A/N: Set about two months after the end of "Fides Quaerens Intellectus."
On Whom His Favor Rests
"You're hot," said the muscle-bound blockhead who approached Lisa as she was on her way out of the gym shortly before Christmas.
"I'm also married," she shot back. And six months pregnant, you creep, she continued mentally, resting her left hand on her belly so that her ring showed.
"Ah, to the wrong man, baby," he replied, stepping into her personal space.
She backed away, turning to try to prevent his pursuit and keep heading toward the doors. "He's twice the man you are."
He laughed. "How would you know?"
A hand landed on her right shoulder from behind, startling her briefly, but to her relief, it was accompanied by Dean's voice, gruff with mingled concern and menace. "He botherin' you, sweetheart?"
"Yes, he is, honey," she informed him. Not that he wouldn't have been able to tell—that was probably why he'd come up behind her—but she needed to show Meathead that this was the aforementioned husband.
Meathead looked at Dean's hand and scoffed. "What kind of man wears his weddin' ring on his right hand?"
Dean put his stump on Lisa's left shoulder.
Meathead frowned. "What happened there?"
"I'm a Marine."
Meathead paled and fled.
Dean slid his arms forward and crossed them, embracing—and bracing—her as he gently kissed the back of her left ear.
She shivered and reached up to take his hand in her left. "Creep."
"You know his name?"
"Never seen him before."
"You got a key to this place, right?"
"Don't usually need it, but I have one."
"I'll see if Dad's up to checking the security footage tonight."
"Lis, especially if he's a sex offender, I don't want him around you. And there's things out there that eat babies," he added softly into her ear.
She shivered harder. "So did not need to know that."
Just then a security guard, an older man by the name of Frank, came running. "Mrs. Winchester! Are you all right?"
She pulled herself together and smiled. "Yes, thanks, Frank. I've been rescued." And she squeezed Dean's hand, which prompted him to tighten the hug briefly.
"I'm so sorry that happened. We'll see that you're not bothered again."
"I appreciate that. Thank you."
Frank nodded, and Dean pulled her away, moving up to her right side and keeping his left arm around her shoulders all the way out to the car.
"Still going to send your dad?" she asked as he started the engine.
He frowned as he considered the question. "Y'know, maybe not. That Frank dude was carrying a taser, and something tells me he was just about to use it on that loser."
She chuckled and let it drop.
Two days later, Jess brought over a load of supplies for Christmas dinner and asked, "Dean, have you been terrorizing people lately?"
Dean blinked and looked genuinely confused. "No. Thought about it, but haven't. Why?"
"Guy came into the clinic this afternoon. I'm not even sure why he was there; he looked perfectly healthy, if a little under .500 in the brains to brawn ratio."
Lisa snorted at the description, but she understood it—and why Jess would use it. With Sam and Dean, they really did get the best of both worlds.
"Anyway, he was starting to hit on me while my back was turned, but when I turned around and he saw my name tag, he froze in mid-word. Then he gasped 'Winchester?!' and babbled an apology, and then he literally ran screaming."
Dean and Lisa stared at each other. "You think—" Lisa began.
He nodded. "Could be."
Jess looked from one to the other, confused. "Could be what?"
"Some punk made a pass at Lisa at the gym a couple days ago. Backed off when I showed up, and the security guard said he'd take care of it."
Lisa shook her head. "But... even if Frank tased the guy, it wouldn't have traumatized him that badly, would it?"
"Hell if I know. Maybe Frank's a former Marine, too."
After a baffled pause, Jess said, "Well, Lisa, I'm glad Frank's there to look after you."
Lisa nodded slowly. "Me, too."
Anyone who'd been at the gym that evening would have seen Frank pause in the lobby, lean against a wall, unwrap a lollipop, and stick it in his mouth as he surveyed the scene. They probably would not have seen where the dark-haired man in the trenchcoat came from prior to his striding through the doors and up to Frank.
"Something wrong, little brother?"
"Was it necessary to show him quite so many of the timeline options?"
Frank snorted. "It worked, didn't it?"
"Not quite well enough," Castiel confessed quietly. "He didn't think twice about hitting on Jess before he saw her nametag."
"Hm. Well, if that didn't send him running to a monastery or a police station, I'll drop in on him again, give him a glimpse of Downstairs."
"G—" Castiel caught himself before he could say more.
'Frank' sighed and lowered his voice further. "Castiel, the man's a serial rapist. Some guys are just clueless about no meaning no, but this one never saw a woman he wouldn't force. So far he's terrorized all his victims into silence—the ones that lived, anyway—and he never stays in one place long enough to get caught. Lisa would have been next when either the steroids or the alcohol made him forget that even with one hand missing, Dean could make him die slowly and unpleasantly and then disappear without a trace, to say nothing of what John and Sam would do to him. And she would have lost the baby. Knowing that, what would you have done?"
Castiel looked at him for a moment, then left briefly and returned. "He is drinking and attempting to reason himself out of his fear."
'Frank' cursed under his breath and snapped his fingers. Time froze. Then he placed a hand on Castiel's shoulder and transferred the illusion to him, resuming his vessel's usual appearance as a man in his thirties with light brown hair and light hazel eyes. "This may take a while," he said, guiding Castiel to stand leaning against the wall as he had been. "My shift's over in about half an hour, though. Just make sure you clock out and leave through the back door."
"Are you certain you can sway him?"
"Hellooo, Trickster! All else fails, I'll make sure he turns up on some investigator's doorstep with a note on his shirt and a sprig of holly through his heart."
"Gabriel... why are you doing this?"
"What, the Loki schtick?"
Castiel straightened and stepped toward him. "No. You know what I mean."
Gabriel looked down and scuffed at the floor a little with his shoe. Then he sighed. "Dean died a couple times before they evacuated him."
"Well, what you didn't know was that I felt the shockwaves clear in Ohio. The rest of the Host probably did, too. I couldn't think why until I sensed the timeline changing, and then I got a good hard look at the end of the old one before it disappeared."
Castiel waited for Gabriel to say more. When he didn't, Castiel said, "You can't hide yourself from them forever, brother."
Gabriel scoffed and looked up. "Why not?"
"You couldn't from me. And I think Sam suspects."
Gabriel sighed again. "I know, I know. I just... don't think they're ready yet."
"The time will come, okay? Just... let me figure it out."
Castiel sighed, knowing the discussion was over whether he wanted it to be or not. "All right."
Gabriel snapped his fingers, and Castiel found himself leaning against the wall once more as time resumed. But Gabriel himself was gone.