In low, serious tones, Dean 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 as he tugs at his hair, crowding her as he demands, “Just what exactly was going on before?!”
Gritting her teeth against the need to answer his curse has brought, 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.”
As she’d always predicted, Dean’s reaction is through the roof with his anger. “What!?” he bellows, furious and shocked all wrapped together in swirling emotions as he throws his arms wide. “Sleeping together as in friggin’ doing it?!”
Biting her tongue until she draws blood, she’s nevertheless compelled to at least nod her head in agreement.
“Castiel who art in Heaven, you better get your feathery ass down here now, ’cause Tabitha’s about to get her ass killed!” Dean screams at the ceiling.
Standing upright, Tabitha’s eyes go wide as she fearfully shouts, “Dean, no!”
As she predicted in her mind, as soon as Castiel appears, Dean flies at him, laying into the angel with his fists and catching him off guard. While the pair tumbles to the ground, Tabitha worriedly circles them, grabbing at Dean’s arms and trying to pull him off the angel. Her brother manages several more vicious punches to the angel’s face before she hauls him off.
In return, the angel merely shakes his head once, the blood formerly dripping from his face disappearing as he stands frowning at the now struggling siblings.
“What danger is Tabitha in?” the angel asks, seeming confused by the events occurring.
Finally, Dean stops trying to go after the angel, jerking away from his sister as he hisses more directly at her, “I’m the danger. ‘Cause I’m gonna kill her. Then I’m coming after your ass!” He directs the last part at the angel, turning his fury back on him.
“I don’t understand,” Castiel responds, seeming only curious by the events, and not at all concerned that Dean had flown at him fists first only moments before.
Before she can hiss at the angel to disappear or at least to shut up, Dean furiously bellows at him, “You slept with my sister!”
Castiel’s head tips to the side as he stares perplexed back at Dean. “When I was nearly human, I did once fall asleep with your sister. I was not aware you would be angered by it. There wasn’t enough room in the front seat with you and Sam. So it seemed best to rest in the back seat with her.”
“What?!” Dean shrieks.
“Shut up, Castiel,” she lowly hisses at the angel. She continues explaining to the infuriatingly oblivious servant of Heaven, “He means sex. He knows now that we had sex!”
“Oh,” he softly mutters in dawning understanding. “I see.”
“You see?!” Dean hysterically continues, arms flapping at his sides in what would have been a comical fashion if not for the murder in his eyes. “Sounds like you’ve been seeing too much of our sister!”
Looking annoyed, Sam rubs his temple and scolds Dean, “Come on buddy, at least lower the pitch of your screaming. You’re gonna shatter glass soon.”
Dean rounds on him incredulously. “We find out this angel has been banging our sister all along and that’s what you have to say?!”
Eyes darting around, Sam uneasily adds, “Um…it’s her life? So…it’s her choice?”
“Not when she chooses so piss poorly!”
Dean whips around to confront Tabitha again. “What the hell were you thinking?!”
“That he rocked my world harder than any human ever has.”
As soon as the words fly out of her mouth, she slaps her hands over her lips. “Stop asking me questions,” she mumbles, face hot from embarrassment.
Shuddering in response to the unfiltered answer from her, Dean turns away and zeros in on the angel instead. “We were like brothers, man. You don’t sleep with you brother’s sister!”
When Castiel frowns in confusion at the strange statement, Dean huffs in annoyance, “You know what I mean!”
“I don’t see Tabitha as a sister. I view her in the way I imagine you do when you—”
Dean cuts him off, hands waving from side to side dramatically in a choppy motion. “Whoa, whoa, whoa!” Dean darkly warns. “You better not be seeing my sister that way!”
“She’s a beautiful woman. Unclothed she’s—”
As Dean rushes at the angel again and Sam intercedes to stop him, Tabitha slides in front of her brother’s target, shoving his chest while snapping, “Shut the hell up, Castiel. And get out of here. Now! Before he decides to kill you!”
Castiel spares a gauging look at Dean struggling to break free, disappearing just before he does.
After barreling through the space where the angel had previously stood, he rounds once more on Tabitha. “Is this what future me was talking about? When I told me to keep you away from the angel, is this what I was telling me about?”
Tabitha rubs her temple at the confounding question. “Way too many first-person pronouns there,” she mutters to herself, hoping to avoid the question she’d rather not answer.
“Is it?!” he repeats, not amused by her mutterings.
“Yeah, that’s probably what that asshole was talking about,” she’s forced to admit.
“How long had I known in the future?”
Still compelled to answer against her will, Tabitha rubs at her temple and tells him, “He found out when he caught me coming out of Castiel’s cabin in the future.”
“You slept with future, hippie Cas?!”
“Stop shrieking like a girl! It’s giving me a headache. And yes. I did. I also slept with the Castiel from another dimension. Took his virginity, too.” She bites her wagging tongue, and then begs, “Please stop asking me questions, Dean.”
But her brother remains pitiless as he continues. “What the hell’s the deal with you and that dick, Jessie, if you’re banging the angel? You doing them both?”
“What?! No!” she truthfully snaps, stalking closer to tell him, “Castiel and I are through. Have been for more than a year. I’m with Jessie now. Just Jessie. Even though Castiel throwing me on the counter in my house and kissing me left me way more hot and bothered than Jessie ever has.”
“Stop saying shit like that!” Dean shouts, covering his ears and shuddering.
“Then stop getting cursed and shit all the time!” she shouts back. “Jesus, no wonder you’re so paranoid of Sam suddenly. He’s proving to be the better hunter and your delicate little girl ego can’t handle it. Just man up and realize that while you think you were this great replacement for Dad that you’re no better than he was. You never knew what was going on with Sam. Hello! How’d you not see the Ruby or demon blood thing coming a mile away? And Christ, you didn’t realize Castiel and I were screwing that whole time? We were practically doing it under your freakin’ nose, Dean! There were times we were sneaking off almost every night! And you try to think of yourself as being so much better of a father figure to Sam and I? You never even realized I was banging your best angel buddy!”
Her heart is racing and her throat raw after she finishes her screaming tirade at her brother. For a moment, she feels righteous in her rant against him. Then, the reality of it all sets in, and she slaps her hands over her mouth again.
From under her hands, she whispers in mortification, “I’m so sorry, Dean. I didn’t really mean it like that. It’s the curse.”
Looking chagrined, and not just a little bit hurt by her words, he mumbles, “Oh yeah? Didn’t mean any of that, huh?”
Wincing, she’s forced to truthfully reply, “Most of it.”
Before Dean can question her any more she turns back towards the door, telling him in a rush, “I have to get out of here, Dean. Before this gets worse. I can’t help you right now, so just let me know when this curse is gone.”
Her hand is on the door to pull it open, but once more Dean reaches over her shoulder, slamming it shut again and holding it in place.
She wearily leans her forehead against the door as he asks to her back, “Do you love him?”
At the question, she tenses, biting her tongue until it bleeds as she gives all her fortitude to keep from answering. When he doesn’t repeat the question, forcing her compliance, she softly whispers against the scuffed wood door under her forehead, “Please, Dean. I’m begging you. Don’t ask me that question.”
Instead of moving, his hand remains pinning the door closed. Leaning closer, he whispers to her back, “And what about Jessie? Do you love him? ‘Cause straight up, that idiot was seconds away from trying to ask me for my permission to marry you or some shit.”
Head dropping until her chin hits her chest, she whispers, “I found the ring when we were unpacking two weeks ago.”
“You know? So, what?” he demands. “You going to say yes to him and become his dutiful little woman?”
Shuddering, she truthfully answers, “Until this moment, I’d been lying to myself and trying to convince myself that it was a ring leftover from a previous girlfriend or something.”
“I don’t know,” she admits. Then in a scant whisper, says, “But I can’t marry him.”
At her confession, he finally relents and releases the door.
As his hand falls silently away from her barrier to escape, she yanks at the scratched wooden door, opening it just far enough to silently slip through. Away from the harsh truths that not even she is ready to hear.
After the truth-telling ordeal with her older brother, Tabitha feels exhausted when she shuts her own front door securely behind her.
She would have normally parked her Ducati in the side alley or in their back driveway, but she hadn’t felt like parking in the back and seeing what a mess their backyard is probably still in. Instead, she’d chosen to park her motorcycle in the less secure front driveway and enter the front door.
They’d chosen an outdoor barbecue to limit the mess their house would be left in—especially given that there were still boxes everywhere from them both unpacking their respective things—but as she casts a quick glance around from the entryway, she can see that empty and half-full beer bottles line most of the flat surfaces in view. She sighs in exasperation when she realizes that Jessie had likely allowed the party to continue into the night and invited their guests inside to mingle until they decided to leave. Doubling or more the cleanup that Tabitha now has ahead of her.
“Shit,” she mutters to herself, leaning back against the inside of their front door. What she’d like more than anything else, is to crawl into bed and forget the whole mess of a day ever even happened.
But thoughts of climbing into her bed bring to mind that she’d caught her brother going at it with her quasi-friend hours earlier, throwing cold water on that idea.
“Frickin’ burning those sheets,” she continues mumbling to herself, eyes still shut as she savors the silence of the house.
“What sheets are you burning?”
“Christ!” Tabitha exclaims, jumping and slapping a hand across her chest when she hears Jessie’s voice coming from the living room. As she steps around the corner of the entryway, she spots her boyfriend slumped deeply into one of the easy chairs with his back to her.
Clearing her throat, Tabitha resumes her accent as she says, “Blimey. Like to give me apoplexy. Sitting ’round in the dark like this.” As she steps further into their living room, taking in the scattered mess of trash from the party, she asks him, “There a reason for sulking in the dark, luv? Thought you were hoping to get a bit of paperwork done at the office tonight after the party. I didn’t expect you to still be home.”
She drops her bag to the floor near the coffee table when she finds nowhere else to set it, then picks up the trash bag someone had started filling and then abandoned on the floor in the middle of the living room. After picking up a few pieces of garbage, she realizes Jessie hasn’t answered her. Or even acknowledged her presence.
“Jessie?” she questions, walking back to where he sits. When he looks up at her and she sees dark unknown emotions shinning back, she turns to clear some space off the coffee table so she can sit down in front of Jessie.
As she reaches the corner of the table where a lone beer bottle sits in a nearly cleared section of the table, Jessie snaps at her, “Leave that bottle there!”
Snatching her hand away, she looks back and forth between the two, trying to place what’s going on. After realizing the bottle is a dark ale—one of her boyfriend’s least favorite kinds of beer—she’s forced to say, “Didn’t think you were drinking that, dear. Dark ale’s not normally to your fancy.”
“I wasn’t drinking that,” he answers, his voice now sedate. “You were drinking that at the party. You handed it to me when you left earlier.”
Throwing a glance at it, she teases, “I know this is our first party together, luv, but no need to commemorate it with rubbish like an old beer bottle. Leastwise, let me empty and clean it out so it doesn’t stink of stale beer.”
When he doesn’t respond to her teasing, or indeed even look up from staring at the beer bottle, she worriedly prompts again, “Jessie?”
His eyes finally jerk away from the beer bottle, looking up at her with an accusatory edge as he tells her, “I’ve been sitting here staring at this bottle for hours. Wondering just what would happen if I took it down to the station to run it for prints.”
She just manages not to gasp or give any sort of physical reaction, however she’s certain her eyes widened guiltily enough to give her away to a trained eye. Her only hope is that the overpowering smell of stale beer is coming from more than just the bottles around the room, and that Jessie didn’t notice any sort of telling reaction from her.
Amazed at the acting skills she’s perfected in a long life of pretending and outright lying, she sweetly asks, “Seems like a silly waste of resources, luv. I’m sure your captain wouldn’t be pleased with you and your partner Johnny playing ’round like that.”
“You can drop the accent,” he responds, and this time she’s certain his eyes zero in on her minute reactions of surprise.
“I overheard you talking with your brother…Tab,” he interrupts, leaving her mouth hanging open in shock.
When she simply stares back, he continues with, “What’s that short for? Tabitha, I’m guessing. Tabitha something. But you’re not British. Heard your real accent. Though, you should be commended on your acting skills. I never even suspected the truth.”
After another silent moment, he snaps, “You even going to say anything?!”
Dropping the accent, she asks, “What would you like me to say?” She sees no point in continuing the farce. And no point in insulting his intelligence by pretending she doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
He explodes up out of the chair, storming past her but turning back before he leaves the living room.
As she slowly spins on the coffee table to face him, he thunders at her, “Why?! Why did you lie to me this whole time? Who are you? Who are you really?”
Leaning forward, she braces her elbows on her knees, rubbing her now throbbing temple as she hunches over her spread knees. “You’re asking a lot of questions that I can’t give you any answers for. Not really. Not without putting your life in danger.”
He scoffs, “My life? So, what? Don’t tell me…you’re in witness relocation or something. In witness protection for something you saw? Like I believe that. Jesus. You must have thought I was such an idiot this whole time. I heard your brother; he said you were a Fed. And you let me go on and on about how a police investigation is conducted. Like you didn’t already know.”
He’d been pacing as he ranted, but he stops when a thought comes to him. “Or are you actually running from the cops? Is that why you’re pretending to be a foreign national? What the hell did you do?!”
“Bullshit!” he screams, stomping closer to tower over her. “What did you do? Or so help me, I’ll take that bottle,” he jabs a finger in the direction of the beer bottle now behind her, “and I’ll run if for prints myself. I want to know what the hell you’ve been hiding from me and lying about.”
“Okay,” she sighs in resignation, still staring at the carpet between her feet. “Okay. If that’s what you want to do…I won’t try to stop you. I’ll only ask that you give me 24 hours to get everything I need together so I can leave town. Just give me that.”
“What?!” he bellows, completely thrown off guard by her response. “You’re not even going to tell me what you did?”
She chuckles ruefully before looking briefly up and then away. “You wouldn’t believe me if I did. But I will warn that running those prints would be dangerous. Looking into my past is dangerous—”
“So you are wanted by the police,” he says, cutting her off. He paces around the room again, rubbing his palms against his short-cropped hair. “Jesus. What the hell did you do?”
“Like I said, it’s complicated. But it’s not the police you’d truly be in danger with.”
Once more, he cuts her off before she can continue. “What, like with the mob or something? Tell me what’s going on. Maybe I can help you.”
“Jessie, what part of ‘I can’t explain this to you’ don’t you understand? It’s not the mob. It’s way worse than something as trivial as the mob. It’s just…dangerous. Nothing you can help with. Please…leave it at that. Just…forget about me. I’ll be gone in 24 hours, and you can just…forget about me,” she pleads, intertwining her fingers between her knees.
Jessie suddenly stops a foot away from her, kneeling on the carpet just in front of her and taking her hands between his.
“I’ve been with you for over a year. Some of that…most of that couldn’t have been a lie. You became everything to me. I would have given my life for you. So please…just tell me what’s going on.”
“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you,” she replies with a watery half-smile.
“Try me,” he challenges. “I…I loved you as Chase. Those feelings…they somehow haven’t gone away, even though you lied to me. So please, tell me what’s going on. Maybe I can help you. Just…why would it be so dangerous if I looked into your past? What would I find?”
Against her better judgment, Tabitha briefly grinds her teeth before telling him, “If you run my prints, you’ll find my name…Tabitha Winchester. Linked to a death certificate under the same name. As well as allegations that I shot and killed several fellow federal agents.”
Jessie rocks back on his heels away from her, his hands not quite letting go of hers, but his grip loosens.
“Did you?” he whispers, the look in his eyes saying he’s afraid of the answer.
His hands jerk away from hers as he springs to his feet. A look of horror replaces the look of anticipation he’d worn as he backs away.
Quickly, Tabitha springs to her feet, following his retreating steps as she rushes to assure him, “Look, it’s complicated. I told you that.”
“No it’s not,” he hisses in fury. “Either you killed other cops or you didn’t.”
“I wasn’t trying to kill them!” she shouts, rushing after him when he turns to stride towards their front door. “I was exorcising the demons in them and them dying was an unintended side effect.”
Jessie halts in his tracks, turning to look at her in disbelief as he repeats, “‘Exorcising demons?’ You’ve got to be kidding me. What, now I’m supposed to believe that you’re crazy or something? Maybe hear and see things that no one else can? Why the hell won’t you just tell me what’s really going on? We’ve been together for over a year now. You think I wouldn’t have recognized crazy in you?!”
“Exactly!” she agrees, stepping closer and reaching for his hands. When he jerks his away, she steps back but doesn’t relent. “Exactly. You would know if I was crazy. This isn’t crazy psychobabble. And I’m not making up a story to cover for something else. Listen to me very carefully when I tell you this. Demons…are real. As are a lot of other monsters out there that you think only exist in nightmares and horror movies. Along with a whole lot more that you’ve never even imagined.”
He continues to stare in disbelief before he tells her, “So, you’re actually expecting me to believe that demons…and monsters are real. Going back to the story that, what? Only you can see them. And you’re some real life Buffy the Vampire Slayer or something here?”
She rolls her eyes at the comparison. “Please. Buffy was a dumb little high schoolgirl who thought her freakin’ love triangle with vampires and her little high school drama were the center of the universe. I’m talking about real monsters. And real nightmares. And no, it’s not just me. It’s not even just me and my brothers. There’s lots of us that know what’s really out there. Unfortunately, we’re still outnumbered by the monsters.”
Shaking his head, he insists, “You’re a friggin’ bartender. How’s that work into your little horror story theory here?”
“Call it…early retirement, I guess,” she shrugs. “Kinda figured after helping save the universe from the last apocalypse, it was the least I was due to be able to get out and live a normal life.”
Jessie stalks away from her, back towards the living room, picking up one of the many beer bottles sitting around and drinking from it. But Tabitha sighs in relief that it’s also stepping away from the door. Hopefully a step in the right direction.
“This is crazy,” Jessie insists to himself.
“Have I ever seemed crazy to you?” she asks.
“No,” he agrees, but then throws her a scathing look. “Then again, I’d have sworn on my left nut that you were British, too.”
“Fair enough. But I’m not lying about this, Jess. There are really demons and monsters out there.”
“Prove it,” he challenges.
“‘Prove it?'” she repeats. “And just how would you like me to do that? What, summon a demon? Don’t really think you’re ready for that.”
“I don’t know. But if you expect me to actually believe…any of this, then…prove it,” he insists.
After a head-scratching moment, she finally says, “Fine. Come upstairs with me.”
Not turning to see if he follows, she turns and marches up the stairs. There’s a moment of uncertainty when she reaches the top of the stairs and realizes she’s alone, but after a moment, he turns around the corner and trudges up the stairs after her, warily following her into their bedroom.
She throws a scowl at their still disarrayed bed, but saves that for another time as she shoves at the frame of the bed, pushing it by several feet until the hardwood floor underneath is exposed.
“I don’t see anything,” he impatiently tells her.
“That’s good, otherwise you’d be seeing things,” she fires back in annoyance, opening their closet and pulling out a flashlight from one of her bags.
“Don’t,” she warns when he reaches for the light switch just inside the doorway.
As he crosses his arms over his chest, she flicks the switch on her handheld flashlight, throwing the room into a wash of soft blue light.
As the markings on the floor jump to life in the black-light, Jessie leans closer to peer at them.
“And this proves what?” he tentatively asks.
Gesturing with the light, she explains, “That’s a Devil’s Trap, meant to catch and hold anyone possessed by a demon. And those other sigils are various wards and traps. Meant to ward off angels, vampires, werewolves, and all sorts of other baddies.”
“And they’re drawn under our bed?” he asks, one brow rising.
Feeling herself flush slightly, she admits, “I don’t have the best track record when it comes to…men. So…it’s sort of a…precaution.”
He scoffs as he re-crosses his arms defiantly over his chest. “Bunch of weird symbols on our floor doesn’t prove anything, Chase…err, Tabitha. Just lends credence to the idea that maybe you are…”
“Don’t even say it,” she cuts him off in a huff. “I’m not crazy. This—” she thrusts her free hand towards the traps and symbols, “—is real. It’s for protection. That tattoo you’ve asked about on my ass? That’s for protection, too. Keeps a demon from jumping into my skin—”
He cuts her off then, “Yeah, you saying all this doesn’t make it real.”
She desperately looks around for some way to make him see that it’s all real. Then, as an idea strikes her, she throws caution to the wind as she lowers her mental guards, closes her eyes, and calls out, “Castiel…who art in Heaven…or wherever the hell you are…I need your…assistance. And don’t give me any bullcrap about being busy or whatever. You owe me…and I never ask you for anything.”
Even if she hadn’t been able to feel the moment the angel appears behind her, Jessie’s sudden inhale of breath and muttered curses of surprise would have given the angel away.
Turning, she sedately greets, “Hey, Castiel. Uh…thanks. I guess.”
He nods a bit stiffly at her, glancing at the human behind her before asking, “You required my…assistance?”
“Yeah, but you’ve kinda already given it,” she answers, turning back to see her boyfriend on what looks to be the verge of a panic attack as he breathes rapid and shallow breaths.
Setting the flashlight down on the nightstand, she turns to grip Jessie’s elbow as she whispers, “Breathe. Just breathe, Jess.”
“He…how…not…whoosh,” Jessie babbles waving his hands around and nervously wringing them.
“Deep breaths,” she reminds him.
Taking a few deep breaths, he questions in a stammering voice, “How did he-how did he…how did he?”
She looks over her shoulder to see the angel in question picking up her black-light flashlight and squinting at the traps and sigils on the floor.
Shrugging, she returns her attention to Jessie with the simple answer of, “Angel.”
“That’s an angel?” he demands in shock.
Castiel looks up from his perusal of the floor, gesturing down at himself as he explains, “This is just a vessel.” He turns his attention to Tabitha, telling her, “Your sigils are close. But not quite right. Not if it was your intention to keep me out.”
Rolling her eyes at the slight attitude in his voice, she raises her arm to remind him, “The charms keep any angel from finding me unless I want to be found. You know, like all those angels in Heaven that want my ass on a platter after the whole…Azrael and Apocalypse thing.” She gestures to the floor. “Those were just…extra insurance. And besides, it’s hard to find accurate lore on angels. I know for a fact that most of it out there is bullshit.”
Setting the flashlight down, Castiel asks her, “Why did you call me here?”
“Because I needed a little help with a demonstration, and you’ve now provided it. So…thanks.”
Eyes flicking briefly over her shoulder, Castiel asks, “It has nothing to do with your brothers now knowing that we are sleeping together?”
Jessie had been mostly silent in his dumbfounded shock, but now springs to life, stalking until he stands beside her as he demands, “Whoa, whoa, whoa. ‘Sleeping together?’ You’re sleeping with an angel?! That’s…that’s…how?!”
“No,” she hisses, eyes narrowing on the angel and momentarily ignoring Jessie.
Eyebrows scrunching together, he asks, “That is not the use of the vernacular? I thought you explained that it meant sex.”
Covering her face, she mutters, “Yes, it means sex. But NO! We are not still sleeping together. Past tense, Castiel. Slept. We slept together. Not anymore.”
“Then why did you call me here?” he insists.
“Not for that!”
Wanting to wipe that infuriating look of knowing off his lips, she swings her open palm at his face to slap that look away. But before it can connect, the angel deftly catches her wrist, holding her hand in place only inches from his face as he whispers to her, “I will be back for you.” Then he kisses her open palm.
The angel disappears as she screams wordlessly in frustration, not wanting to examine what his words or that gesture actually meant.
When she turns towards him, she finds Jessie still staring at her in shock.
“You slept with an angel?” he whispers. Then seems to reexamine his words and shifts the focus of his incredulity. “Angels are real?!”
As he slumps down to collapse on the foot of their bed, she cringes and tells him, “By the way—bad timing, I know—but we really need to burn those sheets. Just…trust me on this.”
Peeling her eyes open, Tabitha looks around their chaotic bedroom from where she sits on the floor, looking back to her rumpled and disheveled boyfriend.
“You haven’t said anything in a while,” she points out, voice rough and hoarse from hours of talking.
“I don’t know what else to say,” he softly admits.
“It’s a lot to take in,” she helpfully points out, averting her eyes and nervously toying with the loose, dark brunette locks spilling over her shoulder. Instead of focusing on her boyfriend and pressuring him to say something, she finger-combs her hair, weaving it into a loose braid at her shoulder.
“I don’t know what else to ask,” he finally tells her, drawing her eyes covertly back to study him, noting that some of the tension seems to have bled out of his body from the way he sits on the floor across the room from her, one arm loosely wrapped around the knee he has drawn to his chest. Whether the tension has bled away from the long night and day of his rapid-fire questions and her answers, or from pure exhaustion, she’s unsure.
Neither had left the room in the past twenty odd hours except for short bathroom breaks. Work for both had been silently agreed upon to be foregone. As were meals and all other seemingly unnecessary tasks save splashing water on their faces in their bathroom to revive themselves.
“I’ve tried to tell you everything I can,” she tells him, drawing her own knees upward and folding her arms atop them. “I’ve tried to explain my family’s past and everything that’s happened as best I can.”
After his continued stare into the rug between them, he quietly acknowledges, “Somehow, there’s some part of me that just wants to wake up and have this all have been a bad dream. To just wake up and go back to when you were just Chase and you weren’t telling me that there were all kinds of monsters lurking around every corner. Before strange men—excuse me, angels—were showing up in my bedroom telling me they’d been sleeping with my girlfriend.” He finally looks up to meet her eyes, his own bloodshot from lack of sleep in the hours that had proceeded. “Back to when my biggest concern was hiding my stinky gym socks and old porn magazines from the amazing woman I had just moved in with and whether or not she’d actually marry me.”
She can’t help the slight gasp at his admission, nor looking away guiltily at his words.
“Yeah,” he agrees to her wordless reply. “That seems like a hell of a long time ago now.”
“I’m sorry,” she mutters, tensely picking at the black nail polish on her fingernails.
“Is there any way we can go back to that?” he suddenly asks, lowering his knee from his chest and leaning a little eagerly towards her with his suggestion. “Can’t we just go back to the way it was? Pretend none of the past two days has happened and go back to you being Chase and us being happy?”
The plea catches her off guard, bringing a frown to her face as she considers his entreaty.
“Go back to there being nothing supernatural in our lives and us just being Jessie and Chase?” she softly mulls.
“Why not?” he anxiously asks, coming a little closer and closing the distance between them on his knees.
Looking not at him but out the window at the soft glow of streetlights filling the night, she softly questions to herself, “Why not?”
She’d spent almost a year and a half as Chase in this little town. Over a year of that with the man only a few feet away from her, pleading on his knees. In all that time, there’d been nothing out of the ordinary. Nothing unnatural. Nothing supernatural. But really…nothing extraordinary either.
But for more than a year, there hadn’t been any blood on her hands. Innocent or otherwise.
Her eyes fall on a framed picture by their bedside of her and Jessie from some months back. He’s seated on a barstool and she’s bent over him from behind, her arms wrapped around to hug his back to her chest. His own hands are reaching up to lovingly caress her forearms, his mouth wide in a happy, toothy smile. Her own face is stretched into a picture-perfect smile as she rests her chin on his shoulder. Poised perfectly to show the camera a Hallmark happy-couple-moment. One of so many she’s been able to share with Jessie. Moments she never thought she’d have growing up in a hunter’s chaotic lifestyle.
She’s never smiled so much, she thinks to herself. In all that time with Jessie, she’d smiled more than she thinks she ever has in her life. They have so many pictures of them in the year they dated. Jessie with his head thrown back in laughter. Or turned towards her in adoration. Or snickering at something she’s said or done.
And in every one, she wears the same picture-perfect Kodak-smile. The same thousand-watt brilliance. So perfectly timed for the camera.
So perfectly convincing…that she wonders when even she began to believe the lie she sold for those photos. The happiness she so winningly sold to everyone. She’d told herself that it was her Field of Dreams. And if she built that smile carefully enough, happiness would eventually come.
Had it ever?
Would it ever?
Whatever her answer to him would have been is cut off by the soft ringing and vibration of her cellphone in her hip pocket. Seeing the strange number on the screen and realizing there were very few people in her life anymore who would be calling her at two in the morning, she reluctantly answers.
“Get your ass back here…now,” Dean roughly orders.
Sighing, she admits to her older brother, “Look, right now really isn’t a good time. I’m…I’m kinda in the middle of something with Jessie.” And she doesn’t have the energy to face another round of spilling her proverbial guts to her judgmental older brother. Especially when he…might be right about a few things.
“Save it,” he barks into her ear, then tells her, “It’s Sammy.”
Hearing the utter graveness in his voice, she sits up straighter, asking only, “Where?”
Tabitha gasps when she lets herself into her brothers’ motel room and sees her bleeding younger brother unconscious and tied to a wooden chair in the middle of the room.
Forgetting anything else, she sprints for him, one hand deftly pulling a knife from her jacket to cut him free.
But before she can reach him, arms wrap around her midsection from behind, lifting her from the ground and swinging her away from her goal, even as the knife is neatly plucked from her hand.
As she swings on her attacker, she hauls up short when she sees Dean pocketing her blade and placing himself between her and Sam.
“What the hell?” she demands, trying to step around her older brother to help her younger one.
“No, leave him alone,” he warns her, stepping with her when she tries again to sidestep him.
“What the hell happened? Who did that to him?” she unrelentingly demands, stomping her foot in frustration when Dean mimics her sidesteps back and forth, continuing to block her path.
“I did,” he unapologetically informs her.
Shoving his chest, she hisses, “What?! Have you gone crazy? Why the hell would you do that? Christ! Let me through to check on him.”
Folding his arms over his chest, he maintains, “No. Not happening.” Then jerks a thumb over his shoulder, “And that ain’t really Sam.”
“Oh?!” she hysterically cries. “Who is that? Big Bird? What is wrong with you? Of course it’s Sam!”
Grabbing her shoulders and shaking her slightly, he insists, “No. It’s not. And even he admitted it to me. Or at least that something was wrong with him. Not that freakin’ Monsterella didn’t give it away to begin with.”
“What?” she shrieks, shaking her head back and forth.
In broad strokes, Dean proceeds to tell her that they found the answer to their latest monster case. The Goddess Veritas herself. Goddess of Truth. And how the Goddess had been unable to compel the truth from Sam because he wasn’t human.
In disbelief, Tabitha wraps her arms around herself and insists, “So what? You believe everything frickin’ monsters tell you now?”
“Well, that monster sure as hell made you and your dirty dirty little secrets come to light, now didn’t she? And sure as hell made me confess back there that I’d been seriously thinking about putting Sam out of his misery from how much he was creeping me out. But him? Nothing. Couldn’t force the truth out of him because he’s not human, Tab. And after killing that bitch, he even admitted as much to me.”
“So you beat the bloody shit out of him?!” she hisses, throwing a hand in his direction.
“He admitted to everything, Tabitha. Everything. Even purposely letting me get turned because he just didn’t have any feelings about it. I could have killed somebody then. I attacked Ben and Lisa. I could have killed them!”
Her hand flies to her mouth in shock at the information. “I…I didn’t know,” she mutters. “Are-are they okay? Are you…are you really sure he did that on purpose?”
“They’re okay. Mostly. And he told me he did.”
This time, when she cautiously steps sideways away from Dean, he remains in place, arms still folded over his chest as he silently watches her approach their younger brother.
As she crouches down to gently touch her younger brother’s bloody and slack face, she quietly asks in defeat, “How can we be sure?” Despite having some reservations about Sam not being human, her mind can’t forget how strange he’s seemed even in the short time she’s been around him again. She knows that something isn’t right with him.
“That’s why you’re here,” Dean gruffly tells her.
“Me?” she questions, turning and rising to her feet again in confusion.
“Castiel’s the only one I can think of that can help right now. And he ain’t exactly answering my call.”
She ducks her head as she feels her cheeks flush, muttering to herself, “Wonder why? You were so welcoming the last time you called him down here.”
“He deserved what he got and more,” Dean snaps in return. “After what he’s done, screwing my little sister behind my back. But right now…right now we need to put your little—” he waves a hand at her in a shooing gesture, his lip curling as he coughs, “—indiscretion aside and focus on more…imminent problems.”
Looking away from her, he folds and refolds his arms over his chest, standing ramrod stiff as he gruffly directs her, “So… Call him.”
Tabitha paces nervously as she runs a hand through her hair and wrings her fingers, trying to work up the courage to call to the angel she’d gone so long without seeing, and now calling for the second time in as many days.
“Would you do it already and stop fidgeting like a blushing virgin waiting for her prom date? We both know that particular little birdie has flown the coop.”
“Bite me,” she snaps back, not stopping in her circuitous pacing.
“What?! Just get it over with,” he angrily huffs. “Not like I don’t already know how that frickin’ mook will make house-calls for you.”
Stopping in front of him, she rages, “Stop acting like a jealous bitch. What happened between me and him had nothing to do with you. So stop trying to make it about you. And it’s been over for a long time, so excuse me if I’m still a little on edge about how to do this. Not to mention a little weirded out by you knowing.”
“Oh, you’re weirded out?” he huffs, poking back at her. “Try it from my side!”
She screams once more in wordless frustration before stomping away and sarcastically calling out before she loses her nerve, “Castiel, Castiel?! Where for art thou, Castiel?!”
“Oh, excuse me while I gag,” Dean mutters to himself.
Ignoring her brother, she continues calling, “Castiel! Kinda need your help down here. Again. Well…not exactly like last time. But you know what?! You and I aren’t done talking yet either, so get back down here! I’ve got a few things to say about what you said to me!”
“I’m here,” Castiel says to her back.
Jumping and spinning to face him, Tabitha immediately lays into him, “I should kick your ass for what you said and did in front of Jessie before.”
“I told the human nothing untrue,” he factually supplies, giving a slight, but careless shrug.
Stomping closer, Dean inserts himself between the pair, shoving the angel with unnecessary force to turn him towards their still bound brother. “Right now isn’t the time for whatever little domestic dispute the three of you have going on. That’s why we called you here.”
“He needs help,” Tabitha points out, gesturing to their brother. “Something’s…something’s wrong with him.”
As ever, Castiel seems oblivious to the palpable tension that continues in the room, turning to bend down and examine Sam who groans and appears to stir slightly at last. As the angel approaches her younger brother, Tabitha backs up, needing space between them. But when her older brother darkly sneers at her, decides she needs space from him, too.
“What happened?” Castiel questions the siblings behind him.
“He did,” Tabitha snidely replies, jerking a thumb at her older brother. “Because he’s convinced that’s not our brother.”
After a short perusal of the in question brother, Castiel tells them, “You’re right. He looks terrible.”
He turns to inquire of Dean, “You did this?”
Sam finally seems to awaken, squinting through swollen eyes as he asks the angel in front of him, “Cas?” Then, struggling against his bound hands behind his back, demands, “What’s—let me go.”
Ignoring him, Castiel roughly peels one of his eyes open as he questions Dean, “Has he been feverish?”
Not seeming concerned by the angel’s less than gentle bedside manner, he demands of Sam, “Have you?”
“No. Why?” Sam replies, trying unsuccessfully to pull away from the prodding angel.
“Is he speaking in tongues?” the angel continues, then without awaiting Dean, asks Sam, “Are you speaking in tongues?”
Confused, Sam answers, “No. What are you…” Spotting Tabitha sitting Indian-style on a table against the far wall from their older brother, Sam questions, “Tabitha? What are you doing here? What’s going on?”
Nervously biting her lip and darting a look at her brooding older brother, Tabitha suggests to Sam, “Just…answer his questions.”
Sam turns back to the angel to incredulously ask, “Are you diagnosing me?”
“You better hope he can,” Dean forebodingly warns.
While the angel feels his pulse at his neck, Sam replies, “You really think that this is—”
Cutting him off and springing to his feet, Dean harshly points out, “What, you think that there’s a clinic out there for people who just pop out of Hell? Wrong. He asks, you answer! Then you shut your hole. You got it?”
“Tabitha?!” Sam pleads, turning towards his sister when it becomes obvious Dean won’t help him.
Biting at her thumbnail and not looking her younger brother in the eye, Tabitha warns him, “Just do what Dean says.”
“How much do you sleep?” Castiel suddenly asks.
The reply startles Tabitha, bringing her to her feet as she stands on the other side of her older brother, avoiding the angel as she stares down at Sam.
“At all?” she questions in surprise, shocked by the realization that her suspicions and Dean’s accusations about him might actually bear some weight.
“Not since I got back,” Sam replies.
As Tabitha, Dean, and Castiel share measuring looks, all former awkwardness between them momentarily forgotten, Dean turns to ask Sam, “And it never occurred to you that there might be something off about that?!”
“Of course it did, Dean,” Sam blithely replies. “I-I just never told you.”
As the angel maneuvers behind their bound brother, Dean asks the angel, “What?”
Focusing on the youngest Winchester and not answering the oldest, Castiel continues, “Sam… What are you feeling now?”
Scoffing, Sam tells them, “I feel like my nose is broken.”
Correcting him, Castiel explains, “No, that’s a physical sensation. How do you feel?”
“Well, I think—”
“Feel,” the angel stresses.
The dark look the angel gives Dean and Tabitha speaks volumes, but Dean still angrily backs away with a look of accusation when Castiel begins removing his belt.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa. Put your damn clothes back on!” he snaps at the angel. “There’s no friggin’ time for you two to fool around!”
Folding the belt over in his hands, Castiel darts a look back and forth between Dean and towards Tabitha, whom Dean also throws accusatory looks at.
“I’m taking it off for Sam,” Castiel points out.
“What the hell, man! That’s wrong!”
“Shut the hell up,” Tabitha snaps at her older brother, stepping closer as the angel approaches Sam with the folded belt.
“This will be unpleasant,” the angel warns Sam, bringing the belt toward Sam’s face.
Castiel cuts him off to direct, “Bite down on this.”
“What the hell are you doing, Castiel?” Tabitha asks as he places the belt in her brother’s mouth.
“Stay back, Tabitha,” the angel warns, throwing a warding hand in her direction.
Shockingly, she seems to hit an invisible wall, stopped cold in place by the angel’s gesture. But before she can think to be shocked by it, the angel continues giving her younger brother warnings.
“If there’s someplace that you find soothing, you should go there. In your mind.”
Before she can snap at the angel to release his sudden hold on her, she watches the appalling sight of the angel’s hand disappearing into the pit of her brother’s stomach. As he gasps and moans, contorting in pain, she shivers with the welling of angelic power all around her, stumbling backwards and nearly falling to her knees before the power subsides and Castiel withdraws his hand from her brother.
Dean give her a curious look as she pants to regain her breath, but her sole focus is on the angel, shocked by the sheer power she’d felt emanate from him, power that she’s only felt rivaled by a few of the strongest archangels.
Castiel steps towards her in concern, but stops when she steps back just as quickly, baffled by what she’d felt coming from him.
As his eyes dart between all three of them, Dean finally asks, “Did you find anything?”
Turning away from her, Castiel tells Dean, “No.”
Somewhat hesitantly, Dean asks, “So that’s good news?”
“I’m afraid not. Physically, he’s perfectly healthy.”
“Then what?” Tabitha asks, still a little breathless from the power Castiel had unleashed.
“It’s his soul. It’s gone.”
Again, all three turn to stare wordlessly at the still bound Sam.
“How the hell can that be?” Tabitha whispers in question.
Dean seems to shake himself from his stupor, pacing away as he scoffs and agrees with her, “Yeah. What she said. Just… One more time, like I’m five. What do you mean he’s got no—”
Castiel moves to stand between the two siblings, looking between brother and sister as he explains to them, “Somehow, when Sam was resurrected, it was without his soul.”
“Okay,” Tabitha slowly agrees, trying to understand the baffling possibility. “Then where is it?”
The angel glances at their brother before replying, “My guess is…still in the cage with Michael and Lucifer.”
Rubbing at her temples with her fingertips, Tabitha wearily asks, “Okay, so, if he’s all…soulless now…is he even still Sam?”
Dean and the angel turn to stare at the bound Winchester as Castiel ponders, “Well, you pose an interesting philosophical question.”
“Yeah, ’cause that’s what I was aiming for,” she tiredly snips back at him. “I was really hoping we could have a philosophical debate about what makes a human human. Let’s not forget to throw in artificial intelligence into the debate.”
Huffing at the pair, Dean tells the angel, “Well, then, just get it back.”
“Well, you pulled me out,” Dean quickly points out.
“It took several angels to rescue you, and you weren’t nearly as well guarded. Sam’s soul is in Lucifer’s cage. There’s a difference, a big difference. It’s not possible.”
Annoyed, Tabitha stalks closer to snap, “Well, find one. We can’t just leave him all tied up and soulless like this. We have to do something.”
She turns to look at her older brother, hoping that he might have some kind of idea, but sees him squinting suspiciously at her.
“What?” she demands.
He shrugs a little. “Just wondering if there’s something wrong with you, too. You know, besides the whole screwing angels part. You died, too. Then come back all friggin’ mysterious like. Maybe there’s something off with you, too.”
Rolling her eyes at him and crossing her arms, she sarcastically reminds him, “Yeah, ’cause I certainly wasn’t compelled to tell you the truth yesterday. I was able to just let the good ole curse roll right off me. Just like friggin’ soulless over here.”
When she throws an off-handed gesture his way, Sam takes the opportunity to softly interrupt them by asking, “So, are you gonna untie me?”
“No,” Dean immediately snaps.
Eyes narrowing on him, Tabitha chimes in, “No talking from the soulless kids right now. Let the grownups talk.” Turning back to Dean, she reminds him, “Do you really think there’s any way in hell I would have told you everything I did the other day if I hadn’t been perfectly human and compelled to spill the beans?”
Snidely he tells her, “Well, maybe you knew I’d find out about him and you spilled your little secrets just so you could use that argument now to trick me.”
Hitting her forehead, she groans, “Oh my god. One brother is soulless and the other is friggin’ brainless.” Removing her hand and staring him down, she tells him, “That’s the most retarded thing I think I’ve heard you say in a long time.”
“Guys,” Sam interrupts again. “Can we get back to letting me loose?”
After shooting him a dark look, Tabitha moves on from arguing with Dean to tell her younger brother, “Not right now. Not until…we figure out what to do with you.”
Trying to argue again, Sam beings, “Listen, I’m not gonna—”
Cutting him off, Dean tells him, “Sam, how the hell are we even supposed to let you out of this room?”
“Dean, I’m not some psycho,” Sam attempts.
Stomping closer, Tabitha stops beside Dean to demand, “Did you or did you not purposely allow Dean to get turned by a vampire?”
“Oh my god,” she cuts him off, shoving her hands in her hair at his tempered response. “He wasn’t exaggerating. You really did do that. How the hell could you think that was okay? Soulless or not.”
“I knew he’d be okay,” Sam argues, straining against the chair.
“See, I told you,” Dean triumphantly tells her, still frowning down at Sam as he crosses his arms over his chest.
Focusing again on Dean, Sam tries telling him, “I didn’t want you to get hurt. I was just trying to stop the vamps.”
“By letting him become one?!” Tabitha shouts in exasperation, “Oh, I see. Not only are you soulless, you’ve lost your friggin’ mind along with all sense and reason, too! That makes much more sense now. Thanks. I’ve got two brainless brothers.”
Sam wordlessly huffs at her, but still focusing on Dean, says, “I’m sorry. It won’t ever happen again. Please let me go.”
Dean pauses to shoot their sister a dark look before asking Sam, “You’re kidding, right?”
“Well, what are you guys gonna do, just keep me locked up in here forever?”
“You say that like it’s a bad thing,” Dean responds.
“Okay, fine, look, I get it. I get it, guys. I was wrong,” Sam again tries. “But I’m telling you I-I’m trying to get right. It’s still me.”
“Is it really?” Tabitha huffs.
“Yes. So just let me go.”
“No way in hell,” Dean immovably replies.
Both siblings move to walk away from Sam, but stop when he sighs and replies, “I didn’t want it to come to this.”
Somehow, he easily shrugs out of the ropes holding him, and stands holding them out towards Dean, telling them, “You’re not gonna hold me, Dean, Tab—not here, not in a panic room, not anywhere.” He unwraps the rope from his wrist to let it fall to the floor, telling them, “You’re stuck with the soulless guy, so you guys might as well work with me. Let’s fix this,” he reasonably argues.
Warningly, Dean steps forward to say, “I’m gonna be watching every move you make.”
“Fine. Sounds about right to me,” Sam agrees, then turns to look at Tabitha for her agreement.
Frowning, she replies, “I’m thinking you go nowhere and do nothing without…supervision of someone bearing a soul from now on.”
“Sure,” he continues to affably agree.
Heaving an extended sigh as she stares at her brother, Tabitha finally asks, “Castiel…can you…clean him up or something I guess.”
Wordlessly, the angel steps forward, pressing his fingertips to their brother’s forehead, healing the damage Dean had done to him.
Already making plans, Dean tells them, “All right, if we’re gonna figure out what happened to your soul, then we need to find who yanked you out.” Turning to Sam, he asks, “You say you don’t know?”
“Then we start a list,” Dean continues in determination. “If it’s so hard to spring someone out of the box, then who’s got that kind of muscle?”
“I don’t know,” Castiel replies, his eyes dropping away from Tabitha as she moves closer to her brother.
When the angel’s eyes dart back to stare thoughtfully at her, Dean pauses to pointedly ask her, “What about you?”
“Me?” she replies in surprise. “What about me?”
“You were dead. Then you weren’t. What happened? How’d you get out?” Dean demands, puffing his chest out in challenge.
After huffing in frustration, she reminds him, “I already told you. I don’t have a clue. One second I was dead. Then I was standing on a road watching you drive away. That’s all I know.”
“Yeah, where have I heard that before?” Dean growls back. “Oh right, from soulless Sammy over here. Excuse me if I don’t believe you.”
A flurry of emotions flitter across her face in an instant, ranging from fear, apprehension, weariness, sadness, anger…to a myriad of others before she schools her face and slowly tells him, “I was dead. And…what happened then…what I saw…” She taps her heart as she speaks, her body shifting nervously as she hugs her arms around herself. “It has no bearing on anything going on right now,” she finally tells her brother. “What happened when I was dead was my….” she struggles for the right words. Finally, she finishes in a soft voice, “It was my death experience or whatever. And it’s not something that’s up for sharing. Ever.” More vehemently, she tells him, “So don’t ever ask me about it again.”
The angel had been silent during the sibling’s discourse, but shifts their attention by focusing on Sam, asking, “You have no memory of your resurrection?”
“I woke up in a field. That’s all I got.”
“No clues? None?” the angel continues, eyes darting back to Tabitha who still watches with her arms wrapped consolingly around herself.
“I’ve got one,” Sam replies. He shrugs as he looks at his siblings and explains, “There’s always Samuel.”
“Huh?” Tabitha hums, her posture loosening some with the main focus being shifted from her back to Sam. “I thought you just said you didn’t know who or what pulled you out.”
“Not me Samuel. Our grandfather, Samuel,” Sam corrects her.
When she turns questioningly towards him, Dean shrugs and lets out a little huff. “Oh yeah, right. You don’t know because you weren’t around. You were too busy running off screwing angels and lying about being dead. My bad.”
Spreading her arms wide, she ticks off on her fingers, “Okay, one, haven’t screwed any angels in well over a year now. Two, it was one angel. And three, I wasn’t lying about being dead. I was. Briefly. And I didn’t know you still thought I was.”
“Whatever,” Dean angrily brushes off, then sharply tells her, “Same day something yanked Sam up out of the pit, something yanked gramps down out of Heaven. And Sammy here spent basically the past year hunting with him and the other members of the Campbell hunting clan. Without telling me either.”
After a few minutes to digest the information, Tabitha asks, “There’s more Campbells left alive? Like…we actually have relatives?”
“Guess so,” Dean dismissively shrugs.
Crossing her arms over her chest, Tabitha asks, “You know, how weird are our lives that you tell me our dead grandfather is back and out there running around somewhere with a whole bunch of other relatives I didn’t know we had, and that doesn’t actually seem all that farfetched to me?”
With a roll of his eyes, Dean walks to the door to grab his coat. He pulls it on as he tells her, “Much as I’d love to stand around here talking with soulless, dead-angel-walking, and my sister the angel layer about how abnormal our lives are, I think it’s time we get on the road so we can go question our dead grandfather about why he’s not in Heaven anymore.”
He stalks broodily out to the car, leaving the others to follow after him as he opens the driver’s door to the Impala.
Attempting to lighten her brother’s mood about her past…indiscretions, Tabitha pulls her own black leather coat on over her dark red halter-top and jokes, “Well, when you put our lives like that, I mean…me sleeping with an angel actually seems pretty mundane.”
She pauses across the car from him, the rear door in her hand as he stops to glare across the roof at her. Then he turns to glare at the angel beside him that had been reaching for the other rear door.
Still staring warningly at the angel, her older brother growls at her, “Get in the damn car, Tabitha.”
Afraid the angel might not be getting the hint, she hisses at him, “Maybe you should just meet us there, Castiel.”
The compound her brothers lead her into is buzzing with activity when they arrive. Even at the early hours of the predawn morning.
Several hunters readying various weapons look up to mark their entrance, most with less than pleasant expressions on their faces.
Dean, however, nonchalantly asks his siblings, “Gramps throw a barbecue, leave us off the e-vite list?”
“When’s that ever stopped you from crashing a party?” Tabitha mutters to herself.
“Hey,” Dean warns her. “Shut your cake-hole.”
A relatively handsome blonde approaches them, happily calling out, “Sam!” and laughing as he embraces their younger brother. Far more sedately, he greets the oldest Winchester with, “Dean.”
“Hello, Newman,” Dean snarks, shaking the man’s hand.
He pumps Dean’s hand once, and then moves on to focus on Tabitha, grinning saucily as he asks, “Well, well, well. Who’s the hottie?”
Maneuvering slightly in front of her, Dean clears his throat pointedly and replies. “The…hottie…would be our sister.”
“Oh. Right,” the man more quietly answers. “Sorry about that,” he tells her.
Before she can speak, Dean demands, “Where’s the man?”
Still giving Tabitha a strange look, the man jerks a thumb over his shoulder, indicating to an office in the back of the poorly lit warehouse.
Without preamble, Dean marches across, not bothering to knock on the closed door as he shoves it open.
Looking annoyed, the older bald man she’d only seen pictures of before, flatly greets Dean with, “Come right on in.”
“Need to ask you a few questions,” Dean tells their grandfather.
“What’s wrong?” he asks in annoyed disinterest.
Tabitha files into the small space behind her brothers, taking the time to shut the door behind them. When she turns around, she sees the blood drain from Samuel’s face as he slowly stands, his eyes fixated on her.
When their grandfather doesn’t speak, Dean glances back to see what has his attention. “Oh, right,” he realizes. “You didn’t meet Tab yet. This is our sister, Tabitha. Who, as it turns out, ain’t dead either.”
“Mary,” Samuel whispers, then seems to shake himself, finally tearing his eyes away. He frowns as he tells her, “You’d almost look like your mother, I guess. If it weren’t for the hair and hooker clothes.”
Frowning back, Tabitha tugs self-consciously at her halt-top, mumbling in return, “My hair is normally blonde. Like mom’s was.”
Dean glances back at her, one eyebrow raised as he tells her, “Gotta say I’m actually agreeing with gramps here. I still hate the hair and clothes.”
Her annoyance reasserting itself, she shrugs and steps around to the side of the room, crossing her arms as she reminds him, “I’ve already told you, it’s called a cover. I’m not supposed to look like I used to.”
“Well, great job there, Sydney Bristow,” he taunts.
Interrupting, Samuel asks again, “Like I said, what’s wrong?” But his eyes continue to dart back with measuring looks at Tabitha, who shifts nervously at his continued glances.
Forging on, Dean demands, “The day you got back, what happened?”
Samuel finally tears his attention away from Tabitha, huffing before telling Dean, “We’ve been over this.”
“Well, recap it for our wingman.”
Castiel suddenly appears beside Tabitha and between her and Samuel.
“Now?” he whispers to her.
Sighing, she assures him, “Yeah, now was good, Castiel.”
The angel glances down when he notices her hands still tugging a bit nervously at the hem of her halt-top, trying to pull it down to meet the top of her low cut leather pants and leans closer to whisper to her, “I don’t think you look like a hooker.” His words force her to cover her face in mortification.
Of course, the angel’s version of whispering leaves no one out of the conversation, though even if that had been his attempt, he completely dashes it by turning to Sam and Dean to ask, “A hooker is another term for a prostitute, yes?”
Dean starts after the angel, only to be held off by Sam who wraps his arms around the oldest Winchester. Immobile but not silenced, Dean threatens the angel, “You’re still on my shit-list, man. Stop making friggin’ bedroom eyes at our sister.”
“Look, as much fun as this disturbing conversation is,” Samuel tiredly interrupts again, “I’d like to know what’s going on and who he is.”
Snidely, Tabitha sarcastically mimics while still covering her face, “Oh, I’m Castiel. Idiot Angel of the Lord.”
Ignoring her sarcasm, Samuel curiously asks, “This is Castiel?” After a short beat, he observes, “You’re scrawnier than I pictured.”
“This is a vessel,” the angel informs him. “My true form is approximately the size of your Chrysler Building.” He lowers his voice and leans closer to Tabitha to assure her, “I’m much bigger than I appear.”
“Oh Christ,” she huffs, continuing to cover her heated face. “Someone please kill me now.”
“Gladly,” Dean mutters under his breath, then haughtily tells the angel, “All right, all right, whatever. Quit bragging. She’s already seen the size of your Chrysler Building.”
Turning to focus on Samuel, he continues in a clipped tone, “So, you were dead—kinda like they’re about to be—and…”
“And, pow, I was on Elton Ridge,” Samuel finishes. “Don’t know how. Don’t know why.”
When Dean gives him a measuring look, Samuel assures them, “I got nothing to hide, kids.”
“Well, you mind if Cas here double-checks?”
When the angel begins to roll up his sleeve beside her, Tabitha finally lowers her hands and warns their grandfather with a cringe, “Not gonna lie, this is gonna hurt like hell.”
After the ensuing screams from their grandfather, the office door flies open once more, the pretty-boy that had greeted them before rushing in with a shotgun as Castiel unrolls his sleeve and Tabitha helps to steady the panting Samuel, even as she pants at the unfurled power as well.
Her brothers turn to stop pretty-boy, hands held up as Sam assures him, “Whoa, whoa, whoa. It’s okay. It’s okay. It’s okay.”
“What the hell?” he demands in return.
“Angel cavity search,” Dean assures him.
“He’ll be fine in a minute,” Tabitha tacks on, rolling her eyes at Dean’s choice of words.
Samuel finally looks up into Tabitha’s eyes, staring at her with something almost tender in them before he shoves her away and assures the pretty-boy, “I’m fine, Christian. Just give us a minute.”
“Just give us a minute,” Samuel commands.
Reluctantly, Christian backs out of the room, closing the door behind him as he goes.
Still struggling to breathe, Samuel demands, “What the hell was that about?”
Ignoring the question and instead gesturing with a tilt of his head, Castiel assures the siblings, “His soul is intact.”
“What?” Samuel huffs, then adds, “Of course I have a—”
Seeming to catch on, he pauses to stare at Sam, asking him, “What’s going on, Sam?”
“Whatever dragged me out…left a piece behind.”
When Samuel scoffs but doesn’t seem shocked, Sam asks him, “Did you know?”
“No, but I…I knew it was something. I… You’re a hell of a hunter, Sam, but…the truth is, sometimes you scare me.” Shaking his head, he asks, “So, what’s the deal here? How do we fix this?” He glances suspiciously at Tabitha. “What about her? You said she was supposed to be dead, too. She…got a soul?”
When her brothers turn to her with suspicious eyes once more, she reminds them, “Hey, don’t look at me. I sleep. I have normal human emotions. My soul is perfectly intact.”
“Except, you don’t know where you were or how you got back either,” Dean reminds her, frowning contemplatively at her.
When Castiel begins rolling up his sleeve again, her hands slid to her hips as she lowly warns him, “Put it away, Casanova. We don’t play those kinds of games anymore.”
Dean jumps forward to grab the angel’s elbow, jerking him back as he groans, “Ew, gross, Cas. No. Just…no. You’re not…reaching inside my sister to look for her soul.”
He shrugs nonchalantly, carelessly replying, “She shows no signs of her soul not being intact anyway.”
Breaking the awkward tension, Samuel asks, “So, what’s the deal here? How do we fix this? How do we get his soul back?”
“We don’t know yet, but we have to,” Dean assures him.
Quick to assure them, Samuel offers, “Well, I’m here to help of course. What leads you working?”
Sam replies, “A bunch of dead ends and you.”
“Well, then, we’ll just have to dig.”
Unnoticed by the others, Castiel had wandered to look out the window, suddenly seeming distracted as he tells them, “Sam, Dean…Tabitha…I have to get back.”
“You’re leaving?” Dean incredulously asks.
“I’m in the middle of a civil war.”
“And we’re kinda in the middle of the case of the missing soul,” Tabitha snaps. “Our brother sort of needs fixing here.”
The angel turns to stare at her, voice flat but eyes filled with emotion as he tells her, “Of course. Your problems always come first.”
Huffing, she mutters, “Jesus, Castiel, I—”
He cuts her off to say, “I’ll be in touch.” Then disappears.
As they all stare into the empty space beside Tabitha, Samuel sighs and tells them, “Would’ve asked her boyfriend to stick around for a beer.”
“He’s not my boyfriend,” Tabitha huffs, her words drowned out by Dean even more vehemently huffing, “He’s not her boyfriend.”
Then his eyes narrow on her as he warningly asks, “Right?”
“No!” she rushes to assure him. “Of course he’s not!”
Changing the focus once more, Dean asks Samuel, “So, what’s with the book club outside?”
Samuel, who had wandered over to grab an ammo box, pauses to shortly reply, “Putting together a hunt.”
“That’s a lot of guys for one hunt,” Dean points out.
Seeming to know something his siblings don’t, Sam asks, “You found him, didn’t you?”
“Who?” Dean asks as Samuel continues grabbing duffle bags from around the room.
Glancing at Dean, Sam dismissively explains, “He’s got a lead on the Alpha vamp.”
“You do?” Tabitha suspiciously asks, paying more attention to the things their grandfather is gathering.
“Maybe,” Samuel disregards. When that only peaks the interest of the Winchesters, he nods in agreement. “Yeah.”
“How’d you track him down?” Dean wonders.
“Yeah,” Tabitha agrees, having only heard the broad-strokes about Alphas from Dean on the ride over as he’d been explaining the brothers’ previous encounters with their recently un-deceased grandfather. “I was under the impression they were damn near impossible to track down.”
After glancing back and forth between the oldest and middle sibling, Samuel pulls out a machete and tells them only, “We’re good.”
“That’s all we get?” Dean asks in surprise. “‘We’re good’?”
“When’s the run?” Sam wants to know, not seeming at all concerned with the lack of shared information.
Hesitating slightly, Samuel finally relents to say, “Dawn.”
“You didn’t call me? Why?” Sam wants to know, finally seeming slightly upset.
Though Samuel doesn’t say anything, Dean seems to puzzle it out, supplying, “‘Cause of me.” When their grandfather looks down, Dean continues saying, “You don’t trust me very much, do you? Especially when it comes to big game like this.”
“That’s not true,” he argues in return.
Seizing the opportunity, Dean tells him, “Okay, well, then, we’re in.”
“No offense, but—”
Cutting off the argument, Dean points out, “So you don’t trust me.”
After giving him a look that he then encompasses Tabitha in, Samuel answers, “No, I just don’t know either of you. Not like I know Sam.”
“Alright,” Dean agrees. “You call the plays. One hundred percent. I’m—we’re—here to listen.”
“Since when?” Samuel scoffs.
“Big daddy bloodsucker? I ain’t gonna miss that. But this is your deal. Okay? I get it. We’ll follow your lead. I trust you.”
As they leave warehouse a few minutes later, Dean hisses to his siblings, “I don’t trust him. Dude’s hiding something.”
“Duh,” Tabitha agrees, stuffing her hands in her pockets as she follows her brothers and prepares herself for what she needs to tell them.
“What?” Sam scoffs, surprised by his siblings.
“I can feel it,” Dean snaps. Looking at Sam, he tells their younger brother, “And if you weren’t Robo-Sam, you’d feel it, too.”
“Huh,” Sam grunts in surprise.
“What?” Dean asks as they walk towards the Impala.
Stopping, Sam tells them, “Just…you. Both of you. Saying you guys don’t trust family.”
Tabitha and Dean share a look, both knowing that family doesn’t end, let alone begin with blood. But both decide against delving into that conversation with their soul-impaired brother.
Instead, Dean tells his younger siblings, “Look, we hang close, we blend in, and we see what we can pick up.”
“You think Samuel’s connected to this whole soul thing?” Sam questions.
“I still think he’s the only lead we got.”
Dean jerks his head then, gesturing back to the warehouse. “I say we go back in there and find out what we can. Sam, they’re comfortable around you, so go put in some face time. Tabitha, you go create some kind of distraction. Keep their eyes on you. I’ll go take a peek in gramps’s office. He was hiding something in there.”
Knowing that she finally has to say something, Tabitha pipes up to say, “Actually, you boys are going to have to run this little mission on your own.”
Dean turns to her in shock. “What? Don’t tell me that you’re not suspicious of that man, either.”
“No,” she argues. “I’m suspicious as hell. But I can’t stay guys, I came to see if we could find any answers, but I have to get back now.”
Rolling his eyes and crossing his arms, Dean challenges, “What, back to your clueless boyfriend? You have to be joking. You’re just gonna bail now?”
Scratching the back of her head, Tabitha admits, “Weeellll, turns out Jessie isn’t quite so clueless anymore.”
“Meaning what?” Dean asks.
“When you crashed our little barbecue the other day, Jessie kinda overheard us talking at one point. Heard you call me ‘Tab’ and heard you make reference to me having been a cop.” Shuffling her feet, Tabitha continues, “And when he kinda threatened to run my fingerprints down at the station, I was sorta forced to come clean to him. About…pretty much everything.”
“Everything?” Dean repeats, and then gestures around at the decrepit lot and warehouse around them. “Like everything everything?”
“Pretty much,” she agrees, kicking the dirt with her foot. “At least as much as I could over a nearly day long window of conversation. Which actually, kinda left me having to skim over a lot. We’ve kinda been through a lot over the years. More than a person realizes until they try to retell it all.”
“Why didn’t you tell me sooner that he knows?”
Scoffing, Tabitha gestures wildly at Sam. “We were kinda busy dealing with and talking about soulless here.”
Coughing lightly, Sam reminds them, “My name is still Sam, you know.”
Both siblings roll their eyes and continue to ignore him.
“So he knows? About monsters and demons and shit like that?” Dean asks in surprise.
“And angels,” she mutters in response. When Dean’s eyebrows fly upwards, she defends, “Well, I had to figure out some way of proving to him that I wasn’t crazy. Guy in a trench coat appearing out of thin air in your bedroom tends to make anyone a believer.”
At Dean’s narrowing and darkening gaze, she rushes to insist, “He was only helping to demonstrate that I wasn’t crazy.”
“Jury’s still out on that one,” Dean mutters to himself.
Sighing in frustration, Tabitha shoves her hands into her pockets again, reminding Dean, “Look, like I said, I have to get back. Jessie and I were still sort of in the middle of things when you called. And I kind of ran out and have been gone now for a few more hours than I’d told him. I need to get back and hash things out with him. If nothing else, to make sure that he doesn’t start asking around or looking into Tabitha Winchester. That would open a whole ‘nother can of worms if the FBI were to start thinking that I was still alive.”
“So what are you gonna do?” Dean asks, moving to stand in front of her. “Go back there and be this doe-eyed little version of yourself that you cooked up for him? Is that really what you want to do?”
Looking uncomfortably away at the question, she hedges, “I don’t know. I honestly don’t. But I do know that that man has been good to me. And he deserves for me to at least go back there so I can finish hashing this out with him. For over a year, he’s been there for me. When no one else has.”
Arms flexing as Dean tries to reel in his anger, he snaps at her, “I would have been. So don’t put this on me. I’d of been there, Tabitha. You were the one that wasn’t there.”
“I wasn’t there because it wasn’t fair to you, Dean. I know you would have been there. You’d have sacrificed your own shot at happiness to be there for me, and that wasn’t fair. So I made the choice to let you stay there and be happy.” Kicking the dirt again and looking down at her feet, she softly admits, “It wasn’t you I needed to be there for me.”
When Dean clears his throat uncomfortably and shuffles his own feet, she sniffs once and gruffly tells him, “So. Anyway. I gotta get back. You boys play your little spy games here, and I’ll head back so I can figure out what’s next for me.”
“You’re not gonna marry that douche, are you?” Dean hesitantly asks, still not quite meeting her eyes after the soft admission from her that neither wants to acknowledge.
Chuckling softly, she tells him, “No. That much I know for sure. I can’t marry him.” Shaking her head as she thinks about the plain white gold and diamond ring she’d known was in Jessie’s sock drawer for weeks, and thinking to herself that she could never wear such an ordinary ring, she comments, “Maybe I’m just not the marrying kind of girl.”
Yet, even as she says it, she can almost feel the phantom weight of a black gold and ruby ring on her finger.
Coughing to dispel the image from her mind, she looks around as she wonders aloud, “Well, since we’re all family here, I don’t suppose any of our relatives would mind if I borrowed one of their cars, would they?”
Slow smile spreading, Dean suggests, “Why don’t you take Christian’s.”
Almost twenty-four hours pass from the time Tabitha had originally left her house and the time she finally ditches Christian’s car and hitchhikes the rest of the way home. After telling Jessie she’d be gone for “a bit,” she’s somewhat apprehensive about what he’ll think of “a bit” actually being an entire day.
Knowing she can’t stand on her front step forever, postponing the inevitable, she lets herself through the front door, cautiously calling out, “Jess? It’s me, uh, Chase, er, Tabitha. Whatever. I’m home!”
When only a darkened and silent house greets her, she sighs in relief, knowing that she has a few more hours to craft how she’s going to explain where she’s been. Knowing that he’s probably at work, she relaxes at her surprise gift of more time.
Experimentally, she tests, “Sorry I was gone for an entire day, honey. I just had to run a little errand with my brothers—brainless and soulless—and my former lover to check on our once dead and recently revived grandfather.”
Scoffing to herself as she removes her jacket and tosses it across the back of the couch, she groans, “Maybe Hallmark makes a card for that.”
Peering around the house, she’s relieved to see that the mess from their party days before is finally picked up, and even a few more of their boxes unpacked it seems.
Heading for the stairs, she wonders to herself, “Wonder if he torched those sheets yet?”
Partway up the stairwell, she pauses to take in the sight of numerous framed pictures throughout their courtship hanging on either wall of the staircase.
In each picture, she’s smiling that same picture-perfect smile she’d remembered. So perfectly timed. So perfectly poised.
And so perfectly false.
The urge to strike out and knock every frame off the wall tugs at her fiercely.
No matter the picture, it’s the same smile on her face. One of her best, prettiest smiles, she thinks. The perfect hint of teeth, the perfect degree of lift at the corners of her lips. The perfect soft expression in her eyes.
Yet somehow, she’s suddenly desperate to see just one picture of her real smile.
The one where she mouth is spread just a bit too wide. The one where she’s showing a bit too much of her slightly crooked teeth. The one that she’s always hated so much because it makes her mouth look wider than her face.
But the one that tells her she’s actually and truly happy.
She can hardly remember the last time she saw her actual real smile.
It’s been so rare in her life that she’s had cause to truly smile like that, and though she’d always hated that smile, she feels such a strong yearning now to see it again.
She wonders if she ever will.
The sight of those erroneously happy pictures reminds her of her last words with her older brother before she’d left Samuel’s compound. He’d asked her when she’d be coming back. If she’d be coming back.
She hadn’t had an answer for him then. And she’s not sure she has one now.
All she knows is that something has to change.
But a part of her wonders if she’s willing to give up her dream of living a normal life. Even if this life doesn’t quite live up to what she’d imagined. She’s not sure how to be Tabitha Winchester again, but how can she remain Chase Jones?
With a sigh, she ascends the rest of the stairs, knowing that she needs to finish her conversation with Jessie first. Find some kind of resolution with him. Whatever it might be.
He’d been good to her. Better than she probably deserved, and she knows she owes it to him to somehow work out where they go from here. If anywhere.
Her mind is still fogged with thought when she enters their bedroom, her feet slipping on the slick hardwood floors so quickly that she nearly falls face first onto the thick rug at the foot of their bed. Only her hands keep her from smacking her face, her palms and knees taking the brunt of her fall.
“What the hell?” she mutters to herself, pulling one hand away from the sticky, wet rug squishing underneath her palms.
Her sluggish mind is slow to process what she sees, her mind first registering the pungent, sharp, and achingly familiar copper smell filling her nose. Then, her brain begins to piece together the sight of the dark red viscous fluid coating her hands and knees.
As her eyes dart around the room, the spattered blood and scattered body parts cause her throat to work convulsively as she chokes back a gag, falling backwards and scrambling away on her hands and butt until her back slams against the far wall of her bedroom.
But Jessie’s cold eyes hold her in place and halt any further retreat, pinning her under an unmoving stare as she instinctively holds back the sob now lodged deep in her throat.
What idiot had ever said the truth would set you free?
A/N: Ack! Sorry for the long wait again. This chapter was about 85% finished for the longest time; I just couldn’t seem to find time to finish that last part. It’s been crazy busy at work, and I’m short-staffed. So of course I got sick and have been struggling through work and everything else with bronchitis on top of it.
But I’m slowly getting better, and did find the time to finish this chapter.
Which…sorry for the cliffhanger. I’d originally intended to write this chapter a bit further into another part I have planned, but I got to this point and sort of realized this was actually the end of the chapter. Sometimes those little surprises happen to us writers. We plan something out, but then start writing and realize that’s just not how the story is gonna happen. 🙂 Stories sometimes just unfold and surprise even us.
So, anyway, thank you all a million times over for your awesomeness and continued readership and wonderful reviews! Every review just perks me up a bit more and helps to keep me fueled and writing. You’re all fantastic!