“Are you sure we’re doing the right thing?” Tabitha asked her older brother again.
Dean sighed, but the silence was shattered by the sounds of their younger brother calling out to them from the basement, begging them to let him go as he pounded on the walls. “You really want to keep letting him get strung out like this?” he pointedly asked.
Bobby walked into the living room with three tumblers of whiskey, handing one to each of the siblings. He opened his mouth to say something, but stopped when Sam let out a particularly loud and pained sounding scream.
“How long is this gonna go on?” Dean helplessly wondered.
Bobby took a seat at his desk, and then after taking a long sip, leaned forward as though to reach for something. “Here, let me look it up in my demon-detox manual.” His hand fell away as he sarcastically finished with, “Oh, wait. No one ever wrote one.”
Tabitha cringed as Sam let out yet another painful scream. “I don’t think now is the time for humor, Bobby,” she chided in a soft tone as she sank bonelessly into a chair next to the cluttered desk.
With a little nod, Bobby came back with, “No telling how long it’ll take. Hell, or if Sam will even live through it.”
Both siblings looked up to give Bobby dirty looks for voicing something they all feared, but before Tabitha could scold him again, the older hunter’s phone rang.
Picking it up, Bobby answered with, “Hello?” He paused and then calmly but sharply replied, “Suck dirt and die, Rufus. You call me again, I’ll kill you.”
Tabitha grimly shook her head as Bobby slammed the phone back in the cradle. She’d never met Rufus in person, but had talked to him plenty, and had always had the feeling that he was as cantankerous as Bobby was, so she reminded herself that she shouldn’t be surprised at them apparently sniping at each other.
“What’s up with Rufus?” Dean asked.
“He knows,” Bobby insisted.
Smiling a little, despite their circumstances, Tabitha told Bobby, “I really shouldn’t be surprised I guess about two crotchety old men getting pissy with each other, but is it really necessary? I mean, especially now?”
Bobby looked over at her with narrowed eyes. “What do you know about Rufus?”
With a little shrug, she admitted, “I’ve never met him. Just talked to him on the phone. When I was still working for the FBI, and regularly in touch with hunters looking for information, Rufus would sometimes call me and ask me to pass on one case or another to one of those guys. I always wondered why he wasn’t calling you with the information, but if this is how the two of you play together, I can see why now.”
Bobby opened his mouth to say something, but stopped when Tabitha’s cellphone began ringing in her pocket. She dug it out, and hesitated when she didn’t immediately recognize the number, but still reluctantly answered. “Hello?”
“Tabitha? This is Rufus. I’ve got some information for you, and that bearded redneck of yours won’t listen to me, so I want you to pass it on to him.”
“To Bobby?” she clarified.
“Yeah, I know you’re there with that old coot. Or do you know more than one bearded redneck? And you tell that grizzly, flannel wearing old man that he can kiss my leathery-”
“Whoa, whoa there,” she quickly cut him off. “I don’t need to be put in the middle of your Grumpy Old Men, pissing match.” She closed her eyes and rubbed her temples to avoid the angry glares Bobby was giving either her or her phone-which one was a tossup. “What did you call to say, Rufus?”
“Oh, right. I called to tell Bobby about some weird things that are all happening at once. Something big is coming, and we all need to be prepared. Even that wrinkly-”
“Rufus! Back on point!”
“In a matter of hours, Key West has seen 10 species go instinct. And in Alaska, a 15-man fishing crew were all blinded-cause unknown. And in New York, a teacher went postal, locked the door and killed exactly 66 kids-”
“Jesus Christ,” Tabitha muttered.
“Exactly. This ain’t good,” Rufus confirmed. “There’s more, but I emailed you all the details.” Rufus paused and softly added, “You take care of yourself, kid. Word is that you’re right in the middle of things with those fool brothers of yours. Not the safest place to be.”
He hung up before she could respond, but she was still too dumbfounded to form any sort of answer anyway.
She looked up and told Bobby, “I need to use your computer. Rufus emailed me some details about the shit that’s hitting the fan.”
“What?” Bobby cautiously asked as he stood from his desk and gestured for her to come around.
She darted a look between Bobby and her brother as she told them, “It sounds to me like seals breaking. Breaking fast.”
“Can you believe Bobby?” Dean asked his sister as he joined her outside. He copied her stance, leaning down to brace his forearms on the railing of the porch as they looked out across Bobby’s salvage yard. The two men had fought and nearly come to blows when the older hunter suggested that maybe they weren’t doing the right thing in keeping Sam off the battlefield, and that they should continue to let their brother be used as a weapon.
“I can understand what he’s saying, Dean,” she conceded, not looking at her brother, but continuing when he started to sputter a protest. “But…I agree with you wholeheartedly. We can’t just sacrifice Sammy like that. Not if there’s even still a chance that we can figure out some other way to stop this and kill Lilith.” Her eyes finally cut over to her older brother. “The two of you are the only things I have left in this world. You two and Bobby. And I’m sure as hell not going to condone throwing away what little I still have.”
Dean frowned a little at the bitterness in her tone, but leaned down on his forearms beside her again as he agreed. “I’m there with you. Now we just have to figure out how to stop the apocalypse, and how to dry Sammy out.”
She snorted. “Oh? Is that all? Should be a piece of cake. Just another typical Wednesday night.”
Her brother stood and turned to lean his back against the railing, looking down at her as he crossed his arms stubbornly over his chest. “Fine. You’re right. We don’t know where to start or what we’re doing on either score.” He paused, but Tabitha had no reply, so he continued, “We could use some help, Tab.”
She craned her neck to look up at her brother, but otherwise didn’t move from her hunched over position. “No shit. You got any ideas though?”
He stared down at her for a moment, as though waiting for her to come to some understanding. When she only stared blankly back at him, he sighed and kicked one foot absently at the floor as he stared down at the worn boards. “You can talk to those angels. So why don’t you talk to them?” he somberly admitted.
Shooting up, Tabitha turned sideways to the railing as she stared incredulously at her brother. “How the hell is that going to help anything?” she demanded.
He huffed and ran a hand through his hair. “We need help, Tab. So I’m asking you to give the angels a call. See if they can help with Sammy.”
Dean’s eyes shot up at her soft utterance. “No?” he repeated. “Why the hell not? They can help us.”
“Maybe they can,” she agreed. “But that doesn’t mean they will,” she argued. “You saw the angel back there. And he damn well saw that Sam was drinking demon blood. But he walked away. He knew what was going on, and he isn’t going to help us now.”
“It’s worth a shot,” Dean argued, his arms tightening across his chest. “He did help us with getting Lilith away from Sam.”
Tabitha began to anxiously pace across the worn floorboards of Bobby’s porch. “Yeah, that asshole helps only when it suits his purposes though. He sure as hell didn’t help with you after he’d made you go after Alistair. And like I said, he saw what was going on with Sammy back at that warehouse, and he walked away, Dean. He’s not going to help us.”
Dean gave her a hard look. “Still, what’s it hurt to ask?”
She stopped pacing and planted herself in front of her older brother, angrily telling him, “You wanna call out for him? Be my guest. He can hear you just fine, and he’ll show up if he damn well feels like it. But I’m not asking that…angel…for anything. That angel has proven that he’s as much of a dick as you’ve maintained all along. We don’t mean a damn thing to him, and we were just fooling ourselves if we thought we ever did. He’s proven that he doesn’t care about us any more than Uriel ever did. So if you wanna waste your time appealing to that feathered, heartless asshole, go for it. But we can’t trust him. You were right, Dean, all we can count on is each other. And I’m sure as hell not trusting that angel with helping one of my brothers again. The two of you and Bobby are all I can count on.”
Her brother stared down at her for a moment, his forehead creased as he frowned at her. “What the hell did he say to you back at that warehouse?”
She fell back a step in surprise. “What?”
“I saw you go after him back at that warehouse. And when you came back, you looked like you were torn between being pissed off enough to tear someone’s throat out, or breaking down and crying like someone had run over your kitty,” he told her, giving her a suspicious look.
“I’ve never had a cat,” she fired back, and then irritably replied, “He just made it very clear how little we mattered and that his orders were all that did matter to him.”
It wasn’t a full answer, but true nonetheless. And all Dean ever needed to know.
Dean watched her as though he was trying to gauge the truthfulness of her statement, but finally huffed and turned away from her. “Castiel may be a douche bag like the rest of them, but he might be able to help, too. We’ve got to try every option, Tab.”
She waved a dismissive gesture at him as he walked into Bobby’s lot. “Fine. Just knock yourself out, Dean. But don’t be surprised when you don’t get the answer you’re looking for.”
Her brother didn’t reply as he walked away, so she turned to stalk back into Bobby’s house, feeling the sudden need for some heavy drinking. She’d managed to avoid thinking much about the angel or what had happened between them, but now that Dean had broached the subject, she couldn’t seem to push the angel from her mind. Or the sight of him coldly telling her that she was beneath him.
The words echoed in her mind, a painful reminder of a sentiment that had echoed in her subconscious all along, and it stung to know that the angel had felt that way all along. She’d always been of the opinion that nothing a man could say to her could ever really hurt her feelings. And she’d always made sure never to let a man into her heart far enough that they could hurt her in such a way.
But she’d been foolish and let the angel in. She hadn’t even realized how far he’d wormed his way into her heart until it felt like it would shatter at the contempt he seemed to truly harbor for her. All her life, she’d been so cautious about letting a man get that close. Not even Casey-whom she’d shared her bed with for more than a year-had penetrated the walls around her heart. He’d been a friend. Nothing more.
She’d thought it was the same with the angel. That he was just a friend-a friend she’d been sleeping with briefly months ago-but just a friend nonetheless.
How wrong she’d been.
Somehow, he’d become more than just a friend to her. And just as Pamela had warned her, it had ended in disaster. He’d proven her to be a fool. She’d protected her heart from men, why hadn’t she continued to hold those walls around her heart? Why had she been foolish enough to let the angel in and trust him so much?
And knowing what she knew now, why did a part of her wonder if she’d have made any different choices?
Sam’s screams from the basement halted her in her tracks as she crossed Bobby’s living room. Reminding her of what she needed to focus on. Not the mistaken choices she’d made.
But she didn’t know what to do for her brother any more than she knew what to do with the ache in her chest.
Being the Winchester she was, she knew the one tried and proven method of drowning sorrows and worries. Winchesters knew it well.
She couldn’t fix her brother, and she couldn’t change the choices that had led to her aching heart, but she could bury the pain, and her fears for Sam, under layers of whiskey, just like John had so expertly demonstrated their whole lives.
“Correct me if I’m wrong, but you willingly signed up to be the angel’s bitch?” Bobby asked as he leaned back against his desk. When Dean shot him a sour look, he amended the statement. “I’m sorry. You prefer ‘sucker?'”
With a sigh, Tabitha dropped down into one of the chairs in Bobby’s living room, holding the icy glass in her hand against her forehead and letting the cold ease her suddenly throbbing temple. “What the hell kind of idiot move was that?” she murmured to her brother without looking up.
Bobby made a noise of agreement with her and continued to chide her brother. “After everything you said about them, now you trust them?”
Tabitha pulled the glass away from her forehead and quickly downed the whiskey within. It wasn’t necessarily her drink of choice, but it was what Bobby had in the house, and after drinking a steady supply of it all night, Tabitha was starting to think it wasn’t so bad. “Hell, I told you not to trust them. And then you turn around an’ ‘give yourself to the service of God’ or whatever. Are you trying to make sure I’m left as an only child? I mean if you are, just tell me. I’ll learn to readjust my thinking about everything accordingly. I mean, I used to fantasize about being an only child all the time, so it shouldn’t take me too long to adjust to the idea again.”
Dean ignored her heavy sarcasm, telling them both, “Come on you two, give me a little credit. I’ve never trusted them less. I mean, they come on like shady politicians from planet Vulcan!”
Tabitha snorted at his statement, laughing a little to herself as she waved her hand in the air and added, “An’ jus like politicians, they’ll screw you an’ make you think they care about you. But really, they’re jus screwin’ you.”
Dean gave her a strange look as if he didn’t understand her. But it wasn’t as if she’d said anything that wasn’t true. Her brother stepped closer and plucked the glass from her hands, sniffing at the ice cubes still rattling against the sides of the tumbler.
“Are you drunk?” he asked her.
She considered it for a moment before she nodded in agreement, trying to reach out to reclaim her glass. “You know…I think I might be.”
Dean held the glass on his other side out of her reach. “You’ve had enough. It’s not even noon.”
“Well, it’s two-er-uh-five er something summer-er-somewhere,” she unsteadily replied with a shrug, trying to reach across her brother for her glass. But Dean continued to hold it just out of her reach. “Fine,” she huffed, standing a little shakily from the old recliner. “I’ll let you in on a little secret,” she whispered to her brother as he leaned away from her with a grimace. “I actually don’t mind warm whiskey so much. An’ bless ’em-” she pointed in Bobby’s general direction, “-Bobby’s got stashes of whiskey all over this house. So you can just keep that glass if you really want it so bad.”
To prove her point, she walked a few steps to the bookshelf and pushed aside a stack of old texts, finding another half-bottle of cheap whiskey, which was continually tasting better and better in Tabitha’s opinion.
The men stared at her for a moment, but turned away as she leaned back against the bookshelf, continuing their conversation.
“Well, then why in the hell-” Bobby began as though there hadn’t been any interruption.
“Because what other option do I have?!” Dean yelled. “It’s either trust the angels, or let Sammy trust a demon?!”
“I see your point,” Bobby agreed.
“I don’t,” Tabitha snorted, unscrewing the lid of the bottle and taking a long drink. “Believe me, no matter how good it is at the time, gettin’ screwed by an angel ends up hurtin’ way worse than gettin’ screwed by a demon.” She giggled a little to herself at the innuendo Bobby and her brother wouldn’t understand. “At least with a demon, you know how it’s gonna end. I mean, I didn’t realize what Casey was, but I knew somein’ was wrong, so it wasn’ really a shock when he said nasty things, you know. I jus didn’t really care.”
Dean pointed at her with her confiscated glass. “What the hell are you rambling about?”
She belatedly remembered that she shouldn’t be talking about having slept with demons or angels with either Bobby or her brother, so she shrugged and quickly covered, “I don’t know. I forget.”
The men stared at her, but after a moment, Dean turned towards the basement. “Do you hear that?”
“Hear what?” Tabitha asked, turning to strain her ears.
“That’s a little too much nothing,” Bobby replied.
“Huh?” Tabitha asked, not understanding. How could there be too much nothing? Wasn’t that like a negative or double infinitive or something? She seemed to remember something like that from an English class somewhere. Or maybe it was math. You couldn’t have too much of nothing because if you multiplied a zero by something, you still had zero.
She hadn’t realized she’d been talking out loud until Dean answered her. “We’re not talking about math,” Dean told her, yanking her bottle away as he and Bobby ran for the basement. She was frozen in place for a moment, but hurried after them as quickly as possible. Wondering to herself if maybe she really had had too much to drink when it suddenly felt like she was trying to run down stairs on stilettos.
When she reached the panic room, the sight before her went a long ways to sobering her.
Her little brother appeared to be having a seizure. Which in and of itself wouldn’t have seemed so strange, except for the fact that he was flying around the room while having a seizure.
“It’s like a demonic grand mal seizure,” she whispered to herself.
Dean whipped around to look at her. “You had medical training in the FBI, right? What the hell do we do?” he frantically demanded.
She threw her arm out towards Sam spinning around the room. “They didn’t exactly cover seizures induced by the withdrawals from drinking demon blood! I don’t know what to do. If this was a garden-variety seizure, I’d say to hold him so he didn’t slam his head against something, but with him Hulked-out on demon blood, he’d only hurt one of us, too. We just need to wait.”
“There’s gotta be something we can do, dammit! We can’t just stand here!” Dean yelled at her in frustration.
Tabitha groaned. “Then we try to tie him down.”
Bobby and Dean rushed forward into the room, the pair grabbing Sam and pulling him down to the floor as Dean pulled his belt off. He thrust it at Tabitha, returning his grip to Sam when Bobby struggled to hold their thrashing brother alone.
Without waiting for instruction, Tabitha slid the belt into their brother’s mouth, slipping her hand under his chin to clamp his teeth against the leather while the guys tried to hold Sam’s arms against his body.
“We’re gonna have to tie him down to keep him from hurting himself,” she told the men.
Bobby changed positions in preparation for moving, but Dean stared stupefied down at Sam. Tabitha couldn’t move her hands, but leaned closer to her brother, yelling, “Dean! We have to move him. I’m the one that’s drunk here. Pull yourself together!”
Dean jerked and looked at her and Bobby, finally saying, “Yeah, yeah! Let’s just get it over with!”
“I’m gonna ask one more time,” Bobby told them as they sat once more in his living room, all looking slightly shell-shocked from the scene in the basement. “Are we absolutely sure we’re doing the right thing?”
Dean stood from the couch. “Bobby, you saw what was happening to him down there. The demon blood is killing him.”
Bobby shook his head in denial. “No, it isn’t. We are.”
“I’m sorry,” Bobby continued. “I can’t bite my tongue any longer. We’re killing him. Keeping him locked up down there. This ‘cold turkey’ thing isn’t working. If-if he doesn’t get what he needs…soon…Sam’s not gonna last much longer.”
Dean had been pacing, but stopped to face his sister. “What about you? He’s your brother, too. You agree with Bobby?”
Tabitha had been sitting in one of Bobby’s old recliners again, leaned forward with her head braced against her tented fingers as she listened to them. She finally sat back, looking up into her older brother’s eyes, the same sheen shinning in his gaze that she felt in her own.
“We’re killing him,” she whispered fearfully to her brother.
“You think the demon blood isn’t?” he demanded, his voice breaking slightly.
She sighed and fell back against the chair, looking helplessly upward for some kind of answer. Unsurprisingly, none came. “I’m not sure how much more I can take, Dean. Dad’s dead. You died. Everything else that’s happened,” she vaguely intoned, “and now what’s happening to Sammy? I don’t want to see him die. I think Bobby’s right. This cold turkey thing obviously isn’t working.”
“Well you know of any methadone type treatment for demon blood?” Dean fired back. He stepped away from them, looking out the window for several moments before turning back to his sister. “I’m not giving him demon blood. I won’t do it. And you can’t do it either. Could you live with doing that to him?”
He held her eyes for several moments as they silently communicated. They knew each other well enough to share all their worries and fears by mere looks.
“And if he dies?” Bobby demanded.
Dean turned back to him. “Then at least he dies human!” he shouted.
Bobby turned an imploring look on Tabitha. But she almost reluctantly agreed with her brother. “It makes me sick with grief, but Dean’s right. We can’t do this to him. It’s bad enough he’s done this on his own for whatever misguided reasons. But we can’t continue making him into a monster ourselves and we can’t let him keep doing this to himself, either. We just can’t. This is the line we can’t cross I guess.”
She lurched unsteadily to her feet.
“Where you going?’ Dean asked her, worry making his voice tight.
With a look thrown over her shoulder, she told him, “I’m either going to find another bottle and keep drinking, or going to find a bathroom to throw up in. Haven’t decided which.”
Dean took a single step towards her. “You can’t keep drinking like that, Tabby. Don’t you think I want to? I’m hurtin’ over what’s happening to Sammy, too.”
She let out a bitter laugh. “I know you’re hurting over Sammy, too. But I’m losing one brother to demons and the other to those lying, deceiving angels.”
“I’ll be fine, Tabby,” Dean insisted.
She turned back around in the doorway, leaning against the frame heavily with one shoulder as she pointed her hand accusingly at her brother. “Don’t try to lie to me and tell me that you actually believe that. Because I know you better than that. You know that trusting them isn’t safe, but you’re still willing to risk it to save Sammy. And God knows, if I thought it was possible, I’d make the same choice. But I’m not…you are. So not only is it looking like I’m gonna lose my little brother no matter what we do for him…but I’m also looking at losing my older brother as he tries every last-ditch-effort to save Sammy.” She paused and leaned her side and head against the doorway. “And I’ll be left with nothing and all alone.” No brothers. No angel. She looked away at her bitter thoughts. “So excuse me if I’d prefer to numb myself with alcohol for a little while. But you’re right, and that doesn’t really help anything. But since I’ve already got a massive hangover going, and this conversation isn’t particularly helping anything, I think I’ll go throw up now.”
Tabitha had showered and cleaned herself up a bit by the time she came back out of the bathroom. She’d spent most of the afternoon lying on the cool floor and purging the alcohol from her system. When she’d finally felt a little steadier, she showered the booze from her pores, and left the quiet sanctuary of the bathroom-her sanctuary from the thoughts and worries about everything that was happening.
She gave a slight smile at the sight of the large bottle of aspirin sitting on the hall table across from the bathroom, a post-it note in Dean’s handwriting that simply read “Tabby.” With the welcome bottle of relief, she headed into the kitchen for a glass of water, stepping quietly through the house when she realized how dark it was and not hearing Bobby or Dean about.
A strange sensation of power licked across her skin as she drank her water, and Tabitha dismissed it for several moments, thinking her skin still felt strange and tight from her hangover. But when the power grew, she set the glass down, edging out of the kitchen into the living room. As the power got stronger, she realized it had a familiar feel. One that came from a familiar angel.
Like a lodestone, the power drew her closer, until she had begun to tiptoe her way down the stairs into the basement. And like in her dreams those many months after Dean’s encounter with Alistair, she could almost swear she was seeing the angel. She expected it to be as it had been in her dream-a wisp of smoke at the corner of her eye that disappeared when she turned towards it.
She stopped partway down the stairs, turning to look into the corner of the room as she called out, “Cas?”
The image of the angel suddenly solidified, and she could see him turning his hand as he did when he was using his powers to move something.
The angel had frozen in shock to stare back at her, but her attention was instantly yanked away from him as the steps beneath her audibly creaked.
“Tabitha?” Sam asked in a hoarse voice as he began to ascend the staircase.
“How did you-” but she stopped to throw a disbelieving look at the angel. Despite what had happened between them, she was hardly able to believe that the angel would actually let her brother go when he was in such a state.
Sam eased up the bottom few steps, pulling her attention back to him as she held her hands up warningly. “You need to turn around, Sam. This is for your own good,” she tried to tell him, unsure if she even believed it herself.
“I have to leave, Tab,” he told her, still advancing up the steps.
Tabitha held her ground, knowing that although her brother was stronger, taller, and outweighed her, that she had the higher ground, and wasn’t stung-out and in withdrawals.
“I can’t just let you go, Sammy. So you might as well turn around.”
She had been expecting his hands to be empty, so it caught her off-guard when he suddenly yanked a knife from the waistband of his jeans and rushed her. Her thrown up arm effectively blocked the knife, but he’d moved quicker than she’d anticipated, sweeping her legs out from underneath her.
Her back hit the steps with an echoing thud, her head actually bouncing painfully against the step as she fell. When she shook herself and managed to blearily look up, Sam was crouched over her, leaning closer to her and sniffing as he moved the knife closer.
It effectively brought her around as her attention focused on the knife. She struggled away from it, but Sam held her completely still against the steps, pulling the collar of her t-shirt aside and pressing the knife against the side of her neck in almost slow-motion.
She gasped when he lightly drew the blade against her skin, lifting the knife to his mouth and slowly licking at it.
“Jesus, Sammy,” she whispered shock. “Please,” she begged. “Snap out of it. It’s me. It’s Tabby. Let me go. I’m your sister, Sammy.”
Her brother stared down at her, and for a brief moment, a glimmer of recognition appeared before it was wiped away again, the knife descending towards her throat once more.
The knife suddenly flew from Sam’s hand, imbedding deeply in the wall of the stairwell beside Tabitha’s head. The siblings twisted to look down the open side of the staircase, Castiel’s hand still raised towards them.
Sam turned back to look down in shock at his sister, finally seeming to really see her. “I’m so sorry, Tab,” he choked out, and then he scurried up the stairs away from her.
She knew she should go after him, but the shock of seeing something so wild and dark in her brother’s eyes left her sprawled helplessly on the stairs. Any shred of hope she’d had for her brother was obliterated at the sight of those dark eyes staring down at her and not seeing her. Even talking to him and begging him hadn’t seemed to reach him.
Arms slid under her and picked her up. Arms that she knew belonged to the angel by the familiar vibration of power that flicked along her skin. Arms that she knew she should push away. And yet, they were arms that she couldn’t seem to find the strength to push away when grief clutched her so tightly.
Instead, she let her head fall against Castiel’s shoulder as she felt him carry her up the stairs. The cruelty of his kindness after his words to her-and especially after he’d so maliciously and inexplicably released Sam-only drove the stake deeper into her heart, but she couldn’t seem to turn away from the pain. She wondered when she’d become such a masochist.
“He was after the demon blood that’s in me now, wasn’t he? He was so strung out that he could smell it.”
She felt Castiel nod. “I fear so.”
The couch depressed around her as the angel set her down, and she finally forced herself to pull away from him, wrapping her arms around her drawn up legs as she stared at him where he’d knelt on the floor to set her down.
“Why?” she demanded, her bare whisper sounding like a shot echoing in the silent house.
To his credit, the angel didn’t ask her to clarify or try to play dumb.
“I have to follow orders. That is what it is to be an angel.”
She could feel a small trickle of wetness down her neck and pressed a hand to the side of her throat as she continued to stare at the angel. From the slow trickle, she knew it wasn’t much to worry about; it wasn’t arterial gushing, but it still needed to be bandaged properly when she could.
“That’s all you can say?” she demanded instead of tending her wounds. “You let my brother go-my brother who’s sick and been drinking demon blood-you let him go because of orders? What good could possibly come from that?”
“I cannot afford to question my orders,” he told her.
“But Dean already agreed to be Heaven’s bitch and stop the apocalypse. So why let Sam go? Why can’t you just leave at least one of my brothers alone?”
“Dean has agreed to give himself over to Heaven. He will play whatever part they deem for him,” Castiel told her, looking away from her eyes. Still avoiding her, he added, “Please do not interfere in what I must do.” I’m trying to keep you safe.
The last sentence floated softly in her mind as he turned back to her, his eyes almost seeming to beg for something before they drifted down to her neck.
When he reached out towards her, she jerked back to press into the couch. “Don’t touch me!” she hissed, not certain she could stand the exquisite torture of his touch again. She had to remind herself of why his touch would be torture. “After everything you’ve done, the fool you’ve played me for… And now you show up here to rip my brothers away from me, too. And leave me with nothing. Fine. Then just leave me with nothing and don’t touch me.”
Castiel stood from the floor, looking down at her with an expression she would have once sworn was regret. At least when she had believed him capable of emotion. “I am sorry for the way you feel now. And I’m sorry for your pain. But I can’t allow you to interfere with what will happen. Please stay out of the coming danger.”
He turned away, but stopped at her whisper.
“Why did you even kiss me that first time all those months ago?”
“I don’t understand.”
“Why did you kiss me? I could have been happy with things continuing like they had been-I mean, I know I kissed you first that one night, but I was drunk-I wouldn’t have done it again. We could have kept being just friends. So why did you kiss me like that that night? Everything changed that night. If things had stayed the same, you never would have wiggled your way so far into my heart. But then you kissed me like that…and it changed. I let you into my heart and let myself feel things for you that I’ve never felt before. Never let someone have so much power to hurt me the way you did.”
Castiel’s eyes jerked away from her, even as his face hardened and he wiped all expression away.
“Did it even mean a goddamned thing to you? Did you even feel anything for me? Besides your contempt for humans?”
“You should not take The Lord’s name in vain,” he flatly whispered, but said no more.
She stood to face him, letting her hand fall from her neck and pointing a bloody finger at him. “What an idiot I was. You were right all along, weren’t you? Angels aren’t capable of emotion. Certainly not capable of love. And I was an idiot to ever think you were any different from the rest of those angels. You’re no different from any of them.”
He cast a fleeting look her way. “I am an angel. I am not supposed to have feelings.”
“Go to Hell!” she shouted, her hold on her temper dissolving. “I never want to see your face again!”
“Tabitha? What’s going on?” Dean shouted as his steps lumbered down the stairs.
She glanced towards the staircase from the second floor, and when she glanced back in front of her again, the angel was gone once more.
Dean skidded to a halt in front of her, his hands darting out to clamp against the wound at her throat as he frantically asked, “What the hell happened to your neck?”
Feeling suddenly deflated, Tabitha sank back into the couch, forcing Dean to drop to his knees to keep his grip on her neck. She hadn’t felt it before, but she was beginning to feel a little lightheaded and unsteady as he tore at the tail of his flannel shirt and began wrapping the strips around her neck.
Pulling away slightly, she reminded him, “Not so tight, I still need to be able to breathe.”
“Dammit, Tabitha,” he worriedly shot back. “What the hell did this to you?”
“He cut me,” she told him, still almost too stunned to say it out loud. An idea that just seemed too ridiculous to have actually occurred.
“What?! Who? Who the hell cut you, Tabby?” he asked her again, tying off the last makeshift bandage and shaking her a little by the shoulder to get her attention.
“He got out. I didn’t think he’d really cut me. Even when I saw the knife.” She felt herself sway a little and looked down at her side, gingerly touching the green t-shirt she’d been wearing and seeing her whole side darkened with blood. “It bled more than it felt like it was,” she absently noted.
Dean grabbed her chin and forced her gaze back to his. “Sam? Sam got out? He did this?”
“I don’t think it’s his fault. Not really. He’s not himself. It was like it wasn’t even his eyes I was looking into. More like it was someone or something else staring down at me. You know, kinda like in those horror movies or something,” she continued stating, not seeming to be able to stop talking.
Her brother gently pushed her down onto the couch as he tried to give her a reassuring smile. But the worry was still in his voice as he tried to lightly tell her, “Note to self: When Tabby’s been bleeding too much, she rambles just like she does when she’s had too much to drink. Good to know.”
Her mind seemed a little sluggish, but she couldn’t help asking, “Am I drunk?”
“No,” Dean assured her. “I think you’ll be okay, the bleeding has stopped, but I’ve got to go find Sam. Or at least Bobby. He wasn’t upstairs. I need to make sure he’s okay, too.”
“Okay,” she slowly nodded, feeling her eyelids shut.
“That’s it, just sleep it off,” Dean told her.
Tabitha woke with a start, her body jerking upward into a sitting position on the couch. The pounding headache made her instantly regret the sudden movement.
“Easy there, girl,” Bobby told her as he walked into the living room, a glass of water in one hand and a plate with a sandwich in the other. He set them both down on the table in front of her and handed her the bottle of aspirin he’d been carrying in the crook of his arm. “Here. Take a few of these. Didn’t expect you to be up quite yet, but I’m glad I had the food ready just in case.”
She blinked a few times as she looked around her, first noticing the nearly empty bag of blood sitting on the back of the couch, the plastic tubing running down to a needle in her arm.
“Where’d you donor blood, Bobby?” she asked him, easing the needle from her arm and rubbing at the site to stem the trickle of blood.
“Always keep a few bags of O around just in case. Good thing, too, you needed a bit to perk you up. Looked pretty white when Dean and I got back in. He was worried when you wouldn’t wake up, but then we found a pretty big goose-egg on the back of your head.”
Tabitha reached up to thread her fingers through her hair, cringing when her fingers found the large knot. “No wonder my head feels like someone’s been using a jackhammer on it.” Her fingers trailed down to her neck, feeling some gauze pads taped over her wound.
“Now you’d best leave that there a bit longer,” Bobby scolded her when her fingers started to peel back a corner. “I threw some stitches in, but it’d be best if you leave it covered for another couple of days. You got real lucky it didn’t hit nothing major. Still bled like hell though.”
She nodded in agreement as she looked down at the couch she was on. Someone had cleaned it up, but faint bloodstains were still visible. “Guess you’re gonna have to finally get a new couch,” she joked.
When she looked up, Bobby was silently pushing the water and aspirin into her hands, a hint of worry still in his eyes. “Relax,” she told him as she obligingly swallowed a few of the painkillers he’d handed her along with the aspirin. “It could have been worse. But I think even crazed, Sammy was still in control enough that he didn’t really want to hurt me. Lord knows he could have.”
Bobby turned away as if the thought was painful. Which Tabitha could agree with, but she wasn’t going to walk on eggshells about what happened. She wasn’t going to let Bobby or anyone see her as a victim. Reaching out for the sandwich, she told Bobby, “Soon as I find that big oaf, I’m gonna nock his head around a little for the shaving nick though. Not like I needed the close shave, never been one of those women that gets a beard or mustache. ‘Course, I might need a step stool so I’m tall enough to actually give him the whupping he deserves, but I figure I’ll manage.”
The older hunter jerked to his feet, frowning down at her as he lectured, “This isn’t something to joke about, girl. That boy could have easily killed you. He made that cut an inch over, an’ you wouldn’t be sitting here now.”
She chewed her bite before she paused to answer the riled up hunter. “I know that Bobby. But sitting here crying about what could have happened isn’t going to fix anything. And that wasn’t my little brother back there. So I’m not going to hold him responsible for it. Even if I am gonna deal him a little punishment for it.”
Huffing, Bobby turned away. “You may not hold the boy responsible, but Dean sure as hell does. Kid cut the neck of his own sister. That’s crossing some lines and descending into some bad places, Tabitha.”
Setting her partially eaten sandwich down, Tabitha carefully rose to her feet, her hand on the back of the couch to steady herself. “Where is Dean?” she slowly asked, looking around the room suspiciously.
Bobby hesitated, but finally sank into the chair behind his desk, wearily rubbing at the tension lines in his forehead. “Sammy got the jump on me last night, too. Took off in one of the salvage cars. Dean left early this morning to go after him.”
“And he left me here?!”
With a droll and pointed look, Bobby told her, “You weren’t exactly in any kind of shape to go hunting Sam down. Dean wanted to go alone and left you here for me to look after.”
“That little-” she trailed off but continued cursing her brothers under her breath as she paced a little. Finally, she came to a stop and told Bobby, “I’m going after them. Dean’s gonna need all the help he can get to bring Sammy back.”
Regretfully shaking his head, Bobby told her, “No. You’re not. You’re staying here. That wound needs to be looked after. And I won’t tell you a thing about where they went. So you can sit your little ass back down and get comfortable. Dean’s gonna have to handle Sammy on his own.”
She sank back into the couch in resignation, half-knowing that Bobby was right-she wasn’t in any kind of shape to face Sam again-but half-pissed at the man’s stubbornness. “You really think Dean can bring Sam back, though, Bobby? He was spitting mad when I last saw him. You know what kind of temper he’s got.”
“Yeah,” Bobby agreed with a short chuckle, crossing his hands over his stomach as he leaned back in his chair. “Same one all you Winchesters seem to have,” he continued with a pointed look at her.
“Exactly.” She closed her eyes and leaned back into the couch. “I don’t see this ending well,” she muttered.
At the flutter of wings and shift of power, Tabitha tensed, her heart not ready to see the angel again so soon. But the power was different-just as strong, but a harder edge beneath it. She looked over her shoulder from where she’d been hunched over Bobby’s porch railing again.
“Anna,” she greeted. “What are you doing here?” Somehow, it wasn’t all that surprising that the angel had found her though. Protective sigils or not, looking at Bobby’s place would have been a safe bet to check out for finding her or her brothers.
“What are you doing here?” Anna returned. “You should be with Dean trying to bring Sam back. You know he won’t be able to do it alone. He’s too angry with him right now to make Sam see reason. You can’t just sit here waiting! We’re down to the homestretch, the final seals!”
Tabitha gave a little shrug. “I’m starting to think getting Sam back is hopeless no matter what. It seems to be what you angels want anyway, so they’re not gonna let us stop bring him back.”
“What?” Anna demanded, her hand on Tabitha’s shoulder, pushing the blonde woman until she faced the angel.
With her hands in her jean pockets, Tabitha shrugged again and told the fallen angel, “Castiel let Sam go. On ‘orders,‘ he said, so there isn’t really going to be anything me or Dean can do now. It’s what they apparently want. Even if I don’t get it.”
Anna made a little motion with her hand like she wanted Tabitha to go back to something. “Wait. You’re saying Castiel actually told you that he let your brother go.”
Face drawn together in confusion, Tabitha clarified, “No. He didn’t have to. I saw him let my brother go.”
Now Anna looked very surprised, speaking almost to herself. “I can’t believe he’d actually let you see him do something like that. Not try to hide himself.”
She hesitated, but Tabitha finally told Anna, “Well, he was a little hard to see at first, but I could feel where he was, and when I looked over, he was just standing there.”
The fallen angel stepped back a little in surprise. “He didn’t mean for you to see him then. But you did anyway.” Anna’s head tilted to the side a bit, the same way Castiel’s did sometimes when he looked at her and tried to understand something. “You are full of surprises,” Anna whispered.
Irritably, Tabitha waved it away and paced. “Whatever. It doesn’t matter now. My brothers are both out there. I’ve lost Sammy to those demons now, and Dean’s given himself to the angels. I’ve got nothing.”
Stepping closer, Anna stopped Tabitha’s pacing with a hand on her arm. “There might still be a way to stop Sam if you can get to him.”
Frozen in place, Tabitha asked, “How? Dean just texted to say that Sam took off again. That he’s going after Lilith still. So how am I supposed to find him?”
“By finding Lilith yourself.”
Her breath stopped at Anna’s suggestion. “Find Lilith myself?” she incredulously demanded. “You do realize that bitch has been after me for a while now anyway? You want me to go offer myself up?”
“You need to find Sam and stop him. You can’t let him do this. You can’t let him kill Lilith. You can’t let him break the final seal,” she confided, her eyes fearfully darting around. “Finding Lilith will help you find Sam. Are you willing to take the risks to protect him?”
Bristling, Tabitha answered without hesitation. “Of course I am. Only one little problem though…actually finding Lilith! It’s not like I can Google her location. Or do you know where she is?”
Anna ignored the sarcasm, her eyes still darting around as if she thought something would jump out of the shadows to grab her. With a deep breath, Anna steadied herself and looked Tabitha in the eye. “Haven’t you ever wondered about just how Lilith got onto your trail in the first place? Haven’t you ever wondered why she had a demon take over you partner when she did? When you were away from hunting and in the FBI? I think there’s more behind that then you realize. You just need to look. Figuring out why and how she targeted your old partner are the keys to finding her.”
Tabitha opened her mouth to ask a question, but slammed it shut when Castiel appeared in front of her. His back was familiarly covered in his trench coat as he stood between her and Anna.
“I’m right, aren’t I?” she heard Anna ask Castiel.
She started to move out from behind the angel that had planted himself in front of her so she could see what was going on. But Castiel’s hand blindly darted out behind his back to grab her wrist, halting her movement as he pulled her closer behind his back.
There would be no shaking his grip if he didn’t want her to, so she stood on her toes to look over his shoulder, seeing Anna standing stiffly and defensively as she stared at the silent Castiel.
“Why did you let Sam Winchester go?” she asked him, a question Tabitha wanted answered as well.
The angel between the two women didn’t directly answer the question though, instead almost sadly telling her, “You shouldn’t have come, Anna.”
“Why would you do it?” she again demanded.
“Those were my orders,” Castiel replied. Tabitha tried to jerk away at the answer, wanting nothing more than to find something sharp and pointy at hearing that fallback answer yet again. But as she’d known, the angel’s hold didn’t budge. But she froze when his thumb wrapped around her wrist and suddenly began to soothingly rub up and down the underside of her arm.
“Orders?” Anna was asking, stepping a little closer on the porch. “Cas, you saw him. He’s drinking demon blood. It’s so much worse than we thought. Dean and Tabitha were trying to stop him.”
“I protect my charges.”
Anna’s eyes narrowed on him. “We both know who you’re really trying to protect.”
“You really shouldn’t have come,” Castiel repeated, his thumb speeding up as if to impart an apology on Tabitha’s skin with the movement.
As Tabitha watched, two more angels appeared around Anna, grabbing her and disappearing in a swell of light.
When they were again alone, Tabitha yanked her wrist away. Castiel allowed her to this time, but didn’t turn to face her as she stumbled away from him into the worn siding of Bobby’s house. “What will they do to Anna?” she whispered.
Castiel still did not move as he whispered in return, “I don’t know.”
“She knew it was dangerous coming here, didn’t she? She knew you’d try to trap her here and she still came to warn me.”
Tabitha let out a frustrated huff to the angel’s back. “Can anyone really trust you?” she whispered, watching his back stiffen.
“You need to stay here,” he told her. “You’ll be safe here.” And then he disappeared without ever having turned around.
“Like hell I will,” she whispered to the night air. “Anna risked capture to come here and tell me what she did, so there must be something important to it.”
But she stayed frozen where she was against Bobby’s house. What Anna had told her might be useful or important, but how was Tabitha supposed to look into how Lilith had found her or Casey? How was she supposed to know why Lilith had placed one of her demons in her partner? It had been over a year ago now.
Then she remembered. She remembered the last case they’d been on before Casey had started acting strange. She’d chalked it up to him just hitting overload from their caseload. That particular case had been hard to handle.
But it was the very case that Casey-or perhaps the demon riding him-had stolen files from and had hidden in his safe. Files she’d taken, and now resided in her room on the second floor of Bobby’s house.
She didn’t know what she’d find, but she knew it was a good place to start.
A/N: Thanks so much for your reviews guys! It’s good hearing from everyone and know that this story hasn’t become a dud or something that nobody’s reading. So thanks for giving shout outs that you’re still with us and please continue to do so. I love hearing from you guys.
As Anna said, we’re in the homestretch. There’s just one more chapter to Nobody In Particular, and then we move on to the next part!