*** "Nephilim" takes place immediately following its prequel "See." Please read, review, favorite, and enjoy! Thanks so much for reading! ***
We are gathered here today to celebrate the union of two souls.
I have been married to Dean Winchester for three months. It has been the happiest and most content that I have ever been in my life. To say that we were in a honeymoon phase would be an understatement. Since the stalker attack that left me with a bullet wound in my stomach and a fractured skull, Dean hasn't left my side, always making sure that I am safe and happy.
It is my honor to lead the celebration. The Winchesters have been the anchor in my time here on Earth and it makes me truly happy to see Dean finally move towards bliss.
He moved in right before the wedding; flannels hanging in my closet and the Impala's keys on a hook next to my Chevelle's. I trip over his boots in the hall and find beer bottles in the most ridiculous places most nights but I wouldn't trade it for the world. While I was recovering from my wounds in the hospital, we had anticipated heading straight to Vegas after I was discharged, but Castiel wouldn't hear of it. He wanted to be the one to make our relationship official on a more cosmic basis. I think Dean was happy to oblige.
Dean, do you take Grace as your wife, to have and to hold, for better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and in health for as long as you both shall live?
I relived the wedding in my mind over and over, not completely believing that it had happened. There were pictures, of course, from the tiny, ancient chapel that Castiel had discovered in the oldest of farm lands out in the middle of Iowa. Most of the building was made of limestone and stained glass. Castiel beamed when he brought us there the first time and I had been silent, taking in its simplistic beauty, knowing somewhere deep in my soul that we weren't just getting married, we were both being reborn into a life where we felt safe.
Do you, Grace, take Dean as your husband, to have and to hold, for better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and in health for as long as you both shall live?
Dean and I had stood in the chapel before the wedding, staring at each other and knowing that it was where we needed to exchange vows. In the depths of my mind, I could hear him wish that our families could have been a part of our commitment to each other.
Of course I do.
Then, by the power vested in me, from our Holy Father, I declare you bonded for life. Dean, please kiss your wife.
There had been whoops of applause from our tiny audience, consisting only of my sister Serendipity and his brother, Sam. Serra shook her head and grinned like an idiot while she snapped hundreds of pictures from our minutes-long ceremony. She wore a frilly lavender dress with her 'good' boots and I wore my mother's white summer dress, my neck laden with strings of turquoise. Dean was handsome in a black button-up shirt and boots and Sam stood at his side, wearing blue. We had no other people, besides Castiel (still wearing his suit, but no trench coat, just for that day), to see us take our next steps into our lives as one. There was no big reception, just a simple dinner at the same steakhouse that we had visited just before the attack on me and Serra. We reclaimed it as our own, making new, wonderful memories as we ate and drank into the evening.
Our marriage was even official, using our real names and filing paperwork with the state of Kansas. I had framed our marriage license in the hall and caught Dean staring at it a few times. I think it was hard to believe that he had ended up where he started: our county was listed as Lawrence, where Dean and Sam were born.
Dean had taken a job at the local body shop, rebuilding old classic and muscle cars and actually getting paid to do so. He had just completed a little old man's '57 Bel Air wagon and Dean told me about handing the keys over to him and seeing the smile on his face. He relished making other people happy, and it was nice to see him use that energy in a safer way. Dean and Sam still hunted occasionally, which was fine with me. Every once and awhile, Serendipity and I would tag along to keep our skills fresh.
The Mark was still a thorn in our sides. Dean would wake up sweaty some nights, getting up out of bed too quickly, too angry and he would disappear for hours. I knew he only had my safety in mind when he did so, but it was still unnerving to have your husband throw himself out of bed and slam the door behind him with no warning. It was never anything I did, but when The Mark took hold of Dean, it was too much for him to take. We still struggled daily, looking for any other lore we hadn't already read, but there was nothing that we could find that we hadn't already seen. Learning to live with The Mark of Cain was becoming more and more a reality for Dean. It upset him more than he cared to let me see, but there was little he could hide from me.
Touching people always gave me the advantage. I had an insight into their brains and I would receive thoughts, memories and emotions through my abilities. I hated talking about it, but being psychic by touch was definitely something that I had gotten used to. Dean and I had worked on pushing my abilities lately; when I was laid up in the hospital, we worked for two weeks on my being able to read others' thoughts without having to touch them. I had gotten pretty good at it. I could almost always hear Dean when he was thinking now; most of the time, I would catch him mentally undressing me or thinking about how to be rid of The Mark. Every once and a while, he would think about his brother, Sam and Sam's relationship with my sister, Serendipity.
My sister was an open book to me. I could hear her thoughts even when we were in different rooms, sometimes annoyingly so. In the last two weeks, I had heard more than I wanted to when she was alone with Sam in her room. Now, I was working the opposite way: tuning people out.
Sam was guarded and harder to hear. There were many times that he knew I was listening and would purposefully block me out, saying that it was good practice to try and get around his walls, but really, I felt that Sam enjoyed being a private person, having secrets even from Dean. He shared what he wanted to, but overall, Sam was a mystery to me.
Castiel was a completely different story. Not only was his brain entirely silent to me, but he had the ability to pull memories out of my brain. When I touched Cas, he was blank. Sometimes, it was comforting and made me feel relatively normal again, but other times, it was unnerving.
As time rolled on, my Spring Break from school came around and I had eleven days away from my classroom and my students to be with my new husband. We were headed south for our honeymoon, hoping to hit New Orleans for about a week while we bathed in each other's company. Dean had shown interest in hunting while we were there and I had agreed, hoping to find something simple like a vengeful spirit or poltergeist haunting somewhere near the French Quarter. Dean wanted to test my abilities on a hunt, to see if he could communicate well enough through thought alone to perform well in the field.
I took hunting with Dean as a good sign. He trusted me with his life and that was as much commitment as I could ask from anyone. My parents and Emery would have loved Dean and I thought of them often lately, wishing they could see the dedication this man had taken to me, the way we moved together and anticipated each other's thoughts and emotions. It's like we were two halves of the same whole, finally reunited and pieced together once again.
My mother had been a huge believer in destiny, signs and superstitions. She had done everything in her power to protect me and my sister; handing down charms and rosaries, even giving us virtue names that she thought would help in our lives. When my visions and psychic touch began, after my mother was taken, my dad took it as a sign that God was trying to protect us while we protected others. Hunting became a challenge for my abilities, and trying to protect my family from those trying to do us harm while we were out together was something that I was never good at. It was too much pressure—I couldn't keep track of all of the memories and visions I had when I purposefully went after thoughts by touch, and then I worried constantly that I would see something that ended badly.
I still have dreams about my mother getting taken by something in the woods in Montana. I know it has to do with a deal that my father made with a Crossroads Demon around the time I was born, but I had never brought myself to read about it in his journals. I was sure there were details written there that would explain more of my parents' terrible decision making skills, but I couldn't do it. When the apocalypse began, Dad took it upon himself to try to defeat every demon he came across, eventually being taken down by a demon with black eyes and a dead heart during a tornado while Serendipity and I sought shelter and ran, taking the Chevelle. Emery was taken from us too soon as well. Our pseudo-mother had taken Mom's place at Dad's side in our teen years and she did her best to make sure we remained strong as a family. Our family home was haunted with memories from our past.
I would still have dreams about our parents, restless and terrifying. Dean would wake me gently, allowing his thoughts and memories to wash clean my brain with his touch. He would send me thoughts and images of us together, happy memories that I welcomed. For a man so brutally frightening to his enemies, he was tender and loving towards me; the two sides of Dean were a stark realization that I had early in our romance. I pitied those who crossed my husband…there was rarely anything left of those that pushed him.
I still had nightmares of the stalker attack as well, much like how I feel PTSD would be. I would have flashes of the ogre chasing me though the woods, ripping at my pants and blouse, but in my dreams, I see flashes of blue and hear voices in a language that I don't recognize. I've never told Dean the extent of my dreams, but I feel like it's an unnecessary set of details that would only concern Dean needlessly.
Since our wedding, I often catch Castiel watching me from afar. It seems that he is listening, but I'm unsure of what he's listening to. I don't feel like he can hear me, but the last time I caught him staring, he didn't look away, as he usually did. Instead, I felt his blue stare penetrating my thoughts and reaching into my subconscious. I mentally pushed him out, mildly offended that he would press as far as he did, but many times, Castiel didn't truly understand the boundaries humans understood to be necessary. Again, I didn't feel the need to tell Dean, but having Cas act the way he was piqued my interest. In the coming weeks, I told myself, I would pay closer attention.
"But if we take the Chevelle, BOTH of us can drive," I was saying, trying not to sound whiny, "you never let me drive the Impala."
"She's jealous of you," Dean was saying, pouring himself a cup of coffee. "She doesn't like having women in the driver's seat." He raised his eyebrows, smiling lightly at me. He picked up his coffee and took a sip, his platinum wedding band glistening in the fluorescent lights. "Baby just wants to make sure the Chevelle stays here, nice and safe," he was continuing, smug, "besides, that metal flake purple paint is hard to come by. It's still perfect and I would hate to have someone chip it or something on the road."
"Excuses, excuses," I said, pouring a cup for myself. "You just want to be in control."
"You caught me," he said, smiling and kissing me lightly on the cheek. Dean had mastered keeping his mind clear when touching me quickly so we didn't have to waste time waiting for my three seconds of visions to finish, though they were coming less frequently these days because I had been reading so many thoughts from afar. I was finally beginning to relax after fifteen years of anxiety about physical touch.
Dean pushed himself up to perch on the counter as he did frequently. He sipped his coffee and watched Castiel walk through the living room, brooding. What's with him? I heard Dean think as Castiel walked by.
I shook my head, automatically responding to Dean's thought. "I don't know." Dean glanced down at me, waiting for me to add detail to a story he knew I had. When I didn't continue right away, he nudged me with his foot. I glanced down, furrowing my eyebrows and rolling my eyes.
"It's something," Dean said, still toeing my hip.
I took a breath, still hesitating. Castiel was Dean's best friend, aside from Sam, and they had been through many differences together, always ending up just fine. I didn't know what was happening between me and Cas, but the secret observation the angel kept from Dean was something out of the ordinary and I had the feeling that it may damage something between the boys. The relationship that Dean and I shared was the one thing in Dean's mind that was rock solid. I knew that for certain because I had been to the depths of Dean's thoughts and I had become priority one.
"Fine, don't tell me," Dean said, taking another sip of coffee, "Cas will."
"Fine," I started, leaning back on the counter, crossing my arms in front of me. "Lately, I've caught Cas just staring at me. I feel like he's trying to listen to what I'm thinking and when he presses, I push back because I'm not used to someone else being in my brain. Usually, it's the other way around."
Dean listened, evaluating. "And?"
I shook my head, "And, I don't know. He's never looked at me like that before, and since the wedding, it's like something has changed about him. He's wary of me…stays on the peripheral. He's never quite alone with me." I raised my eyebrows, at a loss for words. "Something's changed."
"Maybe he's in love with you," Dean said quietly, obviously attempting to be somber, but hiding behind his mug.
"Oh, shut up," I said, walking towards the sink to wash a bowl for cereal. "This is why I didn't want to tell you. You aren't going to take me seriously."
Dean came down from the counter, setting his coffee cup down behind him. He walked to me, pajama pants too long and his gray t-shirt a bit too snug. I glanced at his arms, noticing the curve of his bicep as he approached, The Mark in plain view and a scar running down his other arm. I reached out to him before he got to me, feeling the heat from his bare skin and the draw I felt to The Mark. He took a deep breath and leaned his forehead against mine. This time, he allowed the visions to go through my head, closing his eyes. Our wedding day, my hair in loose gypsy curls down my back, sliding my wedding ring onto my finger, driving away in the Impala, cans clanking behind us.
"There is nothing to worry about from Cas," he said, whispering. "He gets in moods like this every once and a while and it always ends up being something human that he just doesn't understand. He'll end up asking eventually, in some awkward, little kid way."
I nodded, Dean's head moving with mine. "I guess." I breathed in his coffee breath and opened my eyes to stare at his flecks of green. "I don't like that he's trying to listen to me, though. It's weird."
Dean chuckled, "How do you think the rest of us feel?"
I pushed him away and he laughed harder. "Aw, the psychic doesn't like having her thoughts read."
Serra came into the kitchen then, her hair completely a shambles and her eyes still half closed. I glanced at the clock. It was almost ten in the morning. "Good morning, sunshine," I said, laughing. "You go out last night?"
She shook her head, her eyes still closed. "Third shift," she grunted, heading for the coffee pot. I handed her my mug and reached for a new one of my own.
"Well, that's awful," I said, frowning. "How long are they going to have you work third?"
Serra shook her head again. "Don't know," she took a drink from my coffee mug, "babies don't sleep."
I laughed again. My sister had been working in the nursery at the local hospital for months now. She was in school for microbiology and had plans to be head nurse in the NICU downtown. Her new job at the nursery was a great opportunity for growth and observation for her classes. Obviously, though, she preferred daylight hours.
Sam had followed her down the stairs, obviously not as tired as my sister was, but still looking pretty beat. He sat on a stool at the bar and rested his head on his hand, watching Serra attempt to drink her coffee.
Dean turned to me again and raised his eyebrows. "You packed?"
Nodding, I said, "Yeah, my stuff's upstairs. I'm only bringing a small duffle." He nodded and turned to Sam.
"We're leaving today," he said to his brother. "Will you drive the Chevelle while we're gone? I want that tank of gas out…I think that's what's making her still miss."
Sam agreed and smiled, "Serra will enjoy that," he said. "You hear that, babe? You can drive the Chevelle."
Still drinking her coffee, she waved her other hand at Sam, quieting him. "Shhhh," she said, eyes still half closed.
We left later that morning, duffles loaded into the trunk of the Impala, Dean at the wheel, predictably, and we meandered off towards the highway. I stared out the window, smiling lightly to myself, relaxed and in love. Out of the corner of my eye, I could swear I saw something in the distance that flashed blue, but after looking out to the horizon searching for it, I convinced myself that it was my imagination. There, staring back at me was only my reflection.
We drove for two days, stopping along the way any time we felt like it, at diners, lakes, and rivers. We spent much of our time just enjoying each other's company. The first motel that we stopped in reeked of old broccoli and I refused to stay. Dean laughed, teasing, and instead took me to one of the nicest hotels that I had ever stayed in.
We walked towards the front desk and I grinned like an idiot as he walked hand in hand with me. The receptionist raised her eyebrows, eyeing us in our jeans and t-shirts, boots and flannels, obviously judging us by our small town looks. "Hi," Dean greeted her, smile plastered on his beautifully rugged face, "I'd like a room for me and my wife," he said. He paused, winking at me, "A big one."
"Let me see what we have available," she said, one eyebrow still judging us as she tapped away at her computer. The screen lit up in front of her and she frowned slightly. "I'm sorry, but we don't have any availability right now." Not for you two, anyway.
I squeezed Dean's hand, blinking while rolling my eyes. He caught my message immediately and turned back to the receptionist. "Is that so?" Dean said, leaning on the counter and glancing back at me, "well, in that case, honey, looks like we may have to call American Express Black, tell them that they were wrong."
"That's unfortunate," I agreed, playing along, "AmEx Black is always so helpful. Maybe we'll complain?"
Dean nodded, pursing his lips. "You can call while we're on our way to the Four Seasons," he turned, preparing to leave and pointing backwards over his shoulder. "Get her name, though. We don't want to be uninformative."
I glanced at the receptionist's nametag, "Tammy," I said. "Tammy from the Sheraton," I turned with Dean and took three steps before she called us back.
"Oh, I'm sorry," Tammy began, "it looks like the computer hadn't refreshed recently. We have a suite available."
Dean squeezed my hand this time and we both exchanged smiles. "Oh really? I'm so glad that got figured out," Dean was saying. "We're on our honeymoon and I'm ready to spend some money."
Tammy smiled, or attempted to. "Excellent," she said, "let's get you set up."
Dean led the way, carrying the bags towards our suite. I held the key card and, turning to glance at him, I grinned as I unlocked the door. I pushed the door open and Dean dropped the bags, standing in my way before I could get through the doorframe. He lifted me with one arm, kicked the door open the rest of the way and used his other leg to kick our suitcases through. Dean got us clear of the door, holding me in a fireman's carry and let the door shut behind him. The lights came on were on a dimmer switch and were romantically low, a pleasant view of the small city below us through the windows.
He turned towards my face, his eyes crinkling in the corners as he smiled. Dean set me on the bed in the middle of the room and leaned in slowly. "Happy Honeymoon, beautiful."
My arms wrapped around his neck, pulling him down. Fireworks reflecting in the window of the Impala, hunting vampires in Wisconsin, watching me wash the Chevelle in just a white tank top and tiny denim shorts. The flashes stopped as I breathed Dean's scent, leather, whiskey, and aftershave, and we kissed, deeply and passionately. It felt like it had been forever since we had been alone together. Sam and Serra were always around, in our space, sharing the house. We hadn't really decided who lived where, but it hadn't mattered to me until this moment. I wanted Dean and only Dean.
I pulled off his shirts, managing to pull the flannel and his black undershirt off at the same time without fault. Dean kept his hand on my bare hip, keeping skin-to-skin contact as he pulled off my top. He let out an animal growl and smiled as he pushed me all the way down on the bed. Our breathing was already rushed, hands were everywhere, though my hair, down his back, across my neck and unhooking my bra. Dean's scruff tickled my neck as he attacked my ear, nestling his face as close as he could. I moaned, which sent him into frenzy, pulling my jeans off in one motion and kicking his boots off, moving me farther into the middle of the bed. He let go of me long enough to undo his belt and lose his jeans, kicking them across the room, hitting the window with a clink from his belt buckle.
Laying there, waiting for Dean to rejoin me, I sat up to marvel at him. Every bit of him was mine: the curve of his shoulders, the square of his jaw, the muscles in his back. I tilted my head, rolling my hair to one side and I posed for him, arching my back and smiling coyly. It was obviously more than he could take and Dean came towards me in a rush, wrapping his arms around my body, rolling me on top of him. I straddled his hips, his arms still wrapped around my waist. The night of the wedding, Dean taking the shoulder straps of my dress down, kissing my back. Driving down the highway, the wind in our hair, singing at the top of our lungs. The flashes ended and we moved together then, the motion automatic now, we were so entwined in each other's subconscious. I ran my fingers down his arms, pausing slightly at The Mark of Cain.
He made eye contact with me then, his green-flecked eyes daring me to touch it. In the heat of the moment, I had no fear: I knew he wouldn't pull away. I pressed my palm on to The Mark as I had only one other time, right after our wedding, the heat from his arm penetrating my skin through my palm. Dean gasped then, rocking me forward towards his face, kissing me hard. I kept my hand on The Mark, almost feeling it pulse with his heart. We rolled again, Dean ending up on top of me, still pressing his body into mine. Still, I held my hand on his arm, a tingling starting through my hand and into my fingers and I could hear his subconscious in a way I never had before. It was as if I was seeing the world in slow motion. The heat began to burn, but still I hesitated removing my hand. We climaxed then, Dean holding me as close to me as he ever had. I dug my fingernails into his arm, crying out quietly in satisfaction.
I opened my eyes again, staring into Dean's face. Sweat glazed his forehead and my hair was slightly matted to my back. Dean tilted his head, ever so slightly narrowing his eyes. Out of breath, I finally let go of my hold on The Mark of Cain and saw the surprise in my husband's face. "What's the matter?" I asked, still winded.
"Your eyes…" he started, but then shook his head, cupping my face with his hand. "Nothing, gorgeous. I thought I saw something, but I'm high from all of this." I smiled, keeping my arms around his neck, reaching up to kiss him again. He obliged, moving his head with mine as we lay together. He rolled then, lying next to me, still breathing hard, and chuckled. "We get to do this for our whole lives?"
I smiled, responding quietly and catching my breath, "That's the idea, Mr. Winchester." He kept his arm draped over my chest, holding me tightly as he closed his eyes, still smiling. "Hey, now, wait a second," I said, rolling towards him. "No sleeping yet. I want champagne and chocolate."
Keeping his eyes closed, he grinned, "Yeah, that sounds like a plan." He opened his eyes, gazing at me in a way I still hadn't gotten used to. I could see Dean's dedication to me through his eyes. He continued softly, "What did you feel?"
I knitted my eyebrows together, questioning, "Well, it was good, I'll give you that."
He smiled, "Of course it was. I'm talking about when you touched it."
I hesitated, wanting to make a joke, but knowing exactly what he was referring to. When I touched The Mark, it was electrifying, sending tingling adrenaline through my fingers and hand. I felt like I was absorbing some of its power; at the moment, I was full of electricity and heat. I had never felt like this before, my fingers itching to make contact again with the scar-like tattoo on my husband's arm. Dean was still waiting for an answer, staring into my eyes, his finger tracing my newest ink: a set of skeleton keys on a heart key ring placed on my ribcage, under my bra line. Honestly, the draw of The Mark of Cain was addicting, and I wanted more. I reached my hand towards his arm again and waited for permission, my hand dangerously close to contact. Dean took a deep breath, bracing for the reaction once more and he waited to see my reaction when I made contact. I pressed my palm against his arm again, the shock of electricity flowing up my arm.
He gasped as if cold water was thrown on him and I kept eye contact with him, gazing into his eyes as I felt the power from The Mark. It was something that I had never experienced before. I could hear his thoughts more clearly than I ever had before; what does it do to you, Gracie? What are you feeling?
I smiled, lust coursing through me. I rolled towards Dean, straddling him once more. He smiled at me, but furrowed his eyebrows curiously. "You're gonna have to give me a few minutes, Mrs. Winchester," he said, tilting his head and closing his eyes to my face buried in his neck. The power that surged through my body was foreign, but amazing, nonetheless. Moving my face towards his, I kissed him, biting his bottom lip and tugging ever so slightly.
"Baby," Dean was saying, but I barely heard him. His voice came again, deep and authoritative, "Grace, stop."
I snapped out of the hold The Mark had on me, pulling my hand away from his arm. I gasped, shocked at my behavior. I shook my head, pulling myself off of Dean and he reached for my face, forcing eye contact. "What the hell was that? You weren't you, Grace," he said, his voice concerned. I glanced up to his eyes, embarrassed at my actions. I had never acted that way before and it frightened me. I looked away, closing my eyes as a tear fell from my cheek.
"Gracie?" I looked up at him again, my eyes filling with tears. He moved quickly, cupping my face with both of his hands. "Did it hurt you? Did I hurt you?"
I was shaking my head, trying to stop the panic that seized me. It wasn't how The Mark made me feel, it was the desire that I wanted more. I looked up at Dean again, taking a deep breath to answer, "Powerful," I said, simply.
He relaxed slightly then, lowering one of his hands, and sighing heavily. "Are you okay?" Dean asked, worry still etched on his face. I nodded, putting my hand over his on my cheek. I leaned towards his chest, lying on his warm skin. I could hear him thinking, thoughts moving too quickly to isolate, but overall, regret flooding through his mind. His heart rate was slowing, his rage ebbing as we both calmed together.
I fell asleep almost immediately, my dreams were vivid and in languages I didn't understand. I was facing off against Castiel, the shadow of his wings silhouetted against an intense white light. He wasn't angry, but determined; his eyes glowed blue with angelic power. I wasn't afraid, but I was completely unaware how to handle myself against the full force of a cosmic being.
I awoke to Dean watching me, a sheet draped over my shoulders and his bare feet propped up on the bed. He sat in the plush hotel lounge chair, shirtless with a drink in his hand. It appeared to be the middle of the night, the sheer curtains were pulled across the huge windows; the lights of Memphis, Arkansas shone through them. I sat up in bed, staring into the dark across the room towards him. "Have you slept?"
He shook his head, swirling the ice in his glass. "I've been listening to you."
"Listening?" I asked, sitting up, the sheet falling to the side slightly. "What have I been saying?"
Dean took a drink, draining his glass, the ice clinking back to the bottom as he set it, empty, on the table next to him. "It's not a language that I knew."
"I spoke a different language?" I asked, pulling my hair into a twist at over my shoulder. I could see the shine of Dean's wedding ring as he spun it with his thumb, still watching me.
Yeah, spoke a different language, he repeated in his mind, sighing. What's happening, Grace?
Tears welled in my eyes again, stinging in the dark. I wiped them away before they had a chance to fall, bewildered. I didn't understand what was happening to me. "What is going on?"
Dean stood, walking towards the end of the bed. "Do you think this has something to do with how Cas has been treating you the last few weeks?" His voice was rough, emotional. "Do you think he saw this coming?"
I shrugged, at a loss. I chanced a glance at Dean, his shoulder blades in sharp relief in the shadows. "It's always something with me, isn't it?"
Chuckling, Dean reached his warm hand towards my thigh and through the sheet; the heat from his hand was comforting. "Yeah, it seems that way, but I love you for it."
"Well, that's good," I said, "because now you're stuck with me." I put my hand on his, my wedding band clinking his as I made contact. "Do you think it was The Mark?"
"I know it was," he said, sighing. "You're not allowed to touch it anymore, by the way," he smiled slightly. "I don't care how much it turns you on."
I giggled. "Way to start our honeymoon," I breathed, "hot sex and new languages."
"Worse things have happened," and he turned to kiss me again. We lay down, wrapping ourselves in each other and disappearing again into passion.
We went to a few cemeteries throughout New Orleans when we arrived, the trials of the first night of our honeymoon in Arkansas forgotten. We even went on a hunt in an abandoned warehouse, a vengeful spirit lingering long after he should have been gone. The hunt went smoothly, the night ending with the salt and burn of the spirit's remains as we leaned on each other, watching the flames lick the sides of the gravesite.
I was listening to Dean run through the hunt in his head, pleased at our communication throughout. He was able to throw out sentences, images, and feelings to guide me through the hunt without ever opening his mouth. I would answer with nods or gestures, or an occasional smile. We were almost completely silent the entire time, my brain still preoccupied with Dean's emotions and thoughts.
It happened while I watched the fire, the other voices creeping into my stream of feelings like an invasion, setting me on edge. At first, I thought Dean was messing with me. I smacked his chest, telling him to knock it off and he looked down at me, genuinely surprised at my actions. "Well, quit it!" I said; my grin fading as I made eye contact with him. I pulled away, seeing the truth spread across his face in his confusion. I made a face, bewildered. "That wasn't you?" I asked as I stepped away from the ember filled hole in the ground.
"What wasn't me?" he asked, his head cocking to the side. "What did you hear?"
Baffled, I took another step back. I replayed the last few things that I heard when I was listening to Dean. I realized where I heard it: from the dreams I had days ago, a language I didn't recognize from voices I had never heard before. There were hundreds of them, all speaking at the same time, all asking the same set of questions, and this time, I understood the translation, "Where is he? Why has he abandoned us?"
I had tapped into some sort of hive mind, all thinking the same thing, and it was the strangest thing I had ever experienced. I glanced at Dean again, his face full of concern. "You've gotta say something, Gracie. You're the psychic. I can't hear you."
I listened longer, waiting to see if the loop of thought changed. Shaking my head, I opened my mouth to speak, "It's the same voices I've been dreaming about using the same language." I ran my hands through my hair and turned all the way towards Dean, "It's so loud."
Dean approached, watching me carefully. "You understand them now?"
I continued to listen. "Yeah, they're on a loop. They're saying 'Where is he? Why has he abandoned us?'"
Pulling out his phone, Dean was shaking his head, already dialing. "I don't know, Gracie, I guess we could say that Cas knew this was coming. Which means it's weird. I'm calling him." I could hear Dean talking quickly, explaining the situation to Castiel over the phone. "Where are you? How soon can you get here?" Dean paused, listening, and glanced over at me. "Lockport…Maine?"
"No," I could hear Cas' voice over the speaker, "Lockport, Louisiana. I'm twenty five minutes away from you."
"He followed us down?" I asked, moving towards Dean, "he knew this would happen."
"See you in twenty-five," Dean said, hanging up the phone. He turned to me. "So that whole, 'Cas is acting weird around me' thing panned out. Gold star for you."
I didn't like it. Castiel had never been wary of me before and knowing that he had followed us down to Louisiana was a red flag. For twenty or so minutes, I paced around the cemetery and tried not to over think what was happening to me. It was like some sort of altered vision, playing out a step at a time. Being a psychic wasn't enough? I thought to myself, I have to start hearing fragments of a language I don't understand?
Dean was watching me, I knew. I figured it was right around then when he would start regretting his decision to marry me. I chanced a look at him, trying to hear what he was thinking, but honestly, the other voices were so loud, I couldn't block them out long enough to catch Dean's thoughts.
"You're gonna file divorce papers when we get home, aren't you?" I said, trying to get Dean to smile. He was brooding. It was the same face he made when he was thinking about The Mark of Cain and when he discussed his past with Sam. I didn't like that look.
Dean turned then, his eyebrows shooting up, "What the hell are you talking about?"
"You signed up for the psychic," I explained, doing my best at a small smile, "but the voices thing. You didn't sign up for that. I must be losing my fucking mind."
He walked to me, slowly, looking like I hit him. "You don't have a whole lotta faith in me, do you?" Dean paused, reaching me and taking my shoulders. "You keep forgetting how much shit I've been through with Sammy. Demon blood, Grace. I went through my brother drinking fucking demon blood and you think I'm gonna abandon ship over some voices?" He shook his head, offended. "You'd better get used to it: you're stuck with me, sweetheart."
I laughed then, a small giggle through the tears in my eyes. I felt contaminated, dirty. "I hope so."
We turned in tandem at Castiel pulling up in his car because traveling as he normally would as a cosmic creature took too much out of him these days…we had yet to find a way to heal Castiel's grace. As the car door opened, a loud, high pitched frequency began, piercing though the other voices in my head, louder than all the others. Castiel opened his mouth to speak but the sound drowned out any words that he may have been saying. I couldn't hear a thing besides the sound that seemed to be emanating from Castiel.
Dean and Cas were looking at me expectantly, waiting for me to respond to a question I hadn't heard. "What?" I yelled, trying to be louder than the sound. "What is that sound?"
Castiel stared at me, his eyebrows furrowed in the stern grimace he had most of the time. The sound ceased almost immediately, again leaving me with only the worried loop of voices, all asking the same thing. "Better?" he asked, tilting his head.
"Holy shit, that was you?" I asked, rubbing the sides of my ears and taking a deep breath, calming my nerves. "You're gonna make us go deaf, Cas."
Dean looked at me, questioning, "What are you hearing now?"
"You didn't hear that?" I asked, staring at Dean. "That loud, high-pitched thing?"
Castiel spoke before Dean had a chance, "He wouldn't have heard it, Grace. Not since I raised him from perdition."
Stepping in between us, Dean put his hands out, slowing down the conversation. "You guys have got to stop. One thing at a time." He looked at me. "You heard some sound? Other than the voices?" I nodded. Dean continued, turning to Castiel. "And what are you talking about, Cas, 'since I raised you from perdition?' Are you talking about pulling me out of The Pit?" It was Castiel's turn to nod, waiting for Dean to continue. "What sound did I hear?"
"The sound of my true voice," Cas explained, "it's too much for human ears to take, and I keep my thoughts to myself so as not to damage any of your hearing," he continued, taking a breath. "I anticipated this. I've been wondering how long it would take Grace to realize her true form."
"Her true form?" Dean asked, his voice rising in pitch in the slightest. "What in the hell are you talking about, man?"
Castiel looked from Dean to me and back to Dean, "I have been theorizing that Grace is different since the wedding," he began, calming his voice and speaking softly, "I've noticed certain things changing about her, not physically, but mentally and emotionally…" he faded off, unsure of how to continue, "I've been trying to research what I could about her true form, but there is little knowledge about her kind."
"My kind?" I asked, stepping forward, "what do you mean, 'my kind,' Cas? I'm not a monster."
Dean stepped ahead as well, coming to my defense, putting his arm in front of me in a protective stance, "Cas, you're on very dangerous ground, here, man. Get to your point."
"The dreams you have been having," Castiel began, speaking faster, trying to explain himself without wounding anyone's pride, "you don't understand the language because it's Enochian."
"I can understand it now," I said quietly.
Dean let his mouth fall open ever so slightly. "Enochian?" he asked, his voice filling with doubt, "the language all of the fluffy-winged dicks speak?"
"I happen to be one of them, Dean. I would appreciate if you would stop calling us that," Castiel said, his words dripping with attitude. "Yes, Enochian is the oldest language to exist. Angels still use it to communicate to each other telepathically."
"Angel radio," I whispered, remembering the stories that Dean and Sam had told me over the past eighteen months. Angels have always been able to speak without speaking, to know what everyone else is doing, and to know where others like them were in the world. It acted as both as a way to communicate and as a tracking signal. If an angel participated in Angel Radio, he or she could be traced anywhere in the world, this one or the next.
Dean spoke again, anger rising in his voice, "What are you saying, Cas? That she's an angel? Don't you think that we would know that by now?"
"Not an angel," Castiel said, shaking his head, "a nephilim."
I gasped as Dean looked from me to Cas and back to me, "What the hell is a nephilim?"
"It's not possible, Castiel," I was saying, though everything I was feeling supported the theory, "both of my parents were human."
"I truly think that is false," Cas stately simply. "I can feel you in a different way than I can feel Dean, or anyone else. You aren't quite as loud as a true seraph, but I can still hear you just fine, which means others can as well."
I had almost forgotten that Dean was standing next to me. He spoke again, enunciating his words as he would to a child, "What the fuck is a nephilim?"
Castiel and I both turned to Dean. Cas explained as I struggled to breathe. "A nephilim is a being that is both human and…" he glanced at me, "angel."
I was still shaking my head, hot, angry tears brimming in my eyes. It wasn't possible. "Both of my parents were human, Castiel!" I repeated, almost stomping my foot for effect.
"Maybe they were later, but one of them was, Grace, and I know you know it to be true." Castiel paused, glancing back at Dean. "If one of them was simply a vessel, it would be the same outcome."
Dean hadn't spoken. He was reeling, right along with me, in shock at the information that Cas shared with us. Realization was beginning to hit Dean. I watched his face as it began to relax while he relived memories that, I knew, supported Castiel's theory about me. "Your eyes," Dean breathed, "I didn't imagine it." Dean addressed Castiel once again. "Her eyes have been glowing occasionally, but it happens so fast, I miss it most of the time."
"My eyes are glowing?" I repeated, "Do you realize how ridiculous this sounds?" I paused, but then I couldn't help myself. I asked, "When?"
"The first time I noticed, you had turned away from Dean, a few days after the wedding," Cas answered quickly, before Dean had a chance. Castiel considered his thoughts a moment before continuing, "And again in the kitchen after hugging him. It's hard to control if you are unaware of the feelings you are having at the time."
Silently, Dean stared at me, his face disbelieving, but calm. He wasn't angry or upset; he just accepted what Castiel was telling him and loved me anyway. He locked eyes with me and smiled slightly, "Like puberty."
"What is puberty?" Cas asked, confused.
Dean shook his head, "Never mind, buddy." He took his serious face again. "So what does this mean? What changes?"
"You're just accepting this, Dean?" I asked, still uneasy and disbelieving. "Why is this so easy to take?" I felt myself losing control, more than crying. I almost felt sick to my stomach. I was angry and distressed…the idea that I wasn't human wasn't something I had even been close to coming to considering, and now, to be grouped into a cluster that we would have hunted in the past was unnerving.
I had heard of nephilim before, many times when I was a child. Serra and I had both heard it as a bedtime story…an angel hybrid that didn't fit in with either world…outcast by humans and shunned by angels. She wandered the Earth, having powers but unable to use them, until a family helped her find who she was. The story he told was of a family that took her in, regardless of her heritage, because no matter what, she had been a good person. I struggled to grasp that our father may have been referring to me. The pieces were sliding into place…my psychic abilities were not because I was a human with mutant powers; I was an angel with human emotions. I was a hybrid that lived a hunter's life. My entire world was shattering around me. How was this possible? Who am I? I turned towards Dean, but he didn't look worried. He wasn't batting an eye to this new information. I was still reeling. "How are you so calm?' I was screaming in my head at Dean. "Why aren't you upset?"
"Because he loves you," Castiel responded quietly to my thoughts, "regardless of what you are, Dean loves you. You are a rare example of two halves reuniting."
Dean tilted his head, "I know we're an awesome fit, but what do you mean?"
"There is lore in the ancient Asian cultures about a Red String of Fate," Castiel explained, "in traditional Christian views, it's referred to soul mates, but in reality, you two are a prime example of 'bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh' early Genesis writings in the Bible." Cas raised his eyebrows. "You were destined for each other."
Dean glanced at me and back at Castiel, "If we were destined for each other, then there's purpose behind it. There's never a destiny without a purpose."
Castiel nodded. "I think Grace's powers are the key."
Dean squeezed my hand and looked back at Castiel and repeated himself, "Okay, man. Let's hear it. What changes?"
Castiel was all business again, paying little attention to me, wiping my face and breathing heavily, trying to control my emotions. He began softly, "Nephilim are forbidden," Cas explained, "they can only be created between a union between a human and an angel, which is prohibited in heaven and on Earth. It never should have happened, and I'm unsure as to why it did."
"Hey," Dean said, defensive, "unions happen."
I glanced at him, surprised. "It's happened before?"
He flushed slightly, looking at his boots, "It was way before you."
Castiel was obviously confused, staring at Dean in childlike curiosity. "With whom?" he asked, tilting his head.
Dean shook it off; dismissing the direction the conversation was headed. "Forget it," he said, waving his hand. "Keep the focus on Grace."
"Regardless of how it happened," Castiel continued, "it did. Grace is living proof. Her powers began to mature after the wedding."
"Why?" Dean asked, still holding my hand.
"I'm not sure…but I have a feeling that it has to do with The Mark of Cain."
Rolling his eyes and sighing, Dean turned away from me, dropping my hand and walking towards the ember-filled gravesite. "Of course it does," he said quietly.
Castiel turned to me, asking, "When did you touch it for the first time?"
"The Mark? I'm sure I've touched it hundreds of times."
Shaking his head, Cas was more specific, "No, not accidentally: purposefully, making the conscious decision to touch it."
I thought for a moment before answering. Dean was always very possessive of The Mark, not really allowing me to touch it or even look at it. I always figured it was because he was shielding it from me, worried that it might hurt me in some way. Really, Dean didn't like anyone looking at it. It dawned on me that I had only really touched The Mark twice, the first time was the night of our wedding; a steamy, passionate night that ended with us sprawled out on the floor of Dean's room in the BatCave. The other was a few nights ago, in Arkansas. I flashed to both instances and Castiel nodded, watching my thoughts flicker through my mind.
"I heard you for the first time on the night of your wedding," Castiel said, putting his hands in the pockets of his trench coat, "and the second time was louder, a few nights ago. I believe that you absorb power from The Mark and the energy that it gives you pushes you farther into your powers as a nephilim."
"Why would it do that?" I said, confused.
"Because the line of nephilim that I have learned about are direct decedents of Cain," Castiel said, addressing Dean, even though his back was turned. "That's where Fate intervened. You were meant to walk the path that included taking on The Mark, but further, it also lead you to what can free you from it," he finished, gesturing to me.
I pushed my hair out of my face, realization hitting me. "I can absorb The Mark."
"What?" Dean had turned, striding back to us now, agitated and protective.
I turned to him, pieces falling into place. "When I touch it, I can feel the power of it crawling up my arm. It's a high for me, almost addicting." I shook my head, remembering. "Just talking about it right now, I want to touch it."
Dean took a step away from me, "No, I'm not letting you take this on. I'm not watching you go through this."
Castiel spoke softly, unwilling to face Dean if he angered him. "Dean, I am aware of how much you desire to protect Grace, but I feel that there are answers within her." He paused, thinking, "When I healed her in the hospital, she had human wounds and she may have died had I not intervened, but healing her was not as taxing on my borrowed grace as I assumed it would be. I was exhausted afterwards, but recovered quickly." Cas pursed his lips, shrugging slightly. "It was the first time that I considered it possible that she was something other than human."
My thoughts turned to Serendipity. "What about my sister? Is she half and half too?"
Shaking his head before I had finished my sentence, Castiel answered, "No, she's human. Before I came after the two of you, I felt my way through her subconscious. She has none of the markers that you do. She's completely human."
I took a deep breath, semi-relieved, but at the same time, further confused. "I don't get it, though. What, did my mom have an affair? With an angel? Are we even full-blood sisters?" I started to tear up again. Serra was the only blood I had left. My parents were both only children and I had no existing relatives. The only connection I had to our past were the photo albums and journals at the house, untouched since my parents died.
"I don't know yet, Grace. All of this is very interesting," Castiel said as I clenched my jaw, frustration taking hold. I was letting my abilities glide out of my brain; the feelers of my subconscious reached towards Castiel and craved more information. He obviously felt the push and took a step back, holding up his hand. "Grace, you have to start keeping your abilities at bay. This is all leading up to what concerns me."
Dean raised his eyebrows. "Nothing has concerned you up to this point? The fact that she can absorb The Mark doesn't concern you? The fact that she's a fifty/fifty bar doesn't worry you?"
"No," Castiel said, "what worries me is that if I can hear her, the other angels can as well. That puts her in danger."
"Because I'm forbidden," I said under my breath.
"Great," I heard Dean whisper under his breath. He spoke louder, then, anger beginning to rise under the surface, "So the hunters will be the hunted. They're gonna come, gunning for my wife, and you're standing there saying that she's interesting?" He clenched his hands, making fists and popping his neck. "This is bullshit, Cas, and you know it. She's not threatening anyone."
"I know, Dean, trust me. The last thing I want is for Grace to be in danger, but eventually, they will start to hear a new voice," Castiel said solemnly, "and they will want to know who it belongs to."
"Are you sure they'll come after me?" I asked, already knowing the answer. I was a creature that was prohibited. I was a freak, just like I had always believed I was. Cas only nodded. He looked like he was holding something back, so I pressed farther. "How do you know?"
Hesitating, Castiel closed his eyes. "When Metatron had control over me, he used me to smite the only other known nephilim." He opened his eyes long enough to see Dean react. "She had been first seal in making the angels fall."
"You killed her," Dean growled.
Castiel nodded again, silent.
It happened so fast, I had little time to react. Dean was on Castiel, throwing him to the ground and hitting him across the face. Straddling Castiel, Dean held him to the dirt and was relentless, punching Castiel over and over again. I threw myself towards the boys on the ground and tried to haul Dean off of Castiel, struggling to overtake Dean's strength. "Dean, stop! Stop!" I screamed, pulling him by the shoulder, grabbing his shirt, trying anything I could to disengage Dean from brutally beating Castiel.
Time seemed to slow down as pieces flew together in my mind. I could absorb and, in theory, use power from The Mark of Cain. Dean's Marked arm was visible, pinning Castiel to the ground, his shirtsleeve rolled to his elbow, showing the edge of The Mark. I dove to Dean's side, throwing my hand, palm down, on top of The Mark of Cain. Immediately, I felt the surge of power through my palm, into my fingers and up my arm. As Dean reached to hit Cas again, I grabbed his fist out of the air with my other hand, brought it down towards his chest and pushed with all my might against Dean, rolling us both across the dirt. I kept my palm tight against The Mark, now straddling Dean and pinning his arms to his sides.
"Stop!" I yelled again, still somehow overpowering Dean and holding his arms to his sides. "Just stop. He won't hurt me. You know that."
His breathing slowed, his heart rate calmed, and slowly, my husband came back to me, the flecks of green just visible in the darkness. "How in the hell…" Dean began; his voice rough with emotion.
I ignored him. My concern at the moment was only for Castiel. I got off of Dean, leaving him wondering in the dirt and as I walked to a bleeding Cas. I helped him into a sitting position as we stared at each other.
"Are you okay?" I asked him, evaluating his wounds. Already, his right eye was beginning to swell shut and blood flowed from his mouth and nose. The cut across his forehead was bleeding as well, dirt and grass was stuck in his hair and he attempted to catch his breath through the wheeze in his chest. I glanced back at Dean, who was still lying on the ground, now with his hands covering his face, humiliated at his actions. I could see that his knuckles were bloody: if it was his blood or Cas' I wouldn't know, but without thinking, I reaching towards Castiel and extended two of my fingers. I could still feel the effects of The Mark and I knew that I only had moments before its power left me. On a whim, I gently touched Castiel's forehead with my fingers and closed my eyes.
The affect was immediate. I have no idea how I did it, or even how to recreate it, but there was a flash of white light through the trees and headstones of the cemetery as I used the power that I had left from The Mark to heal Castiel's wounds. I could feel a change in him as I brought my fingers down from his head. I opened my eyes and was met by Castiel's blue stare. The swelling in his eye was gone and the only blood that trickled from his face was from his lip, still bleeding ever so slightly.
The silence that spread across the graveyard was palpable. I evaluated my own body, feelings, and mind and I felt fine. There was no exhaustion from healing Castiel, nor was there any anxiety or stress to be found. I was calm. I stood slowly, extending my hand to Cas, offering to help him up. He took my hand, stood, and we both turned to stare at Dean.
He was sitting, tears in his eyes, staring back at me and Castiel. Dean looked more like a child than anything, sitting there in the dirt, emotional and bloody. I strode to him, kneeling next to him, tears forming in my eyes as well, adrenaline deserting my bloodstream and leaving nothing but the raw emotion from watching him pummel Castiel.
Dean didn't even have it in him to turn his face away from me. I wrapped my arms around his shoulders and he nestled his face in my neck, weeping openly, apologizing with everything he had in him. I knew that his need to protect me and the power of The Mark of Cain had taken over; ready to war with whatever may have threatened me. We sat that way, on the ground in the dark, for a long time.
The Impala rumbled down the road in the dark and the only sound besides the 327 V8 was Dean, snoring lightly next to me in the passenger seat. He was dirty and bloody, still with soil in his fingernails and on his face, where he wiped his eyes from the aftermath of the fight. Castiel followed in his car, his headlights shone in the rear-view mirror, waiting for my next move. We rolled to a stop at the crossroads of two highways and in the dead of night, there was no one for miles in either direction.
I had two choices: continue on the highway we were on, back to our swank hotel in the French Quarter of New Orleans, or turn left and head home to figure out what was next. I glanced at Dean, his mouth was open slightly; exhausted. I ran my hand down the vinyl of the Impala, breathing in the smells of leather, gun powder, and engine grease, remembering the first time I had gotten in. It had only been eighteen months since we met, but it felt like decades had passed. So much had happened, especially in the last few months, and the human side of my brain was having a hard time absorbing it.
The human side. I had already moved into acceptance. I had never anticipated something like this, but it was the first time in my life that I made sense. Serendipity had spent most of her childhood watching me struggle with being a psychic, and now, that struggle seemed so small, so insignificant. I wanted to get home to my sister, to try and find some explanation as to how I ended up what I was, but I also wanted to make sure Dean…well. I didn't know what I expected out of him. I had watched in horror when he had gone after Castiel, but I was also the one who split them up, and I was still unsure of how he would react when he woke up. I stared at my hands, expecting them to look different somehow, especially after healing Cas. They didn't, of course, but I turned them over anyway, staring at the tiny diamond band on my finger and wondering what to do.
Castiel must have questioned why I was stopped, because I saw the shift of his headlights in the rear view mirror as he drove up to my side. I rolled down the window as he came to a stop.
"Grace?" he asked, reaching across to his passenger side window.
"I haven't decided which way to go," I said quietly, glimpsing at Dean, who showed signs of waking. I turned back to Cas. "I want to go home, but we're also only four days into our honeymoon. Something tells me that we won't have a chance to be alone together again for months." Castiel's eyes crinkled in what I could only describe as an apology. I sighed, finding no help from him and turned again to Dean. "Dean?" I asked, touching his shoulder. "Are you awake?"
"No," came Dean's reply, his voice low, but gentle.
I smiled slightly, running a hand through his hair. He turned to my touch, rolling his head on the back of the seat, his green eyes finally meeting mine. "Which way do I go?" I asked plainly, shaking my head. "Hotel or home?"
His hands came up to rub his face, spreading dirt around, worse than before. He sat up, taking a deep breath, and I could hear his thought process begin, "I have no idea, honey. I don't know what to do either."
I nodded. So we were both lost.
Dean smiled at me, "You look good behind the wheel," he said.
Tilting my head at him and raising my eyebrows, I teased him, "Obviously."
Turning back to Castiel, I shook my head. "You decide, Cas. Home or hotel?"
There was a long pause as the angel decided. I knew he felt exposed out here, meandering down the highway, but I knew there was more to the newest development since becoming a Winchester. I needed to hear what would happen next.
"Hotel," came Castiel's reply, stopping my thought process. "We can discuss what to do next without having to involve Serendipity or Sam yet. The less they know right now, the better."
"I can't hide this from my sister," I told Castiel, my eyebrows furrowing in displeasure. "I tell her everything and if I hide something like this from her, I'm just going to hurt her."
Dean leaned forward in the seat, glancing towards Cas. He didn't really meet his eyes, but he seconded my opinion, "She'll tell her whether we want her to or not, and you know, as soon as Serra knows, Sammy will."
Castiel sighed in resignation. "We should still stay away from the Men of Letters base and Grace and Serra's home. We need to make sure the angels don't make the connection."
I nodded, putting the Impala back into drive. I glanced through the intersection and punched the gas, peeling out as I drove away. Dean dug through my purse, looking for something as I rolled my window up. I glimpsed at him, still digging, and asked, "What are you looking for?"
"Don't you have any of those wipes?" His eyes found mine and he smiled. "I know," he said to my face, questioning with a sly grin, "but I can tell there's blood and dirt all over my face. I can't actually look like I tried to kill my best friend."
I was glad he brought it up. I spoke quietly. "You wouldn't have killed him," I explained, "you would have stopped."
Dean shook his head slowly. "I don't know. As soon as he said that he killed that other girl," he paused, finding the right words, "I don't know, Grace. I hated him for it." Dean put his hand on mine, still resting on the vinyl between us, "All I could picture was him killing you."
Wanting to avoid the agreement I felt with Dean, I leaned towards my purse instead, resting on his lap. "They're in the side pocket. I think I have two or three left." I pulled out the wipes and handed them to Dean, still much left unspoken, resting on the silence as we drove on through the night.
Serendipity and Sam were breathing heavily, wrapped in sheets and close to falling off the edge of the bed in their state of euphoria. The bedroom door was open, for a change, and fresh, spring air flowing through the house. Sam and Serra had been alone in the house for four days and had taken the opportunity to claim rooms in ways they never had. The kitchen had been a favorite, with the counter just the right height. Sam smiled at the memory.
He pushed his hair out of his face, taking a deep, ragged breath and kissed Serra on the forehead as he rolled to the side, pulling her back towards the center of the bed as he did. Sam watched her as she adjusted, pulling her long brown hair into a messy bun at the top of her head.
Sammy was grateful, now more than ever, that Dean had found Grace. The relationship that he had developed with her younger sister had been the missing piece to his own life. It was strange, at first, the idea that he had "settled" for Grace's sister, but in all honestly, Sam felt he had the better end of the deal. There was no psychic touch to be concerned with and Serra had a lust for life unlike Sam had ever experienced.
Sam had been drawn to Serendipity right from the beginning, unwilling to admit it, but he was nonetheless. Not since Jessica had he felt so alive, so free to do what he chose, and for the first time in his life, he didn't doubt any of the choices he had made. Serra fit in all the ways other women in his life had not: she knew what it was like to be a hunter, she had felt and experienced the same fears that he had. The magnetic force that pulled Sam to Serendipity was cosmic; he couldn't be away from her. She was like breathing. It was a deeper love than Sam could describe and every once and awhile, he would feel guilty about loving Serendipity more than he ever loved Jessica.
Grace seemed to be the missing piece that brought both of the families out into the light from the constant surrounding darkness, and not once, did Dean ever question it. Where Grace went, Dean would follow, and for that, Sam would be forever grateful. His new sister-in-law made his brother happy, and that's what mattered. Dean and Grace seemed to share the same magnetic chemistry that the younger set felt as well, and a small part of Sam's brain wondered if there was some greater force behind the entire set up. It all seemed too convenient, too easy. At the same time, Sam wasn't the one to look a gift horse in the mouth.
Now, Sam was free to do whatever he pleased, whenever he pleased. Joining Serra back at the local college had been exhilarating: they had approximately the same schedule and they were together most of the time. Serra worked nights at the NICU in town and Sam used the time she was at work to catch up on his own studies and continue searching for a cure for The Mark of Cain. Dean was at constant battle with himself, liking the power that it gave him, but hating what he may do to innocent people. Grace was the light to his dark, and Sam didn't worry as much as he used to about what his brother might do to destroy himself further. If anything, Sam thought Dean was handling The Mark better since the wedding, less anger and less self-loathing. Who knew that Dean Winchester would adapt so well to marriage?
Serra snored quietly next to him, sleep already taking her. Sam watched her sleep and smiled softly. The curves of her face, the freckles tossed across the bridge of her nose: Sam had already memorized all of her features, soft and feminine. There was a new small scar through her left eyebrow; the only remaining wound from the stalker attack months ago. Slowly, Sam sat up, trying his hardest not to wake her. In the dusk of summer, he found pants and a shirt and padded out of the room to find food.
Coming down the stairs, Sam could hear a phone vibrating on the counter, the buzz echoed through the empty kitchen. He picked it up and saw Grace's name flash across the screen of Serra's phone. Knowing the sisters spoke often, he put the phone back on the counter top, assuming that Grace was simply calling to chat. It stopped after a few more seconds and Sam walked to the fridge, the light flooded through the room. From behind him, the buzz began again, the phone vibrating across the countertop. Grace's name flashed again, and this time, Sam slid unlock and answered.
"Grace? What's wrong?"
From the other end of the phone, Grace took a shaky breath, obviously expecting to talk to her sister. "Hiya, Sammy," Grace greeted Sam, sounding eerily like his brother. "Where is Serra?"
"Sleeping," he replied, his heart beating harder than it should be. "What's the matter, Grace?" Sam knew something was off, but he had no idea what could be distressing over the newlyweds' honeymoon.
"Nothing, Sammy," Grace lied. "I just miss my sister."
Sam's eyebrows furrowed, seeing right through Grace. "Where's Dean?" Sam tried, just keeping Grace on the phone. He shifted his weight from one foot to the other and waited patiently. Something wasn't right.
"He's in the shower," Grace said, calming down. She quickly added, "he's fine." Grace could sense that Sam wouldn't let her off the phone without more explanation, so she took another breath and gave in to Sam's long pause. "If you guys aren't doing anything important, you should probably head down this way."
"What? Why?" Sam was on alert, finally getting somewhere with his sister-in-law.
"Cas is here too," she continued, "apparently I'm even more freakish than we originally thought."
"Something happened, didn't it, Grace?" he asked, already heading back upstairs to Serra while on the phone, knowing as soon as Serra spoke to her sister, they would be on their way to New Orleans. Sam was already doing the mental math; if they drove all night, they could probably be there by late afternoon the next day.
Grace paused again, hesitant to go into detail over the phone, "Yeah, but everyone is fine. Just get here, please?"
Sam stepped into the room he shared with Serra and flipped on the light, waking her. "It's your sister," he said, tossing her the phone and throwing clothes into a bag.
Serra picked up the phone, obviously wide awake now, "What happened?" Serra listened as Grace spoke; long involved sentences that were obviously more detailed than she was giving Sam. Serra was already up and moving, getting dressed and throwing jeans and tank tops into Sam's duffle. From the hall, Sam tossed her their travel bathroom kits and she shoved them into the duffel bag as well. Then, Serra went into Grace's room, pulling old journals and photo albums out of the cupboard. Sam looked at her questioning, but she shook her head at him and shrugged.
Moving as a team, Sam and Serra were downstairs, locking up the house, opening the garage and Sam was starting the Chevelle in less than ten minutes.
"We're taking the Chevelle," Serra said, finally, as they backed down the driveway. "We're coming, Grace." Serra hung up the phone and put it down in the cup holder.
Sam turned to Serra and raised his eyebrows. "She obviously gave you more information that she gave me," he said, putting the car into drive and peeling down the street.
Serra took a deep breath and stared at Sam, her head tilted slightly, "What the fuck is a nephilim?"
Dean walked out of the bathroom, towel over his shoulders, wearing only his boxers. Cas stood in front of the tall window, watching the lights from New Orleans glitter below them. Dean pulled on a shirt, tossing the towel on the bed next to me and he rifled through his duffle, looking for pajama pants.
There was a silence that I longed to fill between the boys and I had no idea how. I could feel the fear coming from Dean, the disgust he still felt with himself for attacking Castiel, and the questions that he still had unanswered. Cas turned, taking a breath and came closer to sit in the chair next to me. Dean pulled on the pajama pants that he found and sat down next to me.
Quietly, I said, "I called Serra."
Looking at me, Dean nodded. "I figured you would," Dean answered, hand on my thigh. "They're on their way, then?" I only nodded. "Cas," Dean started, "Look, man…"
"There's no need to apologize, Dean," Cas interrupted. "You were only protecting your wife. I understand that kind of human reaction." He took a deep breath, leaning forward. "I also need you to understand how much danger Grace is in right now."
"I get it, Cas. The angels are coming and they're gonna smite us, the first chance they get." Dean stood, running his hands over his face and popping his neck. "What I need to know is how to protect her. How to get her off the grid."
"Off the grid?" I asked, "what, just disappear? We can't do that, Dean. We have jobs, we have Serra and Sam, and a bought and paid for house. We can't just leave. If we have to, we fight."
I turned back to Castiel, surprised that I wasn't more afraid. I felt very little…no anxiety or apprehension flooding through my brain as I thought there would be. I could hear Dean's thoughts washing over me, his fear, his concern and I wanted nothing else than to push Cas out the door and wrap myself around my husband. Castiel was shaking his head, "You can't fight the army of heaven, Grace."
"Why do we have to?" I asked, agitated. I stood, pacing around the hotel room, "What am I doing wrong?"
"Existing," Cas replied quietly.
I shook my head, frustrated. "You guys have fought your way out of way worse. Why can't I use The Mark to fight back Or use spells? I know there are banishing spells. We can just use those."
Dean was shaking his head as I completed my circle around the room. "Grace…"
"No, Dean, I'm not going to live my life in fear! I haven't done anything to them. I have only ever fought for their side! Why am I the enemy?" I stood, the anger hitting me harder than it had in a long time. "Why can't I just enjoy being your wife? We tried to get out, to walk away." I paused, sighing and pulling my hair into a bun at the base of my neck. "They're the ones that are pulling us back in."
Cas and Dean spoke at the same time, both starting with my name. "Grace—" They both stopped, glancing at each other and stopping. Castiel nodded towards Dean, and he took the lead. "Honey," he started, looking at his hands, "we can't expect to go up against the angels and come out on top. We need to think about our future…we can learn to disappear." He paused and took a ragged breath, "I can be out of the game completely. We can walk away."
"That's not what you want, Dean, and you know it," I stared at him, uncomprehending that he was just throwing up his hands and walking away. I could feel the tears in my eyes, brimming over the edge and falling to my cheeks. "And even if we did learn to live invisibly…what kind of life is that?"
Castiel stood, walking back to the windows giving Dean a chance to be alone with me. He walked to my side and reached to touch my face, but I pulled away, still angry. Licking his lips, Dean put his hands on his hips and took a step away from me. "A lot of shit has come down in the last few hours, Grace. Let's just go to bed and we can talk about a plan of action when we wake up. When Sam and Serra get here, they're going to want all of the details that have happened and we're gonna have to spend the first six hours explaining everything." He gestured to Castiel, "He knows more than he's letting on, and we'll get to that too."
Cas turned to face Dean, his eyebrows furrowed and emotional. "Dean's right. I've heard and seen some things lately that need to be addressed."
Frustrated and exhausted, I flung myself on the bed, laying on my back and staring at the ceiling. For me, the conversation was over and I was done talking my way around the circles that Dean and Castiel had established. We weren't getting anywhere and it was driving me crazy. I heard the hotel room door open and Dean followed Cas out into the hall.
When the boys left the room, I opened myself as much as I could to the conversation happening out of my range of hearing. I concentrated on what Dean's internal voice and then I realized that I could hear Castiel as well.
Dean sounded uncomfortable. "She saved your life, man, I think you should at least try to be a little grateful. Cut her some slack."
Cas was distracted, listening to the cosmic surroundings more than he was listening to Dean, "It's not that I'm not grateful Dean, but I feel strongly that you would have stopped if she hadn't intervened. What I am concerned about is her presence in my brain. If I can feel her, so can everyone else."
"Everyone else? Meaning the rest of the God Patrol?"
"The angels," Castiel continued. "If I can hear her, they can hear her. It's an open line."
Both of the boys hesitated, and I knew they were trying to figure out a way to tell me to be as quiet as I could be when it came to listening to others' thoughts. I had to reel myself in if I wanted to survive. I had to run on radio silence if I wanted to protect my future with Dean.
I closed my eyes, finally giving in. If I had to run silent to be with Dean, then silent I would be. I withdrew myself from the conversation and began building my mental walls once again. I concentrated on keeping myself contained, to only hear my own thoughts and feelings. I felt extremely limited, but if this is what it took to keep my family safe, then I would work harder to stay contained.
I could hear Dean's footsteps approaching the hotel door again, his keycard in the slot and the door handle turned to let him in. I didn't sit up or open my eyes. I just started speaking, my voice carrying out, echoing through the empty room. "I get it now. Cas wants me to be radio silent, so I'll work on reigning myself back in. I don't want to put anyone in danger." I sat up, rubbing my face and continuing. "I'm sorry I was so stubborn."
"Too little, too late, Mrs. Winchester," a voice I had never heard before spoke and I pulled my hands away to stare at its owner. I gasped as I stared at a tall, broad-shouldered man in a suit and tie. He spoke clearly, a deep authoritative voice resonating through the room.
"Who are you? Where the hell are Dean and Cas?" I stood, backing up against the wall, trying to be as far away from the stranger as I could be. "How did you get that room key?"
"One thing at a time," he said, sitting down in the chair that Cas had been in, only moments before. "You must sit." I continued to stand, pressed up against the wall, edging my way towards my bag with my blade inside.
The man waved two of his fingers and I froze in place, unable to move any farther. "I wish to speak first, before things get out of hand."
I ignored what he was saying. I could think only of my husband. "Where is Dean?" I repeated; my muscles burning as I fought against the force holding me to the wall.
A chair scooted across the room towards me, and he repeated, "Sit." I could feel my knees buckle, and my muscles cramp and I had no choice but to follow orders. "My name is Dumah. I am an angel of the Lord and it pleases me that I am the first to find you, nephilim."
"My name is Grace," I said, already hating my descriptor.
"You are a nephilim and deserve no name, especially one of a virtue of such value," the angel Dumah said, his voice dripping with distain. "I am here to rid the Earth of your presence, as the Lord commands."
"If the Lord commands I wasn't present, why was I even born?" I said, buying for time, "what's the point?" I fought against Dumah's hold on me, though it seemed pointless. There was no way I would be able to free myself. "Dean!" I shouted, giving up on fighting the hold and redirecting, "Cas! Dean!"
Dumah waved his large hand again, silencing me with the motion. I took a deep breath, already feeling the effects of the restraints. I dropped my guard again, and reached out with the psychic part of my mind. I felt for Castiel or Dean, but if they were conscious, they were out of my pitiful range. I refused to acknowledge the possibility that either of them were dead.
I was alone with the angel. I stared at him; rage bubbling beneath my silent exterior. Dumah sat on the edge of the bed, and a small smile crept its way across his face. There was absolutely nothing I could do, and for the first time, I was afraid.
Dumah stood and walked around the room, surveying the luggage we had, spread across the bed. Dean's phone was on the nightstand, charging next to mine, and his father's journal and Men of Letters folders were stacked beneath it. "You married the vessel."
My eyebrows furrowed in confusion. The vessel? Dean was a vessel? For whom?
He turned back to me, his dark eyebrows rising in surprise. "You didn't know? Dean Winchester was to be the archangel Michael's vessel during the Final Battle."
I was surprised. I hadn't heard that story yet, but I wasn't going to waste time thinking about that now. I simply stared at the angel that had come to kill me, daring him to continue.
"Such pride," Dumah said, evaluating me, "it's a sin, you know, pride."
I continued to stretch my subconscious out into the hotel, searching for Dean and Castiel. I hadn't started to panic, yet. I reached even farther, for my sister or for Sam, trying to make a connection from hundreds of miles away. Serra, if there were one time you could hear me, now would be the time.
"You can forget about contact to anyone, nephilim. There's no one to hear you." Dumah approached then, his angel blade glinting in his hand.
The rumble of the Chevelle echoed through the tunnel Sam drove through, Serra asleep next to him. They had been driving since that morning, stopping only for gas and food. They had rotated driving shifts, making sure to get sleep when they could, not entirely sure what they would come to once they got to Grace.
Serendipity gasped awake and sat up, looking around, heart rate increased; a sheen of sweat glistened on her forehead. "Grace."
Sam glanced at her, reaching out to her shoulder, steadying her. "What, Serra? What happened, a nightmare?" She shook her head in response, and Sam furrowed his eyebrows. "What then?"
She looked at him; fear in her eyes, "I can hear her."
Letting go of the gas pedal, Sam was shocked. In the eighteen months that they had been together, he had heard of Grace listening to their voices, but Serra had never been the one to receive any.
"No, no, no, no," Serra was saying, "punch it. Get there now, Sam." He floored the gas pedal again, surging the Chevelle ahead, "they're trying to kill her."
There was a pain shooting through Dean's head and blood dripped from his nose. "Shit," he mumbled, wiping his nose and attempting to sit up. He looked around, only seeing darkness, and fumbled in his pocket for a lighter or his phone. Discovering he was only wearing pajama pants, he swore again, and felt along the edge of the carpet for the door.
"Cas?" he whispered, "Cas, you in here?"
Hearing no response, he made his way to the corner of the room and tried for the door. Slowly standing up to his full height, he allowed his eyes to adjust to the dark and turned around, surveying the room. "Oh, sure," he muttered to himself. "Get married, settle down. It'll be relaxing." He was in a broom closet of some sort, full of cleaning supplies and brooms. A vacuum was in the corner and pool-cleaning chemicals were behind him. Dean slammed his fists against the door, yelling, hoping that someone, any one would hear him. "Grace!" he shouted, pounding the door over and over. He didn't know who had attacked he and Castiel, but obviously it was someone or something that had the ability to get the drop on the two of them together. It was a rare day that he could be snuck up on, and Cas, well…it was nearly impossible to get the drop on him.
Minutes passed and nothing changed. Dean took a deep breath, desperation taking hold. Anger coursed through him, he backed up as far as he could and ran at the door, leading with his shoulder. A loud 'thump' echoed through the closet, but the door remained firmly shut. "Grace," he said again, running the possibilities over in his mind. Someone must have found out about her and the new abilities that she possessed. That was the only explanation he could come up with for the sudden appearance of the new player. Rage boiled in Dean, his fists clenched and he kicked at the door, barefoot, as hard as he could. He could hear the wood of the door splinter, ever so slightly, but it was enough and it gave him hope.
He pounded, relentlessly, tirelessly, and finally, after what seemed like a lifetime, Dean heard the screws holding the padlock of the door on strip and fall to the ground with a clang. He pushed his way through the door, wood falling around him. Dean stepped into the breezeway and glanced around, getting his bearings. "Cas?" he whispered, still wary of his surroundings.
Still on the hotel premises, Dean padded down the halls, back towards the main building of the hotel. The supply closet that he had been shoved into was down near the pool, eight floors and two buildings away from Grace. Having no idea where Castiel had been stowed, Dean figured that, for the moment, he was on a solo rescue mission. Completely unarmed and basically naked. Awesome, he thought, rolling out his neck and coming around the corner towards the lobby. He replayed the attack in his mind, attempting to get a glimpse of this attacker. The guy had been bigger than Dean, wearing a suit and tie, and holding his body erect. Just like Cas, he thought. Great. Another fluffy winged dickhead.
Smiling and nodding slightly at the receptionist at the front desk in the lobby, he made a beeline towards the elevator before she had a chance to question him and his presence at the swank hotel. He slammed the button in the elevator for the eighth floor and waited impatiently to get to the room he shared with his wife.
Dean had no idea what he was about to face, but his only thoughts were of Grace. Whoever was in there with her had given no warning…he had just appeared right out of nowhere and now, alone and pissed off, Dean rushed to face the mystery man.
He felt in his pockets again for the key card necessary to get into the room, but again, found them empty. "Mother fucker," he whispered, pursing his lips, wondering what to do next. Down the hall, he heard the telltale squeak of a maid's cart. He jogged down the hall, grabbing an ice bucket from near the vending machine and filling it quickly with ice, while looking for the culprit and found her; a tiny old woman, using the cart as a walker as she pushed the heavy thing down the hall.
"Excuse me, ma'am?" Dean asked, as politely as he could, "I locked myself out of my room and my wife is in the shower. You think you could let me back in?" He held the ice bucket in plain view, standing there in bare feet and his pajama pants, making it obvious that he had made the simple mistake of forgetting his room key.
The tiny maid smiled at him, nodding, "Oh, of course, dear," she said, following Dean down the hall. "It happens all the time."
Dean led her to the door of their room and he waited with apprehension to see what was behind the door. The maid slid her key card into the slot and the door lock blinked green, unlocking the door. "Thank you so much," Dean said, grabbing the door handle and turning it before it had a chance to lock again. Using his body, he blocked her view into the room, unsure as to what he would find.
She nodded and smiled to him, heading back to her cart at the end of the hall. Dean pushed the door open the tiniest bit and peeked through the crack, craning his neck to get a glimpse of the angel or Grace. The door was ripped open, and Dean was pulled inside and tossed across the room, and landed in a pile near Grace. "How in the hell did you get out of that closet?" a thunderous voice asked. "Just like a Winchester, always putting his nose where it doesn't belong."
"Who the fuck are you?" Dean growled, glancing at Grace. She was alive, and appeared unhurt, but also was unable to move or speak. She mouthed to Dean, but having no voice, Dean didn't understand. He wasn't prepared for the blow to the head, knocking him momentarily unconscious, landing with a thump on the floor.
Stop it! I yelled, screaming at Dumah in my mind, don't hurt him!
"I will do what is necessary," Dumah replied, taking off his suit jacket and rolling up his sleeves. He picked up his angel blade again, touching the tip of the blade with his finger. "I have work to do and I will not be interrupted."
He walked towards me; the glint of murder in his eyes, truly believing that he was doing God's work. Approaching me with the angel blade, I was at a loss as to what I should do. I still couldn't move, I couldn't scream for help. I was completely useless and I hated being useless.
Dumah let the tip of the blade trace along the top of my arm, bound to the chair I sat in. Blood trickled down my skin as it opened a wound along its path. The blade burned. I had never felt anything that painful before, even when compared to being shot. The angel blade made my skin scream; a white-hot pain shooting down my arm as it traveled farther up towards my shoulder. I was unable to scream out in pain, still voiceless and bound to my seat, and Dumah smiled slightly, pleased at the results. The deeper the blade went into my arm, the brighter the blue glow was from my body reacting to the angel blade. There it was, proof that I was half angel and half human. Humans didn't glow blue when the angel blade pierced their skin.
Out of the corner of my eye, I could see Dean stir. Quietly, he moved towards the edge of the bed, where the four-inch knife and my gun were stowed in my duffle bag. He moved silently and I did everything I could to stay focused on Dumah, unwilling to give Dean's plan away. For his size, I was always fascinated by how quickly Dean could move when necessary. He sat, coiled on his haunches momentarily and sprang, launching himself onto Dumah's back, plowing the knife into his shoulder. I knew it wouldn't do much, but it gave Dumah the distraction I needed to free myself and roll away from the angel blade.
Dean leapt down from Dumah's shoulders, circling back to my side of the bed, where I had been frozen to the chair. He stood, protective, in front of me, blocking Dumah's path. "Step back, douche bag," Dean growled, low and ready for a fight. I turned slightly, keeping the wall at my back and Dean in front, but made an attempt to head towards the bag of weapons on the bed. Dumah laughed, a deep, merciless sound and sighed, pulling the knife from his shoulder. "Dean Winchester, a husband. How quaint," he said, rolling his eyes dramatically.
Dean remained stoic, controlling his rage in a way I hadn't seen. The Mark wanted a war, that much was obvious, but he was doing his best to get answers first. "Where is Cas?"
"He'll find his way, I'm sure, with no lasting damage," his deep voice rumbled. "It's not on my itinerary to kill either one of you. I am only interested in ridding the world of this," Dumah gestured towards me, "stain on His creation."
We had him deep in monologue, distracted enough that I could attempt to feed Dean a thought or two before Dumah realized what was happening. I touched Dean's exposed back, and thought hard about touching The Mark of Cain and using our combined force to either kill Dumah or distract him long enough to draw an angel sigil that could banish him. I could see Dean shake his head, discontent with me being included in the fight. I rolled my eyes and stepped out from behind Dean, "You had no idea I even existed until yesterday. What harm am I doing by just being alive?"
Chuckling again, Dumah shook his head. "You are unwelcome in the family of heaven. An outcast. God never included your kind in his plan and you are an example of disobedience." He took a deep breath, steadying himself with the angel blade, preparing to stab me, "You must not be allowed to survive."
Dean launched himself at the angel then, disarming him and throwing him to the ground. Dean and Dumah rolled across the room and I threw myself towards the angel blade. I held it, my fingers warmed to its cold silver, electricity tingling down my hand. Dumah tossed Dean again, this time he landed near me, his arm flying out for balance. I reached out with my other hand and pressed down, hard, on The Mark of Cain.
A bright white light pierced the hotel room, flooding every corner with a blaze of fiery light. The only explanation I could think of was that I held an angel blade while taking on power from The Mark and I smiled. This would not bode well for Dumah. Dean was attempting to throw me off of him, still unwilling to have me be a part of the battle, but The Mark of Cain acted like a magnet. I was stuck until I desired to be released. I flipped the blade in my hand, ready for the attack, and launched myself at the angel, flying at him with the blade pointed at his chest.
In comparison, Dumah could have easily tossed me across the room, just as he had with Dean, but as soon as I landed on him, I plunged his own angel blade deep inside his chest, and the room erupted into a blue light. It shone from every orifice from Dumah: his eyes, mouth, nostrils and ears lit with the blue glow from an angel death. Leaning against the angel, I twisted the blade, ensuring the finality of the fight. Dumah went limp, his body crumbling beneath mine; the black imprint of his wings blew across the room. It was over.
I stepped back, holding the angel blade, now dripping with Dumah's blood. My arm still bled from the slice that led up my arm and I dripped across the carpet as I turned towards Dean. He stood, watching me with trepidation. I wasn't sure what he was thinking because he had so many thoughts at the same time but his feelings showed something between pride and fear, and I wasn't really sure how I felt about either one.
As the effects of The Mark wore off, reality hit me, hard. I glanced behind me to confirm it: I had just killed an angel.
"Grace?" Dean's voice broke through my thoughts, and I turned to face him again. "Gracie, are you okay?"
I nodded, confused. Didn't you see what I did?
He approached me slowly, unwilling to touch me, but still desiring to be closer. "Baby, put the blade down." I looked at my hand, not realizing that I still clutched the angel knife and, shocked, I dropped it onto Dumah's body. Dean came closer still, moving slowly and took my hands and pulled me gently into an embrace. Dinner on our wedding night, laughing with Serra, Sam and Dean, while celebrating becoming husband and wife.
The flashes came to an end and I sobbed into Dean's shoulder, "What have I done?"
Dean wrapped his arms around me, holding me tightly and wiping my hair from my face. From the top of my head, he whispered, "It was you or him, Gracie. You or him."
I curled into Dean, breathing his scent to comfort me. I hugged him back, and then recoiled slightly in pain when my injured arm touched his back. "I got blood on you."
"You got blood a lot of places," he said, still hugging me. "We'll figure it out."
Moments passed and I could feel myself calming down. I pulled away, Dean kissed me on the forehead and he let go. I looked up at him, wiping my tears away with my clean hand and I gasped and looked around, "Where's Cas?"
"I don't know," Dean said, shaking his head. "I woke up in a supply closet at the other end of the hotel." He stepped away, towards Dumah and opened his jacket, looking for any identification. "His vessel is Antonio Galleon," Dean said, holding his wallet out so I could see.
Guilt ripped through me, and I shook my head, in horror about what I had done. I had killed an innocent man, someone who had allowed an angel to take his body. This man could have a family…he could be a father and I took him away.
"What was I thinking?" I said to Dean, stepping over Dumah's, no, Antonio's body. "I could have just done the sigil. I killed an innocent."
Dean shook his head, "I know, but it is what it is. Nothing we can do about it right now," he ran his hand though his hair, blood once on his hand was now in his hairline. "It happened to Sammy and me a lot in the beginning…the demons that would take meat suits…we didn't always have a chance to exorcize them. We killed a few, baby."
I ran a hand though my hair, snagging a few times on the bloody snarls that were at the base of my neck. My arm was still bleeding and I was spreading it everywhere. I looked around the room for something to stem the blood flow and found the bath towel that Dean had left on the bed from his shower earlier in the evening. It seemed so long ago.
There was a pounding on the door and Castiel's voice came through, demanding attention, "Dean! Grace! If you don't answer in three seconds, I'm taking the door down."
"Woah, woah, Cas!" Dean answered, rushing to the door to let Cas in. "We're okay," he opened the door and Castiel stepped in through the small crack and Dean closed it quickly behind him.
"Who is this?" Castiel asked immediately, glancing at the black wing imprints spread across the length of the room. "What happened here?"
I took the lead, stepping forward, "He said his name was Dumah, but his vessel's name was Antonio." I took a deep, ragged breath as I finished wrapping my arm with the towel from the bed. "He said he was here to kill me…to rid the Earth of the 'stain' left by me."
"I knew it would be a fast retaliation once they realized that you exist," Cas said, still evaluating the room, "but I had no idea one of my own squadron would show."
"Oh my God," I said. "You're kidding me."
Castiel shook his head, "I wouldn't joke about such matters," he said, completely serious.
I sat on the bed, staring at Antonio, lying on the floor. The outline of his wings spread on the bed near me and I traced it with my finger. The imprint was burned into the sheets, leaving a char behind. "I'm so sorry, Cas," I said quietly. "He attacked me, held me in place and I couldn't do anything. Dean tackled him and they fought and I was released…I didn't know what else to do, so I touched The Mark and took the angel blade."
"What did the combination do?" Castiel asked, stepping closer, completely engrossed in the story.
Dean looked up as well, his eyebrows shooting up and asked, "You knew they would react together?"
Castiel raised his eyebrows, "Of course they would react together," he was saying, holding the bloody angel blade. "Grace, what happened then?"
I gestured to the open room, "Bright light, my hand warmed to the blade, and I felt unstoppable." I paused, taking a breath before continuing. "I know why I'm not supposed to exist."
It was Dean's turn to ask, "Why?"
"Because," I replied, a single tear rolling down my cheek. "I'm the best of both the worlds. I have phenomenal cosmic powers, but no itty bitty living space."
"What?" Dean asked, completely at a loss. "What does the Genie have to do with this?"
"Who is the Genie?" Castiel asked, tilting his head like a confused child.
I shook my head at both of them, "I mean that I have all these powers…angelic powers, but I'm not contained. I can do what I want without orders."
"You still have free will," Dean's voice was hushed, understanding what I was saying at last, "The human half can choose what the angel half can do."
Nodding, I took a deep breath. "That was never God's plan. If I have this much power, I should be under orders to control it. But look," I said, holding out my good arm, "this is what I chose to do with it. I am a stain on humanity."
The boys said nothing, which in my head confirmed what I was thinking. Dean moved forward slowly, kneeling down in front of me and taking my good hand. He spoke in a voice that I had never heard before, low and angry, but still gentle and loving. "That's bullshit and you know it," he said, holding my hand, the heat from his body washing over my hand and arm. "You are the sweetest, most loving person I have ever met. You are not a stain on humanity. You are my wife and if these assholes want a war, then that's what they're gonna get."
Castiel stood behind Dean, nodding slightly, "He's right. This is unforgivable," he said, "things have changed. If God has issue with your existence, He needs to take action Himself. Until then, I am standing with you."
Dean turned and smiled at his friend. "Thanks, Cas, but until you get your grace back, I dunno how much help you're gonna be."
I lifted my head to look up at the two of them. Phenomenal cosmic powers. "Dean," I started, close to a whisper, "what if I can heal him?"
Dean whipped his head back towards me and I could almost feel his pulse quicken. Castiel stepped forward, almost tripping on Antonio's body. "Heal him?" Dean gasped, "baby, are you saying what I think you're saying?" He turned to Cas, "Can she? Is that something that she can do?"
Castiel was wide-eyed and inhumanly still. "Restoring my grace is something that I anticipated only another angel doing, but I see no harm in trying." He looked at me, his bright blue eyes penetrating my very soul, "After you try, of course, you need to fall completely silent to the rest of the angelic world, Grace. You cannot keep risking yourself."
I ignored him and stood, reaching out with my injured arm, the blood-soaked towel falling to the floor, still holding Dean's hand with my good one. Cas didn't step back or tell me to stop. Dean watched from his knee on the floor with his mouth open as I touched Castiel's head. I waited and felt for the damage in him as I had done before, after Dean had attacked him. Feeling like a fucking idiot, I let myself extend my senses, again, just as I had done before, but nothing happened.
Bringing my hand down, frustrated, I let go of Dean's hand and refocused. Using both of my hands this time, I touched Castiel and pushed my senses out, extending to the point of exhaustion. Cas shook his head. "I feel no different," he said.
Breathing hard, I glanced at Dean. "I don't know what I'm doing." I rubbed my face, trying to feel what I had felt before. "I don't know which muscle to flex."
Dean chuckled and stood up next to me. He brought my hands down, away from my face, and took a deep breath, coming to some conclusion in his mind. You need The Mark, he thought, just like Cas said. We are the red string of Fate. I understood then, why I was so powerful. Dean and I created some sort of perfect storm. The Mark of Cain and my angel half…we were an unstoppable force.
He lowered his arm, showing me The Mark of Cain, and like a gravitational pull, I reached out to it with my hand. I could feel everything in the room; Dean's pulse quickened and Castiel's internal monologue got louder. I could hear Dean's thoughts and feelings like they were my own and time itself seemed to slow down. The electricity crept up my arm and into my body and I was renewed. Dean was close enough to my face that I could see my reflection in his perfect green eyes, and I finally saw my eyes glow blue.
I took a deep breath, turning to Cas once again. I kept one hand on The Mark and reached for his forehead with my injured arm, or at least it had been injured. I glanced down as I reached up and the cut was gone; the only evidence remaining was the blood that had slowly been trickling down toward my hand. I made contact then, the hotel room lighting up the same way it had before, a perfect white light that pierced every space. Dean shut his eyes, the light blinding him. I could hear Castiel gasp, and all three of us collapsed to the ground. The light faded, I let go of my connection with Cas, and while lying on top of my husband, I passed out.
Waking up to the smell of bleach is not something that I had been accustomed to, but it's how I woke up on the fifth morning of my honeymoon. I made a face, covered myself with the blanket that was on top of me and rolled towards the air conditioner vent that was close by.
"Good morning, sunshine," I could hear Dean's voice mockingly greet me. "Nice of you to join us." From my place on the bed, I gagged on the smell of bleach. I couldn't escape it. I whipped the covers back and jumped towards the bathroom, sidestepping Cas, who was perched on the edge of the bed. "Grace, are you okay?"
It had been a long time since I threw up. I held my hair, twisting it into a bun at the base of my neck, just like my college days, and reached for a towel. "Yeah, I'm fine." I said, retching again, "I hate bleach." Dean opened the door to the bathroom, taking my hair from my hand and rubbing my back. I leaned on the bowl of the toilet and laughed. "Awesome honeymoon."
He knelt next to me and smiled. "Aside from the killing-an-angel thing, yeah, it has been." Slowly I stood, sweaty and shaking. "You okay?" he asked again, concern washed over his face.
I nodded, tying my hair back. I splashed water over my face and came up to Dean grinning at me. I watched his face in the mirror, saw his smile and raised my eyebrows. "What?"
Cas is back.
I turned away from Dean's reflection and gasped. "It worked?" Dean nodded and led me out of the bathroom. Cas still sat on the edge of the bed, stoic, silent, and still as ever. "You're back?" I asked, moving towards him slowly, the smell of bleach suffocated me and made it hard to stand. "You're okay?"
Castiel nodded, standing, extending both of his hands to take mine. "Thank you, Grace." I pushed his hands away and jumped into his arms, hugging him as hard as I could. He paused, awkward at my human reaction, but I felt his body relax and he wrapped his arms around me. "Thank you very much," he whispered into my ear.
After a few moments, I let him go, backing up towards the bed and glancing around. It was obviously morning, but what time, I had no idea. Antonio's body was gone and most of the blood had been cleaned up. I smiled, nervous, and asked, "What did you do with him?"
Dean stepped towards me, putting an arm around me, "Cas took him home."
"I set up a car crash," Castiel explained, "at least his family will have closure."
I pulled away from Dean and walked to the window, standing in the sun and letting the heat comfort me. "He had a family."
"Yes," Cas replied, "a sister and a mother."
No one spoke. I stared out the window into the Louisiana sky and sighed. Looking down at my hands, again I inspected them, looking for changes that I might be able to see. There was still no obvious evidence. I was still me. The cut on my arm had healed completely, and the blood from the fight was gone. Dean's mind drifted in and out of mine and I could hear him explain my cleanliness. You were pretty busted up. I bathed you last night and Cas cleaned up most of the room.
I nodded, hearing his explanation, then Cas' voice said, "You need to stop communicating telepathically. That's how Dumah found you in the first place." He took a breath, turning towards Dean, "That's what I wanted to talk to you about—she needs to become as human as she can be again. That is the only I way I can see for her to come out of this unscathed."
Dean nodded behind me, "You hear that, Gracie? Lock it down."
I nodded again, still feeling nauseated. Then, in the distance, I could hear a rumble of an engine. "Serra."
"Can you hear her?" Dean asked, coming to the window with me, "Shut her out, reign it in."
"No, I can hear the Chevelle," I said, smiling.
Castiel and Dean stared at me, Dean smiling back at me. "From way up here?"
"Unless someone is stealing the Impala, that's the Chevelle." Dean's face went slack and he took off, opening the room door and running down the hall.
I chuckled and sat on the bed, still wiping my face with the moist towel. Cas turned to me and tilted his head. He had a confused look on his face, his eyebrows furrowed tightly, and he took a step towards me, cautiously.
"What, Cas?" I leaned my head back, staring back at him. "You're weird again." He reached his hand out to my face, closing his eyes. Never quite making contact, he moved his palm down my body, obviously feeling or listening to something. "Seriously, Cas. What gives?"
"We're going to have to train harder to keep your mind silent on angel radio." Castiel said, opening his eyes and lowering his hand.
I rolled my eyes, "Yeah, I know. I got it. Radio silence. I'm doing pretty well right now, aren't I?"
Castiel nodded and smiled slightly. "For the time being, but once the baby starts to think on its own, you'll have to learn how to shield both of you."
Staring at Castiel, I didn't even blink. The room filled with a deafening silence and it seemed as though I was falling. My mouth went dry as I tried not to panic, thinking that I couldn't have heard Castiel correctly. "The what, now?"
Smiling slightly, Cas said, "I'm surprised you don't already know. I can hear its heart beat."
The only thing I could think was how glad I was that Dean was out of the room. This was too much: finding out about being a nephilim, killing an angel, and now, finding out I was pregnant in the span of forty-eight hours…I felt like I was going to be sick again, so I got up and walked into the bathroom, slamming the door in Cas' face. I tried to hold it together, but I was rapidly spinning out of control. Leaning over the toilet again, I retched, and collapsing on the cool tile, I lay, staring at the ceiling. I could hear Cas on the other side of the door. "Grace? Should I get Dean?"
"No," I said, unmoving, "no Dean. No Serra. No Sam. No you." I took a deep shaky breath as I closed my eyes and leaned against the toilet. Slowly, I moved my hands to my stomach, half expecting a bump already, like that stupid vampire romance story I read in college. I felt nothing, though, just my typical muffin top. I pulled up my shirt, just to verify to myself that I couldn't actually see anything. Nope. There, staring back at me was just my sugar skull tattoo. I sighed, mildly comforted, but this hadn't been part of the plan. I was on the pill, for Christ's sake. How the hell did this happen?
"It probably has something to do with—"
"The Mark of Cain," I said, finishing Castiel's sentence. "Yeah, I figured as much." I sat up slowly, feeling less nauseated, but still clammy and panicky. "You have got to stay out of my brain. And do not tell Dean. I'll figure out something later."
"Tell me what?" came Dean's voice, along with the ruckus of my sister and Sam.
"Grace! Where are you?" Serendipity's voice came through the doorway and my entire body relaxed when I heard her.
"She's in the bathroom," Castiel said in greeting, "how are you Serendipity?" I could hear Serra hug Cas, and Sam followed behind. Staying closed off to my sister's thoughts was difficult, but I resisted.
"Gracie?" Serra opened the bathroom door and saw me on the floor. She rushed over to me, feeling my face, looking for wounds. "What happened? Are you okay? I heard you. It was terrifying."
Seeing my sister sent me into an emotional pit that was hard to get out of. The last two days were some of the hardest that I had ever been through, and considering our past, that was saying something. Seeing Serra, relief washed over me like a flood. She was a different kind of comfort than Dean. She was like seeing my parents or Emery again and I sat up and held out my arms. Serra sat next to me and we wrapped each other in a hug. We sat on the tile, silent, until the boys pushed open the door.
Sam stood in the doorway, leaning on the frame, smiling at the two of us. "Hi Grace," came Sam's greeting. "Been busy?"
I smiled weakly at him, "Hiya, Sammy," I said, still sounding a bit too much like Dean. "I'm sorry I dragged the two of you down here."
He shook his head, "I'm sorry you have to see the two of us on your honeymoon."
Dean stuck his head in the doorway as well, raising his eyebrows. "Tell me what?" he asked again. I shook my head at him and he shrugged. Later then, I couldn't help hearing.
Castiel came to the doorway as well and then all of us were in the hotel bathroom, and somehow, it didn't seem weird. We were safe and we were together. It made me happy.
I sat against the headboard of the bed, leaning on Dean's shoulder as we explained everything we could to Sam and Serra, who sat in chairs at the foot. Castiel had finished cleaning up the rest blood from the room with his newly replaced grace and with a snap of his fingers he was gone. The smell of bleach still lingered and Dean had popped the lock on the window to open it and get some fresh air for me.
As the breeze moved the curtains ever so gently, I listened to my husband talk about my new powers and how we had to learn how to control what I did to avoid another interaction like Dumah. His voice was so deep and soothing, and from my place on his shoulder, I wasn't listening to his words as much as the sound of his voice. I was still in complete shock about the interaction I had with Cas earlier today. Pregnant. The word was foreign and almost unwelcome in my mind. I had thought about having kids hundreds, if not thousands of times before, I was a teacher, after all, but we had just gotten married. I had planned on having time to be just us, to figure out where we stood on hunting and our place in the world together. I wanted to be selfish with this beautiful man. I didn't want to share.
Serra was too knowledgeable about my personality. I could see her watching me and I knew that she was asking questions in her mind, but working hard on what Castiel told me about closing myself off, I was unwilling to open long enough to hear her. She simply stared at me, eyebrows raised as Dean continued to speak.
"Bottom line," Sammy was asking, "what does this mean for you?"
I could feel Dean turn his head to look at me, but I didn't look up. I took a deep breath to answer. "Bottom line?" I repeated, "Dean, slash, The Mark of Cain are completed by me, slash, the half angel."
Serra was shaking her head. "A nephilim. Half angel, half human." She stood and looked through the duffel bag that she and Sam shared. "The stories that Dad used to tell us. He knew. What else didn't he tell us?" she asked, sighing. She pulled out the stack of journals and photo albums and she tossed them towards Dean and I. "I brought what you asked for." She paused, looking slightly sad, "Did mom or dad have an affair? Are we even sisters?"
I sat up, leaning towards Serendipity. "That's why I wanted you to bring this stuff, but whatever we find," I said, reaching for her hand, "you'll always be my sister."
Sam and Serra got their own room that night. We planned to stay in New Orleans for two more nights at least and get better at holding my new abilities in check. If I was going back to school next week, I needed to be closed off and prepared to protect my students from whatever angel might come hunting me next. That is, if Dean let me go back to work at all.
He stood next to the bed, smiling, and took off his shirt, tossing it on the bed. I watched it fall and looked up at him, saying, "Can I help you with something?"
Dean reached across the bed and grabbed my ankles and tugged me across the sheets. I fought playfully back, attempting to grab the headboard, but he succeeded in pulling me towards him. I sat up, pushing him away, but Dean was still stronger that I was. He pulled me to a sitting position and peeled off my shirt as well. I was giggling as he nestled his face in my neck, he picked me up off the bed in a fireman's carry and walked us to the bathroom, fully intending to shower together.
He started the water, and turned to me again, wrapping himself around me, the heat rolling off him. There were no flashes from his brain when he touched me, both from his effort of keeping his mind blank, but I thought I was already getting better keeping my walls strong. I draped my arms around his shoulders and gave myself over to my husband. I didn't worry myself about anything that had developed over the last two days. I tried not to think about our creation growing inside me. For now, it was just me, Dean, and a hot shower.
I lay on the bed, still wrapped in a towel from the shower, and watched as Dean dried himself off. I watched his back and shoulders flex when he dried his hair, the dimples in his lower back became more pronounced when he hung the towel on the shower door. I allowed myself to imagine Dean as a father, holding an infant or changing diapers. The image made me smile, and, despite my best efforts, I was excited at the prospect.
I rolled to my stomach to get closer to Dean as I watched him brush his teeth. He saw me in the mirror and grinned at my reflection, and I smiled back. He finished up, pulled on boxers and lay next to me, his fingers toying with my toes. We stayed silent for a few moments, and before I knew it, he was snoring softly next to me, his fingers still interlaced with my toes. I smiled again, rolled gently to my back and put my hands on my stomach, feeling for the telltale lump that would eventually give me away. There, just below the surface, was a tiny knot of tension, right above my pubic bone. I pushed gently to get a better feel and smiled.
Hi, baby, I thought, it might not sound like it right away, but he'll love you more than anything in the world. Just you wait and see.
The next morning, Serra was opening the door between our rooms and silently bringing us coffee and bagels. She planned to be in and out, leaving the tray on the end of the bed, before I really understood what was happening. Dean still snored next to me, his arm draped across my thigh, and I realized that we never righted our positions before completely giving in to sleep. I was still covered in only a towel and Dean was in his boxers next to me. "G'morning!" Serra whispered, grinning ear-to-ear, "bagels and coffee. I brought you flavored cream too!" She waved again and I sat up, dazed. She turned to leave and I smelled the coffee, wafting through the breeze still floating into our room and gagged. I grabbed my towel and turned to walk to the bathroom.
Serra hadn't shut the adjoining door yet, saw my movements and retraced her steps, tiptoeing passed Dean. She followed me into the bathroom as I vomited again and she held my hair and rubbed my back as Dean had the night before. "Are you okay?" I shook my head in response. "You threw up last night, too, didn't you?"
I nodded, still gagging and knowing I wasn't done.
"What's the matter with you?" Serra asked, concerned. "Did you eat something bad? Is The Mark making you react like this?" I shook my head to her questions as she rattled them off, still holding my hair. She twisted it into a bun at the base of my neck as I tried to kneel on the tile. Giggling quietly, she sat down next to me and asked, "What, are you knocked up?" I glanced at her, a sarcastic and telling stare that she saw and instantly stood back up, gasping. "Grace, oh my God! Holy shit." She attempted to hug me, but I was sick again and she backed away, "You're pregnant?" She stood, watching me and tilted her head. "You're naked too, you know," she said quietly.
I nodded, finally able to speak, "Yeah, I got that. We fell asleep last night right after…" I felt like it was safe to stand, and I wrapped the towel around me, tucking in the sides, spa style. Instantly, Serendipity was hugging me and feeling my stomach.
"When did you find out? Does Dean know?" I was shaking my head, wiping my face with a washcloth as she danced around me. "I get to be the first to know? I'm gonna be an auntie!"
"Technically," I replied, "Cas was the first to know. You're the third."
I sighed, leaning on the sink to support myself, still shaky. "Cas is the one that told me. I didn't even think of the possibility," I was whispering, unwilling to wake Dean, "I'm on the pill, Lucky. I don't know how this happened."
"Then how do you know for sure?"
I glared at her, "If an angel tells you you're pregnant, you're pregnant."
"How did he tell you?" Serra said, leaning on the counter next to me. "I mean, did he just walk up to you and say, 'you're due in October, congratulations?'" Her imitation of Castiel was spot on.
I laughed, despite the seriousness of the situation. "No, he kinda did this angel palm-out thing and felt me, telling me that I needed to practice keeping my walls up, because soon, the baby would start to think for itself and send out its own little vibes."
She clapped her hands together softly, "Its own little vibes? That's adorable."
I wrapped my hair again, spinning it into a topknot that matched my sister's. "I'm scared, though, Lucky. I wasn't ready for this, which means Dean is…" I faded away, having no words for how Dean would react. "I'm gaining acceptance, but that's because I'm the female, you know?"
"You've always wanted kids."
"It's not just wanting kids," I said, rubbing my face. I was still feeling nauseated, unwilling to throw up again, but feeling that it was inevitable. "I've seen Dean's most secret thoughts, Serra. He feels like a father already, with Sammy, and there was Ben too, and he's always had the idea that eventually he would have a kid, but I doubt this is the time that he would want to." I sighed, "I wanted him all to myself for awhile, you know?"
Serendipity nodded, grinning like an idiot. "And you'll get that, Gracie. You'll have him wrapped around you for the rest of your lives." She rolled her eyes and shook her head, saying, "Jesus, you think he's protective now?"
I laughed too, nodding, "It's gonna get so much worse."
We hugged then, Serendipity wrapping her arms around my torso, squeezing just like she always had, my arms around her shoulders because of our height difference. "Congratulations, big sister."
"Thank you, little sister." I kissed her hair. "Can I live with you and Sam if he freaks out and leaves me?"
She nodded into my shoulder. "Sure."
Serra kissed me on the cheek and turned, tiptoeing out of the bathroom, across the hotel room and through the adjoining door. She shut it softly, one final wave and grin as she closed the door. I padded out into the living space and watched Dean roll towards me, fully awake. It caught me off guard, seeing his green eyes stare at me as he sat, slowly resting against the headboard. My pulse quickened, and I was instantly on guard, waiting for the other shoe to drop.
"Hi, husband," I said, smiling slowly, reaching for a cup of coffee, "Serra brought us coffee and bagels."
Dean still hadn't spoken and he didn't acknowledge the coffee I extended to him. I sat, holding the mug between both of my hands, on the edge of the bed, the hotel towel straining to stay tucked. I tried a different approach, "How did you sleep?" I asked, taking a sip of coffee. I realized, too late, that coffee was a mistake. I gagged again, taking a deep breath, trying to calm my body down. I knew a long talk was coming, and throwing up is not how I wanted to begin the discussion. "Please say something," I said, turning towards my husband, wanting to read his thoughts, but remembering Castiel's warnings, I restrained.
Dean's eyes could pierce through to my soul and his gaze was relentless. My eyes filled with tears, fearing the worst, but he surprised me, moving slowly towards me, touching my face, kissing my cheek. Heat radiated from his chest, warming my body. I hadn't realized that I was cold from sitting on the tile in the bathroom. When I looked up, into his eyes, I was shocked to see that they were filled with tears.
"What…" I said, touching Dean's face, his beard beginning to fill in again, "What's wrong?"
"How long have you known?"
"You did hear."
He repeated himself, "how long have you known?"
I took a deep breath, anxiety taking hold, still unable to read Dean's true reaction. "Since yesterday. Cas—"
"When you were in the bathroom with Cas and Sam and Serra got here," he said quietly, "he told you."
I only nodded.
Dean pulled himself closer to me, enveloping me with his arms. I closed my eyes, holding his arm with a free hand and I started to cry, relieved. "Why didn't you tell me right away?"
"I was scared," I said into his bare shoulder, "I didn't know what you would do. I mean, I'm on the pill, Dean. I don't know how this happened…we didn't plan on this."
"We didn't plan on a lot this week," he said, laughing softly. "I guess this just means that my boys are strong swimmers," he laughed again, louder this time. He held me by the shoulders, looking at my face and smiling. "I love you, Grace."
"I love you, too, Dean," I said as he leaned in to kiss me, I pulled away, "You don't want none of this," I said, shaking my head, "I've already thrown up twice."
He laughed again as I got up to brush my teeth. I handed him my cup of coffee and he took a sip. He watched my walk away and stopped me, "Wait, I wanna see."
"See what?" I asked, turning back after grabbing my toothbrush.
Dean stood and walked towards me, pulling the towel I wore to the side like a curtain to reveal my abdomen. I started brushing my teeth as Dean inspected my belly, feeling around for the bump, evidence of his child. He poked and prodded, gently, and I moved his hand lower, and pushed slightly, attempting to have him feel the same bump that I felt last night. I found it with my hand and put his in the same place. I knew that he felt the miniscule lump because as soon as he did, his eyes flashed to mine and he smiled. I finished brushing my teeth and he pulled me into an embrace, still with his hand on my stomach. He kissed me then, tenderly and deeply. I could feel his body curl around mine, creating a protective shell around me, as he led me to the bed once again. It was no wonder I was knocked up, I thought, smiling. We were like bunnies.
I unwrapped my hair from its topknot and it fell around my shoulders and back as Dean laid me down. Taking the towel off from around my chest, he kissed every part of me, making sure to take the time to kiss my neck, shoulders, chest and slowly, his trail led to the tiny bump below my belly button. The sugar skull got kisses as well, just like when we started our love story, then he returned to the tiny, almost invisible bump.
We made love differently that morning; softly and slowly. I still felt entwined in Dean's very being and begged him for more, holding his shoulders and pulling him into me. I wrapped my leg around his and locked him into place, rolling him onto his back, feeling the scruff of his face and running my hands down his arms and across his chest. We kissed harder and I pushed myself onto him as much as I could, feeling like I couldn't get enough of Dean. He held my face and touched my hair and wrapped his arms around my hips. Time passed as we memorized each other's features, more so that we had already. I bit my lip, cried out towards the end and Dean joined me in ecstasy. We wrapped around each other, collapsing on the bed, and he smiled, his eyes half closed. "Gracie?"
"I hope she looks like you."
I opened my eyes then, staring into my husband's face. "Not as much as I hope he looks like you."
Dean smiled softly, "The battle begins."
We lay on the bed, the bagels and coffee long gone, still wrapped in each other's arms. I was no longer nauseated and for the first time, really felt like we were on our honeymoon. Dean stroked my hair occasionally and breathed slowly, completely at ease.
Finally, he spoke, his voice deep and soothing, "Did you really think I'd be upset?"
I looked up at him, from my place on his bare chest. I considered it. "I really didn't know," I said, sitting up slightly, "I didn't think the timing was right and with all this new stuff…the half and half thing…I was just freaked out, so I figured you would be worse."
He shrugged, "I can see that," he said, "but you've seen my thoughts. You know how I feel."
"I needed to be reminded," I said, kissing him. Changing subject completely, my mind was off in a different direction. "I'm still hungry," I said, as I got up off the bed, wrapped myself in a sheet and walked towards the mini fridge. Opening the door, I frowned. "There's nothing in here."
Dean stood and pulled on his pajama pants again. "We can order room service," he said, reaching for the hotel phone as someone knocked on our door. He looked up and was automatically on alert, padding across the room to stand in front of me, looking through the peephole before he opened the door. "Hiya, Sammy," he said, greeting his brother. Dean turned to look at me, hesitating on opening it all the way. "It's Sam," he said, "you wanna throw some clothes on or are you comfy as you are?"
I looked down at myself, flushing slightly. "Yeah, I'll get dressed," I grabbed a tank and shorts and walked to the bathroom, the sheet dragging behind me. I heard Dean open the door for Sam and low voices as I got dressed in the bathroom. I didn't hear my sister, and usually, she was hard to miss.
I came back out of the bathroom to see Dean taking the stack of journals from Sam. He turned to me and raised his eyebrows. "You ready to see if we can figure out where you came from?"
Nodding, I sighed. "Yeah, but I still want room service." Dean chuckled and nodded. I turned to Sam and took the photo albums he was handing me, "Where's Serra?"
"She's in the shower. She'll be over in a few," Sam said, pulling the small desk away from the wall and pulling up a chair. He was getting into research mode, "Which do you prefer, pictures or words?"
I took the photo album that he extended to me, turning and sitting cross-legged on the bed, I began flipping through my family's history. There were photos of my parents, faded and yellowed, spread across the pages, smiling up at me. Almost immediately, my eyes filled with tears, and I remembered why I hadn't looked at any of this since my parents died. The hole they left behind had never quite been filled, and no matter how hard we tried, we could never replace them.
Sam began flipping though pages of my dad's hunt journal, pausing to look at lists of locations that we had been, newspaper clippings from the towns we had saved. He came to a page with a photo of Serra and I from our childhood. I glanced up at Sam to see what he was looking at and he inspected the photo, smiling softly to himself, seeing his girlfriend as a five year old. She was pudgy and adorable then, with her eyes scrunched closed with a goofy, toothy smile, wrapped around me in a hug. I smiled too, though not as broad, but my dimples showed and my hair was lighter than it was now. We were young and innocent, still a complete family.
Sam looked up at me and smiled, "How old are you two here?"
I tilted my head, considering the photo. "I know Serra's five there, we had just enrolled her in school. So I would have been almost ten. It was right before we lost Mom." I smiled at the memory, "We had taken her to get ice cream because she didn't cry when we dropped her off."
Turning the journal back towards his face, Sam continued to memorize Serra's features. I smiled to myself, thinking how lucky we both were to find such caring men. Sam was completely and honestly dedicated to my sister and I was elated to know that he would do anything in his power to protect her. The adjoining door between the rooms opened again, this time Serendipity came through, fully dressed with wet hair.
Dean was pulling on a t-shirt and picking up the hotel phone. "What do we want?"
"Hamburger and fries."
"Yogurt and granola."
All three of us answered at the same time, filling the room with sound. Dean made a face and nodded as he spoke into the phone. "Yeah, room service for 812 please," he waited as he waited to be transferred, "anything else?"
Sam and Serra both shook their heads, still looking at the journal. I glanced at Dean and made a face. "I need a coke or something, too."
Dean nodded and mouthed, "Do you feel okay?" at me and I nodded. I turned back to the photo album, comforted by my family surrounding me, and started to enjoy the photo album in my hands. Dean turned back to the phone, nodding. "Yeah, a tuna melt, hamburger and fries— huh?" He turned around and spoke to my sister, "Cheeseburger or regular burger?"
"No cheese on the burger. Uh-huh. A pastrami sandwich. Yeah, and some…yogurt and granola." Dean threw a look at his brother and shook his head, "I know, it's embarrassing." He listened, "Greek yogurt okay?" He watched for Sam's approval. Sam nodded and smiled. "Greek yogurt is okay."
Dean finished up with guest services and sat down on the bed next to me. He watched as I flipped through the pages, his body heat warming my skin and I curled towards him automatically. We looked at the pictures together, silently, until Dean stopped my hand from turning the page. "Wait. Look," he said, pointing to a picture of my mother, "look at her eyes."
I stared at the picture, where Dean pointed, and couldn't see what he saw. "What am I looking at?" He gestured to my mom's face again, and saw what he meant. What I always attributed as a lens flare or film mistake, was actually the glow from her eyes. My mother's eyes glowed blue in this picture the same way mine had when I touched The Mark of Cain.
"She was an angel?" I asked, my eyebrows furrowing and looking up towards Serra, "Lucky, look at this."
She stood and looked down at the picture where Dean was pointing. "Are mom's eyes glowing?"
Nodding, we stared at each other, mystified. Dean took the album, turning it so he could see, "Not an angel, but I'll bet she was a vessel."
Serra sat down next to me, pushing me closer to Dean. "When was this?"
I closed the cover slightly, looking at the dates on the front. Dean moved his hand so I could see and glanced back at Serra. "Autumn before I was born."
Cas appeared out of nowhere, standing in the middle of the room, evaluating everyone's placement. The Winchester boys didn't even look up, obviously used to this kind of behavior. Serra and I, however, jumped off the bed, startled when he appeared. "Jesus, Cas. Can we review the use of doors? And knocking?" I said, putting my hand on my face, calming myself down.
Castiel nodded in approval, "Good, that means you're not using your powers. Stay closed off. You're doing well."
He walked to the other end of the room and stared out the window, not even acknowledging the boys. "What's up, Cas?" Sam said, glancing over to him, but still turning the journal's pages, Sam scanning through locations and notes.
"Primarily, I am checking that Grace is staying closed off to the other angels," he turned back to the others in the room, "but I also enjoy your company."
I tilted my head, smiling at Castiel, and handed him a photo album. "That's sweet, Cas. We enjoy your company too. Here," I said, extending the photo album, "look through this and see if you can spot when my mom changes."
"Changes?" Cas was confused, "How do you mean?"
Dean was already holding up the picture of my mom, her eyes glowing in the kitchen. I took the picture and handed it to Castiel. "Her eyes are glowing," I said, pointing, "Angel or vessel?"
"Vessel," Castiel replied, inspecting the photo. "If she was truly an angel, you and Serra would both be nephilim." He looked back up at me expectantly, waiting for more questions.
I exchanged looks with Dean and we both shrugged. "That makes sense," I said, "so who is the angel that took over my mom?"
Castiel shook his head, "I don't know, Grace. Hopefully there are some clues in these books."
We were all silent for a while, each looking at our own pieces of our family history. There was a knock on the door, all of us still on edge, stared at the door. Dean put his hands up, "Whoa, chill. Room service." He looked through the peephole, just to be sure, but smiled and opened the door.
The server rolled the cart into the room and he started uncovering all the trays of food. He stood next to the cart, smiling at Dean, "Anything else, sir?"
Dean smiled and shook his head, "No, thanks. This is good." Holding the door open, he handed the server a ten-dollar bill and the kid smiled broadly and bowed slightly.
I realized that I was ravenous and headed to the trays of food. I reached for the tuna melt that Dean ordered for me and picked it up, taking a bite and curling up on the chair. Dean watched me out of the corner of his eye, momentarily, and I knew it was to see if I was going to be sick again. I knew I wasn't, so I smiled at him and took a bite.
From the corner of the room, Sam held up dad's journal. "Hey, check this out." He stood and walked to my place in the chair and held out the journal, pointing to an entry dated July 1981. I took it, my sandwich in one hand and the journal in the other. I began to read.
Evangeline is miserable. The coven that we found really affected her and she hasn't been the same since. There were kids that we couldn't save and I think I reminded her even more that we can't have our own. I'm getting worried that she's thinking about doing something drastic.
She heard about something called a Crossroads Demon and she's been researching them behind my back. I found her the other day practicing the markings and incantation. I can't lose her. I have to figure out a way around her making a deal. She won't listen to reason and I don't care how long the contracts are…I just can't lose her.
I looked up from the entry, shocked at what I had read in my father's handwriting. "So she's the one that initiated the research into making a deal," I said, looking up at my sister,
Sam stared at us, watching our interactions. "Your parents tried to make a deal?" he asked, watching us carefully. "A deal for what?"
"Apparently, Mom couldn't get pregnant," Serra answered, shrugging at me. "But that seems like an idiotic reason to make a deal with a Crossroads."
Dean looked up at me and raised his eyebrows. "I can understand the desperation. If your Mom wanted something bad enough…"
I was already shaking my head. "No, not Mom. Dad."
Cas stepped into the conversation, swaying the direction it was heading. "It wouldn't explain why Grace would be a nephilim. Demons and angels don't generally work with each other. There must be another explanation."
I nodded, happy that Castiel was backing my side. Serra nodded as well, unhappy at the prospect of Mom considering making a deal with a Crossroads Demon when we both knew the truth of what happened. Cas closed his eyes and was still. I waited for my mind to be explored, but I felt nothing. I glanced at Dean, questioning, and he shook his head, confused. "What's up, Cas?"
He was silent for a few more moments, but finally, he opened his eyes and stared at me. "Keep your mind closed." I nodded. He took a deep breath and spoke, seemingly different in his tone. Almost apologetically, I thought. "Grace, your mother did not make a deal in order to become pregnant. She prayed."
I took another bite of my sandwich and continued to stare at Cas, ready to listen. He turned away from me, walking back towards the window, but beginning a story. "When we discovered that you are a nephilim, I began investigating on my own for who your angelic mother would be." He paused, taking a breath, "She would have been a seraphim, able to come and go as she pleased, without orders. I believe that she was a guardian of sorts, here on Earth because your mother asked for protection." Castiel turned to Serendipity and I and took a breath, "I have a theory."
The long pause was almost too much for Serra to take. "Just spit it out, Cas!" she yelled, staring at the angel.
"I believe that your mother's seraph developed such a bond, that she was willing to do anything to help her." He paused again, hesitating on the next part of the tale.
I took a deep breath as realization hit me. "She took Mom as a vessel to help get her pregnant." Cas simply nodded. "That's how I was created…" I paused, taking on my mother's voice, remembering the phrase she said all the time in reference to me. "By the grace of God."
Serra's voice broke my revere and I turned to look at her, "Then how do you explain me?"
Castiel turned towards my sister and shrugged. "I don't have a good answer."
I spoke, shrugging, "I do." Serra turned to me, eyebrows raised, "Think about it, Serra. She named us appropriately. Grace of God," I said, pointing at myself, "and the luck of the draw," I finished, gesturing at Serendipity.
Sam spoke this time, chuckling slightly, "They got lucky with you."
"I think you got lucky with me," Serra responded automatically, flirtatious.
"Knock it off, you two," Dean's voice came, silent after so long. He smiled, joking, and addressed Castiel, "So mom couldn't get knocked up, the angel helped by taking her as a vessel," he took a breath, "and then Serra showed up randomly later."
"That's my theory, yes," Castiel sighed, sitting on the chair behind him, "but I have no idea how to prove it."
I was itchy to get out of the hotel room and wanted to go shopping in the French Quarter, but Dean had no interest in the stores that I wanted to visit. Serra volunteered, happy to support the local economy with me. We got dressed and headed out, taking in the sights, drinking coffee, eating beignets, and walking through the streets of New Orleans. It felt good to spend time with my sister. We hadn't been alone together in months, it seemed, since before the wedding. As walked and talked, we got back to basics, just easing into conversation, talking about the boys, marriage, and the future to come.
"How are you and Sam?" I was asking, taking another huge bite of the beignet as we walked, "has he proposed yet?"
Serra laughed, "No, you guys are the fast movers. You know me, Gracie, I take a long time to do anything." She smiled and waggled her eyebrows, "I wouldn't want to ruin perfectly good boyfriend sex."
I laughed, "If you think boyfriend sex is good, married sex is phenomenal."
She turned, surprised, "It gets better?"
"Shit, yes," I said, giggling again. "We can't get enough of each other," I paused, smiling, "I guess that's how this happened," I said, pointing at my stomach. I shook my head, "I still can't believe this. I was on the pill."
"You keep saying that," Serra said, pausing to look at a store window, "have you told Dean yet?"
I nodded, "He overheard us in the bathroom."
Her eyes got wide and she covered her mouth, "Oh no. He was so calm when we were in there. What did he do?"
"He told me he loved me," I said, heading to the door of the store. I glanced back at her and grinned, "Then we had married sex."
We laughed and walked into the store, a bell tinkling above us as we walked in. "So he was happy?" Serra was asking as we headed towards the racks in the middle of the store. "Is he excited?"
I nodded, smiling. "I knew he would be happy eventually, because I saw that in his thought when we got married," I explained. "I just didn't realize that he would be so happy right away."
Serra smiled at me, beaming. "I wonder if he'll tell Sammy?" she asked, picking up a pair of cowboy boots from the display. "Is this something that we're hiding?"
I shook my head, "The only one that doesn't know is Sam," I said, tilting my head. "It would be kind of unfair to keep it from him if you know." I watched her inspect the boots and sighed. "You have about sixty pairs of boots."
"I'll remember that the next time you pick up a purse," Serra said, automatically. I shrugged, laughing as I walked away.
I was still getting feelings and the occasional thought from Serra, but I was working hard to keep myself closed off from her as well as everyone else. Dean only let me leave with her after turning the GPS on in my phone and making me promise that Castiel was allowed to follow us around if he felt the need. Having our own angel bodyguard was convenient. I felt safe knowing he was listening for me, watching our backs for any other angels that might come hunting me. I knew that the next time one found me, I might not be so lucky.
Dean stretched out on the bed, staring at the ceiling, lost in thought. Sam continued to explore the journals and photo albums that were stacked on the table and every once and a while, he would glance at his brother, expectant with his eyebrows raised. Finally, he asked, "Are you gonna help?"
Sitting up slightly, Dean smiled at his brother, "Grace is happy with the explanation right now, so I am, too. Besides," he said, laying back down on the pillows, "I'm on vacation."
Sighing, Sam closed the journal he had been reading and set it on the table next to him. "Alright," Sam said, popping his knuckles, "you're happy with Cas' story. So what next?"
Dean shrugged from his position on the bed. "What's next?" He sat up and smiled, rubbing his face and taking a deep breath, preparing. "Next, Grace makes you an uncle."
Sammy stared at his brother, unblinking. Dean's smile turned into a grin, and then he laughed, still watching Sam's reaction. "You wanna run that by me again?" Sam said, running a hand through his hair and turning to face Dean completely.
Moving to the edge of the bed, Dean sat with his hands folded, leaning towards his brother. Smiling, he repeated himself, "Grace is pregnant."
Standing, Sam held his arms out in disbelief. "She's pregnant? You're gonna be a –" he broke off, leaving the sentence hanging in the air.
"A dad, yeah," Dean said, looking up at Sam, laughing again. "I can't wrap my melon around it either."
In two steps, Sam was on Dean, wrapping his brother in an embrace. Dean stood too, hugging him back, tears stinging his eyes. He clapped his brother on the back, and leaned back, laughing again. "That's incredible, Dean," Sam let Dean go, and both boys wiped their faces. Sammy puffed out a sigh of air and repeated himself, "incredible."
Dean walked to the room service cart and poured a drink, using the ice that remained in the bucket. He handed the glass to Sammy, who took it with a smirk. He watched Dean pour another and the brothers raised their glasses towards each other. "Congratulations, Dean," Sam said, clinking Dean's glass, "I'm really happy for you. Here's to your wife… tolerating you long enough to reproduce."
"Ain't that the truth," Dean said, nodding and smiling, "to Gracie."
Sammy sat in the chair behind him, grinning like an idiot. "I take it you didn't plan this," he said, taking another drink.
Dean shook his head, "No, not even a little," he said, taking another drink. "Cas seems to think The Mark had something to do with it."
Shrugging, Dean took another drink, "She's on the pill, man," he started, taking a breath and leaning back after sitting back down on the bed. "Between her being fifty/fifty and this monstrosity," holding out his arm, "it all seemed to be a perfect storm."
"And Cas knew?" Sammy asked, putting his feet up on the bed from his place on the chair.
"He told Grace," shaking his head, Dean continued, "of course, she probably would have figured it out pretty quickly after this. She's been puking for two days." Sam made a face and Dean nodded. "I know. It's rough, dude."
The boys sat in silence a few minutes, alone with their own thoughts. Eventually, Sam spoke again, "I take it Serra knows?"
"I can guarantee it," Dean agreed. "They were in there together this morning," he gestured to the bathroom, "Grace was throwing up and Serra was asking what was wrong with her."
Leaning his head back, Sam smiled and nodded, "That explains the giddiness and attack," he said under his breath.
Sam shook his head, "She was all over me when I got out of the shower this morning," he answered.
Dean put up his hands, "I don't need any details. I've got my own Browning sister to deal with." He sighed and smiled again, his mind's eye reliving the most recent lovemaking encounter with his wife, "and mine is hormonal."
Chuckling, Sam drained his glass and stood to refill it. "A baby. Jesus, Dean."
"You can't let me turn into Dad," Dean said suddenly, his voice deep and serious. "I'm too much like him as it is. Don't let me treat my kid like he treated us."
"You're not Dad," Sam replied, turning to face him. "And Grace wouldn't let that happen."
Dean nodded, agreeing. "That's true. She's too stubborn for shit like that." Dean drained his glass as well. "The good news," Sam raised his eyebrows at his brother, "besides the fact that I knocked up my wife, is that this isn't even registering anymore." He held out his arm and showed Sam The Mark of Cain. "It's like she's physically taking it from me."
Sam glanced up at Dean's face, then back down at his arm, "Is it me or does it look faded?"
Shrugging, Dean said, "It's a possibility. Every time she touches it, she takes on some of its power and I feel better."
"And how does Grace feel after she takes it on?"
"She doesn't seem any different…she says she feels powerful. Aside from the room lighting up and her eyes glowing blue occasionally," Dean laughed at how ridiculous his words sounded. "It doesn't hurt her, if that's what you mean."
Sam nodded, "Good. It seems that you two were meant to be together."
"That's exactly what Cas said," he closed his eyes, remembering the conversation, "the red string of Fate."
"So living with The Mark of Cain is becoming a definite possibility?" Sam asked, hopeful. "We don't have to keep researching how to get rid of it?"
Dean glanced back down at The Mark and shrugged, "If she continues being okay and it continues doing whatever it does, then it can stay."
There was another few minutes of silence between the brothers and the Sam asked, "If she's a neph…half and half, what will that make the baby?"
Dean shrugged. "I don't really care. As long as she comes out with ten fingers and ten toes, looking like Grace, I don't care what the angels call her."
Smiling, Dean raised his eyebrows. "It's what I keep picturing. There're already two Winchester boys. I think it's about time for a Winchester girl."
Sammy nodded, smiling. "If it's a girl, you're gonna be a disaster."
"Shut up, man," Dean said with a grin.
We got back to the hotel about an hour later, our arms full of bags and exhausted. Dean got up to help me with my bags and kissed me in greeting. Sam was behind him, pushing him out of the way, "Move, Dean, I wanna congratulate my sister-in-law."
He picked me up in a hug, laughing, and I giggled right along with him. "I take it you told him," I said, as Sammy put me down. He kissed my forehead and stood back, grinning and then hugged Serendipity.
Dean nodded, "Yeah, I couldn't help myself."
We walked into the room and started sorting through what Serra and I had discovered in the shops. I bought Dean a new coat, a dark brown leather beauty, and he tried it on, grinning. "Thank you, Gracie," he said, kissing me again.
I leaned back after and made a face, "Did you drink the rest of that whiskey?" Dean nodded in response and I walked to the bathroom, "I'll be right back."
"Do you need help?"
"No I need to puke," I shut the door and everyone else went back to the sorting.
Castiel appeared moments later to report the day. It appeared that I had gotten pretty good at keeping myself behind the walls of my psyche because Cas hadn't heard me once that day, proving that it could be done. "I am no longer worried about her being able to hide herself. She should be safe, as long as she keeps herself hidden. When she gets out of the bathroom, I plan on marking her with protective sigils to keep her hidden from any other angels."
"I don't want her hidden from you," Dean said, concern washing over his face. "You need to be able to bamf to her when she needs you."
"That's what phones are for," Castiel responded, the sarcasm not hidden in his voice. "I will be able to get to her as soon as she calls me."
"What if she can't call you, Cas? What happens then? No," Dean put his hand out, "no sigils on Grace. You need to be able to see her wherever she is."
"Why are you acting like this, Dean? You know the sigils work in our favor."
"Because it's not just her anymore," Dean said, emotion rising in his voice, "she's carrying my kid, too." A silence fell over the room; the only sounds were from Grace in the bathroom, washing up. "If she's hidden from you, the baby is too. And that kid is our job, now, Cas. When I'm not around, you are attached at the hip, you got it?"
Castiel nodded slightly, opening his mouth to speak again, "Dean, you have to understand. If she opens her mind, even for a moment, the other angels can hear her. She is still a nephilim. The best way to keep her safe is to keep her hidden." Dean was still shaking his head, "And once the baby is born, I will mark her as well."
Freezing in place, Dean stood, staring at Cas. "Her?" Serra and Sam took a step towards Castiel as well. "Did you say 'her'?"
Cas nodded, confused, his blue eyes flicking to each of the Winchesters and to Serra, in turn. "Yes, the child is female. Was I not supposed to say that?"
Serra gasped and put her hands over her mouth, tears welling in her eyes. Sam hugged her and put an arm around his brother as well. Dean simply stared forward, unable to speak.
I stood in the doorway of the bathroom, touching a hand to my abdomen. A girl. I glanced up at Dean, seeing the sly grin creep across his face as I walked the few steps to hug him. We laughed together, and I turned to my sister as she lunged towards me for a hug.
Castiel seemed confused by everything happening around him. "I don't understand," he said, watching us cry and hug. "I anticipated that you would be excited."
"We are, Cas," Dean said, wiping his face, "we are. These are happy tears." He looked down at me, smiling, "I win."
I laughed and nodded. "You win."
Dean looked back at Castiel and revisited the conversation that had derailed by the news of the gender of the baby I carried, "No sigils."
"It goes against my better judgment," Cas said, shrugging, "but if you say so, then fine. I will be 'attached at the hip' as you say."
"Thank you," Dean said, touching Castiel's shoulder. He turned back to me, hugged me again, and put a hand on my belly. "Don't break my heart, baby girl," he said, his voice low. "You two need to stay safe."
We spent the remainder of our time in New Orleans as a family, touring the cemeteries and having dinner at fancy Cajun and French style restaurants. Serra and Sam joined us a few nights, but they spent some time on their own as well. My phone rang one afternoon, and seeing it was Serra, I picked it up, lounging in the giant bathtub while Dean napped.
"I need eighteen hundred dollars."
I sat up slightly, trying to figure out if her voice dripped with fear or extreme excitement. "What?"
"Eighteen hundred bucks," she repeated, breathless, Sam laughing in the background.
My heart found its way back into my chest as I calmed down, lying back against the tub. "I'm not buying you eighteen hundred dollar boots."
"I found it," Serendipity said simply.
There was a pause as I registered what she was saying. There was only one thing that could get my sister as excited about spending that much money all at the same time. "Where?"
Serendipity turned to face the lifted, blue and white 1970 Chevy truck that had taunted her for years. "In a driveway downtown," she said, smiling and breathless. "It's mint."
"How is it only eighteen hundred bucks?" I answered, making an attempt to get out of the tub with my phone. "Dean's good, but he can't just make a motor appear out of nowhere."
Serra's voice didn't waver in the slightest; she ignored my joke completely. "I already talked to the owner…he's this little old man and he can't drive anymore, but there's another buyer, trying to get the cash together." She took a breath, obviously staring at the truck, "Grace, if we beat the other guy here with the cash, I win." Serra paused, taking a breath, "I get paid in a week, Grace. I just don't have the cash sitting there."
I wrapped myself in a towel and stood in the doorway, staring at Dean, who had awoken to the sound of my phone and was sitting up, staring at me. I smiled at him, reassuring, and answered Serra's plea, "Text me the address. I'm getting dressed."
"OhmyGodthankyouGracie," Serra said, breathless with excitement. She hung up the phone and I laughed, reaching for pants and a sweatshirt.
Dean raised his eyebrows, "I take it that it's nothing life threatening."
"She found her truck. If we hurry, we can beat out the other buyer before he wrangles the cash," I explained, still laughing. "She needs eighteen hundred bucks."
"Better make it an even two, just in case." I nodded, agreeing with Dean. We got dressed, I grabbed my bag and we headed down the hall.
I pulled two thousand dollars out from the bank on the corner and we drove to the address that Serra had sent to me. As we pulled up, Serra had obviously already claimed the truck as her own; she was sitting on the tailgate, swinging her legs as Sam talked animatedly to the elderly man standing next to him. The rumble of the Impala got the attention of all three in the driveway and I smiled at my sister. She was giddy.
The exchange was simple: Serra had already driven the truck…it was just as promised; well cared for and simply in need of another home. I counted out the cash as Sam coached Serra on filling out the bill of sale (she could barely hold the pen) and in no time at all; Serra was driving her dream, caravanning back towards the hotel. Dean drove the Impala, Sam drove my Chevelle and I rode shotgun in Serendipity's new truck.
I glanced over at my sister, laughing at the expression on her face. We cranked Carrie Underwood on the tinny speakers and wailed to "Good Girl" as the boys followed us back to the hotel.
Packing up, getting ready to head home after our New Orleans honeymoon was depressing. "I don't want to go back to work," I was saying, mostly to myself.
From the corner of my eye, I saw Dean shrug, "So don't."
I tilted my head at him as I shoved the stack of photo albums and journals back into my duffle bag, annoyed. "I can't just not go back to work, Dean."
He shook his head, taking a bite of a cinnamon roll, "That's not what I mean." Taking a step towards me, he gestured, "I mean, let me be the traditional breadwinner and you can be the cute little woman, barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen." He waggled his eyebrows at me, saying, "You can make me pies and wait lovingly at the door with a drink after my long, hard day at the office."
"Right," I said, sarcastically, "I'm gonna sit at home all day, washing dishes and doing laundry, wasting my education." I laughed. "Some people can, but I hate to break it to you, Winchester, I ain't one of them."
Dean grinned at me, coming to my side and mocking me still, wrapping his arms around me, "I could just keep knocking you up," he said, kissing my neck, "I could just keep you on maternity leave."
I pushed him away, laughing. "You stay over there," I replied, grinning back at him. "This," I said, pointing to my stomach, "is a one time, maybe two time thing. That's it."
Dean shrugged at me, walking back to his side of the bed to continue packing. "We'll see," he murmured quietly.
There was a quick knock on the adjoining door between our rooms from Serra's side. I looked up, surprised, saying, "It must be Sam. Serra doesn't knock."
Dean raised his voice, "It's open, Sammy."
The door opened and Sam walked in, sans my sister. He closed the door behind him quickly, as if she was trying to follow him through the door. He looked nervous, his face was flushed and his hair was shoved back, behind his ears. He just stood there, waiting for acknowledgement. I continued packing, assuming he was here to talk to Dean about something, but eventually, Dean said, "Dude, what's the matter with you?"
Sam took a deep breath and glanced at me. "I'm actually here to talk to Grace."
I looked up from my packing and raised my eyebrows. "What's up, Sammy?"
He didn't reply immediately, but instead shoved his hands in his pockets and began pacing around the room. I was starting to get worried, asking, "What's wrong? Is Serra okay?"
Sam nodded his silent answer, still pacing around. "Yeah, she's fine," he said eventually, Dean and I both staring at him, "I, um. I came to talk to you about something."
"Spit it out, Sam," Dean said, irritated at his brother.
Sam turned, his hands still in his pockets, and made a face at Dean. "I've been doing a lot thinking," he began, "and I've been carrying this around for about a week." He brought his hand out of his pocket and held out a diamond engagement ring.
I gasped, walking to Sam and hugging him, tears forming in my eyes. "You're gonna propose to Serra?" I hugged him again, "Oh, Sammy, that's great."
"Yeah, that's the plan," he said, his face going red again, smiling slightly, "but I wanted to make sure you were okay with it."
"Sammy, of course I am," I paused, making a face, "Are you asking for my permission to marry my sister?" I laughed lightly, "You don't have to ask!"
Sam shrugged. "I would have asked your father, but…"
"Yeah, him being dead kind of gets in the way," I replied, grimacing. "Sammy, you make her happy. She's safe. It's kind of all I'm looking for."
Dean slapped his brother on the back, a grin on his face, saying, "Big happy family."
I laughed and reached for the ring in Sammy's palm. "Oh, Sam," I breathed, staring at the ring. It was an antique, a cushion cut stone set in a halo of tiny diamonds, "it's so beautiful. She'll love it."
Dean looked at the ring from over my shoulder, "Yours isn't big," he said, leaning his chin on my shoulder.
"I know," I said, making a face at my husband. I held the ring, feeling the weight of the platinum, "I'll need a push present with the baby is born," I smiled coyly at him as I continued, "you can make it up to me then."
"What the hell is a 'push present'?" Dean questioned, pulling his head off of my shoulder. "You know what, never mind. I don't want to know."
I smiled back up at Sam and handed him the ring, "Sammy, I would be honored if you asked my sister to marry you."
The next few months were uneventful, aside from the fact that the entire world seemed to be flipped on its' ear. Sam hadn't proposed to Serendipity yet, but we knew he was just waiting for the perfect time.
I was congratulated, over and over, for the baby growing inside of me. Dean was as dedicated and loyal as ever, bringing me lunch at school on his breaks and checking in on me periodically throughout the day. She grew like a weed, stretching my skin so taught that I was itchy all the time. If anything, Dean and I were closer, and my hormones sent me into a frenzy of sexual energy that I had never experienced. I caught him staring at me quite often, considering my body and smiling to himself; looking quite proud.
"What are you staring at?" I asked him one day, stepping out of my clothes, getting ready for bed.
Dean grinned and gestured, "You."
I smiled and looked down. My belly had rounded out quite a bit in the last few weeks. Dean bent down to untie his boots, kicking them off and shoving them under the bed. He reached out and felt my stomach, "I did this," he said quietly. "It's one of those primal things, I think," he was saying, smiling, "I put her there."
Ever so gently, Dean moved his hand up my belly towards my chest, my pulse quickening. "What are you doing, Mr. Winchester?"
He bent to kiss my neck and continued to caress my body, leaving an electric trail beneath his fingers. "Nothing," he said between kisses, "I haven't done before, obviously."
I yearned to resist him, just once, just to see if I could, but I was powerless to his touch. I moved towards him, my hand tracing along the collar to his shirt. I could see a grease line across his cheek: he had taken on a 1972 Chevy Nova at the shop and he relished in doing most of the work himself, even though he was the shop's assistant manager now. Leaning into him, I took a deep breath, smelling the shop still on him.
I reached for my robe, backing away from him ever so slightly, "Let's get the grease off of you first," I said, turning and leading him towards the bathroom, "then we'll see if you succeed in seducing me."
We made love in the shower that night, the warm water trickling down my belly and over his shoulders. He held me close and I breathed into his ear, driving him wild. We held onto the wall, using it to brace us. Dean made sure our footing was secure as we ravaged each other. As our breathing piqued, Dean held my gaze as we climaxed together, and for the first time, I felt the baby move.
I gasped, my hand flying to the left side of my stomach, the hot water hitting my back and pushing my hair over my shoulder. Dean's eyes went wide, fear taking hold. "What? Are you okay?"
I nodded, still feeling flutters from inside. It was the weirdest thing I had ever felt…like a goldfish was in my stomach, swimming circles all around. "I can feel her."
"No, close yourself off, honey. Keep your walls up," Dean said, misunderstanding me.
I shook my head and took his hand, forcing him to push slightly on my belly to try to get him to feel what I felt. He backed up slightly, resetting his footing and gasped as well. "Oh, my God, Grace. Is that her?"
I nodded, smiling up at my husband, now a father. I watched Dean stare off into space, the water splashing into his face as he concentrated. He nodded back at me, and then looked down at where his hand rested. "Amazing," he breathed.
Serra had books open in front of her, making notes like a fiend, trying to study for one of the last finals she would ever take. Graduation was in a few short weeks and she was so close to the finish line, she could taste it. Sammy was organizing the bookcases in the Men of Letters library while she studied and she was doing the best she could to ignore him.
He walked past again and smiled at her as he shelved two more ancient books. Again, trying to ignore him, she refocused her energy into the chemistry in front of her. He just smelled so good. She watched him walk by, his tee shirt hanging around his shoulders in all the right ways, and his biceps flexed as he put away another book. "Oh my God, Sam," she said, irritation dripping through her voice.
"What?" he said, whipping around back to her, shocked at her tone. "What did I do?"
"You're so fucking beautiful," Serra said, rubbing her face, "and every time you walk by, you smell so good. You've gotta let me study!"
Sam chuckled, "I thought that's what I was doing!"
Serra shook her head and made a face at him, "No. You're distracting. Either do me here on this table so I can get it out of my system, or go away."
Grinning, Sam walked towards Serra, still sitting at her place at the table in the middle of the library. He leaned dangerously close to her, smiling and whispering, "Get it out of your system? All it does is amp you up."
Without warning, Serra wrapped her arms around his neck, kissing him passionately while pushing the books she was studying off of the table and the landed on the floor with a thud. He laughed as she pushed him down, after pulling his shirt off and throwing it on the floor with her books. Sam wrapped his arms around her petite frame, embracing her as she straddled him. The lamps that were in the middle of the library tables were in the way and Sam carefully pushed them aside as Serra found his neck and ears. He groaned, giving into the pleasure of Serra finding one of his most sensitive spots.
From her position on top of Sam, Serra tried her best to undo the belt Sam wore, her fingers fumbling the leather unsuccessfully. She grinned and broke contact with Sam, concentrating hard on taking his jeans off. Finally, giving up, she giggled. "I can't. Belts are stupid."
Sam stood, helping Serra off of him and sitting her on the table, then, ripping off his pants he leaned against her, finding his place between her legs as he pulled off her pants, all while she sat on the table. He pulled her sweater off, too, ruffling her hair and tossing it across the room. Cupping her face, he kissed her again, his hands were so big, they covered most of her cheeks. Their breathing was ragged, and in between kisses, Sam muttered, "I love you, Serra."
Serendipity wrapped her legs around Sam's waist, pulling herself as close as she could be to him, running her hands over his shoulders and his back, feeling every one of his muscles, tensed in anticipation. They were all hands, feeling each other and embracing. Sam lifted Serra from the table, supporting her with his arms. She wrapped herself around him tighter, breathing heavily as he nuzzled her neck.
The harder Serra pulled Sam into her, the more she wanted, her hands running through his hair and she struggled to keep her breathing calm. Serra's chestnut eyes found Sam's hazel gaze and locked together, they found ecstasy. Unwilling to release Sam, Serra leaned on his chest and whispered, "I love you, too, Sammy," still breathless. She listened to his heartbeat against his chest and she smiled. "But now, you've gotta let me study. If I fail, I'm making you pay for summer school."
He rested his head on her forehead, chuckling to quietly. "Deal," he said, bending to get his pants and shirt. He grabbed Serra's sweater and pants as well, handing them to her. As he shook out his jeans, a tinkle of something hitting the floor echoed through the room. Sam froze, staring forward, watching Serra's engagement ring roll across the tile.
Serra glanced up at Sam from her position on the table and tilted her head. "What was that?"
Sam made a face and swore under his breath. "Nothing," he said, trying to look nonchalant. "A key ring or something."
Her eyes narrowed as she pulled on her pants. Serra acted uninterested, picking up her books as Sam tried to calmly walk towards where the ring lay.
Smaller and faster than Sam, Serra went around the other side of the table and dove at the same time Sam bent to pick up the ring. She held the diamond ring in her fingers and stood, still shirtless, she let her mouth fall open and she stared at Sam. Sam squeezed his eyes shut and his lips formed a tight line in disappointment.
"What is this, Sam?" Serra repeated, still staring across the table at him.
Sam took a deep, shaky breath and shook his head. "Me ruining a surprise because I can't leave it anywhere…I know you would have found it weeks ago."
Forgetting to blink or breathe, Serra glanced down at the diamond ring again. It was gorgeous, sparkling under the warm Tiffany lights. The band was sprinkled with tiny diamonds and there, at the center, was a cushion cut center stone, wrapped in a halo of diamonds. A lump was forming in her throat as she struggled to find the words to respond to him.
Finally, Serra's eyes searched for Sam's again, this time, meeting his gaze from below her eye level. He was kneeling in front of her on the floor, tears beginning to form in his eyes. "It was supposed to be this spectacular surprise…I just hadn't found the time or place yet. I was going to do it in New Orleans, but then your sister ended up being pregnant and I didn't want to steal her thunder…" Sam faded away and hung his head, "I'm so sorry, Sere. I wanted to make it special and I just hadn't gotten any ideas yet."
Serendipity knelt next to Sam, wrapping her arms around his bare shoulders, kissing him lightly on the cheek. "This is special, Sammy. You didn't ruin anything."
Sam's phone began to ring from the bookcase it lay on. Sam tried to ignore it, standing up to hug Serra and after five rings, the sound ended. He smiled, satisfied that they were still alone, but as soon as he finished his thought, his phone began to ring again.
Serra tilted her head, attempting to read the caller ID from where she stood by Sam's side. "It's Dean," she said, making a face.
There was a moment of hesitation as Sam decided what to do. "If he's calling back to back, there might be something…"
Serra nodded, handing the diamond ring back to Sam. "You keep this. We'll pick up this conversation some other time."
"Sere," Sam started, shaking his head, "I—" The phone was insistent, Dean was not letting up.
"Answer the phone, Sam," Serra said, pushing him towards the device. "Seriously. I'm okay. Just knowing you have it is enough right now."
Sam smiled lightly at her, disappointment rolling through him. "What, Dean," he said, annoyed, picking up the phone and sliding the screen to unlock it. "We're in the middle of something." Sam paused, his eyes going wide and he looked over at Serendipity. "What? When?"
Serra pulled the sweater she was holding over her head and took the few steps towards Sam. She strained to listen as Sam continued the conversation with his brother.
"We're on our way," Sam said, clicking off the phone and taking a breath. He stared at Serendipity and explained, "They're coming. Cas is there…the angels are finally coming for Grace."
Serra turned and took off down the hall towards their bedroom, Sam right on her heels. They began loading up the duffle bag with weapons and Serra pulled on her battle boots and loaded them with another blade. She tied her hair back and added another layer as she grabbed the angel blade Grace had given her and stuck it in the leather holster that was already around her waist.
Flicking off lights as they walked down the halls, Serra and Sam walked towards Serra's truck and drove off, ready to defend their family.
Castiel had appeared out of nowhere as we were sitting at the counter having breakfast. I was turned, with my legs up on the other stool while Dean drank his coffee and we had our usual morning conversations. Neither one of us had seen Cas in over a month, so his sudden presence startled both of us. His eyes were wide and his stance was agitated. Something was wrong.
Dean spoke first, "What, Cas?"
I was shocked and I automatically stood, at the ready, looking around as if "they" had appeared as well. Dean stood next to me, setting down his coffee cup and striding to where Castiel stood.
"Who?" Dean asked, his voice more of a growl, "who is coming?" Castiel was like a statue, listening intently. I yearned to hear what he was hearing, but I remained closed off, unwilling to allow the other angels to use my powers like a GPS signal. He remained silent for longer than Dean could stand and grabbing him by the shoulders, Dean repeated himself. "Who, Cas?"
Flicking his blue eyes towards Dean's face, his eyebrows remained furrowed and concern hung on his face as he spoke, "Angels. They're deciding who's coming for Grace."
Dean was in motion before I had time to process what was happening. How? I have been silent for months. I haven't even been reading by touch. I glanced up at Castiel, panic taking hold, how did they find me?
"They can hear the baby," he responded simply to my thoughts. "I am afraid your walls don't block both of you consistently."
Dean was speaking quickly into his phone, obviously talking to Sam, catching him up on what Castiel told us. He was already taking a marker to our walls, drawing protective signs all around us, and taking down picture frames to write a sigil in its place. I turned back to Cas, "How long?"
He shook his head. "They have been discussing it quietly for two days."
Dead reeled on Cas, still holding the phone to his ear. His eyebrows shot up and he almost yelled, "Two days? You've known for two days?"
"Cas, why did you tell us sooner?" I said, leaning on the barstool next to me in shock, "we could have been more prepared!"
Castiel was shaking his head, "No, I wanted to know what they were planning before they caught on that you know."
"You had no right—" Dean started, angry, but Cas cut him off, just as upset.
"I did have a right, Dean," he growled, "you did not allow me to mark her, so they found her, as I knew they would. If we didn't have the advantage of invisibility, I at least wanted the knowledge of what they were planning to do." He paused, taking a breath, obviously still irritated at Dean, "If they're coming, I want to know when, who, and what they plan on doing once they get here."
Staring directly at Cas, Dean set his jaw, emotions hidden. I knew that he was pissed, but I was too, knowing that this could have been avoided. We had gone round and round about letting Castiel mark me with protective sigils, but Dean had stuck to his argument, insisting that Cas needed to be able to find me at a moment's notice. I could see that side of the argument, but really, I favored Castiel's side.
I ran a hand over my belly, feeling the baby flutter from within me. Anger battled with my fear as I stared at Castiel.
Dean went back to talking to Sam on the phone, hushed tones with an angry voice. I heard him say, "Just get here," and he hung up, walking back over to me. Staring at my husband, I realized how ridiculous this battle would be. If there was more than one angel, we would be out numbered, easily, and I knew that Dean would never willingly allow me to participate, especially with our daughter still part of me. He turned to Cas, speaking in a calm voice, though still unforgiving, "Take her to Bobby's. We'll follow. We'll deal with this there."
I was already shaking my head, "Bobby's? What, lock me up in the panic room? How long will that last, Dean? And how long do you think they'll let you live with me locked away?"
"I don't really give a shit what they do to me, Grace," he was saying, turning to me with his arms folded, "you'll be safe. The baby will be safe. To me, that's a win."
I felt like slapping him. "How dare you try and sacrifice yourself," I spat, "you will not be martyred. We are a family."
Dean stared at me, shocked at the sudden anger dripping through my voice. "Grace, I'm not letting you be a part of a battle that could end with your life. Or hers," he said quietly, gesturing to me. "It's not going to happen. I would rather die than let you."
"You aren't sending me away," I argued, "I hate to break it to you, Winchester, but I'm probably more useful against a battalion angels than you."
Glancing at Castiel, Dean saw his friend shrugging his shoulders and nodding, almost agreeing with me. Catching Dean's glare, Cas snapped back to stoic and kept his mouth closed. I had won.
"I'm staying. We're fighting." Dean was shaking his head, stubborn, but I didn't care. "Together."
Dean paused for a half a breath. Resigning, he tossed me a marker. "Get to drawing, Picasso. Let's lock this place down, as much as we can."
I nodded and walked to the couch, continuing the sigils on the walls. Dean was closing up the kitchen, putting to work the protective implements that my parents had built around the house, years ago. He pulled down the wooden plank that covered the back door, pulled out the plywood window guards with Devil's Traps painted across them and set them in their places, covering the downstairs windows in turn. Cas joined the preparations, closing the blinds and using his powers to burn more sigils into the floor and ceiling. Glancing around, I sighed. My parent's house was fast becoming a battlefield, ready for the fight. It saddened me to have to bring out these protective layers. Almost a year ago, I had been convinced that my hunting days were over, but here I was, with a permanent marker, writing all over the walls. It was like Armageddon all over again.
There was a rumble that shook the windows and dishes. Dean and I exchanged glances and he moved closer to me, Castiel following suit. He was already shaking his head, though, saying, "It's not them. It's a different voice."
I refrained from listening to the angels and instead, concentrated as hard as I could on the sounds that became louder and louder. There was a high-pitched siren, moving like a train through the kitchen and the living room that made Dean bend and cover his ears. Cas and I looked at each other, and moved so that we stood back to back, with Dean in the middle. I knew the sound now, an angel's voice in its true form, not softening for human ears.
Castiel spoke first. "Show yourself," he said, authority ringing out over the sound, "I know you're not here to hurt her."
There was a blinding light, and I moved to block Dean from it, "Close your eyes," I said, refusing to move as he tried to shield me, still doubled over, "don't look."
There, standing in the middle of the kitchen was a female figure, still lit by the light of her true form. She appeared, regardless of the many sigils that had already been drawn all over the house. I wasn't afraid. Curious and confused were more accurate.
"Who are you?" Castiel asked, facing her. If he didn't know her, then she must not be a part of his old garrison, from his hell-fighting days.
She looked around the house, moving slowly, her hair falling around her shoulders and her back, and the light still shone through the house. She was dressed modestly; a floor length moss-green maxi dress was all she wore. I also noticed that she was barefoot. She reminded me a lot of my mother.
Castiel was growing impatient. "Who are you?" he repeated, his voice irritated, "why are you here?"
Struggling against the sound, Dean stood, pushing me behind him. It was apparent that he thought he was still going to take the brunt of the hit. With his arms at his sides, I moved slightly so that I could reach his Marked arm if I needed to. I hadn't tried contact since finding out I was pregnant, but I knew, deep in my gut, that it wouldn't hurt her. I could take the power and still protect my family.
The angel stood in the middle of our kitchen, seemingly moving in slow motion. She looked at Cas, puzzled at his presence and then at Dean and I. Smiling, she addressed me, "I am Lucia," she said quietly, speaking in a voice that I knew Dean could hear as well, "I am not here to harm you. I wouldn't dream of harming something that I helped to create."
I gasped, despite myself. There she was, right in front of me, the angel that took possession of my mother's body to have me. Castiel's voice brought me around: I had honestly forgotten anyone else was there. "You're not a warrior," Cas said.
Lucia acknowledged Castiel for the first time, turning her body towards him. "I am a seraph."
Cas' mouth dropped open slightly, and his blue eyes surprised. She smiled at him and turned back towards me. Reaching towards Dean's face, she reached out and brought his chin up, so that she could look into his eyes. "I am so very pleased you finally found her," she said, gesturing to me.
Dean looked as though he was still in pain from the sound, but nodded ever so slightly. "She actually found me." She let go of his face and he was able to stand to his full height.
"Why are you here, seraph?" Castiel asked, "If you're not here to harm her, why are you here?"
"Castiel, I am here to protect her." Lucia's light was finally dimming and the more I looked at her, the more familiar she became. "Those will not work," she said, gesturing to the markings on the walls, "they can hear her and I am here, like a homing beacon. I will protect you."
Finally able to participate in the conversation, Dean said, "Why didn't you come the first time she was attacked?"
"I knew you would be there and everything would end positively," she answered simply. "I had no fear. This time is different, however. I have not seen the end of this battle." My pulse quickened. If the seraph that had used my mother as a vessel couldn't see the end of the battle, it didn't bode well for me. "More are coming," she continued, her voice musical and comforting, "and we need to prepare."
"How long do we have?" Dean asked, moving towards the bar stools at the counter, leaning on them for support, "What do we need to do?"
Lucia stared at my husband, evaluating his question. "We have only hours. The group of angels coming have a personal vendetta against the Winchester brothers. They are among the same that wanted to bring about the end of human kind on Earth." She turned slowly to stare at Castiel, "You are the angel that has chosen Free Will?"
"Smiting me will only bring more pain to the Winchester family," Castiel said, "I am here to help, regardless of my choices."
Nodding, Lucia smiled slightly, "Castiel, I have been watching you since you met Grace. I support your decisions and am honored that you are fighting to save her." She turned back to Dean, "You need to allow Grace to fight as well. She is more powerful than you, and—"
"No," Dean interrupted, finally regaining his normal composure and standing on his own, "she can stay, but I want her staying safe, out of the fight."
"No?" Lucia responded, "Your wife holds the key to winning this battle. She does not have orders to follow, only the instincts of an angel and a human," she paused, glancing at my belly, "and a mother."
Dean was shaking his head, at a loss how to further argue with two angels and a hybrid, but he gave it his best shot. I watched him struggle with the words, trying to figure out a way to keep me out of the fight and still win. "Grace isn't exactly battle ready," he started, gesturing at me, "and there is no chance in hell I am letting her risk her life even more than it already is. Throw my kid in too? It's not happening."
Castiel, Lucia and I stared at Dean, waiting for the other to speak. When no one did, I stepped forward and spoke quietly, "Dean," I said, pleading, "I don't know how I stay here and stay out of the fight. There's nowhere for me to go. Locking me in a box will only draw them there, away from you. If you're going to fight, we need to fight together."
Only having eyes for me, Dean was still shaking his head. His voice was thick, "I can't lose you."
"You don't know that," he said, stepping towards me. "If another angel showed up, the angel that used your mom as a meat suit, it can't be a good sign."
I reached out to touch Dean's face, allowing myself to receive scenes from his memory for the first time in months. His eyes closed and I watched: Our wedding, flowers in my hair and smiling faces…working on the Chevelle with me, both of our faces smeared with engine grease…Dean feeling the curve of my belly, waiting for the flutters from our daughter. "Let me use The Mark. We'll win and you know it."
I could feel the shift in Dean's decision, once I had opened my abilities. Now that I was paying attention, I could feel the individual emotions of everyone in the room. Lucia was determined, calm; free of any anxiety. Castiel was impatient, waiting for his chance to fight; to defend his friends and family until the end. Dean was scared; fear strangling his hold on patience and refusing to let go without a fight.
I took a breath, sending calming thoughts towards Dean, willing him to let go of his fear. If we were going down, we would be together. "I know you're afraid," I said, struggling with my own emotions, trying to keep the waver out of my voice, "I'm scared too, but we're together and that's what matters."
Outside, I could hear the rumble of Serra's truck as it whipped into the driveway and the engine stopped. Reinforcements were here. The rest of my family was ready to make a stand with us. We would either all die together or celebrate tomorrow; it seemed there was no in between.
The door blew open and Serra came running in, throwing herself at me and wrapping her arms around me. "It'll be okay, Lucky," I said, hugging her back, "we'll be fine."
She let go of me and I stood back, looking at her. Serendipity had come, ready for a battle. She wore the angel blade that Castiel had given her in a knife belt around her waist and her "battle boots" that she wore for every hunt, no doubt with another knife in the top half of one of them. Serra greeted my belly as well, rubbing it once and glancing at Dean. Worry etched across Dean's face, still staring at me. The idea that everyone he loved was in one room, preparing for a battle that we might not win was almost too much for him to take; he looked close to tears.
Sam entered the house as well, carrying a duffle that, no doubt, was full of weapons. Hopefully, Sam had tracked down another angel blade or two, or we were going to be out gunned. I turned and hugged my brother-in-law and he squeezed me just as tight as Serra; he was nervous as well.
Glancing up at Lucia, Sam nodded towards her, "Who is this?"
"I am Lucia, Sam Winchester. I am the seraph responsible for Grace's abilities," she answered, stepping forward and smiling slightly, "I am here to help."
Sam grimaced in response, his eyebrows lost in his hairline. "You're the angel that possessed her mother?"
"I am," Lucia responded, "she prayed for me."
Dean stepped forward, breaking the mood, "Alright, we can have story time after we win this thing," he said, his voice rough, "what should we do to be ready for this fight?"
Taking a deep breath, Lucia motioned to Dean's arm. "The Mark of Cain might be a curse for you, but to Grace, it is a weapon that she can control. Drawing its power will make Grace more comparable to an angel's true ability. Give her an angel blade and she is one of us."
Dean looked and me and raised his eyebrows. "This won't hurt her?" Honestly I didn't know if he was talking about the baby or me, but Lucia shook her head slightly and Dean started rolling up his sleeve.
Two hours passed since Lucia's arrival to our home with still no word or movement from the coming battalion. Serra was perched up on the counter top, twirling the angel blade in her hand and staring off into space. I had called a sub for my classroom for the next three days, blaming trouble with my pregnancy. The truth was ridiculous to the outside world but it gave the carte blanche excuse that I could extend if necessary and summer break was only two weeks away. Dean sat on the edge of the couch, next to me, his hand protectively on my knee while I had a hand resting on The Mark of Cain. I hadn't touched the angel blade he had; it was lying on the coffee table in front of me. Sam was buried in a book, busying himself as much as he could to avoid the anxiety that flowed through him. Castiel and Lucia simply stood in the middle of the kitchen, very close to where they had been for the past two hours, silently staring and listening to the angels.
The attack was close, I knew. Angel radio had been silent for the last twenty minutes or so. I had given up trying to stay silent and walled from my angelic abilities, giving in and listening hard with Cas and Lucia. I was tapped into everyone's brain as well, still trying to be as calm as I could be for everyone's benefit. Castiel, Lucia and I spoke to each other telepathically and they spent the time giving me suggestions and pointers as we waited. They had both spent time explaining the basis of using The Mark of Cain, keeping Dean in arm's reach to "recharge," so to speak. The had also assured me that using The Mark would not hurt the baby, but to stay aware of my feelings and emotions as much as I could during the battle. If I felt myself or Dean slipping into the rage that The Mark was so well known for, we needed to take a break from using it and depend more solely on Cas and Lucia.
There was a shift in the atmosphere around us and I noticed Lucia and Castiel turn and stiffen, listening hard. I could hear it too, now using my senses to their fullest extent, and I sat up, turning towards the sound that the other two did. Dean glanced at me, seeing my change, and asked quietly, "Are they coming?"
I shook my head, "They're already here."
"Castiel! Lucia! How dare you impugn your own race and side with the humans, protecting that filth," came a voice from outside the house, "send her out, and there will be no more lives lost today."
"Come and get her," Castiel shouted back, shaking his blade from his sleeve, "you're not killing anyone tonight."
There was a flash of light as the angels from the battalion attempted to get into the house. Apparently, the sigils still had some affect. The door burst open then, splintering the wood and shattering our front door. Dean leapt up from his position on the couch; Sam and Serra joined us in the living room, forming a protective circle around me. I reached out towards Dean, still with my eyes on the angels coming through our doorway. Dean held out his arm, waiting for contact. I could sense that he was still adamantly against my joining the battle, but he resigned, knowing it was better than sitting around, waiting to be attacked.
The angel battalion approached the house and a still came over me, preparing myself for what was coming. Dean's arm was in reach and I turned, pulling my angel blade from the table and again making contact with The Mark of Cain. Once again, just like in the hotel, the room filled with light and the blade warmed to my touch, electricity flowing down my arm and into my fingertips. I could hear Dean's thoughts like they were my own and the rest of the room seemed to slow down. I took a deep breath, still keeping contact with my husband's arm as the battalion entered our home.
Serra took a step back at the size of two of the angels. They had chosen vessels that we large and authoritative, easily outweighing Dean and Sam. I could tell this worried my sister—I knew she feared having Sam tossed around like a rag doll, as did I with Dean. There was only so much the human body could take. I knew from experience.
There were six angels in all; four men and two women, all here with one plan: kill the nephilim. Dean's mind was buzzing with thought; attack plans and vengeful feelings…there was so much happening in his head I wanted to tune him out. I didn't have a chance to try before the largest of the battalion stepped forward to speak.
"Castiel, Lucia…I'm disappointed to see you here," he said, his voice deep and subtle. "She is not worth the punishment that you two will endure once this is over."
Lucia tilted her head, unconcerned. "You will do well to turn and go home, Kushiel," she said, addressing him directly, "I'm surprised you had the patience to make the trip."
Dropping the blade all angels carried from the sleeve of his shirt, Kushiel took another step towards me, ignoring Lucia. He eyed me, standing behind Dean, glancing once at the blade I held and the curve of my stomach. He turned, talking quietly to the rest of his battalion, "She carries his child." He said, "This changes nothing."
"You're willing to kill a mother carrying a child?" Castiel said, shocked at his fellow angels. "You are not the battalion I once led. Losing Armageddon changed you."
"I will do what is necessary, Castiel," Kushiel said, taking yet another step towards me, crunching the splintered wood beneath his feet. "Step aside, human."
"Bite me," Dean spat, steadying himself for the fight.
Kushiel smiled and lunged, forcing Dean back. I stepped aside, pulling Dean with me, finally breaking contact with The Mark, I was able to turn and dodge. The battle had begun.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw another two angels head after my sister and Sam. Sam had the demon blade and swiped one of the females across the face. She hissed at him, rolling out of his way, and headed back towards Serra. Wasting no time, my sister dodged and retaliated with her own blade, barely missing the female angel. Cas and Lucia were on her in no time; Cas pushed Serra out of the way, Lucia touched her forehead lightly with two of her fingers and she burned from the inside out on the spot.
One down, I thought, moving back towards Serra, blocking her path towards the other female.
Dean was locked in a fight with another male angel, around the same size he was. I was comforted, at least, that Dean would be matched by size and strength and had enough time in between my fight to notice that he had drawn a banishment sigil on the floor behind the breakfast counter. Dean jumped and spun around the angel's reach, slicing him across the chest with the angel blade, his shirt ripping and a flash of blue showed through. Using the angel blade, Dean slit his own hand, ready to hit the banishment sigil on the floor with his bloody palm, but another male angel dove at Dean, along with Kushiel and pulled him back into the fight.
Across the room, Sam and Serra battled the remaining female, hitting her and slicing at her with the blades they each carried. I ran to help Dean, seeing that they had her under control while Castiel fought an oversized male next to Lucia. I reached out to Dean, palm out, and the kitchen lit up as the movement I made forced the smaller of the two back against the kitchen door, falling to the floor. I gasped, not realizing that what I had done and glancing at me, Dean grinned.
"That's a neat trick," he said, wiping blood off his lip and heading back into the fray. The force of the blow was enough to exhaust me, though and I knew that I had no more power from The Mark left. Seeing me slump, Dean attempted to reach me, but was thrown across the room and landed in a pile in the wood pieces from the front door.
Running to Dean, I knelt down, feeling his pulse. He was still alive, just unconscious. I moved his arm so that I could reach The Mark and watched as the battle continued.
I watched as Serra fought like a champion, slicing and punching the angel that attacked her. She moved like our mother had, using her small stature to roll and dodge out of the way and jump to attack, all in a matter of seconds. Her hair was falling into her face, and she used the back of her hand to push the wisps back into her ponytail. Finally, I felt ready to rejoin the fight as I watched my sister get thrown across the room, slumped against the kitchen counter. I abandoned my plan to attack and instead, rushed across the living room towards her, kneeling and feeling for her heartbeat as well. She was still breathing. At least the angels kept their word: they were not planning on killing anyone besides me.
The tall female approached me, her angel blade clutched in her hand, blood flowing freely from her lips and nose. I stood to defend my sister, my own angel blade at the ready. Castiel noticed the oncoming attack and joined me in front of Serra, ready to help. The female lunged at the two of us, knocking Castiel away and pushing me down. She held the blade at my neck as Cas scrambled to his feet, but someone else pulled Cas farther from me. Serra was still unconscious and Dean was across the room, still passed out as well. Sam, Lucia, and Cas were locked in combat with the remaining angels. I was left by myself, fighting for my life.
She was strong, but with the power of The Mark, I was at least matched to her strength. Straddling me and pointing the blade at my chest, she used all of her power to try to push it forward. I kept both of my arms locked, holding her at bay. The idea of this angel sitting so close to my child, pinning me down, enraged me. Closing my eyes, I took all of my reserve energy and focused on the idea of tossing her back, just as Lucia and Castiel had been able to do. I knew that I could, I just had no idea how to do it.
The rest of the battle ebbed away as I focused; I had tunnel vision, I was so entirely concentrated on my attacker. I could hear Cas yelling to me, but I was unable to think about what he was saying. With all my might, I thought about pushing her off of me and with a shove with my palms outstretched, I was successful in throwing her across the room, a blaze of light erupted from the encounter. I got up from the floor and helped my sister up as she awoke; her eyes wide after watching me use my newfound abilities.
Honestly, I was shocked as well, but apparently, I could only use the power that I took from Dean once at a time, because I knew I was spent, my energy sapped. I wanted to head to Dean again, to try and wake him up and to tap into the power of The Mark once more, but angels were everywhere…blocking my path with fights between Castiel, Lucia, and Sam. The battle was still five on five, with Dean being unconscious.
Serra and I turned towards the blaze of blue light as Lucia lifted her fingers to an attacker and burned her from the inside out once again. Scratch that, I thought, four on five.
The four remaining angels fought their way across the room towards me. Cas tried to smite one of them, but he was thrown against the cupboards. My hand was bleeding and it occurred to me to try and banish the angels again. I must have been a part of angel radio, unable to hide my thoughts, because as soon as I lunged for the sigil on the kitchen floor, it burned from unseen fire. I looked up, searching for its source, and noticed one of the male attackers smiling at me, his eyebrows raised smugly.
Serendipity helped me up, glancing at me, "What are we gonna do, Grace? We're not winning."
I shook my head, "I don't know, Lucky." I fought my panic as I took a breath, "I don't know what to do."
After speaking quickly to Serra, out of the corner of my eye, I watched in horror as an angel ran to Dean and held his blade to his throat. He addressed the whole room as he held the blade, "Stop. This is a needless battle. You know as much as we do that this fight has no purpose. You will end up dead," he said, glaring at me, "or everyone will."
Without a thought in my head and only fear coursing though my veins, I lifted my hand and shouted, "No!" as the angel made the move to slice Dean's throat. The entire room exploded into a fiery white light and everyone was knocked from their feet, debris flying everywhere from the kitchen counter as I blasted it apart.
Looking down at my hands, I was shocked at the destruction I caused without the use of The Mark. Apparently, I had more potential that previously thought. I used the time it took everyone else to find their feet to run across the room, and try to wake Dean.
I slapped at his face gently with one hand as I, yet again, made contact with The Mark of Cain. Instantly, I felt better, more powerful and I was gaining more confidence. An angel managed to get to his feet, rushing Serra and I yelled again, "Stop!" I held out my palm, waiting for his next move. He was merely feet from her and we stared each other down, each waiting for the other. "Just leave," I said, my voice hushed and angry, "leave before any other of the vessels have to get hurt. Or die."
"You'll kill the innocents we wear," he said, "because we would rather die than let you live." He reached out to touch Serra and she swatted his hand away, blade first, and cut him from wrist to elbow, blue flashing as she made contact. He stepped back, unwilling to believe that Serra would fight to defend herself.
"Stop," I repeated, still holding my hand out, "back away from her."
Instead, he took another step towards my sister, his blade joining the fight. Instantly, I forced all of my energy at him, the force of my hit was enough to throw him against our refrigerator. He hit the floor, limp. Lucia and Cas still faced off with three other angels, blades out and ready.
I tried again to wake Dean, keeping my right hand on The Mark and Serra joined me, kneeling down at my side. "What's wrong with him?" she asked, feeling his pulse, "He's still knocked out?"
Nodding, I took a breath and stood, deciding to attack rather than defend. I was done. I walked steadily towards the angel I had knocked across the room as he struggled to stand. Palm out, I leaned down towards him and he was powerless to fight back, covered with debris. I set my jaw, made contact, and for the first time, illuminated an angel in a fiery blaze, destroying him from the inside.
There was a sudden rumble, reminiscent of an earthquake, that began softly and slowly intensified. The dishes in the kitchen cupboards began to rattle and the windows threatened to shatter. The angels battling in the middle of our living room, friend and foe, froze in their positions and looked around, searching for the origination of the rumble. Sam took the opportunity to dive to his brother, feeling for his pulse next to Serra. The rumble intensified as Castiel and Lucia stepped back, taking a defensive stance around me. The three remaining attackers gave pause as well, standing back to back, waiting for the mystery addition to our battle to appear.
A blue light erupted in the middle of the room, filling every space with intense light. Lucia, still frozen in her position, gasped realization seemed to hit her. She knelt instantly, almost collapsing next to me. Castiel was confused by her actions, obviously not hearing or understanding what was happening, but the three remaining battalion angels followed suit, kneeling and bowing their heads.
Perplexed, I stared at Lucia, and then glanced towards my sister and Sam, still next to an unconscious Dean. They were just as confused by the appearance of light and the rumble as we were. We waited as a form appeared as if from nowhere.
"Put your weapons down," the voice said, and instantly Lucia and the three angels remaining from the battalion obeyed. The voice continued, "This needs to stop. I wasn't going to get involved, but when I saw my own children attempting to destroy each other over an ancient law…I had no choice."
Sam turned towards the voice, away from Dean and his eyebrows shot up, disappearing into his hairline. He gasped, eyes wide in recognition. "Chuck?"
"Hey, Sam," he responded, the light fading completely and the rumble a memory. Chuck made a face, apologetic. "How are you?"
Sam was on his feet in seconds, striding across the living room and inches from Chuck. "What are you doing here?" He looked around, obviously agitated, "Why are they kneeling? Who are you, Chuck?"
Serra and I exchanged glances, obviously confused as well. We had never heard of Chuck before, although his name sparked some sort of memory cue in my mind. I had a feeling I had seen him in Dean's memories, before we were together.
Castiel's eyes ventured back and forth between Chuck and Lucia's position on the floor, still kneeling. "He is no prophet," Cas finally said, his voice emotional, "Where have you been?"
Still making a face, Chuck tilted his head. "It's complicated, Castiel," he began, sighing, "but the important thing is that I am here now, and this fight must end. Now."
The angels of the battalion had not looked up, nor did they make an effort to stand. They looked like beaten dogs, their heads hung, ashamed.
"What is happening?" I finally asked, confusion and curiosity finally getting the best of me, "Who are you?"
Lucia looked up from her position on the floor. "Please have respect," she said, "our Father has been missing for far too long."
Sam's mouth dropped open as Chuck walked to Dean, kneeling next to him and closing his eyes. He reached out gingerly and touched him on the forehead; Dean's eyes opened almost immediately, shocked to see Chuck sitting next to him. "What are you doing here, Chuck?"
Standing again, he turned to address the entire room. "You three, go home. I will not punish any of you, as long as this is the last time that I hear about you attacking this family. The Winchesters are off-limits," he said, authority ringing in his voice, "to everyone. Go home and spread the word."
"Thank you, Father," the three remaining angels said in unison, and disappeared on the spot.
Dean stood, shaking off the debris clinging to his shirt and pants. "Why are they calling you 'Father?' What did I miss?" He asked, "How long was I out?"
Chuck hesitated, searching for the words. Finally, Serra couldn't stand it anymore, "Who the hell are you?"
"I am who I am and as He said, Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, I am has sent me to you," we all turned to see Castiel standing, childlike, with tears in his eyes. "Father, You're alive."
Taking a deep breath, Chuck walked to Castiel, extending his arms. "I am," he said, touching Castiel's face and hugging him gently, "I was afraid."
Cas stared at Chuck, confused, "Afraid?" he asked, his eyebrows knitting together, "What could you possibly be afraid of?" Dean, Sam, Serra and I watched the exchange with trepidation. Castiel hung his head, embarrassed to continue, "I tried to find you, but I lost sight of my journey."
Chuck was shaking his head, "I was afraid of the war that raged between my own children. I was cowardly." He hung his head as well, "I wasn't always in this body," he was saying, "but I am most comfortable in it."
Serra was beside herself, still in battle-mode, no one answering her questions, "Holy hell. Someone tell me what the fuck is going on."
Castiel stepped forward, gesturing to Chuck, "This is our Father," he began, but Dean interrupted him.
"Father? Are you trying to tell me that Chuck is God?" Attempting to stand, Dean was shaking his head, wood chips and debris from our house falling out of his hair. "God is standing in our living room?"
Again, Chuck made a face, remorseful. He shrugged in response, having nothing else to say.
Lucia walked forward then, holding her hands out for forgiveness. "I am sorry, Father, for breaking ancient law." She looked up at Chuck, tears forming in her eyes, "I just feared her getting involved with demons. I couldn't have it…and you…you were gone."
"I know," Chuck said quietly. "There's no need to apologize. You didn't upset me. I'm glad you took the action." Chuck approached me then, gently, unwilling to scare me. I had no fear, though. An atypical calm had fallen over me and I knew there was no chance of any of us getting hurt. He smiled at me and continued, "She was destiny, after all. The only one able to take on The Mark of Cain, ceasing its curse…the cycle of brother killing brother can finally end." He took my hand and Dean stepped forward, protectively. "As I said before," Chuck continued, smiling at Dean, "the Winchesters are off limits. If there is trouble in the future, it will not be from my children." And with that, he was gone.
The boys and Castiel launched themselves into a frenzy of discussion soon after Chuck's departure, Sam and Dean asking questions and demanding answers, Cas barely able to keep up. Lucia had returned to where she came from as well, promising a look in from time to time. I had nothing left after the battle and found myself a relatively debris-free area to sit down on the couch. Serra joined me, her head leaning on my belly, listening to the baby as the boys talked animatedly.
I tilted my head, watching the boys, "Do you think homeowners insurance will cover the damage?"
Serra laughed, shaking her head. "If they do, you've got a hell of a policy." She brought her attention back to her niece, feeling the flutters from within. Finally, she broke the silence between us.
Quietly, Serra whispered, "Sammy basically proposed."
My impulse was to yell, but I remained as stoic as I could. I answered as she did, measured and calm, "How interesting. When?"
I could feel her smile from her position on my belly. "Right before Dean called, the ring fell out of his pocket," she whispered. I glanced down to her left hand, looking for it, but her finger was empty, "I didn't even get a chance to react."
"Oh, Lucky," I breathed, guilt ripping through me, "I'm sorry."
We both stared towards the boys, all righting fallen bookcases and tables, attempting to clean up as much as they could while still in deep discussion about Chuck. Sam glanced towards us on the couch and I saw a hint of a smile touch his face. Serra took a deep, calm breath, "I'm not." Confused, I looked back down at my sister. She smiled back up at me, answering coyly. "I get two proposals."
I laughed, nodding. "Lucky gets lucky."
She rubbed my abdomen as she sat up, leaning her head back on the couch. Rolling her head so she faced me, she smiled, "Hell yes, I do."
Putting our house on the market was one of the hardest things I had ever done, but there we were, only weeks after the battle against the angels, watching a 'for sale' sign be hung in our front yard. Castiel had done a good job, patching and putting back together as much as he could with a wave of his hand after the battle, but the house would always be the place we almost died. Dean and I had discussed moving many times before the fight, and I had finally conceded after his assessment on where the baby would go.
"Serra and Sam are taking the big bedroom at the BatCave for now, and the only place for her to go," he had explained, gesturing at my thirty-two week belly, "is Serra's old room, down the hall from us."
Unwilling to see Serra's childhood room be taken over by the baby, I had relented and watched my life get packed into boxes as we neared the baby's due date. Dean seemed terrified of the coming weeks, realization hitting him that he was about to be a father. I was scared, too; we were unprepared for her…no crib, no nursery.
As I watched the last of my old life get taped into a moving box, I looked up at Dean as he wiped his face with the back of his hand. "What are we going to name her?"
Startled out of his own thoughts, Dean glanced down at me, tilting his head. "I'm sure you've got a name ready," he said, smiling, "You never ask a question that you don't already know the answer to."
"I want to hear what you think first."
Dean shook his head, "No deal," he replied, smiling smugly, "She's already getting a name from me."
My eyebrows furrowed, confused. "I don't get it."
"Winchester," he responded, chuckling as he took a swig from his beer. "So, let's hear it."
I paused, hesitating only because I was nervous at what his response would be. I could hear Serra and Sam downstairs, loading her truck full of boxes to take to the BatCave to store until our escrow closed on the new house, two towns over. I took a deep breath, putting my hands on my hips and breathing slowly. I had been in pretty constant pain since the fight, but I tried my best not to let it show to Dean or Serra. I could feel the impatience roll off of Dean as I weighed the options about answering. I rolled my eyes, "You can't laugh."
"Don't tell me what to do," Dean responded automatically.
I tilted my head, steeling myself. "Serra and I have virtue names…and I thought I could continue the tradition."
Dean didn't react. He took another drink and waved his hand, "And?"
I took a deep, shaky breath, worried about rejection. "And…we joke that we're all part of Team Free Will."
I jumped into the unknown, abandoning my hesitation. "Liberty. I want to name her Liberty."
"Liberty," Dean repeated, letting the word roll off his tongue. "Liberty Winchester." He took another drink, draining his beer and took a step towards me. "Libby."
I nodded, accepting the nickname. "And?"
Dean smiled gently. "I can't wait to meet her."
Sam and Serra drove back towards the BatCave after a long day of packing and storing Dean and Grace's boxes. As Serra pulled up in front of the Men of Letters headquarters, Sam watched as she turned off the engine and take out the keys.
She made the move to open the door, but Sam's hand on hers froze her in her tracks. "Wait, Serra." She glanced backwards, smiling at him. "I can't stand it anymore."
"What?" Serra asked, her eyebrows knitting together in confusion.
"This," he said, pulling the diamond ring out of his pocket, and turning to face her full on.
Serendipity smiled, putting both legs back into her truck and turning towards Sam. She smiled. "I thought you forgot," she teased, "I was getting ready to rifle through your stuff, just so I could wear it."
Sam chuckled and took a deep breath, "We're finally alone. For the moment, and before the baby is born, I want to make it official, so that our thunder has its chance." Nodding, Serra smiled, still holding Sam's hand. He continued quietly, "I wanted to make it a big deal…plan some intricate dinner date or special trip, but that's not us," he said, using his free hand to brush a strand of hair out of Serra's face. "I love you," he said, shrugging, "more than I thought I ever could love someone. Dean and Grace talk about being connected cosmically…but I feel like we are too. I don't know how to be me without you." Serra listened to Sam quietly, for once allowing him to have the floor. "I want you for the rest of my life."
Sam took Serra's hand off of the bench seat and slipped the ring on her finger, glancing up in time to see rare tears in Serra's eyes. "Serendipity, make me lucky, too. Be with me…only me, forever. Let me be your husband and let me love you for the rest of my days."
"It's about fucking time," Serra said, throwing herself across the seat into Sam's arms.
"Is that a yes?" Sam asked as they kissed, entwined in each other and Sam's phone began to ring.
"Nope," Serra said, grabbing the phone out of his hand and throwing it out the window of the truck. It landed with a thud in the grass as Sam laughed at her reaction to the device. She went back to Sam, cupping his face with her hands and grinning at him, "That's a hell yes." She kissed him again, smiling, as the phone continued to ring from outside the truck. "They're fine," she said, referring to Grace and Dean, "I've got plans."
The newly engaged couple lay on the bench seat of Serra's 1970 Chevy and watched the wind blow through the trees and listened to the birds through the rolled down passenger window. Serra was lounging on Sam's bare chest, gazing at her new diamond ring glistening in the sunlight that streamed through the window.
"So much is changing," Serra said quietly, still staring at her new ring, "Gracie's gonna have the baby any day now, I'm finally graduating…you and Dean aren't hunting anymore…"
Sam's eyes were closed, listening to her in the pleasant warmth of the sun, "Mmm," he responded, completely at ease.
She adjusted her position on his chest, laying her head down as she continued. "Not hunting…that's okay with you?"
Opening his eyes, trying to look down at Serra, he furrowed his eyebrows. "Of course it is, Sere. I never wanted to in the first place…Dean dragged me in over a decade ago. I've wanted out ever since."
There was a quiet moment as Serendipity thought. Finally, she replied, "Is Dean okay with it?"
Sam sighed, laying his head back on the armrest of the door. Honestly, he had no idea how his brother felt about settling down. He would be a father soon, and Sam knew that Dean would do anything in his power to protect his family…but honestly, there seemed to be nothing left to protect them from. Nodding, Sam finally made up his mind, answering quietly, "I think he'll be fine. He's a busy body, though, so maybe the baby will exhaust him enough to keep him domesticated."
Serra arched her back to look up at Sam, a concerned look spreading across her face, "But he won't leave Grace."
Shaking his head before she even finished the sentence, Sam answered, "Never, Serra. He's bound to her. He'd die before he'd leave."
Satisfied, Serra laid her head back on Sam's chest, rising and falling with each relaxed breath he took. She traced his bicep with her finger and smiled to herself. "I love you, Sammy."
His warm hand rubbed her bare back lovingly, "I love you too, Sere." He kissed the top of her head and they both closed their eyes, letting sleep take them.
"I don't know," Dean was saying, hanging up his phone, "he's not answering. And Serra's phone went right to voicemail."
I closed my eyes, waiting for the pain to subside. "It's nothing, Dean," I gasped, "Braxton Hicks is a real thing. That's gotta be what this is."
Dean hovered near me, unsure of what to do. "How do you know?" he asked, "What if it's not?"
I leaned against the counter of the hotel we stayed at, waiting for escrow to close on our new house, attempting to bend at the waist, getting control of my breathing. "Because," I breathed, "I'm not ready for her to be here."
Laughing nervously, Dean struggled to hold it together for my benefit. "I'll make you a deal," he started, rubbing my back, "you let me take you to the hospital to get checked out so I don't have a heart attack, and I'll buy you your 'push present' when we're done." He used his fingers as air quotes to emphasize the ridiculousness of the deal he was making.
I giggled the best I could, still reeling from the contraction I was experiencing, and I stood. "You're getting me a push present if we go to the hospital or not."
Dean narrowed his eyes, shaking his head. "Whatever," he said, pulling me by my arm slightly. "Let's go."
We drove to the hospital in the Impala, the pain not as bad as it had been at the hotel. I focused my energy on pulling the pain away, using what I knew about my abilities to calm my body. Dean glanced at me nervously every few seconds or so. I could hear his thoughts, flying through his head at a hundred miles an hour, two sides arguing about my health. Half of him knew that the pain would be normal; giving birth was a normal thing, but the other half of Dean's brain was in full-blown panic.
"Dean, you have got to calm down," I said, gritting my teeth for another contraction, ripping through my body. "Between your thoughts and my own, I'm having a hard time focusing, here."
"Yeah, well," he said, throwing himself out of the Impala and helping me out of the car as well, "seeing you in pain isn't going to be the easiest thing for me to handle."
My phone started ringing from inside my purse and I reached to grab it as Dean led me towards the emergency room. "It's Serra," I said, handing him the phone, "answer."
He took the phone from me as we reached the waiting room counter. The nurse at the desk greeted me, "Maternity is down the hall, sweetie."
I shook my head, "No, my due date is still over a month away," I said, "we're only here because he made me."
"Braxton Hicks?" she said, smiling.
I nodded. "I really think so," I said, glancing at Dean, holding the phone to his face with wide-eyed dread. "But since I'm here…"
She smiled again and nodded. "Okay, fill this out," she explained, handing me a clipboard, "and head down the hall to maternity so they can have a look at you."
Dean followed in my wake, talking to my sister as I filled out the paperwork on the clipboard. I could hear him explaining where we were and how I was feeling, but the look on his face and the tone of his voice was more worried than I wanted them to be. I looked up, checking my path towards the maternity ward and was shocked to see Castiel waiting at the other end of the hall, watching us approach.
"Cas," I greeted as we got closer, "what are you doing here?"
His eyebrows were knitted together, focused on listening to my thoughts and I assumed also the baby's. He didn't answer my question, but instead, touched my forehead and closed his eyes. I stopped in my tracks, my thoughts being invaded by Castiel as he listened to my body.
"She's having a hard time breathing," he said simply, taking my hand and leading me down the hall through the doors.
"What?" I gasped, another contraction gripping my body, "Fix her, Cas!"
Dean jogged to keep up and was putting my phone in his pocket, "What's going on, Cas? Why are you here?"
Castiel turned quickly to Dean as we finished our trek down the hall towards the maternity ward. "Her amniotic fluid sack is ruptured," he explained, "it may have been damaged in the battle."
"Doesn't that just mean that her water broke?" Dean said, shoving the clipboard that I was carrying towards the attending nurse that greeted us.
"No," Castiel's deep voice answered harshly, "it's completely different. She's suffocating."
Dean's eyes got wider still, "What? Oh my God."
The nurse glanced up and smiled and she took the clipboard from Dean. "Hi there. What can I help you with?"
Castiel turned to address the attending nurse and spoke quickly and clearly. "You need to deliver the baby," he said, "the sack is ruptured and the she can't breathe."
The nurse furrowed her eyebrows, confused. "I'm sure it's okay sir," she answered, taking the lead towards the wheelchairs lined up against the wall, "we'll get her checked out, and she'll be just fine."
"No," Cas said. "Now. Do something now."
She smiled again, in what seemed like a calming way. "Every new Daddy feels exactly the same way," she soothed, "you wait here and we'll go see what we need."
Taking a seat in the wheelchair in front of me, I corrected her, since Dean was still frozen in place, "No, he's a friend. My husband is right there—" I pointed as another contraction hit me, hard and I gasped in pain, doubling over. Dean was on me in seconds, holding my hand, trying to send me calming images as every muscle in my body cramped at the same time. I could feel the wheelchair begin to move, rolling down the hall towards the exam and delivery rooms.
The nurse chirped from behind me, "Sweetie, it seems like you're in labor! How far along are you?"
I shook my head, completely unable to answer her, the pain was so fierce; Dean spoke for me. "Uh…" he started, closing his eyes and thinking, "thirty two weeks."
"Still early," the nurse responded, nodding, "but that's okay. I'm sure she's just fine."
The nurses and doctor that were on call came to check me out, hooking me up to heart rate monitors and blood pressure cuffs, all milling about as if there was no emergency. Castiel hadn't followed us into the room, but Dean was pacing around like a caged animal, raging about how there was no urgency.
"What the fuck is taking so long?" he growled, making another loop around my hospital bed. I shook my head, unable to form the words. Sweat had broken out all over my face and I did my best to breathe through the contractions like all of the books told me to. I'm sure it had only been a few minutes, but a doctor came in, furrowed brow, and glanced up at me.
"Mrs. Winchester?" I nodded, still in the midst of another full contraction. "We're going to be prepping you for surgery. We need to deliver your daughter in the next ten minutes or so."
Dean reeled on the doctor; his green eyes round in fear. "What's happening?"
"She's low on amniotic fluid and the baby is having a hard time getting her heart rate up." He checked the monitors and tapped the glass where the readings lit up across the screen. "She's in distress. We need to get her out."
I was close to tears; the pain was on the edge of unbearable. "I still have over a month," I managed to spit out.
The doctor shook his head, "Not anymore. I'll be back in three minutes with my team to get you into surgery." With that, he turned and disappeared out of the room, his white coat swishing behind him.
Dean turned back to me, his eyes red and worried. "It'll be okay, Grace," he said, wiping my face, "she'll be okay."
I sobbed, gasping for air as another contraction ripped through my body. No, I thought, it's not okay.
Suddenly, I could hear Castiel's voice in my head, talking to me as if he was standing right next to me: Control what you can, he thought, we don't have to worry about the battalion any longer.
There it was in black and white: Cas was giving me permission to use my abilities as a nephilim to save my daughter. Through the contraction, I breathed as deeply as I could and refocused my energy on helping her struggle to breathe. I calmed myself from within, and did everything I could to move molecules. I knew it was possible: I had seen Cas do it when healing another, and I had given him his grace back…it was the lack of training and confidence that gave me trouble.
The nurses that were to prep me for emergency surgery came rushing in then, asking Dean to step back and give them room to work. They were stripping me of my clothes, throwing on hospital gowns and tying my hair back. The tall, sweet looking nurse held out her hand, "I need your wedding ring, honey. I'll have your husband hold it." I glanced down at my hand that looked like it was swelling by the minute and nodded, struggling to pull it off. The realization hit me as I handed it to her: I hadn't taken it off since we got married. Tears stung my eyes at the thought. Dean held out his hand for the tiny band as she dropped it into his palm. He didn't put it in his pocket: he just stood, holding it in his fist.
One nurse was peeling monitor stickers and placing them strategically on my chest, arms and belly, then rerouting the monitor sensors to attach to the stickers. As the last contraction ended, I glanced up at my husband. He was as scared as I had ever seen him. I did my best to smile at him as they made to wheel me out of the room and into the operating room.
"Wait," I said, turning to the nurse next to me, "what about him? Where are his scrubs?"
She shook her head at me, "I'm sorry, sweetie, there isn't time to sanitize him for the OR. He's going to need to wait in the waiting room for you." Tears came to my eyes faster than I was ready for. Dean wouldn't be with me when they pulled our daughter from me? Panic wrapped its way through my chest and I looked up to where he was standing.
Dean took a deep breath and nodded, "It's okay, Gracie. It'll be okay."
I reached my hand out to Dean and he did the same. We touched fingers and he mouthed, "I love you," as they rolled me by.
Dean stood in the middle of the waiting room; head back, staring at the ceiling. Cas hadn't rejoined him yet, and he was hoping that his friend was watching over Grace during surgery. It was the most alone he had ever felt: Sam hadn't shown up yet and there was no one else in the waiting room with him.
The idea of losing Grace came to the surface again and he shook his head at the thought. We just can't catch a break, he thought, covering his face with his hands. Grace's wedding ring was on his pinky finger, cutting off circulation and reminding him painfully how dire the situation was. Dean was drowning in guilt, once again, for the constant danger Grace had been in over the last few months. If he had only allowed Castiel to mark her with the protective sigils that he planned on, this probably wouldn't be happening. His wife and daughter would still be fine, and there would be no threat of a premature birth or emergency surgery. The battle with the angels had damaged Grace in some way, he knew it, but having no idea what exactly happened during the fight, he had no way of proving it.
Turning to the sound of the waiting room doors being shoved open, Serendipity came barging through, anxiety written all over her face. "Where is she? What's happening?"
Taking a deep breath, anticipating answering coherently, Dean sobbed in response. "She's in surgery," he breathed, "they're pulling the baby."
"It's too early," Serra gasped, hugging Dean, "it's way too early."
Dean nodded into his sister-in-law's shoulder. "I know."
They hugged for a few minutes and when Sam walked into the waiting room to join them, he raised his eyebrows. "Why aren't you with her?"
Releasing Serra from their embrace, Dean shook his head, "They wouldn't let me. No time to sanitize for surgery, they said." Dean wiped his face with the palms of his hands and stared at his brother.
"It'll be okay, Dean," he said, pulling his brother into a hug. "They'll be fine."
It seemed like hours passed, though it was only a few minutes before a nurse came out, smiling. "Mr. Winchester?" She asked, and both Dean and Sam turned, "You have a baby girl," she said, "she's tiny, but she's stable."
Serra sobbed as she released the breath of air she hadn't realized she was holding. Dean grinned, glancing back at his family, but then whipped back to the nurse, "What about Grace?"
The nurse made a face and tilted her head. "She's still getting patched up. There was a bit of extra bleeding, but she is stable."
Sam put his arm around his brother, patting his chest, "See? She's okay." He turned Dean towards him, grinning from ear to ear. "You have a daughter, man."
Dean watched Grace sleep as the blood pressure monitor cuff inflated and measured Grace automatically. The machine must have approved, because it deflated again and let out a reassuring beep. The noise from the machines made Grace stir and Dean stood to greet his wife.
The mother of his child.
"Hey, gorgeous," Dean said gently as I opened my eyes. I could hear the beeping of machines and the air pressure deflate out of the cuff that wrapped around my arm. I was still a little loopy from the anesthesia, but as I came to, I automatically felt my belly for the baby. The stitches across my abdomen pulled and I winced, remembering.
"Where is she?" I said, attempting to sit up.
Dean gestured over his shoulder with his head. "In the NICU," he said quietly. "Four pounds, three ounces. Fourteen inches long."
I smiled, "She's okay?"
Nodding, Dean smiled. "She's stable. You done good, Grace."
I napped on and off, while the hospital staff kept the baby. I wanted to see her, but the nurses wanted to make sure I was stable before they wheeled me in to see our daughter. It didn't seem real: Dean and I were parents.
Tiptoeing in the doorway, Serra grinned and waved at me. "Hi, Momma!" she said, whispering. She glanced at Dean who was asleep in the chair across the room and padded past him to hug me. "How do you feel?"
"I'm tired," I said, "and the stitches are a bitch, but I'm okay. I'm trying to heal myself, but it's harder than I thought it would be." I adjusted slightly, trying to pull my hair out from behind me. "I want to see her."
"I just saw a nurse," Serra pointed back towards the door, "she was getting a clipboard and heading over here, she said. Maybe they'll take you over?"
As she lowered her hand, my eye was drawn to a sparkle on her finger. "What is that?" I gasped, reaching for her hand and pulling it to me. "Oh, Serra!" Her faced flushed; embarrassed at the attention I was giving her. "When?"
"Last night," Serra said, grinning. "Dean tried calling Sam and I about you, but we were…busy."
I laughed, nodding. "With good reason," I said. "Congratulations, baby sister. I'm so happy for you."
Dean stirred and rolled his head across the back of the chair he reclined in to look at Serra and I. I waved at him, holding out Serra's hand. "Look! Your brother finally officially proposed."
Nodding, Dean smiled, "I know, I heard last night when you were in surgery."
The nurse with the clipboard walked into my room and smiled at me, "Hi, Mom! You ready to go see your baby girl?" I nodded, and she brought a wheelchair in. Very carefully, I brought my legs down from the bed and Dean helped me stand. Every movement hurt, pulling the stitches and making me cringe.
I glanced and Dean and Serra and made a face. "This is worse than getting shot," I said, remembering my previous stint in the hospital.
The nurse check my clipboard and tilted her head, "I can up your pain meds a bit if you want." Dean and I both nodded at her, grateful that she was willing to give me more. "Okay, sweetie, I'll put in that request after I bring you over to NICU."
"Thank you," I replied as Dean wheeled me down the hall after the nurse. Serra waved at us as we left the room and headed back towards the waiting room.
We rolled down the hall and took the elevator up to the neonatal unit. The security officer at the end of the hall scanned Dean and my hospital bracelets and gave us a little pink sticker with the number nine written on it. "What's this?" I asked, putting the sticker on my hospital gown.
Dean smiled, "Proof that a kid belongs to us."
Turning slightly, I furrowed my eyebrows and looked up at my husband, "Have you been up here already? Have you seen her?"
He nodded. "I came up last night. I haven't held her yet," he said, seeing the look on my face, "but I couldn't stand not seeing her."
The nurses inside the NICU buzzed us in, after seeing the pink stickers on our shirts. As Dean rolled me in, I could hear the machines beeping and humming as they monitored the tiny babies. Some were hooked up to oxygen tubes; others were only being measured by tiny blood pressure tabs and heart rate stickers. The nurse with the clipboard stopped rolling in front of "suite 9" and I glanced at the pink label on the front of the incubator. It read:
I'M A GIRL! (Winchester) 4 pounds, 3 ounces, 15.2 inches. November 23, 8:12 pm.
Tears came to my eyes as I leaned forward, watching the nurse bring her out of the incubator. She was tiny and frail looking, her arms and legs still pulled close to her body, but I saw that she had no monitors or oxygen tube…she was strong enough to breathe on her own.
Very carefully, I took her as the nurse handed her over. "Congratulations, you two," she said, lowering her voice. "She's beautiful." She stood up, smiling. "And she passed all of her tests this morning. Give her about a week and she'll be able to go home." The nurse watched us momentarily and then asked, "Did you pick a name yet?"
I smiled broadly as I stared down at our daughter. I glanced behind me, trying to see Dean, but he moved to my side and knelt down, cupping her tiny head with his hand. He nodded, "Yeah," he said, his green eyes flicking to mine as he smiled. "Liberty."
"Oh, goodness," the nurse exclaimed, "that is just precious." She made a note on the clipboard. "I'm going to have one of you fill this out then, so we can get her birth certificate printed."
Dean stood and took the pen and began writing. I was enamored, unable to even look away from her tiny face. Her eyes were closed, and she was snoring slightly, a tiny grunt-whistle escaping from her nose with every breath. Her head was covered in a peach fuzz of blonde hair, only slightly lighter than mine, and when she suckled her bottom lip, as she was right now, there was a dimple on her left cheek, just like Dean. "Hi, Liberty," I said, a tear rolling down my cheek. She stretched, then, her tiny fingers flaring as she elongated and raised her eyebrows. "Dean, look. She's stretching."
I could hear Dean chuckle, just under his breath, and whisper, "God, she's beautiful."
Then, as if the clouds parted and heaven itself shone down on us, Liberty opened her eyes and looked right at me.
Her eyes were green.
The hospital discharged me after five days and kept Libby for four more, which, according to the hospital staff, was fantastic for such an early preemie. She was thriving: eating well and sleeping in big, four-hour chunks. Dean was a hero, making sure that escrow closed on time with the new house and getting us whatever we needed. I was still basically bed-ridden: my stitches would not allow me to move very far for very long. I found it ridiculous that I wasn't able to heal myself the same way I had healed Cas, but he seemed to place blame on the fact that my attention and effort was being split. Apparently, Liberty took much of my focus.
After almost a month, we were moved into our new house, boxes stacked in corners everywhere you looked, but I didn't care. I only had eyes for Liberty.
Serra was maybe even more smitten than me. She would walk past me while feeding her and as soon as Libby was done, Serra would swoop in and take her right out of my arms, walking to the couch and nuzzling her face. Sometimes, she would fall asleep on the couch, holding the baby, and I would be able to catch up on sleep as well.
Our new house was old, built in 1919 as the "big" house on a huge chunk of land, just outside Lawrence, Kansas. The land had been quartered decades ago, leaving us with a huge front and back yard. We knew when we bought it that it would need a lot of repairs and renovations and Dean and Sam were having a great time, putting the pieces back together, bonding over sawing and hammering. They boys were working late one night, trying to get the last coat of paint on our wrap-around porch and finally, I heard Dean come back into the house to find me and Serra, passed out on the couch and chair, with Liberty laying on Serra's chest. Tiptoeing into the room, he sat down next to me on the couch, brushing a strand of hair out of my face. I opened my eyes, and glancing at him, I smiled. "Hi there, stranger."
We both stared at Serendipity with Liberty in the chair. Her engagement ring twinkled from across the room as her hand lay protectively over Liberty's back. They both snored slightly; I could hear tiny whistles and coos as I watched them.
"Can you believe this?" I said, leaning my head on Dean's shoulder, and my hand found The Mark of Cain for comfort. There were no more flashes of visions…my mind was so entwined with Dean's that I had a pretty constant stream of consciousness when I listened. We had discovered that the more I touched The Mark during my recovery, the better I felt and the more I was able to successfully nurse Libby. Dean loved that I continued to benefit from The Mark and it made him feel better as well, which worked for everyone.
Dean closed his eyes, shaking his head. "No, I can't," he said, grinning, "but I can believe the porch is done."
"You're kidding," I said, leaning forward to get up, "I want to see it."
He helped me up and we walked out our screen and looked out onto our property. Serra's truck stood in the driveway, the hood gleaming in the moonlight and Sam stood next to it, smiling broadly and leaning up against the bed of the truck. He had his arms crossed as I walked down the steps and turned to stare at our newly renovated wrap-around porch. "What do you think?"
I took it all in…the new wooden rails and steps shone bright white in the moonlight. There were wooden details hanging from the top beam that followed the porch around the side of the house. It was perfect for our old farmhouse, still covered in peeling paint and rippled, bubbled windows.
"You guys did so well," I said, "it's fantastic."
Sam nodded, and gestured to the house, "Serra stealing your baby again?"
"Yeah, she's asleep with her in the chair."
Sam headed back inside to wake Serra and head home. I stood, hand in hand with my husband, staring at our house. "You ready for this?" I asked, leaning against his chest and breathing him in.
He dropped his hand from mine and wrapped his arm around my shoulder instead. "Ready for what?"
"For domestic life?" I asked, looking up at him. "To leave glamorous hunting behind?"
Dean chuckled lightly; taking a swig of the beer he held in his other hand. "Hell yes," he said, smiling. "I got plans."
I nodded, smiling to myself as I heard Liberty wail from inside, obviously woken up when Serra moved from her position in the chair. "That's good," I said, making the move to head inside to take over, "because I do, too."
Dean followed me up the steps, finishing off his beer and tossing it into the dumpster we rented for the renovations. "Well, get ready," he said, grinning, "you think I was a good hunter. I'm gonna nail this whole husband/father thing." I giggled, opening the screen door and heading inside. Dean reiterated, "Nail. It."
As the screen door slammed, Dean stepped in front of me took a screaming Liberty from Serra's arms and I watched her calm down, cooing and curling into his chest in a matter of seconds knowing her Daddy held her, as he bounced her while walking around the living room. He glanced at me, winking. I laughed as he mouthed to me, "Nail it." I grinned back at him, having no doubts in my mind that he would.