Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Author's Note: Blame my unabashed obsession with Future's So Bright... But I really do want to finish this now, so I'm gonna write like mad to do so. Because even I want to know what's gonna happen, and I certainly don't want to be left hanging, nor, I'm sure, do any of you. So here's the next installment, only a few months overdue.
Charles Dunn had been the biggest pain in her ass for nearly four years now, ever since being introduced by a mutual friend and business associate. He was a good two inches shorter than her, fifty pounds heavier, and nearly twenty years older, yet none of that seemed to matter to him, never giving off any sort of caution signals that maybe they weren't really a match made in heaven. He'd met Ben before on several occasions, each time ignoring her unabashed attempts to make him see that she was taken – PDAs that had never been her thing suddenly oozing from her desperately. He was a misogynist, a dork of the highest order – and that should mean something coming from a woman who reads Latin and ancient Greek for fun – and he was sadly, utterly clueless.
But he was a handy fellow to have around in a time of crisis, always at the ready with any sort of rare antique or ancient ceremonial something-or-other. He'd borrowed things from both the museum and his own personal collection, and lent them to her more times than she could count. And while it was always implied that if he scratched her back she'd scratch his, he really was too good of a guy to ever force the issue, continuing to offer favors that he must have somehow known would result in nothing.
Today was no different, setting up a meeting with one of his more prestigious clients, allowing it to take place in his personal office at the museum, respectfully ducking out to give them privacy as per her request. And all without ever even asking what it was about. The only price she had to pay this time was a timid hug – which she managed to shrug out of, feigning pain – and a terribly awkward, "I'm so sorry," followed by a seemingly inappropriate, "I always knew you'd be better off with me."
"Yeah, Charles," she'd responded blithely. "I guess you're right."
But no matter. Charles Dunn could say whatever he pleased, since he'd helped set this all up, allowed them to meet with the man whom they all hoped held the key to Ben's mysterious actions.
All six of them came along, no one wanting to be left behind, and while this came as a bit of a surprise to Charles – who used the opportunity to suck up to Tessa's father and brothers – Terrence Tavish seems quite at ease, almost as though he'd been expecting them all along.
"Hello," he offers graciously, taking hold of Tessa's hand first as Dunn introduces them. It's hard not to smile, his own grin spreading so wide and sincere across his face. She's had experience with more demons than she can count, and some were, are, as seemingly sweet as can be, charming as all get out, so she's not entirely suckered in by his friendly countenance, his welcoming demeanor. None of them are.
"You know why we're here," she says as soon as Dunn leaves the room. It's a statement more than anything, but one that still requires his response.
"Yes," he says with a smile and an accent that none of them can quite place. He unbuttons his suit jacket and takes a seat on the leather couch, long arms spreading across its back in a gesture only a confident man who believes he owns the room can make. "Do you?"
"We know what you are," Dean hums deeply from the corner.
But while this little revelation makes his father roll his eyes in a gesture caught somewhere between anger and annoyance, Terrence Tavish only laughs, light, airy, unimpressed chuckles. He leans forward, eyes sparkling towards the seething man in back. "And I know what you are," he says in singsong.
"Okay," John interrupts, "you know, we know…why don't you just tell us what we came here to find out."
If he's taken aback by the man's angry and bitter tone, it doesn't show. Tavish tilts his head questioningly at John before slowly moving his gaze back to Tessa. "Your boyfriend, right?" he asks in a steady even tone. "Charles said he lost his mind, tried to kill you." He looks her up and down and in a way that makes the lot of them fairly uneasy, sending Sam even closer to her side. "You look good for almost being killed," he says with a lilt.
"Thanks," she deadpans in response.
He leans back again, flicks a careless hand in her direction. "Then again, the Winchesters always were quick to heal," he says absently.
Before Dean can get out the hostile question – What do you know about our family? – John's hand flies up to his son's chest, halting him mid stride, sending him back a few steps to the wall. "Did he come to see you?" he asks, once certain that his son won't interfere.
"Yes," he says after a deep and telling breath.
"And what did you two talk about?" he asks, question actually a thinly veiled command.
"Nothing, really," he responds, unfazed. "I could see he was in distress, but when he introduced himself it was in the middle of a benefit the museum was holding. I was too busy to speak with him, gave him my card, but I never heard from him."
"What…what do you mean he was in distress?" Tessa asks, moving forward and taking a seat on the couch's armrest.
He looks up at her with an expression of pity. "You knew him well," he says, low, just for her.
She nods, "Better than anyone."
He too nods, looks away for a moment in silent contemplation, as though deciding just what he should tell this sad girl before him. "I could sense that he was in what I call divine turmoil," he says finally. "Even without knowing him, without speaking to him for more than a moment, I could tell." He smiles again, warm and consoling. "I can always tell."
It's Sam who speaks next, making the divide among them quickly apparent – Sam and Tessa wanting nothing more than to hear what this man knows, all the others in the room wanting only to go. "He had a gift," he says, unsure why, other than the stinging knowledge that Tavish probably already knows far more than what he's now telling him anyhow. "He could communicate with…"
"Demons," Tavish finishes quickly for him. "And others. He had a gift for hearing what other humans can't. We call it celestial noise, for lack of a better term."
"Lately, he'd been hearing a lot," Sam admits almost guiltily.
He takes a moment before responding, and when he does his words are slow and measured. "What he heard, it wasn't meant for him. It's unfortunate, really." He stops, furrows his brow in thought. "How should I explain this," he says, almost to himself, before, "He heard what traveled over certain lines. And lately those circuits have been jammed with too much noise."
"I don't understand," Tessa says, a hopeless quality to her voice and face as she turns to look around the room, see if anyone else gets what he's saying.
"He was human," Tavish tries to explain. "He could only handle so much otherworldly information. It's true of all of you. You're only built to withstand so much. It drove him mad."
Dean scoffs loudly from behind the others, takes a step forward before saying, "He didn't just go crazy. You think we're stupid?" Earning him a pair of stunned stares from his younger siblings, both of whom would have thought him eager and ready to believe this explanation.
"Could be that someone, something, as I'm sure you'd say, told him to kill your sister," he says simply. "But he likely wouldn't have listened had it not been for all of the distortion, all the constant sounds, that only he could hear."
"But why would someone tell him to kill her in the first place?" Sam asks, nothing if not genuinely interested.
Tavish almost laughs, lets out a slight snicker when he says, "Don't you know, they want you all dead?" No response comes, only confused and frightened looks being exchanged throughout the room. So he goes on, "You're meddlers, all of you. You know too much, and that is a very dangerous thing."
"Who is it, exactly, who thinks so?" John asks tensely.
The room is engulfed in silence for one long moment, Winchesters and Singers alike trying to work their way through what's been said. But Tavish can see, can sense, that they simply don't know, don't understand enough to be able to work out all the kinks. He considers leaving well enough alone, sending them on their way with a warning and a prayer, hoping for the best. Because he'd revealed too much before, and look where that got him.
But he swore an oath, and it must be upheld, at all costs. "You said you know what I am," he says, voice suddenly rather grave. "Do you really know? Do you know what the Grigori are?"
He's met predominantly with dumbfounded looks, only Bobby letting his expertise shine through the shock. "Watchers," he says, taking a step forward. "You were dispatched by God to watch after mankind."
He nods, quirks his chin up in go on fashion.
"And then you…mated with mortal women, created the Nephilim, half-breed things that almost destroyed the earth. If the legends are true."
"If," he says, long and drawn. "What is it that they say about history?" he asks, expecting no answer. "It's always written by the winners." Terrence Tavish, all long, lean limbs, decked out in a rich gray suit, sprawled easily along a couch that's not his own, in an office not his own, on a plane of existence, not his own, takes one more deep breath before asking, "Do you know the story of the war in Heaven, how the Fallen came to be?"
This time its Dean who speaks up, before Bobby or anyone else gets a chance. His words are tinged with bitter hatred when he says, "Satan, Lucifer, whatever you want to call him, he led a revolt, challenged God, and lost, miserably."
Tavish tsk, tsk's in response. "You're reciting the teachings of the winner."
"Uh, yeah, well, can't say I mind doing that when the winner's God," he smarts.
"Who's to say it was?" he asks simply, provoking yet another stunned and confused silence. "The revolt began when Lucifer, and others, refused one of God's edicts – to bow down to mankind. But what is said in that book you humans love so much, Exodus 20:5? You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the LORD your God am a jealous God."
"So," Sam begins, brow furrowed, "Lucifer was loyal?"
"At one time, yes, more than any other. But he was cast down none the less. And…well, you know how it is, ghost hunter, a soul can only be tied to bitter desolation for so long before…changing. All of them became embittered, enraged. Evil. And they fought back in the manner most offensive to God, by acting out against his favored ones. Call it jealousy, call it misplaced aggression, a vendetta that's lasted for millennia."
"What does this have to do with us?" John asks, always eager to get straight to the point. "Or with any of this?"
"Those are the ones who fell from Heaven and began the revolt. Those are the ones who now reside in Hell, and would do anything to get out, never mind it being a prison of their own making. Those are the ones swearing vengeance yet again, preparing for yet another war, between Heaven and Hell, played out here on Earth."
"So how do we stop it?" Dean asks, voice void of hostility for the first time since their conversation began.
"You don't," he responds with an odd quirk of his brow, as if to say, obviously, you can't. "These battles have been going on forever, or seemingly so. And they'll go on forever more, until the very end of this world."
"And we're just supposed to let that happen?" he asks, voice rising. "We're just supposed to sit back and do nothing?"
"We do what we can," John says, turning to his son, "what we have to."
"That's right," Tavish concurs. "You do what you can, but you are still only men. This is not your war. I think that's what drove your boyfriend so insane, wanting to be, or feeling he should be, a part of something he's simply not," he says with a glance towards Tessa.
"So it was for nothing," she intones. "All of it. He died for nothing?"
"Isn't that so often the case?" he asks, a bitter sort of sympathy oozing from his words.
"And what about you?" Dean asks with a glare. "What do you do, watch all of this, just sit there and let it happen?"
Tavish ducks his head, the first sign of humility to come out of him. "It is my job to watch," he says solemnly. "Once, I did more than my job. We all grew tired of sitting idly by while men suffered and died, fought for and against nothing, believing nothing." He looks up, a dreamy context to his eyes. "We swore an oath, of solidarity and of service. In your texts it's written that the oath was made so that we all could exalt in depravity together, sharing the guilt, shouldering the blame as one. But it wasn't lust or envy that drove us to do what we did."
"What did you do?" Sam asks, voice small.
"We illuminated the secrets of the dark, taught you things you shouldn't have known. Bred with you to create a species capable of…more. We thought we'd be doing mankind a favor, giving him the knowledge necessary to live as an enlightened being. But we were wrong." He stops just long enough to look around the room, take in the faces of those he had failed all those millennia ago. "We taught you about weapons, and you used them on one another. We showed you how to write, and you created false gospels and propaganda. Cosmetics led to whoredom, jewelry and adornments to pride, envy. We tried to show you all that you were capable of, and you squandered your powers, used them for personal gain."
"It's like the tree of knowledge," Sam says simply. "We weren't meant to know."
He nods profoundly. "We, at least, were cast down for a reason. Our expulsion from Heaven is more than understandable. Though we were only trying to do good…well, what is it they say? Even the best intentions and all."
"And now you're back to just watching?"
"No," he says, almost a whisper. "But now we are more cautious, sticking to the shadows, never getting directly involved. We can't. When last we did, the only thing that could rid the world of the evil we created was a great flood."
"Wait," Bobby chimes in suddenly, "the flood was real?"
Tavish waves a dismissive hand. "Euphemism. But many died none the less."
"Okay," Sam says, still clearly trying to work it all out in his head. "But now…"
"Don't worry about now. Don't worry about what I do. You're the only ones that can save your fellow men. Angels, demons, those in between, we can't directly intervene. We sometimes do, but we can't. You're the hope for the future," he says, connecting eerily with Sam's eyes. "And I assure you, there will be more fighting in the future."
"But what are they planning now? If we know, maybe we can be more prepared, figure out…"
"You already know too much. Too much for the side of Heaven to allow, they can't have others knowing what you do. And it's too much for the side of Hell, all you know standing in their way of conducting terror on Earth. You do as your father said, as you've been doing all along. That's how you help. Even the smallest victories are worth celebrating."
"That's it," Dean challenges. "We come here for answers and all we get is, Ben went nuts hearing demonic voices and we have to go on doing what we've been doing? Even though there's a war brewing, one we're obviously smack in the middle of?"
"That's it," he confirms. "I know you'd like it to be more, but it's not." He pulls himself up off the couch, buttons his suit jacket daintily once he's standing. "You won't hear from me again," he says simply, eyes flashing to everyone in the room. "And I don't expect to hear from any of you either. Just remember," he mutters as he reaches the door, "You are in danger. Both sides want you gone. You may not be their top priority right now. There is a lot going on out there. But eventually, someone will hunt each of you down."
Tavish leaves, both families standing in stunned silence until, "Well," tumbles out in an awkward breath from Dean, followed quickly by, "That's just great."