Dean watched with relief as the Ford drove across the bridge, that weird Lisha chick following behind them. He liked Daryl's group all right, but having so many other people around was really cramping his style. He was accustomed to leading the show, and he sure as hell didn't want to be beholden to anyone else. He felt more secure with a group he knew, with people who had his back and would act quickly when things got rough. More than anything, Dean wanted to find a diplomatic way to ditch Garth, but since it was apparently his house, it looked like there wasn't much he could do.
“Family meeting!” he declared as he stalked back up the stairs. “You're not family,” he pointed at Garth as he passed. “And you're too young,” he added to an overly-excited Ben.
“That's not fair,” Ben said.
“Totally,” Garth agreed.
“I need to talk with Bobby and figure some things out,” Dean tried to reassure Ben. He said nothing to Garth.
“You know, Garth's a surprisingly good hunter,” Bobby told him as Dean herded him down the hall toward the study Bobby had taken over. “Even better than I thought if he's still alive today.”
“Yeah, that's proof of miracles right there,” Dean muttered, pointedly shutting the door after Jody and Cas. He paced back and forth for a moment before finally blurting out, “Okay, guys. I'm just gonna lay it out. Sam has no soul. We don't really know what that means for poor Sammy, but we do know that we have to get it back. So how?”
“How are you walking around with no soul?” Jody asked Sam.
Sam shrugged and rubbed his neck, looking decidedly uncomfortable to be put on the spot. “I don't know. But I've been...different...since I came back. And when we saw the Alpha vamp, he said I was soulless.”
“Yeah, but you're gonna believe the Alpha Vamp?” Bobby asked.
“I can check if you like,” Cas said, “but I don't really need to. I know. I'm the one who resurrected Sam. I was able to free him from Lucifer's cage, but I was forced to leave his soul behind.”
“What?” Dean gaped at him, and he saw Sam doing the same. “Cas, why didn't you say something?”
“Well, you were so mad at me. And then there was the whole mess with the vampires and the ghost. We didn't really have a good chance to speak alone. Once you were speaking to me again...well, I didn't want to risk messing that up by telling you.”
“You need to tell me everything! The both of you! Jeez, I'm trying to keep everyone safe here. I need to be able to trust the people I surround myself with. If you can't handle that, then you need to just go.” Dean shook his head. He couldn't believe that he had to have the same damned talk with both Sam and Cas. They were the people he should have been able to trust the most. “No more secrets, dammit!”
Cas nodded brusquely, then gestured at Sam. “I mean, look at him. He's fine. If anything, he's an even better hunter than he was before,” he said, unknowingly echoing Sam's earlier sentiments.
“Yeah, but now he's weird!”
“Sorry, Sammy, but you know it, too. Something just ain't right.” Dean resumed pacing. “It's all right though. We're gonna fix it.”
“Dean, I don't know that we can.” Cas's voice was full of grief. “His soul has been in the cage with Lucifer and Michael for almost a year and a half. That's like a hundred and fifty years in Hell, Dean.”
“Well why the hell didn't you bring him back with his soul?”
“I did what I could. It was hard breaking him out of there. They had a strong hold over his soul. I had to act quickly, while Lucifer and Michael were disoriented. I was able to return your brother to you! But now, with Kali's people looking for me and Crowley showing far too much interest, I don't dare show my face in Hell. You try to open that cage now, there's a chance you could set Lucifer free.” Cas shook his head. “I have no allies above or below. It's an impossible mission.”
“We've got to try.”
“It was hard enough locking them in once. You can't just go throw open that door.”
“There's got to be something we can do.”
“Do I even really need it?” Sam asked.
“Yes! Yes, dammit, you need your soul.” Dean shook his head. “Crowley's King of Hell now. We could cut a deal. You know how he likes deals....”
“You said you didn't want me to ally with Crowley,” Cas said.
“Yeah, 'cause that's stupid. But we can figure something else out. We just need some leverage. Bobby! Have you been able to dig up anything on Crowley?”
Bobby glared at Dean, then shook his head. “You know all that I've managed to find in the last fifteen months. I feel for Sam's plight, I do, and I'll do whatever I can to help get it back. But may I remind you that Crowley is my case? I hate to say it, truly, but if worse comes to worse, I've got dibs on souls from Crowley.”
“What? Really?” Dean frowned, his jaw tightening. “Bobby, how can you be so selfish? This is Sammy's soul we're talking about! Locked in the cage with one very pissed off Lucifer! Sam can't just...just carry on all empty and soulless! At least you have yours for a few more years.”
Bobby took a deep breath, fairly radiating anger. Even Sam and Jody took a step back from him. “Now you listen here, boy,” Bobby began, clenching his fists as he slowly crossed the room to stand before Dean. “I may be a lot of things, most of which I readily admit to, but selfish sure ain't one of 'em. Any time - any time - you boys have ever needed a damn thing, who's been there for you? It weren't your good-for-little dad. It wasn't even each other! It was me. Me, Dean! I have always, without hesitation, without asking for anything in return, been there for you. You need some piece of lore dug up? Some charmed weapon? Somebody to cover for you? Need to bitch about each other? Call Bobby! I have ALWAYS been there for you two.” Bobby roared, though his voice caught in his throat, the only sign of anything other than anger coursing through him. “To the point that I sold my soul to Crowley to get you one piece of information. And look what good it did! We didn't even manage to succeed in stopping the damned end of the world. And now it's been nearly two years, the clock is running, and I'm still no closer to getting my soul back. And you,” he thrust a finger into Dean's chest, “haven't exactly been tripping over your feet to help me. No. So I put my freaking soul on the back burner to follow you around and help keep you and your boy safe. My research ain't gone nowhere this whole damned time, 'cause I been too busy covering your ass – and it's needed covering now more than ever – and sitting on my hands playing nanny for you!”
Dean shoved his hands in his pockets and looked down, then forced himself to meet Bobby's eyes as the man's tirade continued.
“When have you ever dug your head out of your own – or Sam's – ass and helped me for a change? Now, don't get me wrong, I appreciate that you came for me up in Sioux Falls, but, truth be told, I was actually enjoying my time in the panic room with Jody. I was gonna pack up and blast our way out of there, be a real hero, when we got down to a week's worth of food. In the meantime, it was a damned treat to get to know her better, to not have to answer everybody's damned calls, and to keep ourselves happily and nakedly occupied until the croats thinned out.” He spared a glance for Jody and actually flushed a little. “I ain't had them kinds of feelings in a long time. I didn't need your saving. You did that for you, too. And after, did you ever offer to help me get my soul back? The clock is ticking, Dean! It's been ticking! And have you said one word about it once? Have you?”
“That's right. You was a damned mess, and I understood. Believe me, I understood better than anybody. Everybody loses folk, especially these days, but it's so extra hard when you have to put them down yourself. I know that. And I was there for you, watching you and Sam's backs like I always have. Watching your boy. Helping any way I could. Like I always have. So, Dean, if you ever think to calling me selfish again, I'm gonna take you by the scruff of the neck, march your ass to the nearest mirror, and make you take a good, long look at yourself.” Bobby straightened up, then jabbed his finger at Dean one more time. “And then I'm gonna grab your fool-ass head and bash it into that mirror. Repeatedly. You got that, boy?”
“Yeah. I got it.” Dean sighed, then ran his hand over his eyes. “You're right, Bobby. You're absolutely right. I'm sorry. Really and truly, I'm sorry.”
Bobby glared at him a moment, then slowly relaxed his fists. “Yeah. Well, good. 'Bout time you were.”
“We'll find a way to get both your souls back. I promise.”
“So now you're ready to help me?”
Dean flushed, feeling sick to his stomach, but nodded. “Yes. Of course. Any time. You just gotta say the word.” He saw Sam nod in agreement.
“I shouldn't have to say the word...” Bobby grumbled, but he finally let the matter drop. Jody came up and put a comforting arm around him.
“Okay. We go for Crowley, then. He's our best chance of getting Sam's soul back, and likely our only chance at saving Bobby's. But Bobby's first.” Dean gave him a weak smile. “Sam's young, and there's more wiggle room as far as timetables go.”
“Actually,” Cas spoke up, “the longer we wait, the more damaged his soul is likely to be.”
“Dammit, Cas!” Bobby, Sam, and Jody all yelled in unison.
“Bobby first,” Dean reiterated, his jaw clenching once again.
They started out with questioning a few demons. It seemed that demons and angels had to go to great lengths to protect their vessels, since there were far fewer to choose from these days. Those who were strong enough to handle longterm wear were highly sought after and fought over. Unlike angels, demons could possess croats, though they disliked meatsuits in such poor condition. If they found a fresh body, they held on with all that they had.
Bobby thought that Memphis had a lot of demon sign, and it matched up with stories Garth had heard from other hunters. They packed up and headed north, leaving Jody behind with Ben. Dean didn't like it, but Bobby insisted on coming. As did Garth, who insisted that the island was absolutely safe. “I can raise the bridge, brother,” Garth promised. “It's low, so it comes apart for the big barges. You said you've got gas? They just run the generator until we get over. They'd need to turn it back on and lower it whenever we make it back though. Worse comes to worse, I have the houseboat upriver and smaller boats stashed in either direction. Zombies – or croats, whatever – can't swim. Jody and Ben could last for months in the bunker if any people manage to make it across, but the only ones who know about this place are friends of mine.”
“You don't know who that Edgar guy brought here.”
“We'll be fine,” Jody promised, obviously trying to look like she meant it.
“Okay. But you pray to the angel here if anything happens, got it?”
Jody laughed, but she agreed. “You guys just be safe.”
Garth showed them how the bridge worked, and Sam said, “Jeez, dude, all you're missing is a helipad. It's like your own little James Bond island here.”
Garth broke into a wide grin. “That's a great idea! Do you know how to pilot a helicopter?”
“Not even a little bit.”
Dean regretted letting Garth ride along. Bobby seemed to handle him all right, but it was a long ride up to Memphis, made even longer with Garth's yammering on. They found a house on the outskirts of the suburbs, as far from the city as they could find and still have several good roads of escape. They wanted to avoid the huge concentration of croats and just find a demon or two to talk to.
Cas did some recon and led them to a lone pair of demons shacked up outside of town. He had to put down their hellhound, but thankfully he didn't mention that fact to Dean until after they'd killed one demon and bound the other. Dean had never quite gotten over the time a hellhound had killed him and dragged him to Hell, though Cas kept his promise of no secrets and told Dean on the ride back to the house. Dean tried not to look scared in front of the demon, who happily taunted him. He drove as fast as he could back to the borrowed house, where Bobby attempted to learn what he could about Crowley.
Unfortunately, the first three demons they captured and questioned were all disciples of Lilith who were living in exile now that Crowley was running the show. Nobody knew anything about Crowley – except for the fact that they'd enjoy turning on him as soon as the moment presented itself. Cas put them all down, since they felt it best to rid the world of as many demons as possible and leave no one to hold a grudge against them afterward. Eventually, Bobby and Cas finally dragged in a crossroads demon who worked under Crowley. Cas, who seemed very frustrated by their lack of progress, did the questioning himself. Dean was surprised at how easily Cas came to torture, though he knew that Cas had been a soldier for millennia, so maybe it shouldn't have come as such a surprise.
“Look,” the demon gasped, after she stopped screaming and choking on holy water, “his real name is Fergus MacLeod! He's from Scotland somewhere. That's all I know. I swear it!”
He tried to get the location of Crowley's bones out of her, but it seemed as if she truly didn't know anything else. Cas placed his hand on her head, killing her. He turned away, gazing into the distance. “MacLeod,” he repeated. “That name seems familiar.”
“Think you can find his grave?” Sam asked. “If we find his bones, I bet he'd be a lot more receptive to dealing.”
“If I search all of Scotland,” Cas said. “It would take some time. And with many of the pagan gods allied with Kali, it would be fairly dangerous. I might not return.”
Dean sighed. “Yeah, and if he was as big a douchebag in life as after, he very well could have found himself on the south side of an unmarked grave. Still, it's a lead, at least. There's bound to be a trail back to him that would help us out.”
“I wish we still had Ancestry.com,” Bobby said. “Funny, I never realized how easy we actually had it. At the time, I thought computers were the hard way. What next?”
Sam was watching Cas with interest. “Cas is right. That name is very familiar. MacLeod? There was a Ms. McLeod at that prison...It sounds silly, but I swear I saw her wearing a triple spiral. I saw her grab it while she was praying, some foreign prayer I didn't understand. Could have maybe been a warding spell, now that I think about it.”
“She was wearing a what?” Dean asked.
“A triple spiral,” Sam said, drawing one into the dust on the table with his finger. “It's an old celtic symbol representing maiden, mother, and crone.”
“A witch?” Dean asked. He shook his head. “Anyway, wasn't she Mexican or something?”
“A Mexican named McLeod? Wearing celtic witchraft symbols?” Sam asked, raising his brows. “I mean, yeah, it's a long shot, but it's a shot. We've gone on less before.”
“I don't want to drive all the way to Georgia,” Bobby said, bagging up all the weapons. “Maybe we can find a Scottish genealogy book or something at a library...”
“Yeah, Bobby. I'm sure we'll find a book telling us all about good ol' Fergus MacLeod at the Tunica public library.” Bobby pursed his lips, and Dean quickly backpedaled. “I mean, I'll check every library between here and the prison, if you want, but I guess maybe Sammy's Mexiceltic witch is our best bet right now. Stranger things have happened.” He raised a hand to his mouth and added in a stage whisper, “Between you and me, I think he just wants to see Sasha again.”
“I'll come with you!” Garth cried, raising his hand like he was in school. “I can handle witches.”
“That's okay. Me and Sammy got this.”
“Hey, my cousin's out there. I've got a stake in this too.”
Dean inwardly cursed, but the kid was right. Still, Dean didn't think he could handle another road trip with Garth. “All right, let's get back to the house. Make sure everything's safe. We can head back out in the morning. All of us. I've been gone from Ben for far too long. It'd do him some good to get around kids again, and Jody seemed to enjoy having the company of women again.” Dean groaned. “Man, that's a long drive. I really need to give Baby an oil change. Keep an eye out for a lube shop or something on the way back.”
It was a long trip back to the prison, but he used that time to catch up with Ben. Bobby and Jody rode along with Garth, and Cas tried to stay as inconspicuous as possible in the back seat. Ben was obviously still leery around him, but the angel was on his best behavior.
Dean had insisted upon packing up all of their belongings, including as much of the food as they could carry. He had to rig up a roof rack and a cargo box, for which he apologized profusely. “You're apologizing to your car over a bit of hardware more than you apologized to me about my soul,” Bobby pointed out dryly. Dean glowered and forced his mouth shut.
As much as he loved the island, he absolutely did not want to live with Garth. He didn't want to live at the prison, either. Dean preferred calling the shots, so he wanted a place of his own. He didn't mind the prison as a way-stop, though. He may have said it was for Ben and Jody's benefit, but they could all use some quality time with humans again. Dean, to his surprise, found his excitement growing as they neared the prison. “Down that hill there is where we caught the deer,” he found himself bragging to Ben. “They've got, like, at least half a dozen kids. Maybe more. One of them is just a couple years older than you. Carl. Cool kid. I think you'll like him.”
At the prison, Michonne looked almost happy as she opened the gates for them. A large crowd had gathered before they even made it up the drive to the actual building. Garth reunited with Lisha as if he hadn't seen her in years. Sasha greeted Sammy the same way. Even Hershel came hurrying out to give Cas a big, awkward hug. Dean just hung back and nodded at anyone who looked at him.
“Sam! Dean!” They turned to see Rick crossing the yard. He took off a pair of dirty gloves and held out a hand. “Didn't expect to see you guys back so soon.”
“Yeah, well. On a job out this way. Garth wanted to come check on his cousin and see the prison everyone had talked about. Hope that's okay.”
“Yeah, of course. No problem. Daryl and Lisha went hunting yesterday, so there's plenty of food.”
“Oh, I see how it is,” Dean teased as Daryl came walking up to shake his hand. “You take all the hunters out, do you?”
“Figure you greenhorns need to live up to your name.”
“Daryl! I brought you something!” Garth yelled. He walked back to his Kia and pulled out the puppy that he'd insisted they stop for. He held up the squiggling, dark mass and Daryl came running. “One of my friends had a pregnant German Shepherd,” Garth explained. “He was gonna let me keep the pups, but they're obviously not full blooded. Think they might be part lab or something, judging by the coloring. No good for me, but I know you wanted one.”
Daryl looked shell-shocked as he took the puppy. “Thanks, Garth. That's mighty kind of you.” He nuzzled the puppy, then grinned as it started licking his face. “How old is it, do you know?”
“I was later getting back there then I meant to. I guess it's about three months by now.”
Daryl grabbed him up in a one-armed embrace, which still looked like it might snap Garth in two.
After that, Garth was happily making new friends, trying to look sage as Lisha regaled the small crowd with stories of his previous life as a Texas Ranger. Dean just rolled his eyes and followed Rick inside, where they were shown to the same guest cell that they'd stayed in just two weeks earlier. Bobby and Jody were given the cell across the hall – the one that Dean hadn't wanted Cas in. “We'll have to put Castiel and Garth in D Block, I guess,” Beth said.
Sasha pushed her gently aside as she reached for Sam. “Actually, this one can bunk with me. Dean and Cas made up their little spat.”
Sam raised an eyebrow at Dean. Dean snorted. “Aw, go for it. You don't need my permission. Just come back and see me so we can discuss that case!”
Sam smiled and grabbed his bag. Cas just stared at Dean. “I don't sleep.”
Dean shook his head. “Do whatever you want to do then, Cas. Find you a pretty girl too. Or, hell, a guy for that matter. Relax a little.”
Cas leaned in and whispered, “I can go invisible and check Ms. McLeod's cell...”
“Okay, then. Sure. You do that.”
Dean didn't see Ms. McLeod, nor any other resident of D block. There had been a fence crew working outside, but Ms. McLeod was too old for that. Dean didn't want to tip his hand, so he just figured he'd have to wait for the impromptu dinner party Rick promised. He didn't mind catching up on a few Zs and trying to formulate an actual plan.
A nap helped. He woke a few hours later, energized and in a better mood, if nothing else. They were led down to the prison's large cafeteria, the only place where there was enough room for everyone to eat together.
“Where's Glenn and Maggie?” Lisha asked. “They were on guard duty this morning. I figured they'd be here. I want Maggie to meet my cousin!”
“Probably still up in the guard tower anyway,” Daryl answered, his new puppy sitting happily in his lap. “Tends to be a favorite spot of theirs even when they're not on duty, if you catch my drift.”
“Oh, I catch it,” Lisha laughed.
Carol frowned, then quickly replaced it with a smile as she brought an extra plate for Daryl and claimed the seat beside him. Dean didn't miss how she leaned into Daryl's lap to examine the dog, drawing his attention away from the younger woman.
Ms. McLeod, who apparently loved to cook, carried food out to one of the tables. “Here, let me help you with that,” Dean offered, taking a bowl of mashed potatoes from her. They were instant, but she seemed skilled with herbs, and the smell set Dean to drooling. Several tables had been pushed together to make one long banquet table. Dean set the bowl down and followed Ms. McLeod back toward the kitchen.
“That's an interesting necklace,” he said, seeing what Sam had called a triple spiral. “Scottish, is it?”
Ms. McLeod wrapped her hand around the stone charm. “Yes, it is.”
“You know,” Dean said, keeping pace with her to watch her expression, “I knew a MacLeod once. Fergus, his name is. Er, was. Right ornery little bastard. Bland looking guy, really. Pretty unassuming except for maybe an above average wardrobe. Still doesn't explain how he got the position he did.”
Ms. McLeod stopped in her tracks. She quickly smoothed her dress and resumed walking. “I know the type. Probably sold his soul for it.”
Dean chuckled. “Probably.”
The woman grabbed a small salad and handed it to him. Dean frowned down at what looked to be a bunch of dandelions and yard grass. “I hope you don't have any dealings with a kind of man like that anymore,” she said, floating by him with a bowl of what looked an awful lot like gravy.
“Not if I don't have to,” he said. “But I kind of have to.”
She said nothing, but he saw her watching him out of the corner of her eye. Finally she asked, “That why you came back?”
“I take it you two know each other?”
“Now isn't the time, Dean.”
Dean grabbed her elbow, careful not to spill the gravy. “Time's short with this one.”
The woman sighed. “I knew you were going to be trouble. Okay, look. Yes, I know him. He's – he was my father.”
“Are you kidding me?”
“What's that supposed to mean?” she barked.
Dean tried not to stare. This lady looked old enough to be Crowley's mother. Hell, maybe grandmother. But in all honesty, he was just surprised that it turned out to be so darned easy for a change. “I didn't mean anything by it! I just thought he was a hell of a lot older than that.”
“Oh. He is. Me too. I'd be happy to tell you all about him later. Privately. I really hope that you'll be the one to bring him down. Just don't be bringing that here. I'm not hurting anybody. I don't want anything to do with this. He was bad enough as a sadistic drunk. I don't want anything to do with him as King of Hell.”
“Can't say I blame you there. But still, witchcraft?”
“Family business has a strong call.”
“You swear you're not going to hurt these people?”
Ms. McLeod frowned at him. “Of course not! These people are my family. I'm just trying to stay alive. Just like everyone else.”
“All right. Look, normally, as you can probably guess, I'm not fond of witches. But I'll keep your little secret and let you carry on here. Just tell us where he's buried. Please. He's got some things of ours that we really need to get back.”
Ms. McLeod – he still didn't know her given (or chosen) name – stared at him. “Swear you won't let him know where I am. You'll never bring him here.”
“I swear it.”
Dean was so happy that he actually hugged a witch.
“We gotta talk after the party,” he told Sam. “Tell Bobby to meet us outside after.”
He was eager – so eager – to take Ms. McLeod's information and run, but they had to discuss everything and make sure the plan was fool-proof before summoning the King of Hell. So he made small talk through dinner, was pleasantly surprised that several of the ladies flirted with him, and was even happier to discover that Ben easily made friends with Carl and Patrick.
Still, he rushed Sam, Bobby, and Cas outside as quickly as he could after dinner, and he was just about to share everything that Ms. McLeod had told him when he saw someone slink out from around the side of the building. It was dark, and Dean couldn't tell who it was, but he had a gun drawn and trained on the form almost before he realized what was happening.
Whoever it was stopped only briefly, squared their shoulders, and headed very purposefully towards them. “Dean, don't threaten me,” a woman's voice drawled. “You're a guest in my home.”
“Maggie? Jesus, you scared me, slinking up like that,” he admitted as he holstered his weapon.
“Bela?” he heard Bobby ask as the girl came into clear view.
Dean peered at Maggie in the dim light of the moon, then snapped his fingers. “Ooooh! That's who she reminded me of!”
“Reminded, hell! That's who she is!” Bobby cried.
“Bobby, Bela Talbot's dead. This is Maggie Greene, Hershel's daughter.”
“Oh, like you ain't never been dead before!” Bobby scoffed, his eyes never leaving Maggie. She stood there, saying nothing, as the two argued.
“It can't be...” Sam said.
“It sure as hell is! And if Dean hadn't been so horribly off his game this past year and a half and you hadn't been so soulless and clueless – he's right, kid; you got no instinct – then you guys would have noticed it the first time you came here.” Bobby placed his hands on his hips. “Right, Bela?”
“Probably,” Maggie answered, looking almost apologetic.
“No way!” Dean cried. “Okay, first of all? I am not off my game. Secondly, she's a hell of a lot different all covered with croat blood instead of make-up and sporting a redneck drawl instead of some hoity-toity, posh accent.”
“You damn well are off your game. Look, Dean, I'm sorry to say it, but you are. You've barely hunted since long before the virus hit. And once you were forced to, you stuck to the shadows. The sidelines. You're so worried about Ben that you won't take even the slightest risk anymore. So Bela's pulled one over on you yet again. For, what, the fortieth time? Maybe if you weren't so wrapped up in your own head...” Bobby swung around on Sam. “And you! Didn't she shoot you? Maybe if you weren't so wrapped up in Sasha's thighs, and you two idjits started paying attention to what's going on around you...” He shook his head and glared back at Bela-Maggie. “Last time you saw Bela, she tried to have you killed!”
“Now, Bobby,” she said, “let's be fair. That wasn't my fault.”
“Like hell! Bela, I never had nothin' personal against you 'til you tried to kill my boys.”
Dean's heart caught to hear Bobby call them that, and he coughed and blustered to cover it up. “Say, don't you owe me some angry sex?” he joked, trying to diffuse the tension.
“That ship sailed, darling,” she said, a hint of her old self coming out. It sounded funny in a Southern accent, though. “Okay, I knew this would happen when I saw you pull up, Bobby. Honestly, I thought you boys had come for me when you showed up at the prison with Daryl. But I didn't run, did I? I'm here, this is my home, and I want to clear the air. Look around! Bela Talbot is well and truly dead. I have no hard feelings. But I don't want these people knowing about that girl, all right? Please.”
“Still conning people to the end, are you?” Sam asked.
Bela-Maggie glared and crossed her arms. “No, I am not. Look, this is my real life. I really am Maggie Greene. Hershel really is my dad.”
“Nice try,” Dean said. “Not to open any old wounds or anything, but I found out about your real history, remember? You killed your folks in a crossroads deal. That's why you died ten years later.”
“You found the history that I allowed to be found.”
“Yes, Dean. And it was true, in its own way. I really did live in England. And, yes, if you want the honest truth, I did cut that crossroads deal. The wreck you read about killed my mother and my stepfather, who, I might add, was a highly abusive prick that got what was coming to him. And my mom allowed it all to happen. I don't grieve her either.” Her lips tightened, and she made a point of looking each of them in the eye. “I kept my real father out of it. I didn't want any hunters or any of my powerful business associates showing up on his doorstep because they had a problem with me. My mother hadn't let me see him for nearly eight years, anyway, and everyone in England assumed her husband was my real dad. I let them. I returned home, to my real home, after their deaths. And once I was old enough to know more, I used some of their wealth to make sure that my father and his family would be kept safe.”
“You're a liar.”
“Yes, and a right good one. But not about this. You've met Hershel! He's a good man. He's my biological dad, and he took me in and never treated me differently even though I was a virtual stranger to him. He tried to raise me right. It wasn't his fault that I'd already sold my soul to a demon. As soon as I came of age, I tried to take my curse as far from him as possible. But once the world went to shit, I wanted to protect them as much as I could. So I came back. You want to know why nobody here knew about vampires or demons or any of that other stuff? Because I protect them. I've got wardings and hex bags and all sorts of stuff keeping us as far off the radar as we can get.”
“What, and daddy just doesn't know about you being an infamous thief who happily dabbles in the supernatural?”
“No. And I'd very much like to keep it that way.”
“We don't owe you anything,” Sam said.
“I know.” Bela, Maggie, whoever she was looked at him with sad eyes. “But he'd already lost so much. Just let me be the prodigal daughter returned. Please. I promise that all that stuff, conning you, trying to kill you--”
“Yeah, little things,” Sam snarled.
“It's over. I'll help you any way I can. Honest.”
“Fine,” Dean said, ignoring Sam's glare. “You can start by explaining how you got out of the crossroads deal, Bela.”
“Maggie! Please,” she begged, looking for all the world like she was sincere. She was skilled, he had to give her that. Dean just stared at her. “All right. Lilith – the one I told you about? I know you're familiar with her by now. Lilith owned my contract. She wanted me to kill Sam to get out of it. That's why I tried to kill you at the hotel. But did you think I wouldn't have a backup plan? I dealt in powerful objects my whole life. That was simply the easiest way out of my contract. Nothing personal,” she assured Sam. “I used the Colt on the hellhound that came after me.”
“You told me you gave that to Lilith.”
“I did, eventually. That was always part of her plan. But you think I'd get my hands on that and not use it on whatever came to drag me to Hell? Anyway, I managed to keep them at bay for nearly a month using devil's shoestring, lots of salt, and goofer dust. Then I finally managed to procure an angel blade and killed two more before Lilith finally agreed to renegotiate.” She couldn't hide a smug grin. “She was impressed that I managed to hold them off for so long. But to get out entirely, I had to give her the Colt...”
Maggie swallowed and looked away, avoiding everyone's eyes this time. “And I had to befriend a list of people and get them to make crossroads deals.”
“I don't know, Dean! You think Lilith let me in on her big plan? I have no clue why. And, as far as I know, all of them are dead now anyway.”
“It's not been ten years.”
“Their contracts were with Lilith. When she died, there was nothing to protect them when walkers took over the earth. Not unless Crowley had his own use for them.”
Dean watched her closely, but she really seemed to be telling the truth. “Okay, anything else?” She looked away. “Bela...”
She whirled her head around. “You will call me Maggie. I'm telling you everything.” She pursed her lips and her eyes hardened. “And she wanted me to continue to provide information to her for the rest of my life. Mostly on you two, but also on some other people.”
“You fed Lilith information about us? And you think that can just be water under the bridge?”
“Well, Lilith's dead, isn't she? I'm not having to do it anymore.”
“Don't you understand what happened? Killing Lilith is what freed Lucifer! What started all this!”
“And I'm sorry for my part in it! Aren't you sorry for yours?”
Dean struggled to contain his rage.
“None of us are in the position to be casting stones, Dean.”
“Ugh! Fine. Okay. But if you're honestly not playing us, then you'll have to prove yourself.”
Maggie nodded. “Of course. I am being honest. Anything I can do to help.”
“We need to get both Bobby and Sammy's souls back from Crowley.”
Her shoulders slumped. “I've managed to stay off his radar since you guys killed Lilith. I'd just as soon keep it that way.”
“You sure about that, Maggie? Put up or shut up.”
“Fine! What do we need to do?”
“Well, I have a plan that I'm nearly certain will work. But first we need to find a crossroads demon's bones and find out whether it's true or not that burning them can destroy a demon.”
“Yeah,” Bobby chimed in. “And obviously these fellas need a lot more practice before we go after harder game.”
Dean frowned, but he was almost starting to believe that Bobby might be right.
Maggie closed her eyes. “I only know one crossroads demon personally, and the little girl whose meatsuit she used is buried over in England.”
Dean smiled. “Not a problem. I can get you a ride on CasAir.”
Cas finally broke his long silence. “I don't want her to ride me, Dean.”
“Zap her there, Cas! I meant that you'd zap her there. Zap all of us. We've got to make sure this works before we try it on the King of Hell.”
“What am I supposed to tell my father? And Glenn?”
“I'm sure you'll come up with something. We leave tonight, after lights out. The earlier we get this taken care of, the less chance there is of you screwing us over. Again.”