Chapter 4: Prisoner of the Heart

Alternatively flashing red, blue, and white lights throwing her bedroom awash in color finally breaks the hold Jessie's sightless but accusing eyes have on her. Startled into near panic when she hears the sounds of sirens joining the flashing lights, Tabitha swallows her grief and scrambles to carefully peer out the edge of their bedroom window.

Multiple marked and unmarked cop cars join the initial marked cop car that seems to have pulled silently into their front driveway. And from the sounds of the sirens, cop cars are now surrounding their house.

With a coldly calculating eye that shoves down all grief and regrets, Tabitha turns to survey the scene, looking at it with the trained eye of a hardened investigator.

The disarray of the room speaks of a heated fight taking place; furniture overturned and broken. The spray of blood spattering every surface. Not to mention the shredded pieces of what was once a body.

And her own body now covered in blood along with the setting of their bedroom lays the perfect narrative of a lover's quarrel that ended in grisly murder.

A part of her analytical brain notes that the cold congealed blood on the floor and her arrival being so closely timed with that of the police is no coincidence. Whoever had murdered and dismembered Jessie had then patiently waited for her to arrive home to the scene. And that someone had also done a remarkable job of setting her up to appear guilty. Made easier by the fact that for the day of their long discussion, Jessie had called in from work, actually citing a fight between the newly cohabiting couple and the need for some time to sort things out.

She has no doubt that her former boyfriend's colleagues will decide she took drastic and final means to "sort things out."

And though she's certain her boyfriend has been dead for many hours, she can't cite as an alibi that she was with her supposedly dead and wanted brothers, her former angel lover, and her resurrected grandfather discussing her soulless brother. Actually, telling those particular truths has led to nothing but the trouble she currently finds herself in, she grimly thinks to herself.

When fists begin pounding on her locked front door, she springs to action, running to her side of the bed and falling to her knees beside her nightstand. Using her fingernails, she feels along the edge of the mopboard for the slight indentation where her thumbnail fits perfectly, popping it out to reveal the small hidden space within.

She knows there's no time for running now. No time even to find a convincing lie to get herself out of this current mess. All she can do for the moment, is hope to minimize the damage—namely insuring the police force gathered outside doesn't realize her past law enforcement background and wanted status—and keep her eyes open for the first opportunity to escape.

Inside the small hidden space are two objects. An untraceable burner phone and a micro USB drive. Hearing her front door being broken down, she knows she doesn't even have the time to place a phone call, so Tabitha forgoes the burner cell, grabbing only the USB drive and sliding it into her bra, adjusting the girls so that it falls comfortably into the hidden depths of her cleavage.

The mopboard is barely tacked back in place when she hears the stomping footfalls bursting into her bedroom, forcing her to spin around with her hands held high as a multiple of officers burst in, guns drawn and flashlights blinding her gaze. Without even a question to her or a thought of the Miranda, she's jerked forward and thrown onto her face, arms wrenched behind her as they cuff her.

"What in the bleeding 'ell?" she demands, resuming the English accent these men would all be familiar with.

"I'd shut my mouth if I were you," the familiar voice of her boyfriend's partner snarls in her ear as he roughly presses his knee into her spine.

As several men then haul her roughly to her feet, turning her to face Mike, he continues barking, "Get her out of here. Now!"

Knowing she can do nothing but play her part in maintaining her innocence, she shouts, "What's the meaning of this?! Mike! What's going on? Who did this? Who did this to Jessie?!"

With a lifetime of practice in bring forth tears on cue, Tabitha does so in spades, feeling the wetness coat her cheeks as she stares after her boyfriend's partner.

Yet, the older man seems unmoved by her tears, stomping forward to inform her, "I'm gonna see you burn for this, you crazy bitch. I won't rest until I see you spend the rest of your life behind bars for killing my partner."

"What?!" she shouts in practiced disbelief as the two men manhandling her begin shoving her down the stairs. "You've gone bleeding cracked! How could you think I'd hurt Jessie this way? How?!"

By the time she's less than gently placed into the backseat of one of the cruisers, Tabitha has managed to wipe all emotion from her face, save for the slack look of shock she allows to mark her features. She can do nothing more for the moment than wait. Wait, and continue to play the part of shocked and innocent girlfriend. Not that she isn't still equal parts shocked and innocent.

As the cruiser begins moving, Tabitha looks up to mark the furtive glances in the mirror from the young patrolman driving. She doesn't remember his name, but passingly remembers having seen him in the station. Usually with a look of hero-worship in his eyes whenever Jessie had been around. But she'd noted his gaze tracking her own movements more than once and hopes to play that fact to her advantage.

Letting her tears spring to life once more, she asks the young man, "What's going on? Who could have done so terrible a thing to Jessie? Who could have done that?"

The young man looks away uncomfortably at her surging tears, hunching low in the driver seat, seeming to wish to be anywhere else.

Though her tears hadn't gotten her any results yet, she continues to let them fall, rocking her body slightly in the backseat as she mutters to herself in what she hopes passes for the manner of a normal civilian in the throes of shock at finding her boyfriend in so many pieces. She'd certainly interviewed numerous shocked and frightened witnesses in her time. But she'd never been a normal civilian. So forming normal reactions is a bit of a stretch.

Especially when her honed instincts tell her that emotion is a waste in a time like this. Only cold calculation will provide anything useful in tracking down whoever or whatever had been responsible.

Once they reach the buzzing police station, the young patrolman carefully helps her out of the cruiser, cautiously supporting her elbow as he lifts her upwards out of the car. Stumbling towards him, Tabitha bumps her shoulder against the young man, eyes darting to the name on his chest before staring up at him with wide, guileless eyes as she begs him, "Please, Nick. Tell me what's happening! Who killed my boyfriend?"

He stares down into her eyes for a moment, and she sees the moment he's hers. The moment his eyes soften into pity.

"I don't know who would have done that, Chase. But right now, they think you did. So just tell them everything that happened, and you'll be okay."

"Me?" she repeats, letting her eyes widen in exaggerated surprise. "You mean those coppers back there really think I could have done that awful thing?" Bringing on a fresh round of tears, she leans forward, pressing her forehead to the patrolman's chest, letting great body shaking sobs roll through her as she feels Nick awkwardly hold her in his arms, gently patting her back and trying to soothe her.

When she's counted slowly to ten in her mind, she pulls back to innocently ask him, "You couldn't possibly believe I'd do so awful a thing, do you, Nick?"

"No," he instantly agrees. Then tells her, "I know they'll see the truth, too. Just tell them what happened."

Nodding slowly in return, Tabitha turns her body partly, nodding over her shoulder towards her handcuffed hands as she whispers, "Is there any way you could be a dear and remove these? Or at the very least, let me have my hands in front of me? Feels like they were trying to wrench my arms from the bloody socket."

Nick shoots her an apologetic look when he tells her, "I can't take them off. But sure. I can move them so your hands are in front and more comfortable."

As the young man re-cuffs her with her hands in front of her, Tabitha has to suppress a grin at her small victory.

However, that grin is easily quashed when she remembers that she is about to be led into a police department on suspicion of murder. And that all it will take is the running of one little fingerprint to show that she'd been suspected of that before. Just before she'd officially "died." Just like her brothers had.

Her features sink even further into a frown as she stares down at her hands for the first time. Seeing them still coated with Jessie's blood. Seeing the dark and drying patches of it hardening on her shirt from when she'd fallen. Visible proof that Jessie's blood is indeed on her hands.

"I have to take you in now," Nick tells her, interrupting her melancholy thoughts. His voice is filled with remorse.

This time, there's no acting when she's only able to jerk a single nod of her head.

"Stay here for a moment," Nick tells her, gently easing her into a chair next to one of the empty desks in the bullpen.

For the next several minutes, Tabitha remains a valiant study in the art of the sobbing and distraught victim. Maintaining her shuddering and sobs until all the men in the bullpen that had been alternating between openly staring at her and actually working, finally look away in hopes of avoiding focusing on the uncomfortable sight of a sobbing and emotional woman.

Seizing her chance, Tabitha carefully leans over her knees, appearing to any eyes that might dart her way to merely be doubled over in her grief. Though she uses the opportunity to dislodge the micro USB from her bra, and covertly slips it into the back of the CPU on the floor next to the desk she's seated beside.

She'd never asked Shawn what the USB would do. And he'd only told her it might be her "Get Out of Jail Free Card" if something happened.

Since she has no idea what it does or how long it will take to…do whatever it will do, she's lucky it was such a small USB drive. Plugged into the back of one of the many CPUs in the station, she knows it should easily be overlooked…and possibly never found.

Her only hope is that whatever it does…or whatever it gets Shawn to do…it happens quickly. Because she has every intention of hunting down whatever killed Jessie. And killing it.

"What the hell is she doing sitting out here in the bullpen?!"

Tabitha rises from her position doubled over her knees when she hears Mike's barked demand. Tracking his progress towards her as his eyes predatorily scan the bullpen for the guilty party.

When no one answers, he stops a scant foot from her, a heavy hand clamping down on her shoulder as he scathingly asks, "Who brought her in from the crime scene?!"

Nick slinks closer, obviously terrified at being called out by a superior in front of the whole squad room. "I did, sir. I figured she could wait here for a bit. Just until someone was ready to talk to her."

The heavy hand that had been clamped on her shoulder actually tightens further, prompting an all too realistic yelp from Tabitha as Mike hauls her to her feet out of the chair.

Still focused on the young patrolman, Mike growls at him, "She's a goddamned murder suspect. They go to lockdown in interrogation. Immediately! No wonder you're still a patrolman. You'll never make it off the beat if you can't use your friggin' brains, kid!"

As Mike begins roughly shoving her in the direction she knows leads to interrogation, Tabitha manages to indignantly sputter in her upper-crust British accent, "Murder? You can't rightly believe me of murder? Can you, Mike? I know you were good mates with Jessie, too. But I was his girlfriend. You can't be buggered enough to think I'd of done that to him."

They reach the interrogation room before Mike responds. And he's shoving her into one of the seats across from the reflective glass, securing her cuffed hands to the ring bolted to the table before he sits across from her. Dropping heavily into a chair on the side of the table she's sat in many times.

An interrogation room looks vastly different from the other side, she realizes. And though she'd known it was designed to, she's surprised by how intimidating it feels to be on this side of the glass. And this side of the table. Bolted to the slab of wood between them no less. And facing the cold reflective glass with her own image staring desolately back at her. Reminding her of the hopelessness of her current predicament.

"Why'd you kill him?" Mike bluntly asks, causing her to frown. Either the man had never taken any classes or coursework in interrogations, or he truly thinks that she is that dumb.

Leaning forward over the table, she insists, "I came home to find him that way. I didn't do it. I wouldn't. I swear."

"'Cause we always take the word of murderers," Mike snarls back.

Slamming her cuffed hands against the table for emphasis, she insists, "It wasn't me! Bugger! I just come home not fifteen minutes before you and the rest of your Bobbies rushed in."

"But in the fifteen minutes you were there, you didn't think to call 991? Didn't think to try and get help for Jessie?" he snidely asks. Leaning eagerly forward as he folds his arms along the top of the scratched wood, he tells her, "See, I think you were using that time trying to hide and destroy evidence."

"I was in shock," she honestly in forms him. "I had just gotten back from taking a jaunt with my brothers. Wasn't until I was fallen in his pools of blood that I realized there was a reason the house felt too bloody quiet."

Snorting, he asks her, "So you expect me to believe you were on a little trip with these mysterious brothers of yours that show up out of nowhere? And that you just happened to come home around the same time we get a phone call from neighbors saying they'd heard screams coming for your place. You really expect me to swallow that load of crap?"

He pauses before doubtfully asking, "Well, if these supposed brothers of yours are your alibi, where are they? Let's get them down here and ask them."

She stiffens, knowing that would be a bad idea for a multitude of reasons. "They didn't come back with me."

Snapping a small notepad out of his pocket, he slams it down on the table along with a pen and shoves them across the table at her. "Then write down a number they can be reached at. Let's get them down here for a chat."

Looking away, she tells him under her breath, "You can't get in touch with them. We went our separate ways again. And I can't ring their mobile because I haven't the foggiest what their number is."

"Right," he answers with satisfaction. The smile on his face telling her exactly what he thinks. "Like I said. It's all a load of crap."

Grunting in frustration, she leans back in her chair as far as her bound hands allow her, her arms pulled taut in front of her. Trying to remain rational, she points out, "It's the truth. And just what sense does it make that these 'neighbors' were just then calling the coppers? Hmm? Look at me," she says, motioning with her cuffed hands at her front. "His blood was already cold and congealing when I fell in it. The blood was already getting dry and tacky. His body…what was left of it, was ice cold. He'd been dead for some hours, Mike. Why'd these tipsters only manage to call about screams moments after I'd returned home? Not hours before when he was actually being killed. Hmm?"

Mike leans even closer over the table as he whispers conspiratorially, "Know what catches my attention 'bout all that? That you seem to know a hell of a lot about dead bodies and the stages of body decomp."

Puffing indignantly, she lies, "It's called bloody reading. Know what that is, Mikey? It's that thing you do when you're looking at words on pages and trying to make sense of them all whilst not to move your lips."

He vaults out of his chair as if shot from a cannon, his angry strides carrying him around the table as he continues shouting accusingly at her, "I know you killed him! And I'm gonna see you fry for it, bitch!"

"Mike!" a censoring voice calls as the door to the interrogation room opens, forcing Mike to freeze in his steps from where he'd been rounding the corner to lay into Tabitha.

"What?!" the livid detective snarls in return, not seeming fazed at the idea of using that sort of tone with his captain.

"You're done here, Detective Hardin," Captain Mullins warns him, holding the door open and gesturing for him to leave. Mike seems to gather himself a bit under his captain's withering stare.

"I'm just getting started, captain. I'm not done yet," Mike pleads, still an edge of demand to his words.

"Yes. You are," the older man warns, his eyes holding the threat of promise that belies the advanced maturity his portly belly and balding head had always given her the impression of. Though she'd only passingly met the man twice before.

Swinging his arms in a shooing motion, the captain tells his detective, "You were done the moment her lawyer got here."

"Lawyer?" both Tabitha and Mike sputter in unified surprise.

"That's right. The chit's lawyer is here now, so you blokes take your ugly mugs elsewhere. Attorney, patient…client privilege or what have you."

Tabitha instantly shoots out of her chair at the voice and sight of the man swaggering into the interrogation room. Her bound hands jerk her back towards the table when she would have rushed him, but she still manages to drag the heavy table a foot or more before her "lawyer" discreetly moves opposite the table from her and leans down against the scuffed wood to stop her from moving it. Cheekily, he grins and asks her, "Did you miss me, poppet?"

Knowing what an enraged, chained up Pit Bull must feel like, she nevertheless lunges across the table as far as her chained hands allow her, snarling at the demon, "I'm gonna make goddamned good on my promise to skin you alive, Crowley. And I'm gonna frickin' get off on doing it."

Giving a salacious shiver, Crowley seductively tells her, "Ooh, touches me in all my naughty places that does."

She lunges again, wordlessly growling when she is still yanked short by her tether to the table.

Crowley throws a disparaging look over his shoulder at the detective and captain who had started back into the room at her threats, snidely telling them, "The two of you can take those ugly wrinkled faces elsewhere. I require a moment alone with my client."

Surprisingly, the two men turn and leave without so much as a word in return, leaving Crowley to return his entire focus to the straining, steaming woman across from him as he casually takes a seat.

"Well now, luv. Finally. Just the two of us. Alone in a room together at last." The salacious grin returns as he reaches across the table to run a finger up the short length of chain cuffing her to the wood. "Just how I'd always imagined it, luv. Handcuffs and all."

He'd leaned forward to stroke the chains, so she takes the opportunity to strike in the only way she can, thrusting her forehead towards his.

The demon proves faster, jerking back just in time to keep from being head-butted.

Instead of anger, he happily tsks her, "Feisty… Bound… And hot. Everything I look for not only in a meal, but also a woman."

She sneers at the reviling combination. Then attacks verbally, "It was you. Wasn't it? You piece of sulphur spewing filth!"

"Sticks and stones, my dear," he scolds, giving her a winning smile as he admits, "Well…that just turns me on even more."

"Let me go!" she shouts, rattling her handcuffs. "You want to try to kill me? Then let me go and face me with the balls I know you never had in life!"

He shrugs unaffected. But does tell her, "Kill you? What on earth gave you that silly notion?"

"You killed Jessie!" she snaps, shoving at the edge of the table and pushing it roughly into the still seated demon.

Crowley raises an eyebrow at her action. Actually pausing to brush at his suit before he stands and tells her, "Oh. That." Making a negating motion with his hand, he tells her, "Well, it wasn't actually me who killed your eager young lad and tore him apart, but yes. I did have that done."


"It just seemed so much more appropriate than sending flowers and chocolate. But of course, that could be the eons of Hell in me talking," he shrugs.

Before she can sputter a response, he actually rolls his eyes and mutters to himself, "Bloody conceited Winchesters. Think everything is about them."

To her he explains as though speaking to a five-year-old. "It's called bloody leverage."

"And how does you killing Jessie give you leverage over me?" she demands, shaking her head at the unbelievable nonsense.

Sighing in frustration, Crowley points out, "There's that famous Winchester hubris again. Never said it was leverage against you, did I?"

When she scowls in confusion, he leans closer to tell her, "But having you under my thumb in lock and key? Well now, luv, I can think of a number of brainless parties that would give me good leverage over. Namely, two plaid wearing menaces. I like to think of you as my…insurance policy in case aforementioned parties prove difficult in handling their assignments."

Tabitha actually slumps back into her chair when she realizes how masterfully Crowley had played her into the corner. And into his own hand. Especially when she realizes the demon might intend to use her against more than just her brothers.

Swallowing around the dry lump in her throat, Tabitha manages to ask, "What assignments? What are you talking about?"

Grinning at her, Crowley tells her with more than a little satisfaction, "Haven't you figured it out yet, luv? Your brothers work for me. Have been for months now. Them, and that baldheaded thing you call your grandfather."

Wheels spinning in a million different directions, she manages to follow down one stray thought. "You brought them back. Didn't you? Both of them. Our grandfather. And Sam." Eyes narrowing on him as she struggles to keep the lump of emotions from lodging in her throat, she asks him, "Did you do it on purpose? Bringing Sammy back without his soul?"

After a careless shrug, Crowley admits. "Not precisely on purpose, but really, not like he needs the thing to hunt. Pesky little things anyway. I've never missed mine."

She shivers at the implication of the parallel between the demon and her soulless brother.

With a lot less heat in her words, Tabitha promises in a solemn vow, "I'm still going to bathe in your blood one day, Crowley. You had no cause to kill Jessie like you did. He wasn't part of this world. You didn't need to do that to come after me."

"You brought him into our world the moment you let your eyes linger on him, luv. Not that I give a damn about some flea-bitten human. Besides, I needed your mind refocused back where it should be."

He looks her up and down as if trying to decide whether or not to tell her something. Then seems to come to some conclusion as he leans forward to tell her, "I gave serious thought to just turning you back loose with Moose and Squirrel to help them gather my trophy monsters. But then…then I remembered something…Charlie."

She scowls at the name. Remembering that he'd called her that a few times back when they'd first gone after Death's ring. What seems like ages ago.

"Why the hell are you calling me 'Charlie?'" she wonders.

Grinning like she's given the right answer, he gleefully tells her, "Because…I realized what great leverage Charlie would make…against her Angel."

Before she can protest, Captain Mullins and Detective Mike Hardin reenter the room, moving with a more predatory gait than they'd left. And though it's unnecessary, they both briefly flash molten black eyes at her.

"You son of a bitch," she snarls at Crowley. "You can't hold me here forever. I'll get out, and when I do, I'm gonna make the torture of Hell look like a spa vacation."

Crowley actually grins at her, advising her, "You've got more spunk in you than angel boy can handle. The darkness in you is wasted on him. Think of everything the two of us could do together in Hell. You could be my right hand. Come on, luv. Be my Queen of the Damned."

"Crowley, you make my skin crawl."

"You say that like it's a bad thing, luv."

"It is." She snorts again, reminding him, "Besides, being Queen of the Crossroads isn't all that appealing."

"Hell, darling. Hell," he whispers, leaning forward with a conspirator's manner. "I'm the King of Hell now, luv."

"King?" she repeats, more than slightly shocked. "And how'd that come about?"

"There was a void in upper-management. I seized the opportunity," he admits.

"I'll bet," she mutters. But remains insistent. "I have no interests in slugs like you."

He shrugs again. "Oh well. Can't say I didn't try." He nods at his goons, asking them, "Have you got her personal effects?"

The demon riding the former captain tosses a large evidence bag at Crowley, telling him, "That's everything you asked for."

After digging through it, Crowley comes up with her burner phone.

While she frowns at him, he resumes his seat across from her. Flipping the cheap phone open and turning it on as he tells her, "Time to make a call to Burt and Ernie."

Tabitha leans back in her chair as she grins in satisfaction. "Oh?" she asks as she hears the telltale beeps of the phone coming to life. "Were you expecting there to be contacts on that phone? Sorry. I've never been good at remembering to add phone numbers to those things. Guess you won't be getting in touch with my brothers to taunt them with having me."

Smugly, she settles back in her chair as she counts down time. Knowing that not too much more time can go by before her older brother will become unsettled by not having heard back from her as she'd promised she'd do when she got back to her place with Jessie. She may have skipped like a schoolgirl into Crowley's trap, but she knows it's only a matter of hours until her brothers come looking for her.

Crowley snorts as he begins dialing numbers into the phone. "Really think I'd need something as mundane as a phonebook to get the numbers I need?"

As the line begins to ring, Crowley places the phone on speaker, setting it on the table as the two henchmen move behind her, one covering her mouth with his sulphur reeking meat hook of a hand.

"Yo, Tab. What the hell took you so long? We were just about to turn around and come track your ass down," Dean's voice gruffly says through the phone.

"God. You're so uptight, Dean. I swear. I don't need you hounding me around every corner. I can take care of myself. I just called to tell you to leave me alone. I'm out. For good this time. So leave me alone and don't contact me again or come looking for me."

Tabitha's eyes nearly bulge out of their sockets to hear her own voice coming out of Crowley's mouth.

"Dammit, Tabitha," Dean growls. "You want some apple-pie life, and I get that. But we're not meant for it. Deep down, you know it. And dragging along that dude in your life is only going to end badly. Either with him breaking your heart when he can't handle this life and walks away, or with him bloody and dead. You know that's the only way it can end. So put that foolishness aside and help me. We've got to figure out a way to get our brother's soul back."

As a tear rolls down her cheek and over the hand against her mouth, Crowley angrily tells her brother with her own voice, "No. You listen to me, Dean. I'm done. I'm done with all of it. And if you think I really give a damn about whatever woes you've got this week, then you're wrong. It's always one thing after another with the two of you, and I'm through. I've had enough. Neither of you are worth the effort and heartache. My life was going great until you two showed back up. So do us all a favor, and keep your cursed crap out of my life. Just stay completely out of my life from now on."

After a loaded silence, Dean angrily snaps, "Fine. Consider us gone from your perfect little life. For good."

Crowley snaps the phone shut. His own voice returning as he assures her, "That should about do it. Don't you think, luv? Should keep them focused on the task at hand. And you can remain waiting in the wings as my insurance policy."

Tabitha jerks away from the demon behind her when he releases her, staring defiantly at the demon across from her as she challenges, "You think that's it? That I'll just roll over and let you keep me under lock and key?"

"What other choice have you got, dearie?"

She closes her eyes, focusing on her last resort, and calling out with all her might for the angel she somehow knows will come for her. No matter what's happened between them already.

Her eyes snap open when the demon bursts into laughter.

"What's the matter, luv, can't quite…get it up? So to speak of course."

As another minute ticks by without an appearance of a certain angel, a sinking sensation settles over Tabitha.

"What did you do?" she whispers.

He gestures towards her hands, and suddenly sigils blaze across the handcuffs on her wrists.

Nodding towards them, he assures her, "Won't matter if you scream yourself hoarse, dearie. The angel isn't going to hear his Charlie's call."

He stands then, telling his henchman, "Get her up."

As the two goons drag her between them out of the interrogation room, one of the other detectives approaches the captain, "Where are you taking the suspect?"

Instead of answering, the captain asks, "Her fingerprints from the crime scene turn up anywhere?"

"No," the detective responds, "We ran her against every database. No hits at all, sir."

The captain nods, "Guess we're gonna take her to the nearest Interpol offices then. They can run her prints and see if she has any records in her own country."

Realizing that Shawn had somehow managed to hack the police department through the USB drive and hide her records, Tabitha opens her mouth to tell the cops the truth. That she's a wanted former FBI agent turned fugitive and that they need to put her in lockdown immediately. Anything to keep them from letting Crowley and his goons whisk her away to somewhere that'll be even harder to escape than a human prison.

But as her mouth opens, Crowley throws her a narrowed look, and no words fall from her lips. As if he'd stolen her voice just as surely as he'd managed to use it to speak to her brothers.

And though she struggles and fights against them, Crowley's goons continue to drag her out of the police station. All the while damning herself that Shawn's thoroughness and efficiency has saved her from hot water, only to dump her into boiling water.

Tabitha doesn't bother looking up as the demon enters her cell and carelessly drops a plastic tray with food. She hears the sound of found bouncing off of it and liquid sloshing, but she ignores it, continuing to stare up at the dank cement ceiling above her head.

"You need anything?" the demon formerly known as Mike asks her.

She lets her head roll drolly to the side, pulling one of her hands out from behind her head to rattle the chain on her wrist as she asks, "How 'bout some lotion? These cuffs are chaffing my skin."

The handcuffs from the night she had been arrested are now replaced by heavier metal cuffs and large chains welded to the wall.

When the demon only stares at her, she resumes her reclined position with her hands cushioned behind her head. The first week she'd been locked up, the thin blankets of her makeshift pallet in the corner of her cell had seemed hard. But by the second week, her pallet had actually started to seem almost comfortable.

"No? How 'bout a Brazilian Wax? Can I get one of those?"

"No," he grunts, unimpressed by her jokes.

"Why do you even bother to ask then?" she wonders, annoyed by the lack of humor in all of Crowley's flunkies.

"Crowley say to keep you alive. He said nothing about comfortable."

Finally glancing across at the tray the demon had plopped down, she relents, "Then I'm all good, Lurch."

He starts to leave, but stops when Tabitha sits up and calls out to him.

"Hey, don't go yet."

"What?" he impatiently demands.

"What got brought in this time?"

He stares at her in stony silence.

She nods towards the door at the rest of the warehouse. "I can hear the screams. I know he's working some kind of monster over. What's he got this time?"

At first, the demon had ignored her questions, but over the weeks he'd begun answering the seemingly innocuous ones.

"Shifter," he finally grunts.

"Really?" she says with false praise. "They're tough."

"We'll see."

Leaning forward to fold her chained arms over her drawn up knees, she presses in a light, curious tone, "So what's he trying to get all these Alphas to tell him anyway?"

Face darkening, the demon tells her, "Who said Crowley wants anything from them?"

Shrugging, she replies, "You don't just torture that many people because you have nothing better to do on a Wednesday night."

He gives her an amused look. "You've never been to Hell."

Again, she shrugs. "Guess not. But, come on. I don't need to know Hell to know that torture for the hell of it isn't Crowley. He's a businessman. I'm sure he's a master at the art, but to a businessman like him, it's just a tool in his belt. A means to an end. Which means he's trying to get something out of these Alphas?"

The demon grants her a dark stare. "I'd mind your own business if I were you."

When the demon leaves with a slamming of her cell door, Tabitha returns to staring at the ceiling overhead.

Two weeks, she thinks to herself. Two weeks and she still hasn't found her window of opportunity for escape.

Plans, she has, but she had seen some of the facility as they hauled her into the old abandoned warehouse. Crowley's henchman, the one she'd unaffectionately named Lurch, had knocked her unconscious as they'd left the police station. Luckily for her, she'd taken more than one punch in her life, and had started coming to just inside the warehouse. And while hanging limply from his shoulder, she'd observed some of the inner workings of the place.

Most importantly, she'd noted that the place was crawling with demons. Any escape plans she had would have to be put on hold. If she tried to slip her cell now, she wouldn't make it thirty feet before a demon grabbed her again.

So for now, she has no choice to wait.

Sitting up on her pallet, she reaches out to pull her tray of food closer. She notes that like always, her plastic tray is adorned only with foods, paper plates, paper cups, and Styrofoam bowls. Not even any silverware. Lest she find some way to use something as a weapon or means of escape. In fact, other than the scant blankets she lays on, her cell is empty. Nothing hard. Nothing sharp.

After she eats her unappetizing meal, she falls back onto her makeshift bed, grumbling at the ceiling, "Not even a freakin' chocolate on my pillow. Definitely won't be choosing to stay at this particular hotel again."

She remains silent afterwards, but in her mind, she calls out again to Castiel. Though she knows it's futile, she prays with all her might for him to hear her. Prays that he still cares. Prays that against all odds, he'll still come for her, just like he'd said he would.

But he doesn't.

And he won't.

Crushing the empty paper cup in her hand, she chucks it at the sigils painted so tauntingly on her ceiling. Reminding her just why Castiel won't be coming. Just why he can't hear her.

And just why she's stuck bidding her time.

Waiting for that one perfect moment.

Tabitha's eyes snap open as she hears the commotion of feet running past her cell. Though she springs from her bed and walks to the door, she's only able to lean far enough against her chain to catch a peek through the bars of her heavy wooden door.

Something has the demons riled up though. She can hear them running about.

Then, she hears a chilling sound she'd hoped to never hear again.

Somewhere in the distance, she can hear the bloodcurdling sound of hellhounds braying. Snarling.


Against the better judgment of the part of her that wants to cower and hide in the corner from the hellhounds on the loose, she instead runs back to her bed. With her toe, she catches the edge of the blankets, tossing them easily back and revealing her bra hidden neatly underneath. As she drops to her knees, she expertly twists and manipulates the satin, pushing and tugging on the underwire until it works free of the fabric.

"Men," she triumphantly crows, making quick work of picking the locks at her wrist with the wire.

"They think the only magic in bras is keeping our boobs perky. They don't even know half of what they can do."

The door to her cell is only slightly trickier. But luckily enough, the demon that had been stationed outside her cell is gone, leaving his post to take part in whatever has the hornet's nest so abuzz. And standing on her tiptoes, she's just able to reach through the bars to pick the lock on the outside of the door.

Finally free of her cell, Tabitha looks in each direction, trying to decide the best direction to run in.

She starts down one hallway, only to freeze at the sight of a hellhound rounding the corner. It skids to a halt at the first glimpse of her. A sickening, doglike grin splitting its bloody face as its tongue lolls lazily out the side of its mouth. The hellhound sniffs the air, padding forward towards her with careless, but predatory steps.

Her breath catches in her throat at the sight of it stalking towards her. Somehow, she'd forgotten how grisly and horrifying the sight of the things were. Their putrid flesh hanging from their bodies. And only distantly, does she think to be surprised that she can still see the damned things. Even after her resurrection wiped Lucifer's mark from her chest.

When the hellhound pauses and gathers itself to launch at her, she twists and shoves at its body, letting it dive through the air past her as she sprints by, racing for the doorway it had just come through.

The door barely slams shut on the hellhound's muzzle as it reverses course and launches towards her again. And though the door is metal, she knows it's no match for the beast, so she turns to sprint once more down the hall.

All too soon, she hears the telltale creaking sounds of the metal door being torn from its hinges. And she doesn't need to look over her shoulder to know by the sounds of the claws striking concrete that more hellhounds have joined the first in chasing her.

Tabitha weaves around corners and twists down different corridors at every opportunity. Hoping beyond hope that every sharp turn she takes and the skidding sounds of claws on concrete means she's staying at least one step ahead of the beasts.

Ahead of her, she hears hellhounds snarling and barking, and her steps nearly falter when she sees the group ahead of them racing towards her, trying to outrun the hounds at their own heels.

Sam and Dean are already slamming the doors closest to them shut, locking the doors in place with a baseball bat through the handles against the hellhounds tearing into fallen demons on the other side.

Neither of her brothers notices her slamming the doors shut on her side of the corridor, bracing her back against them as the hounds that had been chasing her slam against the doors with all their might.

Though she's jolted forward, she manages to just hold the doors together, urgently snapping at her brothers, "Tell me you guys have another bat in that bag!"

They both spin around in surprise at her voice, stopping to stare at her in shock as the hounds hit the doors behind her once more.

Her hands almost slip again from the door handles as she snaps at her brothers and the angel staring stupefied at her, "Now!"

Castiel surprisingly reacts first, thrusting his hands into the bag at Sam's feet and coming out with an axe. With efficient movements, he tosses the weapon at her. Which she catches in just enough time to slide through the handles of the doors at her back.

"Salt," she barks next, turning back to the angel just as he tosses a bag of the stuff at her.

Dean finally seems to shake himself from his surprise at seeing her, striding forward to angrily demand, "What the hell are you doing here? I thought you wanted out of the life. And you pick now to try to hit this place alone? Are you an idiot?"

"Are you?!" she snaps back. "I've been here the whole time. You guys hitting this place is what finally gave me the distraction I needed for escape."

Dean opens and closes his mouth several times as he digests this new information. Waving his hand around and indicating to the hellhounds boxing them in, he demands, "You were captured? When? How?" He makes a negating gesture with his hand, trying to expedite the answer he really wants. "You call this escaping?!"

"It's a work in progress," she growls, eyes darting around the small space for some other plan.

Dean shakes his hand at her, "We're so talking about whatever the hell has been going on with you as soon as we get out of here."

"Let's focus on this first," she suggests.

Turning towards the woman Tabitha had initially dismissed, Dean tells her, "I knew this was a trap."

"What do you want, a cupcake?" Meg snidely rejoins.

"Meg?" Tabitha asks in surprise when she recognizes the demon. "What? Is she like my replacement?"

"Well, you wanted out," Dean stubbornly defends. "And she also wants Crowley dead as much as we do."

Tabitha's eyes narrow on her brother as she assures him, "Not nearly as much as I do."

Seeming unfazed by the drama, Sam tells them, "All right, that should keep them out."

"Not for long," Tabitha assures her brother, wrapping her arms around herself to fight off the chill and feeling very underdressed. "Those things looked half-starved."

Dean turns back to stare at her when he hears her words, frowning in his usual manner before downright scowling at her and asking, "Are you even wearing a bra?"

She looks down at herself, shifting her arms to hide the obviously cold state of her chest under her thin, skimpy black tank top. She'd been given that by the demons to replace her bloody shirt. And the leather pants and boots she wears are the same clothes she'd last been wearing when she'd been with her brothers. Although she'd had a jacket then as well. The demons hadn't let her keep it though.

"No," she admits, blushing a bit against her will that Dean had noticed, but quickly defends, "It was part of my escape plan."

"I don't even want to know how being braless helped you escape," Dean huffs, turning to look back at the sounds of the snarling hounds still jumping at the doors.

"Kinky," Meg purrs, giving Tabitha a long look of appreciation before she continues. "Well, I'll be pulling for you…from Cleveland."

"What?!" Dean shouts.

"I didn't know this was gonna happen," Meg assures them. "Bright side—them chewing up my meatsuit ought to but you a few seconds. Seacrest out."

Meg tilts her head back and opens her mouth. Only to find that she can't smoke out of her body.

"Performance anxiety?" Tabitha asks with a sneer.

For the first time since her appearance, Castiel speaks. "It's a spell, I think, from Crowley. Within these walls, you're locked inside your body."

"Karma's a bitch, bitch," Dean responds a little too happily.

Sam suddenly pulls Ruby's knife from the waistband at the small of his back, holding it contemplatively in his hand.

"What are you gonna do?" Dean asks, eyeing the knife warily. "You gonna slash at thin air until you hit something?"

Holding the handle out towards Meg, Sam tells her, "You can see them. Take this. Hold them off. It's our best shot."

Meg considers it, but then surprises them all by replying, "At Crowley. Take it and go. You kill the smarmy dick. I'll hold off the dogs."

"How are you gonna do that I—"

Dean's words are cut off as Meg stalks closer to Castiel, grabbing the back of his neck and tugging him down into a heated kiss. When she pulls back with a smirk on her face and an angel blade in her hand, Tabitha wants to charge the demon. But somehow, she remains glued in place as she stares in shock at the angel that had more than returned the demon's kiss.

As if sensing her accusing stare, he almost sheepishly tells her, "She kissed me."

"And you kissed her back," Tabitha snarls, her feet finally carrying her forward until she stands in front of the angel.

Castiel had turned to face her, his shoulders rounding as he lowers his head towards her to pointedly remind her, "And you've never kissed your human?"

Angered by his reminder of the man she'd gotten killed by allowing him into her life, Tabitha cups her hand against the back of his neck, punishingly yanking him down the rest of the way to her mouth, far more harshly than Meg had.

Yet when she wraps an arm around him underneath his trench coat, slipping her hand beneath the waistband of his pants, he jerks her closer, spinning her until her back collides with the wall and pressing the length of his body against her as they punishingly explore each other's mouths. Their tongues battling for dominance. Each silently chastising the other for their own reasons. And for their past actions.

Suddenly, Castiel pulls back, his breath perfectly even while she pants to control her racing heart. A stubborn look on his face, he reminds her, "You're the one that chose that human."

Knowing he's referring to their past conversation, she reminds him, "You left me before I could even walk away. You're the one that went back to Heaven. I was stuck here alone."

"You didn't wait."

"I didn't know I was supposed to. Seemed to me like you were done with me."

"I wasn't."

When he looks away after the whispered confession, she feels a streak of guilt as she reminds him in a scant whisper, "I've told you before, I don't do lonely well."

Her eyes shut against the pain, trying to stem it. Trying to shut it out. Deep down though, she knows the truth. No matter how many times she thinks she's escaped, he still holds her heart captive. Whether he realizes it or not. She can fool herself into thinking she's broken free, but in the end, she always returns to him. Because he holds her heart. And doesn't even realize he holds the power to crush her once and for all.

"Well, enough lover's drama," Meg almost gleefully interrupts, telling them, "Okay, gotta go," as she holds up Castiel's angel blade.

"Whoa, whoa, is that gonna work on a hellhound?" Dean asks tearing his sneer from the sight of his sister and the angel.

"Well, we're about to find out. Run!" she shouts.

The boys start to move away, but Tabitha steps beside the demon, a slight sneer on her own face as she holds up the other angel blade she'd taken from Castiel.

"You should run, sugar," Meg warns her. "Those things will tear you apart."

"I can hold my own, darling," she promises in return, the dark look tugging her mouth even more at the demon's endearment.

Her brothers stop when they realize her intentions, starting back for her.

"Go!" she shouts at them, gesturing towards the only corridor not currently blocked by hellhounds. "We'll hold them off."

"This is insane," Dean reminds her as he starts towards her. "They're friggin' hellhounds, Tab."

"And I can see them just as well as Meg can," Tabitha reminds her brother. "Go. Find Crowley. And when you do, give him a special something from me. And tell him that it's for Jessie."

Dean's gaze darkens as he catches her grim meaning, and jerks a nod once in response, seeing the determination in her eyes and no doubt guessing more or less what happened to Jessie.

"Watch yourself," he warns her, looking back and forth in a measuring way between her and Castiel.

The angel had stopped along with her brothers, and remains in place after they start down the open hallway again. Regret shines in his eyes as they stare at each other.

"Go," she softly insists, jerking her head in the direction of her brothers. He opens his mouth, as if he's going to tell her something. But then, he turns to run silently after her brothers.

As Tabitha and Meg twist and back up until their shoulder blades connect, Meg tells her over her shoulder, "You know, the dewy-eyed romance crap is enough to choke a friggin' unicorn."

"Yeah, I suppose so," she readily agrees. "Guess I never thought I'd become one of those dewy-eyed saps myself. Must be all the hearts and butterflies and rainbow-farting unicorns that finally got to me."

Meg snorts at her cynical tone, her own voice taking on an almost scornful, yet surprisingly wistful tone as she mutters, "At least you found your unicorn."

"For a short time," Tabitha sighs under her breath, unwilling to let her heart consider Castiel's confession and what that might mean for them. Or how easily he can still crush the heart he unknowingly holds in his hands.

Both women tense and push back against each other as the two doorways finally burst open at the hellhounds' beatings.

"Guess there's worse meatsacks I could die fighting beside," Meg scorns.

"Guess there's worse demons I could die beside, too," Tabitha returns, grudgingly feeling camaraderie with the demon she knows wants Crowley as dead as she does.

The women push off from each other as the hounds race at them from both sides.

When the last hellhound is finally slayed, human and demon find themselves once more back to back. Only now sitting on the floor of the corridor, the dead bodies of hellhounds scattered around them.

Meg glances down at her torn jacket sleeve and bloodied arm beneath, commenting, "At least it didn't shred this meatsuit too bad. I've become sort of fond of it."

Tabitha glances down at her own tattered clothing, peeling back the bloodied and torn tank top from her side to examine her own wounds. She'd been lucky. Most of the cuts to her hands and arms are superficial. The slash through her side is a bit more serious however. Though no worse than other pains she's been dealt in the past few years.

For the most part, she considers herself lucky. The claws of the hellhound that had gotten too close had hit her high on her side, glancing off her ribs instead of hitting the more fragile skin below her ribcage. It's uncomfortable, but she knows she can get through it. After all, she's gotten through worse.

With unsteady muscles, she pushes to her feet, feeling like a newborn foal still wobbly on her legs. When she steps around to help Meg, the demon glances up in surprise before taking the proffered hand and tugging herself upwards.

"Excepting help from a Winchester," she mutters under her breath, "Makes me feel downright dirty. And not in a good way."

"Don't you think I wouldn't rather stab this blade through your neck instead of helping you up?" Tabitha flippantly tosses back.

The share a sneer that lacks any former heat, each stepping over the dead hounds as they pick their way in the direction her brothers went.

As Meg steps towards the corridor, a man suddenly steps out, swinging a fist in a clothesline maneuver and knocking Meg onto her back. And before Tabitha can react, her reflexes slowed by their recent battle, the man swings out his other fist, connecting with a solid blow to her temple. Her vision goes dark with the last sight of Christian standing over her, his eyes flashing to demon black.

She jerks to consciousness at the guttural sounds of Meg's screams. Jerking when she feels herself once more bound, but able to turn to look at the source of the demon's cries.

Her eyes land on Meg, stripped of her clothes and strapped to a metal table. Her arms spread and her body only partially covered by leather straps bearing demon-trapping symbols carved into them.

The demon in question, though emitting screams at Christian's ministrations, still pauses to give a throaty laugh, telling him, "You know, you're sticking that thing in all the wrong places."

Christian pauses, moving away from his work to stalk closer to her upper body, challenging her with, "Really? You sure were squealing."

He holds the bloody blade of Ruby's knife in the air like a trophy, a pleased look flashing across his face as he stares Meg down.

"Knock yourself out," Meg continues nonchalantly. "It's a host body. Some girl from Sheboygan. Moved to L.A. to be an actress. It's probably not even the worst thing that ever happened to her."

Christian grins, squatting down to return to his cutting as Meg resumes her pained screams.

Tabitha hadn't been still upon waking. At finding herself still thankfully clothed but also unfortunately strapped to a metal table, she'd begun working herself free of her restraints. Not letting herself ponder how Christian has the knife she'd last seen in Sam's hands.

She curses the leather straps that mold more closely to her wrists than the metal handcuffs she'd been taught to slip by both the FBI and her father. Yet, as she maneuvers her hand, curling it to make it smaller and then dislocating her thumb, she manages to slip one hand free, and then release the other.

Meg's cries of pain bleed into peals of laughter as Tabitha stalks behind Christian, and in his absolute focus on Meg, he doesn't sense her approach behind him.

Not even when he stands to curiously ask Meg, "What are you laughing at?"

Tabitha reaches around him to pluck Ruby's knife from his hand, plunging it into his back before the demon has time to move.

As Christian and the demon ridding him both die, Meg smugly fills him in on the joke. "Tabitha Winchester's behind you…meatsack."

With a grunt, Tabitha yanks the knife free, letting the demon fall with a thud. Then she turns to see her brothers race into the room, both looking a bit worse for wear themselves.

Sam looks his sister and the demon over with dispassionate eyes, telling his siblings only, "We should go."

Dean glances back and forth between his siblings, seeming torn between doing what their younger brother says, and saying something to Tabitha about the demon she stands next to.

Not waiting for any other words from her brothers, Tabitha turns to begin unstrapping the helpless demon.

Meg looks surprised as she stares helplessly up at the human, her mouth opening several times as she seems to struggle with what to say.

"Don't," Tabitha woodenly warns, though her eyes soften on the demon for a moment as she tells her, "Call it a human weakness that I get a little sentimental about those I kill hellhounds beside." She pauses before the strap around Meg's wrist is fully loosened to threaten the demon, "But if you ever kiss him again, I'll strap you right back down here."

Meg grins saucily, not asking who "he" is. "Don't make promises of a good time you don't intend to keep."

With one hand loose, Meg makes quick work of freeing her other appendages, silently accepting and donning the clothes Tabitha passes her way.

"What now?" Tabitha asks her brothers as she turns back towards them, glancing around curiously for the angel.

Answering the unasked first, Dean grunts, "Got poofed out in a burst of light. Angel banishing sigil. And I guess we do like Sam says, and get." Not having been the first time it's happened to Castiel, Tabitha only frowns, wondering how long it will keep him away this time.

Shaking her head in response to his other suggestion, Tabitha stubbornly plants her feet. "I'm not leaving. Not without Crowley's head. That bastard deserves everything he's got coming to him."

Dean hesitates, and then asks, "What the hell happened? How'd you end up here anyway? I mean, last you told us, you wanted totally out. Now you're here. And what's all this about escaping or something?"

She rolls her eyes at her brothers. "That wasn't me you talked to, Einstein. That was Crowley you were on the phone with. He can mimic voices or some shit like that. And that was after he'd had Jessie killed while I was off running around with you guys, and then framed me for his murder. After that, he kept me locked up here for a few weeks. During which I had to bide my time, waiting for a chance to escape without running into a pack of demons. Which, at least your little incursion gave me the chance I needed to do so."

Dean scowls at her tattered and bloody clothes. "Yeah, 'cause it looks like you made a clean getaway."

"I don't care," she reminds him. "I'm taking Crowley's head."

"That's the spirit," Meg enthuses, tugging her leather coat on. "It's what we're all here for, kiddos."

Dean gives Tabitha a meaningful stare, tipping his head back towards Sam as he tells her, "That's not what we came here for."

Catching his hint, she replies, "Then that's all the more reason to finish this now."

Sighing in frustration, Dean looks around the room and asks, "Well, what do you suggest? 'Cause we don't even know where Crowley is right now."

Stalking over to the wall, Tabitha reaches out to tug on the fire alarm handle. "Then maybe we should ring the doorbell as it were, and make him come to us."

As the shrill noise shrieks its siren call, the Winchesters quickly move to set their trap, and then await their pray.

Within a few minutes, Crowley strolls into the room. Having stationed himself by the fire alarm, Dean pushes the handle back in place to silence the noise.

Seeming only slightly annoyed, Crowley informs the oldest Winchester, "You should be ghoul scat by now."

Unceremoniously, Sam jumps out behind Crowley, slamming him in the back of the head with the large wrench he'd found.

The demon is sent sprawling to his hands and knees, falling forward and into the demon trap they'd laid in preparation.

Though she might have once given him a censoring look for the brutally efficient means of getting the demon into their trap, Tabitha merely joins her older brother in giving Sam an approving grin for the somewhat arguably, needlessly violent action.

Still on his knees, the demon asks them, "Really necessary?" He picks himself up and dusts his suit off. "I just had this dry-cleaned."

Following his remarks, he finally looks up, spotting the trap Tabitha had hastily painted on the ceiling from atop Sam's shoulders.

With a maudlin look, Crowley continues. "So…to what do I owe the reach-around?"

The Winchesters turn as Meg strolls back into the room, gleefully greeting him with, "Crowley."

His face hardens as he returns, "Whore."

"Okay, you know what?" Meg raises a hand and clenches her fist.

Immediately, Crowley doubles over, violently retching as Meg grins.

To the Winchesters, she explains, "The best torturers never get their hands dirty."

Despite the circumstances, Tabitha grins a little as she admires, "Gotta love a girl that can do some dirty work and still stay clean."

Returning her attention to Crowley, Meg lowers her hand to tell him, "Sam wants a word with you."

Still coughing a bit, Crowley almost congenially asks, "What can I do for you, Sam?"

"You know damn well. I want my soul back."

"And here I thought you just grew some balls, Sam," Meg throws in, assessing him.

Ignoring her, Sam presses, "Well?"

In the wake of a tense moment, Crowley answers simply, "No."

"Hit him again," Tabitha suggests, nodding her permission towards the trapped demon.

Eagerly, Meg steps forward, raising her fist once more as Crowley is this time driven to his knees.

When Meg relents, Crowley insists, "I can't."

"Can't or won't? Sam questions.

"I said 'can't.' And I meant can't you mop-headed lumberjack," Crowley repeats even more insistently. Straightening on his knees, he adds, "I was lucky to get this much of you out. Going back in there for the sloppy bits? No way. I'm good, but those two in there? Forget it."

"How do I know you're not lying?"

"You don't. But it doesn't change anything. I'm telling you." The demon heaves a sigh. "Sam, why do you want the thing back? Satan's got one juicy source of entertainment in there. I'd swallow a rag off a bathhouse floor before I took that soul. Unless you want to be a drooling mess."

Glancing over her shoulder, Meg throws her two-cents in. "Sam, I hate to say it, but he's right."

Frowning, Sam replies, "Yeah, right. I get it. Thanks." Nodding at Meg, Sam offers, "He's all yours."

Torn between wanting him dead and knowing they might still need him to make Sammy whole, Tabitha finds herself partially agreeing when Dean begins arguing.

"Whoa. What are you, crazy? He's our only hope!"

"Dean, you heard him. He can't get it. He's useless!"

When Dean looks to her for input, Tabitha can't help selfishly replying, "We'll find another way to help Sam. We always do. But I want that sonofabitch dead."

Meg and Tabitha had ended up standing on either side of Dean, so when the oldest Winchester decidedly holds Ruby's knife out in an offer between them, the demon and human turn to regard each other.

"Jessie's dead because of that asshole. He didn't have to do that. Jessie wasn't part of this world," Tabitha insists by way of arguing for her right to kill the demon.

"This asshole's been trying to run my ass down since he took over Hell," Meg insists back. "Plus, he helped the three of you put Lucifer in the cage in the first place."

Eyes narrowing, Tabitha fires back, "I saved your life back there."

"I've helped save your brothers' lives."

"Who hasn't?" Tabitha impatiently sneers.

After a moment of thought and clenching her jaw tightly shut, Meg grinds out, "I've wanted that asshole dead for longer than you've even been alive. Certainly longer than your little fling with your human."

Tabitha bristles at the barb, but can't bring herself to argue against the truth of Meg's words. Pushing the knife towards her, she requests of the demon, "Make sure he hurts first."

Meg grins in anticipation. "I do so love foreplay."

She then steps up to the edge of the trap, hesitating again to ask the siblings, "You'll let me back out, right?"

At their nods, she flips the knife around, confidently stepping inside the trap with Crowley as she tells him, "This is for Lucifer, you pompous little—"

Crowley kicks out and knocks Meg from her feet, grabbing the knife and throwing it at the ceiling, and breaking his trap.

He stands and addresses the Winchesters before they can even react, smugly telling them, "That's better."

With raised hands, he snaps his fingers in a gesture that sends Sam and Dean flying sideways into opposite walls. Frowning slightly when Tabitha remains unmoved.

As Ruby's knife falls from the ceiling, Tabitha makes a rush to grab it, trying to dodge around Crowley to reach it. The demon is quicker, grabbing her by the throat with one hand, and neatly snatching the knife from mid-air with the other.

Squeezing until Tabitha's knees buckle, Crowley then returns his attention to Meg, holding her at bay with the knife as he tells her, "You don't know torture, you little insect."

"Release her," Castiel warns, suddenly appearing several feet from Tabitha. "And leave them alone."

"Castiel," Crowley greets, squeezing Tabitha's neck a little harder as she claws uselessly at his steel grip. "Haven't seen you all season. You the cavalry now?"

"Release her…now," Castiel growls in warning eyes darting down to Tabitha.

"You that bossy in Heaven?" Crowley continues to blithely ask, "Hear you're losing out to Raphael. The whole affair makes Vietnam look like a roller derby."

Though he seems unconcerned, Crowley does strangely release Tabitha, giving her a little shove towards the angel.

Finally able to suck in deep breaths, Tabitha scrambles backwards on her butt until her back connects with Castiel's shins, taking wheezing and shuddering breaths as Castiel briefly lays a comforting hand on her shoulder.

Seeming assured that she's okay, Tabitha hears the angel pull something from behind his back and turning, sees him holding out a canvas sack.

Curious, the demon asks, "Hey, what's in the gift bag?"

Revealing a skull, Castiel replies, "You are."

In disbelief, the demon insists, "Not possible."

"You didn't hide your bones as well as you should have."

Crowley finally removes the knife from where he'd held it at Meg's face, sliding it under his arm as he turns to sarcastically clap. "Cookie for you."

Dropping the bag, Castiel demands, "Can you restore Sam's soul or not?"

Tabitha messages her aching neck, scooting further away from the angel to watch what he's doing, knowing that something seems off—and has seemed off about him since she first saw him again—but pushing the matter from her mind to focus on rubbing the tender muscles of her neck instead.

Crowley snaps his fingers, releasing his hold on Sam and Dean before he offers, "If I can help out in any other—"

"Answer him!" Dean shouts.

"I can't."

Castiel immediately turns, his hand hovering over the bones for a moment before they burst into flames.

Tabitha throws a hand over her eyes as the demon shockingly bursts into flame as well.

When she lowers her arm, the demon and the pile of bones are both mere smoldering ash.

"That can happen to demons?" Tabitha finds herself asking the room.

"We'll explain later," Dean promises, coming forward to help her to her feet.

Before she can react, Sam darts forward to snatch up Ruby's knife from the smoldering ash that had once been Crowley. Luckily, Meg reacts even quicker, disappearing before Sam can straighten up with the blade. Although Tabitha isn't exactly sure why she sighs in relief at the thought of the demon getting away. Other than having a sort of reluctant respect for the demon that had wanted Cowley's head as much as she had.

"Well, she's smart. I'll give her that," Dean begrudgingly compliments. "I was gonna kill her, too." He gives Castiel a wicked look before tacking on, "'Course, I'd have given you an hour with her first."

Castiel looks around in confusion, actually turning to Tabitha to ask, "Why would I want that?"

Ignoring the question, Tabitha punches her brother's arm. "Fuck off." She's annoyed by her brother's obvious attempt to rile her, but she's too preoccupied with wondering why she doesn't feel more relief at the demon's death than to let herself rise to his bait.

When she starts past the angel to exit the room, she dodges when the angel reaches for her, wincing and not moving particularly fast thanks to a multitude of hurts: numerous cuts and bruises, the deep cut curving along her ribcage, and now her tender throat.

Castiel briefly pulls back at the way she shies from him, and then tentatively reaches out again, quietly offering, "You're hurt."

Tamping down her pride, she clenches her jaw and nods her permission. She closes her eyes as the angel reaches out to brush his fingertips along her cheek, the simple move tucking stray hairs behind her ear and healing the multitude of injuries her body had sustained.

He whispers a heartfelt, "I'm sorry," while staring into her eyes before walking from the room.

Watching him go, her mind thinks to wonder only two things, what a shame it is that so simple a touch couldn't heal everything broken between them. And to wonder just what he was apologizing for.

Standing outside the Impala, Dean tells the angel with a sneer, "I'd say thanks for saving our asses, Cas, but I think we all know the only real reason you even came back." His words are accompanied by a matching frown to his sister beside him.

Castiel glances at Tabitha in the wake of Dean's snide comment, frowning as he tries to formulate a response.

Tabitha doesn't hesitate where the angel does, punching her brother's arm as she reminds him, "He came with you in the first place. Before he even knew I was here. So don't be a dick, Dean."

In his normal fashion, the angel avoids that which is uncomfortable or he doesn't understand, instead confessing, "Crowley was right though. It's not…going well for me upstairs."

Though she's felt uneasy about the angel since he returned to her life, Tabitha doesn't hesitate to offer, "If there's anything we can do…"

"There isn't," the angel quickly insists. Holding her eyes with a look of promise, he tells her, "I wish circumstances were different. Most of the time…I'd rather be here."

Dean snorts, sidestepping his sister when she tries to hit him again as he snips, "Yeah, and now we know why you'd rather be here."

"Frickin' two-year-old," Tabitha huffs under her breath before returning her attention to the angel and his pronouncement.

She does feel some of her latent resentment slip away at his confession. Yet, she can't seem to let go of it all as she pointedly adds, "But you still have to leave."

"Is the after-school special over yet?" Dean huffs, still shooting dark looks between the angel and his sister.

Castiel holds Tabitha's eyes briefly as he nods in agreement once. And when she looks away to stave off the emotion that wells in her eyes, he mercifully turns his attention to Sam, trying to offer some assurances to him.

"Listen, Sam—we'll find another way."

"You really want to help? Prison full of monsters," Sam suggests. "Can't just leave 'em, can't let 'em go."

"I understand," Castiel nods.

He turns to face Tabitha across the roof of the car one last time, awkwardly telling her, "I am…sorry for the loss of…your…human companion."

He disappears before Tabitha can find an accurate response.

"He's right, you know," Dean tells Sam, finally seeming to lose some of his attitude now that the angel and his sister aren't both in such close proximity.


"About your soul."

Pulling her mind from the puzzle of Castiel, Tabitha insists to Sam, "We'll figure something else out. We always do."

"Not this time. No, we won't," Sam stubbornly replies.

Mocking, Dean asks, "Oh, why, because Crowley said—"

"You heard what Crowley said. And I heard what Cas said. Putting this thing back in would smash me to bits."

"That's not a certainty," Tabitha replies, knowing that she's playing catch-up a bit to figure out what happened while she was playing prisoner to Crowley's little warden fantasy.

"You know what?" Sam snaps. "When angels and demons agree on something—call me nuts, I pay attention."

"You say this now? After we practically died trying to—"

"Exactly. We almost got ourselves killed! I mean, how many times do we risk our asses for this? Enough's enough."


"I don't think I want it back."

"Look, I know I'm playing a bit of catch-up here, guys," Tabitha interrupts, "but that's kinda the point, Sam. Without a soul, you can't think or reason straight. You're frickin' impaired as far as I'm concerned."

Agreeing with her, Dean adds, " You don't even know what you're saying."

"No, I'm saying something you guys don't like. The two of you obviously care. A lot. But I think maybe I better off without it."

"That's bullshit," Tabitha huffs.

"You don't know how wrong you are," Dean adds.

"I'm not so sure about that."

When Sam starts walking away, Dean warns, "Sam, don't walk away. Sam! Sam!"

After he continues walking away, Dean turns to ask his sister, "Well, now what the hell do we do?"

"We figure out a way to fix Sam. Whether he wants our help or not," she maintains. "And you fill me in on all the crap I've been missing since I came back to life."

Seeming eager to have her back, but still hesitant after his snipping at the angel, he presses her, "Are you sure that's what you want? You really want back in?"

She walks around the Impala to the passenger seat before she looks across the roof to explain, "You were right, Dean. Only way out of this life is with a bloody end. Either for us, or for anyone else we let get mixed up in our lives. It was selfish of me to think I could get out. I tried, and now I've got nothing to show for it. Not only that, but I got a good man killed. So I'm back in."

"You sure you're ready for this?"

Briefly looking away, Tabitha whispers, "There's a lot of things I'm not sure of anymore. One thing I am sure of is that you and Sam have always come through for me when the chips were down. So I guess no matter what, family needs to stick together."

"What about Cas?"

Tabitha glances back at the warehouse, a little surprised to actually hear Dean ask the question, and thinking to herself about the bits and pieces of things the angel's admitted to her since he returned to her life so unexpectedly. But also thinking about all the things that don't seem to quite add up either. The way he'd held her frozen with his angel power in her brothers' hotel room not being the least of which. Her charm bracelet should have prevented it. It always had in the past, and had certainly stopped Crowley from tossing her around like a rag doll only an hour before.

Not to mention, when he'd searched for Sam's soul, the power he'd unleashed… She hadn't felt anything like that from him before. Inexplicably, he seemed stronger than ever.

Or the simple fact that the angel who hadn't ever known how to lie in the past, suddenly didn't feel like he was telling the truth, either.

Not voicing her myriad of concerns, or her brother's inquiry about the angel, she commands, "Get in the car, Dean."

He starts to get in, but she stops him, hesitantly asking, "You can kill a demon by burning their human remains?"

A short chuckle escapes as he shakes his head. "There's a lot I need to catch you up on from the past few weeks. And even more from the past few months and year and a half."

"Start talking," she suggests as they climb into the Impala, both acutely aware they're leaving Sam behind.

She glances at the warehouse as Dean drives away, a nagging part of her reminding her that she may have escaped one prison, but she's still a prisoner of the heart.

"You'll have to move your base of operations now."

"Have you to bloody well thank for that."

"I did my best to deter Sam and Dean from coming. It couldn't be stopped."

"At least now those blundering blockheads think I'm dead."


Still not looking at the demon beside him, Castiel warns, "You shouldn't have taken her."

"Hrmph," the demon grunts in return. "I did what I had to. Like always."

Castiel moves in a flash, wrapping his fingers under the demon's jaw and lifting him from the ground. "You don't seem to understand, Crowley. If you touch her again, I'll end you."

Unperturbed by his position dangling in the air, Crowley grits out, "You need me."

Castiel drops the demon, frowning when Crowley merely straightens his tie. "Why did you take her? Why didn't you tell me what your plans were?"

"Perhaps I just wanted to keep her safe for you," Crowley shrugs.

When the angel's frown deepens, Crowley tries again. "She clouds your judgment. And I need you levelheaded, angel. Not to mention, if you want to beat Raphael, you don't need her distractions, either."

"She's not a distraction."

"Of course she is. That's all Charlie is to you, angel. You need to decide, which do you want more, Little Miss Hunter Barbie, or to win the war against Raphael?"

"Touch her again, and I'll destroy you. War with Raphael be damned." He steps forward in a threatening gait. "And don't forget that you need me, too."

"That's right, angel. We're in this together, so let's not allow the Winchesters to dissuade us from our goals."

"Don't touch any of the Winchesters again. They shouldn't be a problem for you anymore."

"And don't forget your side of the deal, either, bird-brain. We need those souls."

"We'll get them."

A/N: Thanks so much for your patience. Work sucks right now. For a multitude of reasons, which I won't go in to. But it's left very little time for anything. Let alone writing. Still, I was able to finally get this one finished and edited.

I've also spent the past couple of days on a road trip thinking about something several people have brought up. And that's what a good song is to go with this story. Or at least to encompass Tab and Cas. Now, that's a hard one, because I can see different songs fitting them at different parts of the story.

I can see Here Without You by 3 Doors Down fitting them well, and even Say Something by A Great Big World and Christina Aguilera. Someone mentioned Bleeding Out by Imagine Dragons, and that's an awesome fit, too. But the one that I'm feeling the most right now is I Gave You All by Mumford and Sons. But then, I'm just sort of on a Mumford and Sons kick right now. :) I can truthfully see any of these being killer trailers if this story was actually canon to the series.

But my question, just out of curiosity, what other songs do all of you think of when you think of these guys?

And seriously, thank you all for sticking with me even when I'm slow to update. You all rock! This chapter is for all of you!