While the Winchesters are on the run, Bobby gets some interesting visitors.
"I swear, if you even think the word 'Midol' I will end you."
Singer Salvage Yard,
Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Wednesday 26 May 2010
"What do you want me to say, boy? Sometimes things just go sideways," Bobby Singer grumbled into the phone. "You should know that better than anyone."
He rolled his eyes at the angry response on the other end, too used to the Winchester brand of dealing with frustration to take much of it to heart. The only thing different in this case was that the spew of vitriol being sent his way was not usually spoken in a woman's lighter tones.
Although Bobby had known exactly what kind of help Agdistis would be able to give the boys, he was still surprised that they had taken her up on her offer – and without knowing the entire story, either. But then, the Phrygian goddess had always known how to spin an argument. It was part of the reason he had ended up saving her life all those years ago…
He blinked rapidly, for a moment lost in memories while Dean's annoyed tirade washed over him. It seemed to be the usual complaints mixed in with what he and Sam were planning on doing next, and so he interrupted before the poor kid could work himself up to an actual rage.
"You done yet?" he demanded, adjusting his hold on cordless phone. "'Cause if you are, and you're headed down in that general direction anyway, I've got someone who might be able to help –" A brief pause, "– Yes, he's human this time."
After relating the information to the boys in an offhand sort of code, Bobby hung up.
Automatically, he traipsed to the back window in his kitchen and glanced outside. He half-expected to see a group of discontent hunters hanging out beyond the property line, waiting for the Winchesters to return or for Bobby to give them up. They'd likely be loitering on his porch if Bobby hadn't already had to shoot one dumb idiot that tried to get fresh on his land. Since then, the rest of them kept their distance, but he could sense that they were there.
It was lucky they were deterred with something as simple as a shotgun, a man's right to his land and Bobby's own good name, because he knew there were others who didn't care for such boundaries. Since finding out about the latest madness to do with the boys, he'd had to fortify the entire main floor of the house to discourage other visitors. Sigils and several Keys of Solomon were painted over the entryways and by the windows, and he'd stocked up on a decade's worth of salt and holy water thanks to a quick phone call to Sherriff Mills.
'Woman's a force,' he thought with gruff admiration.
His gaze shifted to the Impala, which was bent and misshapen beneath an old tarp. Luckily the car didn't seem as badly destroyed as it had been when it had been run off the highway by an eighteen wheeler, but Bobby knew there would be quite a bit of work needed before she was running again. Dean would want to do it himself, he knew, but judging by the pile of trouble the boys were in, Bobby wasn't sure if they would be getting back to her any time soon.
He was just contemplating the merits of at least starting on the minor problems when there was a sudden explosion of sound.
The entire house abruptly shook so violently that Bobby was thrown to the ground. A balloon of dust and debris flew into the kitchen from the front hallway, forcing him to shield his face for a moment. Once the world settled itself, Bobby crept to his feet, grabbing a knife and his spare hunting rifle from where it rested beneath the bench in the kitchen.
Whatever he was expecting to see, it wasn't the front grill of a semi taking up space where is front door used to be.
"Bobby," a familiar female voice cooed from behind him, and he whirled around to point his gun at the dark-haired, round-faced young woman. She looked different from the last time he had seen her – hair hanging in greasy ranks and skin marred by bruises and dirt. But her eyes were still the cold, hateful black of a demon's. "How's the family?"
She waved a hand and both his weapons went flying in opposite directions.
"Meg," he grunted. He felt rage boil up within him at the sight of the creature responsible for Ellen and Jo Harvelle's deaths.
"In the flesh, baby – well, sort of," she beamed. "Gotta say, old man, I'm surprised you remember – the last time I saw you, you put a beauty of a maggot hole in your belly. Shame it didn't take." She wandered over lazily and patted the front end of the truck, which had begun to smoke under its hood. "Sorry about having to make an entrance, but you're so good at putting those pesky traps down, I just had to make my own door. Hope I didn't mess up your bachelor hunter feng-shui, but I did hear from a reliable source that Mack trucks just get it done."
"Dean was right. You do like to hear yourself talk."
"That actually brings me to why I'm here," she told him, adopting a mock-serious expression. "I know how close you are to our boys. I figure by the fan club you have surrounding your place twenty-four seven, you probably know where they are." Of Bobby's surreptitious glance toward the main road, she giggled. "Oh, don't worry, none of them are going to be coming to check on you any time soon, they've got their hands full right now. It's just you and me, old man."
"Lucky me," Bobby growled. "You know I ain't gonna tell you squat, right? So your lightshow was for nothing."
"Wouldn't say that. It was fun," Meg said, sauntering up to him. In a move he didn't see, her hand shot forward and she grabbed him by the throat. Any pretence of lightheartedness was abruptly gone. "Listen up, meatsack. You're going to tell me where Sammy and Dean-o are, or I'm going to get creative and turn this place into a Jackson Pollack – starring your entrails."
"What? Foreplay's over already?" Bobby choked out. "Don't you usually like to poke at your food?"
Meg narrowed her eyes.
"You really want to test me, Bobby?" she hissed. "'Cause I'm sure your boy told you all about Alistair. Maybe he also told you that I was teacher's pet for a lot longer than he was. I can make this last months if I have to. Or you could save yourself the pain, tell me what I want to know, and I'll kill you really quick. Either way you're dying. And if everything I've heard along the grapevine is right, I'll be seeing you downstairs where we can start all over again. If you don’t piss me off, maybe I’ll even go easy on you during the second round."
Bobby ignored the spike of fear that shot through his body, and forced himself to remain calm. He might not be able to withstand thirty years of torture the way Dean had, but the least he could do was keep quiet long enough to buy the boys some time. Maybe he'd even die first.
"Don't think you will," he managed weakly. "Way I hear, there's a new king of the playground down there. Somethin' tell me you're not it. So do your worst."
Meg let out a pleased chuckle and threw Bobby across the room. He landed painfully on top of an end table full of books, which splintered beneath his weight.
"Oh, I was hoping you'd say that," Meg purred, clapping her hands together in anticipation. She bent down as she came toward him, reaching for the knife he had dropped earlier. "Any preference on where we start? I do love audience participation…"
"You can start by kindly buggering off," a smooth, accented voice broke in.
Suddenly, Meg was gone and Bobby found himself able to move again. A shatter of glass and the crumble of broken drywall drew his attention, and he stared over at the gaping hole in the wall that had once been the window looking into his backyard.
Someone was standing in front of it, the bright light from outside obscuring the figure beyond the few rudimentary features Bobby could make out – tall, male and fair-haired. Beyond him, Bobby could just make out Meg, struggling to her feet.
"Do us a favor and skitter back into the slime infested pit you crawled out of," the newcomer ordered in a bored tone. "Or you could try to come back in here. I haven't smote a demon in weeks, I'm beginning to get jittery."
"This isn't over," Meg's voice snapped faintly. "I'll be back."
"Please, darling, that line was old when the Styrian Oak first used it, and you don't have even half of his charming personality."
There was another pause, and then the newcomer turned around to face Bobby. He moved back into the shadows of the house, and the hunter could now make out the chiseled features and laugh-lines around the man's eyes, which belied the cool detachment in his gaze.
"Why did you let her go?" Bobby barked, the question meant to buy him time to find a weapon. He hauled himself painfully off the floor.
"Much as I'd love to have a demon bonfire and roast some marshmallows right about now, I'm not exactly in the position to do so," the stranger said. "And on that note, you need to leave here sooner rather than later."
"Who the hell are you to make with the orders?" Bobby growled. "Demon?"
"Quite the opposite, in fact," the guy replied in the kind of haughty tone that Bobby's workin-class background took an instant dislike to. Something rippled in the dust, and for a moment Bobby imagined he could see two gigantic shadows in the form of wings spread across the walls of his living room. "Try the other direction."
Well, now the detached look in his eyes made sense. "You're an angel."
"Balthazar," the guy said brusquely. "I fought beside Castiel. We were part of the same garrison."
"Right," Bobby raised an eyebrow. "Well, if you ran her off 'cause you're fixin' to interrogate me for the wing brigade, I'll tell you what I told her –"
"Don't get your knickers in a twist, old man. If that's what I wanted, you'd have been up enjoying Heaven's hospitality the past few weeks," the angel snorted. "I've been fighting for the Rebel Alliance since before your tall, gangling not-son pulled the martyr act to end all martyr acts."
Bobby blinked. "So…you mean, you're not working for Raphael?"
"Power shifts in Heaven never come easily," Balthazar shrugged. "In effect, humans didn't invent politics. Raphael's currently leading a rather bloody purge of the ranks – anyone who might think differently from him is being hunted up and sent to seek Revelation. Those who continue to refuse…"
Balthazar shrugged in a way that made it clear exactly what happened to them.
"So you're telling me there are more of you?"
"Castiel was not the only angel who believed the Apocalypse shouldn't have been allowed to happen – of course no one bothered to bring the issue up with Michael. Big brother was a bit of an arse, and if you didn't agree with him – well, let's just say Rafe had to get his ideas from someone."
"How come this is the first I'm hearin' of this? We could have used extra firepower when the End of the World was happening!"
"And be cut off from the Host the same way Cassy was? Not likely," Balthazar snorted "Most of us have been pretending to be dead the past few weeks."
"How does an angel play dead? Don't y'all have some kind of giant hive-mind or somethin'?" Bobby demanded.
"Funny thing about angels – in case you haven't noticed, we're easy to fool," Balthazar told him seriously. "Comes from millennia of thinking in terms of black and white. Basically, if we see evidence that one of our own has shuffled off, we don't really look beyond that – after all, why the blazes would an angel want to leave the Host? Unless it was to fall…or fall, if you get my meaning. It's how Gabriel did it."
"Not too sentimental, are you?" Bobby asked gruffly. After a moment, he asked, "That mean you could tell if Castiel were…?"
"I haven't been able to sense his grace anywhere for almost two mortal weeks now," Balthazar confessed, a frustrated wrinkle appearing in his forehead. "It's either no longer in existence – or wherever it is, it's cloaked expertly."
Bobby went quiet, surprised at the amount of grief he felt at that revelation. He may not have been as close to Castiel as Dean and Sam had been, but the rumpled angel had grown on him. Not least of all because of his single-minded determination to keep the two people who mattered most to Bobby safe.
Rather than dwell on how he was going to tell Dean what the angel had said, he covered up his momentary lapse with a question. "So what are you doing here now? Not that I'm not thankful you stepped in."
"Cassy had a great respect for Daddy's creation – specifically the Winchesters and you," Balthazar shrugged. "He asked me to keep a look out for you lot if anything should happen to him. Appealed to my better nature, as it were – I must have suffered some form of temporary insanity, because I said yes. So here I am – seeing as how I can't find the other two pests, I've been watching out for you."
"Well, thanks and all, but I don't need no angelic nanny. You can go back to playin' dead."
"Would if I could, darling, but unfortunately for you, my word happens to be one of the only things about me that's good," Balthazar grinned. "Besides, I've been helping you out more than you know before today. Some of your hunter friends love those computers you humans rely on so much. Do you have any idea how hard it is to disrupt an electrical signal through a house that's been warded to high heaven?"
Bobby suddenly remembered something, and started for the door. "The other hunters – Meg said – !"
"I'm afraid I can't let you go check in on them," Balthazar said, reaching for him. "Your walls have been breached, and if demons can now enter your home, soon the angels will as well. I'm surprised they haven't cornered you yet. We've got to mosey, I'm afraid."
And before Bobby could protest, he felt two fingers on his forehead and everything went dark.