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The Lamb: Raise It Up

The Lamb


Chapter 3. Raise It Up

“Did you hear that?” Sam blinked, looking up. He got to his feet and stalked across the room to the door.
“Hear what?” The girl asked thoughtfully, her mind on other things. She followed him to the door, touching his hip with one graceful hand. Sam turned to engage her, but his eyes still darted in the direction of the door.
“It sounded like glass breaking,” Sam murmured.
“I didn’t hear anything, Sam. I think you’re just distracted, what with Dean being back. Remember your mission. We need to stay focused.”
“I know,” Sam nodded guiltily. He slid a hand into her outstretched palm, and she led him back to the bed. “I know.”
“Okay, close your eyes,” the woman smiled, allowing Sam to find his perch on the edge of the mattress. “Listen to the sound of my voice.”
“Are you sure we have to do this? Dean’s back now… he’s okay.”
“Did he look okay to you? He was in Hell, Sam. Who knows what they did to him down there…”
“Lilith is going to pay for hurting him,” Sam sneered, focusing back on his objective.
“Yes,” the woman nodded smugly. “She’s going to pay.”

--

“Okay, so you were sleeping, and then there was a weird noise?” Bobby raised a bushy eyebrow up under the brim of his cap.
“It wasn’t just a noise, Bobby. It was like…the Emergency Broadcast System meets one of those soprano opera singers. I thought my brain was going to explode.”
“And the TV came on?”
“Garden variety haunting-type stuff.”
“And you think it’s connected to whatever dragged you out of Hell?” Sam frowned, his face a mask of confusion.
“Well, what else would it be? You said yourself you’ve been staying here for a week, Sammy. Suddenly, I show up with my weird handprint tattoo and the whole place goes to shit?”
“Bad timing?”
“I sorta doubt it,”
“Look, I have an idea,” Bobby interrupted. “I know a girl…she lives in Cleveland. She has some ties to this sort of thing.”
“What sort of thing? Ghosts? Demons?”
“Death and revivification, actually,” Bobby shrugged.
“What is she, a psychic?” Sam asked, almost excitedly. Dean rolled his eyes.
“No,” Bobby muttered. He got to his feet, grabbed his car keys out of his pocket, and turned toward the door. In a muffled voice, he replied, “She’s a witch.”
“Oh no,” Dean shook his head. “No Bitches of Eastwick, not again.”
“You want to know how you got out of Hell, Dean? Maybe she can tell us!” Sam was on his feet as well, scratching the Impala’s keys out of a candy dish on the nightstand.
“Or maybe she can turn us into frogs,” Dean moaned.
“She’s the most powerful witch I know, guys. If there’s anyone that can tell us anything about this rise from the grave, it’s her. Like I said, she has ties. Hell, she wrote the damn book on it.”
“Fine,” Dean sighed. “But I’m driving.”

--

It took the better part of the day to drive to Cleveland. Bobby led them down forgotten highways and lazy country roads, avoiding the bumper to bumper traffic of the main arterial highways. Dean bumped his hands against the steering wheel, impatiently crooning old Metallica tunes on an ancient cassette tape. Sam’s white plastic iPod sat abandoned in the backseat.
“Do you remember anything?” Sam yelled over the radio.
“Nothing,” Dean lied gruffly. He reached over and turned up the music. His brain ached with the pounding bass and crashing guitars, but it was worth it not to have to talk about his adventures in The Pit.

Bobby pulled to a stop on the curb of an attractive white house, shaded by the branches of a gnarled oak tree. A lonely beige Citroen sat in the driveway, and in the spot in front of the paved walkway, a white SUV gleamed in the late afternoon sun. Dean drove up behind Bobby and parked. Sam squirmed out of the car and stretched his legs, lifting his arms up and over his head.
“This is it? You sure she’s a witch and not a stay at home mom?” Dean rubbed his eyes with the back of his hand.
“I’m sure,” Bobby nodded. He led them across the street and up a few brick steps to the paved cement walkway that led to the front door. A talisman with dried herbs was nailed to the white door frame, and a beautiful handmade wreath of vines, flowers, and herbs decorated the door. Bobby knocked gently. Sam scuffed his shoes on the welcome mat.

The door opened quietly, and in the open frame stood a young woman. Her vibrant red hair hung around her shoulders, and a pretty pink smile was painted on her face. Her eyes lit when she spotted Bobby Singer on the porch, and she held out a hand in welcome. He smiled bashfully and took off his filthy hat.
“Bobby,” she grinned, shaking his hand delicately. “How are you?”
“Doing okay,” Bobby nodded. “I was wondering if you had some time to…talk shop.”
“Sure,” she agreed, stepping to one side to usher the band of dusty men inside. “Come on in. I was just making some tea.”

Inside the kitchen, a beautifully lit yellow room filled with house plants and white furniture, Dean, Bobby, and Sam gathered around a small white kitchen table. The woman, dressed simply in a long black skirt and a button-down white top, poured hot water into a pink teapot.
“Who are your friends?” The woman asked as she moved around the kitchen, grabbing a bottle of honey and some milk from the refrigerator.
“Dean and Sam Winchester, friends of the…well, they’re like my family. Guys, this is Willow Rosenberg.”
“Hi,” Willow beamed, wiggling her fingers at the Winchester brothers. She set the tea on the table and sat down in the last remaining chair.
“How…oh!” Willow frowned, looking across the table at Dean’s mangled hands. He still had dirt caked under and around his fingernails, and his fingers and knuckles were scabbed and bruised. “Are you okay? Let me get some Band-Aids.”
“No, it’s okay,” Dean shrugged. “I’m fine.”
“I haven’t seen wounds like that since…” Willow paused. Her head jumped suddenly to Bobby, and she pushed back her chair from the table. Her eyes darkened, as though a rain cloud had blotted out the sun in her face.
“I thought maybe…” Bobby murmured, his lips trembling slightly. “Maybe you could help us find out who…did this.”
“Where were you?” Willow demanded, turning from Bobby to Dean. The darkness of her irises was almost black, and the blackness seemed to seep in around the edges of her eyelids like ink bleeding through paper.
“In Hell,” Dean replied succinctly.
“You were freed…” She whispered. The darkness began to recede. Sam watched with fascination at the witch’s transformation, from zero to scary to zero in less than a minute.
“I guess,” Dean shrugged.
“Well, it wasn’t a witch,” Willow shrugged, resuming the bouncy happiness she’d assumed when they’d first arrived. “At least we know that much.”
“How do we know that much?” Sam asked.
“Well, I’d know about it. Let’s just put it that way.” Willow chuckled to herself. “Come on, Dean, let’s go upstairs. Sam, Bobby, make yourselves at home. Dawnie should be home soon, and Xander is…well, he’ll probably work late.”
“What about Rupert?” Bobby called after them as Willow pushed Dean up the staircase.
“He’s working late. He always works late.”

Dean walked through the plain walnut door that Willow opened at the top of the stairs. Natural light spread across the mattress of a beautiful sleigh-style bed. Willow shut the door behind them and opened a wooden bench propped up against the end of the bed. She withdrew only one thing-a white candle, which she set upon the nightstand and lit with a simple wooden match.
“Have a seat, Dean,” Willow smiled, pointing at the bedspread, a woven quilt of flowers and celestial shapes.
“I’d rather stand,” Dean frowned stubbornly.
“I didn’t ask. If you want to know what happened, we’ll need to concentrate, and the best way to concentrate your energy is to sit down and let it happen. So sit.”
“How do you know Bobby?” Dean asked as he adjusted himself on the bed.
“We used to travel in the same circles,” Willow shrugged. She sat across from him on the bed, her legs folded in front of her.
“You’re a hunter?”
“Me? Heck no. I’m a witch. But I used to work with a…well, I guess a hunter is a good name for her.”
“What’s her name? Maybe I know her too.”
“You don’t.” Willow answered bluntly. She lifted her eyes and looked straight into his, so boldly that he was afraid to return the gaze. Would that darkness rise up in them again? Would he be staring into the face of Death for the second time? For a tiny redhead with a pretty smile, she was damn scary. “She’s dead.”
“Oh,” Dean muttered apologetically. “Sorry.”
“Me too,” Willow nodded. “Anyway, enough about that. Give me your hands.”

Dean placed his hands in Willow’s open palms. Her eyes closed slowly and he followed suit, however unwillingly. A trembling sort of nervousness coursed through his veins. Though he never physically shook, he could feel his insides wobbling to the point of seasickness. The beam of sunlight that stretched from the window waned and wavered. Where he’d once been warmed by its presence, he now felt the icy touch of a bitter winter’s frost. He exhaled and tendrils of water vapor drifted from his dry lips. Willow’s voice came out of the black cold, the power in her voice distinct.
“So you’re back,” she said, her tongue spitting bitterly. “Come to ruin more lives? Kill more hunters?”
“She is not dead,” a voice replied, almost anguished. It was a man’s voice, quiet and stern.
“Close enough,” Willow growled.
“You raised him, Castiel.”
“It is part of my Father’s plan, Willow. I do not have a say. I am only following my orders.”
“Why don’t you just talk to him instead of using me?”
“When the time is right, I will speak to them.”
“Who?” Willow’s voice almost cracked.
“You know who.”
“No! Don’t! Don’t bring her in to this again! Leave her alone!” Her hands quaked and squeezed Dean’s fingers until he was sure they’d shatter like the glass in the mirror.
“I will redeem her. She will not suffer. I will not let her suffer.”
“Don’t you touch her!” Willow screamed, tearing her hands away from Dean’s. The room suddenly exploded with light, the same sunlight that had been streaming through the window. It was just past sunset, and the light had taken on tones of purple, pink, and red. Dean looked up to see Willow on her feet. Her eyes were watery, and smears of wet blood streaked her face. Her lower lip convulsed as she wept angrily.
“Willow?” Dean frowned, ducking his head sympathetically.
“It was Castiel, that bastard,” Willow hissed. “And he’s not done with you yet.”

--

“What’s Castiel? Is it a demon?” Sam demanded as they stalked back out of the house.
“I didn’t ask. You should have seen her face, Sammy. She looked like…like I don’t even know what. Witches, man. They give me the creeps.”
“We’ll look it up back at my place. It sounds familiar.” Bobby scratched the back of his head and looked up at the house. The curtains were drawn over Willow’s bedroom window.
“Who was the female hunter she was talking about? Did she give you a name?”
“Nope,” Dean shrugged, slamming the car door shut. “All she told me was that the chick was dead.”
“But you said she was talking about someone to this Castiel…thing.”
“Yeah, a girl, but I don’t know who it was. Sounded definitely not dead though. I mean, unless we’re dealing with zombies here. Zombie hunter chicks?”
“Geez, sounds even worse than witches,” Sam shuddered.
“I need a drink.”

--

“Where are we?” Buffy muttered angrily, looking around the dusty parking lot. In the darkness, the columns of smashed cars resembled crumbling walls. The whole image gave her a sick sense of déjà vu.
“South Dakota,” Castiel replied solemnly. “There will be a meeting here shortly.”
“Great. Are you doing a PowerPoint presentation or one of those slide projector things? Either way, I want some of the free coffee.”
“He’ll be here soon.”
“Who? You’ve been talking about this guy all day. I don’t know why I let you talk me into this. I was getting on with my life, Cas. I was trying to be normal.”
“Normal people sleep.”
“Normal people work for a living. Normal people get a paycheck. Normal people aren’t bleeped into the middle of nowhere at…ten after ohdarkthirty!”
“As soon as he arrives, this will make more sense. I apologize for the secrecy. It is…”
“Don’t say it.”
“My Father’s plan.”

The slap cracked through the night, bouncing from the farthest chunks of rusting aluminum. He didn’t stop her hand, though he could have quite easily. There was a brief sensation of warmth in his vessel’s skin, an understanding of pain. Castiel felt a slight dent in his angelic armor. She wanted to do more than slap him across the cheek. She wanted to hurt him, and she knew that the fight was worthless. He was an angel. He came away from Sunnydale without so much as a rip in his shirt, a speck of blood on his coat. The rage and hatred and self-loathing seethed inside her like a fire ready to explode. As she panted, she fumed.
“I wish I could give you the satisfaction,” Castiel frowned.
“You can’t. No one can.” Buffy sighed and turned on her heel, walking out across the lot away from the angel. She stuffed her hands in the pocket of her jacket, burrowing down against the cold. Her boots picked up dust, spitting out little clouds beneath her heels.



Chapter Four: It Pours From Your Eyes. It Spills From Your Skin