Her bed was warm and impossibly comfortable. Like a fluffy cloud in a sunbeam. But then, her bed was always warm and impossibly comfortable in her dreams. And only in her dreams did she allow herself to wallow in the comfort of soft warm sheets, and heavy encompassing blankets that wrapped her in a soothing hug.
She prepared to snuggle further into the consoling embrace of her blankets, but realized she wasn’t alone. Twisting under the sheets, Tabitha turned over to see Castiel sitting in the oversized easy chair next to her bed. She’d gotten the mammoth micro-suede creation at a garage sale, and loved to curl up in it wrapped in a blanket with a good book and a cup of coffee or hot chocolate. Sadly, time for curling up and reading had been as rare in her life as wallowing in bed.
Of the things she’d lost in her house because of her “death” that chair had been near or at the top of the list. But she could still have it in dreams at least.
Tabitha stared across the expanse of her bed for several moments, waiting for the angel to speak. But he was silent in his regard of her as he stared at her from his deceptively relaxed position. The only thing that gave him away—his eyes—told her he was anything but.
“I’ve missed you,” she whispered, reaching towards Castiel, her hand hanging in the air in invitation.
Castiel continued staring. Tabitha let her hand fall with a sigh of disappointment. “Dean said he talked to you. That you were actually the one that sent us to Greybull, not Bobby. That it was one of the seals.”
“That’s what you came to me about the other day,” she stated.
But Castiel still seemed compelled to respond as though it had been a question. “Yes.”
Her eyes closed as she felt a single tear slip past the dam. The first she’d allowed since the night Pamela had died. Somehow, Castiel’s monosyllabic answers hurt nearly as much as her guilt over Pamela’s death.
“I should have listened to what you had to say.”
Though her eyes were closed, she could feel his stare resting heavily upon her.
“I’m sorry,” she whispered, opening her eyes again. “I don’t say that often, but…I’m sorry.”
Castiel finally leaned forward, scooting to the front of the oversized chair with his hands braced on the front of the armrests. “You are usually easier to deal with than your brothers, but perhaps I was mistaken in thinking that you would not still be as contrary as your brothers at will. Regardless of…” He nodded towards the space between them as he trailed off.
“I don’t know what we are now,” she told him, feeling another tear slip from the corner of her eye, trailing wetly down towards her temple after the first tear. “But I miss my friend, Cas. Pamela died and we had to bury her today.” She closed her eyes and whispered almost desperately, “I need my friend, Cas.”
She felt a hand close around hers where it still lay open between them. She lifted her eyes to see him sitting on the edge of her bed, turned slightly towards her.
“I lost another of my sisters tonight,” he whispered, opening himself up enough to let her see the grief in his eyes.
She held the blankets up, tugging on his hand and pulling him down next to her. He let her, settling behind her and spooning against her back as she pulled his hand over her waist and down to press his palm against the soft vulnerable skin of her stomach under her shirt.
For a moment, she just enjoyed the feel of him at her back, even fully clothed and in his trench coat.
“I can’t promise I’ll always jump to do Heaven’s bidding—I still don’t trust the other angels—but I’ll do better at listening to what you have to say instead of just shutting you down. I shouldn’t have done that. I think I was afraid of what our changing dynamics meant for us. I promise though to at least listen to you. But I can’t promise I’ll always be able to be the go-between for you and my brothers. They’ll find out things they shouldn’t know if I have to be the buffer between you and them. But I’ll try to help where I can.”
She wasn’t sure Castiel was going to answer her, but then, he pressed his palm harder into her stomach, tucking her closer into his body as he whispered in her ear, “Thank you.”
After a few minutes, she softly asked, “What does me being able to see reapers mean?”
His grip around her tightened ever so slightly. “I don’t know,” he admitted. “Perhaps it is because you can see angels, but I’ve never heard of another human that can see reapers.”
He didn’t say it, but she could hear the fear and caution in his voice, so she let the subject drop. Whatever the reason was that she could see them, she knew Cas didn’t think it was a safe thing. Not that she had supposed otherwise.
“I’m sorry about your sister,” she whispered back after several comfortably silent minutes.
“And I’m sorry for your friend.”
Her fingers intertwined with Castiel’s against her stomach as she burrowed her head into her pillow. Pamela’s warnings swirled in her mind, but she pushed them away for another day. Because with Castiel’s hand pressed against her vulnerable skin, she finally stopped feeling alone. That abyss finally stopped trying to devour her.
And she feared being alone most of all.
“I’ll see you soon,” Castiel whispered into her ear as her eyes closed and she knew she was soon to wake.
Tabitha trailed behind the Impala with her brothers to grab her bag out of the trunk. “I’m with Dean on this. I don’t like taking cues from Ruby,” she said to her brothers’ backs as they grabbed their own bags. “Don’t trust the bitch any further than I can throw her,” she muttered under her breath. “Which ain’t near as far as she could throw me.”
Sam stopped to throw a pointed glare at his sister over his shoulder. She held her hands up in surrender.
“Just sayin’,” she muttered.
“Whatever,” Dean announced as he pulled his bag from the trunk. “We’ll talk about it after I’ve gotten a few hours sleep.” He stepped aside to let Tabitha grab her bag. “You need sleep, too. You only slept for about a half-hour there as we drove, and you haven’t slept any more than that since…”
Tabitha swallowed hard as her brother trailed off in an almost guilty tone. Grabbing her bag and turning away towards the motel, she finished his statement. “Since the night I let Pamela get killed you mean.”
“Nobody is blaming you, Tab. We were just as responsible for involving her,” Sam pacified, trying to minimize her guilt.
She could have told him it wasn’t working. She was the one that had left Pamela alone, forcing her to face that demon on her own. And regardless of what Sam said, she was responsible for leaving Pamela by herself. And it didn’t escape her notice that while Dean never voiced any blame, it was still there in his eyes.
Every time she tried closing her own eyes, Pamela was there, joining the others who blamed her for their deaths. Perhaps Pamela’s last words that night had been right. Maybe she was death. It certainly felt that way. The little sleep she’d managed to get without accusing ghosts to greet her had been the brief dream Castiel had appeared in.
“Well, you’ve got to get some sleep sometime, Tabitha. You can’t keep going this many days with no sleep. It’s going on four days now,” Dean gruffly told her. In usual Winchester-avoidance-fashion, he chose not to bring up her part in Pamela’s death any more than they were breaching the subject of her seeing reapers. But she wasn’t complaining—the latter still freaked her out a bit.
“And you would be the expert in proper sleep habits,” she sullenly returned, knowing sleep wasn’t likely to be forthcoming just because he told her to.
Dean ignored her reply as he pushed open the door to their room proclaiming, “Ah, home crappy home.”
Sam slipped past him and flipped the light switch.
They all froze at Uriel’s deep voice.
Tabitha was still standing in the doorway, but immediately searched the room for Castiel, suddenly remembering that only a few hours ago, she’d seen the angel in her dream and he’d told her he would see her soon.
She didn’t immediately spot him, but finally saw him further into the room, standing off to the side in the back corner, almost as if he was trying to remain hidden and unobtrusive.
“Oh, come on!” Dean exclaimed in exasperation.
“You are needed,” Uriel answered.
“Needed?” Dean demanded. “We just got back from needed!”
Uriel shook his head and disdainfully told them, “Now, you mind your tone with me.”
The answer infuriated Dean who stalked angrily forward. “No, you mind your damn tone with us.”
Sam tried to hold his older brother back and intervene. “We just got back from Pamela’s funeral,” he calmly explained.
Tabitha moved slowly into the room, letting the door close behind her as she dropped her bag and stepped into the motel kitchenette. Trying to help Sam diffuse the situation, she lightly hopped up onto the small table, sitting with her boots dangling in the air. “It’s been a long few days,” she tried to help clarify. “We just need a little time to mourn the death of our friend.”
Since Uriel seemed to be the one doing the talking, she addressed her words to him, but did steal a glance at Castiel, catching his slightest wince when she spoke of mourning a friend. But to the untrained eye, he could have been a statue, standing stock-still and staring ahead with unblinking eyes.
“Pamela—” Dean snidely explained, “you know, psychic Pamela? You remember her?” He turned his attention to Castiel when Uriel gave no reaction. “Cas, you remember her. You burned her eyes out. Remember that? Good times! Yeah, then she died saving one of your seals.”
Castiel had glanced over when Dean addressed him, but gave no more reaction to Dean’s words than he would to a passing wind.
Dean continued in a yell, “So, maybe you can stop pushing us around like chess pieces for five freakin’ minutes!”
Uriel shook his head without an ounce of compassion. “We raised you out of Hell for our purposes.”
“Yeah, and what were those again? What exactly do you want from me?”
“Start with gratitude.”
Dean scoffed, but Castiel spoke before the pair could continue their mutual diatribe.
“Dean, we know this is difficult to understand.”
But Uriel pointedly cut him off with a censoring look thrown over his shoulder at Castiel. “And we…” he turned back to Dean, “…don’t…care.”
Castiel seemed visibly chastised, and slowly turned to stare straight ahead again as he had been.
Tabitha dug her fingers into the edge of the table, and longed to tell Uriel to get the hell out of their motel, but held her tongue instead. She didn’t know what the undercurrents were, and she could almost swear that Castiel’s stiff body posture seemed almost…frightened. Whether he was frightened of Uriel or something else, she couldn’t say. But she knew she didn’t want to draw Uriel’s attention to herself. Castiel had always been very adamant that she had to be careful around other angels. Not let them know she could hear and see their true voices and visages, but also that it was imminently dangerous to allow them to know about the two of them.
Dean had glanced curiously at Castiel’s silent stature, but turned his attention back to Uriel when the angel continued.
“Now, seven angels have been murdered—all of them from our garrison. The last one was killed tonight.”
She’d known about the one that had died that night, but as she glanced at Castiel, she realized he’d been bottling up more of his grief than she’d realized.
“Demons?” Dean inquired, his tone more subdued.
Uriel made an almost noncommittal noise. Not quite disagreeing, but not quite agreeing either, and the lack of answer set Tabitha’s nerves on edge.
“How they doing it?” Dean questioned.
“We don’t know,” Uriel quietly stated.
Sam finally jumped in. “I’m sorry, but what do you want us to do about it? I mean, a demon with the juice to ice angels has to be out of our league, right?”
Uriel tritely answered, “We can handle the demons, thank you very much.”
“Once we find whoever it is,” Castiel broke in.
Dean sighed and paced a little. “So, you need our help…hunting a demon?”
Castiel finally stepped forward from the back of the room, moving beside Uriel with his eyes focused solely on Dean. “Not quite.”
His focus on Dean seemed very deliberate, so Tabitha assumed she’d been right in thinking that something was off. Or perhaps nothing was and he was merely being cautious. This was the first time they’d been together in the same room with either her brothers or another angel. She vaguely remembered the first awkward weeks after she had started sleeping with her former partner and how nerve-racking it had been, thinking that everyone at the FBI would see the scarlet letter she felt was tattooed on her forehead. But eventually, they’d gotten used to it, and no one had ever been the wiser. Until he’d died anyway.
“We have Alastair,” Castiel slowly told them.
“Great,” Dean agreed. “He should be able to name your triggerman.”
“But he won’t talk,” Castiel informed them, an almost apologetic look in his eyes. “Alastair’s will is very strong. We’ve arrived at an impasse.”
Tabitha’s feet instantly stopped aimlessly swinging beneath her, her breath catching as she started to grasp why the angels were in their room. Why Castiel look apologetic.
“Yeah, well, he’s like a black belt in torture. I mean, you guys are out of your league,” Dean casually commented, not quite getting it yet.
Tabitha dropped heavily to her feet, stepping away from the table towards the angels as she furiously told them, “You’re out of your frickin’ minds is what you are. There’s no way in hell you’re going to ask this of him.”
Castiel finally glanced over at her, his eyes meeting hers for only a fraction of a second before they swept away, and she heard his real voice brush across her mind, whispering in a tone that told her it was useless to argue, I’m sorry.
Uriel looked over at Tabitha, his lip curling up at her in disgust. “I don’t recall asking your opinion, mud-monkey. You get no say in any of this, little girl.”
Tabitha nearly launched herself forward at the dark angel, only stopping when Dean threw his arm in front of her, his face drawn in confusion as he asked her, “What are you talking about, Tab? What’s going on?”
Uriel answered before she could, telling Dean, “She’s talking about why we’ve come to his student. You happen to be the most qualified interrogator we’ve got.”
Comprehension filled Dean’s face as he slowly let go of his hold on his sister, his face going still as he looked down at the floor.
“Dean,” Castiel softly called. “You’re our best hope.”
Forgetting her decision to keep her interactions with Castiel minimized, she took a step towards him and tried to entreat him. “How can you ask something like this of him? Please don’t do this.”
Still, Castiel would not look at her.
“No,” Dean answered in a whisper. Gaining volume, he repeated, “No way. You can’t ask me to do this, Cas—not this.”
Uriel laughed in a dark tone more fitting to a villain than an angel. Stepping towards Dean, he leaned closer and replied in a silken whisper, “Who said anything…about asking?”
Dean glanced to each side at his siblings, and as they looked back, he suddenly disappeared. The angels had gone, too, leaving Sam and Tabitha frantically casting about the room.
“Damn it!” Sam swore, just as Tabitha vowed, “I’m gonna kill that sonofabitch!”
Sam slammed his fist down on the table, looking up and asking his sister, “What the hell do we do now? We can’t let them force him to torture Alastair. He’s not strong enough for that.”
“Strong enough?” Tabitha repeated incredulously. “I’m more worried about him finding a taste for it again. He’s strong enough to torture, but I don’t think his heart is strong enough to live with the sick pleasure he’ll get out of it if he starts up again.”
Sam stared at her, and Tabitha could see that he didn’t really understand.
“Never mind,” she waved it off. “But you’re right, we’ve got to stop this.”
“How? You can talk to angels, right? Any chance you can get Castiel back here and talk to him? I know you saw that he didn’t seem as eager about this as Uriel. Maybe we can convince him to stop this.”
With a faint nod, Tabitha agreed. “I’ll try,” she told her brother, but somehow didn’t have much hope. Castiel’s whispered apology had seemed pretty final and immovable. He might regret it more than Uriel did, but she didn’t think he was going to go against his damn orders.
Still, she stepped outside where she could clear her mind and began calling for him.
Time continued to pass as Tabitha paced and called for Castiel. And the more time that passed, the more pissed she became with the angel.
He wasn’t answering her, and she’d even taken off her bracelet to make sure he could hear her. The answer was simple. He was ignoring her.
That was just one of the myriad of things pissing her off. But the more she paced and thought, the more pissed she was with his visit to her dream as well.
Before she’d been thankful for the brief rest his visit in her dream had given her, but now she realized he’d known at that time that he would shortly be seeing her. And he had to have known why and what they were going to ask of Dean.
His allowing her to be blindsided by their decision to take her brother made her want to punch the angel, even though she was sure it would do nothing but cause herself pain. He’d known that they were going to take her brother, and he’d done nothing to warn her.
And now…now they were forcing her brother to torture the demon that had tortured him in Hell.
Sam didn’t understand it. Didn’t get what it would really do to their brother. It wasn’t that Dean wasn’t strong enough to torture that demon—she’d seen enough glimpses at what her older brother tried to hide to see that darkness had taken root in him—it was that he could torture that demon. And that dark part of him would get a twisted rush and thrill from it. But the rest of him—the parts that were still the old Dean—might not be able to withstand it. He could lose himself to that dark part that had taken over to survive and had indeed come to love torturing other souls in Hell.
Tabitha had seen it enough working Violent Crimes with the FBI. There was a reason that statistically so many criminals and violent offenders had themselves been victims of violence in their youth. A dark part of them grew in order to endure the pain and violence. And then that part blossomed and bloomed, until they had to become the actual perpetrator of the violence. Learning to revel in that sick thrill.
That’s what Tabitha feared most. Not that Dean would fail to torture Alastair. But that they would lose Dean to Alastair. To the darkness Alastair had fostered in Hell.
She finally gave up trying to reach Castiel after nearly two hours of shouting for him and calling for him in her mind. He wasn’t listening. So she slipped back into their motel room.
Sam was tense as he looked up from the small table in the kitchenette, and Tabitha was immediately wary.
“What?” she cautiously asked.
He tried to give a nonchalant shrug, but Tabitha didn’t move, pinning him with her best stare until he squirmed and told her, “I called Ruby. She’s on her way here. She thinks she might be able to help us locate Dean.”
“You went to a demon for help?” she slowly asked him, finally moving forward and pulling out the chair across from him to sit down. “How does that even seem like a good idea, Sam?” She tapped one finger against the table. “First, we’re in goddamn nowhere Cheyenne, and those angels could have taken Dean anywhere in the world. Hell, anywhere in time. How’s the demon gonna help with that?”
Sam shoved his chair back, the thing skidding with a loud scrape as he sprang up and began pacing around the room. “Well at least I’m doing something. I notice you didn’t seem real successful in getting ahold of the friggin’ angels.”
Tabitha ignored his outburst, tapping two fingers down on the table in front of her as she continued. “Second, you went to a demon for help. A demon, to help get Dean from wherever they’re holding another demon captive. You ever stop to think that maybe she’s just trying to get to Alastair to free him? I sure as hell don’t think Dean should be torturing Alastair, but I also don’t want to see that demon back on the loose.”
With quick angry strides, Sam paced in the small kitchenette, hardly able to extend his long legs before he was forced to turn in the other direction each time. “Fine, you don’t trust Ruby, I get that. But trust me,” he insisted, his arms crossed imposingly over his chest. “She says she can help us find Dean, and I can take care of Alastair. I can make him talk.”
“Listen to yourself, Sam!” Tabitha exclaimed, shoving her own chair back as she stood and leaned over the table, bracing herself on both hands. “You can handle Alastair? What the hell is going on with you? You shouldn’t be able to do the things you’ve been doing. And it’s dangerous. The angles said you had to stop doing whatever it is—”
“You really think we should be listening to those assholes right now?” he interrupted.
“They may be a bunch of feathered assholes,” she readily agreed, “but that doesn’t mean they are wrong about this. This crap you’re doing—exorcising demons with your mind—it isn’t right and isn’t good.” She blew a disgusted puff of air through her nose as she stood up straight, her head falling back as she looked plaintively at the ceiling for some kind of answers. “I swear,” she muttered, “I spend every minute worrying that I’m gonna lose both of my brothers to the darkness trying to swallow them whole, and the idiots are determined to rush headlong into that damned pit.”
“You’re one to talk,” Sam fired back, his voice dripping with disdain. “Dean may have been avoiding this since Pamela’s death, but you can’t tell me that there isn’t some kind of darkness in you, too, Tabitha. You can see reapers! That ain’t normal. So don’t stand there and pretend that you’re holy than thou art. And what the hell else you keeping? What was it that Pamela was talking about you getting into?”
Jaw tightly shut, Tabitha looked back at her brother, slowly asking through clenched teeth, “And just what was it that Pamela was whispering in your ear, little brother?”
They continued their standoff, each trying to stare the other down.
“We have to do something,” Sam finally said, struggling to keep calm in his voice. “And Ruby can help, so I’m gonna take whatever assistance she can give.”
Tabitha jerked a stiff nod before silently turning and walking out the door, not sure she trusted herself to speak.
But Sam demanded, “Where are you going?”
She paused, glancing down at her feet as she commented, “Maybe our whole family really is cursed or something. Maybe we’re all damned to our darknesses. But I’m sure as hell not going to turn to that darkness for help. I’ll find help where we should, from Bobby or someone else. Not a demon.”
With a glance over her shoulder, Tabitha looked to see if her words had any impact on her brother, but there was a defiant resolve in his eyes she’d seen so often in his youth. He’d been easier to deal with then. She couldn’t throw him over her shoulder anymore and make him do what she thought he should. He’d have to make his own decisions now.
Without another word, she walked out into the parking lot.
Bobby didn’t prove to be any more useful than Castiel had been. But at least Bobby had answered when she called.
She tried calling a few other hunters she’d known from her years with the FBI, but they hadn’t been any help either. The few fellow hunters from her father’s acquaintance proved to be fruitless as well. No one knew much of anything useful to use against angels—actually, most still didn’t think they existed.
The saying was desperate times called for desperate measures. And that was the only thing she could think of to adequately justify or explain what she was doing in the middle of grass lot near an abandoned gas station.
“You prayed for me,” Anna said as she appeared in front of Tabitha, a surprised look on the fallen angel’s face.
For a few moments, Tabitha just stared, trying to reason with herself whether it was right or wrong to go to Anna, but finally decided, that she was the only one Tabitha could turn to, and that the former angel could take care of herself better than most.
She bent down to pick up the charm bracelet she’d taken off so she could be sure Anna would hear her, and put it on as she told her, “I need your help, Anna.”
“My help?” Anna asked in surprise, stepping a little closer. “Just what is it you think I can do?”
“Castiel and Uriel took Dean,” she explained. “And I’ve tried calling for Cas until I was hoarse, but he’s not answering. So I need your help getting my brother back.” She hesitated, but finally told the fallen angel, “They’re trying to get Dean to do something they shouldn’t make him do.”
“I know,” Anna softly admitted.
She nodded. “I’ve been to where they’re keeping Alastair—where they took Dean.” She shook her head as she gave Tabitha an almost pitying glance. “Castiel wouldn’t listen to me, wouldn’t listen to reason. You aren’t going to change their minds, either.”
Tabitha paced a few steps as she absently rubbed her arms, trying to fight off the chill of the cold night air, and wishing she’d brought something more substantial than her old leather coat when she’d stormed off from their motel room.
Finally, she told Anna, “I don’t care what you think. Just take me there. Let me talk to Cas. I’ll make him see reason. They can’t do this to Dean. They can’t make him open that door again. It can’t be God’s Will that they use Dean this way.”
Anna shrugged. “I’m not sure who could say what God’s Will is. Maybe this is His Will, maybe not.”
Tabitha glanced up at Anna with an assessing look. “You’re not one of the few angels that’s seen God, are you?”
She looked surprised. “How do you know? Most humans would assume we all have.”
“Cas told me that only a few angels ever have. So if that’s true, how can anyone be certain that this is really what he wants? It just can’t be.”
Anna continued to stare at Tabitha in surprise, but the surprise turned to a thoughtful look as she continued staring. “You think Castiel will listen to you?” Anna whispered.
With an eager nod, Tabitha agreed. “Yes. I’ll get him to listen. To see reason. Just please, help me find where they are. Take me there.”
The fallen angel finally gave a nod of agreement. “Fine. I’ll help you get there, but I can’t get you there now. I just came from where they are, and Castiel will be watching for me, and trying to keep me out. We’ll have to wait a while until his guard drops again.”
Tabitha sighed in dejection and fought the tears she suddenly felt stinging her eyes. “The longer Dean’s there…” but she trailed off, unable to speak her fear.
“I know,” Anna said anyway. “But it can’t be helped now. Go get some rest. You look like you might fall over where you stand. I’ll keep a watch, and when I see a chance, I’ll come get you.” Her face darkened as she looked Tabitha up and down. “Although you seem to be hard to locate at the moment, even standing before me.”
Not explaining that the bracelet was the reason, Tabitha pointed at the abandoned gas station over the angel’s shoulder. “I’ll wait there for you.”
“Fine,” Anna agreed, and disappeared in the same manner Castiel always seemed to.
Tabitha had been staring at her phone for the last half-hour, trying to decide whether to call Sam and tell him her plan. But she knew that by now Ruby was likely with him, and she didn’t trust the demon—didn’t want her near wherever they were holding Alastair. She’d paced for an hour before, trying not to think about what Dean must have been doing in the many hours since he’d been taken. But her mind couldn’t help but dwell on it as she stared at the phone in her hand.
It had been a long time since she’d felt so helpless.
The dirty glass door to the old gas station moaned in protest as Anna suddenly strode in.
“We have to go,” she announced. “I think I can get you in now, but only you. Cas will be watching for me.”
Tabitha dropped to her feet from the dusty counter she’d been sitting on, brushing the dust from her jeans as she told Anna, “Let’s go. I’m ready.”
Anna stepped forward and touched her fingertips to Tabitha’s forehead. But she looked confused when nothing happened.
She slowly circled Tabitha with her head tipped. “I don’t understand. I can’t locate you if I try, and I can’t send you anywhere. I was able to find you when you prayed for me.”
Biting her tongue to keep from responding that she had taken off her bracelet when she prayed to Anna, Tabitha took a deep breath and tried to reach out to Anna like she did to speak to Castiel, telling her only, “Try again.”
She felt Anna’s fingers return to her forehead.
She opened her eyes to meet Castiel’s confused look as he strode closer to her.
“You shouldn’t be here. How did you find this place?” He paused for a beat as comprehension dawned. “Anna.”
She shrugged. “Well, she at least wasn’t ignoring me.”
Castiel turned away, his posture once more becoming rigid as he stared at the wall in front of him. “I don’t bow to your will.”
Tabitha felt her jaw clench in anger, but she forced herself to look away from him and around the cavernous old warehouse they stood in. “Where is my brother?” she asked only.
“Doing God’s work,” was Castiel’s stiff reply.
And Tabitha knew then that in the many hours it had taken her to find her way to the warehouse where she stood, that Dean had been torturing his former tormentor.
“If committing torture is God’s work,” she wearily replied, “then He’s not a God I want anything to do with.”
The angel remained silent and stationary.
“Dammit, look at me, Cas! What’s going on? How could you let me be blindsided by this, and how can you stand by and allow it to happen?!” she demanded, stepping in front of the angel to force him to look at her.
But his eyes didn’t even seem to register her; he could very well have been looking right through her.
“What, is this Uriel’s idea? And since when do you listen to Uriel? How can you stand by for this? You can’t be so heartless. You have to see that this could ruin Dean,” she tried again, nearly pleading with the angel.
When he remained silent, her anger burst and she shoved at his chest until he was forced back a step. “Say something!” she shouted. “You have to feel that this is wrong, too.”
His gaze finally dropped slightly downward, meeting hers as he callously answered, “I feel nothing. I cannot. I have been reminded that I have grown too close to my charges. That I have begun to express emotion. It is the gateway of doubt. And I am not Anna to Fall. I am an Angel of The Lord. I don’t answer to your brothers…” He trailed off but continued in a whisper, “Or to you. It would be wise if you remembered your place and stayed away from angels and their business.”
His gaze shifted again, and he went back to staring through her rather than looking at her. An ache cut through her at his words, but she ignored the implications of how deeply his warning and threats truly cut through her. She’d consider why it hurt so badly when she wasn’t staring at the very source of that hurt.
“You’re a heartless son of a bitch, Castiel,” she whispered harshly instead. “And damn you and your angel crap. I’ll find Dean myself,” she spat as she turned away, searching the warehouse for her brother.
There was no sign of him in the cave-like room she and Castiel stood in, but she finally spotted a heavy iron door that led into another room. As she approached it, she could just make out muffled sounds over Castiel’s protests and warnings that she step away from the door.
But as she laid her hand on the handle, she heard a muffled sound of pain from Dean, and the angel was forgotten as she opened the door.
The sight of Dean on his knees as Alastair pummeled him met Tabitha’s eyes as she stepped into the room. Neither seemed aware of her presence as the demon continued to pound on her brother, his face matted with blood, and swollen almost beyond recognition.
Looking around the room for some kind of weapon, all Tabitha could see was a table with torture implements laid out on them. But they were obviously implements to torture a demon, so she ran to the table. She almost cried in relief when she saw Ruby’s knife laid out with the other torture implements. A knife at least, she was comfortable and familiar with handling. And would kill the son of a bitch pounding on her brother.
When she turned around, Alastair had picked up her brother, holding him in a grip at his neck against a wooden pentagram overlaid with chains, his fingers digging into Dean’s neck as he told him, “You’ve got a lot to learn, boy. So I’ll see you back in class, bright and early, Monday morning.”
Tabitha plunged the knife into Alastair’s chest. “Class has been canceled,” she told him.
But the hit had just missed his heart as the demon had just started to turn towards her. But his hand fell away from Dean, allowing her brother to drop to the floor.
She tried to keep her hold on the knife, twisting at it and trying to angle it into his heart. But Alastair broke her grip, shoving at her shoulders and sending her flying backwards into the far wall where she crumpled in a heap on the floor.
“Oh, almost, little Winchester girl,” Alastair gleefully grinned as he glanced at the knife. “Looks like God is on my side today, but I’d love to have you on my side, too. Maybe see if the sister is made of the same stuff as her brother.”
Tabitha tried to push her back against the wall, vainly hoping to use it for leverage to regain her feet as the demon almost cheerfully advanced on her, paying the knife in his chest no attention. But her legs flailed uselessly beneath her, and she realized that she couldn’t get her lungs to take in any air either. The hit had knocked the wind from her lungs.
Castiel suddenly appeared in her vision, cutting off the demon’s path to her as he held his hand up, making a slight twisting motion as the blade in Alastair’s chest twisted in correspondence.
Alastair grunted painfully in return as the knife continued twisting, but then grabbed the handle of the blade, and yanked it out, screaming as he launched himself at the angel.
Tabitha still couldn’t quite draw breath properly into her lungs—it would only come in shallow pants—but she managed to stumble over to her brother, kneeling painfully beside him as she picked his head up in her lap, carefully wiping away at the blood as she tried to feel for a pulse in his neck. It was there, but weak, and his breathing unsteady.
The angel and demon continued to fight around her, the sounds of their punches and grunts filling the room. But when Tabitha glanced away from Dean, she saw Alastair gaining the upper hand, shoving Castiel backwards into an iron support beam. He had shoved Castiel’s back against a jagged piece of metal the jutted out, and was holding the angel in place with a hand at his throat as blood trickled from Castiel’s mouth and the wounds on his face.
“You know…” Alastair started telling the angel, “like roaches, you celestials. I really wish I knew how to kill you. But all I can do is send you back to Heaven,” he continued, shaking his finger at the angel in the way a parent would scold a child.
Castiel struggled against Alastair’s hold, but couldn’t slip it.
Alastair lifted his hand and began chanting, “Omni potentas dei potestatum invoco. Omni potentas dei potestatum invoco. Aborbe terran. Hoc angelorum in obsequentum. Domine expoet. Domine expoet. Hodie abba tempere.”
As Tabitha watched, a bluish light began to emanate from Castiel’s eyes and mouth, and his face twisted in pain. Although she hadn’t brushed up on her Latin like she’d promised herself to, she could make out some of the incantation Alastair was using, invoking the power of God to recall his angel.
She tried once more to push to her feet, but Dean was still lying unconscious in her lap, and her body nearly wilted under the effort to stand. A feeling of helplessness and hopelessness filled her as she watched Alastair trying to banish the angel back to Heaven. And as she saw the look of pain in Castiel’s eyes, she wished with all her might that Alastair couldn’t hurt the angel anymore—that he couldn’t even touch him.
Alastair’s words were choked off as he suddenly was flung away from Castiel. And for a brief moment, Tabitha could only revel in the sight of him held immobile and frightened against the wall.
But then, her mind caught up, and she thought to wonder how he could have been flung away from the angel. She glanced over her shoulder, but there was no one else in the room.
The moment she looked away, Alastair was again able to move, and began stalking closer to her and Dean. Castiel had slumped to the floor, but stared at her in horror and shock. And in that instant, she realized that she had been the one to fling Alastair away, and realized that she had helped her brothers drop the iron chandelier the last time she’d seen Alastair as well. She just didn’t know how she’d done it, or how it was even possible.
“Well, isn’t the little sister just full of surprises,” Alastair gleefully told her as he came closer. “You and I are going to have so much fun.”
She tried to imagine flinging him again, but nothing happened. Alastair continued to come closer to her and Dean. Her eyes closed as she hunched protectively over Dean, waiting for whatever would come next.
But a loud thud filled her ears, and as she looked up, Alastair was pressed once more against the far wall away from her.
“You Winchesters and your stupid pet tricks,” Alastair groaned.
“Who’s murdering the angels? How are they doing it?”
At the sound of Sam’s voice, Tabitha whipped her head over her shoulder to see her younger brother standing confidently in the middle of the room, his right palm held out towards the demon.
“You think I’m gonna tell you?” Alastair laughed in a rasping voice.
“Yeah, I do,” Sam responded, twisting his hand in the air and pulling it slightly towards him.
Alastair began gagging as his eyes turned to milky white.
“How are the demons killing angels?!” Sam demanded in a louder voice.
The demon almost seemed to convulse as he made guttural noises and reluctantly forced out in an inhuman voice, “I…don’t…know!”
“Right,” Sam replied, twisting his hand more, causing more pain for the demon it seemed.
Castiel had begun to push himself up into a sitting position, but continued to stare intermittently around the room, his gaze darting between Alastair and Sam, but also resting on Tabitha with a bewildered look.
“It’s…not…us!” Alastair continued. “We’re…not doing it!”
“I don’t believe you,” Sam told him.
Alastair shook his head. “Lilith…is not behind this. She wouldn’t kill seven angels.” He began to laugh bitterly as he went on. “She’d kill a hundred. A thousand.”
Sam let his hand drop slightly, and Alastair began to pant heavily for air.
“Oh, go ahead,” Alastair smugly told Sam. “Send me back…if you can,” he taunted.
With a smile that frightened Tabitha for the darkness in it, Sam replied, “I’m stronger than that now. Now I can kill.”
Both Tabitha and Castiel turned to stare in shock at Sam’s statement, but both too dumbfounded to do more than watch as he raised his hand again.
Alastair began screaming in earnest as light pulsed through him and he finally fell over dead.
“What did you do?” Tabitha whispered, breaking the sudden silence of the room.
Sam looked away guiltily for a moment, but then strode closer and knelt beside her. “Are you all right?” he asked, brushing some loose hair away from her face. Then he looked down at Dean and sucked a breath through his teeth. “Jesus. Is he…”
Turning her attention back to where Dean still laid in her lap, Tabitha touched his neck again, watching the unsteady rise and fall of his chest. “Still hanging in, but he’s bad,” she replied.
She bit her lip and looked up again to where Castiel had been, intending to ask the angel to help her brother, but the angel was gone.
“We need to get him to a hospital, now,” Sam frantically told her, bending down to slide his arms underneath Dean and lifting him from her lap.
Tabitha wasn’t sure why she’d come here. Perhaps some sense of familiarity and comfort. But for once, the comfort she normally felt in a church was strikingly absent. As she sat in the small hospital chapel with her rosary clutched in her hand, all she could feel was anger. Anger…and disappointment.
She’d never been a regular churchgoer—her job interfered too much for that—but she’d gone to a little Catholic church not far from her place in Virginia for several years whenever she could. It had always filled her with a sense of peace to sit in that old building with its ornate stained glass windows. When she sat and prayed, she could almost feel a sense of security and absolute belief in the Will of God.
But sitting in the small, sparsely furnished chapel of the hospital, all she could think was that if she had been praying to the same God that had asked so much of her brother, and then left him broken in a hospital room upstairs…well…she was certain she’d been praying to the right God.
The hairs on the back of her neck stood on end, and Tabitha didn’t need to turn around to know who was so suddenly behind her.
“Did you heal my brother?” she asked him in a stark voice. She felt so empty of anything but anger and resentment, that she was surprised how devoid of emotion she had sounded.
“I can’t,” Castiel whispered as she heard him take a seat in the pew behind her.
The rosary that she had been caressing between her fingertips nearly fell from her hand as she felt a tear fall. Until that moment, she hadn’t realized that she had been praying. Not to God, but praying that Castiel would come and heal her brother.
“Then why are you even here?” she demanded, a little heat returning to color her tone.
“I have to follow orders, Tabitha,” Castiel said, his tone telling her he was trying to explain something more to her than his words said.
She rocketed to her feet, spinning to face the angel sitting behind her. “Orders?” she incredulously repeated. “How can that have been God’s orders?” she demanded. Throwing her arm out to gesture at the chapel around them, she continued, “I thought God was supposed to compassionate and benevolent. How can all this be so wrong? How can the God I’ve prayed to for so long have asked such a thing of my brother, and then left him so broken afterwards.”
Castiel stubbornly shook his head, his eyes fixed below her gaze on the top of the pew she’d been sitting at. “Read your Bible. God is wrathful as well.”
“Yeah,” she bitterly agreed, her hand swiping at the few tears that had escaped. “But I thought he was supposed to encourage us to love and forgive.”
When Castiel didn’t respond, she let a bitter laugh escape. “How could you have asked my brother to do that?”
He finally let his eyes travel up to meet hers. “I’m following orders.”
She slammed her fist down on the pew between them, kneeling on the seat to get a little closer to the angel. “Damn your orders, Castiel. And damn you for following them and breaking my brother like that.”
He met her with a blank stare.
“How did you manage to throw Alastair with your mind?” he suddenly asked.
“What?” she sputtered, surprised by the topic change. In truth, she’d been too worried about her brother for the past day to think very much about what she’d done. The sight of Dean in his hospital bed, hooked up to machines to help him breathe filled her mind.
“How?” he repeated.
She let her head fall back in frustration. Finally, she told the angel what her few suspicions were. At least the few that had run through her mind when she wasn’t worrying about Dean. “I think it has something to do with when that demon grabbed me in Virginia. That one that tried to mark something into my skin. I know she didn’t finish before you showed up, but she did something to me,” she admitted in a shaky whisper.
Castiel nodded, and Tabitha knew that the same thoughts had been running through his mind as well.
He looked up to meet her eyes again. “Tell no one,” he directed.
She huffed. “Who the hell would I tell?”
“Don’t let other angels know,” he continued.
Her eyes narrowed on him. “Like I want a damn thing to do with any angel now.”
Castiel stood from his pew, forcing her to stand from where she’d been kneeling so he wasn’t towering over her.
“I’m sorry for what happened to Dean,” he finally told her. “I’ve already spoken with Sam, and told him that I don’t know how Alastair escaped from that trap. He shouldn’t have. I laid it myself.”
She felt her lip curl as she snarled at him. “You’re sorry for what happened to him, but not sorry for making him torture Alastair?”
“I follow orders,” he repeated, a slight edge appearing in his voice that hadn’t been there before. “I follow God’s Will. To disobey His Will is our greatest sin.”
She leaned a little closer and whispered in a heavy voice, “And you think it was God’s Will that Dean torture that demon? Maybe that was the test. To know that God would never ask such a thing from one of his people.”
A flash of doubt surfaced in the angel’s eyes before he looked down between them.
“I follow God’s Will,” he repeated in a low whisper.
“If that’s all you have to say to me, then get out. If you won’t heal my brother, then there’s no reason for you to be here.”
But he stood where he was, staring at the top of the pew separating them.
“For your…for the good of all my charges…I have to follow the Will of God,” he whispered again.
She spun away from him, facing the front of the chapel again as she repeated, “I don’t want to hear any more about what you will and won’t do under Heaven’s orders. Whatever we were doing—it’s done. This friendship, this, whatever it is, with you…and me…it’s done. The cost is too high, and I won’t be involved with someone who would allow something like that to happen to anyone, let alone my brother.” Another tear fell as she raised her voice to yell, “Get out!”
A flutter of wings marked his departure.
Castiel stood along an abandoned pathway, waiting to see if Anna would answer his call. The surrounding area was dark, but the pathway he stood on was illuminated by a tall light post. The ingenuity of humans still amazed him. The devices they made to light their way.
But no light post would light Castiel’s way. No light post could guide him and tell him what he should do. He’d never felt so utterly lost before. Never felt so empty. Never so alone. Not until he’d been offered friendship from a human, only to have it ripped away.
“Anna, please,” he called again.
Perhaps that was why Heaven forbid them to form such attachments with humans. Perhaps angels weren’t equipped to deal with the loss of such attachments.
And in truth, he did feel…something. He wasn’t certain what. But he felt something.
The bright, normally laughing brown eyes of Tabitha Winchester usually caused a strange…flutter…in his heart. While at the same time easing a knot that had tied itself in his stomach over the many long millennia of his existence. At first, just the sight of her smile and her bright eyes had been enough to…to ease something in him. He had been able to just watch her and remain hidden, just observing her. Though she didn’t smile enough in his opinion, her smile did ease him.
But then, it hadn’t been enough just to watch her and remain hidden.
It had started when she had offered him her friendship. So simple but foreign an idea to an angel. It had seemed harmless enough. But he had begun to feel that he was…different. Unique even. That he wasn’t just another angel. Not just like every other of his brothers and sisters in Heaven.
The feeling had been addictive. He’d longed to distinguish himself more in her eyes. And then he’d felt her touch. Even just the feel of her hand on his had filled him with an indescribable feeling. But she’d shown him so much more than that simple touch.
And then taken it away.
Her brown eyes darkened with grief and tears filled his thoughts.
He wished she would smile again.
Wished her eyes would fill with that light again. That light that told him she always seemed to find something humorous in him, even when he couldn’t fathom what.
He wished she would just smile.
His chest didn’t seem to hurt when she smiled.
Was that what it was to have feelings? He had thought feelings were something abstract—something that couldn’t be touched—but he wondered if they weren’t actually physical. At least they seemed to have physical pain.
But he didn’t understand these feelings. They confused him. Seemed to only bring him an ache in his chest.
It was a lie, he knew, they also brought him that light feeling in his heart. That flutter. That feeling wasn’t painful, but…pleasant even.
Perhaps if he’d been able to tell her more, perhaps then Tabitha might not have looked at him with those tear-darkened eyes. Perhaps then she wouldn’t have taken away the friendship he’d come to cherish.
Truth would only endanger her more. She was safer if she cut her ties with him. Safer if Heaven didn’t begin to suspect that he felt a stronger closeness with his female charge than he did with Dean. He’d been so careful to ensure that they didn’t look her way. So careful that they wouldn’t have reason to watch her as they watched her brothers. But if they suspected that he’d grown far closer to Tabitha than they had accused him of growing to Dean… Or suspected the strange things she seemed able to do… He feared the thought. They questioned his sympathies for Dean, but he felt something for Tabitha.
Better for Tabitha if she distanced herself. Even at the cost of the ache now in his chest.
Still, something wasn’t right in Heaven. If Sam was right—and he had no reason to doubt the boy—then it wasn’t demons killing his brothers and sisters. And if it wasn’t demons as their directives had insisted…then something was wrong in Heaven. Could he stand for more of his garrison to be slaughtered? What if the danger put his charges in harm’s way? What if it brought more danger to the only human that had ever called him friend? Was Uriel right to consider disobeying Heaven?
The light above him flickered, and Castiel turned to see Anna behind him.
“Decided to kill me after all?” Anna asked him.
“I’m alone,” he answered more honestly than he’d intended. He just hoped Anna didn’t hear the truth behind his words.
“What do you want from me, Castiel?”
He knew that she above all angels might understand. “I’m considering disobedience,” he told her without hesitation.
“Good,” she nodded.
“No, it isn’t,” he argued. It would only bring danger. But if danger was already there, what choice did he have? “For the first time…I feel.” He tried to think of what it was he felt. What…emotion. But all he felt was that ache in his chest.
“It gets worse,” Anna informed him.
He looked down, vaguely disappointed in her statement.
But she continued, stepping closer to him. “Choosing your own course of action—it’s confusing…it’s terrifying,” she finished as she joined him under the light post.
She laid a gentle hand on his shoulder, but as when she’d touched his hand at the warehouse, he flinched from it. Angels were not prone to physical interactions with each other, but more than that, her touch had seemed…somehow disappointing. It made him uneasy. Though he’d come to enjoy such casual touches with Tabitha. He wondered if the difference was her humanity. But something felt different—wrong, when Anna touched him.
Anna let her hand fall away, taking her own meaning from his reaction.
“That’s right,” she told him with a hard edge. “You’re too good for my help. I’m just trash…a walking blasphemy.”
He didn’t dissuade her from her assumption, for in truth, she wasn’t far off in part of her assumption. She was a reminder of the fine line he was trying to walk. A reminder of what could happen if he, too, Fell. A reminder that perhaps he was straying closer than he wanted to admit.
He called out to her when she turned to leave, “Anna…I don’t know what to do.” Admitting it was hard. But he’d followed Anna for so long. And she had already Fallen. He prayed that she would have some insight into what he should do—what he could do, so that he could keep from Falling. “Please tell me what to do.”
She looked back, and a look he thought might be pity came over her face. “Like the old days?” she asked. Her face hardened. “No. I’m sorry. It’s time to think for yourself.”
And she left him with no more answers than he’d started with.
He glanced around him, wondering what he could do, when a water fountain caught his attention. A pipe ran from the ground near it, the spigot slowly dripping water. And as he stared, a question formed in his mind.
Returning to their warehouse, he crouched near the Enochian trap he’d laid out, touching the spot where water had dripped and washed away just enough to invalidate the trap. Following the pipe, he found a spigot that had been turned just enough to create the drip, and used his mind to shut it off.
“You called?” Uriel asked as he appeared behind him. “What do you say, Castiel? Will you join me? Will you fight with me?”
“It’s strange…” Castiel began, “strange how…a leaky pipe, can undo the work of angels when we ourselves…are supposed to be the agents of fate.”
Uriel shook his head. “Alastair was much more powerful than we had imagined.”
“No,” Castiel argued, finally seeing the truth that had been in front of him but that he hadn’t been willing to consider. “No demon can overpower that trap. I made it myself.” He considered the other angel for a moment before continuing. “We’ve been friends for a long time, Uriel.” Though he’d always known that angels didn’t comprehend friendship as humans did. “Fought by each others’ sides, served together away from home…for what seems like…forever. We’re brothers, Uriel. Pay me that respect. Tell me the truth.”
“The truth is…the only thing that can kill an angel…” He let his angel blade drop from his sleeve, holding it in the air between them. “…is another angel,” he whispered.
“I’m afraid so,” Uriel answered.
“And you broke the Devil’s Trap, set Alastair on Dean and Tabitha,” Castiel supplied.
Uriel shook his head, almost in denial. “She shouldn’t have been there. And Alastair should never have been taken alive. Really inconvenient, Cas. Yes, I did turn the screw a little. Alastair should’ve killed Dean and escaped, and you should’ve gone on happily scapegoating the demons. And you’d have been content with that. Content with her…your human. The one you’ve taken such great lengths to hide…the one our powers can’t seem to touch. You hoped I wouldn’t notice, but I tried to use my powers on her at that cabin when we went to get Anna…and it was as if I’d become human. My powers did nothing. So I started looking into her. But it seems she’s impossible to spy on. You went to a lot of trouble to hide her. You could keep her, you know, if you just continue letting the demons take the blame.”
Castiel ignored the sudden weight in the pit of his stomach, and chose not to rise to Uriel’s bait. “Blame them for the murders of our kin?”
“Not murders, Castiel,” he emphatically denied. “No. My work…is conversion. How long have we waited here? How long have we played this game by rules that make no sense?”
Fearing the direction Uriel’s disobedience was headed, Castiel turned away and reminded him, “It is our Father’s world, Uriel.”
“Our Father?” Uriel angrily interrupted. “He stopped being that, if he ever was, the moment he created them. Humanity. His favorites. His whining, puking larvae.”
Turning back to the other angel, Castiel asked, “Are you trying to convert me?”
“I wanted you to join me, and I still do. With you, we can be powerful enough to—”
“To raise our brother,” Uriel whispered, a touch of awe in his voice.
“You do remember him,” Uriel said. He stepped past Castiel, his voice taking on a far off tone. “How strong he was…how beautiful. And he didn’t bow to humanity. He was punished for defending us. Now, if you want to believe in something, Cas, believe in him.”
“Lucifer is not God.”
“God isn’t God anymore! He doesn’t care what we do. I am proof of that.”
“But this? What were you gonna do, Uriel? Were you gonna kill the whole garrison?” Castiel asked, circling to face Uriel again.
“I only killed the ones who said no,” he answered. “Others have joined me, Cas. Now, please, brother, don’t fight me. Help me.” When Castiel didn’t respond, he added. “I could help you keep the girl safe. She’ll just be cast off when Heaven is through with whatever they have planned for her, you know this. Or worse, they’ll kill her if they realize that she has some kind of resistance to our powers. Or for giving you cause to doubt their orders. They’ll find a reason, Cas, and she’ll end up dead. Join me, and I’ll ensure that you can keep her.”
Castiel didn’t respond, though he wanted to keep his charges safe, and Uriel had so painstakingly laid out the very fears he had, he still couldn’t condone Uriel’s actions. If Uriel raised Lucifer…Lucifer would see all humans dead. All of them. There would be no protecting Tabitha. Or her brothers.
Uriel picked up where he’d left off. “Help me spread the word. Help me bring on the apocalypse. All you have to do…is be unafraid.”
The apocalypse would mean to end of humanity. Every single one. The end of Tabitha.
He briefly met Uriel’s eyes before looking down again as he spoke the only words he could, the only choice he could follow. “For the first time in a long time…” he looked up again to show Uriel his resolve. “…I am.”
Before Uriel could strike, he shoved at his chest, sending the other angel flying backwards. Uriel crashed through the brick wall, but stood and dusted himself off. Castiel quickly lost track of how many blows they exchanged, both trying to withhold the use of their blades, for that would be a final ending.
They brawled like humans, using their fists and bloodying their vessels. Until Uriel grabbed a length of iron and used all of his strength to strike Castiel in the face, bringing the angel to his knees, still weakened from his encounter with Alastair.
From his knees, with the blood of his vessel trickling down his nose and face, Castiel told his brother, “You can’t win, Uriel. I still serve God.”
“You haven’t even met the man!” Uriel shouted, grabbing Castiel’s shoulder. “There is no Will.” He punched Castiel to punctuate his words. “No wrath! No…God.”
His final punch never came. Anna appeared behind him, her blade slicing into Uriel’s neck as she whispered to him, “Maybe or maybe not. But there’s still me.”
She removed her blade, letting Uriel fall to the ground. Together, Castiel and Anna watched as his Grace exploded from his vessel, leaving only the marks of his wings behind on either side of the empty vessel.
“Thank you,” Castiel whispered to Anna as he pulled himself to his feet.
Anna stood silently beside him before she finally said, “You’re different.”
Castiel looked down at himself, but wasn’t sure what Anna could mean.
“Uriel was right. You care for her.”
He stiffened, but didn’t reply. Didn’t ask who.
“She brings out something good in you, Castiel.”
With her words, Anna disappeared.
Tabitha was beyond exhausted, but still couldn’t bring herself to sleep. The most rest she’d gotten was in laying her head down on the edge of her brother’s bed, pillowing the side of her face on her arms as she held Dean’s hand. She was almost afraid to let go. Feared that if she fell asleep now, she’d wake up to find that he was still on ventilators, and that he wasn’t actually awake and breathing on his own.
He’d fallen asleep hours ago, but she’d remained beside him, not returning to the motel with Sam, and refusing to allow the nurses to bully her into leaving her older brother. He wouldn’t talk about what had happened, but she knew by the haunted look in his eyes that he’d either broken, or come damned close from what the angels had forced him into. And she wouldn’t leave him alone to face the demons of his own mind.
She initially dismissed the slight twitch of his hand in hers, thinking he was only dreaming, but then a voice broke the silence of the room.
“Are you all right?” Castiel asked, and she sat up to see the angel sitting in a chair on the other side of Dean’s bed. His head was tipped back as though in exhaustion.
“No thanks to you,” Dean croaked. Tabitha started to stand to get him water, but Dean’s grip tightened on hers, keeping her beside him.
Castiel looked down briefly, as though he actually felt some kind of remorse for his responsibility in putting Dean in his hospital bed, but his face was ever impassive as he tipped it back up again. Not looking their direction, he said, “You need to be more careful.”
Tabitha could almost feel a push from him, as though he was trying to indicate the words were for her, but she gripped the charms of her bracelet in her palm. The hard points digging into her skin as she gripped it and pushed the angel away. After what he’d done, she didn’t care what messages he had.
“You need to learn how to manage a damn Devil’s Trap,” Dean replied.
“That’s not what I mean,” the angel replied, only glancing at them as he continued in a flat voice, “Uriel is dead.”
“Was it the demons?” Dean asked.
“It was disobedience. He was working against us,” Castiel replied, but Tabitha knew him well enough to hear the regret in his voice for Uriel. He didn’t regret Dean’s current position. But he regretted the death of his scornful, hateful brother, who had actually been the one behind the deaths.
Dean glanced up at her, and she could see him hesitating, as if he wanted to ask her to leave, but he finally turned back to the angel, asking him in a fearful voice, “Is it true?” Castiel had tipped his head back again, but turned to look at Dean. “Did I break the first seal? Did I start all this?”
Tabitha felt her breath catch in her throat, and she looked up at Castiel, pleading with her eyes for him to tell her brother that he was wrong. She feared her brother couldn’t take much more in his fragile state.
But Castiel unpityingly replied, “Yes.”
Dean looked away, his hand closing almost painfully over Tabitha’s as silent tears rolled down his cheeks.
“When we discovered Lilith’s plan for you…we laid siege to Hell, and we fought our way to get to you before you—”
“Jump-started the apocalypse,” Dean finished in a voice that broke.
Castiel looked up as he continued, “But we were too late.”
“Why didn’t you just leave me there, then?” Dean demanded in a harsh whisper. Tabitha moved closer, clutching his hand with hers and running her other hand soothingly down his arm as she tried to comfort and shush him.
“It’s not…blame that falls on you, Dean. It’s fate,” Castiel explained. “And the righteous man who begins it is the only one who can finish it. You have to stop it.”
“Lucifer? The apocalypse? What does that mean?”
When Castiel looked away, Dean shouted at him in a hoarse voice, “Hey! Don’t you go disappearing on me, you son of a bitch. What does that mean?”
“I don’t know.”
“I don’t,” Castiel insisted. “Dean, they don’t tell me much. I know…how our fate rests with you.”
“Well, then, you guys are screwed. I can’t do it, Cas. It’s too big. Alastair was right. I’m not all here. I’m not—I’m not strong enough.”
Dean turned more towards his sister, pulling her hand closer over his stomach as he clutched at her like a lifeline. “Well, I guess I’m not the man either of our dads wanted me to be.”
Tabitha finally stood as more of his tears slipped down his cheeks, resting her hip on the edge of his bed as she continued trying to calm him.
But Dean ignored her attempts as he told the angel, “Find someone else. It’s not me.”
He repeated his last words like a litany as he broke into tears. Unable to stem them, Tabitha climbed fully onto the bed and pulled Dean closer, wrapping her arms around him and holding him as his tears fell and he continued to repeat, “Find someone else. It’s not me.”
She had resolved not to speak to angel for fear of what she might say, but as she smoothed her hands through Dean’s hair and down his back, she looked over her brother’s head and told the angel, “Just leave. He can’t handle this right now. You didn’t have to tell him…” she trailed off. She’d intended to say that he didn’t have to tell Dean right now, but she didn’t believe even that. “You didn’t have to tell him that. He didn’t have to know. You made him go there, and for nothing. Not a damn thing was gained. But a hell of a lot was sure lost there,” she whispered in a vicious voice. “Just leave,” she repeated. “We’re done.”
Castiel stood, and for the first time since he and Uriel appeared in their motel room in Cheyenne, she felt his full regard on her as he stared into her eyes. He glanced down at Dean, but her brother seemed unaware of anything around him as he continued to repeat his litany.
He held her gaze as he slowly told her, “I do feel…regret.” He frowned and glanced away, as though not sure of his words or not satisfied with them. He added in a low whisper, “You must be careful now.”
And the angel left her rocking her brother in her arms, alone to deal with the aftermath of destruction they’d left her brother in.
A/N:I know, I know. No one is happy to get to this part. But it can’t all be wine and roses, even with an angel. Maybe especially with an angel. But there could really be no other outcome to this portion of the story. There was no way that Tabitha was going to be accepting of the events as they had to happen.
So we’ll just have to suffer through it with Castiel.
And how was Castiel’s narrative? I was very nervous about writing a portion of the chapter from his perspective. I’ve always planned to do a section from his view, but the only one I had really planned was much further down the line. But when I came to this part of the story, there were a few ideas that just spoke to me—or maybe that was Castiel whispering in my ear—but I just had to slip it in.
If you’re curious, here’s the translation I found for the Latin Alastair used, the Angel Banishing spell:
“I invoke the power and authority of God
I invoke the power and authority of God
This Angel in [Your] service
Lord, Reveal [Him]
Lord, Reveal [Him]
This Day God Temper.”
Here’s all the names that Tabitha used, they’re the real names of famous actresses.
Chapter 11: Norma Mortenson ~ Marilyn Monroe
Chapter 14: Betty Perske ~ Lauren Bacall
Chapter 17: Margarita Cansino ~ Rita Hayworth
Chapter 19: Demetria Gene Guynes ~ Demi Moore
And as always, be sure to leave some hits of review to feed my addiction. Come on! I know they say enabling is bad…but it feels so good! Lol
You’re all the best!