K Hanna Korossy
She'd meant it as a joke. Really.
Yeah, okay, maybe not.
Pamela really wasn't too thrilled to hear from the Winchester brothers, Dean's cheekbones and Sam's tush notwithstanding. Wasn't exactly like they'd brought her tons of luck so far. The blindness, admittedly, was mostly her fault, her and her stubbornness. But they couldn't leave it at that, manipulated her into helping an angel next, and that was rubbing salt in the wound. Dean hadn't said it, but Pamela kinda got the idea this time around was about discreetly helping his winged buddies, too.
Plus it'd turned out that being blind? Not that much fun. It had been good for the psychic business, but she'd never made her living off that, and it was kinda hard to be a designer when you couldn't see what you were designing. Not to mention that she hadn't gotten laid since Cas had paid his little visit, either, which didn't help her mood. Things were looking kinda bleak; she didn't need her eyes to see that.
So, sure, she'd liked the Winchester boys just fine, but now that they weren't easy on her eyes anymore, she could've done just fine without them, too. So the grumbling about the blind jokes, being sick of being dragged back into the angel-demon war, all that? Didn't quite come off as the playful jabs she'd imagined. Her natural optimism wasn't so natural anymore, and she couldn't seem to make the effort for these two.
Should've figured they'd be the death of her.
Okay, so she was the one who'd opened the window for some air, because sitting in a silent room with two empty shells—no matter how pretty and helpless they were—was kinda suffocating. And stupidly, she'd probably broken the protections she'd heard Sammy put up before they took their little astral walk. Her fault again, yeah, yeah, sing her another. Wasn't like she'd have ended up in a room with a homicidal demon if it hadn't been for the Winchesters. The knife to the gut was just the exclamation point at the end of an unpleasant little history together.
She really had meant it sarcastically when she'd cursed Bobby for having introduced them. But with her guts bleeding out over her fingers, funny how it came out kinda bitter.
Especially since the last thing she saw was him.
Not the candle flare that she'd been staring at when the world had gone black. Not Cas's face, which she hadn't even glimpsed before he'd burned her eyes out. Not the little sparks and flashes she still got off people with her other set of eyes. Him. Burning dark and sulfurous, more shadowy than the demon he was destroying. Grumpy Sammy with the dimples and the tight rear end and the I'm so sorry, you don't deserve this. He was what she was dying for, him and his little innocent act.
It was her final words, Pamela knew it. And it wasn't revenge, wasn't anger anymore, just…pain.
If you think you have good intentions, think again.
She hoped Sam would listen. That her death would have some kind of meaning.
She'd liked Dean from the first time she'd met him.
It wasn't forbidden, reaper and human interaction, or feelings for those you guided over. Empathy made the job easier, for both reaper and subject. It had almost convinced Dean to go with her the first time, before that creature of darkness had taken her and overturned the natural order.
But she still remembered Dean fondly. It was almost nice to see him again, the one that got away. Even if it also filled her with an emotion she wasn't used to: regret.
He would never know what he'd turned down before. The peace and happiness she'd offered him. The future his father and brother would have forged together. The evil that had haunted their family would never have been eradicated, but Sam wouldn't have died, Dean never would have faced Hell. The natural order was always the best way.
But Tessa was not one for misgivings. Timelines had shifted, futures rewritten. In pulling first one son, then, consequently, another from Heaven's grasp, their father had unwittingly sowed the seeds for a future war, and that was their destiny now. It was the new order, and she was content with it.
Something about Dean, though, still moved her in a way no human ever had.
Maybe it was his quiet "between you and me" confession about wishing he'd gone with her the first time, his sense of loss, his lostness. She was used to shared confidences and deep dark secrets, but he talked to her as if she were a friend, and that was new. Her indifferent reaction was more for his sake than hers; reapers did not have relationships, did not involve themselves with human cares. They took the long, long view, where human lives lasted mere seconds and all their worries and achievements turned to ash just as quickly. They were not friends.
However, reapers didn't usually have conversations with those they weren't taking, either. Which made Dean two for two. Tessa hadn't been lying when she'd said that didn't happen often to her.
Nor would she tell him that she'd been genuinely sorry when it had been Hell's hounds that had taken him away when it was finally his time, not her or her kind.
So if the rules were rewritten already, perhaps this wasn't such a…breach, either.
Look out for yourself, Dean….Trust your instincts….There's no such thing as miracles.
She didn't know the future. Only God knew where this road ended, and He was not as out of the picture as even the angels believed. But she knew what she'd seen, in Dean and his winged friends and Sam. She knew why he'd been brought back, and that perhaps the future he had once faced would have been kinder, but the one he was headed for now was very important. It was possible that yellow-eyed creature hadn't rewritten the future, but rather put it on the path it had always needed to be.
Maybe she cared more about what lay ahead of Dean than she should've.
Tessa left before he could answer her, before she could even see the reaction in his eyes.
It was better that way. It was right.
"Thought it might be worth checking out… All right, Sam, call me if you and your brother run into trouble. Again."
Castiel quietly shut the phone, which dissolved into nothing in his hand. He dropped Bobby Singer's persona along with it, his voice its usual quiet and sober tone as he addressed the figure that had appeared behind his back while he'd been conversing.
"Have you received revelation?"
"That's not where I was." Uriel was unusually subdued. "There's been a death."
Castiel gave a too-human sigh and turned to face his old friend. "There are always deaths."
Uriel's hands were fisted in his pockets, as they so often were when he took a human host. "This one was a murder. One of our own."
Castiel raised an eyebrow, another human trait he'd picked up, no doubt from Dean. "Not a casualty of war?"
"Sarai." Uriel opened his mind, sharing the scene with Castiel.
Castiel frowned. "Alastair is capturing reapers. Another seal is being threatened."
Uriel gave him a slightly mocking smile. "And you sent your pets to take care of it. But are they so beyond your control, Castiel, that you need to trick them into helping us?"
Castiel gave him a pointed look. "They are…stubborn."
"They're arrogant and rebellious."
"And we have not told them everything."
"They're humans," Uriel growled. "They cannot know everything."
"And we?" Castiel asked patiently. "Do you think we are being told…everything?"
Uriel's eyes were piercing. His host was just a shadow of the being Castiel knew as Uriel, but the dark eyes glimmered with all his old friend's intensity. "We know what we need to know." And with a flutter of wings, he was gone.
Castiel turned back, watching the Winchesters' action from afar. He wondered if Uriel was right. Wished he knew this was, indeed, his Father's plan.
He would go talk to Dean, after it was finished. Just in case.
As Dean's guardian angel, in a way it was even his…right.
The foiled murder of the two reapers was…a hitch in plans, admittedly. He'd fully expected success, and to be foiled by Dean Winchester, of all humans, was…irritating. But Alastair was not unpleased with the turn of events. On the contrary. Even as he'd kept up appearances by writhing and seething in the angels' hold, he smiled with satisfaction within.
After all, he'd seen the rage in young Samuel's face, and the fear in Dean's. It looked as though the plan was proceeding just fine.
But he'd have to play his part well, and so he continued to growl his threats and mockery, pushing the angels to drastic action and unwise choices.
After all that had been done to get this far, this had to be just right.
"Thank you," she said again, knowing she was repeating herself but unable to not say it. "God bless you. Goodbye." Eva hung up the phone, one hand resting on the receiver as she wiped at her tears with the other.
Jim had never even mentioned this guy Dean before, but it sounded like they'd known each other well. Of all the sympathy calls she'd gotten since Jim's sudden relapse and…and death the day before, the one doctors still couldn't explain, this out-of-the-blue one had been the most meaningful.
Dean had talked of second chances. Of how Jim had touched him and others in his extra week of life after his shooting, and all the good he'd done. Of how his delayed death had really had been a gift, not the curse it had first seemed to Eva, and…Dean had made sense. For the first time since she'd seen Jim lying on the floor, she could give a tentative thanks for the week in which they'd had to grow close again, instead of railing against his death just when things had been getting better.
But Jenna needed her now. Eva put away Dean's words to think about later and went to her daughter. Jim's friend would never know what a godsend he'd been, helping her focus on just being Jenna's mother.
Maybe she didn't know anything else anymore, but she knew that much was right.
Dean shut his phone and leaned back against the Impala's seat with an exhausted sigh.
"That the last one?" Sam asked quietly next to him, eyes on the road as he drove.
"Yeah," Dean said shortly, rubbing at his brow. Trying not to think about Pamela Barnes's shrouded body lying on the back seat. Even at the risk of some cop spotting her, they hadn't been able to make themselves put her in the trunk.
Sam nodded. It had been his idea to call all the belated victims of reapers in town, and to find the widow of the pediatrician Alastair had "borrowed" and never returned. Once upon a time, Sam would have been the one to make the calls, too, but funny how they seemed to have come to a silent agreement that Dean was the more empathetic one now. He wasn't sure how that had happened, but he knew he didn't like it. Being Sympathy Guy took a lot out of him, and Sam… Even when Dean had wished his brother weren't so sensitive, he'd never wanted Sam to be this tough.
Dean massaged his forehead again, tilting it with a wince against the too-cold glass of the window. He'd had to ignore the concussion from the graveyard to get the job done, but his stomach had never really settled since then nor his headache abated. Once upon a time, Sam would've been insisting he lie down and rest, gotten them a quiet room off the main road until Dean was up to driving. But now…
Two pills and a bottle of water appeared in his line of vision.
Dean's tight expression softened. Okay, maybe now his brother was still his brother, even if a harder, more closed-off, sadder version of himself. Dean murmured a thanks and threw the pills back, then a gulp of water.
He still hadn't called Bobby about Pamela, and the very thought drained his energy down to zero. At least the folks he'd called so far hadn't been people he'd known, not even Cole's mom, and their grief was distant. Bobby's pain would tear him apart.
"I'll do it," Sam said.
Dean blinked sideways at him. "Do what?"
"Call Bobby. You've done your part, man—get some sleep."
Dean twitched a smile at him. "You gonna tuck me in, too?"
Without a word or glance, Sam shrugged out of his jacket and held it out.
Dean swallowed. Had they really switched roles this completely?
Sam's eyes ticked sideways to him. "We did a good job, Dean. Pamela, that wasn't our fault."
"Feels like it," Dean breathed the words out long and slow. But he took the jacket and jammed it grudgingly between his head and the door.
"Yeah, well, she screwed up and it got her killed. This was about the seals, dude, the angel and demon war, not us. We didn't kill her."
He wished he could believe that. Dean settled into the cushion of his brother's jacket and let his eyes sink shut, his thoughts drift. He couldn't shake the responsibility so easily. Nor the guilt. It was hard to look at this one as a win.
And then there was Tessa's warning. He found himself trusting the reaper more than the angels; she had no agenda, which was more than Dean could say for the rest of the players on the board. But what did that mean? Were the angels wrong about Sam, or about Dean's role in things? Were they just manipulating him? Was there anyone left he could trust?
At least he and Sam had been in sync this time. Yeah, his brother was lying to him on a regular basis now, including, Dean was pretty sure, about Pamela's last words. And no matter what Sammy said, Pamela wouldn't be dead if they hadn't brought her into this. Couldn't expect a non-hunter to know better than to open a window and break a protection line, right? But Sam had backed Dean on every turn, fought Alastair at his side, nudged him toward the passenger seat when Dean was seeing double. Even if he was acting more like the older brother these days, Sam was still there with him, and that meant more than Dean could say.
Didn't matter what angels or demons or reapers said. Ultimately, this was between him and Sam, and Dean still trusted his brother, and had his brother's faith in turn.
Dean snored softly in the seat next to him, and Sam felt himself finally start to relax.
Part of that was knowing Dean was safe, yeah, because he'd hit that tombstone hard and had carried that little crease between his eyes ever since that said he was in pain. Maybe the resurrection had reset Dean's concussion-adled brain to good as new, but Sam wasn't anxious to test it.
But part of it was also that asleep, Dean wasn't watching him out of the corner of his eye anymore, trying to read things in him that Sam simply didn't want him to see. He could finally loosen the mask a little and stop trying to hide for a while.
Like how deep Pamela's final words had cut. If you think you have good intentions, think again. Seriously, what did she know? The woman was blind.
And a psychic. One who'd died protecting them.
But she didn't get it, any more than Dean and Bobby would have. It was the same reason Sam had lied about how things had gone down with Alastair in the graveyard: Dean would've freaked at knowing Sam had held his own against the demon, let alone the reason why. He was all for going to Hell if that was what it took to save Sam, but let Sam risk his soul for the sake of the world? Uh-uh, not his little brother.
Sam snorted. Hypocrite, he thought fondly.
Sam's intentions were good. Okay, yeah, so it felt kinda awesome having some control over his destiny again, being able to stop the friggin' Apocalypse. And he hated it more than he could say that Dean needed him to step up to the plate because his big brother had broken in Hell, a place he'd been thanks to Sam. But Winchesters did what needed to be done, no matter how much they hated or were hurt by it. Dean had taught him that.
Tessa's words had reminded Sam of those days in the hospital, Dean dying in front of him while Sam helplessly watched. He wondered how much Dean would end up remembering, if he'd know what Sam had wept into his ear, the fervent promises and admissions he'd made. Would he finally get now how much Sam loved him, and how much his family was willing to do for him? Or was he still the only one who could offer himself up for those he cared about? Sacrificial jerk.
Sam swiped an arm over his eyes, surprised to find it damp. Huh. He never cried anymore. He couldn't afford to.
Well, the hospital scene, losing more loved ones, it wasn't happening again. He wouldn't let it. Yeah, it sucked that Pamela was dead, but Sam would fuel his anger and determination with the loss instead of wasting tears on it. He wasn't going to lose Dean, too, not this time. No more deathbed confessions.
If—when—they got through this, he'd tell Dean everything, lay it all bare. And Dean would finally see Sam had been right, that it'd been worth the necessary evils he'd done, and would forgive him for the secrets and lies. They'd be good again then, wouldn't they, like old times?
"Right," Sam whispered into the darkness.