A/N: This is the censored version of this chapter. There isn’t anything vital cut out of this version; it’s just cleaned up a bit. If you would like to read the unadulterated version, (and you completely agree that you are of legal age to read adult content per your country’s laws) then you can locate the uncensored version in my collection of the uncensored chapters called Angels With Only One Wing.
Chapter 17: Stay With Me (Censored Version)
“God, Dean. Could you at least take a few breaths between bites?” Tabitha asked her brother as he wolfed down his bacon cheeseburger.
“What? I’m hungry,” he told her around a mouthful of food.
Tabitha cringed as she turned back to her own sandwich, absently dipping it in the au jus dip as she turned back to her laptop on the table next to her plate. “I can really see what attracts a woman to you,” she muttered as she scrolled down the page on her screen.
“Damn right,” he agreed, washing his food down with the last of his beer.
“Your table manners do leave a little something to be desired,” Sam agreed, still picking at his salad.
Dean shrugged unconcerned, flagging down their waitress for another beer and proceeding to flirt unashamedly with the ditzy girl.
Tabitha didn’t look up from her screen as she commented, “At least you know to flirt with dumb bimbos like that who don’t know to set their standards any higher.”
She could almost hear the grin in his smug reply. “Exactly. Just my type.”
“You gonna eat that thing or just marinate it, Tab?”
Hearing Sam say her name, she finally looked up from her computer screen with an ineloquent, “Huh?”
With a pointed look at her plate, Sam said, “Your sandwich. You going to eat that or just keep holding it in your au jus until it falls apart?”
Finally following his look, Tabitha saw that her French dip was indeed beginning to fall apart in the cup of juice, the bread soaking up the dip and turning soggy as it fell apart.
“Oops,” she mumbled as she set her sandwich back on her plate, no longer finding it all that appetizing or that she had much of an appetite.
“What is going on with you?” Dean demanded as he pushed back from their table, leaning his chair back on its hind legs.
But Tabitha wasn’t fooled by the relaxed pose. Dean was coiled and ready to strike on whatever she might let slip. And she was damn well determined not to. At least not to let slip what had been on her mind the past two days. She’d been doing her damnedest to think of anything but that.
Instead, she told them what was currently on her mind. Though her current problem wasn’t much more pleasing to spend her time dwelling on.
“I think I need to split off from you guys for a couple of days.”
“What?” Dean demanded in a harder voice, his chair falling forward with a resounding and final thud. “We just got to town to check out this vengeful spirit. And you want to take off for somewhere else? Not until we’re done here.”
She’d known it wouldn’t be easy, but she still fought not to roll her eyes at her brother. “We just got done handling a vengeful spirit—one you insisted the two of you could have handled just fine on your own and didn’t need me—so I guess you don’t really need me on this one either. And it’s just for a few days. I need to head to California to take care of something.”
“What’s in California, Tab?” Sam asked, trying to be calm and levelheaded.
“Something I need to take care of.”
“Oh, no!” Dean argued, glancing around when his voice carried across the marginally filled restaurant and lowering his voice. “You’re not getting by with that. You wanna take off, you better tell us what’s going on.”
Tabitha pushed her laptop until she’d spun it around to face her brothers, pointing at the screen. “I finally caught an article pertaining to a kid I’ve been looking for. Mikey—son of the one security guard I had to shoot at the FBI building back in Virginia,” she told them in a low voice, carefully scanning around the room. “He took time off work after his father’s funeral, and nobody had seen him since the funeral. But he finally showed back up out in California.”
Sam and Dean leaned forward to scan the article.
Looking up, Sam commented, “Says here that he bypassed a security alarm to rob a jewelry store, and was caught when a silent alarm inside the store was tripped.”
Dean looked grim as he told her, “Also says here that this wasn’t his first crime. Did some shoplifting as a juvenile offender, and even was suspected of some other crimes and thefts. Doesn’t sound like this is anything that we handle, Tab.”
“No,” she agreed. “It might not be, but I still need to go check on him. Mikey had some…sticky hands let’s say, but after he stole a neighbor’s car for a joyride, I helped his dad straighten him out. Told him that if the neighbor chose to report it, that it would be his third strike and he’d be sent to jail for a long time. Especially since GTA was a federal crime—”
Sam cut her off. “I thought the kid was a minor. The third strike mandate doesn’t apply to minors like that.”
Tabitha shrugged. “I may have embellished things a bit. I was trying to scare the kid into straightening up his life. And he did. He went to college and got a job out in California I guess. But I’m worried that the death of his father is what sent him back onto this kind of path.”
“Tab, what happened with his father isn’t your fault,” Sam kindly told her, reaching across the corner of the table to affectionately squeeze her shoulder. “And it’s not your fault if this kid decided to make stupid decisions in the wake of his grief. You can’t keep taking in troubled kids like this.”
She knew he was referring to the similarities between Shawn and Mikey, and couldn’t argue there. “Kids dealt a rough hand in life whose fathers are dead. I guess I can relate to them,” she commented with a sad smile.
“Look, I can understand feeling some responsibility for this kid,” Dean told her, a look of real understanding in his eyes. “But how ’bout we finish this case, and then the three of us will blow over to the west coast and you can check on this kid.”
But she shook her head. “I don’t want to wait. They’re pushing to start his trial already by next week, and I want to go see him before then. See if there’s anything I can do to help him out.”
“How’s it going to be of any help to him? One, the kid thinks you’re dead. And two, the kid knows…” but Dean trailed off, seeming to realize how cold it was going to come out.
Tabitha finished for him. “Knows I killed his dad. Apparently for no reason. I know. But maybe there’s something I can do, even if it isn’t safe to go talk to him. I just feel like I can’t abandon the kid after what I did.”
Sam folded his arms over the table and pushed his salad plate away. “I hate to point it out, Tabby, but the last time you split off on your own is when the kid’s dad got killed. Maybe you leaving on your own isn’t the best idea. This could be demons again. We still don’t know why they were after you, but it might be they know what you can do. You know,” he commented pointing discreetly to his head and glancing around the room to make sure no one could overhear them. “Maybe it would be safer to take Dean’s advice and wait until we can all go together. Just in case this is the demons setting another trap for you.”
“I don’t want to wait,” she insisted.
“Fine,” Dean told her, shocking her with his sudden agreement. But then, he crossed his arms over his chest. His surefire sign of stubbornness that meant she wasn’t going to like or agree with whatever came next. “I’ll stay here and take care of the vengeful spirit, and Sammy can go with you to California.”
Tabitha stared in shock between her brothers. Sam looked reluctant, but wasn’t arguing with Dean’s command.
“No,” she told them in a hard voice. “You’re not staying here alone to deal with a vengeful spirit. That last one nearly kicked both of your asses. You’re not taking one on alone. I can drive to California by myself and back just fine.”
“I’m sure you can,” Dean agreed. “But it’s not happening. Sam’s right. What if this is another trap? I’m not letting you walk into another one all alone.”
Slowly, Tabitha reached forward and shut her laptop, clearing it off the table as she thoughtfully told them, “I might have a decent alternative for us. If you don’t want me to go alone, I might know of another hunter that will say yes if I ask him to go with me.”
Tabitha? Tabitha? Can you hear me? Where are you?
Tabitha had been feeling the tightness and pressure in her mind for a few minutes, and had started to suspect that Castiel was trying to reach her, so she wasn’t surprised when his words finally reached her mind—or however it was that she heard him.
She let out a tired sigh and considered ignoring the angel’s calls—after all, it had been several days since he’d sent out his warning for her to go save her brothers, and then hadn’t bothered to contact her once since—but she knew it would be petty to ignore him. And though she felt too exhausted to consider launching into the conversation they needed to have, she concentrated and told him, Headed north on I29 in South Dakota, just past exit 62.
“Where are you going?” Castiel suddenly asked from beside her in the passenger seat.
She huffed. “I’m headed north. Thought I’d go over into Minnesota and watch the Vikings play. Jeez, where do you think I’m going, Cas?”
“I didn’t think there were any more Vikings,” the angel murmured almost to himself.
“You’re thinking of the North Stars. Lost them to Texas years ago.”
The angel just stared at her, not understanding her references and teases. “Forget it,” she mumbled, “I’m too tired to get into an explanation of the history of area sports teams tonight.”
She continued driving for several miles, waiting for the angel to speak. But a heavy silence filled the car she had acquired earlier in the evening. True it had been silent before—the stereo didn’t work in the car she’d stolen for this trip—but somehow, the more crowded the old Pontiac had become, the heavier the silence had also become.
“Sooo,” she drew out, pointedly clearing her throat. “You tracked me down, Cas. What did you want?” she asked. Somehow, she knew he wasn’t there just for company or to sit in the silence that reigned over the vehicle.
“I needed to talk to you,” he almost nervously explained, his voice soft and unsteady.
“Okaayy,” she slowly drew out. “Sooo…talk. Say whatever you needed to say.”
“It was a mistake,” he told her in a soft voice.
Tabitha’s eyes cut away from the empty interstate, straining to see him in the darkened interior of the old car. The angel was sitting stiffly in the passenger seat, his hands clapped against his knees as he stared straight ahead into the dark night.
“‘Mistake,'” she slowly repeated. “What? Coming here just now? Or something else?” she carefully asked, though a part of her had more than an inkling as she looked back at the lonely interstate.
“What happened,” he lowly admitted, but didn’t say more.
She shifted in the uncomfortable driver’s seat, the hard springs of the seat digging into her as she moved to find a more comfortable position. Glancing across at the angel again, she lifted her left foot to rest against the pocket in the recess of the door, resting her left arm against her drawn up knee as she drove, able to turn better now and regard the angel just across the seat from her.
“You mean that kiss,” she finally said when he remained silent. Castiel might not want to be blunt about the matter, but that didn’t mean that she was going to dance around it.
He finally glanced across at her, his whole body remaining stiff and his movements slightly jerky. “I should not have acted that way,” he told her. “It was wrong.”
His brow furrowed a bit at her whispered question. “We are…different,” he finally told her.
She felt her own body stiffen in response. “You mean that I’m human.”
But he shook his head. “No. I mean that I’m an angel.”
Her eyes left the road again as her confusion built. “What’s the difference?”
Castiel stayed quiet though, not seeming to know how to answer. “It is,” he finally whispered.
Tabitha stared at the road for several more tense minutes, half expecting the angel to disappear at any moment, but he merely sat rigidly across from her, seeming as though a stiff wind would break him or blow him over.
“Why did you kiss me?”
Castiel had turned to look back at the interstate, but jerked at the sound of her voice, turning to look at her with guarded eyes. “What?” he finally whispered.
She raised her voice a bit more, repeating the same question. “Why did you kiss me?” When he continued to stare, she huffed and elaborated. “Were you just curious about what it would be like? Or did you want to kiss me like that for some reason? Or was there some emotion driving it? What?”
He turned to stare down at the dashboard in front of him. “I don’t know,” he whispered.
Tabitha let out a growl of frustration as her other hand slapped the top of the steering wheel. “Dammit, Cas! I get being confused. I’m confused as hell myself, but I don’t know what to think about any of this when you can’t even tell me why you would do something like that. And then you sit there and tell me it was a mistake. Well…maybe it was, but how am I supposed to go along with that when you can’t even tell me why you did it in the first place? Am I so inconsequential in your mind that you can just sate your curiosity about something like that with me, and then just shove me aside without any explanation whatsoever? I thought we were at least friends!”
Though she had told herself not to be petty, she couldn’t help the frustration and emotions creeping in, causing her to raise her voice and yell at the infuriatingly silent angel.
“Say something,” she finally growled.
“I don’t think angels are meant to have friends any more than they are meant to have feelings,” he suddenly admitted in another soft whisper, still staring down at the dashboard, his frame coiled and rigid.
He suddenly heaved a sigh and finally turned to meet her eyes again. “Even hoping to maintain a friendship with you is something Heaven would be displeased with. More could be catastrophic. The charms on your bracelet hide you from Heaven’s gaze, but if our…friendship was discovered…you…we…could be in great danger. More than friendship…is not possible.”
For several weighty and silent minutes, Tabitha tried to absorb what Castiel had told her. Struggling to process all of his words.
“You still haven’t said why you kissed me,” she whispered, staring ahead into the darkness.
She turned when she saw the angel open his mouth out of the corner of her eye, but it held open for a moment, and then shut, no words passing his lips.
Both of her hands wrapped around the steering wheel as her frustrations built.
“Get out of this car.”
Castiel’s head tilted just slightly at her whispered words.
She raised her voice and added, “I mean it.”
“Perhaps it is selfish of me to even want your friendship,” the angel suddenly told her. “I don’t feel so…lonely…when I am in your company. But it puts you in danger. Your charms do hide you from their eyes…and I can hide my movements…but I fear what might happen if our friendship is discovered. And yet…I yearn for the kindness and concern only you have ever shown me. But as I said…perhaps it’s foolish to put you in that kind of potential danger. I don’t want anything to happen to you. I am after all, charged with keeping you safe.”
Tabitha drew in a deep breath to try to calm herself, angry that suddenly the angel couldn’t seem to stop talking. And yet, in everything he had said, he still wouldn’t answer her simple question.
“So it comes back to poor, simple, human, me. You’re doing whatever you’re doing to protect me, and I get no more explanations from you, and no say in anything because I’m just a dumb human,” she hissed.
From the corner of her eye, she saw his knuckles whiten as his hands tightened on his knees. “That’s not what I’m saying,” he growled, struggling to contain the anger in his own voice.
“Just get out of this car!” she yelled in return, struggling to hold her eyes straight ahead on the interstate. “Get out! If you can’t treat me like a friend and equal and be honest, just get out! Get out before I saw something I’ll regret!”
Silence filled the car, and Tabitha didn’t need to look across the way to know that it was empty. There was an almost tangible feeling of loneliness and…sadness left in the angel’s wake.
Looking down, Tabitha saw she was pushing the old beater car to nearly 100 mph on the deserted interstate in her anger, and as her foot let up on the gas pedal, some of her frustrations and anger began to slip away.
Tabitha honked her horn several times as she sat outside Bobby’s house next to his Chevelle, waiting for him to come out so they could get back on the road.
He had a few duffle bags slung on his shoulder as he stepped out the door, waiting on the top step with his arms crossed and an unimpressed look on his face as he stared at her from in front of the closed door. She finally huffed and got out the car, bounding quickly up the steps and taking a few of his bags from him.
But Bobby held onto the straps when she tried to pull away, jerking her back around to face him as he remained planted on the step.
“What bug crawled up your behind and died?” he lazily drawled. “Something’s got you in a right foul mood.”
She let out a long sigh and pushed her frustrations further away, immediately apologizing to the older hunter. “I’m sorry, Bobby. I guess I am in a foul mood tonight, and I have no right to take it out on you.”
“Better,” he simply said, pulling his bags back from her and slinging them onto his shoulder again as he walked down to her stolen car, examining it with a coldly critical eye.
“Where’d you swipe this heap?” he asked.
She shrugged. “A little slum area of Detroit that was heavily frequented by drug dealers, users, gangbangers, pimps, and prostitutes. You can have it when we’re done. I doubt it’ll be reported as stolen.”
Bobby circled it as he looked it over with eyes that had assessed thousands of cars in his lifetime. “Doubt it’ll even make it to California,” he muttered.
“You got a better idea?”
“Sure,” he replied, straightening up from where he’d bent down to check the tires. “A bicycle.”
She rolled her eyes at the heavy sarcasm. “Well, I don’t want to take the Chevelle. Unless you’ve finally replaced the shocks on it, it’s rougher than sin, Bobby.”
He chuckled. “Wouldn’t know about that, Tab. I’m unaccustomed to sin myself.” He moved away from her, heading in the direction of one of his old barns, throwing over his shoulder, “I had something else in mind actually. Leave that pile of junk there.”
Giving another careless shrug, Tabitha quickly grabbed her gear and headed after Bobby, finding him waiting just outside one of his old barns, his hand on the door, waiting to push it open.
When she reached the door, he threw his shoulder into it, and slid the wood door open.
Tabitha’s eyes strained to peer into the darkness, stepping a little ways into the dusty barn as her eyes took in the detail of the charcoal gray car waiting just inside the door.
“Is that—” but she trailed off, hardly believing it was even possible.
“They were selling it at auction, so I took a trip and bought it,” Bobby explained, stepping past her and running a hand along the trunk. “I knew you wouldn’t be able to get it yourself, and I figured you’d appreciate having at least something of yours back. I know you weren’t able to take much when the FBI was looking for you.” He turned and looked up at her with a half-smile as he continued explaining, “I had to change it from the original blue we’d restored it to, so I figured I’d go with this dark, smoky gray you’d always wanted it to be. And ‘course, I changed the VIN numbers. You’ve got a clear title and registration for it now in one of those aliases of yours, too.”
Tabitha finally tore her eyes away from the ’69 Mustang Boss 302 that she had Bobby had started restoring when she’d turned 16. The straps of her bags fell from her shoulders as she wrapped Bobby in a fierce hug, ignoring his half-hearted protests. The two of them had spent years working on it together, anytime she’d stayed with Bobby for more than a day or two, but they hadn’t yet finished it when she had left to go to college with Sam, and after that, she hadn’t left college very often to go see Bobby.
But the day she’d finished her training at Quantico and gotten her badge, she’d driven back to the tiny house she’d been renting to find the finished Mustang with a note from Bobby in her driveway. He’d finished it to mint condition and left it in her driveway as a present, though she hadn’t even known he’d come that day for the ceremony were she’d been given her badge. She hadn’t realized anyone had come to the ceremony that day, but according to Dean, both he and their father had been there as well as Bobby. But none of them had let her know of their presence during the ceremony.
And now, Bobby had surprised her again just as thoroughly as all those year ago.
“Thanks,” she finally squeaked out, releasing Bobby as she turned back to the car, knowing he didn’t like to be gushed over. “It looks great,” she told him.
Bobby shrugged, trying to retain his gruff demeanor as he too looked back at the car. “It’s not bad,” he casually agreed. “I’ll admit, even though this isn’t one of the original colors like it should be, it doesn’t look half bad.”
She grinned as she stared at it, “Dean’s gonna be so jealous,” she told him, remembering the fights they’d gotten into growing up because Bobby had given her the old car and had helped her rebuild it.
Bobby chuckled. “Boy got the Impala from your dad, so he’s got no cause to complain. Just never could understand why Sam never wanted a car though. I’d have found him one if he wanted.”
Tabitha shrugged as she opened the driver’s door, smiling at the familiar dark interior and black leather bucket seats. “Sam never did care much about cars. He’d probably drive something newer if it was up to him.”
Bobby joined her in the car, and soon she had thrown the white round gearshift into first gear, her feet dancing against the pedals as she easily slid through the gears, grinning at the familiar whine of the engine as she tore down the gravel roads, knowing that no other drivers would be out on the roads with her at two in the morning.
Bracing himself against the door at her speed, Bobby finally asked her, “So what is this situation all about that demanded your immediate attention in California? You were a little vague on the details as to why this Mikey Sanderson was such an important matter to you.”
Tabitha quickly outlined the important details, explaining that he’d been the son of one of the possessed men she’d had to kill that night at the FBI offices in Virginia, and so, therefore, one of the men she’d been wanted for murdering.
“So you think this kid just stole some jewelry because he was grieving over his lost daddy?” Bobby slowly asked.
“He’s had some trouble in the past with shoplifting and such,” she admitted. “I think his grief just made him get in over his head. He’s a good kid. I just want to see if there’s anything I can do for him.”
Bobby shifted uncomfortably beside her.
“What?” she asked him.
“They’re not just trying to charge him with robbery, Tab,” he finally explained.
“I’m sure they’ve tacked on B&E and several other charges,” she agreed.
He shook his head. “That’s not what I’m saying. After you called, I looked into the case, and the ADA is trying to get assault charges and a few others added to the docket. Seems this Mikey kid got into the jewelry store as the last employee was closing up. And beat her up pretty good, but she’s fighting the ADA on pressing charges since Mikey was her boyfriend. He doesn’t sound quite like the good kid you remember, Tab.”
Tabitha’s hands tightened on the steering wheel as she tried to process the new information. It hadn’t been in the article she’d read, but then, it wouldn’t have been if the Assistant District Attorney was still trying to get the girlfriend to press charges.
“That just doesn’t sound like the Mikey I know,” she whispered.
“People change,” Bobby replied. “Grief’s hard on some.”
She glanced across the way, knowing that Bobby knew more about it than most.
Seeming to sense her stare, Bobby quickly changed the subject. “What had you in such a foul mood when you pulled up?”
And instantly, she could feel that mood starting to return as she remembered the less than successful and less than pleasant conversation she’d had with Castiel. She wasn’t even sure why she had gotten so mad at the angel when he wouldn’t explain why he’d kissed her. Part of her did want to know why, but another part of her was terrified at finding out. And everything together was just putting her into a foul mood.
With a suspicious look, she told Bobby, “We’re not having a heart-to-heart, Bobby. Just because you gave me a car, doesn’t make you Oprah.”
He laughed, but finally relented. “Fine. Be that way. I’m gonna get some shut-eye though. Too old to be up all night all the time.”
“So, how should we play this? What cover should we use?” Tabitha asked Bobby after she’d showered, walking back into the main part of their room in a t-shirt and shorts as she looked through her clothes.
“‘We?'” he repeated, straightening the tie of his gray suit. “There’s no ‘we’ anywhere in the equation. Not like he won’t remember the woman who killed his father.”
Tabitha bristled at the blunt reminder, but knew Bobby was just trying to bluntly point out the truth of the situation.
“I’m going to go offer the kid some new legal counsel. He’s still in lockup, so law and order, or law enforcement are the only ways to get to him. The kid didn’t have enough money for a real defense attorney, so he’s got a public defender. I figure he might be more inclined to tell me everything he knows if I offer to take his case pro bono rather than me going in there and pretending to be a Fed or something.”
Tabitha paced at the foot of her bed as she thought. “Good. That’s a good idea. I think I’ll play Fed though and go take a look at the crime scene, see if there’s anything helpful there.”
Bobby crossed his arms as he looked at her. “You really think there’s more going on than just this kid robbing a place he thought might be easy pickin’s because his girlfriend worked there?”
“I do,” she insisted, digging out one of her skirt suits. “Mikey was never a violent kid. Liked to take risks, sure, but never violent. It just doesn’t seem right to me, Bobby. I think there’s got to be more going on here.”
“All right,” Bobby finally agreed. “But if we’re gonna split up, you damn well better promise to be careful.”
Tabitha had easily managed to wave her FBI badge and get past the patrolmen stationed at the back entrance of the jewelry store. They were always so intimidated by federal agents anyway, so they didn’t have the guts to stop her—though she didn’t fool herself into believing that they hadn’t called in her presence as soon as she was out of sight.
Actually, since a week had passed, she was slightly surprised that the crime scene hadn’t been released to the owners for clean-up yet, but she supposed the ambitious ADA hadn’t allowed it yet since he was still trying to add on charges and was pushing for trial so quickly as well.
She was surprised by the sight of the actual crime scene. Since she knew Mikey, she had assumed that the kid had figured a way to bypass security completely, or now knowing his girlfriend had been working at the store, had assumed he’d used her to gain entry. And while the outer doors with security alarms had somehow been cleanly bypassed, the inner glass door had merely been smashed, no attempt even made to unlock it.
Tabitha stepped carefully over the shattered glass strewn on the tile floor, trying not to slip in her heels as she tried to imagine the gentle Mikey she’d known shattering the glass door with such vehemence, that glass was scattered for a dozen feet or more.
The main showroom and beyond was just as confounding to her. The glass display cases were smashed from the top rather than any attempts made at unlocking the sliding doors to them, but in the room beyond the showroom, Tabitha could see the vault door hanging open. The vault door didn’t have a scratch on it, and from what Tabitha had read in the reports, had somehow been bypassed just as the security system had. In fact, it had been the act of smashing the display cases after the vault had already been opened that had triggered a silent alarm.
The finesse and careful planning on one hand, just didn’t add up with the absolute destruction on the other hand. It was almost like looking at a case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
“Quite the mess, isn’t it?”
Tabitha turned at the man’s voice behind her, watching as a trim looking man with short brown hair carefully stepped through the same broken door she’d come through only minutes before.
“And you are?” she asked, staring at his familiar Latino face and trying to place that self-assured smile.
“Detective Shane Ramos,” he told her, stepping forward and offering her his hand. “I was on my way down when the patrolmen let me know that a Fed was sniffing around. They didn’t say it was such a pretty Fed on my territory though.”
She smiled automatically at the flirtation, still trying to place the man, almost positive she’d seen him somewhere before.
Finally, she had to ask, “Have we met before?”
He held onto her hand after he’d shaken it, staring curiously into her eyes. “I had the same feeling,” he told her. “You do look very familiar, Agent…”
She gave a little smile. “Of course. Special Agent Margarita Cansino. But everyone calls me Rita.”
“Huh,” he muttered, still not relinquishing her hand. “You do look familiar. I was thinking something more like Tracey or Tiffany though. You ever work in Seattle? I was a detective there before. And I know I’ve seen you before somewhere.”
Seattle? she groaned to herself. That’s why he looks familiar. But she didn’t let her internal panic show. She’d only briefly dealt with the local police in Seattle, and had only had a brief conversation with Detective Ramos that she could remember. Since he might remember her visit, she knew she had to stick to the truth. Thankfully, most people easily confused names, so changing her name shouldn’t prove too problematic.
“There you go,” she told him. “I worked a series of deaths in Seattle. Women raped, strangled, and left in parks throughout the city. The FBI was called in to help with the case after the fourth woman was found.”
“Right,” he said, satisfaction laced in his voice at placing her. “I remember now. The Belvedere Park Rapist.” He finally seemed to realize he was still holding her hand and released it.
Like all monikers that killers and rapists were dubbed with, it wasn’t exactly accurate. The name had been coined early on, when the first two bodies had been dumped in Belvedere Park, but the next five bodies had been dumped in different parks throughout the city before the FBI had identified the suspect and arrested him.
“So,” he began, “what brings you here, Special Agent Cansino? This is a robbery, not exactly rape and homicide. I thought that was what your little team handled, the gruesome stuff.”
Tabitha hid a grin at his assessment of her former team, moving around the showroom to continue looking at the scene. “We handle violent crimes,” she said, stepping behind the register to look at the blood drops and pools mingled on the ground with the shattered glass. “Robbery and assault fall under our umbrella,” she continued.
“But why are you interested in this particular robbery and assault?”
She shrugged, not looking up at the detective behind her. “Thought it might have the earmarks of a string of other robberies. So I came to take a look.”
Seeing she wasn’t going to give any more information, Ramos followed her behind the counter, unbuttoning his suit jacket as he crouched beside her, pointing at the small blood pools. “That’s where we found the assault vic. She was closing up the store when her boyfriend bypassed the security system. She tried to stop him once he made his way into the store, and got beaten for her trouble. Broken cheekbone, two fractured ribs, and a sprained wrist. The guy probably broke in when she was closing up thinking that she would go along with it.”
Tabitha stood and looked around the store. “This is a jewelry store. Lot of expensive merchandise in here. So why was there only one employee closing up the shop all by herself?”
Giving a reluctantly impressed smile at her accurate assessment, Ramos explained, “Yeah, there was supposed to be two employees closing up, but the vic said her friend wanted to cut out early to go pick up his girlfriend for an anniversary dinner, so she decided to cover by herself. Look what her troubles got her.”
“And the boyfriend just happened to know that she’d be closing up by herself that night and that it would be the best time to hit the store?”
Ramos heard the disbelief in her voice and bristled as he defended, “Maybe he just got lucky. Or hell, maybe she told him she was gonna close up by herself.”
Something caught Tabitha’s eyes as she passed one of the shattered display cases. As she bent over it to get a closer look, she told the detective, “I don’t exactly believe in luck. Good or bad.”
“Everything in those cases has been cataloged,” he warned her with a smirk as she leaned closer and reached into the jewelry case filled with diamond rings of various sizes, cuts, and colors.
She let her finger trail across the glass at the bottom of the case, picking up some of the substance she’d spotted as she glanced across the shattered display at Ramos. “I’d rather a man gave me a diamond ring than steal one,” she told him.
He coughed and looked away uncomfortably. She chuckled at the predictability, but took the opportunity to smell the yellowish dust on her finger. Her nose wrinkled at the acrid sulfur smell. Demon, she glumly thought to herself. But at least she had an explanation for the strange behavior of the gentle kid she’d known.
Now several questions remained: Why had a demon jumped into Mikey? Chance? Or something else?
“You’re sure it was sulfur?” Bobby asked her as they sat at a small diner eating and drinking coffee as they shared their day’s findings.
“I know sulfur when I see it and smell it, Bobby. It’s hard to mistake,” she grumbled, taking another bite of her burger.
“I tested the kid,” Bobby told her. “He had no reaction to the mention of God. I also flashed a rosary when I was pulling stuff out of my briefcase, and I even managed to sneak a bottle of holy water in that the kid drank. Nothing affected the kid.”
“So the demon jumped out of him,” she shrugged. “What did he have to say about the robbery?”
Bobby leaned back in his side of the booth, cup of coffee in hand as he admitted, “That he really didn’t remember much about it and wasn’t sure why he’d do something like rob his girlfriend’s store and beat her up.”
“See,” Tabitha pointed out, struggling to quickly chew and swallow her mouthful of burger. “The sulfur, the violence, his memory loss—all hallmarks of possession. We just need to figure out how to get Mikey out of there now. He doesn’t deserve to be in jail for something he didn’t do. Maybe we can arrange bail for him or something for now. Then help him disappear.”
Finger’s tightening around his cup, Bobby dourly explained, “We’re kinda beyond that now, Tab. ADA convinced the girl to press charges against him now, and with the added charges, they’ve taken bail off the table. In fact, they’re moving him from county lock-up to a federal maximum security prison.”
Slumping back against her seat in shock, Tabitha wildly tried to grip at other and new ideas for how to get Mikey out of his jam.
“I’m sorry, Tab,” Bobby kindly told her.
“Damn sorry,” she whispered in return, her eyes slowly drifting back up to the man across from her. “Some demon jumped Mikey. I can’t help but think that it has to be my fault. Why else would a demon just randomly jump him? I need to get him out of this mess. It’s my responsibility.”
“Whoa now, girl,” Bobby told her, setting his cup down hard on the table as he leaned over it and sternly told her, “Look, if you’re right about demons getting this kid because of you, then that’s all the more reason to get out of town as quick as we can. I know you feel bad about the kid, but you getting captured or killed by demons ain’t gonna make it right for him. If you really want to see the kid out of this mess, I’ll pass the information along to someone else and see if I can’t get another hunter or two to try and get the kid out.”
“When are they moving him to the maximum security?” she asked instead.
With the reluctance of having teeth pulled, Bobby finally admitted, “Later tonight. They’re planning to move him after the last shift change at the county jail so there are fresh guards on duty for taking him to the federal prison. Sometime after 9 this evening.”
Tabitha looked briefly towards the ceiling in frustration. “Tonight,” she muttered. “Then we have to do something when they’re moving him or just before. Another hunter won’t be able to get him out of a maximum security prison after he’s been moved there, even if you could get another hunter to try something so crazy.”
“Maybe you should call your brothers,” Bobby suggested as if the word “crazy” heralded their names, his arms crossing stubbornly over his chest again.
“Why?” she demanded. “To have them agree with you even though you and I both know I’m right. If we don’t get Mikey out tonight, our chances go down to next to nil. Mikey’s best shot for getting out of this is for us to get him tonight. I can’t just walk away from him, Bobby. He’s probably in this mess because of me. And besides, I owe him. I did kill his father after all.”
Bobby frowned as he met her gaze. “You killed a demon that just happened to be possessing that boy’s father. The man dying too was just an unfortunate side-effect of a lot of exorcisms.”
Tabitha grimaced bitterly. “I didn’t actually exorcise that demon, Bobby. I shot Jerry—the guy he was possessing—and he fell back against a pane of glass that was already riddled with bullet holes, and by the time he hit the ground outside, he was dead and the demon had disappeared.”
Understanding filled Bobby’s eyes. “So that’s how a demon would know to go after the kid and where he would be.”
“Yeah,” Tabitha agreed. “I should have figured out a way to exorcise that demon at the very least instead of letting it go. So it’s my fault every way you look at it.”
“I’m really not even sure how we would go about getting this kid out of police custody, Tabitha.”
The wheels had already been turning in Tabitha’s mind. “We could go in there as Marshals, say we’re taking him into custody on Federal charges somewhere else. I could forge paperwork easily enough. If we do it just before they’re going to move him, they might not have time to make any calls to check on the validity of the papers.”
Bobby shook his head. “Or, they’d decide to just keep him where he is overnight until they can check on the paperwork and then our covers are blown. Besides, I’ve already been in there as his lawyer, and you said you told that detective at the crime scene that you were with the FBI. But regardless, you couldn’t go in there alone demanding they hand over a prisoner to you.”
Absently spearing the food left on her plate with her fork, Tabitha thought some more. “How about a simple ‘smash and grab’ then when they try to move him?”
Bobby picked up his coffee again as he looked at her in disbelief. “‘Smash and grab?'” he repeated.
“Well,” she defended, “you don’t think finesse will work. Then we’re kinda only left with brunt force.”
“There’s only two of us,” he pointed out.
“But I’ve got the law enforcement experience here, Bobby,” she reminded him, pushing her plate aside as the plan started forming in her mind. “If they’re going to wait until so late to move him, then I can just about bet they’re only moving just him. They wait until middle of the morning to move large groups of prisoners to different facilities. And if they’re moving just him, it’ll probably be in a small transport van or even in a car. At most, there might be three or four men, probably only two if they take a car.” She leaned eagerly forward, hoping Bobby would accept her plan. “This is our best shot.”
“‘Smash and grab,'” he slowly repeated. When she nodded, he told her, “We’re gonna need to find a pretty hefty pickup.”
Tabitha glanced at her watch. It was only 8:30. They still had another half-hour to wait before they really had to start watching for the transport from county lock-up to the federal lock-up. They’d already been waiting for an hour to make sure they were in place plenty ahead of time and could make sure there was nothing out of the ordinary going on.
An hour had already been far too long for the silence in the old pickup to stretch on. She looked across at Bobby behind the wheel of the 50s Ford pickup they’d found to use, but Bobby seemed unconcerned with the silence or the wait. He was slumped down in his seat, his eyes half-closed. But Tabitha knew from experience that his posture was deceptive. Even when he’d been slouched in his recliner in his living room like that, she and her brothers had never been able to sneak by him. He’d always known where they were and exactly what they were trying to sneak into or out of.
Her heavy boots tapped anxiously against the floorboards as she sighed and looked away, wishing there was some kind of action going on to keep her mind occupied. Without something happening, her mind kept drifting. And kept drifting right back to where she didn’t want it to go.
She caught her hand creeping up to her lips, and balled it into a fist as she huffed in frustration at its traitorous action. For days, she’d been telling herself not to think about it. But for days, she found herself coming back to it again and again. She wasn’t even sure why she wanted to know the reason behind the angel kissing her. Because truthfully, she wasn’t sure what she wanted his answer to be.
And wasn’t even sure if knowing the answer would settle the knot that had grown in her stomach, or just add to it.
Did she want Castiel to have kissed her like that?
Or did she just want things to go back to the way they’d been before?
One thing she knew for certain, she did miss the angel. Even if she’d been angry with him and had told him to leave. Things had been simpler before the angel had kissed her that way. But no one had ever accused her of wanting something simple.
And she felt guilty now about getting so upset with the angel and kicking him out of the car. She’d never really fought with the angel before, and wasn’t sure what course she should take next.
It wasn’t that she wasn’t used to arguing. Hell, people who had known her knew that she’d argue for the sheer pleasure of it, but she didn’t know what to do about arguing with the angel.
Everyone else in her life was easy to argue with. She argued with her brothers constantly. Lately, she argued especially with Dean—and strangely enough, it was mostly about the angel. But with her brothers, they argued, and then ignored each other until they’d cooled down, and then usually didn’t even bring the matter up again.
With the other men that had been in her life—and they were usually in her life for the same reason—arguments usually led to and were resolved in rounds of make-up sex.
She blushed at the last thought and turned away from Bobby.
“What’s occupying your mind that’s got you all squirrley?” Bobby asked her, still slumped over in the driver’s seat.
She frowned. It was the same thing Dean was always accusing her of, and she wondered if Dean had gotten the term from Bobby, or if Bobby had gotten it from Dean. She couldn’t remember who had started accusing her of it first.
“Nothing,” she said shortly, still looking out her window at the side mirrors showing the closed gates of the county jail behind them. She was slightly cool in the pickup, almost wishing now for a sweatshirt to pull over her long-sleeve t-shirt, but she knew she wouldn’t want the bulk in the way when the action started happening.
“Right,” he snorted. “You’re back in the same foul mood you were in the other night. Something’s going on.”
“This still isn’t a talk show and this so isn’t a psychiatrist’s couch,” she dryly reminded him, glancing back at him to prove she wasn’t afraid to meet his discerning eyes.
The old hunter snorted again, but didn’t have any more comments and didn’t press her any further.
The pair waited in silence for several more minutes. Both were tense, and Tabitha knew that Bobby wasn’t overly enthused about their plan, but he hadn’t been able to come up with anything better, either.
And truth was, Tabitha was just as concerned and nervous about the plan as Bobby was. But it didn’t lessen her determination. She knew saving Mikey wouldn’t absolve her of her guilt, but she couldn’t help but hope that it was a step towards making some kind of amends for all the destruction and death she’d somehow brought with her.
Finally, Tabitha saw the heavy chain-link and barbwire fence to the county jail rolling open. Pulling her gaze from the side mirror of the old pickup, she glanced across at Bobby. But the older hunter had seen the movement as well, watching the progress in the review mirror as he absently pulled his seatbelt a bit tighter.
They shared and look, and Tabitha copied his motion, snugging her own seatbelt as she turned back to watching out the side mirror. She could hear Bobby slid the manual gearshift of the pickup from neutral into reverse, his foot still on the clutch as he waited.
A nondescript blue sedan slowly rolled through the open gate, pausing as the gate rolled shut behind it.
“Now!” Tabitha commanded as the gate was nearly closed, feeling herself lurch forward against her seatbelt as Bobby stomped on the gas, sending the pickup flying backwards amidst squealing tires.
Tabitha’s body was coiled and tensed in anticipation, but in her mind, she suddenly remembered from her training in Quantico that tensing your body during a car collision—even an intentional one—was behind many of the injuries people suffered. Their tightened muscles being more prone to tears and injuries than if a person was relaxed.
So at the last second, Tabitha closed her eyes to block out the sight of the stopped sedan growing larger in the mirror as she let out a sigh and willed her body to relax as much as she could.
The pickup suddenly lurched to a stop; the sounds of metal, fiberglass, and glass shattering and exploding in her ears as her body was jerked back and forth between the back of her seat and the tightened seatbelt. Even forcing her body to relax somewhat, it still hurt more than she expected, but there was no time to consider the pain.
“Go!” Bobby yelled beside her as they both fumbled for their seatbelts.
But Tabitha was already partway out of the pickup, her shotgun snug against her shoulder as she cautiously jogged back to the blue sedan. The side of the car was caved in, and the sedan was rolled over onto its passenger side from the force of the hit. The pickup had suffered as well, though not nearly as badly. The heavy metal of the old pickup better able to withstand the hit than the lightweight more modern car had been.
The unmarked police car wouldn’t be going anywhere, whereas the old pickup would still suit them just fine for a getaway as only the bed had been crumpled a bit.
But the sights of the damage were only fleeting in her mind as Tabitha carefully rounded the front of the overturned car, peeking around the hood of the car to make sure the officers inside were still dazed.
Seeing the driver out cold and the passenger dazed and barely moving, Tabitha quickly advanced, using the butt of her sawed-off shotgun and throwing her weight into it as she smashed away at the windshield. It was already cracked in spider webs and with a few more hits, she was able to grab the edge with her gloved hands and peel it away from the car. She was glad now that Bobby had suggested the gloves, telling her that she’d want them with all the shattered glass. But she wasn’t altogether surprised by his knowledge. Even if he hadn’t purposefully hit a car before—though a nagging feeling told her that he seemed to have experience with it—he’d also dealt with plenty of busted up vehicles at his salvage yard.
The officer in the passenger seat was just starting to regain his senses as Tabitha and Bobby together peeled the windshield away. The uniformed officer was trying to reach for his gun, even in his awkward, sideways state and through his disorientation. But Tabitha moved quickly, slamming the butt of the shotgun against his temple to knock the man out. Luckily, there were only the two officers inside the overturned car.
“Grab the keys,” Bobby commanded, hunched near the car as he threw glances back at the still closed gates of the jail. It wouldn’t be long though until other cops came running out to investigate the loud crash just outside their gate.
They had known it would be risky trying to grab Mikey so close to the county jail, but it was the only place where they could for sure know where the transport vehicle would be. It would have been impossible to know for sure what route they might have taken to the Federal lockup.
Tabitha carefully crouched amidst the scattered shards of glass and vehicle parts until she had snagged the keys from the now knocked out officer as well as taking the keys from the ignition. From her position, she’d looked through the metal cage to Mikey in the backseat, but he wore the same dazed look as the officers, so she didn’t waste her time trying to talk to him.
“Got them,” she finally told Bobby as she stood up.
He gestured up at the side of the vehicle in the air. “Get on up there,” he directed. “We need to get that boy and get the hell outta here.”
She nodded in agreement as she handed her shotgun to Bobby, carefully hoisting herself up onto the side of the vehicle. She wasted no time in kneeling on the driver’s door as she unlocked the back door and then scooted around to lower herself inside the vehicle.
Nudging at Mikey’s shoulder, she tried to rouse him. “Come on, Mikey,” she told him, continuing to shake him with one hand as she tried to release his seatbelt with the other. But the buckle wouldn’t budge, so she settled for cutting him out with her switchblade instead.
Mikey was shaking his head now, trying to clear the cobwebs from his mind as he fell away from his seat, caught by Tabitha who was busy reaching behind him to uncuff his hands and then the chains at his feet.
He was still disoriented in her arms, looking around the sideways interior of the car as she began pushing him up towards the open door above them. Luckily, he seemed to take the hint and began scrambling up as she pushed him out, stumbling out of the car towards Bobby.
He glanced down at himself several times, taking in the sight of his orange jumpsuit and then glancing back at the overturned car. Glass and car parts crunched under his feet as he turned in a slow circle, looking around at the scene.
“Let’s go,” Bobby gruffly advised them both, tossing the second shotgun back to Tabitha as she jumped down from the car.
“What are you doing here?” Mikey suddenly demanded as he stared at Bobby. “I thought you were my new lawyer.”
“No time now, kid,” Bobby quickly told him, trying to propel the boy back towards their waiting pickup. “Get him inside,” Bobby ordered to Tabitha as he made for the driver’s side.
Mikey turned to look at her, stopping cold when he saw her face. “You’re dead,” he whispered, yanking his arm from her grasp as he fell back a step. His face contorted in rage. “You killed my father!”
Tabitha tried to step closer again to grab his arm. “We don’t have time for this, Mikey. We need to get you out of here now.”
Even as she spoke, she could hear the commotion and shouts of police officers running towards them and the heavy creaking of the gate rolling open once more.
She lunged and tried to grab him, but Mikey swung away from her, avoiding her grip.
“Dammit, Mikey,” she growled. “We don’t have time for this! Unless you want to end up in a federal prison for the next ten to fifteen years.”
With another lunge, she managed to grab him and started dragging him, despite his reluctance, towards the pickup.
“Tabitha! Watch out!”
Tabitha heard Bobby’s warning shout just as she was pivoting back towards the front of the pickup, but couldn’t stop the motion before she found herself looking down the short barrel of a compact .40 caliber Smith & Wesson.
She froze with one hand still on Mikey’s elbow and her shotgun lowered to her side, her eyes flicking up and past the barrel of the pistol at the man holding it. Directly into his black eyes.
Her body remained carefully frozen, but she glanced across the crumpled bed of the pickup to see Bobby just as carefully frozen and facing another demon.
“You ain’t going anywhere,” the demon facing her said with a grin. She quickly took in the appearance of the man the demon had taken over, but didn’t notice much noteworthy about him. Just an average looking working class man, his pale hands habitually stained with dirt and grease, and dressed in jeans and a dirty flannel shirt. The one facing Bobby wasn’t much different, though a bit older and with a beer-belly to match Bobby’s.
Tabitha slowly pushed a silent and stunned Mikey further behind her, between the bed of the pickup and her back before releasing her grip on him as she tried to gauge how quickly she could lift her shotgun and get a shot off, and wondering to herself if the salt rounds would even do any good. They’d sting a demon, but she wasn’t even sure it would be enough to help.
The demon seemed to sense her intent, shaking the forefinger of his free hand at her as if she was a naughty child. “Tsk tsk. I wouldn’t try anything if I were you. You’re pretty well surrounded.”
She glanced over her shoulder to confirm it, and grimaced when she saw the lifeless black eyes of the uniformed officers jogging through the gate from the police station.
“A trap,” she whispered, more to herself than to anyone else.
“Yep,” the demon in front of her replied, a smug satisfaction in his grin. “Although I had figured you might have tried something a bit sooner.”
“Sorry we kept you waitin’,” Bobby dryly retorted.
The demon waved his free hand in an almost imperious manner. “On the contrary. You’re an added bonus. We knew the girl would come,” he looked away from Bobby and focused on Tabitha, “but we hadn’t counted on being able to bring the old hunter to Lilith along with you.”
Tabitha felt her heart clench and her breath catch even as Bobby cursed lowly under his breath.
Tabitha now knew who wanted her, and knowing did nothing to comfort her. She almost wished now that she had her ignorance back. That somehow seemed a lot more comforting now.
“What does Lilith want with me?” she asked the demon surprised at the calmness she suffused her question with. She’d asked before of course, just why Lilith wanted her, but the demon then either hadn’t known or hadn’t been forthcoming with the information.
The demon in front of her made another flourish with his hand. “I don’t know,” he said in a careless fashion. “I just follow orders. She says to get you. I get you.”
Mikey had been silent behind her, but seemed unable to hold his tongue any longer.
“What the hell is going on?” he demanded.
He’d stepped slightly to the side of Tabitha, and she reached behind her trying to blindly grab him to shove him safely behind her again, but he had stepped just out of her reach.
The demon’s eyes cut over to Mikey with an annoyed look. “You’re asking questions about things you can’t even comprehend, human. And besides, it really doesn’t matter.” The demon’s hand deftly moved as he changed his aim. “You were just the bait.”
At the short range, the sound rang painfully in Tabitha’s ears before her mind truly registered that the demon had fired a shot. For the barest of moments, she looked down at herself thinking that the demon must have shot her. But there was no pain save for the deafening roar filling her ears. In the next instant, Tabitha glanced over her shoulder, her eyes filled with the sight of Mikey’s lifeless body sliding bonelessly down the side of the pickup bed, a trickle of red racing down from the red dot in the center of his forehead.
Her next movements were instinctive and memorized from many years of training and practice. She hardly had time to register her own movement, but her actions replayed in her mind in slow motion. Hand-to-hand combat and self-defense had been drilled into her in the academy. And her moves had flowed with a practiced ease as her free hand came down hard on the demon’s gun hand, pushing the barrel towards the ground as she stepped into him and drove her knee up into his groin.
The hit would have been enough to bring down a normal man, but it only slowed the demon. So Tabitha released his arm as she stepped back, swinging her sawed-off shotgun up with both hands and firing at the demon center mass.
The demon hit the ground snarling in pain, and Tabitha whirled to face the demons closing in behind her. She could hear Bobby struggling against the other demon on his side of the pickup as she gauged the rushing demons. There were six demons—counting the one Bobby still fought.
Too many. Too many for just the two of them to take on.
Her eyes drifted down to Mikey’s lifeless eyes staring accusingly up at her. She could do nothing more for him. She’d failed him. And she knew his sightless accusing eyes would haunt her dreams.
But there was nothing more she could do, and there were too many demons to fight.
She spun on her heel and raced around the front of the pickup. The other demons from the county jail were nearly on them and she needed to get herself and Bobby out of the minefield.
Bobby was grappling with the demon when she rounded the front of the pickup. She couldn’t risk firing a salt round at the demon and possibly hitting Bobby. But she hadn’t brought anything else with her to use against it. They hadn’t expected a trap of this magnitude, and had hoped to grab Mikey and be out quickly, so she hadn’t weighed herself down with weapons against demons.
But she did have one thing that would help. Her left hand palmed one of the charms dangling from her bracelet as she started reaching for the demon.
The demon suddenly jerked forward towards Bobby and she heard the older hunter gasp and cry out in pain, his face contorting as his body curled forward towards the demon.
Tabitha gasped as though she herself had been stabbed, the sight of the man who had been as much a father to her as anyone could have been being stabbed searing through her heart. But she couldn’t pause, couldn’t dwell on the sickening sight. She swung her shotgun at the demon’s head with all her might, seeing him stumble sideways to one knee, a bloody knife in his hand. Before the demon could scramble back to his feet, Tabitha rushed forward, pressing the black jeweled cross on her bracelet to the demon’s forehead.
As it screamed in pain, she knew she didn’t have time to exorcise it, so she impulsively recited, “The Lord is my shepherd: I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake, and though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for thou art with me.”
She didn’t finish the psalm, but she’d recited enough to keep the demon writhing in pain for a while.
Tabitha turned away and dropped to her knees beside Bobby, her hands quickly covering the bleeding wound at his midsection, a fearful whimper slipping past her lips at the sight of the dark viscous blood welling through her clenched fingers.
“Go,” he ordered, his voice low and pained.
“I won’t leave you,” she argued, shaking her head and fighting tears. It’s too late, she thought to herself as she glanced up at the demons nearly upon them. It’s too late to run now, and I can’t just leave Bobby behind. Her mind quickly drifted back on her regrets. She didn’t have many; she’d always tried to live her life without regrets. But not being there for her brothers was one. And fighting with Castiel and not getting to tell him she was sorry was another. I wish I could see you one last time, Cas.
Suddenly, the angel appeared between her and the demons, standing in profile to her as he glanced down at her and then at the demons skidding to a halt.
Tabitha rocked back on her heels in shock, somehow not believing that the angel had actually shown up after the fight they’d had and her ordering him away. Yet, there he stood, looking down at her with a strange expression in all his usual trench-coat-wearing-glory.
“Go,” he ordered her. And unlike Bobby’s command, she instantly nodded in agreement, wrapping Bobby’s arm over her shoulder and helping him struggle to his feet. Bobby staggered to the pickup with her help, and she eased him inside, as gently as she was able trying to shove him across the bench as she climbed in after him.
But she paused in closing the door, glancing back at the angel twisting and dodging in the middle of the demons. Throwing punches to knock them back and then grabbing at one as he pressed his palm to its forehead. He met her gaze as a blinding light emitted from his hand, the demon falling lifeless at his feet, and he gave her one last nod before he turned back to the other demons.
Tabitha slammed the driver’s door, the tires of the pickup squealing as she punched it, throwing worried looks at Bobby beside her as she sped towards the nearest hospital.
Bobby had slumped over in his seat by the time Tabitha skidded to a stop in the bay of the emergency room entrance. She couldn’t tell if he was conscious or even still breathing as she threw her door open, screaming for help as she drug Bobby back across the bench with her. He fell gracelessly across the seat on his back, his hands falling away from the wound in his stomach. And Tabitha screamed again as she pulled on him more, pressing her own hands at the wound to stem the flow.
Suddenly, it was a flurry of activity as nurses, doctors, and hospital staff began buzzing around her, helping to pull Bobby out of the truck and onto a gurney. She heard them telling her to move, trying to slip in to replace their own hands with hers, but she barked orders at them, afraid to move her hands and allow him to bleed anymore. So instead, her hands remained steadily pressed against the wound as she almost automatically called orders at the ER doctor that seemed to be in charge, telling him in a detached, clinical matter that Bobby had been stabbed in the abdominal cavity with a six-inch blade and then giving him an estimate of how much blood she thought Bobby had lost. Her FBI training made it easier to slip into a clinical, detached mode.
The doctor barked orders, allowing her to remain beside Bobby as they pushed the gurney through the outer rooms of the ER, headed further in for a trauma bay.
They began cutting away Bobby’s shirt, and the doctor asked her more question, she thought perhaps to keep her distracted. But she remained eerily calm until a nurse tried to take over from her, trying to push her back from Bobby.
“Get your hands off me,” she growled at the young nurse.
She brunette nurse barely even glanced up at her, still trying to wedge her way between Tabitha and the gurney. “You need to let us take over, dear,” she calmly replied.
“You come between me and my father and I’ll cut that hand off,” Tabitha hissed as she lowered her head to the shorter nurse’s level.
The woman looked up into her eyes, finally seeming to catch the wildness in them that she hadn’t registered before in Tabitha’s voice. She stared up in real fear as she fell back a step, but stopped when a hand descended on her shoulder.
Tabitha glanced up at the whispered order, her eyes locking with Castiel’s concerned gaze. She stared at the angel as he looked around the trauma bay and repeated the order louder. Some kind of glaze seemed to fill the eyes of the doctors and nurses as they stopped their hurried work and calmly left the room, not saying a word to Tabitha as they passed her.
“They cannot help him,” Castiel finally told her in answer to her questioning look.
She felt a pained gasp escape her lips at the angel’s pronouncement. She didn’t want to accept it, couldn’t believe that she would lose another father and that this time it would be all her fault.
In many ways, Bobby had always been more of a father to her than John had ever been. It had been Bobby she’d always run to when she needed someone to talk to, or needed refuge. It had been Bobby that taught her all about cars and even how to drive. And it had even been Bobby who had uncomfortably pulled her aside when she was 14 and had first gotten her period, explaining it all to her and even giving her the birds and bees talk. Even promising her that he’d skin alive any man that didn’t treat her like a princess.
In so many ways, Bobby had been her world. The one person she could fall back and rely on.
But she still didn’t lift her hands away from his wound as she brokenly whispered to his prone form, “I’m so sorry, Bobby. It’s all my fault.” She felt her eyes squeeze shut, the tears she’d managed to hold at bay now spilling through her closed eyes, streaming silently down her cheeks as she felt her body tremble with the effort to keep herself from falling to pieces.
“I can help him,” Castiel quietly told her. Her eyes popped open, staring at the angel and fearing to hope. He gestured down at Bobby’s wound under her hands. “If you’ll let me.”
When the nurse had tried to get her to move her hands, she’d refused, fear and desperation not allowing her to turn Bobby over to anyone else. But she had no such hesitation at Castiel’s offer. Even after their last argument, she implicitly trusted the angel, suddenly realizing that she felt she could rely on Castiel just as much as she’d always been able to rely on Bobby.
Pulling her blood-coated hands away, she nodded almost desperately, saying, “Yes. Please help him. Please.”
Castiel held her eyes for a moment, and then stepped forward, gently placing his hand over Bobby’s wound. As he gingerly pressed on it, Bobby unconsciously groaned, his back arching against the angel’s touch. But then, Castiel’s hand slowly pulled away, and Bobby gave a soft sigh as he relaxed against the gurney, the twist of pain no longer marring in his features. There was no longer even blood at his midsection to mark where the wound had been.
The angel glanced up at her and gestured to Bobby’s forehead, his fingers pointing to a gash at his temple that Tabitha hadn’t even noticed until now for the presence of the substantial abdominal wound. “The head injury is slight but will be enough cause to explain to the humans why he is here.”
Tabitha nodded in a mute, stupefied manner as she stared down at Bobby’s relaxed body on the gurney, a shuddering sigh escaping to know that he wasn’t lost to her.
But then, the doctors and nurses silently filtered back into the room, swarming around Bobby and checking his head wound as if Tabitha and Castiel weren’t even there.
“Come,” Castiel quietly told her as he gently guided her out of the trauma room with a hand at her elbow. Tabitha felt a little reluctance, but the shock of thinking Bobby would die one moment and then seeing him healed the next moment was almost more than she could take. So she docilely let the angel lead her out into the hallway. He paused and let her stare back through the long narrow window in the door as people hovered around the older hunter.
The repercussions of nearly losing Bobby suddenly hit Tabitha like a ton of bricks. She doubled over, leaning back against the wall and bracing her hands on her knees as her entire body began to tremble. She wasn’t sure if she felt the need to throw up, or if she was going to hyperventilate, or even break into tears. Somehow, her body seemed to settle on the latter as great heaves wracked her. All she could see in her mind was Bobby bleeding beneath her hands, and the sightless, accusing eyes of Mikey staring up at her.
“He’ll be fine,” Castiel hastened to assure her, his voice coming from nearby though she could only stare down at her own feet as she continued to tremble. “He’ll have no lasting damage from the head wound, and I have insured that he will sleep soundly through the night.”
Her fingers dug into her knees as she tried to focus on Castiel’s reassurances, repeating it over and over to herself until her tears had finally stopped. She forced herself to straighten, leaning back to brace herself against the wall, afraid she couldn’t completely hold herself up. But her tears had thankfully dried.
With an almost automatic nod, Tabitha finally turned and focused on the angel. “Thank you. For showing up when you did and for saving him.” Her eyes fell from his, dropping to her hands in front of her as she stared at the now drying blood coating them, reminding her again of what could have happened. “I don’t know what I would have done if anything had happened to him,” she admitted in a whisper.
“He will sleep through the night,” Castiel repeated, drawing her attention back to him as she lifted her eyes, feeling his hands grasp both of hers between them as he stepped closer to her, her back pressing harder against the wall as he closed the gap between them. “So you should rest for the night as well,” he continued.
Tabitha glanced away from his piercing gaze, suddenly realizing that the busy hum of the hospital had vanished, replaced instead by the quiet hum of a motel heater. Somehow, the angel had instantly transported her from the hospital to the motel room she had been sharing with Bobby.
“You should sleep,” the angel kindly reminded her as she stared around the room in an almost dazed, detached manner.
She shook her head, intending to tell the angel that there was no way she could sleep when she was covered in Bobby’s blood, a blatant reminder that because of her insistences, she was responsible for yet another death, and nearly had been responsible for Bobby’s as well.
But then, she glanced down at her hands, and saw that the blood was gone. Her hands and clothes returned to the state she’d started the night: clean. Yet she couldn’t help but wonder if she would ever feel clean again.
“Mikey’s dead because of me. They used him to lure me into a trap, and it got him killed. And Bobby nearly died, too, because I just had to come out here and try to help him. Maybe my father and Dean were right; maybe I had no right to try to live a normal life. Maybe it wasn’t fair for me to put their lives in that kind of jeopardy just because I liked the idea of living a normal life and doing normal things. It’s all my fault.”
She felt her body tremble once more as she spoke aloud the guilt that was piercing through her. Her eyes squeezing shut at the images that flashed through her mind. The images of those that she’d worked with who were now dead because of her: Cheryl, Jerry, Agent Barrett, her own partner Casey, and now, Mikey. Even the sight of Bobby bleeding on the ground flashed in her mind. Reminding her again how close he had come to joining the ever-growing list. Not that she needed the reminder. His near death would haunt her dreams along with all the others.
A warm hand suddenly cupped her cheek, and without thought, Tabitha turned her face into it, knowing that it was Castiel and seeking the feeling of peace that his touch always seemed to bring her.
“It’s not your fault,” he whispered to her. “You can’t take responsibility for those demons coming after you.”
She finally opened her eyes to stare up at the earnest blue eyes of the angel. “Are those demons dead?” she asked him in a low whisper.
He nodded, his hand remaining pressed against her jaw as his thumb lightly brushed across her cheek.
“They won’t be the only ones after me, will they?”
The angel shook his head, not voicing his answer, but Tabitha not really needing him to.
“It was Lilith,” she suddenly said. Castiel stiffened in surprise, his hand starting to pull away from her. But Tabitha quickly reached up, pressing his fingers against her jaw again, not willing to lose his warmth yet.
When the angel continued to stare at her in shock, she explained in a bitter, desperate tone, “Those demons were sent by Lilith. I’m guessing they all were. It’s Lilith that wants me. And she won’t stop until she has me.”
A fierce look suddenly filled the angel’s face, his other arm lifting to cup her face between his hands as he fervently told her, “Nothing will happen to you. Lilith won’t get you. I won’t let her.”
Tabitha’s hands were anchored on the angel’s wrists, gripping him tightly as he stared at her, his eyes burning with his promise. But her hands fell from his wrists, grabbing the lapels of his tan coat and pulling him closer, her lips crashing against his as his arms quickly slid around her, locking her in place against him and cradling her as closely as their bodies would allow.
She moaned at his ardent response, humming an appreciative sound in her throat as his hands slid against her body, one cupping the back of her head just below her ponytail and the other pressing against her lower back in an effort to bring her closer.
Tabitha shuffled her feet, pushing on Castiel’s shoulders to force him backwards, and his feet shuffling with hers until his legs hit the bed behind him and he fell against it. She paused at the sight of him reclined back on his elbows, staring up at her with a look that was mingled longing and fear.
“You’re always here for me,” she whispered to the angel, marveling the fact to herself. Even after their fight and the discomfort that had grown between them because of it, he had still come for her. Still helped her without hesitation.
“Of course,” he returned, seeming slightly confused by her distinction.
And Tabitha remembered that fighting with him had been one of her few real regrets. She sometimes lived her life impulsively, choosing to do whatever felt right in the moment—and while that sometimes led to choices she perhaps shouldn’t have made, she tried to never let herself regret them, because in the moment, they’d felt right. And she didn’t normally let herself dwell on choices that she had already made.
The recent deaths would haunt her, and the lingering guilt would take a long time to dissipate, but she knew that deep down she couldn’t really regret the choice that had led her to the FBI, regardless of what she’d said earlier.
But she regretted fighting with Castiel. Castiel who had come to her aid and saved the life of the man who in her heart of hearts would always be her father. Castiel who always came for her, and made her feel better even when he was sitting and staring at her in silence. Castiel who could ebb the icy flow of guilt, grief, and sadness in her heart.
She stepped forward, toeing off her boots and socks before crossing her arms over her chest as she pulled her long-sleeve t-shirt over her head, discarding it behind her as she knelt over Castiel’s thighs.
The angel’s hands instantly reached up to cling at her sides, his fingers digging into her bare skin almost painfully as he held her away from him. She could feel every small tremor that passed through him while he stared up at her, visibly holding himself back just as he held her away from him.
“We can’t do this,” he whispered to her. “If Heaven found out, it could be your death and mine.”
Her arms were braced on his shoulders, but she twisted her left wrist just a bit to jingle the charms there. “I thought you said they couldn’t find me because of this.” He nodded, but it was somewhat reluctantly. “Then they don’t need to know,” she assured him.
“Angels aren’t supposed to have emotions,” he tried again, but it sounded like a weak protest even to Tabitha’s ears.
But she paused nevertheless as she considered it. “I don’t know what emotions you have,” she finally told him. “I’m not even sure what emotions I have about this. But it doesn’t have to matter right now. I don’t want to be alone right now. Please don’t leave me alone. I’m afraid that if you leave now, the guilt and grief will just rise up again and swallow me whole. I don’t want to feel that. I don’t want to feel that or anything tonight. I don’t want to feel the fear that’s scratching at my throat when I think of Lilith coming after me. I just want to stay in your arms and not feel anything. Please. Don’t leave me now and let that grief and that fear rise up. I don’t want to be swallowed whole by it. I don’t want to think about what happened in the past. I don’t want to think about what might happen in the future. I just want to think about right now. This moment.”
Castiel stared up at her, and she could see the emotions battling across his face. But as he opened his mouth to voice another objection, Tabitha curled her body and leaned down to capture his lips with hers once more, silencing whatever he might have said. And whatever the feeble objection had been fell away unspoken, Castiel’s fingers releasing her waist as he wrapped his arms around her, his hands sliding up her back to anchor on her shoulders as he pulled her closer, suddenly seeming to need their bodies pressed closely together just as much as she needed it.
Tabitha hummed against his mouth, her hands bunching the coat and suit jacket together in her hands as she roughly shoved them back over his shoulders, smiling in triumph at the way an almost petulant moan escaped his lips when he was forced to release her and yank his arms out of the clothing. But his arms quickly attached to her waist again, his fingers once more digging in as she moved on to loosening the crooked blue tie, her fingers then fumbling with the white buttons of the shirt as she struggled to undo them all.
Castiel had released her lips, leaning backwards just a bit to stare up at her, an almost awed expression on his face as she finally undid the last button, yanking the loosened tie over his head and then pushing his shirt back down his arms as well. His chest lifted up and down as he breathed in almost shuddering bursts, but he remained still, just gripping her waist as Tabitha likewise leaned back to examine the angel.
In the back of her mind, she knew this wasn’t what he truly looked like. She knew it was just the shell housing him. But she still took the time to admire the beauty of it. Smooth chest muscles led down to a flat, lightly muscled stomach, and trailed with a fine dusting of dark hair that disappeared into his waistband. He was more of a lean-build than well-muscled like men she had been attracted to in her past, but she knew the angel within the shell made him stronger and more powerful than his appearance let on.
And while a part of her vanity admired the pretty package he was wrapped in, she knew it was more than the packaging. There was a sense of peace and warmth his touch brought to her, and that was the angel alone that gave her such peace and warmth. He was her protector, her confidant, and more than anything else, her friend. The first being she’d ever felt this incredibly close to. The first she’d been able to speak candidly with without fear of having to censor her words about what she really was and what she did.
And she couldn’t deny that the angel made her feel something that she’d never experienced before. Perhaps it was just companionship—she couldn’t truthfully put any kind of name on it—but she was glad for it nonetheless.
She knew, too, that the angel’s real face was no less beautiful than the shell he now wore. She’d seen it only briefly when Pamela had tried contacting him, but it had been lovely. Though, unlike any human face. Not handsome in the traditional sense of a man’s face, but lovely in its softness and etherealness.
Castiel’s fingers dug into her a bit tighter as his face tightened slightly. “I don’t…I have never…” he trailed off his whispered words, not seeming to know what to say any more than what to do.
Tabitha gave him a gentle smile, trailing one hand down to her waist and prying his hand away from her, lifting it to the back of her neck, and splaying his fingers there.
“Touch me,” she told him, amazed at the husky sound that left her lips. “Kiss me. Do whatever you want. There’s no right or wrong, just do what feels natural and what feels good.”
The angel massaged her neck with his hand, and Tabitha let her head fall back as a moan escaped. She blindly reached down and brought his other hand up to cup her breast through the blue satin bra, encouraging him with her moans when his fingers tentatively skimmed pleasurably across her chest.
She suddenly pushed away as she looked down into his eyes again. “Say ‘stop’ and we will. Tell me to stop and I’ll walk away right now,” she tried to assure him, feeling the need to give him the out if he wanted it. But she bit her lip nervously at the thought of him telling her to stop. Of him getting up and disappearing. “Or tell me not to stop,” she suddenly pleaded, hating the begging tone in her voice but unable to stop. “Tell me not to stop and stay here with me. Stay.”
“Why do you want me?”
Tabitha paused at his question. Staring at him in confusion. “I don’t understand.”
“Why do you want me? I am nothing special. I am nobody. Just an angel.”
Tabitha held her stare on him, but finally saw that he was genuinely confused—that he truly couldn’t understand why she could want him in particular.
She sat up straighter, placing his palm on her chest over her heart. “When my heart is so filled with pain and grief, you touch me, you talk to me, and it all fades away. You push away the void of pain and grief, make me forget it—even if only for a while—and sometimes, just your touch replaces it with warmth and peace. No one else can do that. No one else can wipe away that pain like you do. You’re special to me. I don’t know what this is, but with you, I can live in this moment. I can forget the past and the future. There’s only here and now. Tell me not to stop.”
Castiel finally leaned up towards her, his hand sliding around her back as he pulled her down closer again, staring intently into her eyes as his other hand cupped her cheek, his thumb stroking her skin so familiarly. He leaned closer as her eyes shut, whispering a gentle plea into her ear, “Stay. Don’t stop. Stay with me.”
And somehow, his words echoed in her heart.
Stay with me.
A/N: Well, this is the censored version. In all honesty, there’s nothing earth-shattering that’s left out of this version. Just some good ol’ adult entertainment. This version stops sooner and has a few things changed around, but hopefully it’s kinda in keeping with the standards set by the show, just flirting with the line of adult content while still keeping in the bounds of appropriate. And hopefully it’s still got a bit of hotness to it as well. But you’ll have to tell me.
And believe me, there’s much more to come in the story. This is just the beginning!