Disclaimer: To quote Pheobe from Friends: "Not mine. Not mine. Not mine."
A/N Thanks to my new reviewers!
Chapter 6: Monsters Beget Heroes
Skye woke, groaning and in pain. There was a heavy weight on her shoulder, pushing back and forth. A sound was near her head as well. It was deep and insistent. She wanted to tell it to go away. She was sleeping. Then, the previous events came rushing back into her mind, and Skye shot up, nearly headbutting Dean, who had been shaking her shoulder and trying to wake her out of unconsciousness. "Woah, easy there," he said. He helped her get sat up comfortably.
"What happened?" She asked blearily.
"I was hoping you would be able to tell me that," said Dean. "We go back and both you and Bobby were AWOL. We searched the house before coming out here and finding you unconscious. Sam's still looking for Bobby. Do you know where he is?"
"Oh my God, Bobby!" Skye remembered, scrambling to her feet. She started searching the area. Dean followed behind, knowing that she was going to explain while they looked. "I was coming out here to look for him. After you got off the phone with me, I looked out the window and saw Bobby's truck here, but no Bobby. I came back here to search, but I got attacked by the ghost of Nancy." Skye shuddered and looked underneath the car nearest her. "She like, stuck her hand inside of me and squeezed my heart. I guess I blacked out," she admitted sheepishly.
Dean, who had been peering in a car window, looked at Skye, surprised. "Wait, you didn't fight it off?" Skye shook her head. "Where did the ghost disappear to then?"
"I- don't know. Maybe she thought she killed me," Skye guessed without much real confidence.
"Maybe." Dean's lips pulled down in a contemplative frown.
"DEAN!" Sam called urgently across the yard.
Dean and Skye ran toward the sound of his voice. He was deep into the scrap yard, and Skye let out a breath of relief when she heard Bobby's voice. Both Bobby and Sam were breathing heavily, and she could see some blood on Bobby's head, but no imminent threat was in sight. "Everyone alright?" she asked.
"Yeah," Sam answered for both him and Bobby. "You?"
"Peachy," Skye said. "Come on, let's get back to the house before we have any more visitors."
The panic room was just as awesome as Skye thought it would be. Fully stocked with weapons, food, and even books, She thought that maybe after adding a plant or two, she could easily just claim this as the room she had always wanted. She told Bobby as much and he laughed.
"Yeah, well, till we figure this thing out, this is gonna be all our bedrooms. So get crackin'." Neither Skye or her brothers needed to be told twice as they settled into their research. Sam and Dean had noticed a brand on the apparitions that attacked them. Dean, apparently, had been attacked when looking for Skye and Bobby in the house.
The brand depicted four people holding hands in a circle. That was the only clue they had as to what was happening, aside from the unnatural anger and control these particular ghosts seemed to possess. Even the angriest ghosts the Winchesters had come across, seemed to be less corporeal than the ones that had attacked them today. Plus, there was the fact that all of the ghosts were of people they had failed to save.
All in all, Skye was settling in for a very long day. If only Bobby had thought to add a percolator to the supplies in the room. She would kill for a cup of coffee. At the very least, it would kill the headache she was getting from Sam and Dean arguing about religion again. But, it didn't actually take Bobby long to locate the symbol.
"Found it," he announced.
"What?" Sam inquired.
"The symbol," Skye told him.
"Yeah?" Sam looked hopefully at Bobby.
"Mark of the Witness," Bobby informed them.
"Witness?" Sam and Skye asked at the same time. "To what?" finished Sam.
"The unnatural. None of them died what you'd call ordinary deaths. See, these ghosts - they were forced to rise. They woke up in agony. They were like rabid dogs. It ain't their fault. Someone rose them... on purpose." the tone of his voice was foreboding, and Skye had a very bad feeling about where this was headed.
"Who?" Asked Sam. Who indeed…
"Do I look like I know? But whoever it was used a spell so powerful it left a mark, a brand on their souls. Whoever did this had big plans. It's called "the rising of the witnesses." It figures into an ancient prophecy." Skye looked at the book Bobby had been reading and groaned.
"Wait, wait. What - what book is that prophecy from?" Dean asked. Skye could tell he was a bit alarmed. Since when did hunting turn into messes like this- evil agendas, and angels from God? It would be nice if they could just go out and hunt a nest of vampires, or gank a ghoul. Well, maybe nice wasn't the right word, but it would be simpler at least.
"Well, the widely distributed version's just for tourists, you know. But long story short - Revelations. This is a sign, kids." Bobby confirmed Skye's fears.
"A sign of what?" Sam and Dean asked together.
"The apocalypse." It was going to be a very long day indeed.
"Apocalypse? The apocalypse, apocalypse? The four horsemen, pestilence, $5-a-gallon-gas apocalypse?" Dean asked.
"That's the one. The rise of the witnesses is a - a mile marker." Bobby said carefully.
"Okay, so, what do we do now?" Sam asked.
"Road trip. Grand Canyon, Star Trek Experience. Bunny Ranch." Dean listed and Skye rolled her eyes.
"First things first. How about we survive our friends out there?" Bobby suggested.
"What do you have in mind?" Asked Skye.
"It's a spell," Bobby said and indicated a paper in front of him. "to send the witnesses back to rest. Should work."
"Should. Great." Sam said dryly, echoing Skye's thoughts. She could still feel the tension from where Nancy's ghost had tried to kill her, and couldn't say that she wanted a repeat of the incident. Should was not a word that inspired a lot of confidence in her, but working in absolutes was a luxury for a hunter. Half of the job was just taking a gamble and going with your gut. Bobby was a wonderful hunter, and if his gut said this should work, then that would be good enough for Skye.
"If I translate it correctly. I think I got everything we need here at the house." That, made Skye feel a bit better. While translation wasn't her strong suit, she could still do it fairly well, but the older hunter was an adept translator.
In a rare show of hopefulness, Dean asked if there was any chance all they needed was in this room, but Bobby informed them that it needed to be cast over an open fire. Sam surmised that the fireplace in the library fit the bill.
"That's just not as appealing as a, uh, ghost-proof panic room, you know?" Dean said as they were preparing to leave. Skye had to agree but didn't voice her discomfort as they picked up guns and rounds. The four crowded around the door. Skye made the decision to cover the back since Bobby was taking the lead. That way, she made sure Sam and Dean were as safe as they could be- sandwiched in the middle.
Bobby turned to address the three Winchesters before he opened the door. "Cover each other. And aim careful. Don't run out of ammo until I'm done, or they'll shred you. Ready?" They all nodded and Bobby took a breath before pushing the heavy door open and quickly making for the stairs. A ghost was sitting on them.
Skye recognized the crazy man who had seen a shifter a couple years ago, and thought it was a robot… or alien maybe. She couldn't remember. Not that it mattered. The poor guy was so sure of the conspiracy, and it had gotten him killed in the end. Skye knew she could have changed the outcome if they had just told him the truth, but telling someone who was so vocal about their beliefs about the life of the hunter and all of the monsters loose in the world was usually not a good idea. That kind of thing got you killed or sent to a mental institution. As much as Skye hated to admit it, Ronald's personality almost made the method of his death almost inevitable, but perhaps, if they had told him, his death wouldn't have been so soon.
"Hey, Dean. You remember me?" Ronald asked.
"Ronald, huh? With the laser eyes? I wish I could say it's good to see you." Said Dean.
"I am dead because of you. You were supposed to help me!" Ronald raged, and Bobby shot him.
"If you're gonna shoot, shoot. Don't talk." Skye swore she could have heard the 'idjit' echoing in Bobby's head. Dean looked slightly embarrassed, but Bobby had already turned to quickly ascend the stairs. Skye walked up to them sideways so she could keep an eye out behind the group. No other apparitions stopped them on the way to the library and Dean quickly grabbed the salt Skye had gotten out earlier, and poured a circle around them. Sam had started a fire, and Bobby was already hard at work mixing together the components for the spell. Skye kept her shotgun poised, ready for any threats. Dean and Sam joined her as a lookout but Bobby quickly sent them both away for ingredients.
Two girls appeared outside of the circle and spoke Bobby's name. Skye shot at them both quickly before reloading. Skye heard the noise of chalk scraping but didn't look behind her to see what Bobby was doing. The girls had reappeared again, but Skye was able to step outside of the circle and shoot them from the side. She hit both with one shell and quickly stepped back inside the circle. She heard the kitchen door slam.
"Dean?" She called out alarmed.
He didn't answer for a second and she almost left the circle, but he answered. "I'm alright, Skye. Keep covering Bobby!" She nearly went to help anyway, but if they didn't get this spell done none of them would survive. Dean would call if it got to be too much for him.
Half a minute later she heard Sam rushing down the stairs and into the kitchen. There was a gunshot, but Skye had to take a shot of her own as Meg appeared outside the circle. She disappeared in a puff of black, and Sam and Dean rushed into the room, looking a bit ragged but otherwise unharmed.
Ronald appeared in front of Dean and they start trading words again. Skye shot the red-head.
"In the circle!" she ordered her brothers. They rushed into the protective barrier, but the witnesses were appearing faster than they can shoot. Skye loaded her last two shells and dived for a fire iron. She would save the bullets, just in case.
Bobby had started chanting latin and it was as if the weather was trying to fight the spell. The wind kicked open the windows and charged around the room. It rushed at the salt line and broke it. Dean's gun was knocked from his hand and Skye swung the iron at Hendriksen. She shoved her gun at Dean, and barreled at the other ghosts, swinging the fire iron like a baseball bat.
She saw Sam get disarmed and knocked against the wall. "Sam!"
"Cover Bobby!" he yelled, always the realist. She looked back at Bobby, just distracted long enough for the ghost of Ronald to get the better of her. The fire poker was knocked from her grip and the ghost stuck its hand in her chest. For the second time that day, the wind was knocked out of Skye, and she struggled not to scream in agony. Dean fired the last shell and the pressure let up. Skye crumbled to the ground, but quickly scrambled to her feet again and saw that Sam was pinned to the wall by a desk, the ghosts of two little girls sat on it. Bobby had finished up the mixture, but before he can put it on the fire, the ghost of Meg grasped his heart through his chest.
Skye ran for a weapon, but Bobby just yelled for Dean and tossed him the mixture. Dean tossed it on the fire, and all of the ghosts disappeared in a puff. They were once again safe. The only sound in the room was the heavy breathing of relief and exertion from the hunters. They did it. Somehow they did it. Skye looked around the room to assess the damage. The furniture was haphazard and some books had been knocked from their places. All three of the men were a little ruffled and bruised, but nothing that a hot shower couldn't relax away.
They talked long enough to make sure no one had any serious injuries, but everyone was just ready to be done with this horrible day. So, Bobby and the Winchesters headed off to bed. Skye and Dean let Sam take the guest room, leaving Skye to take the couch and Dean insisting on the floor. She knew he wanted the floor due to the nightmares that had been plaguing him since returning from Hell. Skye didn't mention it, but she heard him tossing and turning at night to wake sweaty and gasping, just like Sam used to after Jessica died.
They settled in, and Skye listened to the sound of Dean's breathing evening out as he relaxed, for a short time, into sleep. The wind was whistling softly outside and the house groaned in the darkness. She tried to focus on the soft sounds of the night and lure herself into sleep, but her mind could not be persuaded to shut down. Skye couldn't help but feel that she should have died today.
She did not know how long she had been passed out after the fight with Nancy, but something told her that the ghost had not meant to leave her alive. Her whole life, minus the first six years of ignorance, Skye had never even heard of a vengeful spirit leaving their victims alive unless forced. Yet the ghost of Nancy had only reduced her to unconsciousness. There was no one else around, and she had not even been able to fight back. So why had she lived through the encounter? It was disconcerting, to say the least. Skye was glad she was alive, but nothing bothered her more than unanswered questions. She knew that if it had happened to one of her brothers she would have told them to put it out of their mind, and just take the miracle as a win, not that they would have listened to her of course. Still, it would have been the correct advice to give.
Dean groaned softly in his sleep, and Skye frowned into her pillow. He would need to talk about what was bothering him soon, or it was just going to get worse, but Dean was not one to talk about feelings, and if she tried to force it, she would just get her head bit off. Maybe she should ask Bobby about it. The older hunter always surprised her by how much he understood the three of them. He really would have made a good father.
Again, Dean groaned, and Skye heard him turn heavily. His arm hit the couch with a thunk, and she knew he would be waking up soon. There was another heavy exhale and a whimper. She wanted to turn to him, drop her arm over the side of the couch and stroke his hair like how she used to get him to sleep when they were children. She would hum Hey Jude like their mother used to (their mother actually used to sing, but Skye didn't have the voice for that), and lull him back into the world of dreams sweetly. She couldn't, though. Dean had too much pride to take comfort like that. He would just brush his dreams off as stress.
A gasp sounded through the room, and Skye feigned sleep. She heard Dean sit up from his nightmare, and take a second to catch his breath before throwing the blankets off himself and walking towards the kitchen. She rearranged her pillow into a more comfortable position and attempted to shut off her brain once again, but the sound of voices coming from the kitchen startled her. At first, she thought maybe Sam had slipped down the stairs without her knowing, but quickly realized that was not Sam's voice. She ignored the slight tingling in her fingers, and quietly as she could, Skye removed her blankets and slid off the couch. She crept up to the entrance of the kitchen, careful to keep out of sight. Her heart stilled when she realized who was talking to her brother. The gruff voice of Castiel could be heard. It took her a second to get over the shock of having an angel in the house before she heard what he was saying.
"-to perch on your shoulder. We had larger concerns." He sounded annoyed. Dean tended to have that effect on people.
"Concerns? There were people getting torn to shreds down here! And, by the way, while all this is going on, where the hell is your boss, huh, if there is a God?" Dean was angry. Skye contemplated making her presence known, but decided to listen for a minute longer.
"There's a God," Castiel said simply.
"I'm not convinced. 'Cause if there's a God, what the hell is he waiting for, huh? Genocide? Monsters roaming the earth? The freaking apocalypse? At what point does he lift a damn finger and help the poor bastards that are stuck down here?" Yes, Dean was very, very angry, and perhaps rightfully so, but Skye only knew her little world. Who was she to say that all problems should be solved by a divine being, by God? If God didn't give people the chance to become monsters, then he would never give them the chance to become heroes, and that would be one hell of a boring world.
"The Lord works…" started Castiel, but Dean cut him off.
"If you say "mysterious ways," so help me, I will kick your ass," Skye nearly laughed at that but managed to stifle it before she made any sound. "So, Bobby was right... about the witnesses. This is some kind of a... sign of the apocalypse?" he asked.
"That's why we're here. Big things afoot." The angel sure wasn't one for long explanations. Skye wondered if all angels were all that way.
"Do I want to know what kind of things?" questioned Dean.
"I sincerely doubt it, but you need to know. The rising of the witnesses is one of the 66 seals." Castiel informed him.
"Okay. I'm guessing that's not a show at Seaworld."
"Those seals are being broken by Lilith." Skye's heart dropped heavily. It couldn't be a coincidence that the same demon who had held Dean's Hell contract was the one that was breaking all of the seals. They were missing something important.
"She did the spell. She rose the witnesses." It wasn't a question, but Castiel still answered.
"Mm-hmm. And not just here. 20 other hunters are dead."
"Of course. She picked victims that the hunters couldn't save so that they would barrel right after us." Dean surmised.
"Lilith has a certain sense of humor." The angel said.
"Well, we put those spirits back to rest." he paused for half a second before asking a question that surprised Skye. "Do you know why the ghost that went after Skye didn't kill her?"
"Yes," Castiel said almost immediately. "I felt her distress and sent the spirit back where it belonged. I was nearly too late. You three need to be more careful." In her surprise, Skye forgot that she had been eavesdropping and peeked her head into the kitchen.
"What?" she asked, dumbstruck. The angel did not seem surprised at her appearance, but Dean looked at her with wide eyes. She ignored the look from her brother and walked up to the angel.
"You saved my life?" Castiel nodded. "Wait, what did you mean by feeling my distress?"
At those words, Castiel's cobalt eyes traveled to the floor. "I felt it-" he hesitated in an effort to pick his words, "prudent to have a connection to the three of you." His eyes met hers again. "I will feel you when you are gravely injured or near death."
Skye did not know how to react to that, but Dean did. "Dude, that's kind of creepy."
Castiel tilted his head to the side in confusion but didn't ask Dean what he meant. Instead, he just continued with the past topic like Skye had never interrupted. "Think of the seals as locks on a door Lilith is trying to open."
Dean's interest was piqued again, "Okay. Last one opens and…" he trailed off.
"Lucifer walks free." The gravity of Castiel's voice was chilling.
"What?" Skye exclaimed.
At the same time, Dean asked, " Lucifer? But I thought Lucifer was just a story they told at demon Sunday school. There's no such thing."
"Three days ago, you thought there was no such thing as me. Why do you think we're here walking among you now for the first time in 2,000 years?" Skye had to admit that the angel did have a point. In her line of work seeing was believing, and she was believing more and more each day.
"To stop Lucifer." Dean sounded disbelieving.
"That's why we've arrived," Castiel confirmed.
"Well... bang-up job so far. Stellar work with the witnesses. That's nice." Skye looked at her brother angrily. Castiel, weird and other-worldly as he was, had saved both her life and rescued Dean from Hell. How could Dean expect anyone, even if they were an angel, to be everywhere at once?
"Dean," she said in a stern voice. Her brother looked at her, ready to defend himself when Castiel spoke.
"We tried. And there are other battles, other seals. Some we'll win, some we'll lose. This one we lost. Our numbers are not unlimited. Six of my brothers died in the field this week." He paused. Skye wasn't sure but she thought this was Castiel expressing anger and exasperation. "You think the armies of Heaven should just follow you around? There's a bigger picture here. You should show me some respect. I dragged you out of Hell. I can throw you back in." Skye's eyes widened. She could feel the power from this being crackling through the air. In his eyes, the first glimpse she had caught of his true form shined brighter. The tingling in her fingers traveled up her arms, and Castiel disappeared, taking the numbness with him. The room felt strangely empty as Skye turned to look at her brother, but he was already walking away. His fists were balled at his side, and Skye knew that if she had been able to see his face, the cords of muscle in his jaw would be jumping.
Skye sighed and filled a glass of water. There was nothing she could do that would calm Dean just yet so she walked back into the sitting room to wait. As expected, Dean was nowhere to be seen. He must have gone outside to cool off. She laid down and curled up into her blankets, but sleep was a distant wish that was never granted that night. Thoughts bounced around her skull furiously, and when morning came she had hardly moved an inch, but her brain had run a marathon.
A/N That chapter gave me a bit of trouble, but I'm pretty happy with what I ended up with. Leave me a review if you got this far. I would really like to know what people think. Thanks!