Previously: Tabitha finally shook herself from her stupor, looking down at the shotgun she held loosely in her hands as Ruby came to stand beside her and her brothers on the demon's other side. "It's not demons, guys. It's Castiel," she whispered.
Chapter 12: …Don't I?
The other three turned to stare at her, but then the door flew open with a bang, tearing their attention away from Tabitha as Castiel purposefully strode through the open doorway, Uriel following closely behind.
Tabitha stared as Castiel continued to avoid her eyes, steadfastly locking his gaze on Dean as her brothers and Ruby gapped in surprise at the angels.
Knowing exactly what they were, Ruby gasped fearfully as her eyes flashed for a moment to black.
"Please tell me you're here to help," Dean tiredly asked. "We've been having demon issues all day."
"Well, I can see that," Uriel dryly observed with a nod towards Ruby. "You want to explain why you have that stain in the room?"
The Winchesters glanced at the demon between the three of them at Uriel's disdainful tone.
"We're here for Anna," Castiel explained before any of the Winchesters could answer Uriel.
Tabitha's brow furrowed as she stared at Castiel. Although his features were schooled into his normal impassive mask, she had grown so used to his subtle expressions and all his nuances in the time he had spent with her. And though he was more guarded now than he was when it was just her, she still saw regret and grief in those expressive eyes. But why? danced in her head.
"Here for her like…here for her?" Dean cautiously asked.
"Stop talking," Uriel snapped in annoyance. "Give her to us."
"Are you going to help her?" Sam demanded.
But Tabitha saw the answer written in Castiel's eyes before he even spoke. And she knew now why he was here. What he regretted.
"No," she answered in a whisper so low her brothers didn't hear her.
But the angel did, and Castiel's eyes finally locked on hers as he flatly repeated the answer she'd instinctively known, "No. She has to die."
For the span of several heartbeats, he didn't say anything else, and his eyes didn't move, as though trying to make her understand by sheer force of will what he was doing and why.
"You want Anna? Why?" Sam demanded.
Uriel huffed and took a step closer to their group, saying, "Out of the way."
"Whoa, whoa, whoa," Dean fired back. "I know she's wiretapping your angel chats or whatever, but it's no reason to gank her."
Still holding Castiel's gaze, Tabitha quietly asked, "You'd kill that girl just because of something she can't help? Because she can hear angels?"
"Don't worry," Uriel interjected before Castiel could speak. "I'll kill her gentle."
"You're some heartless sons of bitches, you know that?" Dean threw back.
Eyes purposefully boring into hers, Castiel seemed to be speaking directly to her as he replied to Dean's words, "As a matter of fact, we are." His eyes turned momentarily on the ground before coming up to meet Dean's again. "And?" he indifferently asked.
"And Anna's an innocent girl," Sam incredulously replied.
"She is far from innocent," Castiel answered him.
The word flitted through Tabitha's mind so quickly and so softly, she thought she might have imagined it.
"What's that supposed to mean?" she asked out loud, still wondering if she had really heard Castiel whisper that word in his true voice.
Uriel misunderstood her words and piped up to answer her question as Castiel once again avoided Tabitha's gaze. "It means she's worse than this abomination your brother's been screwing. Now give us the girl."
At the demand, Castiel looked down once more to stare at the ground, pain returning to his eyes. And Tabitha was certain that despite what he said, Castiel certainly felt conflicted. He wasn't as heartless as he would have them believe. Because what she knew he felt, certainly didn't match his current outward demeanor. Question was, which would he act in accordance to, his words, or his feelings?
"Sorry," Dean sarcastically replied after sharing a look of silent agreement with his siblings. "Get yourself another one. Try JDate."
"Who's gonna stop us? You three? Or this demon whore?" Uriel snidely asked, and suddenly, he reached out to grab Ruby by the arm, spinning her around as he threw her against the wall in the blink of an eye.
Grabbing Ruby by the throat, he shoved her against the wall, his hand opening wide and a light beginning to emit as he moved his palm closer to the demon's face in the same movement Tabitha had witnessed when Castiel had taken out her possessed friend Cheryl.
The closest one to Ruby, Tabitha moved on instinct, palming her Glock as she jerked Uriel's shoulder towards her with her free hand and then backhanded Uriel across the temple with the pistol in her other hand. Such a blow would have dropped a normal human, but the angel easily held his feet, dropping Ruby as Dean tried to help by attempting to stab him from behind. But Uriel grabbed Dean's arm and twisted until her brother fell to his knees, the angel landing three quick punches to her brother's face, and then shoving him away as Uriel turned back towards Tabitha.
Holding her pistol in her right hand and her other in a loose fist, Tabitha waited for him to advance, managing to punch the angel in the jaw once with a left hook when Uriel grabbed her right hand and shook the pistol from her grasp.
Sweeping his leg out, Uriel knocked Tabitha to her knees before she could react, pressing his fingers to her forehead as he sneered down at her upturned face.
"What?" he mumbled, suddenly pulling his fingers back from her forehead with a startled expression.
Using his apparent confusion, Tabitha pulled her feet under her body and drove the top of her head up into the angel's chin and face, delighting in the angry grunt he made before he grabbed her shoulder and threw her across the room.
Tabitha's shoulder and arm exploded in pain as she landed in a painful heap, barely registering the flash of light and shot of power swelling in the room before the cabin became strangely silent.
She would have preferred to lie on the floor wallowing in pain, but Tabitha rolled to her knees as she looked around the room. Not seeing the angels and fearing for Anna, she lurched to her feet and threw open the door to the room Uriel had just thrown her against.
As she ripped it open with her left hand, she was treated to the sight of a bloody and shaky Anna leaned over a rickety, old wooden vanity. Strange symbols were drawn above it on the mirror in Anna's blood.
Emergency training kicking in, Tabitha ignored the throbbing pain in her right shoulder and the strange sight, pushing Anna back towards the bed as she clamped her hands over the long cut running along the girl's arm.
Her shaky brothers stepped into the room behind her and Tabitha went into command mode. "Get me something for bandaging," she ordered them.
Dean immediately pulled his coat off and then his button up shirt, leaving him in just a gray t-shirt as he expertly tore the button up shirt into strips of fabric. He didn't look much better than Anna felt, his face was bloody and already swollen from Uriel's fists, but at least he wasn't actively bleeding.
"Are they gone?" Anna shakily asked as Tabitha began wrapping the strips around her cut while applying pressure to the wound.
Tabitha's hands never paused in her work, but she glanced up at Anna as she steeled herself and asked, "Yeah, they are. Did you kill them?"
"No," she whispered. "I sent them away…far away."
Although unable to articulate why—given the current circumstances anyway—Tabitha found herself relieved to know that at least one of the two angels wasn't dead.
"You want to tell me how?" Dean demanded as Tabitha finished tying the bandaging tightly around Anna's arm and inspecting her work.
The girl glanced up at the bloody mirror, everyone following her gaze. "That just popped in my head. I don't know how I did it. I just did it."
Dean exchanged a look with Tabitha before leading Sam out of the little bedroom to talk. Still in command mode, Tabitha tugged Anna to her feet and led her to the tiny bathroom, telling her to clean the rest of the blood off herself as best she could, and grabbing a dingy towel from the rack to wipe as much blood off herself as she could as well.
When she entered the main part of the cabin again, Sam and Dean were discussing the best course of action to take with Anna while Ruby silently stood by and listened.
Joining the demon, Tabitha listened to her brothers' hushed voices as they decided they needed to get Anna somewhere safe as well as dig up more about the girl they were helping. The insistence of the angels that Anna wasn't innocent unnerved them all.
"Thank you," Ruby whispered to Tabitha.
Tabitha jerked in surprise as she turned to the demon.
"You didn't have to try and take on that angel for me, but you did," she continued, staring down at the uneven floorboards of the cabin.
"No," Tabitha agreed. "But you didn't have to save Sam either, did you? But you did. So I guess that makes us even. And that's more than enough demon-chick-flick-moments for me. Let's make it the last."
She stepped away from the demon and beside her brothers before the moment got any more awkward than it already was.
"You're gonna take Anna to Bobby's?" she asked Dean.
"Yeah," he nodded, turning away from their younger brother. "And Sam's gonna dig up info here on our girl while we make tracks for South Dakota. Anna'll be safer there than anywhere else I can think of."
"You hope," she pointed out.
"Yeah. I hope," he admitted with a sigh. "I don't have any better ideas unless you do, Tabitha," he pointedly continued.
"No. No, not really. But I'll stay here with Sam to help him dig up info if there's any to find. It'll be quicker if I stay to help him," she told her brother.
For once, Dean didn't immediately argue, though it looked like he wanted to. "Fine," he tightly replied. He glanced over at Ruby. "Does that mean you're coming with me then?"
She shrugged. "Sure. Why not? I'll help you protect the girl until we get there and can get her safe."
Sam nodded in agreement as well and said, "Fine. You guys take the car we brought here, and Tabitha and I will hike back down the road until we find another car to take back into town and can get the Impala."
The younger siblings turned to leave the cabin, but paused when Dean tossed his keys through the air and called out, "Be careful."
Glancing over her shoulder as she snagged the keys were her left hand, Tabitha gave a small smile. "We'll be fine. Don't worry about us. Just look after Anna."
Dean scowled slightly. "I meant be careful with my baby. Make sure none of those damn demons are still watching the motel where we left her, and if either one of you damages her, there'll be hell to pay."
Tabitha threw a single finger wave over her shoulder at Dean as they left.
Two hours later, Sam and Tabitha had carefully circled the motel and determined that no demons were watching the still parked car. As they made their way to the Impala, Sam paused by the hood, asking, "Did you want to drive?"
Tabitha went immediately to the trunk instead, opening the lid and then tossing the keys to her younger brother as she dug through one of her bags with one hand, her right arm tucked carefully against her stomach to alleviate the pain in her shoulder. Finding one of the instant cold packs she'd been looking for, she shut the trunk and told her brother, "No. I could go for just sitting back and relaxing for a bit. My shoulder's killing me."
As they climbed into the car, Tabitha immediately began peeling out of her jacket and shirt, causing Sam to uncomfortably look away.
"Whoa. What're you doing?" he asked as his hands nervously tapped on the steering wheel and looking out the side window.
With a pained chuckle, Tabitha pointed out to her brother, "There's nothing to act so prudish about. I've still got a tank top on. I just wanted to take a look at my shoulder and put this cold pack on it."
Turning in his seat, Sam leaned closer and motioned for her to let him look. He hissed through his teeth at the sight when she swiveled around so he could inspect the damage. Her shoulder was already mottling deeply in shades of red, purple, and black. The patchwork of color spanned from the front of her shoulder, all the way to encompass her shoulder blade and back, the whole joint swelling painfully as well. Even her left knuckle was skinned and swollen from punching Uriel. Not that it had done much of any good. The angle had a face like granite.
"Damn. What the hell happened?"
She glanced at him curiously, realizing for the first time that he was pretty untouched looking, while Uriel had wailed pretty good on both Dean and Tabitha. When she voiced as much to Sam and explained what happened to her, he apologetically shook his head.
"Jesus," he swore. "Dean's right, those angels really are dicks. I didn't see much of what happened. Castiel stepped towards me and touched my forehead, and I just dropped and blacked out. When I suddenly came to, they were gone and Dean looked like he'd lost a prize fight and was peeling himself off the ground to go after you and Anna in the other room."
Tabitha's memory flashed back to Uriel touching his fingertips to her own forehead, and his startled expression when nothing happened. She'd seen Castiel do what Sam described to Bobby the first night she and Dean had met him, and she suddenly was certain that Uriel had been trying to do the same to her. Only question was, why didn't it work?
Shaking the thought from her head for the moment, Tabitha gingerly placed the cold pack against her shoulder and leaned back against the passenger seat, closing her eyes for a few moments.
But Sam broke her reverie. "What now?" he asked her. "We need to find more on Anna, so where do we look? I could try to get on the computer and see what I can dig up, but I already looked once, and I'm not sure how long it would take me to dig up more. If there even is any more to find."
Sighing, Tabitha answered without opening her eyes, "Head back to her parent's house. We'll start there. And I'll make a call to see what I can dig up in the interim."
She dug into her hip pocket looking for her phone, and cursed to herself when she remembered that it was lying in pieces thanks to a certain demon.
"Give me your phone, Sam. Forgot mine's busted," she told him, finally opening her eyes as she turned towards him.
"Sure," he answered, handing it over and putting the Impala in drive.
She dialed the number from memory as her brother questioned her while he began driving.
"Who you calling? I mean, you can't use your old FBI resources anymore."
"You think those were the only ones I had?" she laughed.
The call suddenly connected.
"Who is this and how the fuck did you get this number?" a harsh voice demanded.
"Relax, kid," she laughed. "Don't have an aneurism. What's got you so wound up?"
There was silence for the space of almost a minute as Tabitha pulled the phone away from her ear to see if the call had dropped. It hadn't. "Kid?" she tried again.
"Who the fuck is this and how'd you get this number?" he demanded again, his voice dropping low and threateningly.
"Jesus, Shawn, it's me, Tabitha Winchester. Since when the hell did your phone manners go to shit?"
"Tabitha Winchester is dead!" he hissed in return. "Who are you?!"
"It's me, Shawn, Tabitha," she insisted, wondering how he'd heard about her "death." But then again, while it hadn't been national news due to the FBI keeping a tight lid on things, she was pretty sure how Shawn had found out. He was very good at what he did after all. She carefully continued, "It's really me, Shawn. And I'm dead kinda like you're officially dead. But we're both still here, aren't we?"
She could hear the soft sniffle he tried to hide, and instantly felt bad for not calling the kid sooner, she just hadn't thought he'd find out about her "death" and hadn't wanted to involve him in her troubles any more than she had to.
"How do I know it's really you?" he cautiously asked.
Thinking quickly, she told him, "Hey, it's exactly one month to the day from when I promised to take you out for your first legal beer. And I'll do what I can to keep my promise, kid. Now who else would know the date of your real birthday or know that I promised to take you for your first legal drink?"
"Tabitha," he quietly exhaled in obvious relief. "I thought you were dead. They said you were, and I hacked into the FBI files when my system flagged your name, but there was a mountain of evidence saying you were dead. Body, DNA, dental records, the whole nine yards. And then I couldn't get a hold of you… What the hell happened?"
Tabitha sighed wearily. "I'm sorry, kid. If I'd realized you would find out, I'd of called you sooner. I didn't realize you had your little electronic eyes on me."
Shawn caught the tone of her voice and apologized. "Sorry 'bout that. I was just trying to keep an eye on you in case you got into trouble or something and needed help. I owe you so much. But by the time my system flagged your name for the arrest warrant the FBI issued for you and I got it, well…by then you were listed as dead." He paused for a moment and then lowly asked, "Did you really kill those FBI agents?"
"It's a long story, kid, and one you're better not involved in. Safer for you this way," she replied, pointedly not answering the question.
"So, why'd you call then? If you're not with the FBI anymore, what are you doing that you need my help? I mean, I take it that's why you're finally calling me."
He sounded slightly put off by that so she hastened to remind him, "Well, yeah, I do need some help, but I've been meaning to call you and remind you about me taking you out for your birthday on the 14th. I figured busy guy like you might have forgotten about me." She said it lightly, trying to tease the kid, and she could almost hear him smile in return.
"I wouldn't forget," he answered. "So, what'd you need?"
"I'm still working on some investigations on the side and need you to do your computer magic and find everything you can for me on one Anna Milton of Defiance, Ohio. In particular, find out if she's done anything wrong or illegal. But find me everything you can. She's got a missing-persons report on her for escaping a mental institution."
"No problem," he confidently answered her. "What are her parents' names or DOB so I'm sure I've got the right one?"
"Her parents are Richard and Amy Milton," she explained as she listened to the keyboard clacks on the other end of the line. "Just look up her info from the missing-persons report. It'll have everything you need."
"All right, I'll look into her and get back to you." He paused before slowly asking, "So, is this kinda like the other stuff I've looked into that's gonna be strange stuff and where you tell me to forget about it as soon as I'm done and not ask any questions?"
"Yeah," Tabitha sighed. "It's exactly like that. Thanks, kid."
"Call you back at this number?" Shawn asked as he continued typing away.
"Yeah," Tabitha confirmed. "My phone got damaged earlier this evening so I have to get a new number, but I'll get that one to you when I get a new phone so you can still get in touch with me. I'm sorry I didn't call you sooner or get my new number to you, Shawn."
The kid sighed almost happily. "I'm just glad to hear that you're still alive. I'll be in touch."
Tabitha tucked the phone in her hip pocket telling her younger brother, "I'll give this back to you after he calls me back."
"Sure. But who was that?" he asked as he pulled into the driveway of the Milton residence again. The place still looked quiet, no crime scene tape since they'd been there that afternoon. Tabitha glanced at her watch and realized it was now early morning and the sun was soon to come up, correcting herself that now it was the day before that they'd been there.
She pulled her shirt and jacket back on, following her brother up the walk to the house. As they reached the door, Tabitha grabbed some vinyl gloves from her pocket and handed them to her brother, pulling a pair on herself. They were careful of what they had touched the last time they'd been here, but since they needed to search the place, it was best to use gloves to keep their fingerprints from showing up at a murder scene—given they were both supposedly dead.
"You all right?" he asked, gesturing to her shoulder as they walked through the still open front door.
"I'll live. Shoulder's just badly bruised. Maybe sprained. Mostly just sore as hell," she explained as she made her way through the house to where she remembered seeing a small home office before.
Sam followed her and leaned against the doorway as his sister sat at the desk and began pulling out drawers of the filing cabinet.
"You never answered me. Who were you talking to?" Sam repeated.
"Uh? Oh yeah. Kid I knew as an agent. Brilliant kid. One of those complete computer geniuses that gets bored in school and gets themselves into trouble doing something they shouldn't," she absently replied as she pulled some folders out and thumbed through the papers. Looking up, she elaborated. "Shawn was smart, but popular and rebellious as well. His dad was a local cop in a little town in northern Illinois, so I think that's where the streak of rebellion came from. But anyway, Shawn was 17, got bored, and decided to hack into some accounts of a mob family in Chicago."
She saw her brother's surprised look and nodded. "I know, right? Not exactly the smartest thing in the world. But he was a kid and thought he couldn't get caught. He gave a bunch of the money to some charities and moved some into accounts he'd made for himself. Well, he never stopped to think that even mobs are smart enough to hire genius hackers to find or protect their money. So they managed to track the transactions or the electronic signatures or something—it's beyond my scope—and tracked him to his dad's place.
"Well, long story short, this particular Chicago family sent some of their men to his house and Shawn's father got killed in the resulting fiasco, and Shawn went underground into hiding. My unit was sent in to investigate—one of my first cases with the Violent Crimes Unit—but we were sent because they'd beaten the holy shit out of Shawn's father before they killed him, so the authorities were thinking it was some kind of torture. It being mob related never even entered their minds since the family had no mob connections and Shawn's father had been a well respected cop."
Tabitha waved her hand in a dismissing motion. "Well, to make the story shorter, I found the kid and with his help, made it look like he'd been killed along with his father so he'd be out of the mob's crosshairs, 'cause I knew they'd never let him go. He moves around some and lives under a few different aliases now, and does some sideline hacking and computer work for money. And over the years, I've asked Shawn to help me look into things when I needed more information for some hunter or another and couldn't overuse my FBI resources. And the kid always comes through for me."
"If he was such a computer genius, how'd you manage to find him before both the FBI and the mob?" Sam asked, and then quickly tacked on, "No offense, Tab. But you were new to the Feds then, right? You were only 23 yourself."
Tabitha leaned back in the desk chair, smiling up at her brother as she answered, "Sam, we've lived our whole lives bouncing around from place to place, basically living underground and off the map and with new aliases all the time. You think I couldn't find a 17-year-old kid that had never used an assumed name before and hadn't ever lived out of his father's house—even without my FBI training? I mean, yeah, the kid was a genius, but I had a bit more knowledge and experience on him in that particular field. I knew where to look around the area, what kinds of motels he'd have to pick, and what kinds of questions to ask people to track and find him. Nervous kid who doesn't have confidence in his assumed identity really isn't that hard to find."
"So you helped him disappear?"
"Well, yeah. I worked violent crimes, not mob crimes, but I knew enough about what mob hits and grudges are like. I didn't think the kid deserved it. So I helped him out, taught him how to live with new aliases all the time, and how to cover his tracks in the real world and not just the electronic world. It was a good investment of time. The kid's been really useful with helping cover the tracks of all you hunters. He even taught me how to end-around some of the FBI electronic safety protocols myself. He was well worth the time and effort."
Sam grinned at her as he pushed away from the doorway. "You may try to couch it as the kid being useful and that's why you helped him, but you had a soft spot for the kid, didn't you? Tough as you try to act, you're really a softy at heart."
Tabitha scowled and threw a pencil at her younger brother's retreating back. "Don't you go around spewing such lies! I've got a reputation to maintain!"
It was an hour later that Shawn finally called Tabitha back. And by then, Tabitha and Sam were getting desperate. They'd swept the house well but hadn't found anything useful. At least nothing that screamed, "Hey! I'm a bloody axe murderer in my spare time!"
Tabitha had even managed to find Anna's high school diary, but there was nothing revealing within its flowery pages. She still seemed like just a normal girl.
"What did you find?" Tabitha asked without preamble.
"Well, hello to you, too," Shawn cheekily fired back. "I've dug through your girl's life. Not much exciting until the girl got stuck in the cuckoo's nest a while back. Until then, she was just your average, good-girl. School records don't have a bad word to say about her. I even dug into her folks, but they were just your boring, church-going, hallelujah, god-fearing kinda people. Absolutely no dirt to them, Tabitha. I even read some of this girl's articles for her college paper. She's kinda naïve in her view of the world, but not too bad of a writer. She just seemed perfectly normal until this last time when she had to go back to a psychologist."
"Wait a minute. What do you mean, 'back to a psychologist?' She's been to one before?"
As Tabitha waited for Shawn's answer, she snapped her fingers to get Sam's attention and motioned him closer.
"Well, from what I found, she saw a kiddy shrink when she was pretty little. And then got over whatever her problem was and was a normal kid. Until now anyway."
"What was she seeing a shrink for as a kid?"
"Dunno. Those records are old enough that they're not digital. You'll have to go old-school and look them up yourself. I'll text you the address."
Tabitha grinned as she got off the phone and handed it back to her brother. "We may have finally found something useful. But it'll take a little B & E to get, so we should get going before people start waking up to get ready for work."
"Let's go," Sam readily agreed.
Bobby's house seemed empty as Sam and Tabitha walked through his front door.
"Well, Bobby's gone anyway," Tabitha observed. "His Chavelle isn't outside."
"Yeah," Sam agreed as they looked around the main floor, "but where are the others?"
"Probably in the panic room in the basement," Tabitha guessed with a shrug.
"Hey, Dean!" Sam called out at the top of the steps.
They heard footsteps below them, followed by Dean bounding up the steps to greet them.
"How's the car?" Dean asked as he walked by them and into the kitchen.
Tabitha rolled her eyes, but Sam answered as though it was a completely serious question—which, unfortunately when dealing with Dean, it was.
"I got her. She's fine," Sam quickly replied. "Where's Bobby?" he continued.
"Uh, the Dominican," Dean slowly answered. "He said we break anything, we buy it."
Tabitha trailed through the kitchen behind her brothers. "The Dominican?" she questioned with a laugh. "Please tell me he's working a job."
"God, I hope so," Dean shuddered. "Otherwise he's at Hedonism in a banana hammock and a trucker cap."
"Now that's seared in my brain," Sam grimaced.
Tabitha likewise shook her head and agreed, "Yeah, that image is never coming out. Thanks, Dean."
But the eldest Winchester ignored his siblings, asking, "What did you find on Anna?"
"Uh, not much," Sam began. "Her parents were Rich and Amy Milton—a church deacon and a housewife."
"Riveting," Dean said, throwing several glances back over his shoulder. "But we already knew that."
"Yeah," Sam agreed, "But Tabitha's guy managed to dig up something we didn't know before."
"Whoa, whoa, whoa," Dean immediately backpedaled, turning to face his sister. "'Tabitha's guy?' You got a guy I don't know about? Since when? And just who the hell is he?"
She laughed in response, moving into the living room closer to her brother as she told him, "He didn't mean it like that. It's a kid I knew as an agent. Does fantastic things with a computer and does some work for me from time to time. I had him do some hacking and look into Anna's information deeper, and he found that she had been seeing a kiddy shrink when she was pretty little."
"Really? What did he find there?" Dean asked.
"Well, he couldn't find much electronically," Sam answered, opening the folder he'd been carrying and holding it out to Dean. "But he sent us in the right direction to find the files for the shrink she'd been seeing then. When she was two and a half, she'd get hysterical any time her dad got close. She was convinced that he wasn't her real daddy."
"Who was?" Dean asked them as he stood up straight. "The plumber, hmm? A little snaking the pipes?" he laughed with a wicked grin.
"Dude, you're confusing reality with porn again," Sam laughed.
"Wow," Tabitha added. "You're really getting way too comfortable with me, Dean. I'm your sister, I really don't want to know about what kind of porn you've been watching. It's bad enough when you try to get me to buy your 'Busty Asian Beauties' magazines. You really need to find that line for appropriate/inappropriate brother-sister interactions."
"What?" he defended. "I'm a guy, and we have needs. It's totally natural."
"Wow," she repeated with a slight laugh.
"Look, Anna didn't say," Sam continued, steering them back on topic. "She just kept repeating that this real father of hers was mad. Very mad—like wanted-to-kill-her mad."
"Kind of heavy for a 2-year-old," Dean agreed.
"Well, she saw a kid's shrink, got better, and grew up normal," Sam continued to explain.
"Until now. So, what's she hiding?" Dean asked.
"Why don't you just ask me to my face?" Anna suddenly demanded from behind them.
The Winchesters turned together to see Ann standing in the doorway to the room with her arms crossed, Ruby casually standing just behind her.
"Nice job watching her," Dean told Ruby.
The demon half-heartedly gestured at the irate girl. "I'm watching her."
"No, you're right, Anna," Sam told the girl. "Is there anything you want to tell us?"
"The angels said you were guilty of something. Why would they say that?"
Tears were beginning to gather in the girl's eyes as she angrily told them, "You tell me. Tell me why my life has been leveled… Why my parents are dead. I don't know. I swear. I would give anything to know."
"Okay," Sam quietly agreed. "Then let's find out."
"How?" Anna fearfully whispered.
The brothers looked at each other, each hoping the other had some sort of idea.
Leaning casually against the wall, Tabitha piped up, "How 'bout a psychic? We do happen to know one, guys."
Dean nodded with an appreciative smile. "Give her a call and tell her I'm on my way to pick her up, Tab. That way I can check out my baby and make sure she's okay while I'm out."
Reaching into her hip pocket, Tabitha fished out her new phone as she laughed, "You have, like, serious separation anxiety when it comes to that car, don't you?"
Hours later, Tabitha had gotten bored with sitting in Bobby's house waiting for her older brother to return. Ruby and Sam kept stepping away to talk to each other in hushed voices—something Tabitha was trying very hard not to think about—and Anna was an endless barrage of questions about what it was like hunting, what she'd seen, what she'd done, and the endless questions and worries about the quandary that was currently her life.
Tabitha understood Anna's questions and worries, but she was getting to the point where she didn't know how many more ways she could tell the poor girl that she just didn't know what was going on or what she should do. She just wanted a few minutes of peace.
As she walked through Bobby's salvage yard and its rows of rusty cars and parts, she suddenly realized that in her haste to get outside for some fresh air and quiet, she'd left the hex bag that Ruby had given her on the coffee table in Bobby's living room. She wasn't sure how much she trusted that what the demon had made could hide them from both demons and angels like Ruby said, but at least they hadn't been found yet. Still, though she felt more and more conflicted about it, she did worry about her friend Castiel, and whether or not he was all right.
She froze at the sound of Castiel's voice, and then whipped around to look for where it was coming from.
Tabitha! Can you hear me?
"Yes," she cautiously answered, still looking around for the angel. "I can hear you. But where the hell are you?"
Tabitha! I cannot seem to reach you, and I cannot hear you. You are hidden from me, but I must speak with you.
"What the hell?" Tabitha whispered to herself, pausing to lean back against a rusty, 40s GMC pickup in one of Bobby's many rows. She had finally realized that she was hearing the angel's true voice in her mind, not out loud. But she couldn't fathom why she could hear the angel's voice in her mind, and he couldn't seem to hear her or why she was even hidden from him.
Something is hiding you from me. But I must speak with you.
His "voice" had taken on a slight edge of panic as he tried to reach her, and though Tabitha was sure she should ignore the angel given their desire to kill Anna, instead, Tabitha crossed her arms over her chest and concentrated, trying to visualize the wavelength the angel's voice had come across in her mind.
"Cas? Can you hear me?" she cautiously asked.
There was a moment of silence before the angel finally answered.
Yes. I can hear you. Why are you hidden? You seem to almost be concealed behind a wall.
She shrugged her shoulders in response, but wasn't sure if the angel would be able to see or sense that. "I don't know," she told him. "I could hear you fine just now. I don't know why I'm having to concentrate so hard to make you hear me."
The angel paused again before answering. I have been trying to reach you for nearly a day now. It's only with a great deal of concentration that I'm able to find this force or shield that hides you. What have you done?
"I haven't done anything, Cas," she huffed to him, annoyed that after trying to reach him for days, the angel was now giving her grief about not responding the second he'd decided to try finally getting a hold of her. "Look, talking to you this way is starting to give me a headache, so why don't you tell me why you've been trying to get a hold of me."
After a beat, the angel told her, Do you still have the girl?
"Anna? What business is it of yours? I'm not telling either of you assholes a thing. You want to kill that poor girl because she can hear angels. And here I am. Talking to you and hearing you just fine, too. So, what? Am I next? Will I be the next one you and Uriel line up to take out just because of something I have no control over? Sorry, but I'm not going down without a fight, buddy, and I'm not letting you kill that girl," she angrily huffed, her hand absently twirling her charm bracelet on her arm in her agitation.
Tabitha could almost swear she heard or felt the angel sigh. Things are more complicated with Anna than you realize. She isn't as you are. You hear an angel's voice when the angel speaks to you, or as I've noticed, when they speak nearby you. But you don't hear all angels no matter where they are. You are a human that can perceive our true voices and visages. No mortal other than Anna can do what she can.
"I don't care," Tabitha angrily cut him off. "She still didn't ask for this. It's not fair. You can't kill her just because she can hear angels all the time. It's not her fault. I mean, you kill her now, and who's to say that somewhere down the road you angels won't decide that anyone who can ever hear an angel has to die? Does that mean I go from being protected by angels for whatever reason to being hunted by them just like you're hunting Anna?"
I haven't told any other that you can hear an angel's true voice, he almost quietly admitted. You will not be hunted. But this isn't the reason Anna is being hunted. We must follow our orders.
"Then why is she being hunted?" Tabitha demanded.
I cannot tell you.
"Then why are you even getting a hold of me? What the hell do you want?"
For you to leave Anna to us. Don't stand in our way when we come for her, he quietly warned, and Tabitha could almost convince herself that there was an underscore of pleading in his voice.
She sighed as she pushed away from the rusty pickup, her eyes still closed in concentration as she resolutely told the angel, "I'm sorry, Cas. I still consider you a friend, even if you've decided otherwise after what happened. But you can't just ignore my calls and then pop into my mind and expect me to just jump when you say. I don't work that way, Cas. If you're coming after Anna, so be it, but I'll be standing beside my brothers in your way."
A hand suddenly gripped her shoulder, shaking her and saying, "Tabitha? What the hell is going on?"
What do you mean— Castiel's voice started to ask, but the question faded away as Tabitha's eyes popped open, Dean filling her vision as he shook her by the shoulder, his expression dark.
Tabitha bit off a hiss as he shook her still sore right shoulder, and his expression softened and became questioning as he pulled his hand away from the shoulder she shied away with.
"Shoulder's still sore from where I landed when Uriel tried to give me wings," she said through clenched teeth. Truth was that it was more than sore; it was black and blue, and hurt like holy hell. But Dean's own body bore the marks of Uriel's brunt as well, so there was no point in whining about a bit of pain to him.
"Alright then, but who the hell were you just talking to?" he demanded, his face darkening to match his low growl as he tried to tower over her.
He only had at most an inch on her in height, but Dean had always known how to use every speck of that inch when he wanted to bully or threaten her into behaving and towing the line he tried to lay out for her. And while she didn't cringe away from it like she used to, there was still a part of her that would always be the little girl wanting to please her big brother.
"What's going on, Tabitha?" he demanded again.
She wasn't truly intimidated by him, but still, she couldn't resist the juvenile attempt, "Well…just how much did you hear?"
He stepped closer, lowering his face closer to hers, saying in his best big-brother reproachful manner, "Tabitha."
"All right," she sighed, knowing she couldn't outright lie to her brother. If there was one thing Dean wouldn't tolerate from her—and she wouldn't much tolerate either—it was bald-face lying. They were both world-class avoiders and first-class at omitting things, but not liars.
"You could hardly blame me for trying," she huffed under her breath as she stepped slightly away from Dean, turning to face the rusty pickup and kicking her toe at the old metal rims, the rubber so badly deteriorated and weather-stripped that the tire hardly existed between the rusty metal rims and the dirt of Bobby's lot.
"An explanation better be coming real fast, Tabitha. What the hell were you doing? And why the hell did I find this sitting inside Bobby's house?" he told her in an angry rush, holding up her forgotten hex bag and roughly tossing it at her.
She caught it one handed, turning around to lean her back once more against the pickup as she stared at the little leather bundle Ruby had made.
"I was talking to Castiel," she finally whispered, her eyes not lifting to meet her brother's.
"Excuse me?" he incredulously huffed. "You left your hex bag in the house to come out here and talk to the angel that's trying to kill the girl we're protecting." As he spoke, Tabitha could hear him pacing back and forth, but suddenly his movement stopped in front of her as he stepped closer and said, "Wait a minute. How the hell are you even talking to that dickwad? I mean, we know angels come in dreams to talk to a person. But I sure as hell didn't see him out here. Looked like you were talking to the air, and I sure as hell didn't hear him. How were you talking to him, Tabitha?"
"Wanna say hell a few more times? Maybe it'll make you feel better?" she snippily suggested.
"HELL!" he drew out in a long, angry exclamation to get his point across. "Now answer the goddamn questions, Tabitha!"
She finally looked up from the hex bag in her hand to answer. "I forgot the hex bag in the house. I didn't mean to. I just came out to take a walk when I heard Castiel talking to me—I didn't go looking to talk to him," she hastily pointed out, shaking her hex bag at Dean to make her point. "But I heard him talking to me…so I talked back. Seemed rude not to, and it wasn't like he was here to grab the girl."
Dean bitterly slapped the hood of the pickup she was leaning against. "Did it ever occur to you that he was just trying to figure out where we were, Tabitha?! I mean, think! He could have just been fishing for information. And you still haven't answered how it was you were talking to him, or how he was talking to you."
"We came to Bobby's, Dean. You think that wouldn't be one of the first places they'd think to look? I wasn't giving anything away there," she defended, and then sighed when he still looked at her pointedly. "As for the other…I don't know quite what to tell you. I'm not sure quite how it works…but I can hear him…" she trailed off, not knowing what else to say.
Realization dawned slowly on her brother as he leaned closer beside her and grabbed her right arm—not paying attention to or not noticing her flinch of pain—and lowly whispering, "You mean you can hear him, hear him? Like, Anna can do?"
She quickly shook her head. "No, not quite. I don't hear 'em all the time. I can just hear their real voice when they're talking and I'm nearby to overhear it. And apparently, when they talk directly to me and want me to hear it. Castiel says me being a human who can perceive an angel's true voice isn't the same as whatever Anna can do."
Dean looked away for a moment and then his eyes darted back to hers. "That's what happened way back that night in Pontiac when he tried to talk to me at that motel and shattered every glass in the place, isn't it? You heard him way back then—I remember you asking why I didn't answer him and me an' Bobby being confused as heck if you thought that was something trying to talk to me. But you knew it was. You heard him back then," he accused.
Jerking a single nod, she simply said, "Yeah."
"Why the hell you been lying to me, Tabitha?" he asked, stepping backwards as a look of hurt flashed across his face.
"I wasn't lying," she quickly pointed out. "I just wasn't ready to talk about something I don't understand."
"You sure as hell seem to understand it now. You're out here just chatting it up with that dickhead," he snidely bit out.
"Yeah, but I still don't understand it, or understand how it even happens or what I'm doing."
"No. But you're plenty happy to just keep hiding things from me, just like Sam. And I've got news for you, Tabitha. Keeping something this big from me by omitting it is just as bad as lying about it outright!"
Tabitha angrily pushed away from the pickup and stalked closer to her brother as she told him, "And what was I supposed to say, Dean? Was I supposed to just shout out, 'Hey! I'm a freak and not a normal human! Come check me out!' You don't exactly look too favorably on anything that ain't 100% normal human. You should see the way you look at Sam sometimes. Excuse me if I didn't want you looking at me that way, too!"
Dean's voice lowered in a deadly whisper as he leaned closer and told her, "I'm just trying to keep the two of you alive. You think that's easy when he's pulling freaky mind shit, getting threatened by angels, and you're tuning into angel radio and making long distance calls to them?" He pointed a finger at her as he continued, "And just how long do you think it's gonna be until those dickwads are after both you and Anna now that they all know what you can do, too?"
"They don't," she managed to choke out. "All know that is. Cas is the only one who knows I can hear their true voices. And he said he—they—won't hunt me for it. They want Anna for some other reason. He wouldn't say what."
Dean stepped back and started pacing again. "You got any other huge revelations you need to be telling me? Or any other earth-shattering news I don't know about?"
She shrugged and answered, "That's mostly it. Oh, and I slept with one of my professors in college on time. He was only five years older than me. But I'm guessing you didn't know about that."
"Dammit, Tabitha, this isn't the time for jokes! Who's to say that this asshole Castiel won't tell his buddies that you can hear them and they won't come after you, too. I mean, how long has he even known? How can you trust him?" he asked as he roughly ran his hand through his hair.
She shrugged again. "He's known since before we first met him with Bobby. And I'm guessing if he was gonna tell his buddies, he would have already." She knew she should probably tell her brother about all the times she had met with Castiel that he didn't know about. All the times they had sat and talked, and even merely sat in silence. But she couldn't bring herself to tell him. She didn't want to lose the specialness of the friendship she had shared with Castiel. There was something almost sacred and untainted about having a friendship that was all her own. Something that she could have to herself and not have to share with her brothers. Everything else in her life was now shared with them. Just as it had been before she and Sam had decided to splinter off and go to college. She wouldn't give up being back with them both again, but she still wanted just one thing that was all her own. Something she didn't share with them.
"Why'd the angel want to talk to you just now anyway?" Dean finally asked.
Tabitha cleared her thoughts away as she tried to remember her conversation with the angel. "He said they still have to kill Anna. He won't say why exactly, but he asked us to stay out of their way. He doesn't want us getting hurt in the crossfire."
"We can't just hand that girl over to them and allow them to kill her," he told her.
"I know," she agreed. "And that's what I told him."
"But that means they're still coming for her."
"Did you doubt they were?"
She stepped closer to place a calming hand on her brother's folded arms, but he jerked away and stepped past her, saying, "Come on. Everyone's gonna be waiting for us at the house."
Silently, she lowered her hand and followed her brother back through the salvage yard to the house, wondering how she had lost all the ground she had labored so hard to regain with her older brother.
As they went, he finally told her in clipped tones, "Keep that hex bag on you from now on. At least until we figure out what to do next, we don't need those angels knowing exactly where we are or what we're doing to get ready for them."
She glanced down at the hex bag that had been forgotten in her hand until now. And suddenly realized that she hadn't had it with her when Castiel had first talked to her, and yet, he'd told her that he couldn't find her and that there was some kind of shield around her.
But if it wasn't the hex bag hiding her, what was it?
Pamela was laughing at something and unashamedly anchoring her hand on Sam's ass when Dean and Tabitha walked down the stairs into the basement. Ruby and Anna stood nearby, both seeming torn between being incredulous and laughing at her antics.
And all the angst and turmoil churning in Tabitha's stomach eased slightly at her friend's easy and laughing demeanor as the psychic stepped towards her with a smile and wrapped her in a tight hug.
"Tabitha!" she laughed. "It's so good to see you again."
As she held her close, Pamela whispered softly against her ear, "What damn kind of mess are you getting into with that angel, girl? You need to get some distance and not be messing with that kind of danger. I should know."
Tabitha jerked back in surprise as she stared at the sunglass-covered eyes of her friend. "I don't know what you're talking about," she whispered in return. "There's nothing going on."
Pamela smiled sardonically. "Sure there isn't, honey. Then why the kiss?" she asked with a challenging eyebrow and a bit louder voice.
"Kiss? What kiss? What are you talking about?" Sam asked with a nervous laugh, seeming relieved not to have Pamela's attention focused on his derrière.
Tabitha flushed and answered the psychic, "I was drunk, Pam. Didn't mean a thing. I'd of kissed you, too, if you'd been there."
She laughed loudly in return. "Mmmm ummm," she hummed with a wicked little grin. "And just a few years ago, I'd have enjoyed kissing a cute thing like you."
The brothers gaped at them for a moment, seeming to find the same appeal to the mental image most men seemed to share, before they simultaneously made scrunched up faces.
"Eww," Dean said. "You're my little sister. Thanks for that, Tab, you've just ruined a man's favorite fantasy."
She laughed, ecstatic to see some of Dean's good-humor finally returned. "Yeah, well, you know how I feel every time you want me to buy you another 'Asian Busty Beauties' magazine when I go into a c-store for supplies. I just don't need that image, either."
Dean forced a nervous little laugh as he looked at Pamela. "I ah, get it for the articles."
"Sure you do," Pamela laughed as she stepped over to Anna. "And I almost feel sorry for you, honey. Stuck with this crew for days. Let's see if we can't figure out what's going on."
Anna smiled easily at the psychic, taking the same quick liking to her that everyone seemed to as the pair walked further into the basement with their arms wrapped behind the other woman's back.
"You may not have eyes to stare with anymore, but I can still feel you staring just the same," Tabitha irritably snapped at the psychic.
She'd volunteered to give Pamela a ride home after the psychic had helped Anna remember that she was in fact a fallen angel. Not that Tabitha could blame her friend for not wanting to hang around an angel after what had happened to her, but for the past hour, the psychic had been sitting sideways in the passenger seat of the Impala staring across the way as Tabitha drove.
"Why?" Pamela easily inquired. "You feel like you got something to hide?"
"No!" Tabitha vehemently denied. "I haven't done anything. Nothing's going on."
"You seem pretty worked up over nothing," Pamela pointed out.
"Yeah, because you and Dean are acting like I'm doing something wrong. It wasn't my choice to be able to hear angels. It just happened."
"True," Pamela agreed. "But it was your choice to try and hide it from your brother. I didn't catch what you could do the day we met either, but I was a bit distracted with everything that happened," she explained with a wry smile, tapping a finger to her dark glasses. "But I sure saw it when Dean pulled up to Bobby's today. You've got to be careful, Tab," she repeated in warning. "Getting messed up with angels is just asking for trouble. You don't want to get tangled with anything that powerful, honey."
Tabitha huffed as she irritably tapped her thumb against the steering wheel. "You keep talking like I'm getting involved in whatever the angels are doing, but I'm just friends with Castiel. Nothing more. And I have nothing to do with any other angel. There's no entanglement. We just sit and talk. And I enjoy it."
"It's two angels now," Pamela reminded her. "You've gotten yourself into the path of two angels now. I don't care if one of them is fallen. She's still an angel, and it's all the more reason to get out of that path. Angels aren't like us—you should stay away from them."
Tabitha threw a jaded look over at her friend. "In case you haven't noticed, neither of us is exactly normal, either. You're the only real psychic I know, and I sure as heck don't know anyone else that can hear an angel's voice. Do you?"
Her friend gave a slight sigh. "At least we're human, Tab. At least we're human."
"Are we?" Tabitha immediately questioned. "We're not normal humans. Sam either. And I swear, the way Dean looks at anything not 100% human—the way anyone else would look at us if they knew what we were…" she trailed off looking for the right words. "We're not normal humans, Pam," she finally settled on. "And I don't feel like I'm strange or something less than human when Castiel drops by to hang out. I know it's strange, but when he comes by…it's the most human I feel anymore. Sometimes I don't feel much different from the things we hunt. How many humans have I killed that were possessed by demons, or had been turned by a vampire, or any other number of reasons. How can I be any better than the things we hunt when I've killed as many innocent people as most of those monsters have?"
"It's part of the job," Pamela softly reminded. "You've always known that. And it doesn't get any easier. Or at least, if it does, that's when you know it's time to stop hunting. Look, all I'm saying is to be careful, Tabitha. I don't want to see you get tangled into some kind of mess you'll never be able to get out of."
Pamela fell silent as they continued to drive along the dark highway.
But Tabitha wondered to herself how a person could even know if they had gone too far down a certain path. Would there be warnings along the way telling her she'd gone too far—to turn back or else?
Or would she only know she'd gone too far when she'd come to the end of that path and suddenly had no way out?
Tabitha had a lot of time to think as she drove. She tried to consider her friend's warning—as well as her brother's—but she couldn't force herself to come to any real decision.
Finally, she pulled the Impala over on the side of the highway, realizing she hadn't even been paying attention to where she was as she tried to make some sense of her jumbled thoughts and feelings. She looked up and down the highway as she pulled over to the shoulder, but couldn't see any familiar landmarks in the dark night. Just fallow fields lining either side of the empty highway. And she knew that she had to set at least a few things straight in her mind before she drove any further in the state she was in. Arguing with herself was getting her nowhere.
"I hope I'm not being a complete idiot," she mumbled to herself as she put the car in park and stepped out into the frigid night.
She walked around to the front of the Impala, sliding to sit on the warm hood while rubbing arms only covered by the thin sleeves of her shirt. There was no snow down on ground yet, but the winter air of this part of what she was pretty sure was still Nebraska, still reminded her that it was winter here. And she knew that in the next month or two, this area would see the copious amounts of snow it normally saw in the winter.
But for now, the snap of the frigid air was helping to focus Tabitha's racing thoughts. She reached into the hip pocket of her frayed jeans and took out Ruby's hex bag, contemplating it in her hands as she turned the little leather bundle over. Such a simple little object to be able to keep powerful creatures like angels and demons both at bay.
Reaching her hand away from her body, Tabitha opened her hand and let the hex bag fall to the ground, wondering to herself if she was far enough away from the thing, if it had some sort of range, or if it had to be in contact with her to work.
"Castiel?" she tentatively called out to the darkness.
But after waiting several minutes, there was no answer.
Tabitha even tried concentrating as she had done before to talk to the angel, but no connection was made.
Finally, she closed her eyes and concentrated on the angel she wanted to speak to, thinking of his voice—his real voice—and imagining the brief glimpse she'd seen when Pamela had first tried to find out what he was, this time more forcefully calling out, "Castiel!"
With a small relieved sigh, Tabitha told the angel, "I want to talk to you. Alone."
After a small pause, the angel responded, We are talking.
She huffed in return. "I mean in person. Not…whatever this is. It gives me a headache to talk to you this way for very long."
I've told you. I cannot find you. You'll have to tell me where you are.
"Just you," she reminded him as she gave him the highway number and nearest mile-marker that she could see.
The angel suddenly appeared fifteen feet away from her, slowly walking to stand in front of where she sat on the hood.
"You wished to speak," he stated as he adopted a rigid stance, his hands clasped behind his lower back.
"Thank you for coming alone," she told him.
But the angel merely nodded in return.
Now that Castiel was here, Tabitha was unsure where to start, so with a deep breath, she just launched in. "You know we won't just stand back and let you kill Anna, don't you?"
"You don't understand what is going on," Castiel stiffly told her, staring straight ahead and over her shoulder as he spoke. "We must follow our orders."
"Just like that?" Tabitha snorted, "You don't even fully agree with them, I know you well enough to see that, but you're still just going to do it. Not even hesitate or question it."
"I am an angel of The Lord," he repeated.
"Yeah, I caught that the first several times you said it."
His eyes finally turned to stare into hers. "I'm a soldier. I follow the orders I'm given. It isn't mine to question them. Angels do not question their orders."
Tabitha slid from the warm hood, suddenly feeling overheated as she stood and stepped closer to Castiel. "Then I don't know who the bigger fool is. You angels for blindly following orders, or God for expecting his little toy soldiers to behave that way."
His eyes darkened slightly at her words. "It is not the place of angels to feel or to question. We are made to obey. To obey our Father. You cannot understand."
She huffed angrily as she irritably shifted from foot to foot, crossing her arms over her chest. "You're right and you're wrong, Cas. I know exactly what it's like to have a father that demanded complete and unquestioning obedience. Only difference is, I never fell in line like the little drone he tried to raise and train the three of us to be. But I know exactly what it's like to have a father like that. And I know what it's like to have a brother who did absolutely, and for years, follow our father's word—unflinchingly. But I could never understand how it is my brother—or you for that matter—could just blindly follow their father's command when your gut is telling you it's wrong. How can you kill that girl just because you were ordered to? How can that be God's orders? Where's God's love, justice, or righteousness in that?"
"Anna is not what you think."
Tabitha's head fell back in exasperation before she faced the angel again and told him, "Yeah, you keep saying that, but what did she do that's so horrible that angels have to kill her?"
"I can't tell you," he quietly answered her, his eyes darting away again.
"But you expect that you can just come in and tell me that I need to stay out of your way, and not tell me why or what's really going on."
He looked up at her again. "Take it on faith. Trust that I am doing what must be done."
Tabitha took a step closer to the angel, reaching her hand out towards him, but hesitating to actually touch him as she responded. "Trust is a two way street, Cas. It's give and take. Not just take. Why can't you trust that I'm saying I don't think she needs to die. Trust me enough to talk to me. Tell me what's really going on. Do you trust me, Cas?"
The angel stared at her, for once, not even any emotion in his eyes betraying himself to her.
Finally, he whispered, "Anna is a fallen angel. She is sentenced to death for her rebellion."
It was nothing Tabitha didn't already know, but she gave a small sigh of relief that Castiel had truly trusted her enough to finally tell her.
"You don't seem surprised to know that she was an angel," he observed. She minutely shook her head in answer. "Anna told you," he continued.
"Then surely you can see why I must follow my orders? She left her post—abandoned it. And now, we can't risk allowing demons to capture her. The knowledge they could gain from her would be devastating to both angels and humans. Please understand why you must stay out of our way and let us have her."
Tabitha lifted one shoulder slightly as she wrapped her arms around herself again. "So that's it? You have to kill her as a strategic move to keep the demons from getting her and using her?"
Castiel stared for another moment before carefully continuing, "She disobeyed. For an angel, there is no greater sin. She knew what the consequences would be. But she made her choice."
"To be human," Tabitha pointed out. "She just wanted to be human. Why can't you guys just give her that? She's been human this long, maybe God truly wants to let her be human."
The angel took a half-step closer, his hands dropping from behind his back to fall to his sides as he sadly shook his head and told her, "She'll never be human, Tabitha. Not really. She'll always be an angel, though fallen."
Tabitha sighed as she lowered herself back onto the hood of the car in a haggard heap, drawing her feet up onto the bumper and folding her arms over her knees.
"There's nothing I can say to change your mind or make you see this differently, is there?"
"And there's nothing I can say to make you see what I must do, or to get you to stay safely out of our path, is there?" the angel sadly answered.
Tabitha shook her head anyway.
Castiel took a step back as he held her eyes, a strange look of loss flashing in his eyes as he told her, "I'm sorry things had to end this way, but I am an angel and I must follow my orders."
Reaching out, Tabitha grabbed his hand to stop his departure, tightly gripping his hand in hers as she whispered to him, "I've missed you, Cas."
The angel disappeared, her hand falling through the empty air as she sighed sadly to herself.
And I'll miss you, floated back through the dark night.
A/N: All right, I told you there would be more Castiel in this one, and there will be even more in the next!
Thanks so much for your reviews, and be sure to keep 'em coming!