I look at Anna, still clothed in blood and veins. Her dark-tinged tears have dried on her face; she’s too exhausted to cry anymore.

“Did she know what would happen?” I ask Thomas. “Did she know what she was turning her into?”

“I don’t think so. Or at least, not exactly. When you invoke a demon, you don’t get to decide the specifics. You just make the request, and it does the rest.”

“I don’t care if she knew exactly,” Carmel growls. “It was disgusting. It was horrible.”

There are beads of sweat on all of our foreheads. Will hasn’t said a thing. We all look like we’ve gone twelve rounds with a heavyweight.

“What are we going to do?” Thomas asks, and it doesn’t look like he’s able to do much of anything at the moment. I think he’ll sleep for a week.

I turn away and stand up. I need to clear my head.

“Cas! Watch out!”

Carmel shouts at me but she isn’t fast enough. I’m shoved from behind and as I am, I feel a very familiar weight being pulled out of my back pocket. When I turn around, I see Will standing over Anna. He’s holding my athame.

“Will,” Thomas starts, but Will unsheathes my knife and swings it in a wide arc, making Thomas scuttle back on his haunches to get out of the way.

“This is how you do it, isn’t it?” Will asks in a wild voice. He looks at the blade and blinks rapidly. “She’s weak; we can do it now,” he says, almost to himself.

“Will, don’t,” Carmel says.

“Why not? This is what we came here to do!”

Carmel glances at me helplessly. It is what we came here to do. But after what we all saw, and seeing her lying there, I know that I can’t.

“Give me my knife,” I say calmly.

“She killed Mike,” Will says. “She killed Mike.”

I look down at Anna. Her black eyes are wide and staring downward, though I don’t know whether or not they’re seeing anything. She’s sunk onto her hip, too weak to hold herself up. Her arms, which I know from personal experience could crush cinderblocks, are shaking just trying to keep her torso off the floorboards. We’ve managed to reduce this monster to a quivering husk, and if ever there was a safe time to kill her, it’s now.

And Will’s right. She did kill Mike. She’s killed dozens. And she’ll do it again.

“You killed Mike,” Will hisses and starts to cry. “You killed my best friend.” And then he moves, stabbing downward. I react without thinking.

I lurch forward and catch him under the arm, stopping the blow from going straight through her back; instead it glances off of her ribs. Anna gives a small cry and tries to crawl away. Carmel’s and Thomas’s voices are in my ears, yelling at both of us to stop it, but we keep on struggling. With bared teeth, Will tries to stab her again, hacking through the air. I barely get an elbow up to knock his chin back. He stumbles away a few steps and when he charges I hit him in the face, not too hard but hard enough to make him think.

He wipes at his mouth with the back of his hand. He doesn’t try to come forward again. Looking from me to Anna, he knows I won’t let him past.

“What’s wrong with you?” he asks. “This is supposed to be your job, right? And now we’ve got her and you’re not going to do anything?”

“I don’t know what I’m going to do,” I say honestly. “But I’m not going to let you hurt her. You couldn’t kill her, anyway.”

“Why not?”

“Because it’s not just the knife. It’s me. It’s my blood tie.”

Will scoffs. “She’s bleeding well enough.”

“I didn’t say the knife wasn’t special. But the death blow is mine. Whatever it is that lets that happen, you don’t have it.”

“You’re lying,” he says, and maybe I am. I’ve never seen anyone else use my knife before. No one except my dad. Maybe all that stuff about being chosen and part of a sacred line of ghost hunters was all bullshit. But Will believes it. He starts backing away, out of the house.

“Give me my knife,” I say again, watching it as it’s leaving me, the metal glinting in the odd light.

“I’m going to kill her,” Will promises, then turns and runs, taking my athame with him. Something inside me whimpers, something childlike and basic. It’s like that scene in The Wizard of Oz, when that old lady throws the dog in her bike basket and rides off. My feet are telling me to run after him, tackle him and beat him about the head, take my knife back and never let it out of my sight. But Carmel’s talking to me.

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