Chapter 3 of 4
She felt the first frisson of fear around these men since meeting them so surreptitiously in that young boy’s room. Two sets of ice-cold eyes held her captive. Dean blinked first and turned his head.
“No, man,” he said on a hoarse whisper. “Just no.”
“We don’t know—”
“Sure we do. Of course we fucking do.”
Tessa took a step back feeling glints of resentment, anger, frustration, dread, ping around her like fireflies trapped in a jar. Sam’s expression was resigned. Dean looked ready to blow.
“You’re good, I’ll hand you that. So much for an ugly old woman. This disguise just rocks the prize at the Kasbah.”
“Save it. We ganked better than you on our Bingo night. Sam …”
The weapon suddenly pointed at her chest was large and menacing and beyond anything she’d ever come close to before. She looked up at Sam in shock. The steel in his eyes left her no doubt where this was going.
Dean. He heard her. She knew this. If only he would look at her. Reaching down deep for that well of calm that let her tell a six-year-old it was okay to die, she gave it all she had.
“Dean. Please. You said you wanted to help those children. This isn’t the way. I’m not whatever you think I am. Think about it. I didn’t make them sick. I don’t see the children until all hope is gone. I only help them rest.”
“Stop that,” he grunted.
Tessa looked at him questioning the sadness in his eyes.
“Stop being her!”
Sam studied his brother a moment but never moved the gun from her sights.
She shuddered. It wasn’t just that she looked like this other Tessa. Apparently something in her soul reminded him of her as well. For the first time in her life her gift spooked her. “You wanted to stay with her,” she said gently. “To go with her.”
“Shut up,” he shouted. “You don’t know anything. You’re not even …”
“Dean. We can’t kill her unless she’s feeding,” Sam interrupted.
“Fine.” Dean opened his flannel shirt and pointed to his tee-shirt clad chest beneath it. “Come and get it bitch. All you can eat buffet. Maybe you’ll get lucky and Sammy here will miss. Then you’ll get away with the tasty treat and no check.”
Both Tessa and Sam said “no” at the same time. Their eyes met over the barrel of that enormous shotgun. Why was she here? How had she allowed a couple of madmen to convince her that incurable children could be cured? She knew better. She had a lifetime of knowing better.
She was strong. Her friends often told her they had never met anyone as strong as she was, could never handle a job as stressful as hers. And her gift gave her a confidence about people. It was hard to lie to her, for instance. That’s why this stung so much. How had she missed this? They were breathtakingly beautiful. And insane.
At the end of the day, the woman that helped others face death so well wasn’t having as easy a time of it herself. She began to cry.
“No,” Tessa answered gulping in air and fighting the shiver running through her. “Scared women cry when they feel threatened. Will you hurt me?” She kept her eyes on Dean. The younger one would follow his brother’s lead. She only had to reach one of them.
“You’re not a woman,” Dean said.
Tessa almost smiled at this. She looked down at herself. Maybe she wasn’t the prettiest girl or the curviest or even the smartest (that part was pretty certain) but she was most definitely a woman. Licking her lips she made Dean meet her steady blue gaze. Digging deep for the self possession that followed a long line of strong willed women in her family, she said, “You don’t really believe that, do you?”
He took a step forward and grabbed her arm. Her instinct was to yank it away but she fought that back and stood stone still. She knew her stillness spooked some folks. Guessed it wouldn’t bother Dean. Thought, knew, he knows this. It’s familiar and safe. It lets him rest.
They were at a standoff. Sam’s gaze never left Dean’s face while his gun was aimed directly at her heart. Tessa knew her own heart was pounding fast, giving away the lie of her composure. His eyes burned into her, like he could hear the raging thunder. So hungry, she thought. Starving. It made her eyes well up again.
“What’s a Shtriga?” she asked voice shakier than she liked.
“Albanian witch. Very old. They feed on spiritus vitae,” Sam said.
“Life itself,” she replied on a whisper. She looked back at Dean. “You wanted me to take your life force?”
He released her arm abruptly as if suddenly aware he was still holding it. “What are you?” he asked her.
Ignoring him she looked around suddenly. “You mean … there’s something here, now, draining these children? Dean? Answer me, damnit, is that what this is about? We have to stop it. We can’t let it … Oh God, while we stand here …”
She felt out, down corridors, into closed rooms. It wasn’t possible this could be happening with her this close and she could be unaware. It’s just that these men, these boys, distracted her. Waving shotguns and making her heart go all fast. Last time she’d ever let a pretty face make her forget who she was. How she was special.
Coldness swept through her, icy, ancient and malevolent. Shuddering hard she crossed her arms across her chest. “It’s here,” she said a bit awed.
Dean looked around.
“No, not here. In the children’s ward. Consuming …” she couldn’t go on. The child’s pain and overwhelming hopelessness crept into her system and without someone … anyone, on her side she didn’t know if she’d be able to escape.
Dean, she called out. But without speech she didn’t know if he could hear.
He looked at his younger brother and pushed the shotgun down.
“It’s not her.”
“How do you—”
“I do. Let’s go get this sonofabitch.”