessie in particular. “He isn’t worthy of even the air she breathes.”
Warily eyeing the angel, Dean asks, “What’s your problem, dude? You’re acting like a jealous bitch. What? Don’t tell me, you wish that you had Jessie’s girl.”
When the angel looks at him in confusion, Dean sings a few more bars of the song. “You know, I wish that I had Jessie’s girl. I wish that I had Jessie’s girl. Where can I find her, a woman like that?”
“She’s right there,” the angel points out, not understanding Dean.
Dean rolls his eyes when the angel remains clueless, but shrugging his strange behavior off, finding it par for the course when both of his siblings are acting so strangely anyway.
Which brings to his mind that he hasn’t seen Sam in quite a while.
Suddenly hearing a commotion behind him, he turns to see none other than his younger brother being manhandled out of the house by his younger sister. Tabitha has such a tight grip on his ear that Sam is nearly doubled over at the waist as she leads him by the ear, shoving him out of the house at the oldest Winchester. When she reaches Dean, she further shoves Sam out the side gate of the fence into an alleyway.
Hissing lowly, she rounds on her older brother as he follows into the alley, “Get him the bloody hell out of my house.”
“What’s going on?” Dean asks, even as a scantily clad brunette slinks by behind Tabitha into the alley, trying to tug her blouse on over her other disheveled clothing.
Turning her venom on the woman, Tabitha growls at her, “How could you be so bleeding daft as to sleep with another man in your husband’s partner’s house?! In his own bloody bed?!” She takes a threatening step towards the woman as she tacks on, “With my own bleeding brother, Cheryl!”
“I didn’t know he was your brother! I’m sorry, Chase. Please don’t tell my husband,” the woman pleads, trying to right her hastily placed clothing.
“Bloody hell! I can’t even look at you right now, you bint! Leave before I do decide to tell one of them!”
Hearing the deadly violence in her tone, Cheryl wisely flees, not looking back as she skirts the edge of the party and disappears towards the front street where most of the cars are parked.
Accent disappearing, Tabitha growls at Dean, “What the hell is wrong with him? I find him in my bed and all he can say is he was having a good time?!”
“Well, I was,” Sam placidly answers, tugging his flannel shirt on and rubbing absently at the ear she’d had in a vice grip.
“What is wrong with him?!” Tabitha again hisses.
“Wait in the car, Sam,” Dean directs their brother.
“I said wait in the car, Sam!” Dean furiously repeats.
After Sam leaves, Dean turns to tell Tabitha, “That’s part of what I needed to talk to you about. Something’s not right with Sam. Ever since he got back…he’s been…off.”
“He was in the freaking cage with Lucifer. No one comes back from that completely normal,” she reminds him, visibly attempting to calm herself.
“That seem anything like Sam to you?!” he hisses back, throwing an arm in the direction Sam left for emphasis.
Biting her lip, she admits to herself that it did seem completely abnormal for Sam. It really wouldn’t have been so shocking if she’d found Dean in bed with her boyfriend’s partner’s wife. But not Sam.
“I need your help figuring out what’s going on,” he pleads with her.
“I’m out,” she insists, voice a whisper. “I’m staying out.”
“He’s your brother.”
“Exactly,” she reminds him. “Maybe that’s just him now. Maybe he just needs more time to adjust and we need to accept it.”
“That’s not it.”
She shrugs dismissively and starts to turn away, stopping only when Dean calls out, “He let me get turned.”
When she turns cautiously back to face him, he tells, her, “He let a vamp turn me not even a month ago. There turned out to be a cure, but he let a friggin’ vamp turn me. Don’t tell me that’s normal.”
“You can’t know that he actually let that happen, Dean. That can’t be true.”
“It sure as hell is,” Dean maintains.
Glancing over her shoulder, Tabitha reminds him, “I’ve got a party to get back to.”
“To the human you don’t love,” Castiel bitterly adds, reminding the siblings of his presence.
Infuriated, Tabitha shoves at his chest, telling him, “Screw you, Castiel. I’m done listening to your opinion. You don’t get to have one anymore where I’m concerned. So why don’t you disappear back to Heaven? It’s what you’re good at.”
Dean steps between the two, moments before Castiel does indeed disappear. Grabbing her shoulders, he demands, “All right, you’re acting weird as hell now and so is Castiel. What’s going on with you guys? Is there…is there something I should know?”
“Yeah, that I’m sick of you and everyone else crashing the nice boring life I have now. One I’d like to get back to.”
“The one where you aren’t even you anymore?” Dean challenges, ignoring what he’s certain was a bald face lie from her. “The one where you’re some placid game-piece hanging on that dick’s arm? Don’t get me wrong, maybe he’s actually a nice guy, but he isn’t the guy for you, Tab.”
“Why not?!” she shouts, throwing her hands in the air in exasperation. “Why can’t I have the guy that’s kind and gentle and considerate? The guy that’s steady. Always there for me. Why can’t I have that for once in my life?!”
“Because that’s not you!” he shouts back. “You’re a stubborn, mean little mule, and you deserve a guy that’s going to be just as stubborn in return. Just to put up with your friggin’ bullheaded, ornery, willful little ass. Answer me this, have you ever even argued with that guy? Even once.”
“No, of course not!” she roars back not understanding his point. “We never argue.”
“Exactly!” he crows triumphantly. “And you think you’ll be a fraction of happy with a guy that you can’t even let enough real emotion through with to argue with him. Dammit, look at us, you’re back in my life a few hours and we’re yelling and screaming at each other. Arguing is what you friggin’ do!”
Tabitha storms around in a circle, her hand gesturing between them as she bellows, “Oh, yeah, ’cause this is such a healthy friggin’ relationship, Dean.”
“Damn right it is. Because I love you enough to not worry about hurting your precious little feelings when you’re being a pigheaded idiot, and you care enough back to argue what you’re really thinking and feeling,” he tells her, grabbing her shoulders to stop her in front of him. “How the hell do you think you could ever be happy here? What? Living vicariously through that dude because he’s a cop? Do you realize how stupid and dangerous this could be? You think you’ll be happy being a bartender for the rest of your life? After everything you’ve done and accomplished? And the good little woman? That’s not you. What if he finds out that you were a Fed? Hmm? Are you really that desperate to be an agent again that you’d settle for being the sick version of Dudley-Do-Right’s Stepford wife, just to get a taste of it in this podunk place?”
She jerks away again, arms flying up between them to break his hold on her shoulders. “It’s my life, Dean.”
He visibly calms himself, deciding on a different tack. “So it is, Tabby. So it is. But that doesn’t change the fact that I need your help with Sammy. And with this case here in town. People are dying. Can you really just stand by while people die, Tab?”
Although she’d puffed herself up to argue with him, she deflates slightly and agrees, “Fine. Fine. I’ll help you with this one case. And I’ll see if I can help with Sam in the meantime. But after that, it’s back to my boring life.” Jerking her head over her shoulder, she tells him, “Let me just go put in a little more time at this party before I make an excuse to slip away.”
“Want me to give you the address of our motel?” he asks, taking whatever he can get from his sister for now. Hoping to figure out the rest later.
Shaking her head, she assures him, “I know the two of you. I know just what motel you’d choose.”
When she makes her way back through the gate, she’s startled to see Jessie waiting for her. His smile is easy, but it doesn’t quite reach his eyes as he says, “Hey, there you are. I was just looking for you.”
“Right here, luv,” she assures him, slipping under his arm as they head back for the party.
As they close the gate to the alley behind them, Jessie whispers, “Love you.”
“Me, too,” she whispers in return.
“Where the bloody hell is Sam?” Tabitha asks as she walks into her brothers’ motel room, dropping her leather coat in a heap on the floor just inside the door. She can plainly spot her older brother sitting at the table with a bottle of whiskey and a laptop, but her younger brother is conspicuously absent.
Dean downs the last of his current glass, shuddering as he tells her without turning around, “Drop the friggin’ limey accent.”
Clearing her throat once, she apologizes, “Sorry. Been using it for the better part of a year. Hard to let go of sometimes.”
Finally looking over his shoulder, he snidely tells her, “Knock much?”
Shrugging, she points out, “Why? I knew this was your room and the door wasn’t locked. You gonna keep being a piss-ant? Or you gonna tell me where Sam is and what’s going on?”
Standing, Dean grabs another tumbler, and pours her and himself another generous helping of whiskey. As he crosses the room to hand her the other glass, he explains, “Dropped him off at the morgue again. I wanted him out of the room for a while.”
“Fine,” she nods, taking a sip. Pointing towards the laptop, she asks, “So what have you gotten figured out on the case?”
Dean starts towards the table, but hesitates to swing back and tell her, “I just gotta say, Tab, the whole accent, weird dark hair thing, and dark leather Goth-banger outfit you’ve got going kinda freaks me out. Nearly as much as Sam’s been freaking me out.”
She looks away with a sigh, then explains, “Look, I’m doing my best to be…undercover I guess. Be someone else. Because if I wanna stay anywhere for very long, I can’t be Tabitha Winchester.” She glances down at her leather pants and tight, black fishnet shirt she wears under a fitted dark red leather bustier. “Besides, I mostly ride my motorcycle now, so the leather is sorta necessary. I’d say it’s more biker leather chic, with undertones of a gothic nature anyway. And I’m a bartender. How else should I dress?”
“Whatever,” he grumbles sitting in front of the laptop again. As she sits beside him, he turns the laptop for her to see. “I think this is what we’ve got going on. All of our vics seem to have a sudden bout of everyone around them telling them all sorts of nasty but true things. No matter how much they normally wouldn’t say or admit to those things.”
Leaning forward, she reads the lines at the top of the internet page. “‘Gabriel’s horn of Truth?'” she repeats, her eyebrows flying up. “You gotta be kidding me, Dean. Could you really see Gabriel playing a horn that makes people suddenly tell the truth?”
“Let me think about it. Yeah,” Dean fires back. “Something that goes overboard and makes everyone around them tell every nasty truthful thing until the person kills themselves. Sounds just like him.”
Shaking her head, Tabitha answers, “He likes tricks and pranks. But people just telling the truth? Just feels…off. I guess I can ask…” she trails off, biting her cheek as she decides not to tell her brother about her Gabriel infested laptop. Not yet at least. Forging on, she asks, “Why are you so sure it’s some Heavenly instrument? It could be anything else. What’s making you settle on this with so little evidence?”
Dean leans back in his chair, holding his tumbler to his chest as he looks at her with narrowed eyes. “Because some of us have actually been working on this shit recently. And some of us know enough of what’s going on out there to know that the angels have got a little problem up there. Some of their nukes have gone missing. Like Moses’s staff. Ran into that on a previous case few months back.”
“They’ve got missing ‘nukes’?” she incredulously repeats. “How the hell did that happen?”
“Well, you could ask your little boyfriend that. You and Cas must have been having quite the moment from the heated little exchange I witnessed,” Dean snidely points out.
Blowing up, Tabitha slams her tumbler down as she twirls up and out of her chair, “You know what, Dean? Fuck you! I’m only here to help you out. If you don’t want my help, just say so, and I will head back home. To my boyfriend. Remember him? Jessie?”
Dean’s eyes remain narrowed suspiciously for a moment, and then he closes his eyes and says, “Castiel? Hello? Possible loose nuke down here, angelic weapon. Kinda your department.”
“Fuck,” Tabitha groans, going back to the door and picking up her coat. “You wanna involve that ass, then I’m gonna bounce. If this is his department, then you don’t need me. I’m outta here.”
As she stands up from grabbing her coat, she comes face to chest with a tan trench coat.
“Hello, Tabitha. Dean,” the angel quietly greets.
Tabitha sucks in a startled breath, caught off guard by his sudden proximity as her heart starts inexplicably racing.
“Are you all right?” the angel asks her, reaching out to hold her elbow and steady her.
Until that moment when his hand touches her arm, the heat of his fingers seeping through the fishnet shirt, she hadn’t realized she’d quit breathing. Or that one of her hands had flown to cover her racing heart.
From behind her, Dean stalks nearer to demand, “Are you kidding me? I have been on red alert about Sam, and you come for some stupid horn?!”
For several beats, Castiel only stares down into her eyes as she stares dumbfounded into his, too caught by his gaze to move.
As Dean draws even with the pair, he snarls, “Or maybe it wasn’t me or the horn you came racing down here to see.”
Hearing his pointed words, Tabitha jerks away from Castiel’s touch, tugging her jacket on and pulling her hair free from the leather coat.
“Whatever boys. Have fun with your little boy scout meeting. I’m out.”
As she goes to step around the angel, she hears him assure Dean, “You asked me to be here, and I came.”
With a shout, Dean exclaims, “I’ve been asking you to be here for days, you dick! And it doesn’t escape my notice that now that Tabitha is back, you’re down here lickity-split!” Tabitha reaches for the doorknob, but the door is jerked from her hand as Dean reaches over her shoulder and slams it shut again.
To her, he snarls, “And don’t think you’re sneaking off so fast either. Something is going on and you’re not leaving ’till I know what’s what.”
“There’s nothing to know. I’m just sick of getting pulled back into this bullshit. Every time I try to have a normal life, guess what, you suck me right back in. And destroy everything I’ve built. I’m not letting you do it this time, Dean! I’m out!” She snarls the words back at him as she turns to face him, leaning back against the closed door.
“You’re not leaving,” he insists.
Ducking under his arm, she reminds him, “Fine, but we agreed it was just this one case. Once that’s done, I’m gone.”
Breaking their stare, Castiel tells them, “I didn’t come about Sam. Because I have nothing to offer about Sam. Or Tabitha.”
“Well, that’s great, because for all we know, he’s just gift wrapped for Lucifer.” He throws an arm in his sister’s direction, adding, “I don’t even begin to know what’s wrong with her.”
Castiel grabs the bottle of whiskey beside him, walking forward to pour Dean another glass as he says, “No, he’s…he’s not Lucifer.”
“And how do you know that?” Dean demands.
With a sigh, Castiel explains, “If Lucifer escaped the cage, we’d feel it.”
Not seeming to notice that Castiel doesn’t address his question about Tabitha, Dean desperately asks, “What is wrong with him?”
“I don’t know, Dean,” the angel laments. “I’m sorry.”
“What happened to you, Cas? You used to be human, or at least like one.”
“I’m at war,” the angel tells Dean, turning to walk back to the window beside the door where Tabitha still hovers.
As the angel plunks the bottle back down, he leans heavily on the sideboard, almost sorrowfully explaining, “Certain…regrettable things are now required of me.” He looks across at Tabitha, dropping his voice for her ears alone as he adds, “And I’m alone now.”
From the middle of the room, Dean asks, “And Gabriel’s Horn of Truth? That’s a real thing?”
Turning back towards him, Castiel inquires hopefully, “You’ve seen it?”
“We think it’s in town. Something’s forcing people…”
The angel vanishes before he can finish, leaving Dean to vent in exasperation, “Oh, well, you’re welcome!”
Stalking a few steps closer to her, Dean demands, “What is going on with you? And don’t tell me there isn’t something going on. What happened the night you came back? You said you saw Castiel that night. But he certainly neglected to mention any of that, and now the two of you are acting all squirrely. What happened that night? What’s going on with the two of you?”
“Nothing!” she indignantly insists. “Nothing happened that night, and nothing is going on now. Jesus, Dean. Whatever is going on with Sam is making you paranoid. What the hell do you think is going on with me and duchebag angel?”
“I don’t know!” he shouts, draining his whiskey. “But something is.”
The angel suddenly reappears behind Dean, telling them, “It isn’t the Horn of Truth.”
“What are you talking about? You were gone for like two seconds. Where did you look?” Dean asks.
“Everywhere,” Castiel matter-of-factly explains.
“Right,” Dean replies. Annoyed, he tells the angel, “Well, nice seeing you anyway.”
As the oldest Winchester turns his back, the angel calls out, “Dean.”
Not turning around, Dean snaps, “What?”
“About your brother, I…I don’t know what’s wrong with him, but I do want to help. I’ll make inquiries.”
No longer remaining silent, Tabitha steps forward to demand, “‘You’ll make inquiries’? So you’re actually agreeing that something is wrong with him.” Castiel frowns in her direction, but otherwise doesn’t respond, so she presses, “You must be, otherwise you wouldn’t be looking into it. What do you know, Castiel?”
When he continues to frown at her, she steps to his elbow, growling, “I know you too well for you to float that by me. You know something. What do you know?!”
Low and harshly, he whispers, “That humans are cruel and capricious with their…love.”
He disappears before she can respond. But that doesn’t stop her from yelling in his absence, “Screw you, Castiel!”
“What the hell was that?” Dean questions again. “And don’t tell me that I’m being paranoid, ’cause that just happened.”
Visibly pulling herself together, Tabitha tells him, “Sorry, I guess I’m just out of practice dealing with douchey angels.” She turns and points to his laptop. “Well, strike one there, let’s get back to the drawing board.”
“You know what? Screw this,” he tells Tabitha. “I’m getting a real drink.”
He grabs his leather coat and starts for the door just as Tabitha sits at the table again, prompting her to spring up in surprise. “What?!” she demands. “You were the one laying the guilt on extra thick that people were dying and that you needed my help. Now you’re gonna bail?”
Popping up his collar, he tells her, “You know what I really need from you? The truth. Just for once, I need the truth from you. But seeing as I’m not gonna get it, I’m gonna need a drink instead.”
He leaves as she sputters indignantly in his wake.
Tabitha throws a perturbed look over her shoulder when her brothers walk back into their motel room together hours later.
“So nice of you two to join me,” she notes, turning back to the laptop in front of her.
Seemingly oblivious to her mood, Sam tells her, “No problem. We actually may have found a lead at the first victim’s house. Our patient zero goes back farther than we thought. Her death was ruled car accident, but we’re pretty sure it was a suicide, too. Plus, we think she might have been doing a little spell work.”
With a frown at his attitude, but nevertheless still interested, Tabitha leans forward as Sam shows her the skull of a cat.
“Super,” she groans to herself. “Don’t tell me, another witch. Why’d I have to move to a town with a freakin’ witch problem?”
“We’re not sure it’s a witch,” Sam points out. “But it might point us in the right direction.”
Dean had been hanging back near the door, but finally steps a bit closer, quietly asking, “You find anything useful, Tab?”
She gestures at the screen. “Not really. Lots of cultures and religions have myths of truth and justice and that sort of thing, but I haven’t found anything really conclusive yet.”
She glances down at her watch. “And I really need to get going, I had another guy open the bar for me, but I should get there before the work crowd starts coming in. They’ll filter off to another bar if Travis is the only thing they have to look at, and let’s face it, guys would rather look at a hot woman after a long day at work than another dude.”
As she stands, she pulls her leather coat off the back of her chair tugging it on as she continues, “You know, I think working in a bar has actually been one of my favorite jobs so far. I can drink and smoke during my shift as much as I want, so long as I keep the drinks flowing and the money coming in. And let’s face it, as long as men get to sit on a stool and stare at this,” she gestures down to her body, “they’ll keep buying. Plus, even though the feminist in me hates to admit it, I really do enjoy having men stare at me and admire me like that. I think it has something to do with never getting validation from our father growing up. Someone would probably say it’s some kind of daddy issue, but who cares; I get crazy good tips the skankier I dress.”
With her coat only partway pulled on, she stops to shakily admit, “That’s a strange revelation to have. Especially out loud. Wow. I uh, I should get to work now.”
Dean stops in front of her. “You’re not going anywhere until I get the truth, Tabitha.”
“What? Is this Truth or Dare? ‘Cause I never liked the Truth part. I always took the Dare. I guess that’s how I ended up letting Bobby Harris go all the way to 3rd base that time in the sixth grade.”
Her hands fly to cover her mouth as Dean lets a resigned sort of shudder.
Seeing his face, she puts two and two together. From under her hands, she asks in a horrified voice, “Oh my god, Dean. What did you do?”
“I’m cursed,” he admits, still shaking his head as if to remove the images.
“Again?” she asks in disbelief. “Jesus. I swear, you two dying or getting cursed is like a weekly occurrence. If it weren’t for the fact that you’ve miraculously pulled off some pretty amazing shit, I’d almost think you guys were the worst hunters ever.”
“Thanks,” he intones, rolling his eyes.
“Shit,” she curses, then pushes past him for the door, “I’ve got to get out of here now.”
He grabs her elbow. “No. Not until I’ve got the answers I’m looking for. And I know you’ll give them. Sam already did.”
With a nervous look at her relaxed younger brother, Tabitha shifts from foot to foot. “No thanks,” she declines. “I think I’ll pass. Let me know how getting this curse lifted goes.”
Still holding her arm, Dean stares at her and asks, “Where have you been this past year?”
She shrugs. “I drifted around a bit. I did stop by to see you at Lisa’s, but you looked so happy and I knew that it would just piss me off to be around happy people then, so I left. Eventually stopped here. Not much else to tell. You know the rest.”
Dean’s eyes narrow on her as he gauges her face for the truthfulness of her response.
In low, serious tones, he finally asks her, “What’s going on with you and the angel?”
She sucks in a sharp breath before saying in a whisper, “Nothing. Nothing is going on… Now.”
“‘Now’?!” he repeats in an angry retort. He stomps with quick heavy thuds away and then back to stand in front of her, crowding her as he demands, “Just what exactly was going on before?!”
Gritting her teeth against the need to answer, and wrapping her arms around her midsection as she breaks into a sweat, she unsteadily begs, “Dean…please.”
“Answer the question,” he pitilessly intones.
“Yes,” she mumbles against her will, bending over at the waist as the words are drawn out of her despite her efforts to hold onto it all. “Before that day when Sam jumped into the pit, we’d been sleeping together on and off for the better part of a year and a half.”
A/N: Told you that the answers to everything would be coming in a big way. 🙂 Bet you just weren’t seeing all that coming!
I know everyone has been itching for the boys to find out for a long long time. But I always envisioned this moment in this episode, from the very beginning. So I just couldn’t rush things. And I know, we’ve all thought, “How can they not see it?!” all along, but sometimes, we don’t see what we’re don’t really want to see or aren’t ready to know. But Dean was really needing to hear the truth here. And oh boy, did he get it. With loads more to come!
Fasten your seat belts kiddos, next chapter is going to be a bumpy ride!
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