A/N: First off, if you’re one of my previous readers wondering where my promised one-shots from the LotR fandom are, I promise, I am working on them. I just had to start working on this story, too, it’s been eating at me for days now, and I really got on a roll when I started this one.
And second off, I’ll start by saying I haven’t read a lot of Supernatural fanfics yet. Supernatural is one of my absolute favorite TV shows, and I recently tried to read some of the fics for this fandom, but was amazed by the absolute volume of slash fics out there. But since they’re really not my thing, I dug harder looking for something more to my taste. And I was really surprised at how few good Castiel/OC fics there are. At least ones that I personally cared to read. And I really couldn’t find much with a Winchester sister in it that appealed to me, either.
And I am one of those women that loves to stick a female OC into stories like this with a heavy male cast. There’s a lot only a female character can bring to the story in my opinion. And as a sister myself, I just felt that those boys could definitely use one of their own.
So crazy fool that I am, I got an idea for my own story, and couldn’t help but launch my own try in this fandom. Hopefully I can come up with something fresh and new. But I have to admit, I’m already kind of excited about this one. I think it’ll be a blast to write.
Now, I’m not sure exactly how chapters are going to lay out from here. Mostly likely, I will kind of follow episodes, but I’m guessing some episodes will be split up into different chapters, while other chapters might have a few episodes spliced into them. And I know right now, that some episodes might be glossed over altogether if I don’t feel the OC of my storyline really changes or adds anything to it. I’m not a huge believer in treading over the same old ground if it’s not needed for a scene that I’m trying to write.
Warnings: Of course, by the nature of this storyline, it’s going to be AU, but along with the nature of the guys, there will be adult language and content in this story. So that’s my warning.
Oh, and I only give this warning once in a story: Anything you recognize isn’t mine, I’m just playing with it, but promise to be gentle, and everything else is from my own warped mind.
Oh, and it’s been a while since I’ve written third person, my last several were all first-person narrative, so forgive me if I’m a little rusty here at first with it. Hopefully I’ll find my groove again.
Chapter 1: Lazarus Rising
“Bobby! We’re out of bread again!” the woman yelled as she straightened from scouring the fridge. Several cabinet doors in the kitchen hung open, bearing testament to her fruitless pursuit. “Damn man never has anything but canned goods and beer in his kitchen,” the woman muttered under her breath as she closed the dingy fridge door. “This whole place could use a truckload of Lysol, too. Or a match,” she continued to herself.
“I heard that,” the older man groused as he entered the kitchen, shutting the open cabinet doors after grabbing a can and tossing it through the air.
The woman snatched it neatly from its arching path and read the label. “Pork and beans, Bobby? Is that all you ever eat?”
He shrugged and set a pan on the stove, taking the can back and emptying it into the pan. “Never know when I’m gonna have to skid-addle somewhere on a hunt. Fresh stuff doesn’t last long when there’s no one around to eat it.” He walked over to the fridge and shoved several bottles of beer aside. “I think I’ve got some hot dogs we can have with this.”
“Pork and beans and hot dogs,” the woman sighed, “you really know how to show a girl a good time.”
Bobby straightened with the package of hot dogs in his hands, a scowl on his face that didn’t quite reach his eyes. “Now listen here, girlie, no one’s forcing you to hang around enjoying my company. If you don’t like my cooking, you can just skid-addle yourself. Not like I need you looking after me.”
The woman’s good mood instantly soured, the smile falling from her face. “No, you don’t need me looking after you, Bobby. But I should have been here a lot sooner to look after my brothers.”
Bobby’s face softened. “I’m sorry, Tabitha, I didn’t mean to bring up a touchy subject. You know how those boys are—” he paused, his own face darkening a bit, “—were, I suppose. But Sam’s still the same. Can’t tell that idget anything. We’ve both tried, but he don’t listen. And you can’t blame yourself for that.”
Tabitha paused, pushing her dirty blond hair over her shoulder. “But I do blame myself. I should have been there for them.” Bobby stepped closer and placed his worn hand lovingly on the woman’s arm, bared by the plain white tank top she wore.
“Those boys wanted you to have as normal of a life as you could. They were always so proud of you. A Winchester, walking the straight path of the law. Hell, a damn FBI agent. A real one, too. They didn’t want to suck you into the mess we live in.”
Tabitha sadly shook her head, tears gathering in her eyes though she refused to let them fall. “I should have said yes to Dean,” she whispered so lowly that Bobby had to strain to hear it.
“Yes about what?” he pressed.
Tabitha let out a soft sniffle, but still refused to give in to the tears threatening to fall, wiping angrily at her eyes to dispel them. “When Dad died and I came back for the funeral, he asked me to go with him and Sam. He asked me to start hunting with them again. But I was so upset about what Dad had done, and that none of them had told me what was going on with the demons and with Sam that I just shot him down. Told him I didn’t want anything to do with this life and went back to Virginia. Dean and I never even got to talk again, and I only talked to Sam when they were really in a fix and needed me to cover their tracks using my connections.”
Tabitha pulled away as more tears welled in her eyes, stabbing angrily at them as well as she gave Bobby her back and tried to compose herself. “I wasn’t around when they needed me. When Sam died and Dean made that foolish deal with a demon. And now Dean’s dead and in Hell.” Her back shook with the effort to control herself, but she finally spun back to face Bobby and added, “And I’m trying to look after Sammy now, but how am I supposed to do that when he’s running around, God knows where, on his own?”
Bobby stepped closer and pressed the package of hot dogs into Tabitha’s hand. “First off, Tab, let’s have some lunch, and then get back to researching for that fool Garth. Food always helps to settle emotions. And he needs to know what he’s hunting up in Oregon.” Tabitha nodded, but in a rare display, Bobby pulled the woman into his arms and held her tightly. “As for the boys,” he whispered into her ear, fondly remembering when he’d once had to bend down to hug her, “they were both fully grown idgets, and capable of taking care of themselves—most of the time, anyway. But lord knows I’ve done my best and failed them, too. Best we can do for Sam is keep looking for him, hope he decides to come back to us, and try to be there for when he needs us.”
Tabitha nodded her head and stepped out of Bobby’s embrace. “I’ll go out and put these on the grill,” she told him, not looking up to meet his eyes.
She moved to step past the man who had been as much or more of a father to her and her brothers than their real father had been, but stopped when Bobby gently caught her chin with his hand, pulling her gaze back to his.
Tabitha had once had to look up into Bobby’s eyes, but now looked across at him, their height nearly even. She wasn’t especially tall for a woman, nowhere near her younger brother’s height, but closer to that of her older brother’s, meaning she wasn’t short for a woman either.
“You don’t have to keep hanging around here trying to keep an eye on Sam. You’ve got that job back east. It won’t wait forever, I’m betting. You could get back to your life. I’ll keep an eye on Sam. Best I can anyways,” Bobby assured her.
But Tabitha smiled with grim determination. “No. I’m sticking around. At least until I feel better about Sam being out there on his own. I just can’t help but feel that there’s something wrong with him, Bobby. Something just didn’t sit right with me the last time we saw him.”
Tabitha smile and stepped closer to Bobby. “Besides, I know everything with Dean was hard on you, too. You shouldn’t have to be alone, either. I still remember how to do research and answer phones, so I might as well hang around awhile and help you out. And I can keep helping you when you go out and hunt, too.” As she stepped past, she paused to press a kiss to Bobby’s whiskered cheek, and then quickly stepped outside onto the deck where Bobby kept his grill.
Bobby stood for several moments watching the empty doorway Tabitha had passed through, contemplating the middle Winchester sibling. His hand gently reached up to touch the spot she’d kissed. It had been as uncharacteristic as his hug had been. The girl wasn’t normally any more given to displays of emotion than he was.
And while Bobby had always loved the three Winchester children as if they were his own, with Tabitha it had been different. John had left her with Bobby far more frequently than he’d left the boys, fearing more for the safety of his only daughter than either of the boys on dangerous hunts. And while Tabitha had always been spitting mad at being separated from her brothers, she’d also loved the chance to stay in one place for a while.
The girl had always had a thirst for knowledge, not unlike her younger brother in that regard, but she had been the one John most frequently singled out to leave behind with Bobby. Though in Bobby’s opinion, he should have kept those boys further from all the hunting that he dragged them into, as well. It was no place for any children, boys or girls.
Grabbing another beer from the fridge, Bobby smiled at the thought of how nice it was to have Tabitha’s presence in his home again. Even if she was always gripping about his food choices and his cluttered house. The old place just didn’t feel so big and empty with her around.
Still, he knew he’d give anything to figure out a way to get her to leave again and go back to the life she’d made back east. It had been one thing he thought him and both the boys had agreed on. That Tabitha was better off out of the hunting life and living the law and order one. It had been a shock to him that Dean had actually tried to talk her into joining them again.
Bobby shook his head as he drained the last of the bottle. Maybe it had been a moment of family nostalgia that had had Dean asking her to join them again. Because Dean had been the most adamant that Tabitha wasn’t to know anything about what was going on with his demon deal. Even Sam had seemed reluctant to call his sister after they had failed to find an out for Dean and he’d been drug to Hell. It had been Bobby who had been forced to call Tabitha home for Dean’s burial.
He pushed the memory away, listening to Tabitha sing off-pitch to some song on the radio as she grilled. Bobby would do everything in his power to find a way to convince her to get back to her “normal” life, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t enjoy having her around again in the meantime.
Tabitha stood over the charcoal grill, occasionally lifting the lid to turn the hot dogs so they wouldn’t burn, and singing along to the radio. She didn’t listen to much classic rock anymore, but singing along to AC/DC’s ♪♫♪♫You Shook Me All Night Long♪♫♪♫, made her think of her brother. And for once, they were good memories that made her smile. So she pushed everything else away and belted out to AC/DC, forgetting for the moment about all of her regrets and wishes, and thinking of all the good times she’d shared with both of her brothers instead.
She was still humming the AC/DC song as she entered the side door from the deck. “Hot dogs are ready, Bobby!” she yelled out.
But as she closed the side door, she heard a knock at the front door. Balancing the plate of hot dogs she called out again, “I’ll get it, Bobby!”
Still humming, she pulled open the door. “Can I help—”
The words died in her throat as the plate fell from her fingers, landing on the floor amidst a loud shattering of the Corel plate.
“What the hell are you doing here, at Bobby’s, Tab?”
Tabitha stood in shocked silence, staring at the figure of the brother they’d planted in the ground four months before.
“What’s going on?” Bobby started to ask as he rounded the corner to investigate the commotion. He instantly grabbed Tabitha by the shoulder and shoved the woman behind him before lunging forward with a knife.
“Jesus, Bobby! What are you doing? That’s Dean!” Tabitha yelled as her brother fought with Bobby, trying to disarm him.
But despite his age, Bobby was still wily, and turned into Dean as her brother tried to take the knife from his hand, punching Dean in the face. “My ass, Tab. That’s not your brother.”
He advanced on Dean even as Tabitha tried to grab at Bobby’s arm and slow him down.
Dean quickly took advantage and pushed a chair between him and the still advancing Bobby. “Whoa, whoa, whoa! Wait!” Dean insisted. Holding up a placating hand, he said, “Your name is Robert Steven Singer. You became a hunter after your wife got possessed. You’re about the closest thing I have to a father.”
Dean cautiously stood up straighter and softly added, “Bobby… it’s me.”
Bobby seemed to relax, and Tabitha relinquished her grip on the man, moving to step past him, her path aiming for her long-lost brother. But Bobby suddenly pushed her back once more and made another lunge at Dean.
“Dammit, Bobby! It’s Dean, can’t you see that?” Tabitha growled. Part of her knew Bobby’s fears, but her heart told her this was her brother. Only Dean could inflect such love and disapproval all together into the single word of her nickname, Tab.
But Dean easily slipped by Bobby once more. “Listen to her! I’m not a shapeshifter!”
“Then you’re a revenant!”
Dean slipped behind Bobby, twisting his arm and taking the knife from him.
He pushed Bobby away and held his hands and the knife out. “All right,” he calmly told them. “If I was either, would I do this with a silver knife?” And then he drew the blade across his arm, a thin trickle of blood welling along its path.
“Dean?” Bobby whispered.
“That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you.”
Tabitha finally pushed past Bobby and threw her arms around her brother. The tears that she had held at bay for four long months now spilling over as her brother easily returned her hug.
“Ouch, Tab. Ease up,” he chuckled in her ear. And though he tried to laugh it off, she heard the thread of pain underneath.
“You’re hurt?” she asked pulling back, and then just as quickly followed with, “How are you even alive? What happened? Where have you been? How’d you get out?”
“One question at a time, Tab. I’m just a little sore.” Dean paused and looked down at her. “Are you crying, Tab? I don’t think I’ve ever seen you cry before.”
She wiped away at the moisture with embarrassment. “Well, my brother just got back from Hell. I think I’m allowed a few tears.”
But as she spoke, Bobby pushed by her and pulled Dean into his own bear hug, ignoring the soft “uff” of pain from Dean.
Tabitha took the opportunity to look her brother over. His skin and clothes were streaked with dirt, and she realized now that his voice had seemed deeper and more graveled than usual.
“What happened, Dean?” she asked again.
Her brother pulled away from Bobby.
“I don’t know, I just woke up in this pine bo—” His words were cut off as water splashed in his face.
“Bobby, enough!” Tabitha growled.
Dean turned his head and casually spit out some of the holy water. “I’m not a demon, either, you know.”
Bobby shrugged. “Sorry. Can’t be too careful.”
“Dean,” Tabitha repeated, trying to return his attention to the previous question. “What happened?”
“It’s a long story,” Dean admitted with a tired sigh, running his dirty hand through his hair.
But the action caught Tabitha’s attention, and she reached out to pull Dean’s hand down between her own.
“What happened to your hands, Dean?” she gasped, staring at the bloody, cut up mess in her grip. “You look like you went ten rounds with a blender.”
Her brother laughed bitterly as he stared at his hands. “Guess that’s what happens when you have to claw your way out of your own coffin.”
As he spoke, he raised one hand to his lips, and then closed his teeth around the side of his hand as he tried to pull a splinter out.
Tabitha yanked the hand away from his mouth. “Dammit, Dean. Don’t use your teeth. I’ll clean them up. Go sit at the table,” she commanded, needing the opportunity to gather her thoughts and consider her brother’s words.
When she’d returned to the table with all her supplies: Bobby’s first aid kit, two bowls—one empty, and one with water—rags, and a bottle of whiskey. She set them down and then sat in the chair across the corner of the table from her brother.
He looked at all the supplies on the table and grinned, finally reminding Tabitha of the carefree brother she’d once known. “Gonna play doctor, Tab? Wrong profession, I thought you played cops and robbers now.”
“I’ve played doctor enough times with you guys,” she retorted. “Besides, they even teach ya a little something about first aid and wound treatment when you become an FBI agent.”
“Glad to hear ya learned something useful then, besides getting in the way of guys like me doing the real work.”
Tabitha ignored the jab and yanked her brother’s hands over the empty bowl, unceremoniously pouring some of the whiskey over his bloody fingers and knuckles.
“Jesus, Tabby! Could ya be at least a little gentle with your big brother?” he exclaimed, trying to jerk his hands away.
But his sister held tight and began to carefully dab at his hands with a wet rag, trying to wipe some of the grime away, even as she smiled at her childhood nickname. One she never thought to hear again.
“Waste of perfectly good whiskey anyway,” he complained.
“Stop being a baby, Dean,” his sister replied as she focused on her work. “These cuts are filthy, they need to be disinfected.”
Dean grunted in return. “Yeah, wouldn’t want something like a little infection to kill me.”
Tabitha’s hands froze in her work, her eyes squeezing shut at the painful reminder that her brother had indeed already been dead. And killed by something far worse than a simple infection.
Her brother sighed and replied in an apologetic tone, “I’m sorry, Tabby. I shouldn’t have said that.”
She merely nodded in return as Bobby sat next to Dean. With careful hands, she picked up her tweezers and began pulling the bits of splinters out of his fingers and knuckles.
“So, tell us what happened,” Bobby encouraged.
Over the next hour, Dean carefully explained what had happened since he’d awoken in his coffin, stopped many times with questions from Bobby, who was now pacing in the kitchen as he and Dean tried to figure out what could have pulled Dean out of Hell.
“What do you remember?” Bobby was asking.
“Not much,” Dean answered as Tabitha smeared some ointment on his knuckles. “I remember I was a hellhound’s chew toy, and then, lights-out. Then I come to six feet under. That was it.”
Tabitha released her brother’s hands and watched as he examined them. He nodded to her in thanks.
Dean turned back to Bobby as he changed gears. “Sam’s number’s not working. He’s uh—he’s not…” he trailed off.
“Oh, he’s alive, as far as we know,” Bobby hastened to assure Dean.
“Good,” Dean nodded, standing and pacing. “Wait. What do you mean, ‘As far as you know?'”
“We haven’t talked to him for months,” Bobby started.
“You’re kidding? You just let him go off by himself?” Dean asked. He turned and rounded on his sister. “Why didn’t you stop him? Why didn’t you watch out for him?”
Bobby stood to defend himself and Tabitha. “He was dead set on it. There was nothing either of us could do to stop him. Lord knows, we both tried.”
“Bobby, you should have been looking after him. You both should have.”
“We tried,” Bobby crossly answered.
Tabitha stood and stepped between the two men, angry with her brother for rounding on her when she’d been doing her best. “These last few months haven’t exactly been easy for us, Dean. I didn’t even know anything was wrong until Bobby called me out of the clear blue and told me you had sold your soul to a demon and had ended up in Hell. You know, something like that would have been nice to have a heads-up on. Maybe a call to say, ‘Hey, how’s your day? Mine’s good, ya know, just sold my soul for a one-way ticket to the big show in Hell.'”
She pushed on her brother’s chest to punctuate her words, but Dean stepped around her to stand in front of Bobby.
“Yeah, about that, I left clear instruction to keep Tabitha out of this whole mess.”
“What? Did you expect me to just never tell her that her brother was dead?’ Bobby growled back, stepping closer to Dean.
“Yeah, that’s what I expected.”
“Oh, bullshit, Dean,” Tabitha exploded. “I had a right to know. I had a right to know what was going on a helluva lot sooner than I did, too.”
Dean swung back to face his sister. “I was trying to give you what you wanted. You wanted out, and I was trying to make sure you could stay out.”
Tabitha stalked closer to her brother, jabbing a finger in his chest as she spoke. “Don’t you dare use against me something I said the day we burned Dad. I was mad and upset. But I had a right to know what was going on with you, Dean.” She stepped away and paced in front of her brother, ignoring his glower. “As a matter of fact, there’s going to be a new Winchester family rule: anytime one of you fool men do something so idiotic, like, I don’t know, say, sell your soul to a demon, the first call you better make is to inform your sister of what you’ve done. And I don’t care if you have to use a carrier pigeon, find a friendly ghost, or use a damn Ouija board to get the message to me, but somehow, someone better be getting the message to Tabitha.”
Dean visibly forced himself to calm. “Tab, I’m sorry, but truth is, I felt bad for ever asking you to come with us after Dad’s funeral. It was wrong. Dad and me, hell, even Bobby, we were all just so glad when you and Sam left and went to college. And when you became an FBI agent, you should have seen Dad in the crowd, grinning his fool head off. We were all so proud of you, and all we wanted was for you to stay out of this world. Stay safe.”
“Dean, I work as an FBI field agent,” Dean’s face twisted in surprise, but Tabitha fired on before he could say anything. “Not for the Girl Scouts. And I can take care of myself and make my own decisions. Besides even though I turned you down at the time, I saw how desperately you wanted me to come with you guys, so don’t tell me you don’t want me around now.”
“Of course I want you around, Tab. You’re family. But that doesn’t change the fact that you’re packing your bags and going back to your life in Virginia,” Dean insisted, pointing a scolding finger at his younger sister.
But Tabitha stayed planted in her position, arms folded across her chest in defiance. “That may have worked when we were kids, Dean, but I’m twenty-seven years old, a grown woman, and I’m not going anywhere until I’m ready.”
Dean quickly turned to Bobby for help. “Can you believe this, Bobby? Help me out.”
Instead of leaping to the eldest Winchester’s aid, Bobby grabbed two more beers from the fridge and handed one to Dean. “‘Fraid I’m not much help. I’ve been trying to get her to get outta my hair for weeks. She just won’t take a hint.” He grinned as he spoke, trying to diffuse the situation with some humor.
Tabitha smiled scornfully. “At least I cleaned the bathrooms in this place and washed the sheets on the beds in the bedrooms. I think there was mildew starting to grow on your mildew in the bathroom.”
“Enough of this. You and I will discuss this later,” Dean sighed as he walked out of the room. “I’m gonna track down Sam. You know anything about where Sam went, Bobby?”
Dean and Bobby trailed into the other room, talking about how Sam had taken off and Dean’s suspicion that Sam had had something to do with bringing him back.
Tabitha listened carefully from the kitchen as she gathered up bloody rags to throw away and cleaned the table off. But when Dean admitted he was certain that Sam had done something or made a deal to bring him back, she sat down hard in one of the chairs, shocked by the realization that Dean might be right. Bringing their brother back and “fixing” things, had been all her younger brother had talked about.
With a sick feeling in the pit of her stomach, Tabitha removed the forgotten pork and beans from the stove and set them aside, reaching instead for a glass and snagging the open bottle of whiskey off the table as she followed her brother’s and Bobby’s voices into the other room.
Dean was pacing back and forth with the phone receiver pressed to his ear.
“What do you mean, ‘you can’t trace the cell phone?'” Dean angrily asked into the phone. He paused and then continued, “Well, why can’t you just turn on the GPS?” Upon hearing the answer, Dean slammed the receiver back onto the holder of the old telephone in his hand.
He looked up at Bobby and angrily explained, “They said the GPS was disabled on that number. Why the hell would he do that?”
Tabitha glanced at the glass in one hand and the bottle in her other. She finally set the glass down on a stack of books and took a long swig from the bottle as she leaned against the doorway. The whiskey burned in an old familiar ache down her throat, but she paused long enough to say, “He disabled the GPS in his cell after the last time I used it to track him down and talk to him.”
The two men turned to face her.
“You’ve seen Sam since he took off?” Bobby incredulously asked. When Tabitha nodded, he thundered on. “Well why in tarnation didn’t you say anything to me? I knew you went out looking for him several times, but you never said nothing ’bout finding the idget!”
Dean stepped closer, the old landline phone forgotten in his hand. “You know where Sam is?”
Tabitha took a sip and carefully explained, “No. I don’t know where he is at the moment. I went after him about six weeks after he first took off. Found him in some little town not far from where you were buried, and I confronted him. Begged him to come back and stay with Bobby and me for a while. But he was so mad that I came after him and tracked him down.” Tabitha paused and took a longer swig before she continued in a softer voice. “He scared me, Dean. Didn’t seem like he was in the right frame of mind. Said he’d been hunting demons and was looking for Lilith. I told him how worried I was about him, but the best I could get out of him was a promise to call every couple of weeks. And he has. He’s called me every two weeks or so. It’s the best I could do for now.”
Dean slammed the telephone in his hand down on Bobby’s desk. Tabitha jumped at the noise, but couldn’t blame her brother for his anger.
“So he got pissed at you for following him and disabled the GPS in his phone, and all you got out of him was a promise to check in every couple of weeks. Great,” Dean growled.
Bobby crossed his arms and narrowed his eyes on Tabitha. “You’ve been in contact with him this whole time and didn’t say a thing to me?” he asked in low, harsh tones.
Tabitha took another long swallow, finally starting to feel some delicious numbness from the whole situation of the afternoon. “He made me promise not to, Bobby. I think he was afraid you’d drag him back if you could find him. I was trying baby-steps to get through to him, guys. If I could get him to trust me enough to call every couple of weeks, I was hoping in time I’d be able to talk him into coming back on his own.”
“So your idea was to wish and hope that he might someday come back. That is if he didn’t get himself killed or do something stupid like make another deal to bring me back,” Dean bit out.
Tabitha’s eyes shut painfully as she automatically brought the bottle to her lips again. But before she felt the wetness of the whiskey touch her lips, the bottle was ripped from her hand.
“And since when are you drinking like a fish?” Dean demanded as he held the bottle and the remaining whiskey in front of Tabitha’s face.
“You’re going to lecture me about drinking?” she asked, but didn’t try to take the bottle back.
Dean grumbled under his breath and drained the last of the bottle in one long gulp.
“Look, I can still find Sam as long as he’s using that number, and he was the last time he called,” Tabitha explained.
“How? And when was the last time he called?” Dean asked.
“Few days ago.”
“Well, can you call him back?” Dean pressed.
“He never answers when I call and he doesn’t have voicemail on that number,” Tabitha admitted.
“Great! Just fantastic, Tab. So, what? We have to wait around for a few weeks for him to call again? Great plan,” he growled as he returned to pacing.
Tabitha pushed away from the doorway, slipping her own cellphone from her pocket. “You seem to forget that I’m an FBI agent, Dean. That is, you forget unless you need me to help clean up your trail or find someone that can sneak you out of a damned prison in some foolish scheme of yours, but I do have a few other tricks up my sleeve.”
But Tabitha was already dialing a number from the contacts in her cellphone, ignoring her brother’s angry question.
“Hey, Chip,” she cheerfully spoke into the phone. “Did I catch you at a bad time?”
“Naw, Tabitha. It’s never a bad time for you to call me. How’s your leave going? You clearing up whatever this emergency family problem was? When you coming back to grace us with your beautiful presence?”
Tabitha smiled fondly into the phone at his dramatics. “That’s actually what I was calling you about. I’m still helping to clean up some family problems, so I’m not sure when my leave will be done. But my aunt has had her hands full with my cousin, and I’ve been trying to help her with him and get him cleaned up, but he took off again, and I promised her I’d find him and get him back into rehab. But he’s not answering his phone and he already disabled his GPS chip trying to keep me from tracking him down.”
There was a long silence on the end of the line.
“What is it you want me to do, Tabitha? You know using government resources for family trouble like this is illegal, not to mention I could get my ass in a lot of trouble or fired.”
“Come on, Chip. We both know this kind of thing goes on all the time. I just need you to trace the number and see what cellphone towers his last call pinged. I’ll track him from there. If anyone finds out, I’ll say I forged paperwork for you to do it.”
Another silence followed. “You’re gonna owe me for this, Tabitha. I’m talking big time, like finally let me take you out on a date sometime, gorgeous.”
Dean had been standing close to listen in and frowned at the last part. “What the hell—”
But Tabitha pushed him away and silently shushed him.
“Someone there with you, Tabitha?”
“Nope. Just the TV,” Tabitha quickly assured him. Couldn’t have one of the tech guys getting suspicious or think they were hearing one of her famous duo outlaw—and dead—brothers on the line with her. “Tell you what, Chip. Next time I’ve got some free time in the office, you can take me out to lunch.”
Dean glared daggers at his younger sister, but stayed silent as she relayed the number and waited for the location.
When she’d hung up and given her brother the slip of paper with the approximate location on it, he took it and gave a strict order. “I don’t care how grown up you are, no sister of mine is trading sexual favors for getting information for me.”
“Good God, Dean!” she exclaimed. “I told the guy I ‘might’ have lunch with him sometime. He wasn’t asking for sex.”
“Yeah, it starts with asking for lunch or dinner or drinks or something, and always ends up in the bedroom. That’s what he’s really looking for,” Dean crossly insisted.
“You don’t know that’s what he wants,” Tabitha replied, rolling her eyes at her brother’s absolute sureness. “You don’t even know the man.”
“Of course it is. It’s what I’d want. And I’m a guy. I know how we think when there’s a hot chick involved,” he maintained.
She shook her head but couldn’t help the smile that finally creeped up on her. She looked down at her plain white tank and old worn jeans. Not exactly hot, but like her brothers, she was trim and athletic, and she knew she wasn’t hard on the eyes, either. “Thanks for the lesson on men, Dean. I’m sure you’re a real expert on the crap men pull,” she teased. It had been a long time since she’d felt the protective wrath of her older brother. Confining though it was, she found she had strangely missed it.
“Let’s go find Sam,” she finally told the two men.
The three walked into the motel in Pontiac, Illinois together. It was a classic run-down no-tell-motel. Just the kind her brothers favored for staying below the radar.
The fact that Sam was so close to where Dean had been buried did nothing to settle Tabitha’s nerves and the uneasy feeling that Sam actually might have had something to do with bringing Dean back.
“He can’t be that stupid,” Tabitha whispered to herself.
“‘Course he can,” Dean answered back, knowing what his sister had meant. He raised his hand to knock on the motel room door as he continued, “He’s Sammy.”
The door swung open and a brunette in a tank top and her underwear stood in the doorway. “So, where is it?” the woman asked.
Dean looked around as Tabitha hung back nervously in the hallway. “Where’s what?” Dean asked the woman.
“The pizza that takes three people to deliver.”
“I think we’ve got the wrong room,” Dean answered.
As the woman began shutting the door, they saw Sam stride out of the bathroom.
But he stopped dead at the sight in the hallway.
“Hey, ya, Sammy,” Dean called in an almost fond tone.
The brothers stepped closer to each other, but then Sam suddenly pulled a knife from his pocket and lunged at his older brother. All while shouting, “Who are you?”
Bobby and Tabitha jumped forward as well, each grabbing one of Sam’s arms as they tried to push him back.
“Like you didn’t do this?” Dean accused.
“Sam, please stop,” Tabitha pleaded. “It’s him. It’s really him.”
Bobby jumped to back Tabitha up. “I’ve been through this already. It’s really him.”
“I know,” Dean said, walking forward. “I look fantastic, huh?” he laughed.
Sam stepped forward again and wrapped his brother in his arms, holding him close for several moments.
When they stepped apart, the forgotten woman tentatively asked, “So, are you two, like… together?”
“What? No,” Sam laughed, and then Tabitha noted a strange look pass across his face as he looked at the woman. “No,” he repeated. “He’s my brother.”
“O-oh,” she stammered. “And them?” she gestured towards Tabitha and Bobby standing nearby.
Sam laughed more. “That’s my sister, and the closest thing I’ve got to a father.”
“Got it… I-I guess,” the woman continued stammering. “Look, I should probably go.”
“Yeah, yeah. That’s probably a good idea. Sorry,” he apologized and then helped gather her clothes and walk her to the door.
Tabitha elbowed her older brother as he they watched Sam from across the room. “Stop looking so damn proud and impressed with him. If that had been me, you’d be livid.”
Dean’s face darkened as he narrowed his eyes on his sister as they leaned side-by-side against the wall. “If that was you, I’d kill the guy and lock you in Bobby’s basement.”
Tabitha leaned her head back against the wall and grimly laughed, “Glad to know the gender-bias is still alive and well in the Winchester family.”
Tabitha continued to keep her eyes closed as she grimly listened to Bobby and Dean demand from Sam what he’d done. Her stomach dropping as Sam admitted all the things he’d tried to do to bring Dean back, but apparently to no avail.
Eventually the four were sitting around the motel room as Sam passed out bottles of beer, discussing what Sam had been doing in Pontiac. When it finally came out that the demons Sam had been hunting in Tennessee had taken a hard turn and ended up in Pontiac, they couldn’t help but wonder if it was related.
“Why?” Bobby wondered.
“Well, I don’t know,” Dean answered. “Some badass demon drags me out, and now this? It’s got to be connected somehow.”
Tabitha leaned forward and rolled the empty beer bottle between her hands. “I’m not much of a believer in coincidence myself,” she agreed.
“How you feeling, anyway?” Bobby curiously asked Dean.
“I’m a little hungry.”
“No, I mean, do you feel like yourself? Anything strange or different?” Bobby asked.
“Or demonic?” Dean added. “Bobby, how many times do I have to prove I’m me?”
“Yeah, well, listen—no demon’s letting you loose out of the goodness of their hearts. They gotta have something nasty planned,” Bobby replied.
Tabitha abruptly stood, unintentionally drawing the attention of the men around her. “Look, I’m gonna go downstairs and go get some fresh air,” she told them, and quickly walked away before they could stop her. She knew everything they were discussing was valid and reasonable, but she couldn’t help the silent prayer that everything could just be okay for a few moments in their lives. That neither of her brothers were wrapped up in demon troubles or deals that led to Hell or something even nastier. The threat of that other shoe waiting to drop was enough to eat through her last nerve.
But she wouldn’t let herself fall apart. So instead, she paced around Bobby’s car in the parking lot. Dean’s, or rather, most recently, Sam’s Impala, was parked nearby, but looked no different than when it had been Dean’s. Or even their father’s. It helped bring a smile to her face to see the familiar family car, but it didn’t completely settle her nerves as she continued pacing. Trying her best to convince herself that enough bad had been thrown in the direction of her family. Surely they’d reached their quota of bad.
Sometime later, the three men came out of the motel and walked into the parking lot. Tabitha was still leaning against Bobby’s Chevelle, her hands shoved into the pockets of her worn leather coat.
The boys stopped by the Impala, looking questioningly at Tabitha.
“What’s up, guys?” she asked instead of answering their questioning looks.
“Got a psychic friend up the interstate about four hours,” Bobby answered. “Figured we’d go see if she could give us any answers.”
The boys continued to wait by the Impala.
“You ridin’ with us, Tab?” Dean finally asked.
She shook her head. “Naw. You and Sammy need time to catch up. I’ll ride with Bobby.”
Dean merely nodded, but Sam seemed grateful to have the time alone with his older brother.
Tabitha and Bobby had driven in silence for some time before the silence in the car was broken.
“Surprised you didn’t want to ride with your brothers,” Bobby casually commented.
“They needed the time together,” Tabitha answered. “They’ve always been close.”
“But so were you,” Bobby reminded. “Close with both of them. I figured after everything that happened, you wouldn’t want to let either one of them out of your sight.”
Tabitha’s eyes cut across the car to look at Bobby. “That was a long time ago, Bobby. It’s been just the boys now for so long. And yeah, I don’t want to let them out of my sight, but they needed time with just each other. It’s only fair.”
“Have something to do with why you bolted from that motel room when we were talking?”
Tabitha turned away to watch out the window at the darkened landscape passing. Only scattered lights marked where farmsteads sat back from the interstate. Lonely beacons to a shrinking population of rural people.
“I just needed some air, Bobby.”
“It’s not too late for you to head back to that job of yours in Virginia,” Bobby told her, watching as her head snapped back to face him. “The boys are back together and as safe as they ever are. You don’t have to drag yourself into this.”
“Something drug Dean out of Hell, Bobby. And we don’t have a clue what, or why.” She turned away again. “I’m staying,” she spoke to the window.
Bobby sighed heavily as the silence continued for nearly an hour. He’d almost thought Tabitha was asleep, but the slightest movements from time to time told him she was awake.
“You never told me before that you were a field agent,” he commented.
She jerked back towards him in surprise, seeming startled by the sudden topic.
“Back at my place,” Bobby clarified. “You told Dean that you were a field agent with the FBI. You’ve never told any of us that. To be honest, after all the times I called you to help me out with covering the tracks of the boys or some other hunter, I just kept picturing you working a desk.”
She stared at him for several moments before she responded. “I’ve always worked in the field,” she simply answered.
“Why didn’t you ever tell us that? I know Dean was as surprised as I was,” Bobby tried pressing again.
“None of you ever asked,” Tabitha responded, and turned back towards the window again.
“Come on, Tabitha,” Bobby sighed in exasperation. “I’m asking now. We may not have asked before, but you weren’t exactly volunteering it, either.”
She turned back with a self-deprecating sigh. “I know, Bobby. I know. I guess, I just didn’t see the point in talking about it. I grew up in a hunter family. I know just what hunters think about law enforcement. So I never saw much point in talking about it to you guys. I was happy to help you and the other hunters out when I could, but I swear, sometimes I spent more time at a desk covering tracks for some hunter than I did at a desk doing my own casework.”
Bobby gave her a guilty smile. “I guess I never considered how often me or the boys might have been calling you to clean something up. You never said anything.” He drove silently for a while. “Guess we weren’t exactly doing our best to keep you out of this world after all.”
Tabitha turned and placed a gentle hand on Bobby’s arm, smiling when his rough hand reached over to cover hers. “I was glad to do it, Bobby. I guess, a part of me always felt guilty for leaving and trying to have a normal life while I knew what was really out there and what you guys were hunting. I was happy to help. Even if at the same time, I could lie to myself and tell myself that I was really out of this world and had nothing to do with it. That just because I was helping cover your tracks and not actually seeing and touching this world, that I wasn’t a part of it. But I still was, and I was lying to myself to say that I wasn’t. I’ve always been a part of this world. I can’t escape it. And when I think about all the stuff you and Sam said you guys have been through since he left school…” Tabitha trailed off as her voice grew thick. “Dean and I both promised Dad we’d watch after Sammy. Dean and I did it together for so long, and when Sam left and wanted to go to school, I promised Dean I’d go with him and look after him.”
Tabitha paused as she pulled her hand away from Bobby’s, turning in her seat to more fully face the man that would always be her father in her heart.
“But then I got caught up in my own college dreams, and then career. And when I heard that Sammy had left to go hunting with Dean again, I just shrugged it off and continued on with my own life. But I should have been there for them, Bobby. They’re my brothers. Sam died, Bobby, and then Dean did, and now he just got back from Hell. And where was I?”
“Living your life ain’t something to feel regret over,” Bobby softly insisted.
“It is if you were just hiding from where you knew in your heart you should have been all along.”
Bobby had nothing more he could argue at the moment, and Tabitha turned back to staring out at the dark landscape.
It was morning when the two cars pulled into the yard of Bobby’s psychic friend. All four of them slowly stretching as they exited their cars.
Bobby was the first to walk up to the door of the small white farmhouse. Shortly after the knock on the door, an attractive woman yanked it open, excitedly laughing as she greeted Bobby with a bear hug, somehow managing to lift the man completely off his feet.
The boys stood back looking both surprised, and interested in the woman. But Tabitha laughed, finding that she was already impressed with the jovial woman and had an instant liking for her.
“You’re a sight for sore eyes,” Bobby told the woman after she’d set him down.
The woman immediately turned her bright gaze on the three siblings. “So, is this them?” she asked Bobby.
Bobby turned to make introductions, nodding to each of them as he went. “Sam, Dean, Tabitha—Pamela Barnes. Best damn psychic in the state.”
The three siblings offered their hellos as Pamela looked the brothers up and down. Tabitha found she didn’t mind—she was used to it after all—but Pamela didn’t look them up and down with a predatory look like most women did. As with everything else Tabitha could sense about the woman, she seemed to look them over with more of humorous eye. As though finding some great cosmic joke in the sight of the boys, but reveling in the sheer pleasure of some irony only she could see.
“Mmm, mmm, mmm.” She turned her laughing eyes on Bobby. But he only smiled back, as though he took humor in the same joke only the two seemed to share.
Pamela turned back to the oldest brother. “Dean Winchester. Out of the fire and back in the frying pan, huh? Makes you a rare individual.”
“If you say so.”
“Come on in,” she welcomed them all.
Soon Pamela was setting up her supplies for a séance. Something Tabitha had to admit was a new one to her. But she’d never spent time around any psychics, and wouldn’t have put much stock in them if not for Bobby’s insistence that she was the real deal.
As Pamela gathered the things she needed, and the boys stood around gawking at the poor woman, Tabitha wandered around the now darkened room. Taking note of the strange paintings on the wall and the stacks of occult books scattered about.
Tabitha smiled to herself as Pamela flirted not just with Dean, but Sam as well, throwing them both for a loop.
“It’s all in good fun,” Pamela suddenly said from beside her.
Tabitha looked over from the book she’d picked up and was perusing. “I’m sure it is,” she answered with a laugh. “I can see that sparkle in your eye that says you enjoy tweaking them. But I can also tell that you wouldn’t say no if one of them took you up on your offer.”
Pamela’s cheeks brightened just a bit, but she still laughed good-naturedly. “No, I guess I wouldn’t.”
The laughing brunette grabbed one of the books from the pile in front of them, asking, “So, what’s your deal? I’ve heard about Sam and Dean over the years, of course. But didn’t know they had a sister. You been hiding in a closet somewhere?”
Tabitha chuckled at the thought. “Naw, not unless you call the FBI a closet.”
Pamela stopped and stared at the lighter haired woman, looking her over with new eyes. “You’re a Fed?”
Tabitha looked down at herself. She wasn’t dressed all that differently than the other woman. She wore a tank top, worn jeans with frayed hems, and heavy biker boots.
“They don’t make us wear the FBI suit all the time,” she laughed.
“Yeah, but, how’s it work being a Fed with those two for brothers?” she asked, jerking a thumb over her shoulder. “Or does it help them that you can pull strings and hide messes?”
“Yeah, that’s part of it,” she admitted.
“Must get complicated, what with their past with the Feds and supposedly being dead now. How’d you avoid scrutiny after that?” Pamela continued, as she bent down to gather what looked like herbs from a lower shelf.
Tabitha felt her brothers straining harder to listen to their conversation now, but ignored it and continued her companionable conversation with the psychic.
“Oh, I was under a lot of scrutiny there for a while. Only time I’ve been forced to play desk-jockey, but they couldn’t find any trace of me having been in contact with my brothers in years—luckily I’d managed to hide that trail well enough—and then after I had been carefully watched, well, they ‘died,'” she said, using air-quotes, “and they had no reason to suspect me of anything or keep me out of the field. So I went back out on field duty.”
Pamela laughed in that carefree manner again. “And little do they know, your brothers are alive and kickin’.” She nodded her head appreciatively at the other woman. “Crafty. So what exactly do you do for the Feds? Law and order types aren’t something I know a lot about. Least not from that side of things,” she grinned.
Tabitha set the book she’d been glancing through down and leaned back against the bookshelf, shoving her hands in her pockets as she spoke. “I work in the CID, the Criminal Investigation Division, specifically in the Violent Crimes Section.”
“Damn. Sounds important. So you like hunt down serial killers and stuff like that?” the dark-haired woman asked.
“Stuff like that,” Tabitha noncommittally agreed.
“I can respect that,” Pamela agreed. “Have to admit, FBI and all law enforcement types are normally a bunch of those guys we hate, but don’t really know anything about. At least you don’t seem so bad for a Fed.”
“I’ll take that as a compliment,” Tabitha laughed.
Pamela moved away to place her supplies on the round table in the center of the room, but like a shark, Dean circled closer to round on Tabitha.
“You work violent crimes? Like what, murders and stuff?” he demanded.
“Yeah, Dean. Murders, manslaughter, rape, robbery. Anything that involves a violent crime,” she agreed, tensing for the fight she could feel coming.
“So it’s dangerous?”
“Well, it’s not ‘drag me to Hell’ dangerous, but there is some danger involved, yeah.”
“Soon as you get back to Virginia, you’re taking a desk position or getting a different job altogether,” her older brother ordered.
Tabitha looked towards her younger brother, hoping for some solidarity. “Back me up, Sam. This is ridiculous. I’ve been doing this job for a while, now. I’m fine.” She turned back to Dean. “And you can’t tell me what to do. We’re not kids anymore.”
Sam broke in before Dean could speak. “Well, it does sound pretty dangerous what you’re doing, Tab. You never even told us what you did at the FBI.”
Tabitha threw her hands up in exasperation, also casting a glare at Bobby, who merely shrugged. “I can’t believe you men. None of you have ever cared to ask before. Did you guys really think that just because Dad was so dead-set on being sexist and trying to always keep me out of the worst hunts, that the rest of the world operates that way, too? I work for the FBI. You guys should know better. You impersonate Feds on a weekly basis.”
“She’s got a point, Dean,” Sam agreed. “We have just kind of gone along with Dad’s belief and never questioned it. Besides, you know Tab’s tough. Dad did train her beside both of us.”
“Thank you!” Tabitha exclaimed.
“We’ll talk about this later,” Dean muttered, turning back to watch Pamela.
“Yeah, after more important stuff, like finding out who has got an interest in your ass and just why,” Tabitha called after him.
“Well, it’s a nice ass,” Pamela commented, setting another bowl on the table and gesturing them all to sit in the seats gathered around it.
Tabitha shot the other woman a smile for trying to diffuse the situation, to which the psychic discreetly winked.
As they sat at the table, Pamela directed them to join hands, but Dean wasn’t done muttering at the sister plunked between her two brothers.
“When the hell did you get so difficult?” he muttered as he took her hand.
“When the hell did you get so bossy?” she fired back as she grabbed his and squeezed hard.
“Come one guys,” Sam laughed as he took her other hand. “This feels weird for me to be the peace-keeper. That’s supposed to be your job, Tab.”
Tabitha took his hand as well, but didn’t respond to his statement.
“Idgets,” Bobby complained under his breath, and the three Winchesters did finally smile.
Tabitha took a deep breath as she closed her eyes, not really paying attention to Pamela’s words as the psychic talked to Dean and then began her séance. To Tabitha’s way of thinking, it was likely to be a waste of time, but at least the quiet of the room was enough for her to calm her thoughts. She laughingly wondered to herself if this was more like yoga with all the quiet and mental centering.
At least until the room and everything in it started shaking. Tabitha sat up straighter as it felt like a jolt of electricity went through her. As the room and all of the objects around them shook and shuttered, Tabitha could feel that vibration of power pulsing through her every nerve ending.
She knew Pamela was still talking, but a high-pitched whine began to fill her ears. Tabitha tried to wrench her hands away to cover her ears, but her brothers held them tight.
Finally, the high pitch gave way and Tabitha could hear normal words again.
“I am Castiel.”
The power in the room still vibrated with such intensity that Tabitha felt like she was holding a live wire. Or perhaps that one was running all the way through her body.
“I warn you, do not look at my form.”
The vibration of power seemed to increase ten-fold.
“You have been warned.”
And suddenly the power flared amidst the shrill screams of a woman and a bright flash of light. For just a moment, Tabitha thought she saw an image of a face, but then the light and the power were gone, and left in its wake were only the shrill screams filling the air.
Tabitha shook her head and realized that she had broken away from her brothers’ grip and was standing back from the table several feet. Pamela’s chair was tipped over backwards and Bobby and Sam were running around the table to check on the crying woman. But Dean paused to glance at his sister. “You alright?” he asked.
But Tabitha forced herself out of her stupor and into her training. She took one look at the bloody face of Pamela on the ground, and ran into the kitchen to wet several dishrags with water.
As she came back into the room, she marveled again at the gruesome sight of the poor woman’s face. And the two sockets where her eyes had been burned away.
Tabitha gently pushed the other woman’s hands from her face and covered the burned eye sockets with the cool rags. Bobby was supporting the woman’s head and upper body in his arms, but Tabitha grabbed at her flailing hands and held them in hers, trying to calm her.
“I can’t see! Oh God, I can’t see,” Pamela cried.
“Shh, Pamela. I know it hurts and it’s scary, but you gotta stay still,” she told the injured woman.
“Call 911!” Bobby yelled to Sam.
Tabitha glanced over her shoulder at Dean crouched there. “Go find a blanket to cover her in. We don’t want her going into shock.”
He nodded and disappeared, returning shortly with a thick quilt that the two carefully helped Bobby wrap her in.
“You three should get out of here,” Bobby told them. “I’ll stay with her and get her to the hospital.”
“You sure, Bobby?” Sam asked as he returned to the room.
The brothers stood, but Pamela’s hands tightened around Tabitha’s and she found she didn’t have the heart to leave the woman yet anyway.
“Go,” she threw over her shoulder to her brothers. “I’ll stay with Bobby and make sure Pamela’s alright.”
“You sure, Tab?”
“Go!” both Bobby and Tabitha shouted at once.
“But you two be careful,” Tabitha warned, her eyes turning meaningfully back to the whimpering psychic.
Her brothers nodded once, and quickly slipped away.
“Here. Look like you could use some,” Bobby said as he offered Tabitha a cup of coffee.
She sat up straight in the uncomfortable hospital chair, and gratefully took the cup, eagerly drinking the liquid as though it were the finest of beverages instead of cheap swill.
Bobby settled in the chair beside her and nodded towards the hospital bed. “Any change?”
“No,” she replied with a shake of her head. “Other than I think she’s sleeping a bit more comfortably. Drugs must be kicking in better. At least she’s out of ICU.”
“Good,” Bobby simply replied.
“The cops and paramedics actually buy the story that it was an arc welder explosion?”
Bobby grunted. “Doubt it. But they can’t come up with anything else that could explain the burns. ‘Course, it doesn’t help that Pamela doesn’t have any welding equipment.”
Tabitha grunted as well, and leaned her head back against the wall, closing her eyes.
“There a reason you been making yourself scarce ever since the paramedics arrived?” Bobby asked in a gruff voice.
Tabitha answered without opening her eyes, wrapping her arms around herself, and wondering why hospitals were always so cold. “You know how strange this all looks, Bobby. I don’t want to hang around and have some cop find out I’m a Fed and then start asking around about why some special agent is involved in something so weird. I’ve had enough scrutiny with my bosses. I’m not looking to invite anymore.”
A heavy weight suddenly descended over her shoulders, and Tabitha looked down to see Bobby tucking his outer coat over her shoulders.
“Looked cold. And tired,” he told her. “Why don’t you get some rest?”
Tabitha smiled at his gruff but protective demeanor, pulling the coat tighter into her grip. “Thanks,” she smiled. “I left my coat out in your car, and it’s always so cold in hospitals.”
Bobby immediately stood. “Well, I’ll go get it,” he offered.
Tabitha grinned. “You just don’t want to sit around a hospital room,” she accused.
“Nope.” And with that, he strode out of the room.
“Can’t blame him,” Pamela suddenly rasped. “If I could, I’d walk out of this room, too.”
Tabitha immediately sprang to her feet and grabbed the cup of water from the nearby table.
“Here, drink this,” she directed and she gently guided the straw into Pamela’s open mouth.
When she’d had her fill, Pamela leaned back against her pillow. “Sure as hell never saw the day ending this way.” She laughed bitterly. “‘Course, I’m not going to see much coming from now on.”
“Guess you’re going to have to be more hands-on from now on,” Tabitha tried joking.
Pamela did smile faintly. “I always did like the hands-on approach. Guess this gives me a good excuse, now.”
The silence lapsed again, but then Pamela suddenly reached out and grabbed Tabitha’s hand on the bed, startling the other woman.
The brunette smiled a little wider. “Yes, I really am psychic. At least it means I can still see in other ways now.”
Tabitha held on to the other woman’s hand, but reached out behind her to pull her chair closer to the bed so she could sit.
“Pamela, I know it’s probably that last thing you want to talk about, but what was that thing?”
Pamela squeezed her hand, as though in momentary fear at the reminder, and Tabitha almost wished she hadn’t spoken.
Taking a deep breath, Pamela slowly answered, “I truly haven’t the foggiest. But after that encounter, I’m not sure I want to ever find out. I don’t get scared easily, but whatever that was, it scared the shit out of me.”
Sitting back in her chair, Tabitha wondered about Pamela’s words and the warning that thing had given during the séance. The words hadn’t seemed all that threatening, but, then again, whatever it was had also burned the poor woman’s eyes out.
“Tab,” Bobby whispered from the doorway, tearing Tabitha’s attention away from her thoughts.
She turned in her chair to look at Bobby, Pamela releasing the grip on her hand as she did so.
“I’ll just be a minute,” Tabitha assured the woman before she met Bobby in the doorway. “What?” she whispered back to him.
“Dean just called. They had a strange showdown back in Pontiac with those demons Sam followed there.”
Tabitha bit her lip, knowing that Bobby was trying to say they needed to head in that direction, and rightfully so, but still feeling guilty at the thought of leaving the poor woman behind.
“Just go,” Pamela called from behind her. “Catch up to those brothers of yours and keep an eye on them.”
Tabitha and Bobby moved back to her bedside.
“Are you sure you’re going to be alright here?” Tabitha asked, taking the woman’s hand again.
“I hate running out on you,” Bobby added. “It’s our fault; we brought this mess to you.”
“Damn right,” Pamela laughed. “But that’s the nature of our world, Bobby. And it’s the nature of our world that you’ve got run out.” She briefly grabbed Bobby’s hand, somehow knowing where it was, just as she had with Tabitha. “I may be down, but I’m not out, you know that Bobby. I’ll figure things out. So go find those boys, and then figure out what the hell did this to me and give it a little something with my name on it.”
One of the rare affectionate smiles that Tabitha only occasionally saw stole across Bobby’s face. “You always were one tough girl,” he told her. “You take care of yourself, and let me know if there’s ever anything I can do.”
With that, he released her hand and strode quickly from the room, not looking back.
“You gonna get all misty-eyed on me now? We barely know each other,” Pamela drawled.
Tabitha laughed and squeezed the injured woman’s hand. “No. I’m not gonna get all misty-eyed. And I may not know you that well, but I can honestly say I do like you Pamela Barnes. You’re my kind of woman. And tough as nails.”
“I got a feeling you’re no slouch either,” Pamela answered, releasing the other woman’s hand. “See ya around, Tabitha.”
Tabitha walked to the door, but paused to look back at the other woman. The two were so close in age, and had things been different, Tabitha could have easily seen finding a lifelong friend in a woman like this. But even in her so-called “normal” life, Tabitha hadn’t been one to form lasting friendships. Being on the road with work was hard on those kinds of relationships, too.
“You can still form lifelong friendships with someone you know you’ll probably never see again,” Pamela called out. And Tabitha’s breath caught in her throat. “And I plan to be around for at least a while longer.” The woman sat up a bit straighter in bed, turning her bandaged face towards the doorway Tabitha lingered in. “And I’d definitely call you a friend.”
Tabitha nodded once, and turned away to leave, but stopping when Pamela called out again.
“Tabitha.” She paused and her voice came out softly as she continued. “Thank you for staying with me like you did. And for keeping me calm when I was scared. Fear isn’t something I’m used to.”
Tapping the doorway with her fingers, Tabitha smiled and answered, “What are friends for?”
She left, walking down the hospital hallway to the sounds of Pamela’s soft laughter.
Tabitha climbed the steps of the old motel with duffel bags of clean clothes on each shoulder. Exhausted, but finally finished going through her brothers’ bags of clothes and cleaning the filthy things they kept in their bags, Tabitha wanted nothing more than to fall into one of the beds in Sam’s room. Even a couch would do at this hour.
But she looked up the stairs at the sound of someone jogging down them.
“Sam? What are you doing up? I figured you and Dean would either still be researching or conked out by now,” Tabitha said as she came closer up the stairs.
An almost guilty look flashed across Sam’s face, but then he shrugged and answered, “Dean’s down for the count, but I couldn’t sleep, so I thought I’d take a drive.”
“At this hour? Come on, Sam, let’s go back up to the room and talk if you can’t sleep. You shouldn’t be out there alone,” Tabitha told her younger brother, grabbing his arm as he tried to pass her on the stairs.
But Sam shook it off and continued down the stairs, stopping a few steps down so that the siblings were able to face each other eye-to-eye.
“Where’s Bobby?” she tried instead.
“Went to make some phone calls to some of his contacts,” Sam quickly answered.
“Come on, Tab,” he lightheartedly tried. “I can look after myself. I don’t need you and Dean watching my every move.”
His sister grabbed his shoulder before he could turn away. “I don’t like this Sam. There’s something you’re not saying or not telling me. I saw what kind of shape you were in after you took off all those months ago. What’s been going on?”
Sam scoffed. “And you’re one to talk about not telling each other things. How much you been keeping from Dean and me? You’ve got your own life, and I’ve got mine. Just leave it at that, Tab. I’m just going for a drive.”
He jogged down the stairs before she could stop him. Tabitha knew her brother was right, but couldn’t help wondering when the huge gulf had developed between the two of them. Sam had once been able to tell her anything. Even when they’d both left to go to college. But somehow, they’d drifted apart.
She glanced up the stairs at where her other brother still was. If she was honest with herself, it wasn’t just the relationship with her younger brother that was strained and difficult. She’d once been just as close with Dean as she’d been with Sam, helping to bridge the gap between both of the boys, and even with their father when he was upset.
When did it all change? she wondered. When did my brothers grow so far away from me?
But she knew in the pit of her stomach, that she shouldered the most blame in the chasm that separated her from the brothers she’d have once given anything for. She’d once been the one that bridged the gap between the others, but now she wondered if she could possibly bridge the gap that now existed between her, and them.
As she continued up the stairs, Tabitha suddenly felt the same corkscrew sensation of power crawling through her body, and heard the eerily familiar high-pitched whine ring out from the floor of their room. Grasping the bags on her shoulder, she bolted up the stairs towards their room, fumbling to pull the key from her pocket.
But just as the key slid into her hand, the whine gave way to the familiar sound of words. A voice softly calling, “Dean. Dean, you must listen to me. Dean, you must hear what I have to say.”
The key slid into the lock, but Tabitha paused at the door, softly whispering, “What are you?”
Like a switch being flicked off, the sound suddenly stopped. Tabitha shook herself, and threw the door open, dropping the duffel bags on the ground and frantically looking for her brother and fearing the sight she might find.
Her brother was curled up on the floor, every pane and every inch of glass in the room was shattered and covering him. Dropping to her knees, Tabitha reached for her brother, rolling him onto his back as he slowly pulled his hands away from his ears.
“Dean! Tabitha!” Bobby yelled as he exploded into the room. “Are you two alright?”
Tabitha quickly examined her brother, thrilled at the sight of him staring back into her eyes.
“I think he’s okay,” Tabitha replied. “Looks like some cuts on his hands and arms from all the broken glass.” She shook her head and let out the breath she’d been holding. “Jesus, you scared the holy hell outta me, Dean.”
“Yeah,” he agreed, rolling carefully on the glass to sit up. “I’m getting damn tired of that supersonic bat screech, too.”
“Why didn’t you just answer it?” Tabitha asked as she jumped to her feet, digging through one of the duffel bags to find a clean t-shirt to wipe Dean’s hands with.
“Answer it?” Dean repeated, taking the t-shirt and grinning when he saw it was one of Sam’s. “If that high-pitched screeching was something trying to talk, I don’t know how to answer it back. Screech in return?” he laughed.
Tabitha stopped in the middle of the room, her heart falling into the pit of her stomach at Dean’s words. Slowly and carefully, she turned to Bobby and asked, “What did you hear, Bobby? You came busting in awful fast.”
“Saw you from down the hall, running for the room, then heard that god-awful screeching just like we heard at Pamela’s. I’m with Dean, if you think that was something trying to communicate, I’m at a loss for how to talk back to it.”
“That’s all either of you heard?” she carefully asked them.
Dean chuckled a dark laugh. “Well, that and a shitload of glass shattering all around me.”
The blood seemed to run cold in Tabitha’s veins, but she held her ground and forced herself not to shake. It had to be a trick of my mind, she told herself as she counted slowly to ten.
“Damn, Tabby, you must’a cut your knees. You’re bleeding, too,” Dean told her from where he still sat on the ground.
He came closer and crouched down to pick at the torn and now bloody knees of her jeans, carefully inspecting her knees as she passively let him. “I don’t think it’s too bad though. Not a lot of blood. But you should wash them off and make sure you get all the pieces of glass out.”
Tabitha nodded in a detached manner. Slowly grabbing her own bag and taking it into the bathroom, grateful for the chance to close a door between her and the men while she gathered her thoughts.
Surely she was imagining things. Neither of the men had heard a voice, so it couldn’t be possible that she had.
A/N: Well, that’s the beginning of this story. Let me know what you think so far. Any interest in reading the rest?