“Why the hell do witches have to be so skeevy and disgusting?” Dean complained as they left a victim’s house after interviewing his wife—now widow. “I mean, why do they always have to try and ruin perfectly good holiday traditions, too? Razor blades in Halloween candy? That’s just messed up.” He shuddered as he spoke.
“I’d think you’d be used to witches and their nasty ways by now,” Tabitha laughed as she unbuttoned her suit jacket to climb into the back seat of the Impala, careful of the tight skirt and the heels of her FBI outfit.
Sam laughed as he climbed into the passenger seat. The brothers were likewise dressed in their Fed costumes. But it was taking Tabitha longer to accept that her own clothes were now costume as well and that she wasn’t a real Fed anymore.
“Dean’s more concerned about the violation to the Halloween candy than the fact that witches are involved,” Sam chuckled over his shoulder. As he spoke, he glanced down at the hex bag he’d found in the house, carefully opening it to examine the contents.
Dean shut the driver’s door with a thud. “Of course I’m upset by it. All that innocent candy,” he lamented.
“You’ve got a one-track mind, Dean,” Tabitha laughed. Leaning forward over Sam’s shoulder to look, she asked, “So, what’s in there, little brother?”
Dean leaned over as well while Sam pushed the contents of dried herbs, a coin, a bone, and other contents around with a fingertip. “I don’t know,” Sam answered. “Some of this looks really old and pretty unfamiliar to me. Not the normal hex bag material, that’s for sure.”
Throwing the car in gear with an exaggerated sigh, Dean sullenly complained, “Let me guess, that means we’ve got to do some research. Wonderful.”
As they started down the street, Tabitha tapped her older brother on the shoulder. “We should stop by the morgue though and take a look at the body first. Wouldn’t hurt to check the police files, too, to see what, if anything useful is in them.”
“Fine,” Dean agreed. “I’d rather go to the morgue than sit in a library and research any day of the week. Look it up, where’s the morgue in this town anyway, Tab?”
Tabitha tapped away on her phone as she looked for an address. “Most small towns have theirs in the hospital,” she absently supplied. “And this town is too small to have their own separate morgue. Yup, it’s at the hospital, er, local clinic, I guess.”
She looked up from her phone and gave Dean quick directions to the town’s small clinic.
Twenty minutes later, they were at the nurse’s station asking for directions to the morgue.
“Just who are you three and why do you want to know about our morgue?” a man asked from behind them.
The siblings turned away from the front desk to face what appeared to be the sheriff of the little town, his folded arms and frown telling them plainly that he wasn’t impressed with Feds in his territory. He was mid-forties, a distinguished looking older man in Tabitha’s opinion, the scattered salt to his dark brown hair making him all the more charmingly distinguished.
Dean stepped forward and held his hand out to the sheriff. “I’m Agent Bob Seger, and these are Agents Pete Carr and Lesley Warren with the FBI. We were hoping to take a look at the body of Luke Wallace.” As he spoke, he flipped out his badge with his other hand, Sam and Tabitha following suit behind him.
The sheriff continued to stand imposingly with his arms crossed, refusing to shake Dean’s proffered hand, and barely glancing down at the badge. “What do the Feds want with a prank like this in our little town? Strange though it may be.”
Sam stepped forward while replacing his badge, Dean silently dropping his hand back to his side and shoving his own badge in his pocket as Sam spoke. “We’re not trying to take over your investigation. We’re just hoping to take a look at the body and the case files to see if this is similar to other cases we’ve seen. And maybe look through your files on any other recent deaths that have been similar or unusual,” Sam asked.
The sheriff flicked his eyes over Sam, and then lingered slightly longer on Tabitha before they came back to rest on Dean again, telling him, “You can take a look at the files and the body when I’ve got a written request from the FBI.”
Dean immediately fished out one of the business cards with a number that would route to Bobby’s FBI line. “Well, you can talk to our superior and let him tell you that we need and would appreciate your cooperation seeing how the FBI outranks local police,” Dean tersely told him, obviously fighting to keep his voice even and not snap back at the man.
The sheriff finally unfolded one arm and took the business card, immediately stuffing it into his front shirt pocket. “Still need the official paperwork saying the FBI would like access to our body and files. Proper procedure and protocol after all. You understand,” the man snidely returned.
And with that, he turned and began to walk down the stark hallway towards the exit.
“Now what?” Sam lowly asked them. “This is a clinic. It’ll be hard to break into, even at night.”
“No kidding,” Dean angrily bit out, staring after the retreating man.
Tabitha pushed past her brothers, unbuttoning another button on the plain white blouse under her suit jacket as she went. “Men,” she grumbled. “Let me show you how to get things done.”
She quickly strode after the sheriff, lightly touching his elbow when she caught up to him. “I’m so sorry about that,” she told the sheriff in a heavy Southern accent. “You’ll just have to excuse Agents Seger and Carr. They’re new to my team, and I’m still trying to teach them proper manners and all. They can be a bit demanding, can’t they? Agent Seger can be particular pushy and jump the gun.”
The sheriff stopped and turned towards her, his eyes roaming over her form again as she stood beneath his gaze, arching her back just slightly as she held her hand out to the sheriff. “We weren’t properly introduced, now were we? I’m Special Agent Lesley Ann Warren, and what was your name again, sheriff?”
The man’s eyes finally jerked up from her chest as he gently took her hand and held it between both of his. “I’m sorry about my rudeness, ma’am. I’m Sheriff Tom Dalton, but you can call me Tom.”
Tabitha smiled coyly at his answer, laughing to herself at how predictably the Southern accent and routine had men hauling out the “ma’am’s” and falling all over their newfound politeness. She huskily drawled, “Well in that case, I’ll just have to insist you call me Lesley Ann or just plain Lesley.”
Dalton seemed to realize he was still holding her hand firmly between both of his, and released it abashedly as his face flushed.
Seizing on his fluster, Tabitha laid the accent on thicker and inquired, “Would there be any way y’all could just let us take a little peek at that body and your case files, Tom?” Seeing he was going to deny her request, she quickly went on, “The god’s honest truth, Tom, is that we ain’t got any official say-so to be here, but I worked a case a year ago and two states over that was mighty similar, and I just had to take a look at this case and see if I couldn’t try to find anything more to connect to my case. My boss doesn’t agree you see, but I’d feel better just taking a look. It was a little girl, Tom, and I’d dearly love to be able to tell that little darling’s folks that we’ve finally found a lead on just who might have done something so awful.” She reached out and pleadingly laid her hand on Dalton’s arm. “We aren’t officially supposed to be here, like I said, so I wouldn’t dream of taking over your case, Tom, but I’d surely appreciate taking a little look. Maybe you can help me find something to give some answers to little Sarah’s heart-broke folks.”
Dalton tore his eyes away from her hand on his arm, swallowing slightly before he nodded and said, “I guess it wouldn’t hurt for you to have a look since you worked a similar case. I guess at least if you’re not officially looking into the case there isn’t any extra paperwork to worry about, ma’am—” Seeing her raised brow, he corrected himself, “I mean, Lesley. I’ll head back to the station and put together what we’ve got so far and you can pick it up in the morning.”
“Well bless your kindness and understanding,” Tabitha drawled, squeezing his arm once. “Now just where is your little morgue located?”
He blushed some more, pointing back down a hallway and giving her directions to the corner of the basement where it was located. “I’ll call Doc Everett and tell him you’re bringing your team down and to give you his findings.”
“Thank you so much, Tom. And I’ll look for those files in the morning. Y’all have a good night now.”
She turned and slowly walked back to her brothers, her heels clicking against the linoleum as she passed by their gapping expressions, telling them, “Come on boys, y’all get a move on now.”
They hurried after her, catching up to her as they entered the stairwell to the basement.
“I can’t believe I just saw that,” Dean incredulously exclaimed. “I’ve never once heard you say the word ‘y’all’ before. What the hell was that?”
Tabitha stretched her mouth wide in an effort to wipe the saccharinely sweet smile off her face. She looked across at Dean as they walked, smirking and drawling once more, “That sugar, is how a woman gets things done.”
Sam laughed. “What happened to feminism and your whole, ‘women shouldn’t lower themselves in front of men’ thing?”
Turning to face the boys, Tabitha backed into the basement door at the bottom of the stairwell. “Well of course I’m still a feminist. But y’all menfolk are just such easy targets. Is it really my fault if y’all just can’t help yourselves around a pretty Southern Belle?”
As the boys stared incredulously at her, she could see the wheels turning in Dean’s mind as he recounted women he’d met and slept with. She continued in her exaggerated Southern drawl, “That’s right, darling. I ain’t the only woman to find y’all easy pickings. Why, I can change a tire good as any man, but I ain’t changed my own since I was fifteen and The Good Lord gave me these.” She indicated to her breasts with both hands, not large by any means, but she knew they served their purpose well enough.
Dean scowled at her. “Jesus, Tab, I’m not sure whether to be impressed, offended, or pissed that you’ve been doing something like this to get your way.”
Tabitha only shrugged and chuckled, pushing back on the door to open it and stepping into the basement hallway. She dropped the accent as she said, “I’m a woman in a world still run by men. I learned a long time ago how to read men and what tactic was best used to get what I wanted or needed. But the Southern Charm is usually a safe bet with most men.”
Her brothers continued to ruefully shake their heads as they followed her to the morgue. They certainly couldn’t argue with the results.
“Why don’t you button your blouse back up there, Jill*,” Dean pointed out as Tabitha reached for the door to the morgue.
“It’s not like it’s indecent,” she replied, looking down at the hint of cleavage showing. But she dutifully redid the button. “Come on, Kelly*. Let’s get this over with,” she added as she opened the door.
“Jackass,” Dean muttered.
“Bitch,” Tabitha automatically responded.
“Idiots,” Sam muttered in return.
“Screw you,” Dean and Tabitha said simultaneously, and then grinned at each other as they walked into the morgue.
An hour later, they had examined the body and swung by the local library looking for lore books that might help before returning to their motel room. Specifically Celtic lore since Sam was certain the coin in the hex bag was Gaelic.
Sam picked up the dried herb from the witch’s hex bag. “Goldthread—an herb that’s been extinct for 200 years,” he told his siblings. “And this is Celtic,” he continued, picking up the old coin. “And I don’t mean some new-age knock-off. Looks like the real deal—like 600-years-old real.”
As he spoke, Dean leaned down and picked up a charred looking piece from the bag, leaning down to sniff it.
Tabitha had been leaning down to look, but immediately leaned away at Dean’s actions recognizing what it was and saying, “Eww, do you have any idea what that is, Dean?”
“And, uh…” Sam continued, carefully watching Dean as well. “That is the charred metacarpal bone of a newborn baby.”
Dean dropped the bone back with the other contents. “Oh, gross.”
“Relax, man,” Sam laughed, picking the bone up to inspect himself, “it’s, like, at least 100 years old.”
“Oh, right, like that makes it better?” Dean argued.
“I’m with Dean on this,” Tabitha agreed. “I don’t like witches anyway, but that’s particularly skeevy.”
Dean shuddered as he agreed, standing up from the seventies floral couch of their motel room.
“Well, it takes a pretty powerful one to put a bag like this together,” Sam agreed, still poking through the contents. “More juice than we’ve ever dealt with before, that’s for sure. What about you guys—find anything on the victim?”
“This Luke Wallace—he was so vanilla that he made vanilla seem spicy,” Dean said as he unwrapped more candy to eat.
Tabitha rolled her eyes at her brother’s blatant fearlessness in eating candy after what had happened to their victim, but turned to Sam and added, “He seemed pretty squeaky clean. No debts, no secret bank accounts, no secret girlfriends—really, nothing secret about the guy that I can find anywhere.”
“I don’t see any reason why somebody would want this guy dead,” Dean added.
Tabitha moved away from the couch by her younger brother to sit on one of the beds, leaning backwards on her hands as she asked her brothers, “Well, now what? We’ve got a dead guy that nobody wanted dead, and a pretty powerful witch that killed him.”
“Good question,” Sam agreed. “We need to know more. Or find out if there have been any other unexplained or strange deaths.”
The three siblings split up throughout the motel room to divide up their shares of the research, Tabitha delving into the internet realm, while her brothers each grabbed one of the books of Celtic lore they’d found in the small-town library.
Tabitha suddenly paused in her work on her laptop, looking up with her head slightly tilted as she listened to something. Noticing her attention so sharply focused, her brothers looked up from their books as well.
“What is that?” Sam finally asked, realizing he was hearing a faint noise as well.
“Shh,” Tabitha scolded, continuing to listen with her head tilted.
Finally, she reached down for her large handbag by her feet and pulled it into her lap, delving into the wasteland of lost items both of her brothers studiously avoided.
Tabitha smiled at the passing memory of her older brother trying to swipe cash from her purse when they were teenagers and his mortification upon finding tampons and condoms in her purse. Neither of her brothers had gone near her purses or handbags ever again—even to look for cash—but she was still in the habit of keeping her purse nearby so her brothers weren’t tempted to “borrow” some money.
“There’s been another strange death,” she told her brothers as she pulled the handheld police scanner out of her bag and turned the volume knob up to catch the exact address the dispatch was giving.
“You could actually hear that thing turned down that low and shoved in that bottomless pit?” Dean laughed, an air of incredulity in his words.
Tabitha shrugged as she listened to the address and then turned the scanner back down. “Habit, I guess. I always kept a police scanner handy but turned down low so it didn’t disturb anyone when I was a Fed.”
Her brothers were already changing out of their civilian clothes and donning their FBI costumes once more, seemingly unashamed or uncaring about stripping down to their boxers in front of their sister. But Tabitha grabbed her clothes and headed to the bathroom, needing a bit more privacy than her brothers seemed to care about.
Twenty minutes later, they’d pulled into a middle-class looking home, teenage kids milling about both outside and within the house.
The Winchesters followed one of the sheriff’s deputies into the house and down a set of stairs to the basement, the buzzing center of activity. Even more teenagers stood around the basement, most seeming scared and uncomfortable with the turn of events in their night of youthful fun.
Dean paused at the sight of all the scantily clad teenage girls. “Now this is what I call a party,” he said, nudging his younger brother.
Tabitha poked the oldest Winchester in the side, pointing to the body on the stretcher as she told him, “Yeah, at least the kind of parties we’re used to. Complete with dead body.”
The three paused to look at the body of the teenage girl. Tabitha was certain the girl had been pretty once, but her features were masked and twisted in pain, dark red burns on her skin marring her youthful appearance.
“Damn,” Sam muttered.
Tabitha hummed in agreement. “This is one powerful damn bitch.”
Looking around the basement, the siblings spotted the sheriff stepping away from interviewing another teenage girl.
“I say we start with interviewing her,” Dean declared, his eyes traveling slowly up the body of the blonde teenager in her skimpy cheerleader costume.
Rolling her eyes, Tabitha told her brothers, “Whatever. I’m gonna go talk to the sheriff again and see what he can tell me.” She pinned Dean in a warning stare. “Don’t be the pervy guy that hits on teenage girls.”
She started to turn away, but stopped when Dean grabbed her elbow. “At least I’m not making passes at a dude old enough to be your father. That’s pervy, Little Miss Southern Belle.”
Tabitha huffed, but let her eyes travel over Tom Dalton, knowing it would annoy Dean. “He’s really not that bad looking. Sorta distinguished. A little bit like Tom Skerritt. He may be a bit older, but it’s not inappropriate like you lusting after Little Miss Pep Squad over there.”
With that, she turned and weaved through the partygoers and officials, secretly delighting in still being able to get under her brother’s skin after all these years. Not that she didn’t really think Dalton was too bad looking. The mustache did give him a bit of a Skerritt vibe.
Clearing her throat and plastering her Southern persona back on, Tabitha said, “Good evening, Tom. Looks like y’all got another strange death this evening.”
Dalton took her hand in his as he nodded to her. “So it appears.” His hand slid down to her elbow as he guided her back to the steps and gestured for her to go up them ahead of him. “I’ve got that case file I said you could pick up in the morning. Might as well take it with you now. And I can tell you what we know about what happened here.”
Tabitha turned slightly as she walked up the steps, telling Dalton, “Well, bless you, Tom, for being so thoughtful as to bring that case file. And I appreciate your willingness to work together on this.”
They reached the main floor of the house and Tabitha followed Dalton outside to his cruiser, waiting beside the car as Dalton reached into the passenger seat and pulled out the file, handing it to her with an almost shy smile.
Tabitha took a few minutes to look through the file.
“You think these two cases are related?” Dalton asked her as he leaned back against his cruiser, crossing his arms over his chest.
Tabitha paused in perusing the file to look up at the man, noting his slightly rumpled uniform, and hair that had been neat this morning, now disarrayed from running his hand through it repeatedly.
“I do think so, Tom. This town’s too small for that kind of coincidence,” she replied.
Dalton sighed. “I was afraid so, too. We don’t get many deaths that aren’t natural causes or accidents.”
Finally done skimming through the file, Tabitha turned and leaned back against the police cruiser, mimicking the sheriff’s stance. “What can you tell me about that girl from tonight?”
“Jennifer Holmgren. Seventeen. Lived here her whole life. Her parents, too. Good people. Good girl.” Dalton seemed to be staring at some point on the house as he spoke, but shook himself slightly as he turned a bit to face Tabitha. “Her friends said she was just bobbing for apples. Her best friend had already done it and was just fine. Then when Jennifer tried… well, her friends said she just stayed under for a real long time. Then when she started thrashing, they tried pulling her up. But they said it was like she was stuck. By the time they pulled her out… Well, you saw what she looked like. Looked like something had burned her face. Like boiling water or acid or something. But you tell me, how’s water that was perfectly safe for one girl, turn out to be so hot or toxic to burn the face nearly clean off the next girl? I just can’t figure it.”
Tabitha’s interest was piqued. “The first girl, the one that was just fine when she bobbed for apples, which one was she?”
“I was interviewing her when you arrived. Tracy Davis. She was Jennifer’s best friend. She was wearing the ugh, cheerleader costume.”
Tabitha bit off a smile at Dalton’s obvious discomfort. “What about her? You had a lot to say about Jennifer Holmgren. What about this girl Tracy? Who is she?”
Dalton shook his head. “I honestly don’t know much about the girl. She moved here not that long ago, ’bout a year. Lives on her own. An emancipated teen. Don’t seem right to me, girl like that living on her own. But not much I can do about it.”
Tabitha hummed as she thought. “Okay, so let’s go back to the two victims, anything in common between the two?”
Dalton gave a short laugh. “This is a small town. Lots in common with everyone. Hell, if your family has lived here for more than one generation, you’re related at least distantly to most everyone. There’s only one small grocery store in town, school ain’t that big, and everybody knows everybody. You’d be better off trying to figure out what they might not have in common.”
“Let’s think of obvious things though. Are their families close? Luke Wallace’s son wasn’t in school yet, so school’s out for a connection. What major connections do they have?”
“Well, now that you mention it, they don’t have any direct connections, but speaking of Luke’s boy reminds me, Jennifer’s best friend, that girl Tracy, she’s his babysitter. That’s the biggest connection I can think of.”
And Tracy went bobbing for apples first. Unscathed, Tabitha thought to herself.
“Is this something we can expect to happen again?” Dalton suddenly asked. “Folks in this town are gonna be frightened now. Do they have a reason to be? Is there someone gonna attack in some other sick way again?”
Tabitha couldn’t bring herself to lie. “I’d say it’s a distinct possibility, Tom. Something’s going on in this town.”
The pair stared silently at the activity of police and other personnel buzzing around the house and parents arriving to take their kids home.
But Dalton finally cleared his throat. “There’s uh, a Halloween party going on across town right now. Not a kids’ party like this, but a real one. I hadn’t planned on going this year, but with what’s happened, I was thinking that it might be smart to head over there and check things out, just to make sure everything’s all right. And I, uh, was wondering if you’d care to accompany me? Just to keep an eye on things, of course.”
Tabitha smothered a laugh, “Why sure, Tom. Just to keep an eye on things… of course.”
She looked up to see her brothers exit the house. Sam discreetly held up another hex bag—not that Tabitha was surprised—and motioned her over.
“I just need to speak to my men,” she told Dalton as she excused herself.
“Got another hex bag,” Dean unnecessarily said when she reached them.
“So I see. You guys learn anything useful?”
Dean shook his head. “Not really. Talked to the girl’s best friend, but still couldn’t find any connection between the sexy nurse and candyman.”
“Really?” Tabitha asked, her brow rising. “Little Miss Prep Squad didn’t even mention that she was a link between the two?”
“What?” Sam demanded.
“Yeah. Found out from the sheriff that our little cheerleader isn’t originally from this town. And besides being the latest victim’s best friend, she’s the babysitter for the Wallace family.”
Her brothers looked back at the house contemplatively.
“We need to do more research on this girl,” Tabitha told them. “And on the stuff that’s in those hex bags. We need to figure out why they’re so different from the other hex bags we’ve seen. So you guys head back to the motel and find more lore. I’ve got another angle to cover.”
“And just what’s that?” Sam asked, both brothers crossing their arms over their chests. Tabitha wondered if they even realized they were mimicking each other.
“Headed to another Halloween party across town. One for adults. But with what’s happened, it’s worth checking out, just to make sure no one there is gonna get hurt.”
Dean glared at her, and then flicked his eyes up over her shoulder towards Sheriff Dalton’s police cruiser. “Going with creepy old guy?”
Tabitha rolled her eyes. “He’s not creepy. And he’s not that old. But yes, he did invite me. And I’m going to go check the party out. Besides, I might be able to find out more information about our bimbo cheerleader. Figure out for sure if she’s our witch, or if there is someone else pulling the strings.”
“I don’t like this,” Dean said before she could turn away.
“Noted,” she shrugged. “See you guys later at the motel.” And then she made her way back to the car, smiling slightly as Dalton held the passenger door open for her and helped her into the car.
Tabitha followed Dalton from his cruiser up the short paved walk to the brightly lit house. Sounds of music and partygoers seeped through the windows and doors.
“It’s actually supposed to be a costume party, but I figure since we’re partly here on business we can get away without having costumes,” Dalton told her a little apologetically. “But I guess it wouldn’t be the first year I’ve gone in my uniform.”
Tabitha gave a little laugh. “Wouldn’t be the first Halloween party I’ve gone to as an FBI agent,” she chuckled, remembering one she’d gone to with her brothers before she and Sam had left for college. They’d been hunting and pretending they were FBI agents so they could investigate, but it was one of the few Halloween parties she’d been to when she had still lived with her family. None of the guys in her family had been real big on the holiday.
Truthfully, Tabitha had come to love it, always attending the ones Cheryl had thrown when she started working out of the Richmond office. It was the one time of the year that people dressed up as monsters, and Tabitha could pretend along with everyone else that dress-up monsters were the only kind out there.
As they entered the front door, a man dressed as a Roman Legionnaire began weaving his way towards them, plastic sword in one hand, and half-full mug of beer in the other.
“Tom!” he warmly greeted, his words only slightly slurred. “So glad you could make it. We heard about the Holmgren girl over at the party at the Jacobson’s place. What happened? Should we be concerned? Is there something going on?” As he spoke, he seemed to sober slightly, his words becoming clearer and more focused.
Dalton clapped him on the back. “We’re looking into it; you’ll know more when we do. But for now, just enjoy your party.” He said it with a meaningful look thrown Tabitha’s way. But she didn’t need the look or to be told. Having been a real FBI agent—and not just playing one—she knew that civilians couldn’t know what was going on for fear of causing panic. She’d seen it happen before, and had no intention of creating any unease in this little town.
The man dressed in Roman military garb turned his attention on Tabitha, looking her up and down with an assessing eye. But Dalton cleared his throat, drawing his attention away. “This is Special Agent Lesley Ann Warren. She’s got her team down here helping out with the case, so there’s no cause for fear. Between the FBI resources and ours, well figure out what happened to Wallace.” He left out what happened to the girl, no doubt hoping for now that the townsfolk would just assume it had been some kind of accident. Tabitha had no problem playing along with that.
Holding out her hand, Tabitha introduced herself, “You can call me Lesley Ann or just plain old Lesley, mister…”
The other man’s hand shot out to grip hers. “Bryce Miller. But you can call me Bryce, ma’am.”
She bit back another smile at the predictability of men to the Southern accent. “Why then, I insist, Lesley will do just fine.”
“Lesley’s not from the area, so I invited her to come to your party with me since you serve the best micro-brews in the state and have the best wet-bar in town,” Dalton continued when Miller had continued looking her over with his roaming eyes.
“Well, by all means, come in and enjoy the party,” Miller enthused, throwing his arms wide to encompass the room before downing the last of the beer in his mug.
Two hours later, Tabitha was on her second beer and beginning to feel the effects of the night. Although, to be fair to herself, she was on her sixth drink total. When she’d begun to feel the effects after the last Old Fashioned she’d had, she’d switched back to beer.
In fact, she hadn’t started the night drinking at all, but had ordered a beer shortly after arriving when Dalton had nudged her and whispered that her questions of the guests at the party was too much like a Fed and making the other guests uncomfortable. Knowing he was right, she gotten a beer to blend in with the crowd better and mingled more, asking fewer pointed questions about the new girl in town, Tracy.
Not that her questions had done much good. None of the adults seemed to know much about her. Other than she attended the local high school and babysat for the Wallace family.
Tabitha had also made the rounds through the house over the past two hours looking for more hex bags. But two hours—and six drinks—in, and she hadn’t found any signs of one.
So far, the party seemed to have been a total bust.
“I see you switched back to beer,” Bryce Miller said as he sidled up beside her again. He had another full beer in his hands, but his prop sword was long gone. As were some of the other accessories of the costume, his wrist vambraces, and even his sandals. Though Tabitha had been itching all night to point out that his sandals had been Greek, not Roman.
She held up her beer mug. “Why, yes I did,” she sweetly replied, cursing herself for ever beginning the Southern accent, because she’d had to keep it up all night long. “I figured it was time to slow down a bit.”
Miller’s laugh was the loud exaggerated laugh only a drunk can perpetuate. “You can hold your liquor better than any woman I’ve ever seen. Most men, too. You sure you don’t want to try something else? Keep trying to test my skills,” he leered.
Tabitha shook her head. In between her two beers, she’d tried several different cocktails when Miller had challenged her to order something more difficult than the Jack and Coke she had originally asked him for. So, she’d politely asked for a Manhattan, and then several other cocktails. And she had to admit, Miller could mix one hell of a drink.
“Thank you kindly, but no, I’m good with the beer,” she answered.
Seeing that his drunken gaze was fixed a little too steadily on her chest, she turned to weave her way through the crowd again, only to run into the sheriff.
“I was looking for you,” he whispered, leaning down towards her ear.
Tabitha could smell the sweet Canadian whiskey on his breath, and nodded in reply. “Looks like you found me.”
He jerked his head towards the front door. “You wanna step outside for a few minutes? It’s getting kinda loud in here for talking,” he continued to whisper in her ear.
“Sure,” she replied, realizing she was having to raise her voice a bit to be heard. As the night went, the liquor had begun flowing more freely, and the volume of the music and the people had slowly risen as well.
She followed Dalton outside, thinking that she would ask him to give her a ride back to the motel anyway. The party had certainly been a bust, and other than solidifying where Tracy lived and that she was indeed somewhat of a loner—along with a vague story about some sort of trouble she had gotten into at school—well, she wasn’t getting much else useful out of the party.
She’d just stepped out the door when Dalton spun back towards her, pushing her back against the closed door, his hands gripping at the back of her head and the small of her back as his lips crashed into hers.
For a stunned second, Tabitha froze, but then, she twisted her head away and shoved at his chest until he’d stepped back slightly.
“What the hell?” she gasped.
As she stared up at him, she realized she’d miscalculated how much he’d had to drink. His eyes were glassy and slightly unfocused.
“What do you mean? What’s the problem?” he demanded.
And without waiting for an answer, he started to lean down to kiss her again.
Tabitha raised one leg, straining against the pull of her skirt as she quickly stomped her heel down on one of Dalton’s feet, ducking under his arms as he pulled away and stepping around him.
Before she could say anything, someone cleared their throat behind her. Tabitha and Dalton both turned towards the sound.
“Cas—” Tabitha stuttered, and froze at the sight of the angel standing on the walkway towards the house, his gaze troubled and confused as he stared at her. She cleared her throat and quickly covered, “Special Agent Cassidy. I’ll be right with you.” Turning a glare on Dalton, she told him, “Goodnight, Tom.”
“Wait, Lesley, I’m sorry. Just let me apologize,” he said, trying to grab at her arm.
Tabitha twisted away. “Fine. You just did. Agent Cassidy is my boss, so I’ve got to go. I’m sure he wants to have a word with me. Goodnight.”
Tabitha sighed as she walked down the paved path, whispering to Castiel as she passed him, “Come on.”
She felt the angel follow behind her. “Are you all right?” he asked her, falling into step beside her.
“Yeah, I’m fine,” she assured him. In truth, she felt slightly guilty. She should have known better than to flirt so much with Dalton. But she’d grown used to the way she could interact with the local LEOs in the bigger cities she had normally worked in with the FBI. In bigger cities, the cops were more used to Feds coming and going, and thought nothing of the flirtations that sometimes came up.
And Tabitha had always enjoyed those flirtations that had been so normal. But she should have known that in a little town like this, Dalton would take her flirtations seriously. And while he was a good-looking man, she just didn’t have any real interest in him.
Pushing those thoughts and the guilt away, she turned to look at Castiel as they paused partway down the sidewalk.
“Why you here, Cas?”
“I needed to speak with you. And your brothers,” he told her.
But then, he didn’t say anything, simply stared at her, his brows drawn together.
“Are you sure you’re all right? You seemed… upset,” the angel said, reaching out to lightly touch her arm.
Tabitha smiled at the angel, stepping closer as she laid a hand gently on his shoulder, fingering the collar of his trench coat. “You always show up at the perfect time. Thank you,” she whispered.
And before she knew it, she had leaned closer, her other hand gripping Castiel’s other shoulder as she leaned into him, pressing her lips to his. He didn’t move as she leaned into him, her lips sliding insistently against his soft ones.
Suddenly, the angel pulled away from her, backing up several steps as he stared down at Tabitha, shock written on his face.
Before Tabitha could say anything, the angel disappeared.
“Shit!” Tabitha swore, realizing that Dalton wasn’t the only one that had had too much to drink. “What the hell was I thinking?” she grumbled to herself, shoving her hands in the pockets of her suit jacket as she continued down the sidewalk.
“I kissed a goddamned angel,” she continued grumbling to herself. “What the hell was I thinking? I’m definitely going to Hell for that.”
Tabitha ripped her suit jacket off as she walked into the motel room, throwing it in the direction of her bag as she grabbed the beer bottle out of Sam’s hand, untucking her blouse with her other hand.
“What the hell, Tab?” Sam demanded from his place at the table, his laptop open in front of him.
Drinking three quick swallows, Tabitha fell down on the bed, kicking her heels off as she grumbled again, “Definitely going to Hell.”
Dean leaned back against the old tacky green couch, his arm thrown across the back as he laughed, “Oh yeah, why’s that? What’d you do now?”
She shook her head. “Never mind. So, what did you guys figure out here? Anything useful?”
“Sam’s research seems to show that this is all to raise some major badass demon,” Dean told her, leaning over the coffee table to spin a book around towards her.
Sam took up Dean’s explanation. “They’re blood sacrifices to raise Samhain. It’s—”
Tabitha cut-off her younger brother’s explanation. “I know what it is. And it’s pronounced Sow-en, not Sam-hane.”
Sam stared back at her with a challenging brow raised.
“Worked a case once with this guy that was obsessed with the Gaelic festival. Thought if he made enough sacrifices before the end of Samhain that his brother would be brought back to life or some shit. Dude was basically crazy, but I learned a lot about the pagan traditions of Samhain with all the research we did. Don’t remember blood sacrifices being truly part of it though. But you’re saying there is actually a God, Samhain, or rather, a demon?”
“That’s the way it appears,” Sam said as Tabitha reached over to grab the book on the coffee table, flipping through several pages as she skimmed them and looked at the hand-drawn pictures. “It can only happen every six-hundred years.”
“And let me guess, the six-hundred year has just come around?”
“Yep. And this will take some serious mojo to raise him. And if he is raised,” Sam stood and reached for the book in Tabitha’s hand, flipping to a page and pointing to it, “he’ll do a little raising of his own. We need to stop this witch.”
“So what’re we gonna do?” Tabitha asked.
Tabitha squinted as she stepped out of the Impala; the sunlight was too bright today, even behind her dark sunglasses.
Dean laughed as he stepped beside her, nudging her elbow with his. “Have a little too much last night, did you?”
Tabitha rubbed her throbbing temples. “Lower the volume,” she demanded in a harsh whisper; her mouth feeling like it had been stuffed with formaldehyde and cotton balls. “Let’s get this over with.”
Now that she was sober this morning—or rather, hungover—she was regretting the drinks she’d had last night for more than one reason, not the least of which was the amplification it seemed to give the sun and sounds today.
But mostly, she was really kicking herself for her own actions last night. She still wasn’t sure what had gotten into her head then, but she should have known better, Tabitha and that much whiskey weren’t usually a good idea. Tabitha had never really been an angry or mean drunk—she rarely drank until she got to that point—but rather, she was usually the type to be excessively happy, singing or even occasionally dancing on the bar—or handsy and inappropriate, as last night had proven. She was still in shock that she had actually kissed the angel. Who the hell does that? Kiss an angel. If I wasn’t going to Hell before, I’m definitely going now.
Tabitha followed her brothers into the school, hanging back as they questioned the art teacher their girl had had an altercation with. The teacher explained the altercation, but didn’t seem to have much useful to give them about Tracy.
Not that Tabitha had followed things too closely, she just wanted to get back to their motel and close all the drapes so she could sleep off the rest of her hangover. They’d looked all over town and asked Tracy’s friends, but still couldn’t find the girl anywhere. Tabitha just wanted to rest for a few minutes. But at least they’d had time to change out of their FBI suits earlier, Tabitha felt much more relaxed in jeans, boots, and a long-sleeve t-shirt.
She was the first one through the motel door when they got back, but her head was down as she once again rubbed her temples to relieve her headache, and almost stumbled as Sam pushed past her, pulling his gun as he shouted, “Who are you?”
Her head snapped up as Dean pushed past her as well, grabbing at their brother as he said, “Sam, Sam, wait! It’s Castiel…” he explained, pushing Sam’s gun down, “the angel.”
Tabitha stepped further into the motel room, swallowing against her suddenly dry throat at the sight of the angel sitting on one of the beds, facing away from them.
Dean’s eyes darted across the room to where another man stood, staring out the window with his back to them. “Him, I don’t know,” Dean continued.
Castiel stood from the bed, coming around the end of it to stand in front of her brothers. His eyes flicked over to hers, but then locked onto her brothers as he avoided her gaze. “Hello, Sam.”
“Oh my God,” Sam gushed excitedly, “er, uh, I didn’t mean to—sorry. It’s an honor. Really, I-I’ve heard a lot about you,” he said, holding his hand out to the angel.
Castiel looked down at it, unsure what to do it seemed.
Tabitha moved a little closer into the room, leaning against the wall and crossing her arms over her chest as she whispered, “Take his hand. It’s a human thing.”
The angel didn’t look her way, but she could tell he’d heard her when he cautiously reached out and took her brother’s proffered hand, shaking it as he said, “And I, you. Sam Winchester—the boy with the demon blood. Glad to hear you’ve ceased your extracurricular activities.”
“Let’s keep it that way,” the dark skinned man at the window said, not bothering to turn around and face them.
“Yeah, okay, chuckles,” Dean snidely replied to the man, and then turned back to Castiel. “Who’s your friend?”
Castiel ignored Dean’s question. “This raising of Samhain—have you stopped it?”
Castiel turned back to the oldest Winchester. “Dean, have you located the witch?”
“Yes, we’ve located the witch.”
“And is the witch dead?”
“No, but—” Sam started.
“But we know who it is,” Dean finished.
“Apparently, the witch knows who you are, too.” Castiel walked across the room and picked a hex bag up off the nightstand between the two beds, holding it up as he said, “This was inside the wall of your room. If we hadn’t found it, surely one or all of you would be dead. Do you know where the witch is now?”
“We’ve been looking,” Tabitha said, annoyed at the angel ignoring her. “We’ll find her.”
“That’s unfortunate,” Castiel said, not meeting anyone’s eyes.
“What do you care?” Dean demanded.
Castiel finally looked up, briefly glancing at Tabitha before turning to Dean and explaining, “The raising of Samhain is one of the 66 seals.”
“So this is about your buddy Lucifer,” Dean said.
“Lucifer is no friend of ours,” the other man spat.
“It’s just an expression,” Dean said to the man’s back.
“Lucifer cannot rise,” Castiel continued. “The breaking of the seal must be prevented at all costs.”
“Okay. Great. Well, now that you’re here, why don’t you tell us where the witch is? We’ll gank her, and everyone goes home.”
The angel sighed in exasperation. “We are not omniscient. This witch is very powerful. She’s cloaked even our methods.”
“That’s possible?” Tabitha asked. Castiel glanced at her and nodded once, but didn’t say anything else. “Well, look, we know who she is. So, we’ll find her.”
“Exactly,” Sam agreed. “If we work together—”
“Enough of this,” the man at the window said.
“Who are you, and why should I care?” Dean suddenly demanded.
The man finally turned around to face them as Castiel explained, “This is Uriel. He’s what you might call… a specialist.”
Uriel stepped closer, his expression condescending and sneering all at once.
“What kind of a specialist?” Dean asked.
Castiel and the man stared at each other for a moment, holding each other’s eyes.
They don’t need to know anything. Just let me handle the matter.
I’ll handle this.
Tabitha heard their voices as though they had spoken out loud, and yet she knew that neither of them had—and she was certain the other man was also an angel—and he had been speaking to Castiel in that same way she had heard Castiel’s real voice before. A voice she recognized hearing now.
She glanced at Castiel, and he finally held her eyes, almost imperceptibly shaking his head.
“What are you gonna do?” Dean cautiously asked, not seeming to notice anything having occurred in the silence.
“You—all of you need to leave this town immediately,” Castiel said, holding Tabitha’s eyes for another second before turning to Dean.
“Because we’re about to destroy it,” he matter-of-factly answered.
The siblings shared a look of shock.
“You can’t be serious?” Tabitha whispered, pushing away from the wall and stepping closer to her brothers as she stared at Castiel. But he wasn’t meeting her eyes anymore. And he wasn’t meeting her brothers’ eyes either, instead staring at the floor.
“So this is your plan? You’re gonna smite the whole frickin’ town?” Dean demanded, staring back and forth between the two angels.
“We’re out of time,” Castiel said to the floor. “This witch has to die. The seal must be saved.”
“There are a thousand people here,” Sam said in disbelief.
“1,214,” Uriel broke in.
“And you’re willing to kill them all?”
“This isn’t the first time I’ve… purified a city.”
“Look, I understand this is regrettable,” Castiel interrupted.
“Regrettable?” Dean sneered.
Castiel turned to stare at Dean. “We have to hold the line. Too many seals have broken already.”
“So you screwed the pooch on some seals, and now this town has to pay the price?”
“It’s the lives of 1,000 against the lives of 6 billion. There’s a bigger picture here.”
“Right…” Dean laughed. “‘Cause you’re bigger picture kinda guys.”
“Lucifer cannot rise,” Castiel began again, taking a threatening step closer to Dean as he continued to star up into his eyes. “He does, and Hell rises with him. Is that something that you’re willing to risk?”
“We’ll stop this witch before she summons anyone,” Sam hurried to assure the angels. “Your seal won’t be broken, and no one has to die.”
“We’re wasting time with these mud monkeys,” Uriel angrily said to the other angel.
“I’m sorry,” Castiel said, shaking his head as he turned away. “But we have our orders.”
Tabitha took a step closer to Castiel. “Well, fuck your orders. This is bullshit. You can’t just expect us to turn our backs on the lives of a thousand people—excuse me, 1,214. If there’s still something we can do to save them, you can bet your ass we’re gonna do it. We won’t just let you kill them.”
Castiel wouldn’t meet her eyes as he stared at the wall. “It’s for the greater good.”
“You—you’re angels,” Sam began, shaking his head, “I mean, aren’t you supposed to—you’re supposed to show mercy.”
“Says who?” Uriel laughed, a cruel smile on his face.
“We have no choice,” Castiel said, still speaking to the wall.
“Of course you have a choice,” Dean told him. “I mean, come on, what, you’ve never—never questioned a crap order, huh? What are you both, just a couple of hammers?”
Castiel’s face was impassive, but as Tabitha moved closer, she swore she saw a glimmer of pain in his eyes, and she knew he wasn’t the mindless tool Dean was accusing him of. She’d seen his kindness, seen his compassion. But she didn’t understand why he was trying so hard to mask it now. She glanced at Uriel, wondering if it was because of the other angel.
“Look, even if you can’t understand it, have faith the plan is just,” Castiel said in low tones.
“There’s nothing just about the slaughter of that many people,” Tabitha whispered to him. “Not if there’s still something we can do about it.”
Castiel glanced over at her. “Our orders come from Heaven. That makes it just.”
“Must be nice to just blindly follow orders, never having to give them a second thought or account for your actions,” Tabitha ground out as Castiel finally turned to fully face her.
“Must be nice to be so sure of yourselves,” Dean added.
“Tell me something, Dean,” Castiel said, though his eyes didn’t leave Tabitha’s. “When your father gave you an order, didn’t you obey?”
Tabitha’s eyes narrowed on the angel, knowing he was striking a nerve. Because truthfully, Dean had always been the good little soldier to their father. Always followed John’s orders. Without question. And without fail.
“That’s below the belt,” she whispered to Castiel.
Dean cleared his throat. “Sorry, boys, it looks like the plans have changed.”
“You think you can stop us?” Uriel laughed.
“No,” Dean answered. “But if you’re gonna smite this whole town… then you’re gonna have to smite us with it because we are not leaving,” he said as he stepped in front of Uriel and threw a look over his shoulder at Castiel. “You went to the trouble of busting me out of Hell. I figure I’m worth something to the man upstairs. You want to waste me? Go ahead. See how he digs that.”
“I will drag you out of here myself,” Uriel threatened.
“Yeah, but you’ll have to kill me. Then we’re back to the same problem. I mean, come on. You’re gonna wipe out a whole town for one little witch? Sounds to me like you’re compensating for something.”
Castiel stood watching the exchange, so Tabitha seized the opportunity, turning to Castiel and saying, “I’m with them. We’re not leaving. And you can’t drag all three of us out of here. So you may as well just let us find that witch and do what we do. We’ll stop this. ‘Cause we’re not letting you kill all these people.”
“Castiel, I will not let these—” Uriel angrily began.
“Enough,” Castiel told him, holding a hand up as he stared at Tabitha. You know our true orders. “I suggest you move quickly,” he curtly added to her.
She wondered at what she’d heard him say to Uriel, but jerked her head in a nod, leaning slightly closer and whispering under her breath, “I want to talk to you. Alone.”
He jerked a nod in return, and then the two angels disappeared.
“They weren’t what I expected,” Sam seemed to whisper to himself.
“Yeah, they’re douchebags,” Dean answered.
Tabitha released a shaky breath, and grabbed her insulated denim coat from a chair as she told her brothers, “I need to step outside and get some fresh air for a minute.”
She walked down the line of motel room doors, catching sight of Castiel standing near the top of the stairs down to the parking lot. Passing him, she said, “Follow me,” and continued to the ground level, turning away from the parking lot and walking around the end of the building into the alley.
“Were you really going to just wipe out this whole town?” she rounded on him when they reached the alley.
“I have my orders,” he repeated, staring down at the pavement.
“How can you just be okay with killing that many people?” she demanded.
But Castiel didn’t answer her.
Tabitha huffed and took a step closer to the angel, but he mirrored her action and took a step back. She halted and stared at him.
“Jesus,” she whispered angrily to herself as she rubbed her forehead with her fingers. She’d felt like her hangover had disappeared with the rushing adrenaline of trying to talk the angels out of smiting the town, but now the headache was rearing its head again.
But still, the angel stared hard at the pavement, refusing to meet her eyes.
“Look, I was drunk last night, and I do stupid things when I’m drunk. You don’t have to avoid me like the plague or like I’m going to steal your virtue or something. It was a mistake. Won’t happen again.”
Castiel finally looked up at her and only said, “Find the witch.”
And then, he disappeared.
* For those of you who aren’t that old (although I’m not really either) Tabitha and Dean are joking about two of the characters from the original Charlie’s Angels. Jill and Kelly Kelly (Farrah Fawcett and Jaclyn Smith) were always the two to dress up in skimpy outfits when they went undercover.
A/N: Sorry I’m behind on this story, I try to give weekly updates when I can, but last week I was trying to wrap up a Southern Vampire Mysteries fanfic under my other pen name.
And just a little note from someone who actually lives in (or at least near) a small town, and has lived near small towns my whole life. (I’ve only ever lived in the city limits of a town when I was in college) But anyway, a town with a population of only 1,214 wouldn’t have basically any of the things that Supernatural showed in this episode, but they tend to be very off on anything having to do with small towns in all TV shows and movies. A town with the population of only 1,000 isn’t going to have its own large school system like they show in this episode, and if it does have a school, each grade is probably only going to be around 20-30 kids at the very most, depending on how close the other bigger towns are and how many rural students that school pulls in. And other things in this chapter wouldn’t exactly be right either. There probably wouldn’t even be a clinic, let alone a hospital, and not much for a police force or a motel anywhere near that big. A town of 1,000 would probably only have 2 or so county sheriffs or deputies in the town, although they’d cover the county around it, too. And a murder like this, a small police force wouldn’t handle, they’d bring in police from a bigger force, or just bring the FBI or some other force in to handle it. Small towns of 1,000 are rarely going to see those kinds of crimes so they won’t be too well equipped to handle any evidence from them.
I currently live 4.5 miles away from the nearest town which is 650 or so people, and has an elementary school, with one class per grade of 15 or so students (and they’re mostly from the rural surrounding area) with the high school in another town 30 miles away. The town has three churches (most very small), a truck stop on the highway, and a grocery store that sells a little fresh food and dented cans and boxes. And that’s pretty much it in the town. Most people drive to a bigger town to do their shopping. The town I lived near before this was just over 300 people, so I do know small towns, and I just thought I’d try to paint a little better picture of what small towns are actually going to look like. I think every town I’ve lived near, except for college, was with a population of under 1,000.
Truthfully, I’ve lived in South Dakota for a long time now, and it’s always surprised me how wrong they get small towns, but also how wrong they get Sioux Falls where Bobby is supposed to live. Sioux Falls is the largest city in the state of South Dakota, not the sleepy little town the show always portrays. It’s 156,000 people, which is still a small city compared to most metropolitan states, but not the sleepy little burg they show.
Anyway, just thought I’d try to clear up a few misconceptions!
Thanks for reading, and thanks so much to everyone who reads and adds this to your favorites and reviews!