The moisture from Sam’s shower was steaming up the mirror as Tabitha braced her leg over the sink just outside the bathroom to shave her legs. She didn’t even want to think about how hot he had to have the water turned up to to be creating so much steam that it was fogging the mirror even through the closed bathroom door. It might have been fun to lecture him about how bad the hot water was for his skin, but she wasn’t sure any of them were ready for teasing. Not after giving a hunter’s funeral to a brother they hadn’t even known existed a week before.
Tabitha herself wasn’t sure what to think about their brother Adam. In her heart, she thought that he was probably better off having never gotten into the mess they’d spent their lives in—and at least now, he never would. She wasn’t sure if it was morbid that she sort of envied that her little brother was dead and didn’t have the worries she and her other brothers still did. But she guessed that it probably was.
Adam was in a better place. That’s what she kept telling herself.
She hoped it was a better place. Though she was beginning to have some doubts about Heaven.
Truthfully, she really envied the life that Adam had gotten to live. It was one she and her other brothers had never been granted. Much as their father had said he wanted her out of the life, he’d been one of the first and most frequent of hunters calling to use her for her new FBI connections when he thought it might help him out in some way.
Adam had at least lived his whole life thinking the world was what it showed on the surface. Not knowing what really lurked beneath the glossy veneer of life. Until his final moments anyway. But the Winchester curse still found him, and he had died bloody and brutal.
At least he hadn’t lived in fear of the end that found him.
Wasn’t it better to live never knowing what kind of end was coming for you?
Tabitha paused as she rinsed off her razor in the running water of the sink, wiping away the condensation on the mirror to look herself in the eye. The eyes that looked back at her were cold and hollowed by dark circles, holding no illusion in them. Those eyes knew that the end waiting for her and her remaining brothers was going to be brutal and bloody. She saw no other end for them. The only question was when.
She frowned and turned back to the remaining foam on her leg, twisting a bit to reach the side of her calf. It was no use dwelling on what awaited them or when. First, they needed to do their part to stop the apocalypse from coming. No sense worrying about some monster tearing them to shreds if the apocalypse wiped out the world first. They needed to worry about one thing at—
The door swung open, smacking into Tabitha’s elbow.
“Dammit,” she growled as her razor slipped and sliced into the thin skin over her anklebone, blood immediately trickling down to her foot.
“Sorry, Tabby,” Sam hissed as he pulled a t-shirt over his head, leaning towards the sink as Tabitha hopped a little and twisted to keep the blood dripping into the porcelain bowl.
Tabitha glared up into the mirror at her brother leaning over her shoulder to assess the cut. “Could you be a little careful in your lumbering, Bigfoot?”
Instead of returning the glare for her comment, Sam seemed transfixed by the cut, leaning closer over her shoulder with a strange look on his face. When his eyes widened and his nostrils flared, Tabitha threw an elbow nervously into his stomach and pointedly cleared her throat. “Ya wanna back off there, Sasquatch? I’m kinda bleeding all over here and I don’t need your help with that.”
Sam shook himself and stepped back, his voice suddenly breaking as he told her, “Sure…sure. Sorry about that.” He reached out and fumbled to grab one of the single ply, sandpaper-esque tissues from the box in the wall near the sink, handing it to her. “Here. Do you need a band-aide?” His throat worked almost nervously as he swallowed and stepped back further from her.
“Sure,” Tabitha absently replied, wondering at his obvious discomfort. It wasn’t as if her brothers were squeamish at the sight of a little blood, even if those annoying little cuts over a woman’s ankle did bleed like the dickens.
As he crossed the room to where his bag was, Tabitha’s eyes caught on the sight of Dean still sleeping. She had almost dismissed the sight when she realized something tickled her attention as she looked at him. Almost as if she could nearly hear or sense something going on at the corner of her field of vision, but couldn’t quite see it.
But as she focused on him, he suddenly sat up from his bed with a loud gasp.
His sudden movement startled her, and Tabitha dropped her razor and jumped a little. Even Sam jumped some as he walked back to Tabitha, handing her a band-aide without looking at her.
“Morning,” he laconically told Dean.
“‘Bout gave me a heart attack,” Tabitha grumbled, dabbing at her leg and smoothing the band-aide over the cut.
Dean stared at her for a moment. “Why do you have your leg in the sink?”
Returning to her task, Tabitha told him, “Sam was bugging me that he wanted a turn in the shower, so I decided to shave my legs out here so he could.”
Dean shook his head and rubbed at his forehead. “Whatever. We have to go. We need to go meet Cas somewhere.”
Tabitha was just finishing and cupping water in her hands to rinse off her leg as Dean spoke, startling her again so that she nearly spilled the water from her hands. Steadying herself, she managed to calmly ask, “What do you mean? What’s this about the angel?”
Her older brother was already out of bed, hurriedly grabbing at his scattered clothes to get dressed. “Cas showed up in my dream. Told me the he couldn’t talk to me there because someone could be listening or something, and told me to meet him at some address. So we need to make tracks and find out what’s going on.”
“So we’re just gonna drop what we’re doing and jump to this angel’s bidding?” Sam incredulously asked. “‘Cause that’s worked out so well for us so far.”
Dean didn’t have time to reply to Sam before Tabitha demanded, “He told you this in your dream? How is that even possible?” But she realized that was what she’d sensed when she looked at Dean. She’d heard the angel before when he’d talked to Dean in his sleep and couldn’t understand why she hadn’t heard him now.
Her brother gave her a strange glance as he paused to look up at her. “I’ve told you he’s angel-stalked me in my dreams before. Why are you acting so surprised? I thought he’d angel-stalked you once in a dream, too. During that Anna business. What’s so surprising?”
Realizing her error—and that Dean didn’t know the extent to which she could hear angels—Tabitha sputtered for a moment before she regained her composure, grabbing a towel to dry her legs as she shrugged and replied, “I’m just surprised that he came to you in a dream since I can hear him when he talks to me is all.”
Dean yanked at the zipper to close his bag, staring at her with narrowed eyes. “I thought you said that bracelet of Mom’s kept him from being able to talk to you like that. That you couldn’t hear any angels when you were wearing it.”
Tabitha glanced down at the charm bracelet. “Right,” she laughed, trying not to sound forced. “I guess I forgot. That must be the reason. Not sure where my mind’s at.”
Her brother softened a little, seeming to buy her excuses. “Maybe it would help if you got more sleep. You still haven’t been sleeping much these past months.”
Sam quickly chimed in. “You didn’t sleep at all as we drove last night, and you were awake before me this morning. Didn’t look like you’d slept even for a minute.”
“I’m fine,” Tabitha tersely insisted, grabbing some clothes to go change into in the bathroom.
Neither of her brothers pushed her, but she knew they were right. She still wasn’t getting much sleep, and what little she did get was only after she was so exhausted that neither she nor all the caffeine she’d been drinking could keep her eyes open.
Dark dreams still haunted her sleep, and worries haunted her waking moments. The fact that Castiel had gone to Dean about some kind of trouble only added to her worries. She tried to tell herself that he’d gone into Dean’s dream because she hadn’t been sleeping last night, but she was pretty sure that the angel could still reach her with a bit of concentration, even over the protection of her bracelet.
She paused before pulling a clean t-shirt on, her fingers brushing against her ribs. Perhaps that was the difference, Castiel had told her he’d given her added protection sigils carved into her ribs. Could that be the answer?
But it only gave her more questions. He’d given her the sigils in her ribs as added protection against something. Then disappeared again for the past few weeks since she’d seen him in her last dream. Now he came to Dean instead of her about some kind of trouble.
And she had to wonder if it was all related.
The address Castiel had given Dean in his dream seemed to lead to a dark, abandoned warehouse—a setting that was apparently a favorite for the angel.
“What’d he say, Dean?” Sam demanded as the three walked through the warehouse, their flashlights sweeping the area as they looked for the errant angel. “What was so important?”
“If I knew, would I be here?” Dean replied in a tired voice.
Tabitha held her tongue. She had all the same questions and worries as her brothers, but there was a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach. One that told her something was very wrong.
They climbed a set of stairs to the second level of the warehouse, and were treated to a sight that looked more appropriate to a battlefield than an old warehouse. Lights flickered and electricity crackled in the room, but the sight of utter destruction held Tabitha’s eyes.
“What the hell?” Dean muttered as they cautiously spread out into that field of destruction.
“Looks like a bomb went off,” Sam commented.
Tabitha jumped as loose electrical wires danced and sparked near her, but continued cautiously looking around, calling out for the angel softly in her mind.
Huge metal shelving units were twisted and overturned, and Tabitha’s skin prickled at the leftover sensation of power crawling over her skin. She’d never felt anything quite like it, but it felt similar to the power she’d come to associate with Castiel.
“There was a fight here,” she whispered to her brothers.
“Between who?” Sam asked her.
Dean tapped her on the shoulder as she paused to looking at a heap of rubble, drawing her attention across the room. “Check it out,” he told her and Sam.
A large sigil similar to the one they’d seen Anna draw had been hurriedly painted in blood on the concrete wall.
“Look familiar?” Dean asked them.
“Yeah, it does,” Sam agreed.
“Anna used something like that to wish the angels back to the cornfield,” Dean continued.
“Which means something big and bad happened here,” Tabitha whispered.
Sam doubtfully asked, “So, what? Cas was fighting angels?”
“I don’t know,” Dean answered.
But Tabitha nodded. “I think that’s exactly what happened,” she replied, fear creeping into her voice as she remembered his warnings. He’d told her that he—and she—could be punished if it was discovered what they’d done. But she’d started to lose the fear of that danger. They’d only begun to even tentatively rebuild their friendship. She’d still barely even seen or spoken to the angel in the past four months. Had another angel discovered what they had been doing all those months ago? Was this her fault?
She heard a soft inhalation, and twisted to look for the sound. Spotting the angel unmoving on the ground, she ran to his side, dropping to her knees as she tentatively touched his cheeks and slid shaking fingers to check his neck, finding warmth and pulse.
“Cas? Cas! Are you all right,” she demanded in a tremulous voice, hearing her brothers run towards her at her words.
Her hands unsteadily shook him, finally rousing him as he jerked awake. He sat up and backed away from her as he fearfully looked around, demanding, “What’s—what’s going on?”
“It’s okay, Cas. You’re okay,” Tabitha tried to reassure him, breathing a relieved sigh as she grabbed his hand and helped him to his feet.
He clamored ungainly to his feet, jerking his hand away from her in stiff movements as he patted his chest and cast jerky glances all around him.
“Cas, you okay?” Sam asked as her brothers reached out, trying to steady him.
Tabitha reached out for his hand again, heedless of her brothers beside her as she tried to calm the seemingly frightened angel. “You’re okay, Cas. We’re here now, we’ll deal with whatever is going on—” her words trailed off as she suddenly dropped her gaze down to look at the hand trembling in hers. Castiel never responded physically like a human did. Never even shuffled or squirmed like a normal person did. He was always still unless his movements were deliberate.
She concentrated more on the warm hand, and realized there wasn’t an ounce of power vibrating beneath his skin. Something that had been so subtle, that she’d never noticed it until the moment it was gone.
Jerking her hand away, she fell back a step as she whispered in horror, “You’re not Castiel.”
“Castiel?” he repeated in a strange voice, looking down at his dirty clothes and trench coat. “I’m not Castiel. It’s me.”
Sam looked startled from where he stood between his siblings, demanding, “Who’s me?”
“Jimmy,” the man responded as he looked around again.
Her hand pressed to her mouth as Tabitha fought back a sudden wave of nausea, remembering the first night Castiel had appeared in that barn. He’d told them then that he was in the vessel of a devout man, but she’d gotten so used to the angel, that she’d long since forgotten that he was borrowing some poor man’s body.
Images flashed in her mind of the things she and Castiel had done, and she stumbled backwards another step as Sam reached out in surprise and tried to steady her. She pushed him away, taking staggering steps towards the wall until she could brace herself as a surge of dry heaves hit her. The things she and Castiel had done, all while a man—an unconsenting human—had been locked inside himself… She trembled as she tried to control her muscles and her suddenly rolling stomach. How could she have forgotten that there had been a human being trapped inside his body with the angel?
Had he known? Had he known the things she and Castiel had done?
Dean appeared at her shoulder then, pulling her hair back as she heaved once more, rubbing her back as he demanded in a voice that was gruff with the fear he was trying to hide, “Jesus, Tabby. What the hell is going on? What’s wrong?”
She shook his hands from her back, stepping away from the comfort she didn’t deserve as she turned and leaned against the wall. Her body was still shaking as she told him, “I’m fine. Fine. It’s nothing; just the leftover power in this place is a little overwhelming is all.”
His eyes narrowed as he grabbed her by the shoulders. “You can feel the power leftover from some angel prizefight?”
She jerked an unsteady nod.
“We’re talking about this later,” he promised in a dark voice as he pulled her back over to the man—to Jimmy.
Again, she shook out of her brother’s hands, wrapping her arms around herself and keeping her eyes fixed on the ground at…Jimmy’s feet. She couldn’t help but feel…dirty. Like she’d…violated the poor man that had been housing Castiel. She very much doubted that he’d been compliant in their activities all those months ago.
“Where the hell is Castiel?” Dean demanded once he and Tabitha had stepped back over.
Tabitha risked a glance up, seeing the man shaking his head as he looked at the three of them.
A few hours later, they had returned to their motel room, plus one vessel, and a bag of fast food that…Jimmy…was currently scarfing down.
“Mind slowing down,” Dean drily told the man as the brothers sat across the small table from the former angel vessel. “You’re gonna give me angina.”
Jimmy made a blasé motion with his hands, reaching for his drink as he barely slowed his chewing to reply, “I’m hungry.”
“When’s the last time you ate?” Sam curiously asked.
“I don’t know—months,” Jimmy suddenly paused and looked up. “October, I think,” he muttered, turning his attention back to his food.
Tabitha fought back a gasp as she stared across the motel room from where she’d perched on top of a tacky, pressed wood dresser—the furthest place she’d been able to isolate herself to without retreating into the bathroom and drawing undue attention to her unease. October had been shortly after FBI agent Tabitha Winchester had officially died, and her brothers had kept her quarantined until they were sure everything from that mess would blow over. It had been during that time when Castiel had shown up one night to spend time with her. And she’d gotten him to share some beer and pizza after she’d lamented not being able to go out and enjoy a decent beer during Oktoberfest.
She jerked her eyes away as Jimmy continued to focus on his food. But it did answer the question of whether or not he had been aware of anything while the angel had been controlling him. Like a human ridden by a demon, he seemed to have been at least partially aware. She shuddered to think how much else he’d been aware of.
Jimmy seemed to quickly dismiss whatever discomfort the moment of remembrance had brought, focusing again on his food and digging in with obvious relish.
“What the hell happened back there?” Sam finally asked as Jimmy continued his fast-paced eating. “It looked like an angel battle royal.”
Jimmy shrugged. “All I remember is there was a flash of light, and I, uh…I-I woke up, and I was just, you know, like, me again,” he rambled.
Despite the hollow pit that had formed in her stomach, Tabitha couldn’t seem to stop herself from looking back up at Jimmy again and again. He made sounds of satisfaction and enjoyment as he ate. His body moved and twitched as he continually shifted in his seat and reached for the food laid out in front of him. Even his face was bright and animated by every emotion that flitted through him.
Everything about him—even his rambling—was so…human. And so completely unlike the angel she’d become so accustomed to seeing wearing that body. There was no mistaking them as anything but two completely different entities, and it only made her feel guiltier that she hadn’t thought before about the man that should have been controlling that body.
“So, what—” Dean was asking, “Cas just ditched out of your meat suit?”
“I really don’t know,” Jimmy answered around a mouthful of food.
“You remember anything about being possessed? Anything at all?” Sam asked.
Tabitha cringed at both the question and her brother’s phrasing, wondering what the hell was wrong with her that the last two…men…or beings…she’d slept with had been…controlling a body that didn’t belong to them. She hadn’t known with Casey, but she should have known better with the angel.
“Yeah, bits and pieces,” Jimmy replied, and for a brief moment, Tabitha swore his gaze flicked up to hers. But he waved it away, continuing to eat and talk in his seemingly blasé and unconcerned manner. “I mean, angel inside of you—it’s kind of like being chained to a comet.”
“Well, that doesn’t sound like much fun,” Dean commented.
“Understatement,” Jimmy agreed with a look of irony.
“Cas said he wanted to tell us something,” Sam tried again. “Please tell me you remember that.”
Jimmy shook his head. “Sorry.”
Dean gave a frustrated look. “Come on. What do you know?”
A sudden look of concentration filled Jimmy’s face. “My name is Jimmy Novak,” he told them. “I’m from Pontiac, Illinois. And I have a family,” he continued in a whisper.
As Jimmy continued his tale, Tabitha stood and retreated into the bathroom, propping the window open and digging out her stashed pack of cigarettes from her leather jacket as she continued listening to Jimmy’s tale of wife…child…and perfect suburban life. And how his faith had been tested by an angel.
Dean appeared in the doorway of the bathroom as she was finishing her third cigarette. “What the hell are you doing in here smoking? What the hell is wrong with you tonight?”
She crushed the butt in the sink and waved her arms through the air, wafting the smoke out the window. “I’m sorry,” she mumbled, not meeting Dean’s eyes as she told him. “This whole thing is just freaking me out a little. I mean, had you even stopped to think about the guy Cas was…possessing for all those months since we met him?”
Her brother shook his head. “No. And I get that that’s creepy, but it doesn’t explain why you’re smoking like a goddamned chimney in here. What the hell’s going on with you?” He looked suspicious as he grabbed her by her shoulders and forced her to look back up at him. “This have something to do with you feeling whatever happened back there?”
“I guess,” she at least partially-honestly answered.
“How long you been keeping that secret?” he demanded in a harsh whisper.
“I don’t even know how to explain it,” she defended, this time being completely honest. “I can sorta feel some kind of tingle of power when an angel does…angel stuff or whatever…but back there…that was some serious shit that went down, because it about made my skin crawl right off with just whatever power was lingering.”
Dean stared at her for a moment before he jerked his chin over his shoulder. “Come on, we need to step outside with Sam and discuss this whole thing while…Jimmy finishes eating.”
“At least I’m not the only one fumbling for how to refer to that guy,” she told her brother as they left the bathroom and stepped out into the night air outside the motel.
Sam had been pacing in the parking lot, but immediately turned to face them. “So, what do we do?”
Dean gave their brother a startled look. “What do you mean? The guy’s got a family. We buy him a bus ticket, send him home.”
“I don’t know about that,” Sam cautiously replied. “Dean, he’s the only lead we got.”
“He doesn’t know anything,” Dean argued.
“Are you 100% about that?” Sam demanded.
“You think he’s lying?” Dean asked.
They both turned to Tabitha looking for her to jump to the defense of one or the other of them. She slid onto the trunk of the Impala, pulling her feet up on the bumper and wondering to herself how much crap Dean would give her if she lit up again. They were outside after all.
“Don’t look at me,” she mumbled, her fingers tapping nervously against her knees. “We need to know what Castiel was trying to tell us…” When a satisfied look crossed Sam’s face, she rushed to add, “…but…it ain’t exactly fair to this guy…Jimmy…to hold him hostage either. Like Dean said, he’s got a family.”
“What is it you think you’re gonna do, Sam? Go Guantánamo on the guy?”
“Maybe he doesn’t even know what he knows,” Sam tried again.
“Huh?” Dean and Tabitha uttered in unison.
“I say at least we get him to Bobby’s. Maybe all he needs is—is hypnosis or a p-psychic, or, hell, maybe Cas will just drop back into him.”
“I don’t know man,” Dean grumbled.
“Dean,” Sam argued, “back there, that was angel-on-angel violence. Now, I don’t know what’s going on, but it’s big, and we can’t just let the only lead we’ve got just skip out.” When Dean shook his head, Sam demanded, “What?”
“Remember when our job was helping people—like getting them back to their family?”
Sam huffed in answer, “You think I don’t want to help him? I’m just being realistic. I mean, hell, we’re doing him a favor.”
“Dean, if we want to question the guy, you can damn well bet the demons do, too.”
Dean threw back his head and gave a frustrated groan.
“Back me up, Tabitha,” Sam demanded.
“I really hate being pitted in the middle,” she groaned to herself, and then continued before Sam could argue with her, “But…maybe Sam’s right about this. We can’t just let demons get a hold of him. And he’s got a point; they would want to get a hold of him in a big bad way.”
Dean shuffled his feet, his hands shoved in the pockets of his leather coat as he gave her an assessing look. “You think Sam’s right about that scene back there—that it was angel-on-angel violence?”
Picking at the chipping nail polish on her fingernails to keep from meeting their eyes, she softly admitted, “Yeah. I think he’s right. It felt like powerful angel…mojo or whatever.”
“Can you reach Cas in any way?” he pressed. “Talk to him or whatever you do?”
She shook her head and admitted, “I’ve tried calling out to him several times. No answer. Whatever went down, he’s not picking up the phone right now.”
Dean began to pace again. “Any chance you can find out from that guy if there’s anything else he might know? Or you got any FBI tricks up your sleeve, like hypnotizing the guy?”
Looking up, she answered, “I don’t think I can be any help there, either. Hypnosis isn’t exactly standard FBI training.” And she wasn’t so sure it was a good idea for her and Jimmy to sit around poking at his memory together. He might remember things she’d rather her brothers not know about.
“Then I guess it looks like we try to figure out a way to get the guy to Bobby’s,” Dean agreed in frustrated tones.
“Where the hell have you been?!” Sam angrily demanded from the doorway of their room as she jogged up to the motel.
She tugged her earbuds from her ears. “I went for a run. What the hell’s your problem, Sammy?”
He tossed something at her, and Tabitha barely had time to grab the duffle bag he’d thrown at her before it hit her. She hadn’t even realized he’d been holding her bag. The bag fell to the ground as she planted her hands on her hips. “You better start talking real fast, little brother, and begin with apologizing for yelling at me and throwing my stuff around.”
Dean stepped around Sam, carrying his own bag as Sam stooped over to pick up his. The oldest Winchester threw a glare at the youngest sibling as he passed him, telling his sister, “Big tough prison guard here let little Jimmy McMook slip past him last night. So now we’ve got to go track him down.”
Her older brother came to a sudden stop when he reached her. “You look like shit, Tabby,” he bluntly told her.
“Thanks,” she drawled with a sneer. “I’d have liked to have taken a shower, but since you guys already packed for me, I guess that’s out.”
“No. I’m serious, Tabitha. What the hell were you doing running last night anyway? You need to get some sleep. Those circles around your eyes make you look more like a dang raccoon than my little sister.”
Self-consciously, she crossed her arms over her chest. “I couldn’t sleep. Figured I’d go for a run,” she told him, grabbing her bag from the ground and turning away as Sam waited impatiently at the Impala.
Her brother’s hand darted out to catch her elbow, halting her retreat. “I’ll throw the bullshit flag on that one, Tabitha. This not sleeping thing and running yourself into exhaustion has got to stop. You’ve lost weight, your skin looks pale and hollow, and honestly…you’re starting to worry me, Tab.”
She glanced back at her brother. He was only worried about her, she knew that, but she had too many worries on her own mind. “It’s nothing. I just couldn’t sleep last night, Dean. Sharing a room with my brothers is one thing, but sharing a room with three dudes is another. I was feeling a bit restless is all. Stop riding me.” She jerked her chin towards Sam. “He’s the one that said he’d watch Jimmy last night and then let him get away…ride his ass about that if you’re feeling the need.”
Dean dropped her arm in a huff, pushing past her to stride to the driver’s side of the Impala. “Get in the car,” he told her in clipped tones.
Sam shot her a glare when she reached the passenger’s side. “You said you were just going for a quick jog and then you’d be right back. It’s not my fault that you took off for the entire night and didn’t help with watching the guy.”
Tabitha paused to give Sam a glare, but as her brother stood beside her, he started leaning closer and closer, his nose twitching as he sniffed at her.
Pushing him away, she asked, “What the heck is wrong with you? Stay outta my personal space.”
Sam straightened and pulled back from her. “Sorry. Y-you…uh…you know, j-just smell good is all.”
Her eyebrows shot up in surprise. “I stink like sweat. What’s wrong with you?”
“Nothing,” he irritably denied.
Opening the rear door, Tabitha took a page out of Dean’s book, telling her younger brother, “Get in the car.”
The car swerved as Dean and Sam let out startled gasps in the front seat, and Tabitha jumped sideways in the backseat beside the angel that had suddenly appeared beside her.
“Jesus, Anna,” she breathed, “little warning next time maybe?”
“Smooth,” Anna commented as Dean corrected his course and barely kept the Impala between the lines.
“You ever try calling ahead,” he growled.
“I like the element of surprise,” she casually commented.
“Mission accomplished,” Tabitha groaned as she leaned against the door, turning to look at the angel that had scooted into the middle of the bench seat.
Dean looked over his shoulder again, giving the angel a longer look as he salaciously told her, “You look terrific.”
“Um…yeah,” she slowly replied, glancing between the siblings. “Not the most appropriate time, Dean,” she told him.
“Besides, I’ve heard enough about your sex life,” Tabitha muttered behind her brother.
Anna dropped the small talk, immediately launching into the deep end. “You let Jimmy get away?”
After a surprised look over his shoulder, Dean jerked his thumb across at Sam. “Talk to Ginormo here.”
Sam gave Dean an annoyed look, but didn’t argue.
Her attention turned to the youngest Winchester, a strange look coming over Anna as she studied him. “Sam…” she trailed off after addressing him. “You seem…different,” she finally said.
“Me? I don’t know.” He let out a forced laugh. “Haircut?”
“That’s not what I’m talking about,” she replied, leaning towards him.
Sam finally looked away, breaking the angel’s attention on him and forcing her back to the current subject. She twisted to look at Tabitha. “So, what’d Jimmy tell you? He remember anything?”
Tabitha’s brow furrowed at the angel focusing her attention on her instead of her brothers. “Why does it matter? What’s happening?”
Anna paused, but finally told her, “It’s Cas. He got sent back home. Well, more like dragged back.”
“To Heaven?” Dean asked over his shoulder. “That’s not a good thing?”
“No,” Anna emphatically denied. “That’s a very bad thing. Painfully, awfully bad. He must have seriously pissed someone off. Or done something very bad.”
Anna looked across at Tabitha at the last sentence, and Tabitha swallowed thickly, wondering if it was possible that the Fallen angel knew about what had happened.
“Is Cas alright?” she asked in a small voice.
“I don’t know,” Anna confided, her own voice tight with fear. “This is very bad,” she repeated, her eyes unfocused for a moment. But they focused again as she turned across to Tabitha. “What did he tell you? What was going on?”
Tabitha opened her mouth, but no words came out when she realized she didn’t know what to say. Would admitting everything now help Castiel out, or only get them both into more trouble?
But Dean beat her to the punch, answering Anna’s questions. “Cas said he had something to tell me—something important.”
Anna looked surprised, her eyes darting back and forth between Tabitha and Dean. “Something he was going to tell Dean?” she asked. When Tabitha nodded in confirmation, Anna eagerly sat forward on the bench, asking him, “What?”
“I don’t know,” Dean answered.
“Does Jimmy know?”
Dean answered again, but didn’t seem so certain of himself this time. “I don’t think so.”
“You don’t think so? Whatever it is, it’s huge,” she told them. “You got to find out for sure.”
Sam cut in. “That’s why we’re going after Jimmy.”
She replied in reproach, “That’s why you shouldn’t have let him go in the first place. He’s…probably dead already.”
Anna was about to disappear, but Tabitha reached out to stop the angel, placing a hand on her arm. She concentrated and silently asked the angel, Will Castiel be all right?
The angel jerked beneath her hand, and stared at her as Tabitha heard her fearful answer, I don’t know. Cas seems to have been keeping a lot of secrets. You need to be careful.
The angel disappeared before Tabitha could ask her more.
“Your family is pretty amazing,” Tabitha told Jimmy as she joined him in leaning against the Impala.
Jimmy looked up from where he’d been staring at his feet, glancing across the deserted parking garage to where Sam had hotwired a car and was explaining to Jimmy’s wife, Amelia, to shut the car off by pulling the wires apart.
At his confused look, she clarified, “They’re both taking this pretty well. You showing up after being gone for a year, and then finding out that angels and demons, and all that crap is real. Getting attacked by a demon…” Tabitha paused to throw an admiring look at the slight-built blonde woman. “She had to have been scared out of her mind, but she just went after that demon like there was no tomorrow as she tried to protect her daughter—your daughter.”
A small smile briefly crossed his face as he stared after his wife. “Ames was always the strong one,” he confided in a whisper. He glanced back at Tabitha. “You and your brothers were right. I only brought them trouble.”
“For what it’s worth, it’s not something any of us are happy about.”
“Will my family ever be safe? Will my daughter ever grow up to experience all the things she deserves?” Jimmy suddenly asked her.
Tabitha turned to give him a curious look.
He made a motion to encompass her and her brothers. “I get that none of you had a normal upbringing. That demons have been after all of you most of your lives. Is that what my family is damned to now?”
It would have been easy to lie to him. Just as they’d tried doing by not honestly telling him up front that he would never be able to stay with his family. Sam had been blunt in reeducating him, telling him he had to stay away from them or put a bullet in his head, but that hadn’t meant her little brother was wrong in what he’d said. And she wouldn’t lie to Jimmy, either.
“I don’t know,” she finally replied, glancing over to where his daughter waited by herself, standing a little ways apart from anyone else. “They’re both tough, I can tell that much. But I can’t tell you if they’ll ever get the normal lives they deserve. None of you deserved what you’ve been drug into, but neither did my brothers and I. Yet, here we all are. You fold or play the hand you’re dealt. But you can’t change the rules to the game after it’s been started.”
He seemed to be absorbing what she told him. “My daughter deserves to have a normal life where demons are no more than an abstract thought,” he finally spoke.
She gave a little nod of agreement. “And I’d like nothing more than for her to have that life. But I wish I’d grown up with a mother and father inside that white-picket-fence-life and my worst worries being two annoying brothers pulling on my pigtails. I’d have given anything for that life to have been the one I lived and not the one where I look back and wonder how my last two lovers have been a demon and an angel, and why every man I could even think about caring for—my brothers included—are either killed by supernatural means, or are at threat of it every day. I’d give anything for that white-picket-dream. But since I’m never gonna get it, I’d give anything to see your little girl still have it.” A bitter laugh escaped. “I think I’d even make a deal with a crossroads demon or the Devil himself to see her get it, just to know that it was actually still possible for someone to have that dream.”
Jimmy shifted uncomfortably beside her for a moment before speaking. “He thought about you a lot.”
She jerked in surprise at the topic change as she turned towards him.
“Castiel,” Jimmy clarified. “Most of what he thought and did was a blur to me, nothing that’s really helpful to the questions you and your brothers have been asking, but what I do know is he thought about you a lot.”
Swallowing thickly, Tabitha asked, “About me? What about me?”
Jimmy shrugged. “I don’t think he really knew. Or at least I didn’t. He seemed confused a lot of the time.” He seemed to stare into space for a moment before he whispered, “Ames—Ames confused me a lot in the beginning, too.”
He pushed away from the car and started to walk away.
Tabitha reached out to stop him, but then jerked her hand back when he flinched at her touch. “I’m sorry for everything,” she told him in a heartfelt voice. “If I’d known you were… I never would have…”
Jimmy jerked his head down once. “You didn’t know. I can tell it’s bothering you, but it’s not your fault that you didn’t know. Whatever happened…it wasn’t me. I share some of his memories because I caught some of his thoughts, but I wasn’t really there. I guess I’d just rather not think about it or dwell on it now. I love my wife. And you and the angel… That’s your business, not mine.”
He silently walked away from her, saying tearful goodbyes to his wife and daughter as Tabitha watched, her heart going out to the guy. She and her brothers knew about getting dealt raw deals, too. None of the hand that he’d been dealt was fair, but her heart was eased a little by his words.
What had happened between her and Castiel hadn’t been about Jimmy, though she wouldn’t quite forgive herself for forgetting about him, even if Jimmy didn’t seem to hold her any ill will for it. Still, it was a silent car ride as the four of them drove away from Jimmy’s wife and daughter.
Jimmy was the first to step out of the Impala and start towards the warehouse, but Tabitha slid across the backseat to follow him, grabbing at his arm to stop him. “Wait up,” she cautioned him.
“Demons have my family,” he irritably reminded her.
“Just wait,” she repeated.
Her brothers joined her beside the impatient and distraught former vessel. It had been hard to keep the man calm in the time since he’d gotten the call that demons were holding his wife and daughter captive, but Tabitha was doing her best to keep the man from rushing headlong into some kind of danger that would only get him and his family killed. It seemed like the least she could do for the man.
Dean stepped closer, telling Jimmy, “All right, they’re expecting you to come alone. That’s exactly what you’re gonna do.”
Tabitha whipped around to face her older brother. “What?!” she demanded. “I’ve been trying to keep him calm and tell him not to go racing recklessly into danger!”
Sam placatingly patted her shoulder. “It’s okay, Tab. We’ll work our way through the catwalks. We’ll be right behind him.”
Dean addressed Jimmy, “All you got to do is stay calm and stall. Let us do our job.”
Jimmy twirled to face Dean. “You want me to stay calm?” he demanded. “This is my family we’re talking about.”
“Listen to me—” Dean continued, unfazed by Jimmy’s anger. “This will work. You understand? Nobody’s gonna get hurt.”
“Yeah, whatever,” Jimmy distractedly told them. He turned to start towards the warehouse, telling them, “Give me a minute, okay?”
Tabitha waited until he was out of earshot before turning on her brothers. “This is ridiculous. You know there’s no way that this place isn’t crawling with demons. And they had to know that we’d come with him, Dean. There’s no way this isn’t a trap.”
Her older brother nodded with a grim look. “Yeah. I know. That’s why I have a plan.”
He started towards the warehouse, leaving Sam and Tabitha to follow in his wake.
“Why is it Dean saying that he has a plan doesn’t fill me with any kind of comfort?” Tabitha asked her younger brother as they followed after Dean.
“Because you remember as well as I do how well he’s plans usually work out for us,” Sam glibly retorted.
“Nice plan, Dean,” Sam told their brother as demons hauled them into the warehouse.
“Yeah, well, nobody bats a thousand,” he replied.
Tabitha snorted. “I’d settle for a single base hit at the moment.”
The demon possessing Jimmy’s wife, Amelia, stopped in front of them. “You got the knife?” she asked her minions.
The female restraining Sam held Ruby’s knife up in the air.
“And you know what’s funny?” Amelia asked.
“You wearing a soccer mom,” Dean tried to joke.
“Is I was actually bummed to get this detail,” Amelia continued without pausing at Dean’s joke. “Picking up an empty vessel? Sort of like a milk run. Now look who landed in my lap.”
“Yeah, well…you got us, okay?” Sam told her. “Let these people go.”
“Oh, Sam. It’s easy to act chivalrous when your Wonder Girl powers aren’t working, huh?” Amelia taunted.
Both Dean and Tabitha turned confused looks on their younger brother, but kept silent.
“Now for the punch line—” Amelia continued, pointing a gun at Sam, “—everybody dies.”
But instead of firing at any of the Winchesters, the demon turned and fired at Jimmy, the bullet catching him in the abdomen as he stumbled to his knees.
Amelia turned around, telling one of her minions, “Waste little Orphan Annie.”
The Winchesters watched as the demon walked around Jimmy on the floor and approached Claire where she was motionless and tied up in a chair.
Tabitha and her brothers struggled against the demons holding them, but couldn’t break free.
“For the record,” Tabitha huffed as she continued to helplessly watch, “next time, I’m picking the plan.”
But before the demon could smash down the metal bar he’d raised over his head to slam into the girl, she woke, and yanked her hand free of its bindings, pressing the suddenly glowing palm against the forehead of the demon as light spilled from his mouth and eyes, destroying it.
Tabitha and her brothers jumped at the opportunity, each turning on their captors and fighting the demons in their moment of confusion.
She lost sight of her brothers, but feared they weren’t faring much better than she was as Tabitha lost ground against the demon. Before she could break free, the demon overpowered her, lifting her with a hand wrapped around her throat and shoving her against the wall as his grip tightened. Helplessly, her feet dangled above the ground, kicking uselessly at the demon as her vision darkened.
Then, a bright flash burst through her darkened vision, and she fell to her knees, gasping in greedy gulps of air.
When she looked up, it was to see Dean just sitting up from the floor while Claire pulled a demon away from her brother. Her movements were unsteady, but she managed to make it over to her brother, grabbing his shoulder. “Are you all right?” she squeaked through her sore throat.
He nodded, and they both looked up at the girl staring strangely down at them.
Regardless of the vessel, Tabitha knew the feel of that angel. “Castiel,” she whispered.
But Castiel didn’t respond to her, turning instead to look at Sam.
Dean scrambled to his feet, pulling his sister up with him as they stared in horror at their younger brother crouched over the remaining demon, Ruby’s knife in his hand. When he turned to face them, there was blood smeared around his mouth from the demon’s neck.
“Sweet Jesus,” Tabitha muttered in shock.
Sam turned away from them, slamming Ruby’s knife into the heart of the prone demon.
When he stood, he threw his hand out towards them, and Dean and Tabitha jumped away in surprise, turning to see Amelia running at them from behind. But where Sam had been unable to take on the demons before, he suddenly had no troubles yanking the demon out of Amelia now.
The woman fell to her knees as the demon left her, Dean rushing to her side to steady her.
Tabitha stared between her brothers momentarily, but then kept her attention focused on Claire approaching Jimmy as she crouched near the mortally wounded man.
“Of course we keep our promises,” Castiel told Jimmy. “Of course you have our gratitude. You served us well. Your work is done. It’s time to go home now—your real home. You’ll rest forever in the fields of The Lord.”
“No,” Jimmy groaned.
“Rest now, Jimmy.”
“No,” he continued, his voice pained, “Claire.”
“She’s with me now. She’s chosen. It’s in her blood, as it was in yours.”
“Please, Castiel. I mean, just—just take me. Take me, please.”
Castiel hesitated, and Tabitha sprinted closer, kneeling and grabbing Jimmy’s shaking hand as he lay on the ground, begging the angel to spare his daughter.
Jimmy’s hand tightened around Tabitha’s as he turned to stare up at her. “Please,” he brokenly begged as he stared up into her face. “You owe me this at least.”
She closed her eyes at his broken sob, knowing he was asking her to make Castiel see reason.
“You know what you’re asking for?” she hesitantly asked Jimmy.
He jerked a nod. “My daughter deserves a chance at life.”
An unlikely understanding settled between them. And their prior unease disappeared as they both fell side-by-side in their agreement of what they wanted for the girl, no matter the cost.
“You can’t do this, Cas,” she pleaded with the angel, feeling Jimmy’s hand tighten desperately around hers as she looked up to meet the angel’s flat stare. “It isn’t right. You can’t keep his daughter. She’s just a child. It’s not fair to her. Let her go.”
Castiel’s eyes finally flicked up to Tabitha’s, startling her to see the familiar cool emotions in the eyes of a child. “I don’t answer to you,” Castiel coldly told her.
Tabitha leaned forward over Jimmy, heatedly whispering to Castiel, “I’m not asking you to answer to me, I’m asking you to do what’s right. To answer to decency.” She looked up to see her brothers and Amelia approaching, and lowered her voice further as she begged Castiel, “If there was ever an ounce of caring in your heart for me, then please leave this girl alone. It isn’t fair to her.” She hated the thought of this man being stuck inside his body again, but she hated the thought of it happening to the girl even more. Jimmy at least knew what he was volunteering for. And they both agreed to the costs of protecting his daughter.
Castiel stared at her for a tense moment, and then turned back to Jimmy. “I want to make sure you understand. You won’t die…or age. If this last year was painful for you, picture a hundred—a thousand more like it.”
Jimmy reached up with his other hand to grip Castiel. “Doesn’t matter,” he panted as blood began to trickle from his mouth. “You take me. Just take me.”
“As you wish.”
Castiel gripped Jimmy’s face as a white light began to blind Tabitha. She threw her arm in front of her face to shield her eyes from the light as power swelled all around her.
The power suddenly subsided, and the hand she had been gripping jerked away from her fingers. She turned to watch Castiel—now returned to Jimmy’s body—stand and step away as Claire fell panting to her knees.
Tabitha reached out to steady the girl, and was surprised when she launched herself into Tabitha’s arms. As the girl clung to her, Tabitha could hear her sobbing and thanking her.
She released the girl when Amelia dropped to her knees beside her, relinquishing the girl to her mother as Amelia sobbed and wrapped her daughter in her arms.
“Cas, hold up,” Dean told the angel when he started past the boys. Tabitha climbed unsteadily to her feet, walking to her brothers as Dean continued. “What were you gonna tell me?”
Castiel stared at Dean, but glanced at Tabitha as well as he bitterly told them, “I learned my lesson while I was away, Dean. I serve Heaven. I don’t serve man.”
Tabitha approached behind her brother, reaching out to steady herself by clutching Dean’s shoulder as the angel’s eyes discreetly looked past her brother and locked on her as he icily continued, “And I certainly don’t serve you.”
He walked away from the warehouse without another word, leaving the siblings to stare at each other.
Tabitha glanced at her baffled older brother, but then her eyes fixed on her younger brother, staring at the stains of blood still visible around his mouth as the sinking realization of what he’d done sank in.
Swallowing back her fear at the startling knowledge, Tabitha sprinted after the angel, ignoring Dean’s calls until they drowned away. She finally caught up to the angel just outside the warehouse, stopping him with a hand on his elbow.
He jerked away from her as if she’d burned him, but turned to face her.
“What the hell is going on, Cas?” she pleaded in a small voice.
“I’ve told you and your brothers.”
She threw her arm back the way they’d come. “That wasn’t any kind of explanation. What the hell happened? Why are you acting this way?”
He stepped closer to her, his eyes narrowing. “You are human, as I’ve been reminded. Beneath me. And I have no business lowering myself to you,” he acidly repeated.
Tabitha jerked back from him more effectively than if he’d slapped her.
“I thought we were at the very least friends,” she told him in surprise. “Things are going to hell right now and you choose this moment to act like an ass? One of my brothers is supposed to stop the apocalypse from coming, and the other one is—” A choked sob escaped as she continued in a stark voice, “—he’s drinking demon blood, Cas. I just lost a brother we didn’t even know we had, and everything around me is falling apart. Not to mention not having a clue about what’s going on with me or what I seem to be able to do. I thought at least you were the one constant in my life.” She looked him up and down, hardly recognizing the angel even though he was again wearing the familiar body of Jimmy. “What’s happened to you?” she whispered.
The angel stalked closer until he’d stopped just short of touching her. “I am an angel, and I will not continue to debase myself by associating with you.”
The resounding crack that echoed through the darkness gave her no more satisfaction than the sight of Castiel’s head twisting to the side at her palm striking his cheek. His head turned back towards her, but he gave no real indication that he even felt her blow.
She felt a single tear escape as she coldly told him. “You really played me for a fool, didn’t you? I trusted you…told you things I’ve never told anyone else.” She threw her arm back at the warehouse again. “Things I haven’t even told my brothers, I told you!”
For a moment, she started to turn away, but her anger surged again and she twisted back towards him. “I’ve never claimed that I was holy or virtuous, but I’ve never felt dirtier than I do right now because of you. At least every other man that only wanted meaningless sex from me was completely upfront about it! They never tried to pretend that they were anything more. I was such an idiot to think that we were really friends, wasn’t I? You’re no different from Uriel. Worse even. At least he had the decency to be upfront about his revulsion. You let me think we were friends—you slept with me—and apparently you feel nothing but contempt for me.”
She wrapped her arms around herself in an effort to hold herself together as the angel stared at her, completely unaffected. “I tried to tell myself that there was something good inside you. And even after what you did to Dean, I tried to tell myself that there was still goodness there, that you were just different because you were an angel, but I was a fool. You’re not good or bad. You’re just a heartless, cold and unfeeling shell. Worse even than one of those demons, because at least they’re up front and honest about being heartless bastards. You angels like to pretend you’re holier than thou art, but you’re not. Being heartless doesn’t make you better than us.”
Before she could lose the last shred of her composure, she turned to stalk silently back to her brothers.
Heaven and Hell might be trying to crush them from both sides, but she was going to make damn certain that the demons weren’t going to keep their hooks in her little brother. The hook an angel had ripped from her side was painful enough.
A/N: Thanks so much for your reviews, and if you’ve been a silent reader, please drop me a line and let me know what you think, or what you like or dislike. Remember, reviews are the only payment a fanfiction writer gets.