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Defect by Kikkimax

Defect
by Kikkimax


“You busy?” Hotchner asked as he tapped on the open door.

Gideon responded with no more than a quirk of his lip as he glanced over the tops of his glasses, but it was enough to reveal how amused he was by the question.  “No more than usual.  What’s up?”

“You did a pysch eval on an Agent Henricksen a month or two ago.”

“Yes.  His partner thought he was obsessed with a serial killer, thought he needed help.”

“And was he?  Obsessed?”

“Oh yeah, he was a mess when I saw him.  He was barely lucid, hadn’t been eating or sleeping.  He hadn’t even been home in weeks.  I recommended reassignment but he was relieved of duty when he refused to stand down.”  Gideon set aside the file in his hand and motioned for Hotch to take a seat.  “Why?”

“The perp must have been something to drive him over the edge like that,” Hotchner said with a gleam in his eye, waving away the offered chair.

Gideon merely shrugged.  

“How would you like a crack at him?”

“Who?  The unsub?”

“Not unknown.  In fact the subject has been on our most wanted list for well over a year.  He was apprehended in West Virginia three days ago on trespassing charges.  The BAU has been requested to determine the guy’s mental state and sort out his crimes.”

“I don’t understand.”

“It’s a little… muddled.  And Henricksen’s notes aren’t much help.  They have a lot of speculation in them but not a lot of substance.”

“Henricksen was unstable.  Maybe the subject didn’t do anything.”

“Well, we’ve got more than enough to hold him on credit card fraud alone.”

“So we’re off to West Virginia.”

“Nope, that’s the beauty part.  He’s coming here.”

Taking off his glasses, Gideon folded them and placed them in his pocket as he nodded.  “All right, let’s do it.”

“JJ is pulling together the information now and the team is scheduled to meet in an hour.  The subject is already in transit.”

“What’s his name?” Gideon asked as Hotchner turned away.

“Winchester,” Hotchner called back over his shoulder.  “Dean Winchester.”

***

Four months previous

“Dean…  Dean…  Dean!”

Dean slapped unsuccessfully at the hand on his shoulder, failing that he pulled the nearest pillow over his head.  “Da mit, Samp.  Lemme sle.”

“Come on, Dean.  Wake up.  We need to talk.”  Sam snatched the pillow away and pushed the other one off the bed for good measure.  

“Aw, man,” Dean complained, his face still buried in the rumpled sheet.  “No.  The one thing we do not need to do is talk.  We need to get drunk and get laid.”

“You did that last night.”

“Yeah,” Dean agreed happily.  “You’re right.  I did.”  He rolled over and looked around. “Where’d she go?”

“She left hours ago.  I gave her cab fare.”

“Thanks, I owe ya.”  Dean tried to wrap up in the sheet but Sam held it firmly, thwarting his feeble efforts.

“She wanted to go to Reno.”

“Ouch.  That’s far away, right?” Dean gave up the tug of war with the sheet and just lay there.  After a minute he opened his eyes.  “Where are we?”

“We’re still in Vegas.”

“Oh.  Good.  I didn’t try to get married again, did I?”

Sam sat on the bed and let out a weary sigh.  “No.  I caught you before you got that far.  Look, this has got to stop, man.  You’re killing yourself.”

“Dude,” Dean protested as he got up and stumbled naked into the bathroom to pee.

Following him as far as the door, Sam leaned against the en suite sink and crossed his arms over his chest.  “It’s been seven months…”

“And we worked our asses off the first six.  Now I’ve only got five left and I’m gonna make the most of ‘em,” Dean said flushing the toilet and moving to the heart shaped tub.  He turned on the water and dumped a handful of Mr. Bubbles under the tap.  “We are so stupid.  We should have been staying in the good motels all along.  This place is paradise.”

“Being wasted twenty-four/seven is not making the most of anything.”  Sam had to raise his voice to be heard over the running water.

Dean reached into the mini-fridge he’d moved into the bathroom and took out a beer.  He hissed when he stepped into the ankle deep water but didn’t adjust the temperature before carefully settling down in the rapidly filling tub.  “Not twenty-four/seven,” he denied, easing back into the built-in pillow and covering his eyes with a folded washcloth.  “Twenty-one, twenty-two/seven tops.”  He opened the bottle and took a swig.

“I’ve got a lead.”

“Forget it.  As of now I’m officially retired.”

“I think I know how to stop the crossroads demon but we’re running out of time…”

The beer bottle shattering one of the wall-sized mirrors was the only warning Sam got before his soapy, wet brother had his hands fisted in his shirt.  “No!” Dean shouted in his face.  “Don’t say another word!”

“Dean!” Sam protested in shock and surprise as he reflexively grabbed Dean’s wrists and kept them both from falling.  “I’ve got a plan.”

“I don’t want to hear it,” Dean swore, pushing away, swinging as Sam tried to steady him.  “Do not tell me about it.”

“Why?  Why won’t you let me help you?” Sam yelled back.  “Why won’t you help yourself?”  He stared at Dean’s retreating back for a second before storming into the steamy bathroom to turn off the water.

While Sam paused to survey the damage Dean picked a dirty towel off the bedroom floor and wrapped it around his waist before moving to sit on the red settee.

“I’m tired of this argument,” Sam stated when he came back into the room a few minutes later with two cans of beer.  He held one out in either guilt or apology.

“I want the good stuff,” Dean pouted.

“You threw the last one of those at the wall.”

Dean finally accepted the can but didn’t pop the top.  “Look, I’m tired of fighting, too.  But you can’t do anything to help me, Sammy.  You can’t.”

“Why not?  Just tell me and I’ll quit asking.”

Flopping back onto the cushion Dean moaned and looked at the beer before deciding to use it as an icepack.  “A little early for you, isn’t it?” he asked when Sam stopped pacing and sat down to drink.

“It’s four in the afternoon.”

“Oh.”

Sam polished off his beer in record time and went for another.  Dean followed his progress by the crunch of his boots through the broken glass on the linoleum.  He returned with a whole six pack and sat on the bed across from Dean.  After opening the first can, he raised it in a silent toast; ‘if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em’ written all over his face.

Dean rolled his eyes and sighed expansively.  “It’s in the fine print,” he finally muttered.

The beer was instantly forgotten. “The fine print,” Sam repeated as sober as a judge.  

“You manipulative little shit,” Dean grumbled.

“Tell me,” Sam threatened, holding up the six pack.  “There’s a whole lot more where this came from.  If you crash and burn, I’m going down with you.”

“Burn?”

Sam winced.  “Poor choice of words.”

Dean glared for minute but the effort was too much.  “It’s part of the deal.   If I do anything to weasel out of deal you drop dead where you stand.”

“Why didn’t you tell me?”  Quiet.  Too quiet.

“Come on, Sam.”  Dean sat up and prepared for the coming tempest.

“My brother is going to Hell because of me…”

“Don’t do this…”

“…and I’m supposed to just stand back and watch?”

“Don’t!” Dean warned, raising a finger.  “Just shut up a minute.  If I even try to save myself it’s over.  I don’t regret it.  I’d do it again in a heartbeat.”

They sat in silence while Sam digested the new information.  Dean watched him moodily, rolling the can between his palms.

“I’ll save you,” Sam whispered at last.

“What?”

“I’ll do everything.  The…the planning, the execution.  You’ll just come along for the ride, you won’t know a thing.”

“We can’t take the chance.”

“I didn’t make a deal,” Sam pointed out.  “She has no power over me.”

“I don’t know, Sam.  We shouldn’t risk it.”

“I can’t lose you either.  I won’t.”  Suddenly animated, Sam was off the bed and packing.  “Get dressed.”

Dean didn’t budge.

Sam stopped and looked at him.  “What you don’t know can’t hurt me.”

“I can’t know anything.  Comprende?”

“This’ll work,” Sam insisted.  “I’ll just feed you bullshit and keep you in the dark.”

“Yeah, I’ll be your little mushroom.  But what if I accidentally figure out what you’re up to?  I’m pretty good at this stuff, you know.”

“If it comes to that we’ll split up.”

“I can’t know anything,” Dean reiterated.  “Not a damn thing.”

“We have to go to West Virginia.”

“Why?”

“Nuh uh,” Sam said with a grin.  “Get your stuff and get in the car.  For the next five months I’m in charge.  You do what I say when I say it.”

“Kill me now,” Dean groaned once again falling back on the bench.

***

Present time

“What have we got?” Morgan asked as he fell into step with JJ on the stairs.

“Something a little different,” JJ told him, handing him one of the thick folders she carried.  “We have the perp, we just have to figure out what he’s guilty of.  His rap sheet’s on top.”

“Okay,” Morgan said a little dubiously as he flipped open the folder, never missing a step.  “Dean Winchester:  January 24, 1979, Lawrence, Kansas… yadda…” he read out loud before scanning the rest of the page in silence.   “He’s wanted for everything from kidnapping and murder to grave desecration but he’s never been in custody long enough to be convicted of anything.”
 
“Yeah, and what we’ve got is sketchy at best so Garcia is joining us to search other sources while we meet.  Hi, Penelope,” she greeted as they entered the conference room.

“Hi, JJ.  Hey there, Gorgeous.”

“Hey yourself,” Morgan flirted as he settled at the table across from Garcia and tossed the dossier down in front of him with a plop.  “So your challenge is to tell us something about our boy that’s not in here, oh wise one.”

Garcia’s fingers flew over the keyboard of her laptop.  “Challenge, huh?  I can already tell you our boy is a smoking hot babe.”  She turned the screen so they could see the mug shot.

“Let me rephrase that… tell us something useful about Mr. Winchester,” Morgan chided playfully.

Garcia wagged a pudgy finger at him.  “Useful is in the eye of the beholder.”

“He is nice looking,” JJ agreed as she began placing the folders around the otherwise empty table.

“See?  Don’t be hatin’.” Garcia pulled her computer back into place to admire the picture again.  

“Uh, hello?  Serial killer?” Morgan objected in exaggerated disbelief.

Alleged serial killer, no one this pretty could possibly be evil,” Garcia goaded as she stroked the edge of the screen.  

Morgan covered his heart with his hand.  “Oh, now you’re just trying to hurt me.”

Reid wandered into the room during the exchange and picked up one of the files as he seated himself.  Rapidly turning the pages he read as he distractedly launched into a lecture.  

“Actually many serial killers possess above average physical appearances.  The stereotype of the ugly loner is a misleading perception; thus attractive or gregarious suspects often fly under law enforcement’s radar.  Take Ted Bundy for instance, he was handsome and outgoing.  He sometimes used a prop such as a cast or a sling to lure unsuspecting women into helping him with groceries or boxes…” Reid looked up to see three impassive faces starring back at him, “…but you guys already know all this…” he trailed off.  “I’ll shut up now.”

“Preaching to the choir again, Dr. Reid,” Morgan said.

“Yeah, we were just joking around.”

“Sorry,” Reid murmured, returning JJ’s sympathetic smile with a rueful one of his own.

“Although I am fairly certain the man of my dreams is not a psychotic killer.”

“Five bucks says we find evidence otherwise.”

“You’re on.”  While everyone else studied the hard copies Garcia turned her attention back to her computer.  Within a minute she let out a gasp.  “Here’s a useful tidbit,” she announced.  “Dean Winchester is dead.”

“Dead?” Gideon asked as he and Hotchner joined the group.  

“Yes sir,” Garcia said solemnly.  “I found a death certificate.  He was shot in St. Louis on March 7, 2006 by a woman he was, uh, apparently trying to kill.  Score one for Morgan.”

Morgan grinned smugly and held up five fingers.

“Surely Henricksen knew that?” Gideon asked.  “Do we have his notes?”

JJ pushed one of the folders toward Gideon.  “His case file is the bulk of the dossier.  And I do mean bulk.”

“That’s part of the muddle,” Hotchner informed them.  “Officially, Dean Winchester is deceased.”

“So who are they bringing in?  A doppelganger?”

“Why was Henricksen so sure he had the right man?”

“Mistaken identity?”

“One question at a time,” Hotchner urged.  “Reid?  I assume you’ve read the dossier?  What did Henricksen say about St. Louis?”

“He makes mention of it early in his rather rambling report but never even tries to present a logical explanation for the apparent resurrection,” Reid said.  “Basically he just glossed over the fact that his chief suspect was already dead and buried.”

“There had to be an autopsy,” Gideon reasoned.

“I’m on it,” Garcia assured as she tapped out a quick rhythm.  “Yep.  And… ew, morgue photos.  Up there,” she said nodding towards the large plasma screen mounted on the wall.  “Here’s the guy they’re bringing in.” Garcia split the screen and placed the earlier mug shot next to the autopsy picture.  

“They could be twins,” Hotchner said.

“Single birth.”  Garcia briefly superimposed a birth certificate over the images.  

“Siblings often bear a remarkable likeness,” Reid offered, “Even when they’re several years apart.  Dean has one brother, four years younger.”

“Samuel Winchester,” Garcia reported, putting yet another photo next to the other two.  

Gideon shook his head.  “Not even close.  Any other family?  Cousins?”

“No,” Reid said, winding up.  “Even his parents are deceased, his mother, Mary, in a strange fire when Dean was a small child and his father, John, last year of an apparent heart attack.  This was after a car wreck in which all three remaining Winchesters were injured, Dean seriously.  Interestingly enough, the father’s body disappeared from the hospital morgue rather than being released to a mortuary.  But even this information is mostly conjecture from Henricksen.”

Garcia began to type frantically.

“Traumatic loss of a parent at an early age,” Hotch pondered.  “That could have been the stressor that fractured this boy’s psyche.”

“Plus his father raised both of his sons as some sort of survivalists, again, according to Agent Henricksen,” Reid added.  “Weapons, hand to hand combat, Marine type training from an early age.”

“Is this all we’ve got?” Gideon asked placing a hand on the folder he had taken possession of.  “More importantly, is all of it from Henricksen?”

JJ shook her head.  “I added school and various arrest records for the whole family.  There’s not really much else.  It’s like they lived on the fringe of society.”

“Cross referencing names, birth dates, and social security numbers there are no police records regarding a motor vehicle crash that required hospitalization last year together or individually,” Garcia confirmed.  “I can’t even find a death certificate for any John Winchesters during that time frame.”

“They could have used aliases.”

“Or Henricksen could have been delusional.”

Garcia looked back and forth between Hotchner and Gideon.  “Earlier I found some news footage of Dean Winchester at a bank robbery that turned into a hostage situation.  Henricksen was there.  I’ve got audio from a phone conversation he had with Dean during negotiations.  It’s interesting to say the least.”

“Okay, good.  Let’s examine those first then I want to break this file down.  I want to see what we know the subject did and what is only speculation.”  Gideon put his glasses on.

***

Four days ago

Dean took off his jacket and tossed it into the trunk.  After a second’s hesitation he began to unload weapons as well.  Two guns, three knives, and a length of wire went in and a tire iron came out.

“What are you doing?” Sam asked.  He tossed away the limb he’d been using to wipe their tracks.

“Get out of here,” Dean ordered.  “I’ll stall them.”

“We lost them, let’s just go.”

“You don’t think they know we doubled back?  You can’t afford to get caught right now.”

We can’t afford to get caught.”

“Four months, Sam,” Dean said earnestly.  “We’ve been looking for… whatever the hell it is we’ve been looking for for four months.  And these bumpkins have been breathing down our necks for the last three weeks while we just keep hanging around.”

“It’s here, Dean.  I know it is.  I just need a little more time to find it.”

“Time’s not something I’ve got a lot of, Sammy.  And I’m just slowing you down.  I can’t know what you’re doing and I can’t help.  I’m hanging up my own salvation just by being here.”

“I know,” Sam sighed.  “You take the car and I’ll hook up with you somewhere after I find it.  But don’t give up on me,” he pleaded.

“I’m not giving up.” Dean slammed the trunk shut.  “I’m counting on you.”

“If you let them take you into custody the next stop is prison.”

Dean huffed.  “Prison’s easy, it’s Hell I’m not so sure about.”  In the distance they could hear a dog baying.  “Go.  Save my sorry ass.”  He tossed Sam the keys.  “I’ll meet you at Bobby’s… No?”

Sam was shaking his head furiously.  “Whatever you do, don’t go to Bobby’s.”

“Why?  Is that what all those phone calls you kept sneaking away to make were about?”

“Are you sure you wanna know?”

“No, don’t tell me,” Dean backed down.  “I’ll just lay low.  Somewhere.”  He pulled out his wallet and handed it over along with his cell phone.  After a moment’s hesitation he also removed his watch, bracelet, and ring and gave them to his brother.  Lastly he took off the amulet from around his neck and dropped it over Sam’s head since his hands were full. “I want those back.”

Unhappily stuffing the jewelry into various pockets Sam began to frown.  “Where are you gonna lay low without any money?”

“Where do you think?  I’ll be okay,” Dean promised.  “And you’ll know where to find me.  Now get out of here before I kick your ass.”

“I don’t like it.”

“Too bad.”

Sam glared but slid in behind the wheel anyway.  “I’ll see you soon.”

“Take care of my baby.”

“He’s worried about the damn car,” Sam muttered to himself as he started the Impala.  It roared to life and they shared a long look before he put it in drive.  “Be careful.”

“I’m always careful,” Dean joked, swallowing hard as his brother drove away.  He knew Sam was watching in the rearview so he smiled and waved.  As soon as the dust cleared he set about loosening every lug nut on the cop car and the dog transport.  

***

Present time

Two hours later Hotch watched his team hard at work from the conference room door.  White boards were filled with information in columns and grafts, and photos of Dean Winchester, his family, and his supposed victims were taped to the window in meaningful groupings.  Reid and JJ poured through a copy of the disassembled dossier, while Morgan helped Garcia chase down leads on the computer.  Gideon sat alone in the corner with headphones and a portable CD player.  His eyes were closed but his lips moved ever so slightly as he listened.

“This is one sick puppy,” Morgan said to Hotchner.  “The St. Louis murders are particularly disturbing.  Winchester posed as the husband or boyfriend to get in then literally skinned the women over a period of hours before killing them.”

“Don’t forget, Dean Winchester was also found dead in St. Louis after committing those murders,” Garcia objected.  “The only thing Dean Two did was rob a bank.  And he didn’t actually take anything so technically it wasn’t even a bank robbery, just a hostage situation.  He didn’t even start it.”

“There were murders in the bank, too.  And one of the bodies had been partially skinned.”

“Yeah, but that same woman had already been rescued.  She’s alive and, okay not exactly well I guess, but she’s alive right now.”

“And yet she’s still dead.”

“Like Schrödinger’s cat,” Reid chimed in.

“That’s impossible,” Hotchner said.

Morgan sighed.  “No wonder Henricksen went over the edge.  There is no logical explanation unless this guy’s a magician.”

“Don’t forget the Houdini acts,” Hotchner agreed.  “No one can seem to keep any of the Winchesters in custody for very long.”

“Which begs the question how did the cops in a one horse little West Virginia town capture and keep him until our guys arrived?” Morgan asked pensively.

Gideon clicked off the player.  “Maybe he wanted to be caught.”

“Maybe he got away in route,” Reid speculated.

“Not this time,” Hotchner informed them.  “I just got word of Winchester’s arrival.  They should be pulling into the receiving area any minute now.”

“Good, let’s get him set up in one of the interrogation rooms right away,” Gideon ordered.  “I want everything on tape.”

“Uh… sir?” Garcia lifted a bejeweled hand timidly, the mass of bangle bracelets clinking together as they slid down her arm.  “The system is down.”

“What do you mean the system is down?”

“The video computer for the entire interrogation suite has a glitch.”

“That’s a brand new system,” Hotchner objected reasonably.

“Yes sir, that’s why it has a glitch.  They haven’t worked all the bugs out yet.  In fact it was getting buggier by the day.  They had to shut it down while they recode a huge chunk of the software…”

“Can’t we use the old one?”

“The old hard drives have already been shipped off for destruction.  You know, in case there was anything classified on them.”  

“Oh for heavens sakes,” Gideon sighed.  “Can’t you fix the new system?”

“Of course I could,” Garcia said.  “But the contractor won’t let me anywhere near it.  It’s their baby.  But I could set something up to record manually.”

“Just do it,” Hotchner agreed, checking his watch.  “But make it quick.”

“Come on, Muscles,” Garcia requested as she got up, tugging on Morgan’s sleeve.  “Help me carry some stuff.”

“Your wish is my command.”

“If only,” Garcia muttered with a dirty little laugh.

“Dean Two?” Morgan questioned on the way out of the room.

“Want to get a look at him?” Hotchner invited Gideon, ignoring the banter as it receded down the stairs.

“I do.”  Gideon said.  He got up and turned to the two remaining agents.  “Keep picking this apart.  I want to know how much of this is real and how much is due to Henricksen’s obsession.”

***

As far as Sam could tell there were only four graves in the overgrown plot yet the map clearly indicated the one he wanted was the middle of five.  All the other parameters fit but he and Dean had already been over this and every other old family cemetery within a twenty-five mile radius.  In fact they’d walked practically every inch of the surrounding woods, although Dean hadn’t had a clue what they were looking for.  Sam moved back to the broken-down gate and counted again.  One, two, three, four.  

Kneeling beside the only marked grave he went through his pack and took out a pencil and a sheet of paper which he placed on top of the worn stone.  As he rubbed the lead point over the etching the writing slowly emerged in a readable form.  Willingham, 1890.  This had to be it.  Keeping an eye out for the relentless little sheriff he made his way back to the borrowed jeep for a shovel.  

Two hours and half a ton of dirt later the mystery of the missing grave was solved.  A mother and child had been buried together.  Four graves, five bodies.  He took a moment to catch his breath and drink some water then went back to work with a renewed sense of urgency.  It was here, he was sure of it.  For the first time in months he felt like he might be able to pull this off.

***

Gideon and Hotchner stood just inside the receiving room door and watched as an unmarked van pulled in and the heavy gate slid shut behind it.  Five FBI agents unloaded their orange clad prisoner, mindful of his full set of shackles.

“Dude.” Dean Winchester turned to the young agent next to him and held a fist out horizontally as far as the chains allowed.

“Take care, man,” the agent told him as he tapped the extended fist with his own.  

“Yeah, you, too,” Dean said before a contingent of guards led him towards the search room.  “And get some sleep!” he added over his shoulder.  “New baby,” he told the guard closest to him in a quiet aside as he shuffled along.  “Number four.  Can you believe that?  At his age.”  The guard studiously ignored him.

“See ya, Dean,” another of the agents called out.

Dean acknowledged with a lift of his chin and an almost smile as he twisted around to wave at the group who stood glumly around the open van door.  The guards didn’t slow as they pulled Dean along and the senior field agent from the West Virginia office followed with the paper work.  “Easy fellas,” he scolded with a soft accent.  “He’s moving as fast as he can.”

“Does something seem off about this?” Hotch asked Gideon.

“It was an eight hour trip in a confined space,” Gideon replied.  “Obviously they established some type of rapport.  They may be able to give us some insight.”  He moved towards the van but stopped near the suspect to take in the scene.  Dean glanced at him curiously but then the field agent spoke, drawing his attention.

“They’re gonna take you in here to do a body cavity search now and I want you to behave yourself, tough guy.”

“Oh, man!  The FBI is gonna make me its bitch?” Dean’s voice was heavy with disgust as he swore.

The agent shook his head and ruffled Dean’s hair affectionately.  Dean huffed and pulled away from the old man’s hand but seemed to be touched by the gesture.  “Look, Stew, don’t worry about me, okay?  This’ll all work out one way or the other.  I’m fine.”

“I know, kid.”  Stew patted Dean’s cheek once and let the guards herd him into the other room.  

“I’m Jason Gideon with the BAU,” Gideon introduced himself as the door shut.  “And this is S.S. A. Aaron Hotchner,” he added as Hotch joined them.

The agent shook their hands in turn. “Special Agent Stewart Friedman.”  

“You’ve been doing this a while,” Gideon stated with his usual confidence in such matters.

“Thirty some-odd years,” Stew confirmed.  “I reckon I got a few left in me though.”

“I’m sure you do.  You had this man in your custody for three days.”  Gideon nodded towards the door.  “What’s your take on him?”  

Behind the closed door Dean continued to protest.  “Yeah, I’ll strip but somebody’s gonna owe me dinner.”

Stew snorted.  “Well he’s a handful.  Smart, resourceful.  Real personable.  Good lord, he listened to Simmons go on about his kids long after the rest of us blocked him out.  Winchester even offered up some bizarre ways to entertain bored young’uns, but I’m pretty sure he don’t have any of his own.”

Gideon pursed his lips in thought but didn’t say anything.

“You think he’s innocent?” Hotch asked.

“Hey, be sure and warm that stuff up.  Aw crap.”

“Well, not innocent by any means,” Stew said with a laugh.  “He’s got a whole lotta mischief in him.  But he ain’t no cold blooded killer either.  But that’s just my considered opinion, of course, I ain’t a profiler.”

Hotch and Gideon exchanged glances.

“Easy there.  Do I at least get a reach around?  Sonofabitch!”

******

Victor jumped when the phone rang.  Not that he was asleep.  Never that.  Not if he could help it.  “What?” he growled into the receiver, not even bothering with caller ID.

“Vic?  You okay?”

“Hey, partner,” Victor snarled derisively.  “Call to twist the knife?  Finish what you started?”

“I just called… They got him, Vic.  That’s all.”

He worked hard to swallow the lump in his throat that threatened to strangle him.  “Where?” he asked in a breathy whisper.

“Quantico.”

Victor hung up numbly and watched in horrified familiarity as the ashtray on his nightstand slid around before bouncing off the wall and crashing into the floor, littering the filthy room with butts and ash.  Ducking a flying fork he went into the bathroom for a much needed shower as the shadow in the corner laughed and laughed.

***

Most of the team gathered in the viewing room watching from behind the one-way mirror as Garcia finished setting up the camera.  

“Go ahead and turn it on,” Hotch told her through the speaker.  “Then get out.  They’re bringing him now.”

Garcia clicked in a tape, adjusted the angle for the hundredth time, turned the camera on and then made a speedy exit.  “Call me when the tape is almost up and I’ll show you how to change it,” she said, popping her head into the room.  “The green button starts the recording and the red one stops it but there’s also a pause button …”

“We’re all college graduates here, I think we can manage, Baby Girl,” Morgan cooed back at her.

“Oh, if you weren’t so gorgeous…” Garcia threatened lightly, “… I’d… I’d… I don’t know what I’d do, but I’d do something.  I’ll be in the office of Supreme Genius if you need me.”  She turned to go but had to step back into the room as the prisoner shuffled by, arms and legs still in chains, a guard on each side.  She sucked in a deep breath when he sought out her eyes and smiled at her.  “Wow,” she muttered under her breath.

“I thought you had work to do,” Morgan said, not quite so playfully this time.

“Work.  Right,” Garcia mumbled before heading full steam out of the room without looking back.

“Where’s Gideon?” Morgan asked.  He turned to watch the guards lock the prisoner into the chair, one hand cuffed to each armrest, likewise with his feet to the chair legs.  The chair itself was bolted to the floor.

“He thought it would be useful to interview the agents who were on transport duty,” Hotch explained.  “He wants us to go ahead and get started.”

“How’s my hair?” Dean hammed for the camera, turning his head one way and then the other.  “Which way looks better?  Left?  Right?  Left?”

“Our guest doesn’t seem too concerned,” Reid commented.  

“No, he doesn’t.  But give me a minute alone with him,” Morgan said with a smirk as he went out the door and quickly appeared in the next room.  

***

Dean did a double take when Morgan charged into the room.  “Crap.  For a second there I thought you were someone else.”

Morgan pulled out the chair next to the video set up and straddled it backwards.  “Who?  Agent Henricksen?”

“Yeah,” Dean answered cautiously.  “I guess that’s who I was expecting.  He’s got a thing for me, you know.”

“Well I’m not him,” Morgan sneered, cranking the intimidation factor up.  “But before this is over you’ll wish I was.”

“How is he?” Dean asked quietly, looking down.

“Do you care?”

“I think he might be in trouble,” Dean started before shaking his head.  “I haven’t seen him in awhile.  That’s all.”

“It looks to me like you’re the one in trouble.”

Dean rolled his eyes.  “I won’t talk to you,” he announced.  “Life’s too short and I already don’t like your attitude.”

“You don’t have a choice, my friend.  You and I are going to spend some quality time together.”

“We’re not friends,” Dean corrected, not unpleasantly.  “You can grill me all day but you can’t make me talk to you.  I’m taking the fifth.”

***

As near as Bobby could tell the site was perfect.  He’d already blocked off each end of the rarely used caliche dirt roads with some borrowed signage and was busy unloading the iron pipes when his cell rang.  “Sam?”  There was a triumphant laugh on the other end and Bobby felt his knees go weak with relief.

“Number six,” Sam told him, “Resting between the bottom ribs and the pelvis.”

“Gut shot.  With his own gun by his own wife no less,” Bobby said.  “Hell of a way for a hunter to go out.”

“I don’t think it was her idea, Bobby.  I found an eyewitness account.  He said her eyes appeared ‘black as coal’ right before she shot him.”

“I’ll be damned.  Well is it intact?”

“Remarkably so,” Sam confirmed joyfully.  “I can still read the number.  Do you really think it’ll still work?”

“I don’t see why not,” Bobby assured.  “Robert Willingham was mortal.  The bullet itself isn’t what killed him; it was the blood loss from the hole it left in him.  Let’s just consider his old bones to be nature’s safety deposit box.”

“I’m just glad nobody dug it out of him.  How’s it going on your end?”

Bobby patted the side of his newly acquired ditch witch.  “I’m just about ready to dig.”

“Great.  I’ll see you in a couple of days.”

******

Gideon came into the viewing area and watched quietly while Morgan continued the one-sided interrogation.  Dean appeared nonchalant; managing to slump slightly in the chair in spite of the chains as Morgan slowly circled him using every technique in the book.

“He clammed up before Morgan even got started,” Hotchner reported.  “It doesn’t look like he’s going to talk to us.”

“This boy is frightened.  No, actually he’s terrified,” Gideon stated after only a minute.
 
“Why do you say that?” Reid asked eagerly, moving in for a better look.  “He just looks bored to me.”

“Watch how he worries the seam at the knee of his jumpsuit, the only place he can reach.  He hides it well but there’s a lot of tension in his shoulders and neck.  Look how extended the jugular is.”

Hotchner also moved nearer to the glass to study Dean a little closer.  “He got caught.  Any sane individual would be a little scared.”

“Morgan scares me,” Reid admitted.

“No,” Gideon shook his head.  “He tuned Morgan out a long time ago.  Whatever he’s afraid of, it’s in his own head.  We’re going about this the wrong way.”

“What do you suggest?”

“I think we should try a parental approach.”

Reid frowned.  “Over ninety percent of all captured serial killers eventually express a deep seated hatred for one or both parents.  And this one doesn’t seem to be all that fond of authority figures either.”

“Authority figures, no,” Gideon said.  “But I listened to the tape when Henricksen called him in the bank.  Dean showed a huge amount of admiration and respect for his father.  He called him a hero.”

“He did seem to respond to Agent Friedman, definitely a father-figure there,” Hotchner agreed reluctantly.  

“I’m the one he’ll talk to,” Gideon replied.  “If he talks at all.”

“Morgan, step out,” Hotchner said into the speaker.  

Morgan dropped his head for a moment then exited the room.  Almost a minute later Dean looked around and noticed he was gone.

***

Victor couldn’t risk flying because he needed his gun.  No longer able to drive he moved through the bus terminal on autopilot.  Faces all around him distorted and morphed into unearthly things.  He held onto his sanity by a thread.  Even hastily packing a bag had been a waking nightmare just like everything else in his life since that night.  He didn’t know what Dean Winchester had done to him, but he did know he was going to pay.

***

“Hungry?” Gideon asked as he came into the room balancing a tray which he set on the table.

Dean quickly eyed Gideon before turning his attention to the food.  “Three hots and a cot, that’s what I’m here for.”

“Sorry, it’s not hot,” Gideon apologized, producing a key and reaching for Dean’s left hand.  “I’m Jason.”

Dean seemed surprised but pleased and didn’t move as Gideon unlocked the cuff.  He looked astonished when he unlocked his right hand as well.  “Thanks.”  Dean slowly flexed his wrists but didn’t begin to rub them until Gideon moved away.

“Eat,” Gideon urged, sitting down just outside the camera’s view.

Without further ado Dean ripped open the potato chips and dumped them on the tray, stuffing a few into his mouth to chew while he unwrapped the sandwich.  He didn’t even look to see what kind it was before taking a huge bite.  “Mmm,” he hummed in appreciation, nodding his head as he ate.  

“Didn’t they feed you?” Gideon asked in real concern.

“Sure.  But I can always eat,” Dean assured him through a mouth full of ham and cheese which he finally swallowed.  “Jason?  Right?”

“That’s right.”

“I saw you earlier.  I figured you were the shrink.  I can save you the trouble -- I’m not crazy.”

“I didn’t say you were crazy.”

“But you are the shrink.”

“Something like that.  Aren’t you going to drink your milk?  Don’t you like chocolate?”

“I love chocolate milk,” Dean said.  He reached for the carton but picked up the other half of the sandwich instead.  “I’ll save it for after.”

Gideon reached over and moved the pile of as yet unused napkins.  “There’s a cookie for desert.”

“Sweet.”  Dean opened the milk and chugged it.

“Can we get some more chocolate milk in here?” Gideon turned to the mirror to ask with a wide smile.

“That would be cool,” Dean agreed as he wolfed down the big cookie.

“Do you need to go to the bathroom or anything before we get started?” Gideon asked when the cookie was gone.

“No, I’m good.  I had a potty break right after they violated me,” Dean said, belying his words by squirming a little in his chair.

“You sure?”

“Yeah, I just… Damn.  I think I’m allergic to K-Y jelly.  I guess some guys go for that, though, huh?  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.  But, you know, I’m not gay or anything.”

Gideon laughed.  “Why did you say that?”  

“I don’t know,” Dean rubbed his face then ran a hand through his hair while his hands were still free.  “I guess I’m nervous.”

“Agent Morgan didn’t seem to make you nervous.”

“Yeah, but, you know… cop.  Same shit, different day.”

“You’re saying you’ve been interrogated before.”

“Yeah, lots.  But I never talked to a shrink.  Except once in junior high my councilor tried to make me go to a ‘child specialist’…” Dean made quotes in the air with his fingers.  “… but we just moved instead.  Oh, and my brother went to a shrink once but it was just because we needed to… never mind.  I’m babbling.”

“So why did you tell me specifically that you aren’t gay?” Gideon pushed gently with a smile and a shrug.

Dean shrugged back at him.  “Don’t shrinks always want to know if you’re gay?  Because I’m not.  I like girls.  I really, really like girls.”

“What do you like about girls?”

“What do you mean?”

“Come on, it’s not a trick question.  What do like about them?”

“I never really thought about it, it’s just sort of instinct.  Everything I guess,” Dean said, starting to grin a little.  “They’re fun.”  

“Okay,” Gideon encouraged, smiling along with him.  “What else?”

Dean blew out a breath and took a moment to think about it.  “I guess I like the way they’re all soft and round in all the right places.”

“That’s a good one.  Go on.”

“Okay, I like the way they move, you know, the way their hips do that side to side sway thing.  Oh!  And the way they talk.  I like that.  Am I doing this right?”

“You’re doing great.”

“I like the way they smell, especially the way they smell.  I even… I even remember my Mom smelled like a girl.”  Dean frowned suddenly and looked away.

Gideon nodded and gave him a minute.  “Smell is a very strong memory stimulus,” he finally told him.

Dean studied the tip of his jailhouse slip-on sneaker.  “Is it?”

“Yes, it is.  You’re doing so well, Dean, stick with me here,” Gideon dipped his head to try to meet Dean’s eyes.  “You were very young when your mother died.  Four?  Five?”

“Four.  I don’t really want to talk about that,” Dean decided.  

“I understand this upsets you, but it’s okay to talk about it.  You don’t have to keep it bottled up inside.”

“It was along time ago.” Dean continued to resist, becoming agitated but fighting hard not to show it.  “It’s over.”

“It’s okay to miss your mom, even now.  I want you to tell me about her.”

“Let’s just leave her out of this.”

“I think it’s important.”

“I barely remember her,” Dean said, his walls going up fast and hard as he made eye contact and held it.  His whole demeanor changed to wary and rigid.  Cold.  The conversation was obviously over.

Gideon kept his own features neutral, understanding.  “Is that why you hurt those women, Dean?” he asked softly, carefully monitoring the response.  “Did that somehow ease the way you miss your mom?”

Dean paled and his pupils contracted.  He looked horrified but didn’t deny anything.  “Where’s that milk?” he managed in a strained voice.  

“It’s coming,” Gideon assured, glancing at the mirror as he chose another less volatile topic.  “So.  Three hots and a cot.  Is that why you turned yourself in?”

With a bitter laugh, Dean leaned back and clasped his hands behind his neck and stared up at the ceiling.  “I didn’t turn myself in.  They caught me fair and square.”

“Two part-time deputies and a sixty-nine year old sheriff caught you in the open woods?”

“They had a dog.”

“An old basset hound from what I’ve heard.”

“Yeah, but he was vicious,” Dean joked, the ice in his voice seeming to melt a little.  “He almost licked me to death after the wheels fell off.”

“That’s right,” Gideon said with a fond smile.  “The wheels fell off two vehicles at the same time.  How did that happen again?”

Dean snickered.  “I don’t know, man.  I guess it’s hard to get good help these days.  Righty tighty, lefty loosy.  Don’t they teach that in tire school?”

“Come on, Dean.  How many times have you escaped custody?  I happen to know you and your brother once eluded an entire SWAT team in a building that was surrounded by police.  And you want me to believe three local yokels put you away even after losing every wheel in the department fleet.”

“Even I can have an off day.”

“Want to know what I think?”

“Not really.”  The ice was back.

“I think you stalled the cops long enough to let your brother slip away.  Because that was your job, wasn’t it?  Somebody had to look after little Sam after Mommy died.  And Dean my boy, you were it.  You didn’t get to have a childhood because you were busy raising your brother.”  

Dean’s mouth fell open and he stared at Gideon.

“You lost your mother, too.  But your dad was too caught up in his own grief to notice…”

“Don’t talk about my dad,” Dean warned, clenching his fists.

“He raised you to be a hardass and he was the only parent you had left so you did everything you could to please him.  Everything.  But it was never enough, was it?”

“You don’t know what you’re talking about.”  Dean stood abruptly but his legs were still anchored to the chair and he had nowhere to go so he sat back down.  He buried his head in his hands practically vibrating with tension.

“I know everything about you, Dean,” Gideon continued in the same gentle voice.  “I know how you think, I know how you feel.  So I’ll tell you what I think.  I think you’d rather die than lose your baby brother because he’s the only thing you’ve got left.”

Suddenly very still, Dean lifted his head.  “Christo,” he whispered, watching Gideon with frightened eyes.  

Gideon stared back.  Dean held his breath for a moment then let it out with an audible whoosh.  He looked emotionally spent but no longer afraid.  

“Dean?”

“I don’t want to talk to you anymore.”  With that he shut Gideon out completely.

With a sigh and a nod Gideon got to his feet.  He felt Dean’s eyes on him once he reached the door but he didn’t look back for confirmation.  The connection they had established so easily was gone.  He thought he might not get past Dean’s formidable defenses again.

******

“What the hell just happened?” Morgan asked as Gideon stepped back into the viewing area.

“I blew it,” Gideon replied with a sigh.  “I was on the right track but I pushed too hard.”

“He gave you the perfect opening,” Hotch tried to soften the blow.

“I’ll tell you one thing,” Gideon said, pointing to the mirror where Dean sat unmoving on the other side.  “That boy didn’t torture those women.”

Morgan harrumphed.

“What do you see?” Gideon pressed him.  “When you look at Dean Winchester what do you see?”

“I see nerves of steel and a hardened heart.  I see a natural born killer.  I say we sweat him ‘til he bleeds.”

“No, no, no,” Gideon shook his head and raised a hand in frustration.  “He already told us that won’t work.  He won’t tell us anything unless he trusts us and I just flushed what little trust he had down the toilet.”

“It’s getting late,” Hotchner decided.  “We’ll try again tomorrow.  Morgan, go home.”

With one last look at Dean, Morgan nodded irritably and left.  

“What do you see?” Reid asked Gideon.  “When you look at him?”

Gideon placed a hand on the inside of the mirror.  “Pain, insecurity, anger.  Fear.  Mostly I see a very emotionally damaged young man.”  He turned to Reid.  “He said Christo?”

“It’s Latin for Christ.  I think he was invoking Christ as a test to check for demonic possession.”

“Why would he do that?”

They all turned to look at Dean who now had his head resting on his arms on the table.

“You did get inside his head,” Hotchner reasoned.  

“That’s what I’m trained to do.”

“And we all know how good you are at it but he has no frame of reference for it,” Hotch agreed.

Reid nodded as he picked up the thread.  “The very fact that he tried to invoke Christ, in Latin no less, to ward off what he perceived as evil means he thinks about things in terms of the preternatural.  Magical thinking if you will.”

“Somebody wanted chocolate milk?” JJ asked as she came through the door with a plastic bag.

“It’s for the perp.  What took you so long?” Hotchner asked.

“The cafeteria was out so I went to the convenience store on the corner.  Do you want me to take it in to him?”

“No,” Gideon objected.  “We just had a conversation about girls that didn’t end very well.  If we send a beautiful woman in now he’ll feel like we’re setting him up again.  Reid can take it in.”

“Me?”

“Sure.  You’re non-authoritative, non-threatening.”

“Non-female,” Reid added wryly.

“There is that,” Hotchner said, patting Reid’s shoulder.

“So what’s my objective?”

“To take him the milk,” Gideon said, “Nothing more.  He’s done with us today.”

“But do I try to talk to him?” Reid asked as he took possession of the bag.  “What do I say?”

“Just be yourself,” Gideon instructed.  

“I was afraid you’d say that,” Reid grumbled and headed for the door.  “Three hots and a cot?” he stopped to ask.  “What exactly does that mean?”

“Three hot meals a day and a place to sleep.  If that’s really all he wants it means he’s not interested in making any deals.  He’ll never tell us what we want to know.  To get to the bottom of this we’ll have to win back his trust.”

“How do we do that?”

“We give him what he wants.  And right now he wants chocolate milk.  Go on in, you’ll do fine.”

***

Reid cleared his throat as he entered the room, smiling nervously when Dean lifted his head to check him out.  “I brought your milk.”  He sidled over to the table to put the bag down then backed away.

“Dude, I’m not gonna hurt you,” Dean said as he looked in the bag.  “Even if I wanted to I’m still chained to the chair.”

“I… I didn’t think you were going to hurt me.”  Reid awkwardly took a seat.  “I’m just not very good at this type of thing.”  

“Delivering milk?”  Dean took one of the small plastic bottles out of the bag and shook it vigorously.  “There’s like six pints in here.  Want some?  It’s the good stuff with the rabbit on it.”

“I don’t usually drink milk.”

“You don’t say,” Dean retorted, twisting off the top and downing nearly half the bottle in a couple of swallows.  “Awww.  Good stuff if you can’t get beer.  And it’s not really milk, its chocolate milk.  That’s totally different.”

“It’s full of fat and sugar.”

“And calcium and vitamin D or whatever.”  Still holding the bottle Dean flexed the muscle of his right arm and tapped his bicep with his left hand.  He gave Reid a knowing look.  

Reid glanced down at his own much smaller arm and changed the subject.  “Christo?  Did you really think Agent Gideon was possessed?”

“Who?” Dean deflected.

“Supervisory Special Agent Gideon.  Oh, uh, Jason Gideon, he gave you his first name to establish rapport.  It’s an interview technique used by… I probably shouldn’t be telling you this.”

“You’re very honest, aren’t you?” Dean asked, smirking at the mirror.

Reid grimaced and sent a sheepish look over his shoulder. “It’s a curse.”

“I’ll look into it for you,” Dean mumbled as he finished his milk.

“What?”

“Private joke.  Believe me; I’m laughing on the inside.”

“Christo?” Reid prompted.

“Persistent little person, aren’t you?”

“Did you really think Gideon was possessed by the devil?”

Dean sniffed and tried not to look embarrassed.  “You caught that, did you?”

“I’m assuming that was the purpose, because of your use of Latin.  I know some people use the name of Christ as an expletive but your use in context seemed more functional than expressive.”

“Huh?”

“Did you really think he was possessed?”

“No, of course not,” Dean scoffed, obviously lying his ass off.  “It was just spooky the way he did that hoo doo thing with my head.  He was totally wrong, by the way, but it was still spooky.  Are you sure you don’t want some milk?”  

Reid reached over and took a bottle to read the label.

“Shake it first.”

“Okay.”  Reid shook the bottle but with little enthusiasm.

“So what are you good at?”

“Pardon me?”

“You said you’re not very good at interrogating prisoners.”

“Oh, I’m not here to interrogate you.  That’s Morgan’s specialty.  I’m just not very good at talking to people one on one.”  Reid opened the bottle and took a tentative sip.

“You’re doing okay.”  Dean eyed him again speculatively.  “What’s your name?”

Reid swallowed and licked his lips.  “That’s not bad.  I’m Dr. Spencer Reid.”

“Doctor, huh?  Like Doogie Howser, M.D.”

“Oh, I’m not a medical doctor.  I have several P.H.D.s.”

“So you were like, what?  Three?  When you started college?”

“Twelve.”

“Oh.” Dean began to fidget.  “My brother’s really smart.  Not, you  know, super genius like you, but smart.”

“Yes he is.  He had a 4.0 GPA at Stanford.  Pre-law.  That’s impressive.  I read your file,” Reid added at Dean’s suddenly unhappy expression.

“Sam’s GPA is in my FBI file?”

“Yes.”

“Huh.  Listen, Little Buddy,” Dean changed the subject.  “Are we gonna have a bathroom break soon?  Or is death by chocolate milk one of those interview techniques?  Oh look, you’re almost out of tape.”

A warning light flashed red on the video camera.  As Reid turned to look at it Hotchner’s voice came through the speaker.  “That’s it for today Mr. Winchester.  The guards are coming to take you to a holding cell for the night.”

“Sure.  Whatever,” Dean sighed, leaning back in his chair.

******

Victor moved quiet as a mouse up the deserted back road to the car.  He placed a hand on the top and marveled at the cool, smooth metal beneath his fingers.  The car was the key.  It had always been the key.  Every time the trail grew cold it always came back to the car.  He’d chased down every black 1967 Impala that hit his BOLO for well over a year.  News of its destruction had been a blow even if it did eventually lead him to the hospital.  

The injured family fit the Winchesters in every detail except in name but the disappearance of the father from the morgue cinched the deal in Victor’s mind.  But then the boys were in the wind again and with the car rusting in a junk yard somewhere he had no real way to track them.  He wasn’t sure what possessed him to renew the BOLO on the totaled Chevy a few months later but he chalked it up to instincts, not desperation.  And here it sat shining in the moonlight, good as new.  And why not?  Its owner had just as surely been resurrected once if not twice.  

And now said owner was somewhere in the closed campground just waiting to be taken into custody.  Victor checked his weapon and started down the path without waiting for backup.  He’d watched when Dean dropped Sam off at the library and then headed off with an unknown passenger for the boondocks.  It took every last bit of restraint he had but Victor followed at a discreet distance and didn’t give himself away.

A cold wind came out of nowhere and gave him an eerie chill as he approached a small bonfire.  Dean circled the flame, reading aloud from a tattered old book by the beam of a flashlight while a small bald man huddled miserably nearby in the shadows.  On closer inspection Victor realized the man was tied to a tree.  

“Please, oh please,” the man whimpered.

“Hang in there, Walter,” Dean said gently.  “We’re almost there.  If this doesn’t work Sammy will find something that will.”  He went back to reading but the words weren’t English.  They were Latin or Greek or something and Dean’s steady, low voice never stuttered or stammered over them.  The effect was hypnotic.

The wind picked up even more but the flames seemed oddly unaffected even as the tree branches began whipping around.  In the flickering light Victor could make out a rough circle scratched in the bare earth around Dean and the fire.  Sounding intense but never rushed Dean finished his strange monologue and closed the book.  He set it down with the flashlight and picked up a book of matches from a makeshift altar fashioned from a cinder block.  

“This is it,” Dean said as he lit a match.

“Hold it right there.” Victor announced himself and stepped out of the brush.

“Not now,” Dean muttered under his breath.  “We’re a little busy at the moment.  Come back later,” he said a little louder.  “Much later.”

“I said stop!” Victor pointed his gun at Dean and cocked it.

“Henricksen?  Get the hell out of here.”

“Not a chance, Winchester.  Stop what you’re doing”

“I have to finish this.  Ow!” he swore as the match burned his finger.  He shook it out and hastily struck another. “We’re too far in to stop without some pretty dire consequences.  You’re in danger, you need to leave.”

“Drop the match.”

“Believe it or not, I was going to,” Dean said as the lit match fell into a pile of something piled on the cinder block that could have been dried herbs.  There was a small flare-up followed by a few sparks.

“Oh God!” the man shouted before he began to keen and thrash around.

“Henricksen, you need to listen to me,” Dean said in a much less calm voice.  “Some bad shit is about to come out of our little friend over there.”

“Put your hands up or I will shoot you.”

“Don’t be stupid,” Dean argued.  “This is one twisted mother.”

Victor fired a warning shot and was gratified to see Dean duck even if he didn’t hit the ground.

“At least get inside the circle with me because when this thing cuts loose…”

Walter began to scream in earnest as an impossible amount of pitch black smoke erupted from his mouth.

Something he couldn’t see knocked Victor’s feet out from under him and pinned him to the ground.  He could hear Winchester shouting his name in the background but there were horrific faces all around him.  And terrible, terrible sounds inside his head…

Victor woke screaming on the bus halfway to Quantico.

******

When Garcia got to her office the next morning she found a sticky note from Reid on the door informing her that the camera needed a new tape and he hadn’t been able to find any.  She put away her purse and grabbed a couple tapes from the cabinet where she had stashed them when she’d checked out the equipment.  She greeted a few early birds she passed on the way to the interrogation suites but the halls were still mostly empty.  Humming a little tune to herself she entered the designated room intent on her task; she clicked out the old tape and popped in a new one.

“Hi.”

Startled, Garcia jumped and spun around clutching the used tape to her chest.  The man who allegedly loved to skin women like they were dead deer grinned back at her from less than three feet away.  

“God!”

“Dean,” the subject corrected, laughing to himself.  “Sorry.  That joke never gets old.”

“I… I… I…”

“Are you supposed to be in here alone with me like this?” Dean asked in concern, “Because that sounds like a bad policy even if I am trussed up like a Christmas goose.”

“T… tape… ch…. ch,” Garcia stammered.  

“Come on, spit it out,” Dean encouraged with a flirty little smile.

“Icametochangethetape.”

Dean squinted and shook his head.  “One more time?”

Garcia took a deep breath and let it out slowly.  “I came to change the tape.  I didn’t know you were in here.”

“I saw you yesterday.  You had on a bright yellow dress with sunflowers all over it.”

“Too much?” Garcia asked self-consciously.

“I liked it.  Everything else around here is so freakin’ dismal.”

“You don’t know the half of it.”

“I’ve got a pretty good idea,” Dean sighed, glancing around the grey room.  “I’ve got a theory that the real reason prison jumpsuits are orange is so the prisoners don’t put their own eyes out from the monotony.”

Garcia finally relaxed enough to laugh.

***

“What’s she doing in there?” Morgan asked urgently upon entering the observation area. Gideon intercepted his hand as he reached for the intercom.  

“She’s fine.”

“I left her a note,” Reid said guiltily.  He stood against the wall with his arms crossed over his chest, clearly not happy with the situation either.  “I didn’t realize Gideon had already sent for Dean.”

“Calm down,” Gideon instructed Morgan, never taking his eyes off the interaction in the other room.  “If I thought there was any danger I would have pulled her out immediately.  This is proving to be an invaluable observation.  Unfortunately she didn’t turn the camera on.”

“What are you seeing?  Besides a monster trying to charm a naïve young woman?”

“Trying?” Reid asked.  “He had her at hello.  Jerry McGuire?  It was a movie,” Reid explained at Gideon’s confused if fleeting glance.  “Technically Dean said ‘hi’, though, but it was enough.”

Morgan glared at him before turning to Gideon.  “What do you see?”

“Look at him,” Gideon encouraged.  “He’s rational, he’s funny, and he’s empathetic.  He was troubled that we would allow an obviously untrained woman in the room with him.”

“Yeah,” Morgan complained, “So am I.”

Gideon ignored the cynicism.  “Young Mr. Winchester seems almost hungry for human contact.  What he does not show are signs of the paranoid psychosis evident in the St. Louis murders.  If anything I’d say he’s depressed.”

“Depressed.”

“Oh yes,” Gideon said with a slight nod of his head.  “I’m sure of it.”

***

“So,” Dean wheedled.  “What’s your name?”

“Garcia,” she answered without thinking.

“Your parents didn’t like you or something?”

“That’s my last name,” Garcia said with an amused huff.

“What’s your first name?”

“Why do you want to know?”

“So I know what to call you.”

“Call me Gar-ci-a.”

Dean balked.  “I can’t call you that.”

“Why not?  Everybody else does.  Well almost everybody.”

“I don’t know.  It seems kinda impersonal.  Like boot camp.”

“How can it be impersonal if it’s my name?”

“Fine.  I’ll make up a name.” Dean pursed his lips and pretended to think really hard for a minute.  “I’ll call you Sunny.”

“Sunny?” Garcia laughed again as she leaned against the edge of the table and played with the large charm on a chain around her neck.  “I guess I can live with that.”

Dean narrowed his eyes as he looked at her.  “Can I see that?”

“My necklace?”

“Yeah.”

Garcia carefully moved forward and held the charm in front of his face.

“Death,” he said.

“What?”

“The black standard with a white flower,” Dean explained. “It’s a common part of the Death card.  It signifies the end of a cycle or a coming change.  There’s usually a skeleton on a horse, too.”

“You know Tarot.”

“Some,” Dean said.  “I don’t really believe in divination.  Not like that.”

“I hate to break this up,” Morgan said from the door, giving Garcia a disapproving stare.  “But Gideon would like you to turn the camera on.”

“It’s show time,” Dean declared with a dazzling smile.

“You’re fun,” Garcia told him.  She turned on the camera and moved past Morgan in the doorway.  “My name’s Penelope, by the way,” she said before leaving.

“It was nice to meet you, Penelope,” Dean called after her.  “And I’m still not talking to you, Jackass,” he told Morgan when she was gone.

Gideon appeared in the doorway behind Morgan and dismissed him with a look.  “Will you talk to me?” he asked.  Dean shrugged with apparent indifference so Gideon came in and took a seat.  “Did you sleep well?”

“I guess.”

They sat watching each other, waiting for the other to say something.  Dean, master of the childish game, grinned maddeningly from time to time but never cracked.

“You look good,” Gideon finally gave in twenty-eight minutes later, waving a metaphorical white flag.  

“I always do.”

“Mmm hmm.” Gideon nodded.  “Garcia certainly thought so.”

“She’s nice.”  Once again Dean lapsed happily into silence.

“How was breakfast?” Gideon pressed on in his serenely stubborn way.

“Swell.  I also had a shit, shower, and shave.  The shit was kind of painful and the shower was only lukewarm, but the shave was highly supervised.”

Gideon harrumphed softly to himself.  “I’m sorry,” he apologized.  “Sincerely.  I was out of line yesterday.  I won’t let it happen again.”

Dean growled low in his throat and leaned his head back for a dramatic roll of his eyes.  “Look,” he finally said, sitting back up, “Jason or Gideon or whatever the hell you’re calling yourself today... I’d rather chew off my own arm than talk about my feelings, okay?  And that’s on a good day.  Today?  Is not looking to be a good day.”

“I can see that.  We don’t have to talk about your feelings.”  Gideon paused as Dean looked him over suspiciously.  “We can talk about whatever you want, as long as we’re communicating.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah.  Truce?”

“Okay,” Dean agreed reluctantly.  He sank down in the chair and rubbed his cheek against his shoulder.  “Man, I would kill for a cup of coffee.  You know I don’t mean that literally, right?”

“I think coffee can be arraigned without any blood shed,” Gideon said.  “Cream and sugar?”

“Black.”

Gideon nodded and motioned at the mirror.

“Make it so, number one,” Dean said in his best Jon Luc Piccard impression.  

“Sorry?”

“Star Trek.  The second one, not the first one.  Although I will admit I liked the women’s uniforms better in the first one.  Lt. Uhura was hot.”

“I’m not really up on science fiction.”

“I’m not surprised.  Do you even own a TV?”

Reid tapped on the door with a cup of coffee in his hand and a thick manila folder tucked under his arm.

“I was bringing you this, it came in the morning mail,” Reid said to Gideon as he handed him the folder.  “It’s Special Agent Henricksen’s original file.  Hi, Dean.”

“Hey, Doogie,” Dean greeted warmly.  “Sup?”

“Um, nothing?” Reid didn’t seem to know what to do with the coffee since Dean’s hands were still chained.

“Thanks,” Gideon acknowledged absently as he put on his glasses and slipped the paper clip off the folder to rifle through the contents.  “You can go.”

Dean couldn’t help but notice how Reid’s face fell but Gideon was looking down.

“See you later,” Reid told Dean as he set the cup on the table.

“Yeah, we’ll do lunch,” Dean kidded.  When Reid was gone Dean turned angrily to Gideon.  “Why’d you dis Reid like that?”

“Why did I dismiss him?”

“No, why did you disrespect him.”

“I didn’t disrespect him,” Gideon said, glancing over the tops of his glasses.  “Dr. Reid is an integral part of the team and he knows it.”

“You treat him like he’s your coffee boy.”

“It probably appears that way from your perspective,” Gideon granted, “but I assure you I highly respect, and insist that everyone else respects, Dr. Reid.”

“You didn’t see his face, man.  His feelings were hurt.”

“You’re probably right.  As you already know, I can be insensitive when I’m working.  I’ll make it up to him,” Gideon promised.  He followed Dean’s gaze to the paper clip on the table.  Dean quickly looked away.

“That’s why they do body cavity searches,” Gideon warned gently.

“I’m not gonna shove a paper clip up my butt,” Dean denied with an offended glare.

“Not even if it means your freedom?”

“I’ll get where I’m going soon enough,” Dean answered with a weary sigh.

Gideon closed the folder and picked up the paper clip, turning it between his forefinger and thumb.  “I’ll bet you’re pretty good with one of these.”

Dean didn’t confirm or deny.

“Tell you what,” Gideon offered, still holding the clip, “If you can get out of the cuffs I’ll let you stay out.”

“Legs, too?”  Dean dared.

“Sure.”

“Deal.”  Dean turned his right hand palm up and waited for Gideon to hand over the paper clip.

“Gideon, can I have a word with you,” the usual disembodied voice requested over the intercom.

“I’ve really missed that guy,” Dean deadpanned.  “I guess the deal’s off.”

“Nope.  A deal’s a deal.  But it’s going to have to wait until I get back.”  Gideon laid the paper clip in front of Dean near the edge of the table before leaving.  

Dean sniffed the fresh brew and decided he would rather have it while it was still hot.  It wasn’t even that much of a stretch and he soon had it under his forehead, down to his nose, and in his mouth.  He knew they were watching so he made it quick, bending to his right hand and using his lips and fingers to straighten the thin metal loop.  It was tricky to unlock the first cuff but he slid his hand tight against the ring to hold it in place and then twisted his wrist to let his nimble fingers work their magic.  

******

“That’s impressive,” Reid said as he checked his watch.  “He picked all four locks in less than two minutes.”

“Not bad,” Morgan granted. “Apparently he’s had a lot of experience with cuffs.  And not in the good way.”

Garcia sighed and leaned her forehead against the glass.  “That’s just sad.”

“Is that right,” Morgan paused for affect. “Sunny?”

“Hey, don’t be like that,” Garcia warned, swatting at Morgan’s arm.  “If I didn’t know better I’d think you were jealous.”

“I just can’t believe you let this guy smooth talk you.  It scares me for you.”

“Morgan!  It’s not like I was getting in a car with him or anything.  I was just talking to him.  In a heavily guarded building while he was trussed like a bird… or something.  Besides I knew you guys wouldn’t let anything happen to me.”

“Yeah, okay.  You may have a point.  Still, you seemed to trust him.”

“Yeah, I guess I do.  I’d go back in there, even without the chains.”

“I would, too,” Reid agreed.  

“What?  You’re both nuts.  Why would you do that?”

“Duh,” Garcia said.

“Yeah, you I get.  But Reid, come on.  Don’t tell me you’re attracted to him, too.”

“Not like that, obviously,” Reid countered mildly.  “But we did seem to make some kind of connection.  He reminds me of this one particular jock in high school who wouldn’t let the bullies pick on me when he was around.  And he can be pleasant, affable even.  He calls me Doogie,” he added with a grin.  “And Dude.”

“He calls everybody ‘Dude’,” Morgan scoffed.

Garcia looked away to hide an evil grin.  “Gideon thinks he’s innocent.”

“No, Gideon never said innocent,” Morgan objected instantly and with real heat.  “He said he didn’t believe Winchester tortured those women.  And I’m not convinced of that, but even if he didn’t he’s still plenty guilty.  We just don’t know of what.”

“Credit card fraud?” Garcia asked.  “Please.  That hardly makes him public enemy number one.”

“But it does make him a thief and a liar and he had you eating out of his hand,” Morgan rebuked.  “But let’s push all that aside.  Something shady went down in St. Louis and this guy was right in the middle of it.  And short of a clone machine in his pocket I’ve yet to hear a reasonable explanation for the dead double.”

“Okay, let me think.”  Garcia rubbed the charm on her necklace like a talisman.  “I’ve got it.  Papa Winchester was a rolling stone.”

“Come again?”

“Dean had a half-brother he didn’t know about until he went on a killing spree and Dean tracked him down and put an end to it.  It’s all very soap opera.”

“That… actually, kinda makes sense.”

“I know.  I’m a genius.”

“What about the girl in the bank?” Reid asked, intrigued.

“One miracle at a time,” Garcia said, thinking it over again.  “A look-a-like customer?  A freaky coincidence?  What else could it be?”

“Let’s ask him,” Gideon said appearing briefly in the doorway.

“What’s going on?” Morgan asked Hotchner who came into the room and took a seat with a clear view of the subject.

“Mr. Winchester had a very interesting visitor,” Hotch explained.  “I wanted Gideon to have a word with him.”

“Anyone we know?”

“Yes.  Victor Henricksen.”

***

Even with his welder’s helmet in place Bobby recognized the sound of the Impala.  He finished the seam he was working on then turned off the unit and sat up.  As he raised his face shield Sam was already surveying his work.  

“Great job, Bobby,” Sam approved.

“You must have driven all night.”

“Yeah,” Sam said offhandedly, setting off to walk the perimeter of the pentagram.  “I couldn’t think of anything but getting here.”

Bobby got to his feet and popped his neck first and then his back as he shed gloves and helmet.  “Dean’s in Quantico.”

“I figured the FBI would have him.  That prick Henricksen I’m sure.”

“Ellen headed down there to keep an eye on the local news but so far there hasn’t been anything of interest.”

“You think that’s necessary?”

“No, but it can’t hurt and she really wanted to help,” Bobby said as he pulled a bottle of water out of the cooler in the back of the truck.  “And I’ve seen the woman weld, we’re better off with her in Virginia.”

Sam laughed, finishing his circuit and ending up back at the car.  “Yeah, I’ll be sure and tell her you said that.”

“Don’t threaten me, boy,” Bobby teased gruffly between gulps of water.  He fished out a set of keys and tossed them to Sam who caught them easily with one hand.  “You head on to the house and get some sleep.  It’ll take me the rest of the morning to finish the seams.”

“I need to be doing something.”

“Yeah, sleeping.  You can help me cover the trenches this afternoon.  Right now you’re dead on your feet.”

“I know,” Sam had to agree.  “You don’t think the demon will be able to see the trap.”

“Nah.  We’ll wet it down real good when we’re done.  If that don’t work we’ll steal a grader and scrape the whole road.”

“That sounds like a plan.”

“Come back around three,” Bobby said as he suited back up.  “And bring me a sandwich.”

Sam opened the door but didn’t get in.  “You don’t know how much I appreciate this.”

“Bologna.  White bread, none of that whole wheat crap.  And a beer.”

“Right.”  Sam smiled tiredly to himself and slid behind the wheel.

******

When Gideon entered the room Dean was in the corner looking through Henricksen’s notes, his empty coffee cup on the table.  “Did you leave this here for me to read or did you not think I could actually get out?”

“Let’s just say you’re a lot faster than I anticipated.  Since you have read it I’m curious what you think.”

“It’s good.  Really.  If you like fairy tales,” Dean said, tossing the handful of paper back to the table.  “According to this I’ve been a busy boy.  I’m surprised he didn’t work in a grassy knoll.”

“We concede it’s a bit of a stretch in places.”

Dead huffed.  “A bit.”

“Tell me about your relationship with Agent Henricksen,” Gideon requested as he settled in a chair, apparently unconcerned as Dean moved around the room unimpeded.

“We don’t have a relationship.  He chases me, I lose him.  But he is relentless, I’ll give him that.  It’s like I slept with his sister or something.”

“Did you, Dean?”

“Not that I know of.” Dean smirked and winked at the mirror.  

Gideon nodded sagely.  “He acted like it was personal,” he suggested.

“Yeah, exactly.  I never could figure that out.”

“Agent Henricksen suffered a major depressive episode while pursuing you.  I spoke with him about a month ago and it was clear then that he wasn’t well.  He was relieved of duty.”

“Why are you telling me this?”

“State Police brought him in this morning after he caused some sort of disturbance on a bus last night,” Gideon explained, telling the truth.  “He called in a favor at the Bureau so they brought him here instead of taking him to the nearest emergency room.”

“He really lost it, huh?”

“He wants to see you.”

Chewing on his lip as he paced, Dean seemed to think it over.  “Yeah, okay.”

“I don’t think it’s a good idea.  I think he’s close to a psychotic break.  It wouldn’t be safe for either of you.”

“I can take care of myself.”

“I have no doubt about that, Dean,” Gideon assured.  “You’re not the one I’m worried about.”

“Why does he want to see me?”

“He says you put a hex on him.”

Dean faltered then glanced at the camera uneasily.  “Do you believe in stuff like that?”

“Hexes?  No.  No, I don’t.”

“So you don’t believe in anything supernatural?  Ghosts, demons, angry spirits?”

“The belief in a supernatural source of evil is not necessary.  Men alone are quite capable of every wickedness.  Joseph Conrad.”

“Bullshit.  Dean Winchester.”

“So you did put a hex on him,” Gideon ventured, amused.

“No,” Dean spat out in anger but it seemed to melt away as fast as it had come on.  “I didn’t do anything to him.  It…” Dean paused and blew out a breath.  “What happened to him wasn’t my fault,” he finally finished, looking guilty none-the-less.

Gideon raised an eyebrow.  “So do you believe in a supernatural source of evil, Dean?”

“I’ve seen things,” Dean muttered softly.  

“Like seeing yourself shot in the chest in St. Louis.”

“Yeah, like that.”

“What happened in St. Louis, Dean?”

“Why do you do that?” Dean asked as he moved away restlessly.  “Why do you use my name all the time?  I’m right here.  I know who you’re talking to.  Is that another ‘technique’?”

“You got me,” Gideon acknowledged.  “It’s a way of personalizing our contact.  I’ll try not to do it again.”

Dean paced like a trapped animal, frustration and hopelessness radiating from his very being.  Gideon observed him quietly for several minutes.

“Do you want to talk about St. Louis?”

“You won’t believe me,” Dean challenged, tilting his chin defiantly.  

“Not if it includes a supernatural explanation, probably not.”

“Well there we are then.  You explain it.  Henricksen couldn’t.” Dean swept the papers on the table to the floor before stalking back to his corner.

“There’s a half-brother theory,” Gideon started, pausing at Dean’s subtle flinch at the word brother.  “You do seem rather protective of your family.”

Dean folded his arms over his chest as he leaned against the wall, his face carefully neutral.  Gideon studied him for another moment before beginning to gather the scattered paperwork.  Reid came in to help.

“I’m going to spend some time with Henricksen and his notes,” Gideon said to Dean.  “Would you rather wait here or go to your cell.”

“Doesn’t matter.” Dean sighed dolefully.

“I’ll stay here with you,” Reid offered.  “If Gideon doesn’t mind.”

Gideon watched as Dean seemed to cheer up at the suggestion.  “I think that’s a good idea,” he agreed, noticing how Reid’s demeanor brightened as well.  “I’ll be back later.”

“Don’t rush on my account,” Dean called after him grumpily.  “Who’s Joseph Conrad?” he asked Reid when he was sure Gideon was gone.

“He was a nineteenth century Polish-born novelist.  Some people consider him to be a significant forerunner to Modernist literature.  His stories tended towards the ironic especially in regards to…”

“Okay, okay,” Dean cut him off.  “Not so much an expert as a skeptic then.”

“I suppose.  But you’re something of an expert on the occult, aren’t you?  I’d love to pick your brain about it.”

“Hey, if Joe says it ain’t so…” Dean trailed off.  He uncrossed his arms and propped one foot against the wall, smirking to himself as Reid reflexively mirrored him on the other side of the room.  “Hey, take a load off.  I’m gonna stand while I’ve got the chance.”

“No, I’m good,” Reid assured.  “Do you want some more coffee?”

“Maybe later.”

“Let’s talk about hexes.”

Dean groaned but he couldn’t help but smile a little.  “You really are a persistent little geek,” he muttered.  “You remind me of my brother.”

***

“They took Henricksen to the ER half an hour ago,” Hotch told Gideon as he entered the observation area.

“I know,” Gideon said absently as he set the jumbled file aside.  “Something’s not right about this whole thing.  Garcia, find out everything you can about Samuel Winchester.”

“Yes sir.” Garcia turned to her laptop and started typing.

Morgan frowned. “What are you thinking?”

“The little brother is Dean’s hot button.  He’s been trained his whole life to take care of Sam.”

“You think Dean’s been following him around cleaning up his messes?” Hotch asked.

“I don’t know.  But I’m certain this young man is not our primary killer.”

***

“So salt represents innocence?  Purity?  And it repels evil?”

“You’re killing me, man.  We’ve already gone over iron, silver, crosses, and holy water.  What’d you do?  Read an encyclopedia on the paranormal last night?”

“Um, actually… Yes.  What about garlic?  What does garlic repel?”

“Girls, mostly.  Come on, Reid.  I’m tired of talking, let’s do something else.”

“Like what?”

“Got any cards?”

“No.  I’ve got a chess set.”

“No.  No way.  Even if I knew how to play I wouldn’t play you.  Hey, that was a compliment,” Dean insisted at Reid’s hurt look.  “You’d kick my ass.  Wanna arm wrestle?” he teased.

“I don’t think so,” Reid laughed nervously.  “We don’t have to talk about the occult anymore.  Why don’t you tell me about your childhood?”

Dean hastily waved off that suggestion.  “I’m tired of talking about me.  Let’s talk about you.  So you graduated high school at twelve, huh?  What’d you do at college?”

“I read.  And studied.”

“That figures.  And now you’re an FBI agent.  You are an agent, aren’t you?  Or are you just some kind of psych expert?”

“No, I’m a real agent.”

“Cool.  Do you carry a gun?”

“Not at the moment, weapons aren’t allowed in interrogation for obvious reasons, but yes.  I carry when we’re out in the field.”

“You a good shot?”

“Not really,” Reid admitted self-consciously.  “But I can usually hit the broad side of a barn when called for.”

“Lot of rogue barns out there?”

“You know what I mean.”

“Yeah.  I can probably help.  Show me your stance.”

“My what?”

“Your stance.  Your stance.  You  know, how you hold your gun when you’re shooting at barns.”

“I told you I don’t have my gun,” Reid protested, standing straighter when Dean came around the table towards him.

“Use your finger.  Didn’t you ever play cowboys and Indians when you were a kid?”

“No.  Did you?”

“I didn’t have to pretend.  My dad had me shooting when I was pretty young.  Show me.”

Reid made a half-hearted attempt, pointing his finger at Dean.

“Whoa, hey, safety first.  Point that thing at the wall.”

“Sorry,” Reid immediately adjusted his aim.

“Dude,” Dean laughed.  “I was kidding, you crack me up.  No, no, no, show me,” he encouraged when Reid put his imaginary weapon down.

“I feel silly.”

“You look silly,” Dean agreed.  “That’s no way to hold a gun.  Hold it like this.”  Dean demonstrated a proper stance, ignoring Morgan who now loomed in the doorway.

“Like this?” Reid mimicked Dean’s stance.

“Yeah.  How’s that feel?”

“It’s good.  I’m not sure I can fire this way, though.”

Dean walked around and took in another angle, ending up behind Reid.  Morgan watched like a hawk, moving further into the room.

“Does your hand move up or down when you fire?”

Reid pretended to shoot.  “Um… Up, I think.  Or down.”

“Does the gun feel too heavy for you?”

“He needs his nine mil,” Morgan said.  “Anything smaller isn’t going to cut it.”

“I know, I wasn’t going to suggest a smaller gun,” Dean agreed as he put a hand on Reid’s arm.  “Pull this elbow in towards your chest and drop this one.”

Reid allowed Dean to position his arms.  “Like this?”

“Yeah, try that.  Practice that way and I think you’ll be able to control the recoil better.”

“That shortens his stance too much,” Morgan argued.

“For you and me, yeah, but Reid needs the extra support.  I’m telling you, I’ve been shooting since I was like six.  I never shot no pansy ass pea shooter, either.  Practice with him, okay?”

“Yeah,” Morgan agreed readily.  “I will.”

******

Sandwiches were brought in for lunch but had long since been devoured.  Dean ate most of them.  In spite of Reid’s assurances Morgan refused to leave him alone with the freely wandering ‘perp’ although he kept his distance and his opinions to himself.  For the most part.  They filled another tape with jokes, stories of Dean’s conquests of the female persuasion, and fascinating tidbits and statistics from Reid.  Gideon kept a low profile while doing further research in the observation area with Hotch.  

After watching the news footage from the bank robbery more times than he could count Gideon closed Garcia’s laptop and rubbed his eyes.  “We’re missing something.”

“Maybe we are,” Hotch agreed pointing to the printout from the stack Garcia had given him before disappearing back to her office.  “Henricksen certainly missed a few key details.  For instance Sam Winchester’s live in girlfriend died a few years ago in a mysterious fire.  Sam managed to escape unscathed.”

“That’s interesting.  Many serial killers strike close to home the first time out.  He could have set the fire to cover the murder.  Or maybe losing the girlfriend was the stressor that set him on a rampage.”

“There’s also a link between Sam and the last victim in St. Louis, the one that supposedly killed Dean.  They knew each other from Stanford.  Her brother, also an acquaintance of Sam’s, was originally charged with the first murder.”  

“So why did Henricksen focus on Dean?” Gideon asked, spreading his hands wide.  “Sam was there with him right down the line.”

Hotch watched as Dean showed Reid how to fold a paper football while Morgan stood like a silent sentry against the wall.  “In a lot of ways he’s like a big kid,” he noted.

“He and Reid were both cheated out of normal childhoods,” Gideon observed, “Dean by a militant father and a brother who needed him and Reid by a sick mother and an absent father.  It’s no wonder they’re forging a bond.  Dean’s the big brother Reid may have always wanted.”

“And Reid is the surrogate for the little brother Dean cares about more than anything.”

“Bonnie to Dean’s Clyde.  Except Henricksen got it backwards.”

“He’ll never give him up.”

“I don’t know, Dean’s carrying a lot of guilt.  He knows what Sam is doing is wrong but he can’t stop himself from protecting him.  I think he wants it to be over one way or the other.”

“You think he’s suicidal?”

“No.  He’s disheartened and depressed but he has a strong will to survive.”

“How can you be so sure?”

“He could have killed himself at any time but he let them bring him in.”

“Still, he hasn’t told us anything yet.”

“Not intentionally, but you’re right.  It’s time to push.  Give me your gun.”

Hotch hesitated only briefly before unholstering his weapon and removing the clip.  “You know taking this in there is against regulations.”

“Load it,” Gideon insisted.  “Dean’s too smart, has too much weapons knowledge to fall for an empty gun.  I want to shake him up.”

“This is a very dangerous idea.”

“If he wanted to hurt anyone he doesn’t need a gun to do it.  He’s had ample opportunity already.  This will prove Henricksen’s theory wrong once and for all.”

There was a brief commotion on the other side, Dean cheered and Morgan clapped slow and loud as Reid made his first ever field goal.

“At least let Morgan stay,” Hotchner requested as he slid the clip back in and handed the weapon over.

Gideon nodded his agreement and accepted the gun, tucking it securely into his waistband at the small of his back.

“Reid, I need you for a minute,” Hotch said into the intercom.  “Camera on or off?” he asked Gideon.

“On.  We don’t want to miss anything.”

***

Smiling broadly, Reid got up from the table.  “I’ll see you later.”

“Show me some love,” Dean told him, holding a fist out towards him.

Morgan harrumphed, mildly amused as Reid took a moment to puzzle out what Dean wanted him to do.

“Later, Dude.”

“Later,” Reid responded, reaching out to bump Dean’s fist with his own.  

“Go down to Garcia’s office,” Gideon ordered gently as Reid hesitated in the doorway. “See if she needs any help.”    Reid looked suspicious but waved at Dean and did as he was told.  

Gideon held a hand up to Morgan indicating that he should stay.  Surprised but pleased, Morgan settled back against the wall.  

“How’s Henricksen?” Dean asked, managing to sound casual if not bored.

“Loonier than a bedbug,” Gideon said with a good-humored smirk.

This didn’t bring a smile to Dean’s face.  It seemed to agitate him and he got up to pace.  “He was a good agent.  He had to be or he wouldn’t have been able to track me.”

“Why are you defending him?”

“I’m not.  I’m just saying he can’t help what happened to him.”

“What happened to him that was so horrible?”

Dean shook his head, clamming up.  

“I’m sure he was very good, once.  But off the top of my head I know three things he got wrong in this investigation,” Gideon plunged ahead counting on his fingers.  “One, he made it personal.  Two, you’re not the monster he thinks you are.  And three, he was after the wrong brother.”

Dean froze.  “No,” he whispered.  Panic and fear registered across his face before he got his emotions locked down.  “Sam didn’t do anything wrong.”

“Then he’s got nothing to worry about.  But we need to know what happened in St. Louis and so far you’ve been wasting our time…”

“You’re right, I have,” Dean interrupted.  “So why don’t you just write down all the stuff you think I did and I’ll sign it.  It’s a win/win situation.”

“How so?”

“You get what you want and I don’t have to deal with you anymore.”

“You could go to jail for the rest of your life.  Or worse.”

“Please,” Dean scoffed.  “I’ll be gone long before the state can off me.”

Gideon raised an eyebrow but Dean didn’t elaborate.  “I know you didn’t kill those women, Dean,” he said.   “But you know who did.  I’m not trying to make you confess.  I just want to get to the truth.”

“You won’t believe me.”

“Try me.  What’s the worst that can happen?”

“The worst that can happen?  You can try to trap my brother for something he didn’t do.”

“Where is he?”

“How the hell should I know?  I’ve been a guest at the Quantico Hilton.  Not like I can reach out and touch him, now is it?”

Morgan snapped to attention when Gideon brought the gun out from behind his back.  
“Here,” Gideon said simply as he held it out butt first to Dean.  He watched as Dean’s wide eyes automatically tracked to the clip.  “Take it.”

“Why?” Dean backed away and put his hands up.

“Gideon?  What are you doing?” Morgan asked, shooting a confused look at the mirror.

“Take the gun, Dean.”

“No.” Dean backed up until he had nowhere else to go, plastering himself against the wall. Gideon followed right along with him and stayed in his face.
 
“You want me to shoot myself?” Dean darted a glance to the still running camera.

“Take it, Dean.  It’s loaded, Morgan’s not armed.  This is your ticket out.”  Gideon pressed the gun flat against Dean’s chest.  “Put it to my head and order a car.  I’ll take you wherever you want to go.”

“I don’t want to go anywhere.”

“You don’t like it here.”

Dean swallowed compulsively.  “I’ve been in worse.”

“Henricksen says you’re an animal.  Prove it.”

“Morgan,” Dean implored sounding more like a frightened kid than a serial killer.

“You’re out of line, Gideon,” Morgan said sternly, coming to stand behind him.  “This is screwed up.”

“Take the gun or I swear on your mother’s grave that I will hunt your baby brother like Henricksen hunted you,” Gideon threatened.

“You son of a bitch,” Dean hissed angrily, bowing his chest and pushing back.

“Take it.”

Dean met Morgan’s eyes over Gideon’s shoulder but he took the weapon, hefting the weight and knowing it was loaded.  There was a pregnant pause and everyone seemed to hold their breath until Dean clicked on the safety and lowered the muzzle towards the floor.

“What am I supposed to do with it?” Dean rasped out.

“Whatever you want, I promise.”  They stared at each other for a long moment.  “Have I broken a promise yet?”

Dean pushed away from the wall, purposefully bumping Gideon to hand the gun to Morgan who gladly relieved him of it.  “I want to go to my cell.”

“No,” Gideon denied softly.  “We’re going to sit down and we’re going to talk.  You’re going to tell me everything I want to know.”

“You’ll leave my brother alone.”  It wasn’t a question.

“If he’s innocent then he has nothing to worry about.”

Dean laughed a bitter, broken laugh as he dropped into a chair.  “Turn the camera off.”

“No.”

Hotch appeared at the door but no one but Morgan seemed to notice.  Morgan handed off the weapon then hovered behind Dean.

“You’ll never catch Sam.  He’s too good.”

“He’s been caught before.  With you in Arkansas.”

“That was… intentional.”

“Really?  Why would you want to go to jail?” Gideon asked as he took a seat.

Dean shrugged, getting back into character.  “Gorgeous Public Defender.  Nice legs.”

“We gonna dance all night, Dean?”

“No.  I want my lawyer.”

“It’s too late for that.  You waved your rights, you waved extradition.  You wanted to be here, now you have to deal with me.”

“Must have been out of my freakin’ mind,” Dean muttered under his breath.

“Why did you want to be here?”  Gideon asked in a gentler tone.  “Tell me that, tell me the truth, and I’ll let you go to your cell.”

“I knew my time was running out.  I was getting… scared, being too careful,” Dean admitted, his voice clipped, hard.  “I was going to get us both killed.  I couldn’t risk that.”  He lolled his head to the side to look at Gideon insolently and waited.

But Gideon wasn’t satisfied.  “More.”

Dean picked up the story right where he left off.  “So we were gonna lay low in Vegas, but that didn’t really work out so well either.  I was spending way too much time with the three wise men.”

Morgan grinned but Gideon needed clarification.  “I’m sorry?”

“Jim, Jack, and Jose.  Oh, and I kept trying to get married.  Waitresses, hookers, drunken tourists.  And I really wish someone would explain that one to me because I’ll be damned if I know why.”  Dean stopped and thought about what he’d said.  “I am damned,” he corrected.

After Dean was quiet for a minute Gideon leaned forward and rested his forearms on the table.  “What were you afraid of, son?”

Dean kept his eyes down.  “Hell,” he answered simply.

“You think you’re going to Hell, the literal Lake of Fire?”

“Hell, Hades, the underworld, the ring of fire, whatever you want to call it.  Trust me on this one, Jason; my toes are getting warm.  And that’s as honest as I can be.” Dean looked up to see if Gideon would hold up his end of the bargain.  “Come on, man, you think I don’t know you’re some kind of walking lie detector?”

“He can go back to his cell,” Gideon instructed.  He waited quietly while Morgan chained Dean up and led him away.

“Dean,” Gideon called to him.

Morgan allowed him to stop.  “Yeah?”

“If you hit the wall you’ll only hurt yourself.  Find a better way to decompress.”

“Fucking mind reader,” Dean swore.  “Get me out of here.”

“Come on,” Morgan urged, catching him under the arm more to slow him down than anything.

“Why’d you let him go?” Hotchner asked as he entered the room.

“Because he was telling the truth.” Gideon retrieved the abused paper clip Dean had left in plain sight on the table.  “At least he believed he was.”

***

Sam wiped the sweat from his brow with a dusty sleeve as he straightened up and stretched his back, using the shovel for support.  “Was that Ellen?” he asked.

“Yeah.  No news is good news I suppose.” Bobby closed the phone and tucked it into his breast pocket.  “What do you think?” he asked, sweeping a hand towards their long day’s work.

“I think we need that road grader.”

Bobby kicked at the slightly darker soil that stood in stark contrast to the pale caliche.

“We could wait a week or two and see.  This’ll dry out, mix in better.”

“I don’t want to wait until the last minute.  He’s only got twenty-eight days.”

“No problem.  I’ll take care of it tomorrow.”

“You think it’s big enough?”

“Yep,” Bobby said as he paced the interior of the pattern.  “Bury the box dead center?  You got room to spare on all sides.  Quit your frettin’.”

“Okay,” Sam nodded sheepishly.  “Can you get Ellen back?  I need her help for the backup plan.”

“Would that be plan B or plan C?”

“I think I’m up to plan X by now.”

“How appropriate,” Bobby teased as he fished out his phone.

***

When Gideon tapped on the cell door the next morning Dean looked up and offered a wan smile.  “Come on in.”  He didn’t try to hide the small notebook he was writing in at the one man table.  His breakfast sat uneaten on the tray.

“Where’d you get the pencil?” Gideon asked curiously as the guard let him in.

“I asked Morgan for it.  We’re not friends or anything but I know he’s just doing his job,” Dean explained at Gideon’s doubtful expression.  “He said it was against the rules, but after the gun incident…” Dean shrugged and didn’t finish the thought.
 
Gideon had the grace to look rueful.  “Can I sit with you for minute?” Dean answered with another shrug so he took a seat on the edge of the small bed. “Was there something wrong with your food?”

“Not hungry.”

“I thought about your question.  About why you kept trying to get married in Las Vegas.”

“Huh.  What’d you come up with?”

“Sometimes when single young men feel their mortality they intuitively try to make a connection with someone.  It’s well documented in soldiers going off to war, or people who’ve survived a devastating accident, even death row inmates to some degree.  Consider it a last minute rush to procreate.  Humans tend to have a strong desire to leave something of themselves behind.  It’s part of who we are.”

“Procreate?” Dean laughed.  “I just thought I wanted to get laid.”

“That, too.  I see you didn’t try to punch any holes in the walls.”

Dean huffed at that and held up the pencil.  “I found another way to, uh, what?  Decompress?  Here.”  He tossed the notebook to Gideon.

“What is it?”

“My confession.  There’s names and dates and places, everything I could remember.”

“Don’t throw your life away, Dean.  You have to think about yourself, too.”

“I got nothing left.”

“If Sam is guilty…”

“He’s not,” Dean interjected forcefully before calming into a more persuasive tone.  “Listen to me, Jason, Sam hasn’t done anything wrong.  He got out of the family business a long time ago.  He was in college.  He was in love, Jess, her name was Jess.  He was happy.  I went and got him and dragged him kicking and screaming away from all that but he never did anything wrong.  It was all me.”

“So you’re saying you’re the one who killed Jessica Moore?” Gideon asked.

Dean’s face was a stone but he didn’t speak right away.  Instead he motioned for the notebook.  Gideon handed it back and watched as Dean carefully added Jessica’s name to the bottom of the list and filled in as many details as he could remember.

“I wish you wouldn’t do this,” Gideon reiterated.  “Once your confession is out there there’s no way to get it back.”

“Good.  It’s the right thing to do.”  Dean handed the notebook back and pulled his breakfast tray closer and began to shovel in the cold eggs.

“A confession won’t save you from Hell.”

“Nothing will,” Dean assured him matter-of-factly through a full mouth.  Hotchner appeared at the bars but Dean didn’t slow down to give him a once over.  “Is this disembodied voice guy?”

“I’m Aaron Hotchner.”

“How’d I know you’d be wearing a suit?”

“You saw me down in receiving.”

“Oh, yeah, right.  I did.”

Gideon finished reading the notebook and collected the pencil as well as he got up.
 
“Mr. Winchester has another visitor,” Hotch said.  “It’s his wife.”

Dean choked on a dry piece of toast and sputtered crumbs all over the table.

***

Gideon observed the woman on the couch in the private waiting room for a moment before entering.  She sat staring off into space while absently turning the worn wedding band on her finger round and round.  It was obvious she was nervous, but also worried and inexplicably sad.  “Mrs. Winchester?” he finally asked.  Testing.

She looked up at the voice but not necessarily in response to the name.  It took her a second.  “Yes.  I’m Ellen… Winchester.”

“They told me the driver’s license you showed at the desk had Harvelle on it.”

“Never got around to changing it,” Ellen said evenly, tough as nails.

“You couldn’t produce a wedding license.”

“I didn’t happen to have it on me.  You carry yours, do you?”

“You seem a little old for Dean,” Gideon fished, moving on without answering the personal question.

Ellen leveled a malevolent glare at him.  “Watch it, mister.”

“Jason Gideon.”

“I don’t care who you are, I’m not that old.”

“No offense intended, ma’am.  Just making an observation.”

“Mmm hmm.  A rude one.  Can I see him or not?”

Gideon pretended to consider the idea even though he had already made up his mind.  “How did you know he was here?”

“Word gets around.”

“That’s a very vague response for someone who wants something that’s against regulations.”

“Is it in your power to grant?” Ellen clarified before bothering to change her attitude.

“Possibly.”

“That’s a very vague answer.”

Gideon held up a hand for a truce as he took a seat opposite her.  “Would you like some coffee?”

“I’d like to see my husband.”

“The funny thing is,” Gideon laughed softly for emphasis, “Dean doesn’t remember getting married.  Although he does admit it’s a distinct possibility.”

“Dean’s had a problem with the bottle lately,” Ellen explained as she nodded sagely.  “Ask any of the hoochies he tried to marry.”

“So you know him well?”

“Better than the rest of his potential brides did.   Look, he was up for anything and I figured if he was already married to me he couldn’t do anything stupid.”

“So you married him to protect him.”

“I care about Dean.  A lot.”

“I believe you do,” Gideon granted.  “But that’s the only thing you’re telling the truth about.  You’re not really married to Dean Winchester.”  Ellen started to protest but Gideon cut her off.  “It’s easy enough to check.  In fact I’ve got someone working on it right now so I’d advise you to come clean.  Are you married to him?”
 
“No.”

“Why would you come to the FBI and lie about that?  Did you not realize how much trouble you could get into?”

“I need to see him,” Ellen all but pleaded.  “It’s important.  I didn’t think you would let me if I was just a friend.”

“Did Sam send you?”

Ellen didn’t hesitate.  “I have not spoken to Sam,” she said honestly if a little too purposely.

“That wasn’t really the question.” Gideon watched her for a minute but she remained composed.  “If you’re willing to do a little give and take, I’ll let you see Dean.”

“Sounds fair.”

Gideon nodded to seal the deal.  “How long have you known Dean?”

“Not all that long, really.  I knew his father… not that way,” Ellen corrected at Gideon’s raised eyebrow.  “He and my late husband were sometimes partners.”

“What kind of partners?”

“They hunted on occasion.  They were together when my husband was killed.  I didn’t actually meet the boys until after John died, but he talked about ‘em all the time.”

“John Winchester died of a heart attack last year.  Is that correct?”

“Sure,” Ellen agreed without really agreeing at all.  “That’s what they called it anyway.”
Gideon noted her response but moved on. “Tell me about the boys.”
 
Ellen sighed and took a second to gather her thoughts.  “Dean’s his daddy’s boy through and through; cocksure, charming, always thinking one move ahead.  Makes him a hell of a pool player.  Sam must be more like his poor dead momma.  He’s quieter, book smart, an extremely sweet, polite boy.”

“Is that right?”

“Oh, yeah.  All please and thank-you, that one.  Where he got it I’ll never know since Dean all but brought him up and Dean has to dig deep sometimes to find his manners.”  Ellen smiled again at that.  “They’re both good boys, especially growing up without a mother.  But John did the best he could with them.  He instilled a sense of honor in them and nobody can dispute that.  But they’ve got one trait in common, all three of ‘em.”

“And what’s that?”

“Let’s just say when God invented stubborn he had the Winchesters in mind.”

Gideon agreed with a soft huff.  “So knowing the boys, do you believe either of them is capable of killing?”

“Of killing?  Yes, of course.  We all are.  But I can tell you right now that they never murdered anyone.”

“And yet people always seem to turn up dead wherever they go.”

“Maybe you better check your facts again, Mister Gideon.  The killings always start before they get there and end by the time they leave.”

“You’re telling me they’re some kind of vigilantes?” Gideon asked, sitting forward in his chair.

“You’d better ask Dean about that one.  I don’t want to tell his business.  Am I under arrest?”

“No,” Gideon answered distractedly, thinking hard.  “Not yet anyway.”

“Can I see him?”

“Yes, you’ve been very forthcoming.  I’ll get you in.”

“Will we be in the same room?” Ellen asked.  “Look, I’m not asking for a conjugal visit, I just want to make sure he’s okay,” she entreated when he wavered.  “I need to be able to touch him.”

“You’ll have to be searched first.  And you’ll have to check your bag.”

“That’s fine,” Ellen agreed readily, handing over her purse.

***

“Apparently what happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas,” Reid teased.

“Just tell me if she’s a blond,” Dean begged, adding an extra dose of puppy dog eyes.

“Gideon said not to,” Reid resisted.  Barely.

“I’ll bet she’s a blond, I’m partial to blonds.  Hear that Penelope?” he added to the mirror. “Is she out there?  I’d better stop.  I am a married man.”

“Garcia isn’t out there,” Gideon said from the door.  “And you can relax.  You’re not married after all.”

“I’m not?  You sure?” Dean asked sounding almost disappointed, stopping cold when he spotted the woman behind Gideon.  “Ellen?”  He stood up but Gideon motioned for him to sit back down.

“Hey, Dean,” Ellen greeted as she took the chair Reid pulled out for her.

Dean had to swallow before answering.  “Ellen.  What are you doing here?”

“I came to see about you.”

“Is she in trouble?” Dean asked Gideon.  “She lied to get in, right?”

“A minor infraction.  I think we can overlook it.”

“They’re going to try to use you to get to Sam,” Dean scolded Ellen gently.

“I haven’t seen Sam,” Ellen explained again, settling back into her chair.  “And I’m not leaving town until we find out what they’re going to do with you.  So I won’t be running in to him anywhere.”

***

“She slipped up and told us Sam isn’t in the vicinity,” Hotchner reasoned from the other side of the glass, “Or he’s close by and she’s putting up a smoke screen.”

“Or she really hasn’t seen him,” Garcia pointed out.

“Have you got those numbers yet?” Hotch asked with an edge of annoyance in his voice.

“Yes sir,” Garcia grinned and held up Ellen’s cell phone.  “But it’s a pre-paid and there’s only one number that’s called or been called.”

“Are you ready to trace it?”

“Do one legged ducks swim in a circle?”

“Dial it,” Hotch instructed.  “Ask for Sam.”

Garcia nodded and hit redial.  The number rang three times before a man picked up.

“Yeah?”

“Sam?” Garcia asked and held her breath.  There was a long pause on the other end.

“Who is this?”

Garcia shrugged and looked to Hotchner for guidance.  He motioned for her to keep talking.

“Can I speak to Sam?”  She looked down and shook her head.  “He hung up.”

“And we didn’t get anything.”

“Not even close.  Sometimes I miss the good old days of land lines.”

***

While they talked Ellen began to trace a symbol on the table in front of her.  Gideon noticed immediately but Dean seemed so happy to see a familiar face it took him another minute to catch on.  When he did he nodded subtly, conveying his understanding.  Ellen didn’t miss a beat and kept chatting about recent news and other events but moved her finger to the inside of her right wrist.

“You should have seen the moon last night,” Ellen continued conversationally. “It was almost blood red.”

“No it wasn’t,” Reid argued as everyone turned to look at him, “Although it was a little orange tinged.”

“Ellen was telling me to carve a particular rune on the inside of my wrist tonight for protection,” Dean explained bluntly.  “But I’m not going to do it.”

“Why not?” Ellen asked in exasperation.

Dean snorted, every bit as wound up as she was.  “Because it’s too risky.”

“I don’t understand,” Reid jumped in but just as quickly butted out as Gideon waved him off.

“You are one pig-headed son of a bitch.  I don’t know why I expected any different.”

“I can’t do anything, that’s why I’m here,” Dean softened considerably.  “So I can’t panic and do something stupid at the last minute.  I’m… I’m scared.  But I can’t freak out, okay?  I made the deal, I’m gonna keep it.”  The admission of fear cost him and Dean looked away.

“Oh, Dean.”

“Go home, Ellen.”

Gideon nodded to her and Ellen got up slowly, wiping tears from her eyes before they could fall.
 
“Can I at least have a hug?” Ellen asked.

Dean seemed suspicious but looked to Gideon for permission.  She came around the table and placed a hand on his face.  “You are loved,” she told him.  He got up and hugged her tight.  Ellen held on for several seconds before pulling back, touching his face again and then his hair, surreptitiously plucking several strands as she brought her hand down.  His eyes widened but he didn’t say anything as she folded the hairs into a fist as if someone might try to take them away from her.

“Ellen,” Dean called her back sounding urgent and frustrated and just short of tears.  “If you see Sammy, you don’t tell him what I said about being…you know.”

“I’m not going to see him.”

“If you do.”

“Shut up, Dean,” Ellen whispered as Reid ushered her out.

***

Morgan handed Garcia a Kleenex as she gave him the purse.  “There’s a GPS chip in the lining of the bag and a bug in the phone.”

“Good girl,” Morgan said, bussing her on top of the head.

“Stay on her,” Hotchner ordered when they heard Ellen and Reid enter the hall.

Morgan nodded and took Ellen the bag.

***

“You want to tell me what that was all about?” Gideon asked.  He sat opposite Dean while Reid looked on apprehensively, the tension in the air palpable.

“No.”  Dean was obviously upset, making no attempt to cover it.

“What ever it is,” Gideon offered with genuine concern, “We can help you.”

Dean laughed until he cried.

***

Ellen knew the good-looking agent who had shown her out of the building was still watching as she attempted to hail a taxi that sped right on by.  She kept her decorum but she really wanted to cry.  In fact she wanted to scream and jump up and down and hit something.  Seeing how far Dean would go to protect his brother left a lump in her throat.  Seeing Dean without his emotional armor, stripped of his bullshit hero pretenses nearly killed her.  Raw was the only word that came to mind.

She needed to take care of the hair still clutched in her white knuckled hand but thought better of it while she still had an audience.  Sam’s instructions to prepare the strands, via Bobby as an extra precaution -“I have not spoken to Sam”, had been very specific.  Odd, but specific.  Too odd to perform in front of the FBI building while waiting for a fucking cab.

Just as she was about to invite the agent out for a drink for spite, because damned if all this cloak and dagger shit didn’t get her moxie up, an empty taxi finally pulled up.  She did turn and wave to let secret agent man know that she knew he was still there as she got in the backseat and slammed the door.  He smiled warmly and held up a hand but let them speed on their way.  So he’d tagged her somehow, better to think about that later.

Only a block away Ellen dug one handed through her purse for the lighter she’d picked up earlier.  She pulled out a small silk handkerchief and draped it over one knee and finally opened her hand.  Arranging the five short hairs in a loose pile on her palm she flicked her Bic and set them on fire.  

“Ow,” she muttered, not letting go as they turned to ash without losing contact with her blood-warm skin.

“You can’t smoke in here,” the driver instantly warned her.

“Sorry, I’ll put it out,” she covered, brushing the ashes into the middle of the cloth.  She folded it carefully and placed the whole thing in a plastic bag which went back into her purse.  Mission accomplished, she leaned back in the seat and released the sob that had been building for what seemed like hours.

“Look, lady, if you want a cigarette that bad go ahead.  I won’t tell nobody.”

***

As it turned out, stealing a road grader was no big deal provided you stole a big enough truck to haul it on.  And judging by the ease of which Bobby procured both it was far from his first time making such acquisitions.  If not for the nagging disquiet that plagued him since learning of his own death and what Dean had done to bring him back, Sam would have been having a blast.
 
In little over an hour he turned the roads into a seamless cross of caliche half a mile in each direction.  The tale-tell dirt covering the iron pentagram blended right in.  When he finished he noticed Bobby sitting on the back of the flatbed talking on the phone.  Sam idled up and switched off the engine.

“You wanna talk to Ellen?” Bobby asked, holding up the phone.

“Not directly.  Tell her I said hi.”

Failing to offer the greeting, Bobby continued his conversation.  “Okay then, we’ll switch over, too.  You got the number?...  That’s it.  Now do what I told ya and be careful.”  He hung up, turned off the phone, and jumped down.  Walking over to the grader he placed it directly under the front wheel guaranteeing it’s destruction at the first forward momentum.  “She left cell number one in a taxi and retrieved cell number two from her hotel.  She wasn’t surprised the FBI called looking for you, they had her pocketbook for over an hour.”

“Big Brother is everywhere,” Sam said, plucking the next pre-paid out of his pocket and tossing it to Bobby who caught it and turned it on.  “How’s Dean?”

“Don’t worry about Dean, son.  He’s one tough little bastard.”

“That’s what he wants everybody to think anyway,” Sam muttered.  “What do we do with this stuff now?”

“We’ll load up the grader and wait ‘til dark to take it a county over.  If we run down a fence or two and abandon it they’ll blame it on the local teenage hoodlums.  We can leave the truck anywhere.”

“Joy riding on a road grader?  People do that?”

Bobby grinned and hacked up some of dust he’d accumulated while Sam had been having all the fun.  “The trouble with you, Sam, is you never got in the good kind of trouble growing up.”

“Yeah, Dean would love doing something stupid like plowing down fences with a road grader.”

“Yeah, he would.”

Sam looked to the crossroad.  “He’s really okay?”

“Ellen says he’s holding his own.  If I know Dean he’s keeping them FBI boys on their toes.”

“Did she pull it off?”

“Hell yes.  I never doubted her for a minute.”

***

“Go away,” Dean sighed when Gideon appeared again at his cell door.  Already prostrate on his bunk he flung an arm over his red rimmed eyes.

“I just came to check on you.”

“Couldn’t you send Reid?  I like talking to Reid.  Hell, send Morgan.  At least I know where I stand with him.”

The guard unlocked the door but Gideon lingered before entering.  “I’m worried about you.”

“You didn’t look too worried when they were jabbing me with that needle,” Dean accused, lifting his arm to glare.  “What the hell was that, anyway?  I got a tequila hangover without ever gettin’ to the worm.  I’ll bet I could spit cotton balls right now.”

“Haldol can do that to you.”

“What’s Haldol?”

“I’m not going to lie, it’s an antipsychotic.”

“Antipsychotic,” Dean grunted.  “So now I’m psychotic.  Again.  That’s just peachy.”

Gideon eased in the door and shooed away the guard.  “It’s also a sedative.  The doctor on staff ordered it because you were severely agitated, not because we think you’re crazy.”

“Well maybe I am crazy.  I can’t explain why I lost it like that.”  Dean rolled to his side to face the wall.

“You want my opinion?”

“Not in a million years.”

“Okay,” Gideon agreed, seating himself on the edge of the bunk behind Dean.  “I’ll spare you this time but it’s not as bad as you think.  It has to do with stress.”

“Stress.  Right.  Sure.  What do I have to be stressed about?”

“Seeing someone you know seemed to…”

“Ack!” Dean cut him off, raising a finger straight up in the air.
 
“You did ask.”

“It was rhetorical.”

“Sit up and look at me.”

“Yeah.  Not gonna happen.”

“Why?  Because you cried in front of me?” Gideon challenged gently.

Dean sniffed.  “Pretty much,” he admitted after a few seconds.

“I understand you feel like you’re at the end of your rope.”

“I am.  And the noose is getting tighter with every passing second.”

“Tell me about it.  Please.  I’m not trying to trick you or lead you into anything.  I genuinely feel like it will help if you let go of this big, horrible secret.”

“You won’t believe me.”

“It doesn’t matter what I believe.  Just talk to me.”

“What are you going to do to Ellen?” Dean asked, turning just enough to see Gideon’s face.  “I’m not making any deals, I just want to know.”

“We’re keeping her under surveillance.  She’s not being charged with anything.”

“She played us, you know?  All of us.”

“How?”

“All she wanted was a hunk of hair.  She knew I wouldn’t do the rune thing.  It’s probably not even really for protection.”

“What would she want with your hair?”

“I can’t know that.  I shouldn’t even be thinking about it.”  Without warning Dean changed gears.  “So how’s Henricksen?”

Gideon paused but allowed the conversation to go wherever Dean wanted.  “I believe he was turned over to mental health.”

“All the Haldol in the world’s not gonna help him,” Dean said, not joking.  Not even close.

“He’s not your responsibility.”

“You’re wrong.  They all are.”

“Why do you carry the weight of the world, Dean?”

“I don’t want to.  It just turned out that way.”  Dean yawned and started to drift before shaking himself awake.

A guard appeared at the bars.  “Special Agent Hotchner would like to see you in his office, sir.”

“Get some rest,” Gideon encouraged Dean, patting him on the back as he got up to leave, surprised when he didn’t flinch away.

“Hey Jason,” Dean called.  He made a show of fluffing his pillow.  “I’ll think on it.  Maybe we can talk tomorrow.”

“Sure.”  Gideon stood for another minute to watch Dean pretend to fall asleep.

***

“How is he?” Hotchner asked as Gideon slid into the chair in front of his desk.

Gideon rubbed his face before answering.  “He’s close to the edge.  I’m not sure I can keep up the pressure without pushing him off.”

“Do you think he’ll ever talk?”

“He wants to,” Gideon postulated before altering his response slightly.  “He will.  I’m just not sure he’ll come out of it intact.”

“That’s too bad.”

“And we’re out of time, aren’t we?  That’s what you called me in here to tell me.”

Hotch nodded unhappily.  “Legal is ready to move ahead with charges.”

“Based on what?” Gideon asked, infuriated.  “His bogus confession?”

“They think it’s more than enough,” Hotchner kept his own voice low and steady, bringing Gideon down with him.  One of Gideon’s own patented moves.

“That boy no more committed those crimes than I did.  How soon?”

“Tomorrow.  I think we can stall until afternoon.”

Gideon grasped around for any available straws.  “File for a competency hearing.  That should buy us a couple more days.”

“Do we have a basis for a competency hearing?”

“After his breakdown today?  Yes, yes we do.”

“I’ll work on it,” Hotchner promised.  “But you need to work on him, too.  If nothing else get him to retract the confession.”

“I’ll try.  Thank you.”

“Jason, what is it about this kid that has you so involved?” Hotch had to ask.

“I don’t know,” Gideon admitted.  “There’s something about him.  He’s got such a bright soul.  It would be a shame to see it extinguished for no good reason.”

***

Ellen smiled the best she could as she paid for the pizza then pulled the door shut behind her and crossed the street with the box in her hand.  He didn’t look too surprised when she ambled around the front of his big black SUV and climbed into the passenger seat.  Annoyed, but not surprised.

His cell rang at that moment and he hit speaker phone. “Sugar plum, she’s on the move.”

“Yeah, I got her,” he said before hanging up and turning to stare at Ellen.

She settled in and opened the box. “You like anchovies?”

“Not especially.”

“Oh.  I guess it sucks to be you, then.”  Ellen took out a slice, smirking as he reached over to take a piece as well.  “What’s your name, sugar plum?”

He took a huge bite and chewed it experimentally.  “Why?”

Ellen shrugged.  “I figured I deserve to know your name if you’re gonna be following me all over hell and back.  Got any more of that water?”

“Derek Morgan,” he said as he reached behind her seat to pull out another bottle.  “Here ya go, Mrs. Winchester.”

“Ha!  I would have dearly loved to see Dean’s face when he thought he was married.”

“It was… amusing.  Or so I’m told.”

“Hate I missed that.”

They ate in silence for a few minutes and Morgan finally sighed. “You trust this Dean Winchester?” he asked.

“With my life,” Ellen confirmed readily.  “More, with my daughter’s life.   Just not with her virtue.  That boy’s a hound dog.”

Morgan grinned and shook his head.  “Why are you here?”

“I thought I’d save the taxpayers some money instead of flushing this down the toilet,” she told him as she produced the tiny device she’d found embedded in her purse and dropped it into his cup holder.

He took the tech loss in stride and snagged another slice of extra-anchovy.  “I meant why did you come to Quantico?”

“I know what you meant.  There are just some things you do for your family.”

“But you’re not really married to Winchester.”

“You know how they say friends are family you choose?”

“Yeah.”

“Well sometimes you don’t so much choose them as have them thrust upon you,” Ellen declared.  “They’re still family.”

***

The laughter never stopped not even with medication or tiny little white padded rooms.
 
“Shut up.  Shut up.  Shut up!  SHUT UP!” Victor screamed, beating his forehead repeatedly with his fist.

“That’s enough of that,” the wiry caretaker advised through the screen-covered slit of a window in the door.  “Don’t make us come in there.”

“The security here is laughable,” Victor taunted from his place on the floor.
 
“Is that right, Mister FBI?”

“That’s right.”

“We’ll see about that.”

“Yeah, we will,” Victor mumbled, rocking back and forth to the new voice in his head.  The one that sounded amazingly like his own.  ‘Get the keys, get the keys, get the keys…’

***

“Don’t you ever go home?” Dean asked without looking as he paced slowly around his cell, still groggy from the drug but fighting sleep with every step.  “I thought Henricksen was the one who was obsessed.”

“And I thought you would be in the arms of Morpheus by now,” Gideon commented from the dimly lit hallway.
 
“Aw Morpheus, son of Hypnos, the god of dreams.”

“You know your mythology.”

“Not as well as Sam, but some of it rubbed off on me.  Dreams are part of my problem lately so I try not to do too much of the sleep thing.”

“Don’t tell me, you’ll get all the sleep you need when you’re dead.  Isn’t that what young men say these days?”

“Not me,” Dean denied cheerfully.  “I’m going to hell, remember?  No sleeping down there.”

Gideon emerged from the shadows and leaned his elbows on the horizontal bar between them.  “Do you really believe that?”

“It’s true.  I made a deal with the devil,” Dean whispered with a conspiratory wink. “Sold my soul.”

“Would this devil happen to be named Sam Winchester?”

“No.  Get off Sam, would ya,” Dean grumbled.  “He can be a punk but he’s a full on saint compared to me.”

“You don’t literally mean the devil,” Gideon tried to clarify.

“Well, not ‘The’ devil, I’m happy to say I haven’t met him yet.  It was just another run of the mill demon dressed up in a hot chick.  How sick is that?”

“You’re serious.”

“Reid says you’re like some kind of master profiler, all-knowing, all-seeing.  Can’t you tell?” Dean challenged halfheartedly.

Gideon considered him for a long moment.  “I believe that you believe what you’re saying.”

“There are things out there, the stuff nightmares are made of,” Dean started and then abruptly bit his tongue.  “You know what?  I’m still messed up from that shot.  You don’t need to know this.”

“I do need to know.  Moreover, you need to tell it,” Gideon insisted fervently.

“Come on, Jason, I want to tell you but there’s something to be said for innocence.  Don’t laugh,” Dean warned at the beginning of Gideon’s smile.  “I’m trying to protect you.  I want you to be able to sleep at night.”

Incredulous, Gideon could only chuckle.  “What I see in this job every day, what people do to each other… I haven’t been innocent in a very long time.”

“I get that.  I do,” Dean told him seriously.  “I know there are some sick fucks out there and kudos to you for the shit you have to put in your head.  But those people?  They’re just people, no matter how screwed up they are.”  He patted his chest for emphasis.  “I have seen evil, the real deal, up close and personal.  I make it my business to put it down.  So even if I didn’t do all the stuff Henricksen said, I’ve done plenty of things that weren’t pretty or nice.”

“Ellen inferred you may have crossed certain legal lines to prevent people from being killed.”

“I’m not gonna lie, there’s blood on my hands.”

“There’s plenty of blood on my hands, too, Dean.  You can’t shock me.  You won’t frighten me.  That shouldn’t even be a consideration.”

Dean let out a huge breath and leaned against the small table as he stopped to think.  “You ever been scared?  I mean knee shaking, heart in your throat, wet your pants, ‘Oh God I’m gonna die’ scared?” he asked.

“Yes.”

“Well I haven’t,” Dean denied, waving off Gideon’s disbelieving look.  “I’m being straight with you, let me finish.  I’ve been worried, concerned, and freaked the fuck out from time to time.  But I’ve never really been scared.  Not for myself, until now.  I’ve known the truth about almost every myth or legend or old wives tale you could possibly name since I was a kid.  So don’t go quoting me Joe Cocker or who-the-fuck-ever about things he obviously knew nothing about.”

“If you’ll tell me your story, I’ll try to keep an open mind,” Gideon promised with nothing less than complete sincerity.

“What the hell, you’re not going to believe me anyway,” Dean decided wearily.  “If you really want to know, I’ll tell you.  Just between you and me.  No camera, no bullshit.  Interested?”

“Tell me.”

“Come on in.  Pull up a bunk,” Dean invited, “This is gonna take awhile.  It only makes sense if we start from the beginning.”


Continued on page 2



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